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I Am Strong Because I Am FREE!!

I Am Strong Because I Am FREE!!

I am strong because three months after my husband and I got married, we found out we were pregnant, and at 12 weeks, we lost the baby.

I am strong because after three months of waiting to try again, we found out we were pregnant for the second time, but at six weeks, I miscarried again.

I am strong because that very next month, I got pregnant for the third time. My doctor put me on progesterone supplements to help prevent another miscarriage, and soon we had a healthy, growing baby.

I am strong because on New Year’s Eve, I went in to be induced, and after only a few hours, my doctor told me I needed a c-section. She said my pelvis was too small and that I would never be able to give birth vaginally. Not knowing much about birth at all, and being totally unprepared, I had a c-section, and our beautiful son was born a few hours before midnight.

I am strong because even though I was in excruciating pain from the surgery, I continued to breastfeed my son and refused to give him formula.

I am strong because at 2 weeks old, my son’s pediatrician said that he was too small and told me to start supplementing with formula. Not knowing much, and being a scared first time mom, I listened.

I am strong because even though I supplemented, I kept nursing as much as I could. I started researching everything I could about breastfeeding and how to up my supply. I bought an SNS to help wean him off formula so that he could nurse exclusively again. I was prescribed medication to help increase my supply.

I am strong because when my son was a month old, I developed double mastitis, was put on antibiotics and was in so much pain, but I still continued to nurse.

I am strong because twice a week, I had to take my son to the pediatrician to have weight checks, and every time, I just heard about how small he was, until finally, his pediatrician said that my milk wasn’t good enough, didn’t have enough calories, and that I needed to stop nursing. Without running any tests, she decided that my milk wasn’t suitable for him.

I am strong because I went home that day and refused to stop nursing. I knew my son was fine and that he was growing like he should. I started looking for new pediatricians who would be supportive of my desire to nurse.

I am strong because when my son was 2 months old, I found a new pediatrician and canceled my appointment with the previous pediatrician.

I am strong because the next day, Child Protective Services came to my house and took my 2 month old away from me. I could do nothing but watch them take my baby. They said that we were an immediate danger to our son and that we were neglecting him because he was so small.

I am strong because CPS never told us where they were taking our son. We found out later that night that he was admitted to a hospital, but we weren’t allowed to know which one, or if he was okay.

I am strong because over 24 hours after they took our son, they called and told us to come to the hospital where he was, and that they had kept him overnight to run tests on him. They found nothing wrong, and encouraged me to keep nursing. They said that the previous pediatrician had called and said that we were starving our son, and that he was in danger with us. The hospital said that they would be reporting the pediatrician for lying to CPS and causing us so much distress.

I am strong because the hospital offered to test my milk and they found that I was producing an average of 60 calories per ounce! Way above average! I continued to nurse my son, and used donor milk from a friend to eventually wean him off formula.

I am strong because when my son was 9 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. Another boy!

I am strong because at my first prenatal appointment, my OB told me to not even consider a VBAC because I would never be able to do one, I was “too small.” She encouraged me to schedule my repeat c-section that day.

I am strong because shortly after I found out I was pregnant, my husband got orders to move to South Korea. We decided to move there with him and I would give birth there.

I am strong because even though my milk had almost dried up from being pregnant, I continued to nurse until my son’s 1st birthday!

I am strong because I started researching VBACs. I got my operation report from my previous OB and learned that the c-section was unnecessary, and that I COULD give birth vaginally if I wanted to! I immediately told my new OB that I wanted to try. I hired a birth doula to help me through the process.

I am strong because at 41 weeks, my doctor said that he had to induce me (per hospital policy) or give me a repeat c-section. Because this was the only military hospital in Korea, I didn’t have a lot of options. I chose the induction.

I am strong because even though I was in immense pain from the pitocin, I went eight hours without any pain medication. six hours later, I gave birth via successful VBAC to my second son!

I am strong because in the birth canal, he had swallowed meconium, and I wasn’t able to hold him until he was over 45 minutes old.

I am strong because I still haven’t been the first to hold either of my babies.

I am strong because my second son has never had anything but MY breastmilk! He is now 16 months old and still nurses four times a day, and yes, he is just as small. We just have small babies!

I am strong because I knew my mothering instincts were right and I protected my right to nurse, and my right to have the birth I wanted, even when I was told I’d never give birth that way.

I am strong because I was so inspired by my birth and my experiences, that I decided to become a labor Doula and am planning my next birth (not pregnant yet!) to be at a birthing center.

I am strong because even though I have never shared this story publicly, I am ready to help someone else out through my experiences.

I am strong because it has taken me years to trust people and doctor’s, but I am slowly starting to trust my children with other people, and to have faith in doctor’s again. I am slowly letting go of the past and looking to the future.

I am strong because I am FREE.

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Ladies & Gentlemen, Husbands & Wives, Mothers & Fathers: We Are Strong

Ladies & Gentlemen, Husbands & Wives, Mothers & Fathers: We Are Strong

I am Strong because I waited until the age of 32 to have my first child.

