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The Story of Baby J

The Story of Baby J

When I had my daughter in June of 2014, I thought it was silly to make a plan for birth. I knew it wouldn’t go my way, anyway! So I went into labor with only one request: an epidural. When I went from four to ten centimeters in 25 minutes they told me that my only request couldn’t be honored. This time, with my son, I decided I would plan everything I wanted, as long as I was ok with it being thrown out the window. I had been taught that little planning or lots of planning, I still stood a chance of everything changing, along with the chance of it going my way. So I may as well plan, right?

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I had spent days hoping he’d come early like his sister, who was five days early, but as his due date approached I was becoming nervous I’d be late. Eight days before our due date I had a checkup with my amazing doctor at 9:45am. My doctor checked my cervix and said I was 3.5 centimeters with a bulging bag of waters. I was terrified. When I was this dilated with my daughter, she was born less than two hours later. I drove to my sister’s house immediately after my appointment, with contractions about three minutes apart. From there, my mom left to get our hospital bag from my house, and my husband left work and picked me up.

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When we arrived at the hospital, my contractions were two and a half minutes apart and I was six centimeters dilated. I had progressed in less than 45 minutes. My photographer showed up just minutes after me.

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My nurse had a hard time getting my IV line in or drawing blood, but eventually I was all checked in. It was about 11:30am by the time they had me ready to go. I labored quietly, breathing with my husband through each contraction, with my mom rubbing my back. I started on the birth ball, moved to standing with my husband, sitting on the rocking chair, and then decided it was time to go back to the bed. I knew I was close. I was checked again and was eight centimeters. Only about 30 minutes later I knew the familiar feeling: I was ready to push. I looked at my mom as I breathed through a contraction and nodded my head. She knew what I needed and went to get my doctor. My doctor came in and told me to push whenever I wanted and the nurse brought me a push bar.

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On the first push, my water broke. Two more pushes and Baby J’s head was out. They immediately told me to lie back on the bed, and I felt his shoulder come out as I lay back. Later I learned they needed me to lie back so they could untangle him: his cord was wrapped twice around his neck, once around his abdomen, and once from his shoulder down between his legs!

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He was placed directly on my chest at 2:55pm, and we delayed cord clamping. We immediately breastfed and he was a professional latch-er!

About an hour later, after having my fourth degree muscular tear repaired, they weighed him in at 9lbs 3oz and 21 1/4″ long! I was immediately so proud of myself for delivering my big boy all natural, as planned. Our family came in from the hallway after he was weighed, and we bonded in my hospital room. My mom left to pick up my daughter to come meet her new baby brother, and the nurses brought her a sandwich for dinner. We were discharged the next day.

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As a modest soul, I had contemplated having a photographer present at our delivery. I am forever glad that I decided to have her present. She was a wonderful fly on the wall and I never paid any attention to where she was in the room.

Photography by Alora Photography

All On My Own: An Accidental, Unassisted Home Birth

All On My Own: An Accidental, Unassisted Home Birth

A little background about my previous births:

In January of 2011, we welcomed our first born son Earth-side in the water at Family Beginnings Birthing Center (Miami Valley Hospital). I labored overnight at home and arrived at the hospital not long before he was born. Trying to recall from almost five years ago, we got to the room, got in the tub, and a few short contractions later he was born. In December of 2012, our daughter was born on land, though we wanted another water birth. We did not give the hospital enough notice before our arrival to get the birthing center room switched over or even a portable tub set up on the labor and delivery side. I was practically ready to give birth in triage. In September of 2015 I welcomed our youngest son at home, alone in our empty bathtub.

It was the day after my due date. I woke up and got myself and my children ready to attend MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I was having some “pains,” but I couldn’t decide if they were labor or Braxton Hicks. I call them Braxton Millers; GO BUCKS!

I took the kids to Nana’s house after MOPS for lunch. I often make or pick up lunch for my partner. He is a letter carrier and comes home with the proximity of his route, so I asked to leave the kids with her.

I made lunch for my partner and we talked about the “pains” I was having. They weren’t very regular, and only some of them made me stop and take notice. He advised me to start timing these feelings, go pick up the kids, and walk around a local park. I did start writing my pains down, but I decided to stay home by myself and try to rest, in case it really was labor.

I went upstairs and ironed my Girasol Ring Sling for the hospital bag and scrolled Facebook on my Kindle. My “pains” were about ten minutes apart for an hour, and maybe every other one was actually anything to notice where I had to stop whatever I was doing and breathe through it.

I called my partner and told him I was actually in labor. He was about two hours from finishing his route, so I told him he could finish working.

Then I called my care provider and we spoke about my contractions being ten minutes apart. They wanted them to be five minutes apart before I came in. I reminded the nurse my labors were fast and I had already spoken to the midwives about wanting to come in earlier this time and actually get to labor in the hospital, use the birthing ball, and Jacuzzi tub. She said if I wanted to come in, just call back and let them know.

Ten minutes later, I was having another bigger contraction. I changed positions from side lying to hands and knees and felt very uncomfortable. I remembered from the birthing classes to give a new position a chance, because it likely wouldn’t feel great at first, but I felt like I had to use the bathroom bad!

I made it the short walk down the hall and onto the toilet. I remember wanting my contraction to end so I could relieve myself, but then I realized I was trying to go during my contraction.

I’ve never had my water break prior to birth, so I thought that might be the pressure I was feeling. I reached down and felt a bulging bag of waters…and the head. Two more steps into my bathtub and then what felt like immediately after, my son was born.

I tried to sweep my son’s mouth and realized the sac was covering his face like some alien membrane. I peeled it off and he started to breathe. I had brought my phone in the bathroom with me, thank goodness, so I was able to call my partner. All I said was, “You have to come home right now.” I hung up.

I called my care provider back and said, “Remember how my contractions were ten minutes apart and I shouldn’t come in? Well, I accidently had my baby.”

They were like, “What?” Once they realized what I was saying, the nurse said I had to call the ambulance.

“You mean I can’t just get in the car and…”

“No! You have to call the squad.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll hang up and call.”

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I called 911 and had an ambulance on the way. The dispatcher, bless his heart, was reading off of some prompter, I’m sure. He told me to find something like a shoestring to tie the cord.

“Um, No.”

“But you need to find…”

“No I don’t.”

“But it says…”

“We’re good. I haven’t delivered the placenta yet. He’s breathing; we’re good.”

I even went as far to say, “It’s called delayed cord clamping.”

