Browsed by
Tag: birth after surrogacy

Home Water Birth to 5th Boy {A Beautiful Journey}

Home Water Birth to 5th Boy {A Beautiful Journey}

{Editor’s Note: This story comes to me from a friend. This was her 5th baby – and 5th boy. She also blessed another family by being a surrogate for twin girls. Her journey comes to us not only from a place of perspective – having given birth in several ways and places – but also from a place of emotional journey within this one birth experience. I feel this story shows beautifully how our emotions change and effect our birth experience.}

This is the story of the birth of my fifth son. But first, a little background: My oldest, now 11 years old, was born 2 weeks before my 17th birthday, the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. My water spontaneously broke and we headed to the hospital. I was given Pitocin unknowingly, which made for terrible contractions. I pushed for 2 long hours, breaking every capillary in my face in the process, to end up with a 4th degree episiotomy I didn’t consent to, before he was born sunny-side up. I took forever to heal from that birth physically. I just didn’t know any better; I was young and thought you should just trust your care provider.

For my second baby, I didn’t return to that OB. I decided to see a new OB and to get an epidural, mostly I think because I needed to heal emotionally from my first traumatic birth. The epidural didn’t take the first time so I was stuck twice. The delivery was great though – my second son’s head was an inch bigger and he was a full pound larger, but he came out in 3 pushes within 10 minutes. It was an easy birth, but the epidural took 12 hours to wear off and I had pain in my epidural site for a year afterward.

My third birth is unusual because it was as a surrogate. I carried twin girls for a wonderful gay couple and I’ll never regret it. The birth, however, was very difficult and the most medical. I was induced at 39 weeks because the parents were from out of state and they wanted to make sure they would be there. Despite being 4cm and 75% already at the start of the induction, the OB gave me Pitocin when I expected them to only break my water. After having a hard prior Pitocin birth, I got the epidural right away. It didn’t take, and they kept upping my Pitocin.

I only labored 4 hours before they were born, 9 minutes apart. Perfect and healthy, but after the birth I had a severe postpartum hemorrhage. My husband says I spurt blood onto the doctor… I only remember saying I was going to be sick and passing out, and then feeling my doctor’s hand inside me manually maneuvering my cervix to check for rips. The fact was that my uterus was overextending by the twins, and apparently there are only so many oxytocin receptors in a woman’s body; I was maxed out from the Pitocin for labor and so my uterus wouldn’t contract down. I nearly died from this birth.

I conceived my third son only 4 months after the birth of the twins. After all the interventions with the twins, I knew I wanted a natural labor this time. His birth was a wonderful natural hospital birth with a midwife, Tina, whom I adore, who believed in me and in womens’ ability to birth their babies. My fourth son’s birth was with Tina again, this time a hospital water birth. Water birth was amazing, but I was longing for a home birth.

When we conceived baby #5, I was determined to have a home water birth, and I was wishing for the baby to be born in the caul. I had mentioned it to my husband Tom the two previous pregnancies, but he wasn’t game for that. As soon as that silly pink line popped up, I told him we were having a home birth. Luckily, through Facebook, I had reconnected with an old high school friend, who had a friend who was apprenticing with a midwife. That’s how I met Vanessa, and through her Debbie and Jessica, who became my birth team.

My estimated due date was more like a range – my last menstrual period and early ultrasounds gave us a range of due dates from January 24th – February 2nd. We knew he’d come when he was ready, and I was prepared to wait until mid February before I’d start getting worried. My only complaint was the teasing contractions. I’ve always dealt with prodromal labor – regular contractions that, for me, would last WEEKS before actual birth would kick in. Exhausting! With my previous history of fast labors, I usually am not sure it’s real labor until transition, and then it would only be an hour or so until birth.

With the “it could be any time” mentality in hand, I was keeping up with chores around the house and I was trying very hard to stay prepared. But… then the pre-birth despair set in around 39 weeks (according to first due date) or 40.5 weeks by the latest. The “This baby is never coming! I’m going to be pregnant forever!” lament that always happens. And I said, “Screw it!” and let the house go to crap, because I was certainly going to have another weekend to worry about it.