I am Strong because I saw our would-be son one day looking up at me holding onto the knee of the man who became the love of my life at the age of 28. Dream became Reality.

I am Strong because as the youngest of my home growing up, and the youngest in our family’s generation, I was not around young children much, so everything was new and exciting/frightening.

I am Strong because my husband made it home from his last deployment for the Army in 2010, and we made the happy decision to try and start a family.

I am Strong because five weeks into trying, the hubby and I went to the ER due to me having severe abdominal cramps. We found out after eight hours of waiting that we were less than 48 hours pregnant and in danger of losing the baby.

I am Strong because we also made the decision to do what it took to have me become a Stay-At-Home Mom; the call and eventual resignation from being in Property Management for almost a decade was bitter and sweet.

I am Strong because my pregnancy was filled with obstacles and unknowns, from start to finish.

I am Strong because our pregnancy took, and I was able to carry full term.

I am Strong because when we moved from Texas to Virginia, our insurance was suspended due to an employee’s typo, and we were forced to go without insurance for over 4.5 months of the pregnancy.

I am Strong because we had to ask a local 4D ultrasound locale for a session to find out how many and what we were having during the middle of the insurance nightmare.

I am Strong because our sweet baby boy blew a kiss to us on the ultrasound, one of at least three prior dreams that have become reality. (The DVD shows this amazing gift)

I am Strong because the pregnancy was high-risk from start to finish.

I am Strong because the natural hormonal surges that occur in pregnancy were so great that my hip and shoulder joints were prone to dislocation, making it hard to walk, sit, lift anything, or be comfortable.

I am Strong because despite all my efforts to consume the healthiest of things – the only true craving I ever had was for beer, not a winning scenario as it went unsatisfied – I gained over 50 pounds during the pregnancy.

I am Strong because we made a birth plan, but due to complications with my joints, had to settle for induction/possible csection as a backup.

I am Strong because at 41 weeks, I began having contractions. They lasted an entire week, but to no avail as I did not dilate.

I am Strong because we went into the hospital to be induced, only to have the first induction fail.

I am Strong because after the second induction was administered, my joints could no longer handle the hormonal surge and my right hip dislocated, causing me excruciating pain.

I am Strong because I was scared to death of having an epidural but made the decision to do so as my cervix was still not cooperative.

I am Strong because I had two extremely intense contractions during the administering of the epidural, but managed to stay still enough with the help of my husband so as to not incur any nerve damage.

I am Strong because the only progress the epidural produced was my water breaking.

I am Strong because after 72 hours from being admitted, our son’s heart rate began dropping with contractions. It was decided a csection was eminent.

I am Strong because I sang hymns while being rolled into the OR, strapped to the table, to calm my nerves.

I am Strong because it took over five rounds of pain blockers to get my body to cooperate to have the procedure.

I am Strong because upon delivery, it was discovered our dear son had the cord wrapped around his neck twice.

I am Strong because after being wheeled into the recovery room while our son went to be tested/weighed, the nurses had turned the television on in the room.

I am Strong because our son was born the morning of the tsunami in Japan, March 11, 2011.

I am Strong because I felt at the same time immense joy for his new life, and ultimate sorrow for the tens of thousands of lives who were washed from this earth that fateful day.

I am Strong because we finally had a healthy baby boy!

I am Strong because I found out through two sessions with a domineering and condescending lactation specialist that I had inverted nipples and would eventually not be able to produce enough breastmilk to meet our son’s needs. I was not able to experience the deep bond with our son that so many others are blessed to have.

I am Strong because I left the hospital weighing more than I did while pregnant due to the amount of fluids and medications administered during these events.

I am Strong because the first week of having our son home also involved suffering through a reaction and withdrawal from a medicine the nurses gave me that I had previously admitted being allergic to on top of recovering from the surgery.

I am Strong because though our son was healthy, we noticed him having consistent tummy troubles. At the age of 2, he began having the same symptoms I have experienced as an adult with IBS, but at such a young age.

I am Strong because we had many trips to the doctor and even the ER but to no finite clarity on how to help our sweet boy.

I am Strong because our son suffered open sores for seven months during this ordeal.

I am Strong because I made the decision to attempt fixing his troubles through an elimination diet. It took over a year to find the source of the problem, mainly being all grains, but within a week of a completely benign diet, his sores healed and we began to enjoy watching him be a little boy with no more pain, only joy and curiosity.

I am Strong because our family is now on a modified paleo – low FODMAP lifestyle, with all of us having seen significant improvement in our health.

I am Strong because I only discovered Birth Without Fear through an acquaintance’s chance post on Facebook.

I am Strong because I wept with grief and relief to see how not alone I am in this world of traumatic births.

I am Strong because I’ve been able to lose all the weight I had gained and be more healthy now than ever before.

I am Strong because my Husband never left my side, from start to finish. He is my Rock, and I will Love him until my last breath.