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Shortly thereafter, my partner got home and I told the dispatcher I was going to have to let him go. He started to say something else and I just said, “I’m going to have to let you go, thanks.”

My partner heard I was on the phone upstairs. He looked in our room, our children’s’ rooms, and then the bathroom. The shower curtain was partially obscuring me, so he didn’t know why I was in the tub until he came all the way into the bathroom.

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I said, “Sorry.” He saw I was holding our child. I told my partner to go get my big Pyrex bowl. I primarily used it for popcorn. I’ll never look at it the same again.

As my partner was coming back upstairs, the paramedics arrived and he escorted them inside.

I delivered the placenta into the bowl and my partner cut the cord. I splashed some water on my legs, wrapped a towel around me to make it to the gurney, and nursed my newborn in the ambulance ride to the hospital.

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I’ll say this much, your body knows what to do. Everybody’s labor and delivery is unique and special to them and their baby. This is definitely not what I had planned, but it is my story and I own it. Our bodies are made for this!

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Henry’s Incredible Birth: Written by Dad

Henry’s Incredible Birth: Written by Dad

It was Sunday the 1st of February, 2015, and the weathermen were predicting a snow storm that would hit our area. The forecast was that we would not get that much snow, maybe six to eight inches. The snow was already falling when we packed up the family and went to church like normal. After church we came home, rested, and then headed to Grandma and Papa V’s house for dinner. By the time we left for dinner, the roads were getting pretty bad and we probably shouldn’t have left the house.

While at dinner, Vicki had one pretty good contraction, but this was nothing new. She had been contracting on and off for the last couple of weeks. Just like usual, the contraction came by itself and it was back to waiting. At our last appointment with our OB, she measured Vicki and she was a “stretchy 5”. She didn’t know what to say, because Vicki should have been in active labor, but was feeling no pain.

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While at Grandma and Papa’s house, the snow storm was still going and the roads had gotten pretty bad. While on the way home we were laughing at all of the poor pizza delivery guys on the road trying to deliver in the snow. It was the night of the Super Bowl and no one wanted to go out into the storm.

When we got home, I knew I did not want to go into work the next day and be so far away from home in a snow storm. I called work and took Monday off. I ran back outside and cleared the driveway again so it would be easy to leave in case Vicki went into labor. We got our four children into bed and asleep. Vicki and I then settled in to watch some T.V. before bed. We went to bed a little later than normal and settled in to get some rest. This is when the fun began.

We were just about asleep and I heard Vicki make a low groan, the kind of sound she makes when she is having a contraction. We have learned not to get excited over one contraction, because she had had so many contractions before that lead to nothing. A couple of minutes later she made the low groan again. After this one I thought that maybe I should start to time them to see how far apart they were, just in case this was the real thing. It was 11:34pm. A few minutes later, she had another contraction that made her shaky, so I looked at the clock: 11:37pm. Holy smokes! Only three minutes apart. Maybe I need to pay attention to her. Vicki then said that she needed to go to the bathroom. As she got up, Vicki looked out the window and sees the mounds of snow. She giggled that there was no way God would have her go into labor in the middle of this epic snow storm.

A few minutes later, I hear that low groan again and go into the bathroom to check on her. She is still having contractions close together and is pretty uncomfortable. Vicki then asked me to draw a bath and put some lavender oil in it to calm her down. She was hoping the lavender would help her relax and hopefully get the contractions to stop. So I put together the bath for her and she got in. This did the job to help her relax. The contractions kept coming, but Vicki said that they weren’t painful.

While this was happening I contacted Devan, our babysitter, to come to the house to watch the other kids while I took Vicki to the hospital. She stated that she was on the way and I began getting the last items into the suitcase to take to the hospital. I also sent our OB a text message to let her know what was going on. The OB stated that she would let the on call doctor know. The contractions continued, but Vicki insisted that they were not painful and she did not think this was actually labor. While this is happening I got the feeling that the baby was probably coming quicker than we thought and I wanted to be prepared if it did. I ran downstairs and unlocked the door for Devan. I also grabbed the bulb syringe that we had previously sterilized for the new baby.

Devan made it to the house and her dad said that the roads were very bad and I would need four-wheel drive if I was going to get anywhere. I thanked him for bringing Devan over and ran back upstairs to Vicki. Vicki was still in the tub and had another contraction as I walked in and she looked at me and said that she thought her body was trying to push on its own. She said that she thought we still had time, because she did not feel any pain or feel the baby’s head coming down. At that point I called 911 and said that my wife was in labor and I needed an ambulance to get her to the hospital. I knew I would not be able to get her there before the baby came. The dispatcher asked if Vicki was ok and I responded that she was as ok as she could be, she was in labor. I then hung up with them and went back to Vicki.

I then told Vicki that the ambulance was on the way and that I needed to get her out of the tub and dressed so we could go to the hospital. I ran around franticly looking for clothes for Vicki to wear. She said that she needed to go sit on the toilet, because it felt like she had to poop. As she got on the toilet I heard a big splash and turned to her to say, “Well, I’m guessing that was your water breaking.” I then watched Vicki arch her back up on the toilet, straightening out her body, at which point I could see the baby’s head crowning. I yelled at Vicki that she needed to get off of the toilet and she stated that she couldn’t. I told her that she had to so I grabbed her by a leg and around the neck and lifted her off the toilet and onto a towel on the ground. Vicki then screamed as another contraction was pushing the baby’s head out. At that point I started to quietly yell for Devan. Devan didn’t hear my quiet calls for help and I realized I would have to do this all by myself.

With that one contraction Vicki was able to push out the head. As I looked at the baby, I noticed that it was very purple. That is when the Holy Spirit told me, “Umbilical cord.” I immediately looked down. I could see the cord over the baby’s shoulder and around the neck. Without thinking, I grabbed the umbilical cord with my finger and pulled it over the baby’s head. Vicki then asked me to give her the baby because she thought that it was already born. I told her that she needed to push to get the shoulders out and that she was not done yet. She then pushed one more time and one by one the shoulders rotated and slid out. I grabbed the baby and lifted him right onto Vicki’s chest. He was still purple and not crying yet so I used the bulb syringe to clear out his nose and mouth until he let out a weak little cry.

I then kept fussing with him, because I knew his cry wasn’t strong enough to fill his lungs with oxygen. I wanted to make him mad and keep him crying. At this point I looked up and saw Devan standing in the doorway holding the phone. She then reached out and handed it to me. I took the phone and found 911 had called back and I informed them that Vicki had delivered the baby at approximately 12:35am.