On the evening of January 30th around 7pm, I messaged Vanessa on Facebook that I was having regular contractions every 10 minutes or so. I had done this twice before already, so I was sure that when I said that this could be it, the contractions would peter out and I could get some sleep. They were still consistently 7 minutes apart or so when I crawled into bed at midnight, determined to sleep. The contractions slowed down to every 20-30 minutes, so I blissfully got some rest, but they were strong enough they were waking me up.

At 5am, I looked at the clock and thought I should take a bath, just in case this was the real deal. I was planning on a water birth and I wanted to make sure that I would have enough warm water after getting cleaned up for my big birth pool. I climbed into the warm tub and read on my Kindle, monitoring the contractions that had now picked up to every 5 minutes or so. I was getting excited to think this might really be it – baby day, birth day! They stayed at 5 minutes for the whole hour until I reluctantly climbed out of the tub and awoke my husband, Tom, for him to check my cervix for change.

With this pregnancy, we had already done this routine before, and I think he didn’t really think we’d see any change. We would have another weekend at least, right? Nope, the contractions were FINALLY being productive! Tom agreed we should alert the birth team and call in the troops.

We debated about whether to send our oldest sons, Dominic (11 years) and Xander (8 years) to school as we wanted our whole family there for the birth but ultimately decided they should go to school and someone would go pick them up early if needed, as we live only 5 minutes from their schools. We sent the boys off to school and I feverishly went into clean-up mode, scrubbing counters and running loads of laundry, trying to make up for slacking off for the past few days before we added our littlest son to the family.

Around 9am, our team started arriving: Jessica, our birth photographer, and the midwives Vanessa and Debbie, my mother Maureen, and my best friend Allison.

By then I had moved to my birthing ball to bounce through the contractions. They were pretty mild still – I could definitely talk through them and was generally pretty happy. He was finally coming! I wasn’t going to be pregnant forever! I was calm and peaceful, ready to breathe the baby out and let him come on his own time.

Laboring with a smile

We did a quick heart tones assessment. Everything sounded good! Contractions were coming around every 4 minutes, but it was hardly a bother to me. I was happy to be laboring in my home. I definitely think it helped with pain management to be in a familiar place. I returned to my ball to bounce, and while making circles with my hips, I slid off the back and fell on my bum on the floor. I was embarrassed but laughed it off; apparently my circles were too big.

Around 11am, contractions were still around every 4minutes and I was still coping easily. We decided to do a cervical check to figure out when we should start filling the birth pool. 5cm, halfway there! We thought it was probably time to start filling it up. We used up all the hot water in our tank and then started boiling pots of water, my lovely birth team and husband taking turns running pots of boiling water up and down the stairs to our bedroom.

Meanwhile, I continued laboring in our living room. I had given up on the birthing ball and was spending a lot of time on my hands and knees and other positions that let my belly hang. This was the first labor where I felt most of the contractions in the front – I normally struggle with back labor. My husband Tom was incredible support. As I had previously been a surrogate in 2007, this was the 7th labor he’s supported me through. He knows me better than anyone and knew exactly what to do.

At one point, he was across the room when I started to have a contraction – one that was significantly more intense than the ones preceding it. He spied it beginning and sprinted over to me to provide support. I joked to him, “Run, Tom, run!” and he replied, “I got you, Jenn-ay,” in his best Forrest Gump impersonation. I love that the atmosphere of our birth was so light and happy that we could joke – that I could joke – even in the throes of a contraction.

By 1pm, I decided it was time to move into the tub as we had just done a cervical check where I was between 7-8cm. In my previous labors, it was at most an hour from beginning transition to birth so I anticipated that I was near the end. We finished filling it up the tub so I could finally soak in the water. Even at 8cm, I felt good and really just uncomfortable but definitely manageably so. At 1:30pm I was finally in the water. It was so blissfully warm and comfortable! This was my second water birth and I insisted that my husband Tom join me in the water this time.