I am Strong because we want a daughter.

I am Strong because we may not be able to have any other children.

I am Strong because I rejoice in the glorious secret world that is our happy home with my husband and son.

I am Strong.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Husbands, Wives, Mothers and Fathers:

We are STRONG.

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From the Grocery Story to Unassisted Home Birth in 15 Minutes

From the Grocery Story to Unassisted Home Birth in 15 Minutes

My daughter, Aisha Skye, was born on the 19th of February 2013 weighing in at 8 lbs 11 oz, after an unexpected homebirth.

I had my first daughter, Avalon, two years previously at our local hospital. She was born naturally after a few complications and six hours of active labour and pushing.

I was expecting a similar delivery as my first daughter so I was ready to be “in it for the long haul.” I was in “active” labour with Aisha for a total of two hours. My contractions were never closer than 15 minutes together. I spent most of it in my Mother’s spa bath. I was actually in Woolworths 15 minutes before Aisha was born, getting “supplies ” (reading material, snacks, etc.).

I returned back to Mum’s and jumped straight in the bath after almost pooping my pants in Woolworths. After calling for my sister and Mum and telling them that I needed to poo (while in the bath) they got me out. They placed me on the toilet where I felt my daughters head. Literally seconds passed and my waters popped on the toilet. My sister pulled me up off the toilet. I then placed one leg on the step of the bath and after one push my daughter Aisha was born. My Mum literally had to dive between my legs to catch her. We don’t know the exact time but we guess she was born around 8.23 pm.

The ambulance was called and we were taken to our local hospital. Aisha spent eight days in SCN as she has complications with her breathing and a few other issues. She is now a beautiful 6 month old. We still have a few issues regarding her breathing but she is a trooper and never ceases to amaze me.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story with all Mothers and families alike.

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One Woman’s Successful Frank Breech Vaginal Hospital Birth

One Woman’s Successful Frank Breech Vaginal Hospital Birth

Let me rewind a little bit…At 37 weeks, we found out via ultrasound that Everett was frank breech. We tried everything we could to turn him. Everything was totally unsuccessful in turning him. He was stubborn and comfortable in his breech position.

Typically, a breech baby these days means a c-section. But I was being told by my midwives that I was THE perfect candidate to attempt a vaginal breech delivery…if I could find an experienced doctor willing to do it. Immediately after that 37 week ultrasound, I started calling every OB in our city (we live in a big city). After dozens of phone calls and lots of No’s, I found someone willing to meet with me to discuss it. We met and after a thorough health history discussion and an extensive examination, we all decided I was a good candidate and we’d do a trial of labor and see how things went.

However, delivering with an OB in a hospital setting meant having to compromise on some things that I wanted. In the mean time we tried everything we could to get him to flip. I saw a chiropractor who used the Webster technique. I saw an acupuncturist for moxibustion acupuncture. I did the spinning babies protocols at home. I shined a bright flash light on my lower belly multiple times a day. I took a homeopathic supplement that’s supposed to encourage flipping. I drank 100+ ounces of water a day to up my amniotic fluid levels, hoping to give him more room to move. And last of all, we tried an EVC (External Cephalic Version).

Then about 39 weeks, the priority went from turning him to encouraging labor to come on it’s own since inductions are not allowed with a breech. My doctor was scheduled to leave the country on September 3rd, so we had a scheduled c-section for September 1st. If he wasn’t here to deliver, I’d end up with a cesarean anyway. I had a deadline for getting this baby out naturally!I had contractions on and off starting around 38.5 weeks, but nothing stuck around (much like my pregnancy with #2). On Thursday September 28th at 39 weeks 3 days, I saw my doc and he did an internal exam to check for dilation. I was 3-4cm but not very effaced. Baby was engaged in my pelvis, but we think not having the pressure of his head on my cervix probably kept me from thinning out like I normally would.

I had some crampy contractions after the internal check (which was at 4pm), but I figured my cervix was just irritated, and they’d go away. We went for a long walk after my appointment to try to get things moving. By 7pm I was still feeling them and they were definitely painful. In the back of my mind I knew they were the real thing, but I didn’t want to jump the gun. I took a long shower after the kids went to bed, did some cleaning, and a little laundry.

By 11pm they were spacing out quite a bit to just a few an hour but still pretty painful. We decided to go to bed and get some sleep. I said a prayer and asked the little boy in my belly to allow me at least a few hours of sleep. But I kind of knew that wouldn’t happen. When had he cooperated up to that point?! I maybe slept 30 minutes before a hard contraction woke me up. Then maybe another 20 minutes and another 15 before I gave up and couldn’t stand to be laying down any longer.

I grabbed my phone and sat up in bed timing them and trying to distract myself from the slight anxiety that started to creep in. Around 2am I decided I was truly in labor with contractions 7ish minutes apart and it was time to pack the last minute stuff and wake up my husband, Corey. I let him know what was going on and decided to take another shower because I was having terrible back labor and the water on my back sounded nice.