The dispatchers attempted to give me directions over the phone about clamping and cutting the umbilical cord. I was busy making sure Henry was breathing and knew that leaving the umbilical cord intact while it was still pulsing was the safest option for him. A couple of minutes later I looked up and found a sheriff’s deputy standing in the bathroom doorway. I told 911 that he was there and I was going to let them go. He asked if all was well and I said it was so he went back down to let in the EMS crew.

At this point Vicki asked me to take a picture, so I took a photo of her on the floor of the bathroom holding our baby boy.

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EMS then came in and was making a lot of noise so Vicki asked me to tell them that we had four other kids that were still sleeping and if they could keep it down. They then clamped the cord, cut it and then prepped Vicki to leave for the hospital. While all this is going on Henry pooped on Vicki. After they got her cleaned up, she was loaded into the ambulance and I gathered our things and met her out there. Once in the ambulance I gave our baby boy, Henry, back to her so she could have skin to skin contact with him for the trip to the hospital. Henry promptly pooped all over Vicki again. The ambulance drove us to McLaren hospital, because St John Main was too far in the storm. While in the ambulance I let Dr. Gilbert know that I delivered the baby at home and she responded that she thought that might happen and congratulations.

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At the hospital there was a mass of people waiting for us to arrive. They immediately looked after Vicki and Henry. Once they found they were both fine, they were sent to the labor and delivery floor for post-partum care. Up there they had Vicki deliver the placenta and weighed Henry. We were informed that he was 9 lbs 6 ounces 21 inches long. They brought him back to Vicki to feed and he immediately latched right on and began eating.

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We were visited by a lot of the hospital staff wanting to know the story of Henry’s birth. It took a little while for the shock of having an unintentional, unassisted home birth to wear off. We couldn’t believe that Henry was born in less than an hour of labor and delivered on our bathroom floor! As we look back on Henry’s birth, we can’t believe how it all happened and it seems surreal. We are so thankful that God was there to guide me as I delivered our precious boy on the bathroom floor of our home.

The Birth Story of Pippa Saoirse

The Birth Story of Pippa Saoirse

It was a Friday and I was 41 weeks pregnant with my second child. I had an appointment with the PPC (Prolonged Pregnancy Clinic) to monitor the baby and myself and discuss options. I had been feeling pains on and off at this point for nearly two weeks and was very much ready for my baby to arrive.

When we arrived and after I had eaten, I was hooked up for 20 minutes to see how bub was doing. She was moving fine and everything was going well. I was asked how I was feeling, had I lost my mucus plug, had my waters broken, was I feeling baby move, and did I have any concerns, but to me everything felt fine. After I was taken off the monitor I was then taken in to see the doctor and have an ultrasound.

As they were setting everything up, I was asked the same questions as when I first arrived. Then the doctor started looking at the baby and the room was quiet, too quiet. She eventually asked when my last ultrasound was and I told her it was when I was 19 or 20 weeks and I was told everything was fine, so I did not need another ultrasound. I was then told that my baby had little to no fluid left and that my placenta looked like it was deteriorating.

I knew before the doctor spoke that I would end up being induced. I felt sick, like I had failed my baby and myself. I was induced with my son because of high blood pressure and I had really hoped that the second time I would get to experience labour naturally. After the doctor spoke to me and we decided to induce as soon as possible, instead of waiting the following week, I had an internal examine to see if I was dilated; I wasn’t. The doctor explained to me that since I wasn’t dilated that I wasn’t going to be induced until the following day, but I was going to get a balloon catheter to help bring on labour. I was offered to stay the night, but after everything they said I just wanted to go home and sleep in my own bed and be with my husband and son.

That night I could barely sleep, every pain I got I was hoping it was the start of labour. I had my heart set on a natural labour, but as each hour passed, I knew it was not going to happen. I barely slept, worrying about different things that could happen, but also excited because I knew the next day I would finally get to meet my baby. I arrived at the hospital around 7am to book in; I was led to my room, got changed and waited for the midwives. Just before 8am they tried to break my waters, but were having trouble since there was barely any fluid. At 8:15am I had the drip put in and by 8:30am, I was having my first contractions.

Since I was being induced I wasn’t allowed to have the water birth I had hoped for, but unlike my first induction, I was allowed to get up off the bed and move around more freely.

By 10:30 or 11am, I was too tired to stand anymore and just wanted to lie down and rest. I tried to sleep in between contractions, but that’s didn’t work. I really wanted to avoid any type of pain relief, but I was getting tired and was worried that when it came time to push I wouldn’t have the energy. I decided to wait and try a heat pack instead, but that didn’t help. I kept trying to focus on getting through each contraction, but my blood pressure was rising and each time I had a contraction my babies heart rate would go from 150bpm down to 25-30bpm. I could tell the midwives were getting concerned, but when I asked they were great and reassured me that everything was fine and if I or baby need any help that we would discuss it when the time came.

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Around 12pm, after the midwife had checked to see how far I was dilated and she said I was only 3-4cms. I was too tired and decided that I was going to get an epidural. They told me everything was arranged and I would be able to get one in about 40 minutes, so to try to relax and breathe and it would be there soon. About 35minutes later, I was having a contraction when I felt like I needed to push. After pushing with two contractions, I asked the midwife to check and see if I was dilated and she said I was only about 5cm and try not to push too early. I tried not pushing with the next contraction, but it didn’t work and I was pushing involuntary. It helped ease the pain. Fifteen minutes later the midwife came in to tell me that I was about to get the epidural. I told her I needed to push and I could feel the baby coming. She looked a bit surprised, but came over to check and sure enough my babies head had started to crown. She rushed to get gloves and everything ready. At 1:18pm Saturday, 24th October, 2015 I welcomed my daughter Pippa Saoirse into the world. I had a second-degree tear and the midwife told me I had ragged membranes and my placenta was grainy. I struggled afterwards with accepting her birth and how my body had failed to have her naturally, but after some time I know it was the best decision.pippa2

A Fast, Natural Birth Hospital Story

A Fast, Natural Birth Hospital Story

I was blessed to have a very easy and healthy pregnancy. Praise the LORD for that! It was truly one of my favorite seasons of life. I felt great for the majority of the time, was able to remain very active, and even got relief from my horrible allergies for many months.

I had taken two pregnancy tests that confirmed my suspicions in January, while my younger sister was living with us. I remember the initial shock and disbelief, and even weeks later looking at the first ultrasound, fully expected them to say, “There’s no baby in here; you must have imagined it.” Instead, I saw a tiny pea-sized miracle with a flickering little heartbeat. I was in awe.