Once our youngest Milo (just turned 2 years) saw we were swimming in our bedroom, he insisted on joining us. He said he was “swimming like Nemo.” He didn’t really understand he was going to become a big brother soon, but he knew something was going on.

We decided it was time for someone to go pick up the big boys from school, as it felt birth would be soon. It didn’t take long for them to arrive. They were so excited to be meeting their littlest brother soon! Not too long after Milo joined us in the water, I had to have him get out as I was feeling pretty nauseated and threw up. It wasn’t unexpected – I always throw up during transition.

Around 2:00pm, contractions started to feel more intense but definitely not unbearable. I had made a birth play list – 2 CDs with 3 hours of music. I sang through my contractions to peaceful music. I wanted my littlest boy to have a birth song, like Milo had, and I was excited to hear which song it would be. I was determined to bring our son into the world joyfully.

When we had begun that morning, I thought we’d have a baby by noon, going off my previous labors. I was definitely working more for this baby than I had my others. The only good thing about this labor taking longer is that my younger brother Mike was trying to make it in time for the birth. He lives two hours away and had to work until 11am so we thought he wouldn’t make it in time. Luckily he arrived and helped keep the older boys entertained.

[Quick note – the man in the mask in the left side photo is the mother’s brother…bringing some humor to the birth space]

By this time, I was feeling a lot of pressure but no urge to push, and I felt like I needed to be pushing. We discovered that I had just a lip left of the cervix. I continued laboring through it but it was getting harder emotionally. I was wearing down. I hadn’t slept well the night before and this was my longest labor. I’m grateful my friend Allison was there for additional support; she was so wonderful to me.

Support As Labor Continues

I always crave ice during pregnancy, and this was no exception. I had specifically bought the birth tub with the cupholder so I could enjoy ice during labor. My son Felix (4 years) enjoys stealing my ice from me, and the little fact of me being in labor didn’t change that. He swiped pieces of ice from me.

And then around 2:45pm, while I was coping with a particularly hard contraction, Felix stood behind me and choked on a piece of ice. It pulled me out of my body emotionally and I turned to help him clear his airway. He coughed up the ice, but by then my entire feeling of zen, breathing through, “I can do this,” attitude broke. All I could think is that as I was working at hard at bringing our baby into the world, I could have lost another one of my sons. I sobbed hysterically as I contracted, unable to find again the peaceful mindspace I had before.

Emotional Change

Up until this point, I would have described my contractions as pretty mild. I would have told you that I could manage this labor without any worry. But after my middle son choked behind me while I was contracting, everything seemed intensified and amplified. I started cursing during every contraction, dropping an obscene amount of f-bombs and crying and whining through every one. I was embarrassed for my behavior and apologized over and over again, but I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t control it.

Support Through Hard Labor

By 3pm, I was done and telling my midwives that I would avoid a c-section at all costs, but I was wishing for one right now. He wasn’t coming; the baby was never going to come. I was in hysterics, sobbing, unable to catch my breath. I needed help and direction, praying to G-d to help me through this. With my cervical check, I still had a lip – he literally couldn’t make his way through.

By 3:30pm, Debbie suggested that I try a different position to help the baby change position. I told her I didn’t want to; I had never given birth to any of my 6 previous babies in any other position. I was finally coaxed to squat in the tub. It hurt so much, which is why I didn’t want to do it. Debbie and Vanessa held my hands while Tom supported me in the pool, and Debbie said her own prayer for strength. L-rd knows I needed it, because I didn’t have any more of my own. I was too tired.

Squatting

At 3:45pm, Debbie suggested that we either break my water – which I was trying so hard to avoid so I could have a baby in the caul – and I agreed, because I needed this to be over. I needed the end in sight. I still had that cervical lip. Debbie suspected a nuchal hand but luckily it wasn’t the case. For whatever reason, he wouldn’t change position to rotate out.