I paged my midwife at 2:15am, and she thought it would be a good idea to come to the house and do an internal exam and see where I was at. We called Corey’s mom to come over and sleep on the couch until the girls woke up. I started to get a little nervous that it was a false alarm because my labor pattern was so weird and different from anything I’d experienced before (strong contractions further apart with multiple small ones in between). By the time both of them were here, my midwife determined I was 6cm and my water was bulging. And as soon as everyone arrived, my contractions were picking up in frequency and intensity, so we decided to head to the hospital since my labors move fast. By the time we got there and got into a room, it was almost 4am.

Despite my history of quickly progressing labors and the fact that I was once again GBS positive and needed antibiotics, the L&D nurse completely ignored me. She got me in a room, asked me for a urine sample, and left. We didn’t see her again for 45 minutes (she was too busy chatting with the ladies outside). And she only came into the room at that point because my water had broken and I still didn’t have an IV line inserted, and I was definitely going through transition.

I was incredulous when she told me I had to SIT in the bed while they monitored my and baby’s vitals for 20 straight minutes to make sure he was tolerating labor well before I could go ahead with a breech delivery. HELLO!! Why didn’t she tell me that and get that going the second I got in there?!?! Now I had to sit there for TWENTY a minutes while going through TRANSITION????? I was ready to scream and bite her head off and I made sure she knew I was pissed.

She then proceeded to try to get an IV going. The first time she couldn’t get the vein. The second spot she tried my vein blew and there was blood gushing and dripping down my arm. If I had not been in terrible labor pain and distracted as a result, I’d have definitely passed out. Then she stuck me a THIRD time and was only able to get the needle in half way, but it was enough to get stuff in me so she left it. She was very vocal about how long it took to get a vein since I refused to let her stab me during a contraction (which were coming every 90ish seconds at that point). It was clear early on that this lady and I were not going to get along. I was just SO glad my midwife was there to support me, help me stay sane, and be a mediator between me and this awful nurse.

By the time she had me hooked up, she said if they didn’t get me moved to a delivery room ASAP I might end up having the baby right there. But due to the intensity and frequency of my contractions, it took me 15ish minutes to even get out of the bed and into a wheel chair for her to move me. Which she was clearly annoyed by and also very vocal about. Once I got to a delivery room they were prepped and ready to go. My doc checked me and I was 10 cm, but had a lip on my cervix still and was told I could NOT push yet. Because he was bottom first, it was very important to be fully effaced so we didn’t risk head entrapment.

I had THE worst back labor I have ever had. The level of pain I was experiencing (I assume because of his position) was in another realm from what I’d experienced with either of my girls. I wasn’t able to labor in water because I was so close, and a water birth was out of the question this time around. I started to lose my cool in a way I’ve never done before in labor. And then I was involuntarily pushing and could not stop. They checked me again but I still had a lip and wasn’t supposed to be pushing.

It was at that point that I did something I never thought I’d do, I asked for an epidural. I got THE rudest most disapproving glare and shake of the head from that awful nurse. I was ready to bite her head off! I was in so much pain that I was actually starting to go crazy and I knew the only way I’d be able to not push was to not feel the contractions. I was feeling guilty, but my midwife assured me that it was TOTALLY reasonable to want an epidural this time around and at least I had made it almost the whole way without. She said I likely would not have the drugs in my system long enough for them to cross the placenta and affect the baby. It’s not standard practice to give a woman an epidural at 10 cm, but this was a special case.

There was a chance of needing an episiotomy to make room for baby’s head as well as the possibility that the doc would need to stick his hand up there to flex baby’s head or use forceps for the same reason if baby wasn’t flexing his head on his own. And I didn’t want to feel all that going on. They had an anesthesiologist on standby in the room in case I wanted it for these exact reasons, so as soon as I said the word, they got to work. He was pretty quick, but it was still agonizing to try and sit still through those contractions while he placed the catheter.

Let me just say, one of my biggest motivating factors for natural drug-free childbirth (outside from the whole idea of it’s better for baby to not be doped up) was my fear of needles and the idea of getting one put in my SPINE. Well…it wasn’t bad. AT ALL. I don’t even know why I was so scared (of course, in the moment, all I wanted was that needle in there to start the drugs flowing). And within 5-10 minutes of that being put in, I started to smile and sat back and said “so THIS is why people get these things!!” Hahahaha! It was SUCH a relief. They gave me a low enough dose to still feel the contractions a bit so I knew when to push, but enough to be totally numb in my lady regions. And because I was able to finally relax a little and take some deep breaths, that lip on my cervix was gone in minutes.

It was time to push.Throughout my laboring at the hospital, I’d had several nurses and doctors ask my permission to witness the birth (since a breech delivery is pretty rare). And I said ok to everyone who asked. I figured, it was a learning experience for all, and if it resulted in more women being able to do a vaginal breech delivery, than I was happy to pave the way and be the guinea pig. Corey was really tempted to take full-room selfie but wasn’t sure everyone would appreciate it (particularly that evil L&D nurse). I think it would’ve been pretty funny though!