I proceeded to do an incredible amount of reading in my pregnancy. I wanted to know it all: the good, the bad, and the terrifying. I read helpful books like “Your Best Birth” and I bought “The Pregnancy Journal” to read about Baby’s daily development. I also watched The Business of Being Born (which my husband was NOT quite ready for). All of that, coupled with talking to one of my best friends about her experience, helped me decide I wanted to give birth without pain medication. There was a birth center located about 45 minutes from us that I thought sounded ideal, but my husband requested a hospital birth for our first experience. Our perfect compromise was to choose a hospital with a great reputation for natural births and deliver with a midwife instead of a doctor. We took prenatal classes there as well, which were excellent in getting us both on the same page and prepping us for what was to come. They educated us on many natural ways of handling pain. I enjoyed meeting to go over our birth plan and the details I wanted to include: a birthing ball, a birthing stool, and my husband revealing the gender of our baby to me.

At that first ultrasound, the local OB/GYN originally predicted Baby would arrive in early August. Since in the months leading up to this pregnancy I had been reading up on Natural Family Planning and keeping meticulous records of my cycle, I knew that I was not that far along. According to my calculations, I thought September 19th would be about 40 weeks. We discussed, disagreed, and finally after the measurements on the ultrasound, the OB/GYN thought September 23 was most accurate. I was only 8 weeks along. I decided to try to keep teaching part-time and coaching cross country up until the baby came, because I knew that would be best for my overactive mind and I had read staying as active as possible helps labor and delivery as well.

I taught on Friday, September 19th and then packed up my things in my classroom. I planned to spend the following week at home and let my maternity substitute take over the teaching. I hadn’t felt any contractions, just very mild Braxton Hicks, so I was assuming I still had many days before Baby would come. I had my 40 week appointment with my midwife that afternoon and found out I was two centimeters dilated and close to 80% effaced. I was thrilled! Two weeks earlier I had been one centimeter and 70%, so at least I was finally making some more “progress”. My favorite moment leading up to birth was at the 39 week appointment when they did a “bone check.” The midwife who performed that complimented my birthing bones. She told me I was fortunate that my small body was lined up well and doing exactly what it needed to do to prepare for birth. I smiled as she told me I would be an excellent candidate to deliver at the birthing center. Maybe next time, I thought to myself. The midwife that saw us at 40 weeks, Betsy, made the comment that dilation and effacing doesn’t necessarily give us an accurate picture of how soon this baby might come, however. So we headed back to Warsaw in that surreal state of knowing that it could be any moment then, or we might have had to wait two more weeks.

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Saturday, September 20th, I woke up early and decided to head to the farmer’s market. Maybe this week would be my big opportunity to get some meals in the freezer! Many vendors commented on how I looked like I would “pop any day now,” but I just smiled politely as I thought to myself how off they were. I didn’t feel any different. When I got home, my husband, J., and I planned to go on a nice long walk to enjoy the sunshine and mild temperature. We mapped out a four mile route and began with a nice big bottle of water.

Within the first mile, we had stopped three or four different times, because I was so out of breath and crampy. Each time J. would ask me, “Are you having contractions?” “Are you SURE these aren’t contractions?” “Are you OK, babe?” and I would assure him, “I’m just so tight! I’m fine. It’s nothing.” And then we would continue. As we neared the mile mark, however, it was clear we needed to turn around. I was short of breath and all my muscles felt tight no matter how many times I tried to stretch them out. As we walked in the door, about 4:00pm, we received a text from our friends who had just had their baby boy! We were so happy for them and talked about how jealous we were that they were already holding their precious child.

I soon went to the bathroom for the fiftieth time that day and I noticed that my underwear were pretty wet. “I think my water might have broken,” I said to J, without much confidence. No contractions. No pain. Huh! Maybe I was wrong. It wasn’t the dramatic moment I imagined it being.

After getting changed, I decided I wanted to dust the furniture in the living room. Even I should have known this was the nesting instinct! I was moving the couches, vacuuming the baseboards, and periodically stopping to lay on the couch for a few minutes to rest. I still didn’t notice any contractions, but I did start feeling menstrual type cramping in my stomach. I was tired and out of breath. I decided the midwife on call might want to know if in fact my water had broken earlier. I called her, still feeling like I was over-reacting. “Eat some protein, drink lots of water and lie down or take a shower. See if you are able to time any contractions,” she suggested. “Call me back in one hour to let me know how you are progressing.” So, after a long shower and some peanut butter toast I tried to nap for a while. J read quietly on the couch, waiting for me to let him know if and when I needed help.

Pretty quickly I noticed that the “cramps” I had been feeling earlier were getting pretty uncomfortable and making me feel like I had the wind knocked out of me. I started trying to time them (which was way more complicated than I imagined it being!) and realized they were about 30 seconds long and coming about every seven to eight minutes. I would nap in between them, and then the next one would wake me up. I began having to close my eyes, change positions in bed, and consciously breathe through them. I began to get a little nervous that this was the start of labor, and it was already more challenging than I thought to remain calm and in control. I asked J to get the car ready, so he left quickly for gas. When it was time to call Beverly back, they were closer to 45 seconds long and coming about every 4 minutes. She told us to head to the hospital. “But you’re not in a big rush,” she added. She said she would meet us there.

I texted our mothers, J grabbed our bags, and we sped to the hospital at around 6:20pm. The weather outside was brewing something special. The trees swayed violently in the wind and the clouds looked dark and ominous. By the time we were on the road, I was extremely uncomfortable and having to stay in one position was really frustrating. I propped myself up on pillows, closed my eyes, tossed and turned, but nothing seemed to help. “Where are we?” I would ask periodically, hoping to hear we were nearing the hospital. What a patient, kind husband I have! J later noted that he would try to time my contractions based on how labored my breathing got; he quickly realized we might not have much time! I don’t remember feeling any “breaks” between the heavy cramping at this point; the entire 45 minute car ride felt extremely uncomfortable. Neither can I remember any normal conversations at that point; I think I was starting to drift into “the zone” of just listening to my body, periodically freaking out about how tight my stomach was, and then trying to remember to breathe and relax.