During one particularly hard contraction, Debbie attempted to hold back the lip. It felt so miserable with her hand in there during a contraction, but as she held her finger in the right place and directed me to push despite having no urge to, I felt his head turn and push through. He was finally past the lip! What an amazing relief it was.

From that point on, my whole attitude change. I remember I excitedly told Tom, “He’s coming! He’s finally coming!” We called to the whole family, who had left the room to entertain the children while I was struggling with hard contractions and they returned in time for our littlest boy to be born. I pushed with one contraction, and he was born at 4:08pm. I almost had my baby born in the caul – you can see that the water broke when he crowned. He was caught by one hand from me, one hand from Dad.

Water Breaking

I was so blissful when I finally pulled his little body to my chest, happy to meet my little passenger for the past 10 months. I can’t even begin to adequately describe my elation.

Coming Earthside

He had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck once, and as he was born he passed some meconium, which he aspirated. He took a couple of minutes before he took a breath, and I don’t think I breathed during that time either. He didn’t breathe, didn’t cry, and wouldn’t pink up. His 1 minute APGAR score was 2. Debbie did some suction on him to clear out the gunk. I’m pretty sure everyone in the room cried when he finally let out a lusty cry. I could finally breathe and could now take in all the tiny details of my beautiful new baby boy.

We waited a good 40min for the cord to stop pulsing before Felix, my middle son, cut the cord. Dominic had cut the cord for Felix and Xander had cut Milo’s cord; it’s like a rite of passage for my boys.

Brother Cuts Cord

Once the cord was cut, I passed the baby to Allison and the baby made his rounds greeting her, my brother, and my mother while I got out of the pool and made my way to the bed. Standing up for the first time after birth always takes my breath way. As I rested on the bed, so happy to have my son earthside, I got the post birth shakes while I was examined for tears and received some more Shepherd’s Purse to stave off a hemorrhage.

Finally, he had his newborn exam. Abraham Quincy Skywalker, 8lbs8oz, 21.5” long with a 14.25” head. After his newborn exam, we settled in for our first nursing. He knew exactly what to do and we both just looked at the other and took each other in. Pure bliss.

Weighing

He had a small bruise on the back of his head where he kept hitting against that cervical lip for so long. My midwives informed me that he couldn’t get past the lip because his head was in the wrong position.  We think that when I fell off my birth ball, it jostled him so much he was knocked out of the correct position.

Baby Bram

Reflecting on my birth, now four weeks ago: I was ready to give up and go to the hospital, despite how badly I wanted my home birth. After my son choked and I broke down, I lost my spirit to work with my contractions to bring the baby forth. However, I know that had I been in the hospital, they never would have let me labor so long with a lip – I would have had a c-section. I’m so grateful to my husband for his neverending support, to Allison because she was an amazing attendant to me, to Jessica for being there to photograph all the moments I would have missed without her, and to Vanessa and Debbie, my midwives, for lending me their strength when I had none.

The Birth Team

Epic HBA2C After a Surrogacy

Epic HBA2C After a Surrogacy

The Prequel to the Sequel

There are so many ways to begin the story of Osiris’ birth, whether that be by marking the arrival of contractions and prodromal labor, the arrival of my birth posse or possibly what kicked me into active labor, a handcrafted cheesy In & Out burger, fries and a beer. But what makes this birth story unique, is that Osiris’ journey into this world began before Frank and I ever knew we’d be pregnant again. I believe we were always meant for this little boy, and by some force, he was designed to teach me and to teach others how to trust, honor and believe. In the 6 days I’ve been blessed to share with this little boy and his big spirit, I have learned so much about myself, my husband, my daughter and what it truly means to feel complete….I’m no longer broken.