So with an audience of four doctors, three midwives, and another four or five nurses plus my own midwife and husband, I pushed with all my might! It was pretty weird to feel/watch him coming out bottom first. Once his bottom and legs were out I kept pushing to his shoulder blade. He was just kind of sitting almost cross-legged on the bed waiting for his head to come out, moving a bit but not frantic or anything. Kind of strange and really cool all at the same time.

I think it was at that point that the doc gave me a very small episiotomy, but I can’t remember for sure. It might have been earlier. All I remember is that I was pushing this baby out like my life depended on it. Because his did. Once he was out to his head, I had 3 minutes to push his head out before he’d run out of oxygen since he cord was compressed. I remember the doctor telling someone to watch the clock and said out loud to me “ok Amber, we’ve got 3 minutes. Plenty of time. You’re doing great. Let’s just finish up the job.” He then used forceps to flex his head as he was not flexing on his own, and about 30 seconds later, he was out! I think I pushed a total of 5-10 minutes from start to finish. He had zero breathing problems and apgar scores of a 9 and 10. He was immediately placed on my chest while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up.

Everett 1-2

I’m not a crier. It was the only time I’ve ever cried at one of my childrens’ births. Not because I’m not emotional or ridiculously happy, I just don’t express my feelings with tears usually. But this time I was just SO relieved and happy that he was here safe and sound that I couldn’t help it.He was born at 6:25am. He was gorgeous. It was weird not seeing a cone-shaped head on him. He nursed almost immediately like a pro.We were somewhat like celebrities among the hospital staff during our stay but in a good way. “Oh!! YOU are the breech delivery????!! Congrats and way to go!!!” Recovery has been tougher with the episiotomy. I had one with my first baby, but I wasn’t chasing two toddlers around while trying to heal. But I wouldn’t trade the vaginal delivery for anything. Sooo glad we did it and so thankful we found a doc willing to do it!!I want my experience to help empower other ladies to have breech deliveries if they’re the right candidate for it!

by Amber Hansen

Birth Of Elsie {Homebirth Story With Siblings}

Birth Of Elsie {Homebirth Story With Siblings}

We were just waiting for the Braxton Hicks contractions to turn into the real deal so we could get our daughter here.  Sunday morning was spent with the church family and then the afternoon was spent with Greg’s family celebrating his mom’s 55th birthday.

I was feeling pretty good and honestly didn’t feel like I’d see my daughter anytime in the next few days.  I was nervous that when it was finally time that Greg would be late getting home and I’d labor alone, that the midwife would barely get there in time, and that everything would happen so fast, I wouldn’t hardly remember the experience!  Needless to say, that was not what occurred.

Greg decided to go ahead and get the pool set up and ready. That way if I did start my labor before he got home, I could easily start filling the pool up on my own.  We all nestled into bed pretty early and I was sleeping pretty sound until 1:43 AM.

I was awakened by an uncomfortable contraction and spent the next hour and a half pacing about trying to be sure if I was really in pain before I bothered waking up Greg.  I got out a journal and start writing down times and lengths of contractions, and finally decided about 3:30 to wake him up and call in the midwife and my parents.

Everyone arrived about five that morning. Danette and Caroline, her sweet apprentice, began monitoring Elsie’s heartbeat and my blood pressure.  My BP was slightly raised, so after a homeopathic dose of calcium and magnesium, I returned to my left side to relax through some more contractions.  That all worked, as my blood pressure lowered, and the more relaxed I stayed, the more intense the contractions were.

My mom got to work fixing some biscuits and gravy from scratch, and my husband quickly decided we needed to do this more often if it meant eating my mom’s cooking for breakfast!  I got to enjoy the fruits of her labor and spent most of the morning just nestled into my room breathing through contractions.

(Remember me talking about The Sphincter Law before? I honestly wasn’t worried this would effect me in the privacy of my own home.  I pretty much figured I have enough control over my mind and body that once labor started, I would get in the zone and be good to go.  Well, that was not the case.)

By the afternoon, with contractions still 10 minutes apart, and losing intensity at times, we thought a walk around the neighborhood would help. It did not help at all.  In fact, I felt as though everything was being put on hold.  I stayed out in the kitchen chatting with everyone and went almost 30 minutes without anything happening.

So, with Danette’s encouragement I went back to my room with my headphones in, music up, and only the company of my husband, and at times Emma.  As long as no one else was around my body would allow contractions to come up to eight minutes apart and last over a minute.  However, oddly enough, even if my sweet mama would come into the room, everything would stop.  I really got to experience how little control I had over my body’s birthing plan.

Jamie Buckland 1-2

 So, with the afternoon turning into the evening, my body slowly worked on getting Elsie lined up for her big debut.  For years Greg and I had told Emma that if/when we ever had another baby, the new little one would be in between us instead of her, and she would have to be prepared for that.  So, with the last few hours of her being the baby dwindling away, she nestled in between us to make the most of it.  We chatted about what Elsie would look like as she drew pictures, and then Greg would hold her really still as I would hum through my contractions.