As I got out of the car and waddled to the doors, I could tell my contractions were very close together. I distinctly remember being self-conscious, because I was wearing a shorter sundress, but with my pregnant body it all the sudden felt very revealing as we rushed through a crowd of Amish men outside the hospital entrance. Oops! I was so paranoid this whole time that what I considered “strong contractions” were going to be written off as false labor and we would be sent home. My family consistently talked about my low pain tolerance growing up, and my tendency to be overly dramatic, so I think part of me assumed I was not going to do well with birth. I squeezed J’s arm the whole elevator ride, wondering how in the world I would survive many more hours of labor if I think THIS is bad already. We made it to the third floor, and the second that I approached the desk a nurse said, “You must be Alison. Let’s get you weighed and checked in.” She wrote down that we checked in at 7:19pm.

In our room the nurse put monitors on my stomach to check on Baby. I wanted to remain standing because any pressure on my back or sides made me uncomfortable. I knelt on the bed, facing the wall. I stood next to the computer, swaying and bending. I was extremely annoyed by how one nurse seemed to be taking her time, asking me questions, writing things down, and I felt like HOW CAN ANYONE BE CALM RIGHT NOW?! I remember after one particularly strong contraction I asked in frustration, “So am I even having contractions, or am I making this worse than what it really is?!” My soon-to-be favorite nurse, Amy, replied, “Oh, honey, you are definitely having contractions. I don’t need to look at the monitor to tell that!” I also remember saying, in desperation, “I really don’t think I can do this without medication. I think I need something to help.” I looked at my husband, not sure of what I wanted him to say. I truly thank God that Amy jumped right in replied for him. “Well, we talked about this in detail, Alison, and you want to do this naturally. You CAN do it.” And that was exactly what I needed to refocus! One of my most vivid memories of labor is one particular contraction where I was on my hands and knees in the bed and I focused on relaxing my face and my shoulders. I just tried to imagine my body opening, and then I distinctly felt my pelvis open ever so slightly. It was so amazing to feel like my body knew how to do this process even though it was unknown to me.

I remembered hearing that getting in the shower relaxed muscles during contractions, so I told Amy I would like to try that to help with the pain. She asked to check me before I got in, but I was hesitant because I didn’t want to hear that I was less than five. She smiled and half-laughed, “Honey, you’re already an eight at least!” YES. I was shocked! This was when the realization truly hit me: this baby is actually coming. Like, SOON.

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I sat on the toilet through one contraction as they got the water ready, and then got in the shower for a few more. I was so annoyed that the water felt like ice and I didn’t want to sit on the chair. In frustration, I looked down at my stomach and realized all my ab muscles were contracting and pushing, but I wasn’t doing anything consciously. I instantly felt like I was going to be sick. As soon as she heard me say that, I heard Amy yell to another nurse, “Um…we’re going to need the midwife NOW!” She asked me to start getting out of the shower. Everything was happening so fast! With the help of J on one side and Amy on the other, I made my way across the hospital room and to the birthing stool. This is the first time I remember seeing Beverly, our midwife. I felt my body pushing without me doing anything for the next two or three contractions. I loved the reminders from Amy to breathe and moan in a lower register to make each sound and push productive. Just when I felt like I might be tearing or might not be able to do anymore, Beverly told me I could touch my baby’s head! J whispered in my ear as he supported my arms behind me, “You are so close. I can see Baby. You are almost done.” I reached down and felt the soft tiny hairs on top of Baby’s head and it gave me the energy to try one more push. I felt instant relief as Baby’s head was delivered. With two more pushes, Baby entered the world! As I grabbed Baby and towels were brought to keep us warm, all of the sudden the detail I thought would be so important (son? daughter?) was the last thing on my mind. The emotions I felt at that moment were absolutely overwhelming as I felt a slippery little person wiggling in my arms. I remember the midwife asking, “So, is it a girl or boy?” and I laughed as I realized I didn’t even let my husband check. He told me we had a daughter! All I could say was, “Thank you, God, thank you! Mommy and Daddy love you so much, Naya (n-EYE-uh) Renee. God loves you so much. You are such a miracle.” She was quiet and wide awake just staring up at me.

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They asked me to push again for the placenta, and I literally could not have cared less to listen to them anymore. I just held my baby and closed my eyes and loved my life. Favorite-nurse-ever Amy even grabbed my cell phone and took the only pictures we have of that moment: me on the birth stool, J behind me, Naya in my arms with exhausted, naked, and relieved smiles.

Only after I made it back to the bed and got cleaned up did we look at the clock. It was exactly 8:00pm, 41 minutes after our arrival. I needed just two stitches, which Beverly later told me surprised her for it being my first delivery, using the stool, and it going so quickly. J texted our parents, grandparents, and siblings, but didn’t reveal the gender of our daughter to my parents, since they really wanted to visit us in the hospital. They drove nearly two hours and arrived just after I nursed her for the first time. Her grandparents walked in the room and J handed a tiny bundle to them as he said, “She’s just falling asleep.” Their eyes lit up as they exclaimed, “A girl?!” Later, the nurses weighed and measured her next to my bedside. She was 6 pounds 14 ounces and 19 inches long. We praised God, snuggled our daughter, and soaked in the best night of our lives.

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The rest of the time in the hospital is truly a blur. I healed quickly and was able to be up on my feet later that evening. Naya nursed well, but it was very painful for me, so the lactation consultant visited with us and helped me learn a few pointers. We had visitors the next day, and we left the hospital Monday morning to head back home. When Betsy came in to say “Hi,” she could not believe that I had given birth so quickly after seeing her two days before. She complimented me, encouraged me, and fawned over Naya. Self-conscious as always, I commented, “Well, I guess God knew I was a wimp, so he gave me a quick labor that I could handle.” Beverly kindly interjected and said, “Each birth has a certain amount of intensity. If you were here for hours that intensity would have been stretched over that time. Instead, you went from nothing to everything in under four hours. Be proud of yourself!” I still replay those words from her when I feel “less than” others.

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I know now that I was likely having contractions all afternoon and just didn’t realize it at the time. I also realize that God was incredibly gracious to me throughout the entire process in allowing it to go quickly and almost exactly as I had asked of Him. I praise Him daily for that. I genuinely loved my experience at the hospital with the midwives. I know many people who want to birth without pain medication fear that hospitals will push you into something you don’t want, but I just encourage everyone to find a hospital with a good record of supporting natural childbirth. Naya’s natural hospital birth was everything I wanted it to be and we were so comfortable with every decision, suggestion, and response during her delivery and our recovery stay. She continues to amaze us each day and we are so thankful for our pregnancy, delivery, and life with her.fastnatural6Read more on Alison’s blog, here.

Olive’s Home Birth

Olive’s Home Birth

Our daughter, Olive Magnolia, was born New Year’s Day at 11:13pm. She was 7lbs 14oz and 21 inches in length. Her birth was a gift and it will forever be one of my most cherished moments.