I had my first daughter at the age of “barely 20”, she was a surprise blessing in a time of rapid change and growth in my life. June was conceived while I was in college, working full time and dating her father (while on the blessed NuvaRing… ….). Things happened fast for us, as I had no clue of the growing child within my womb until the beginning of the 2nd trimester, just months after her father and I began dating. At 19 with a full course load and work load, being pregnant was initially something I feared for the sake of being pushed behind the crowd, shunned, looked down upon… I considered termination, made an appointment and never walked into the clinic after seeing a “not so pleasant” woman walk in before me. I remember thinking to myself how I didn’t want to be judged as I viewed her and judged her. Now, fast forward almost 4 years and here I am, with a beautiful, fiery and fierce young lady. That woman I saw walk into the clinic wasn’t someone I look down on anymore…I cherish seeing her in her sweat pants. That stranger changed my life forever.

June was born via a c-section that could’ve and should’ve been avoided. While I attribute my induction to being young and dumb, I felt that, at the time, I knew everything. I hired a doula, had a birth plan and bounced and rolled on my birth ball for months to prep my precious pelvic floor. I was swindled into an induction after Dr. HackandSlash witnessed my discomfort with sciatica. Like many inductions, mine failed to progress and I was strapped down in an ice cold operating room due to failure to progress. I saw my daughter, covered in vernix and struggling to cry and breathe…I couldn’t touch her, hold her or soothe her. I couldn’t do the kangaroo care I was so excited about, I couldn’t even kiss her slimy little cheeks. While we suspected she’d be large and full term, she was instead tiny and had symptoms that suggested she was 35-36 weeks gestation.  She was taken from me and instead of a moment full of joy and love I felt broken, damaged and used.

It was after her birth that I pursued DONA doula training and immediately began attending births, free of charge, to low income, single, young and immigrant mothers. I did doula work for over a year before deciding with Frank that I would become a surrogate mother for a family I had been talking to while on surrogate forums online. I had played with the idea in my head even before having my daughter, just as something to check off my bucket list…next to “make a baby” on my list there was “make a family”. I did a traditional surrogacy, meaning I was the egg donor as well as the gestational carrier. We managed to get pregnant within one cycle of trying, without the use of doctors or expensive fertility clinics. June was meant to be my miracle and my surrogate daughter, Anne, was meant to be a miracle for someone else.

The pregnancy was extremely hard for me due to Hyperemesis Gravidarum, with hospital visits and IV pumps, acupuncture and hypnotherapy. While we had planned a hospital VBAC with a great OB/GYN, toward the end of the pregnancy it was an unanimous decision to opt for an elective c-section as the malnutrition caused fainting spells… not a great combo for any birth, and definitely not something as demanding as a surrogate VBAC. The parents and I were saddened, but scheduled Anne’s section during my 39th week, the Monday after June’s 2nd birthday party.

Anne’s c-section was by far the most amazing story c-section story I’ve heard and given the circumstances of the birth, it had been perfect for the situation as well. Anne’s mother induced lactation and upon Anne’s little body leaving me, she was wrapped and handed to her intended mother, who was shirtless and ready to nurse her beautiful baby. She had waited a lifetime to be a mother and until months before hadn’t even known lactation without birth was an option. Within moments, literally seconds, Anne grunted, cried, looked up at her mother and latched. I was never meant to be her mother and she knew it as well as we did… Dad was waiting in the recovery room shirtless as well and once Anne was done nursing while I was being stitched up, she was taken into the nursery for a check with her dad and her mother stayed with me until we were all reunited. The 3 of us became 4 and for the remainder of my hospital stay, a short 3 days, we roomed together, both nursed the new baby, and ate, slept and even watched Judge Judy together. The hospital staff wasn’t too sure about our situation but let us be. We separated on the 3rd day with smiles and hugs, not tears of sadness. I keep in contact with the parents and we do multiple visits throughout the year to mark special times like birthdays and holidays.

While Anne’s birth didn’t break me, I still had a feeling of emptiness. I told myself the 2nd c-section was necessary but deep down I knew my body had the ability, much like it did before,  I just never found a doctor that would give my body the chance I needed. I knew after the 2nd c-section that I would have issues finding anyone to assist my next birth. I knew I would forever be on the OB/GYN “DO NOT FLY”-list. I was a terrorist. I was blacklisted. I was not to be trusted.