Jamie Buckland 2-2

Everyone was pretty tuckered out after an eventful, yet still uneventful day.  The kids camped out in the living room with my parents and Danette and Caroline made themselves at home in the kids’ beds.  And that is how it was, still and quiet, until around 12:30am on Tuesday morning.

Finally, the contractions were coming on nice and strong!  Hooray!  I was up pacing back and forth, and then every eight minutes or so, I would bend over the bed to hum through what was now what I would consider active labor.  I woke Greg up and Danette heard us stirring around.

It was time to start boiling water for the cooled off pool and a wardrobe change as I got ready to get in the water.  Danette had told me we would hold off on getting into the pool until I couldn’t get comfortable any other way. I was at that point.  I crawled into the birth pool around 1:15am Tuesday morning and prepared myself to crawl out of it when no longer pregnant.

As soon as I got in the water, a contraction came on super strong. Then about two minutes later, another one, and that was the pace for the next two hours. My body was so relaxed in the water that I was completely out of control and the human ejection process had begun!

The water definitely helped me handle the intensity of the pain, so I just hummed away as my mind kept repeating things like, ‘and this too shall pass’, over and over.  The last 30 minutes were totally overwhelming.  I felt completely out of control during the contractions and proclaimed I felt like I was suffocating and couldn’t catch my breath.  Danette reminded me to relax and not let my contractions get ahead of me, so back to the humming and focusing.

This entire 25 hours of labor, Danette did not “check me”.  We did not know how dilated I was at any point in time.  My body was completely in control of the process, and although I felt helpless for those last few minutes, the empowerment I felt when it was all over was totally worth it!

I threw up my yummy snacks from the long day of labor as I transitioned through those last few centimeters, and started shaking as my body prepared to deliver my beautiful little girl into her daddy’s awaiting hands.  Danette gave me some ginger candy to help with the nausea, and I was really thankful, even asking for another piece to get me through the end.

Danette had a pitcher and would pour water over my back through my contractions while my husband was sitting on a stool in front of me holding my hands, and I was bent over the edge of the pool on my knees.  My mom and Caroline were patiently awaiting the progression, and my dad and kids were still fast asleep.

I remember looking over my shoulder once and finding my mother shedding big tears as she tried to deal with her baby girl being in so much pain, but the midwife was quick to comfort her and assure her all was well.

With all the controversy surrounding our decision to birth at home, I want to make it clear that I never once had any worry about my health, or the well being of my baby through the entire process.  My mind never once wandered into those dark thoughts, and I praise the good Lord for bathing the entire ordeal with His wonderful grace.

About 10 minutes before Elsie found her way to daddy’s hands, Danette told me I could check to see if I felt her head.  My water still hadn’t ruptured, and it was obvious I was feeling her sac cushioning her head in it’s descent.  With the next contraction I exclaimed that I felt like I could push.  So, I did.

On the second push, I felt my water break. Seconds later ,I announced her head was out.  Greg was scurrying around from being in front of me to getting behind me and Danette was getting the flashlight on so they could indeed see if she was on her way out!  Her head had been delivered, and with ease her little body followed just in time for Greg to reach down and lift her up out of the water.

They carefully helped me roll over onto my bottom where I stayed for the next hour.  Greg laid my sweet Elsie right onto my chest as I expressed my sheer delight that my baby girl and I had worked so hard together, and now here she was!  She immediately began to root and kick, lifting her head and bobbing around to begin suckling.  My sweet girl latched right on and has been an expert nurser from the beginning.

The after pains were pretty harsh. We waited 45 minutes for the cord to finish its beautifully engineered job, and then Danette clamped it for Greg to cut it.  Then miss Elsie got to go cuddle with her papa as they helped me get out of the pool and into my robe so I could get in the bed to rest.

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Moments later, it happened. As Emma looked on from her daddy’s chest, little Elsie took her place in between mommy and daddy.  And like that, the process I had anticipated for so long was over. My little babe who I’d dreamt about for years was finally lying here in her home, in my bed, in the blankets I had washed just weeks before.  We were complete.

And now Emma seemed so much older and much more mature.

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The Big “E” seemed much bigger as he nestled the new little “E”.

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Elsie will be a few weeks old in just a few hours, and I’ve gotten to share our experience with some of our close friends and family. Some have been curious about how I felt afterwards.  I can honestly say it was a much easier recovery than with Ethan or Emma.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how good I have felt.  I did have a small tear, but never had any discomfort from it whatsoever.  Danette had made me a brew up of some comfrey root, which worked wonderfully.

Some have asked now that it is all over, will we be trying to conceive again, and if so, will I birth at home again? The answers are yes, and yes. We plan on trying for #4 when Elsie is a little over a year old, and yes, I plan on inviting my new favorite midwife, Danette, back into my home to attend the birth of our next child.  Looking back, I am so thankful everything went just as it was.  Even with labor lasting just over a day, I feel so blessed Greg and I got to spend that time together as we waited for her arrival.