On New Year’s Eve, I met with my midwife and she performed a sweep, at my request. I was 5cm dilated, but still quite thick and my baby was still high in my pelvis. This was my third baby, but nothing seemed to happen that day, expect some mild cramping and a dull back ache. We went to bed feeling anxious and excited, like waiting for the first snow. When we woke up on New Year’s Day, we decided to see if we could get things moving. We took our son’s tobogganing (my husband did) while I walked up and down the side crest of the snowy hill. I had a lot of pressure (and funny looks!) while I was walking, but it felt good to be moving. I spent the time out walking visualizing and talking with my baby, connecting with her and telling her I was ready for her to come.

At about 5pm, I began to have some very mild and very sporadic contractions. They had zero pattern, ranging from 5 to 30 minutes apart and lasting from 5 to 20 seconds. They were so strange. I’ve had two children before Olive and I had never experienced anything like this. However, with this being my third and my history of fast labours, I decided to call my midwife about 6pm to give her a heads up, since she was about an hour from our home. I was so sad and surprised to learn that she was driving to another birth! In all of her years delivering babies, our birth was the second she has ever missed. She dispatched another midwife to our house. In the hour it took for the new midwife to arrive, my labour completely stopped. I cried to my husband, telling him the news with tears spilling out of my eyes and my bottom lip quivering. When I realized my labour had stopped, my heart cycled through several emotions, but eventually landed on peace. I had read that a massive change of plans could stall or completely stop a woman’s labour. So although I was anxious to meet my beloved, I understood what had happened.

When the midwife arrived, I opened the door and instantly loved her. Her presence was calming and I felt at ease with her at once. I was so relieved, since I had no idea what I was opening the door to. I explained to her that my labour had stopped and that I hadn’t had a contraction in over an hour. She asked if she could check me, since I was 5cm dilated at the sweep the day before. While she set up, I ate takeout with my family and got our sons ready for bed. Soon our boys were tucked away in their beds and I had a vaginal exam. I had not felt a contraction in almost 2 hours at this point and was certain that I wasn’t having a baby that night. Upon examination, I was quite surprised to find I was 7cm dilated. We also found out during the exam that I was contracting, I just wasn’t feeling them. I was having strong contractions that were lasting over 60 seconds long, but I was only feeling slight back pressure for about ten seconds as the contraction peaked. My midwife said she had seen this a couple times before, but it was rare, and that I was very lucky. After two very intense, fast and painful home births, this was a welcome change of pace. She urged my husband to start filling the birthing pool and by 8pm it was full and ready for me, although, I wasn’t ready for it, at all. I still wasn’t feeling much of anything and it felt strange to get in the pool in front of everyone. Instead, we lit a fire and sat around the living room drinking tea and talking. My Mom had just arrived that afternoon from out of town, so we were able to spend the next two hours catching up. We laughed, a lot. My cheeks were sore from all the laughing. It was such a joyous and peaceful atmosphere.

At about 10:30pm, I was getting tired from our long day and began to long for the comfort of my bed. I asked to be checked and we were all amazed to find that I was 8cm, fully effaced and baby was station +2. Although I was in very active labour, in transition actually, I felt nothing beyond some minor pressure and a growing sense that I was wasting everyone’s time. She broke my waters at my request, and I immediately went from not feeling anything to feeling the full extent of transition. I felt a lot of pressure in my bum so decided to get out of the pool and go to the washroom with my husband. I had multiple huge contractions while in there, so we moved back out to the pool. At 11:09 I felt her head begin to crown, and at 11:11 her head was born. We discovered her cord was around her neck, so the midwife walked me through the plan of what would happen once I delivered her body. She would turn the baby under the water, instead of pulling the cord up and over her head. After that, I was free to reach down and grab her. In the moments while she was between worlds, I remember stroking her thick, long hair and feeling completely overwhelmed with love. She was mine, and she was almost here. Things were about to change forever, but in the very best way possible. Olive was born at 11:13 after just 4 minutes of pushing and only about 45 minutes of active labour. She was born by the light of our fire, and was welcomed into the world absolutely enveloped in love. We marveled at how much she resembles her brothers, and how bright eyed and alert she was. She is the most peaceful and beautiful baby. I am so grateful to have been so fortunate to experience such an incredible birth. With Olive being our last baby, it brought a great sense of peace to the closing of that chapter of our lives.oliveshomebirth

Third Time’s the Charm: A Successful HBA2C

Third Time’s the Charm: A Successful HBA2C

The birth of my first child was a failed induction that ended in a cesarean. I remember the nurses laughing at my natural birth plan when we checked into the hospital and telling me to “wrap my head around what was about to happen”. It wasn’t long after they started the Pitocin that I could feel intense cramping, but with the comfort of the yoga ball and some deep breathing, I was handling the labor well. After the internal monitor fell out the second time, the nurse told me I would need to get in bed and stay there. The doctor came in and broke my water, which is when things got intense. My contractions were hard, long, and one right after the other. I felt like I didn’t have time to catch my breath in-between contractions. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I asked for the epidural.

After dilating to six centimeters and 12 hours of intense labor, my doctor told me that the baby was showing signs of distress and that it was in our best interest to have a cesarean. Forty minutes later, we had a beautiful baby boy. I remember telling myself that I had a healthy baby and it didn’t matter how he came into the world as long as he was healthy, but I was lying to myself. The truth was, I was scarred physically and emotionally. I had planned on a natural, vaginal birth and nothing went as planned. I felt as though labor was done to me and that I was told what was going to happen instead of what my options were.  It wasn’t long after the birth of my son, that I decided I wanted to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with my next baby. At my follow up appointment I asked my doctor about the possibility of a VBAC and she told me that it was “once a cesarean, always a cesarean.”

When we started trying to conceive our second child, I started researching my options and decided to look closer at home birth. I made a consultation appointment with a home birth midwife that was referred to me by a friend. I was pregnant by the time we went to our appointment. The midwife looked at my surgical report and told me that I was a perfect candidate for a HBAC (home birth after cesarean).

Fast-forward nine months later to a beautiful October evening, my labor started and we called the team. Labor with my daughter was long and slow to progress. My contractions were sporadic and changed in intensity; some were intense and some not so intense. After 36 hours of laboring at home my midwife suggested we transfer to the nearest VBAC friendly hospital for an epidural. She said that would give my body the chance to rest so that when it came time to push, I would have the energy.