BFP

When my husband and I found out about our pregnancy just 6 months after I had Anne, we were in shock… We had talked about a 2nd child of our own but didn’t expect to be expecting so soon. My heart sank when I did the math in my head, with a positive test in my hand…My due date was only 16 months after my previous c-section. Once again, the feeling of emptiness plagued me. Would I be able to give my child the birth they deserved? Could I redeem myself? Was it safe? I played with the idea of an unassisted homebirth after reading story after story of multiple c-sectioned mothers catching their own babies due to the lack of medical support for their right to a safe and natural birth. Mothers with stories similar to mine…Not one feeling of a contraction, not one birth where they were the first to see their offspring, smell their child or cry tears of joy because birth just “hurt too good”. My whole life I knew I wanted to be a mother…There are pictures of me as a child, sticking my belly out and listening to my stomach with a pretend stethoscope. I would pretend to be sick while in middle school and instead of watching MTV, I was watching TLC and learning about Pitocin, epidurals…. you name the intervention,  “A Baby Story” had it covered. I began attending hospital births of family members fairly young…by the age of 12 I had seen 3 different species birth…Yes, I count my older sister as her own species… ;).

I received an ultrasound early in the pregnancy and until near my 15th week, I had it in my mind that I would just be pregnant and trust my body.  I didn’t want to hear negative feedback from “medical professionals” about my aspirations to have a vaginal birth and didn’t want to have to explain why I just wanted a chance. I shouldn’t need to defend my body’s natural ability to birth. Frank ended up asking questions about prenatal care, and I’d laugh it off…No Hyperemesis this time (well, when compared to the hellish time I had with the previous pregnancy), I took my vitamins, baby moved great early on, I had great energy and my weight was stable, there’s some peace of mind when you’re on your 3rd pregnancy and have been a blog follower of Birth Without Fear for years… 😉 By week 18 I had a pregnant freak out and was uncertain that I could have a vaginal birth…No OB/GYNs in sight would take me as a VBA2C with my insurance and the house we were living in wasn’t suitable for a homebirth, whether that be with a midwife or unassisted. One bathroom, three bedrooms, four adults and a three year old lived in our home. Sure, doable, but the space was small, cramped and, honestly, the bathtub sucked. I felt trapped, and for the first time, and only time during the duration of this pregnancy, I felt like a failure again. This was it. I was going to be scheduled to be given a baby, I wouldn’t HAVE a baby and laboring was just something my body “didn’t do”.

A friend of mine asked if she could share my unique situation in a local midwife group… A mother aspiring for a homebirth after 2 c-sections, with the last section being 16 months prior to my due date. Three midwives responded and I interviewed with two, knowing instantly that one wasn’t going to work for me (hey, it happens, right?). The first midwife was outstanding….very spiritual while also extremely educated on anthropology and sociology with ties to birth… In all honesty, I wanted to stop interviewing midwives but she insisted I meet with the other midwife before making my final decision.

The Midwives

I was nervous before meeting Judy… I was familiar with her webpage, it had come up in a Google search at some point in the years between June’s birth and getting pregnant with Osiris…And while I didn’t know at the time, I read portions of “Our Bodies Ourselves” in high school for ammo during a student debate (Judy was a contributing writer). Judy was, in my eyes, the “best of the best” and, if I couldn’t birth at The Farm, I could at least find a midwife that suited my every desire… A spirited, dynamic, encouraging and most of all, an inspirational woman with a belief in my body even in times I doubted myself. I probably can’t convey my instant emotion in words…but I can try….The moment I saw Judy, with this big welcoming smile and an aura of warmth and her left over New England accent, I was nearly breathless. I knew instantly she would be a cherished token in my experience to birth. I just knew she was right.