A big thanks to all of you who have supported us through this journey! And of course a huge thank you to BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR for all the information and stories that helped me along this journey.  If you want to read more about why we chose a home birth, you can read about my first two pregnancies and why I felt so passionate about sharing this experience.

{By Jamie Buckland}

I Am Strong – Cesarean Birth After Neonatal Loss

I Am Strong – Cesarean Birth After Neonatal Loss

*trigger warning*

I am strong because in April of 2012, I gave birth to a precious baby girl named Evelyn, prematurely at 24 weeks due to incompetent cervix, premature labor, and infection.

I am strong because I endured a frightening classical c-section 4 hours after entering the hospital with a smile on my face, knowing it was the best chance my baby had to survive.

I am strong because I was told I will never have a future vaginal birth due to my vertical incision, and I would never be allowed to go into labor for fear of rupturing my uterus.

I am strong because I spent every single night in the NICU watching my tiny 1 pound 5 ounce, 11.75 inch long daughter through a plastic window, unable to hold her.

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I am strong because I pumped breast milk for her every 3 hours.

I am strong because at 5 weeks and 3 days old my little girl developed an infection called NEC, and within hours of its discovery, it took her life.

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I am strong because I held her for the first and only time as she was passing away.

I am strong because throughout the most horrifying time of my life I was able to plan a beautiful funeral for my baby, something no mother should ever have to do.

I am strong because 4 weeks after she died, I donated all of my pumped breast milk, roughly 600 ounces, to a milk bank  to help babies like her.

I am strong because 1 year and 9 months later I discovered that I was again pregnant, I was elated.

I am strong because I was considered high risk and went to many, many extra appointments.

I am strong because at 13 weeks and 5 days I went into the hospital to have a preventative cerclage placed in the hopes of getting me to full term.

I am strong because I was placed on modified bed rest for over a month, but I took it upon myself to continue bed rest as much as I could throughout the entire pregnancy.

I am strong because I was given weekly progesterone shots.

I am strong because despite the constant fear of losing another baby I decorated a beautiful nursery for our second daughter.

I am strong because at 6 months I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

I am strong because I gave up all of my favorite foods, took medication, and drew blood up to 5 times a day to control it.

I am strong because I held my breath during more than 21 ultrasounds, expecting to hear the worst each time.

I am strong because at 37 weeks to the day, 3 days after my cerclage was removed,  I began having contractions that eventually were 2-4 minutes apart.

I am strong because I finally realized they were not Braxton Hicks and had my husband drive me to the hospital.

I am strong because I was given 4 pills of Procardia to help relax my uterus, but the contractions continued to get more intense.

I am strong because after 3 or so hours of contracting in the hospital I was told I would be having my cesarean that night.

I am strong because at 8:08pm, just one minute later than my first daughter’s birth, my second beautiful girl, Emily, came screaming into the world at 6 pounds 5 ounces and 19 inches long.

I am strong because during her birth my doctor discovered that my previous incision scar was thinning, and had I not gotten to the hospital when I did it would have eventually ruptured, and endangered both of our lives.

I am strong because I heard over the curtain the doctors exclaim that Emily had a true knot in her umbilical cord and her cord was wrapped around her neck, but thankfully neither affected her health.

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I am strong because my baby had to spend 5 days in the NICU, due to being slightly premature and having jaundice, a place I thought I would never have to visit again.

I am strong because I was finally able to bring our baby home from the hospital.

I am strong because I have two beautiful girls, one on Earth and one in my heart, to motivate me to be the absolute best mother that I can be.

From Katariina Shoemaker

A Mother Will Overcome {I Am Strong}

A Mother Will Overcome {I Am Strong}

A short and sweet story of a teenage mother, or just a mother, this is Jada’s story:

I am strong because I found out I was pregnant at 17, two months into a relationship, and decided then to keep the baby.

I am strong because I decided to end the relationship, because I wasn’t happy anymore.

I am strong because during my pregnancy, I went through the worst depression in my life a month before my son was born.

I am strong because I had my mother and my aunt in the birthing center room to support me while I went through with my natural birth, which showed me just how strong I was.

I am strong because I pushed for an hour (which felt like only five minutes) and gave birth to a 8 lb. 8 oz. healthy boy and picked the name of my son when I met him for the first time.

I am strong because despite the criticism on bed-sharing, I am proud to say I have slept beside my son every night since he was born, and have no plan to stop.

I am strong because I overcame my fear of breastfeeding in public despite my overwhelming social anxiety, and plan on weaning when he is ready.

I am strong because I suffer from postpartum depression and am raising my son, alone, the way I feel is right for the both of us.

I am strong because I am going through with getting my high school diploma so my son and I can have a good future.

I am strong because now, at 19 years of age, I am where I want to be and have great plans that I see myself accomplishing in the future.