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We arrived at the hospital and had to spend quite a bit of time with the staff explaining our wishes. The doctor on shift agreed to continue my labor in the hospital with minimal interventions. After 12 hours with the epidural and a low dose of Pitocin, the doctor came in and said, “I’m sorry but it’s time.” He explained that because my water had been broken over 24 hours, I was risking infection. At eight centimeters and behind many tears, I signed the consent for cesarean. I was devastated. Once again, I was thankful for my healthy baby girl, but I was mourning the loss of my dream birth. I mourned that birth for over a year. I thought we had completed our family and I wouldn’t have another chance to have a natural birth.

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We were surprised three years later by the news of our third baby’s impending arrival. I knew immediately that I wanted to try again for a home birth, but my husband was not so sure. We visited our midwife and she shared all of my options with us. She told me that she would love to have me as a client again, but my chances of a successful home birth were around 50%. I knew this was my last shot and that if I didn’t at least try I would wonder forever what could have been.

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So with a reluctant, but supportive husband, I got busy with my Spinning Babies exercises and started listening to my Hypnobabies CD’s daily. One evening, months later, my contractions started, they were ten minutes apart and intense enough to wake me up, but they stayed that way all night and through the next day. My husband and I had a friend take our older children while we tried to rest and distract ourselves.

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It was in the evening that things got intense.  I contacted my birth team while my husband set up the birth tub in our bedroom. Contractions started coming hard and close together. I had to work hard to focus and relax during my contractions. My husband gave counter pressure on my back while repeating, “Breathe IN peace. Breathe OUT tension.” Those words helped me focus my breath and visualize my cervix opening. I labored in the tub, then on the toilet, on my side in my bed and then back to the tub. At some point in the tub, I asked my husband to get in with me. I just wanted to hold him and be close.

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It was shortly after he joined me in the tub that my water broke, my midwife checked my progress and I moved to my hands and knees. The very next contraction the baby was on my perineum and I felt the urge to push. I had my husband behind me in the tub, one midwife next to me with a flashlight, the other midwife and my doula in front of me holding my hands and coaching me how to push and to keep me intact. I loved pushing. It felt great! I felt powerful, successful, and strong. My doula told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head and I did. There it was! I knew it wouldn’t be long before I could hold my baby in my arms. After five or six pushes she was out. I heard her let out a cry and then my team helped me climb over the umbilical cord and my husband handed me our daughter. I just sat there and held her. There was no rush for us to go anywhere, we could just BE. The room was dim, quiet and calm, and we all just stared at her in amazement. A home birth after two cesareans – I did it!!!

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The experience of having a natural birth taught me to appreciate my body, because it is capable. A women’s body is amazing and although it’s hard to remember as you look in the mirror and focus on your flaws, it’s important to appreciate what your body is capable of doing. This experience also taught me to trust in my decisions and myself. It wasn’t easy telling my family and friends that I was planning a home birth after my last failed attempt.  Only I knew what was best for me and I am so thankful I trusted in my team, my body, and myself.failedhomebirth7

A 45 Minute Home Water Birth

A 45 Minute Home Water Birth

I had four hospital births, all with an epidural. That’s what I thought you were supposed to do when you had a baby – get an epidural and escape from the pain. No one likes pain, so why not skip that part? My first birth was at 41 weeks and three days after my water broke. The second birth was at 40 weeks and one day, and labor started on its own. My third birth, at 41 weeks, also started on its own. Then my fourth birth was induced at 39 weeks and one day.

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It went against everything I believed in, but I felt pressured into it and I caved. It was by far my worst experience. The doctor broke my water and the pain was worse that the actual labor. They gave me an epidural and once it wore off I knew it was pushing time. As they were prepping me to push he was giving me more of the epidural. I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to push my son out. After that birth experience, I knew I didn’t want that again.

When we found out we were having baby number five, I knew I needed to find a midwife (not long after baby number four I found out they still existed). I thank God every day for the only midwife in my area. She was definitely a Godsend. I heard from so many different moms who used her, that she was the best and I would not regret it. She was the best and is the best!

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My due date was September 10th. Nothing happened. A week went by and still nothing, not even real waves. We were getting close to 42 weeks and in Louisiana it’s illegal to have a homebirth midwife after 42 weeks. She stripped my membranes at 41 weeks and three days. My husband and I spent the whole day together without the kids. Still nothing was happening. I had a few waves, but nothing strong enough. I wanted my homebirth. I deserved it. I was going to have it.

As a last resort, I did the unthinkable. The nastiest thing ever: Castor oil. It was the worse. Still nothing happened. This was at 41 weeks and six days. My midwife and her student came to my house, my husband and doula were already with me, and we had to make a plan. She wanted to check me to make sure he had dropped. Well guess what? He hadn’t. She did some pressure points on my uterus and all of a sudden he wiggled down into position. YAY! She suggested we break my water. My husband and I prayed about it and discussed it for a few minutes. We decided to go forward with it and break my water.

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My water was broken at 10pm. My doula had me walking up and down my hallway and doing lounges and squats. It took a little bit, but the waves started coming. I was tested GBS+ and decided to do the IV. As they were trying to give me the IV my waves were getting stronger, but still manageable. I overheard my midwife say, “We don’t have time for this, she is in transition.”

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I got up and had to push. He was coming right then. I squatted between my bed and dresser and just pushed hard and let out a scream. I told my midwife I couldn’t get in the birthing pool. She knew how much I wanted a water birth. Her words I will never forget, ”You are going to get in the pool, Jon’s going to catch your baby, and you are going to have your water birth.” She helped me in the pool along with my husband’s help. Sitting down in that nice warm water was like my own personal drug. That water felt so good. I pushed my son out and my husband caught him. After his placenta was born, we figured out why I didn’t go into labor naturally. My water bag was like leather. When I did have a wave I couldn’t feel it. My son was born at 11:20pm.View More: http://thepottershandphotography.pass.us/tracyharmsPhotography by The Potter’s Hand Photography

A Healing Home Birth After a Fourth Degree Tear: Part Two

A Healing Home Birth After a Fourth Degree Tear: Part Two

If you haven’t read Part One of this story, please start here.


 

The choice for me to have a homebirth was easy. I was emotionally and physically healed from my 4th degree tear, and BOTH are necessary to deliver vaginally again, which I call a VBAST (vaginal birth after a severe tear). For others who have had a 4th degree tear, the choice of future deliveries is not so easy. I am in a Facebook support group for mom’s who have had a 4th degree tear (which is the ONLY active support group for us!) and the decision to have a VBAST, or to even get pregnant again, is a terrifying one. Some women have had PTSD from their deliveries and emotionally cannot have another vaginal delivery. Some, like I mentioned before, physically cannot have another vaginal delivery because of ongoing problems like incontinence.