Brandon

Healing Hospital VBAC Picture

Healing Hospital VBAC Picture

I just recently had my daughter (almost 3 weeks ago) and I’ve had several ladies tell me I should share this photo from my birth… so here it is!

We had a beautiful, wonderful, healing VBAC in a hospital and this picture says everything. The support that I had from my doctor, my nurses, my doula, my husband, and even my birth photographer was incredible.

This is me squatting in the hospital room floor right as my daughter (all 9 lbs and 10 oz of her!) is crowning,  while my husband, my doula, and my nurse are supporting me. My awesome doctor is on his hands and knees next to me, getting ready to catch my daughter. How incredibly blessed we were for getting this experience after an unwanted (and unnecessary) c-section with my son two years before. Such an amazing and healing experience.

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{By Samantha Miller}
{Photo by Sweet Pickel Photography}

10 Tips to Plan a Mother’s Blessing

10 Tips to Plan a Mother’s Blessing

A Blessingway is a sacred pre-birth ceremony that has traditionally been performed by Navajo people, and celebrates a woman’s rite of passage into motherhood.

Today, a gathering known as a ‘Mother Blessing’ is gaining popularity in North America. Unlike a traditional baby shower where the focus is on gifts, a Mother Blessing puts the focus back on nurturing the woman. A woman’s closest girlfriends and family gather in love to build up her mind, body, and soul in preparation for her journey to motherhood. It is intended that the mother-to-be leaves bursting full of love, strength, confidence, and belief in the ability of her body to birth her baby.

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HOW TO PLAN A MOTHER BLESSING:
Keep the preferences of the mother-to-be in mind; after all this event is about her. Make her feel as comfortable as possible. Not all mothers will be into all the ideas below, so choose a few that best suit her.

(1) Pampering
Make a foot soak, and offer her a hand massage, foot massage, or back massage. This can be a beautiful time for her to sit and relax and have her friends take turns laying hands on her and transferring as much loving energy to her as possible.

(2) Flower Crown
Make the mother-to-be a flower crown to celebrate her beauty. Ask each woman coming to bring a flower from their garden to contribute to the crown when they arrive or just have a selection of stems for each attendee to choose from when they arrive. If you want to celebrate all of your attendees, you might want to have everyone make themselves a flower crown when they arrive.

(2) Paint Her Belly
Painting her belly, henna, or a belly cast is a beautiful way to celebrate the life inside her. Let the art radiate the life she carries.

(3) Circle Time
Gather all the woman to share a blessing with the mother-to-be. It can be a time to share their best mothering wisdom, an inspirational verse, or a song. You can meditate together, belly dance together, or sit and laugh and tell your favourite birth stories.

(4) Leave Your Guests Thinking About the Mother-To-Be.
During circle time, a beautiful activity can be binding everyone’s hands together in ribbon. After praying over or blessing the mother, each attendant cuts herself a small piece of ribbon to wear on her hand until the mother-to-be goes into labour. Every time they glance at the ribbon on their hand, they can send up a prayer for their friend’s upcoming birth. Once the birth begins, someone texts out a message to the rest of the group and they all cut off their bracelets together in solidarity. Another send home gift could be a candle that all the friends light when they hear the birth has started.

(5) Bead Ceremony
Ask attendees to bring a special bead to create a necklace for the mother to wear in the last few weeks of pregnancy and during birth.  After each attendee offers their blessing, they can string their bead onto the mother’s necklace. She will be reminded of the love and support she has in her community of friends every time she looks at each individual bead.

(6) Birth Flags
Have some plain cloth banners for attendees to paint with encouraging words and phrases. The mother can string these in her home and have them be a reminder of her strength leading up to birth. This is a great option for women planning a home birth since she can decorate her birthing space with them. Some women who are planning a hospital birth and may also want to bring their birthing flags to hang in their hospital room.

(7) Stone Painting
Ask each attendee to bring a stone that you will paint with encouraging words for the mother. The mother can place the stones in various spots in her house (one by the bathroom sink, one by the kitchen sink, one by her alarm clock) or place them together in an encouragement altar. Seeing these stones will remind her of her strength leading into birth.

(8) Bring Gifts for a Birth Altar
A birth altar serves as a focal point for the labouring woman. Sometimes it can be difficult to stay focused on the positive affirmations you read and meditated on during pregnancy, so the woman can focus her attentions to her birth alter to give her visuals of her end goal- her baby. Items for a birth altar can include a birthing goddess, ultrasound pictures, positive words, aromatherapy, candles, and any imagery that you find beautiful and inspiring.

(9) Eat!
Of course, sharing a meal with friends is the best way to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Ask your guests to each bring a dish to contribute to a potluck meal.

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(10) Let The Emotions Flow
Be open and transparent with each other. Share your joys and your struggles. Don’t be scared to let the tears roll.

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After all of this love and attention, the guest of honour is sure to leave bursting at the seams with good birth mojo.

Written and Photographs by: Cradled Creations Birth Photography.

Also at www.CradledCreations.com

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