Others, like myself, feel like they have to have another vaginal delivery to emotionally heal from their 4th degree tear. I wanted to prove to myself that my body could do it all by itself. I wanted the birth that I wasn’t able to have the first time. There are risks to this of course. You could have another severe tear and cause more damage. The risk of another severe tear is small, about 7%, but that is higher than other moms who haven’t had a severe tear, about 1-2%. However, I was willing to take that risk. I did A LOT of research on ways to decrease the chances of another tear and I felt like the best way for me to do that was at home, which I also did A LOT of research on.

To avoid another severe tear, I wanted to avoid an epidural and pain meds (easy to do at home!), because those would lead to the next two things that increase the risk – coached pushing and pushing in the lithotomy position (on your back with feet up in stirrups). I also did not want, under any circumstances, an episiotomy or assisted delivery (vacuum or forceps). I chose to have a water birth, because the water softens the perineum and makes it easier to stretch during delivery. I also watched as many natural birth videos on YouTube as possible! These really helped me to inspire and motivate me, and to see what worked for other women.

I am extremely lucky to live in an Amish area, so homebirths are common. I had a lot of options for a homebirth midwife, but one midwifery group really stood out to me. Their practice has been around since 1978 and has a very good reputation in the area. They also provide all options in one place – you can deliver in their free standing birth center, at home, or at one of the local hospitals. It is rare that you are able to find a midwife group that provides all three of those. The peace of mind knowing your midwife would still be able to be with you should you have to transfer to a hospital was priceless.

With my second son I was due on a Sunday, so my mom drove the 13 hours from Georgia on the Wednesday before to be here for the birth. There was one stipulation from my husband for us to have a home birth – my mom had to be there! After having some crampy contractions for several nights in a row, I was worried the baby was not going to wait on my mom. But he did! That Wednesday night I woke up at 2:30am to use the bathroom and realized I had been “dreaming” that I was having contractions. When I laid back down I had three contractions that were seven, then four minutes apart, so I woke up my husband and said, “Sorry, but I think we might have a 9/11 baby.” Neither one of us had wanted a September 11th baby and my husband had a couple of important meetings at work that day, but he didn’t make it to those appointments…I also woke up my mom and told her the baby must have been waiting on her.

We spent the next two hours doing some last minute cleaning and setting everything up for the birth, including the birth pool. Contractions were four minutes apart, but not strong (I had a pregnancy full of Braxton Hicks and these were definitely different, but not strong yet). After we set everything up I laid down to sleep for two hours and contractions spread out to about 10-15 minutes. After I got up, I called the on call midwife, Autumn, at 8am to tell her I wouldn’t be making it to my 9:15 appointment, because I was in labor. I kept busy the rest of the morning and contractions stayed around ten minutes apart. I started having bloody show at 10am. At 2:30pm I asked my mom to check my dilation before I called to update Autumn (remember, my mom is a labor and delivery nurse). I was 4cm, 80%, and -1 station.

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The next few hours the contractions continued to get stronger and closer together, but still not bad. We continued to keep busy by making a big pot of soup and warming the water in the birth pool. I decided to call Autumn at 5:45pm to come over, because contractions had been every five and a half minutes for the past hour and I knew she was 45 minutes away. She got to our house just before 7pm and the nurse, Diane, arrived shortly after. Autumn checked me soon after she got there, but I did not want to know my dilation from that point on (after delivery I found out I was 8cm at that point! I DID NOT think I was that far along).

Over the next couple of hours the contractions picked up some, so I had to walk around and breathe though them. One thing that really helped was someone rubbing a hot pack on my low back while I rubbed my stomach during a contraction. Around 8:30pm there was a change in the midwife’s shift, so Lori came and took over for Autumn. All three of them, Lori, Autumn, and Diane, had very calm and relaxing vibes. They sat at our dining room table taking notes and making conversation. Other than the occasional monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat, there was no other poking or prodding going on.

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Around 9:45pm I was getting tired and mentioned possibly getting in the tub, but I didn’t want to get in too early and stall things. Lori encouraged me that she did not think things would stall and I should get in the tub. Again, I had no idea how dilated I was, but she knew I was at least 8cm.

In the tub, my back was really bothering me, so I decided to get on my knees and lean over the edge. I spread my knees apart to really open up my pelvis and after a few contractions I felt a “pop” during a contraction and things got really intense. I thought it was my water breaking, but Lori said it didn’t. I think it was his head moving down. The next couple of contractions I got a little nauseous and started getting the urge to push. One of the things on my birth plan was that I didn’t want any coached pushing – I wanted to just trust my body’s lead. It was a good thing, because my urges were all over the place. There’s NO WAY I would have been able to push the typical way – counting to ten three times during a contraction. She checked my dilation again and I was 9cm and fully effaced and could be stretched to 10cm (she didn’t tell me).

Lori monitored his heart rate and got a reading of 100 on the Doppler and was worried for a short time, but we eventually realized it was the placenta pulsing and not the baby. During that time though, I changed position from my knees to my back. She checked me one last time to make sure I was fully dilated and didn’t have a cervical lip. After pushing so long with my first son, I didn’t want to take the chance of pushing against a cervical lip this time! I got the all clear to push and within 10-15 minutes he started crowning.

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Wow, is that intense! With my first I had the pudendal nerve block, so I didn’t feel a thing when they used the vacuum to pull him out. So crowning/ring of fire was all new to me and had been my greatest fear the whole time – along with having a bad tear again. I was somehow able to breathe through crowning and push him out slowly over about 4 contractions. I was making a bit of noise during this time and right before Chase was born our dog came over and put her head on my shoulder. It was the sweetest thing ever! I gave her a big kiss and she went back to lying on the couch like she had been doing throughout my labor.

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The next contraction Chase Benjamin was born at 10:40pm. It was the most incredible feeling in the world! I just looked at him and said, “I cannot believe I just did that!” I did end up with a 2nd degree tear right along the episiotomy scar, but I expected some tearing and the recovery was so much easier compared to my first son. He was 7lbs 11oz 20 1/4in and looked a lot like his big brother.

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Choosing a home birth with a midwife has been one of the best decisions of my life. It was a beautiful, healing experience after my first delivery. I want anyone who has had a 4th degree tear to know that another vaginal delivery IS possible if they want one!4thTearPart8

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