I was reluctant to believe that anyone would believe in me…And what set Judy aside from the previous midwife was one simple sentence that I would ultimately repeat to myself on a daily basis…”You’re no different than a first time mom”. Truthfully, that’s all I ever wanted after I had June. A chance to re-do my first labor and birth experience. I longed for a chance to be that first timer again.

Judy is an amazing woman… Truthful, sincere, clever, considerate and even with my scattered brain, she was always able to keep up with my questions, concerns and even when I didn’t have questions she answered questions she knew I needed answers to. Talk about the complete package. She’s a ball of energy and whatever it is she has, it’s contagious.

Judy’s partner midwife, Lael, brings balance… a yin and yang. They aren’t opposites, but instead perfectly complement each other. Lael has a soothing tone and just something about her puts me at ease. It’s a feeling that I’ve felt before with very few others…not quite déjà vu, but a spiritual match, a “we’re on the same page”/*thumbs up* type feeling. She’s bright and has a realistic and tenderhearted disposition. I’ve never once felt judged or compromised around her. And as our relationship developed over the months, my awe of Judy transpired into an admiration of both women. Lael’s unique and refreshing personality goes far beyond babies and birth…I came to Lael with questions on how to handle transitioning my VERY MUCH of an only child and she always had a suggestion I hadn’t heard before, or it was put into terms even a freaked out “attachment parent” could understand. Sometimes distraction and kisses just don’t work…

The two of them are a force to be reckoned with. I can’t imagine a better team of midwives and I’m sorry to those reading that aren’t in the Bay Area…Judy and Lael have got to be the standard for what midwifery care is really about. The smartest women I’ve ever been around, the most compassionate, direct, fun and trusting people I know. I hadn’t felt so perfect in my own skin until I met these women that put faith and understanding in the natural concept of birth. I wasn’t broken to them. I wasn’t even a challenge. No “high risk” classification. No special needs here.

And what they have done for more goes far beyond prenatal care, my labor and bringing this baby into the World. They inspire me… I love people that inspire me.

Osiris, Lord of Eternity

My contractions began about 2 weeks prior to Osiris’ birth. Every evening they would begin and slowly drift away before bed time… On Monday I had noticed a difference in the intensity of the contractions and began to feel my whole uterus contract, with lower abdominal cramping and, as I described to many friends, it felt as if I was getting hugged at church while on the first day of my period. Classy, I know.

Things stayed at 7-8 minutes apart and I stuck to my normal routine… Being a mom to my 3 year old. I packed June in the car and picked Frank up from the train after work, we went home and upon lying down I’d have a contraction. I couldn’t sit, it hurt. I couldn’t even roll around on the birth ball, which hurt too. I knew things would get stronger and that the beginning could be a long, long, long experience…I called Ruthie to give her a heads up as she lives over an hour away. We agreed I needed to keep the photographer and doula in the loop. I called Sophia to let her know and to my surprise, she was already attending a birth and had been there for some time, we agreed to keep in contact if anything changed. Leah was next, I let her know things were “happening”.

It’s all funny to think about now….Being a doula can prep no one for a vaginal birth if they haven’t had one yet. HAVING a doula can prep anyone, but being one?!! No way. Within hours of contractions starting I was in excited, OMG, I WANT THIS TO HAPPEN mode and jumped the gun. Ruthie ended up driving with June’s birth buddies Indigo and Raiden with her AHHMAZING daughter Morgynne. We walked while Frank and Morgynne watched the girls and while the contractions would come and go within good time, they eventually faded. Maybe because of the kids being kids (no one wanted to go to sleep!)…Most likely because Osiris heard too much girly chitchat between June and Indigo. Monday came and ended….

Tuesday we woke up, hit the road with the kids and headed to Dr. Hanses’ for a chiropractic adjustment. It made me feel GREAT! My ligaments were tense and tight, so having Dr. Hanses stretch them out really must’ve helped Osiris drop lower. Also, cute chiro doing acupressure for induction? I’m 99.9% sure the first words out of my mouth once walking back to Ruthie after my adjustment were, “AM I SUPPOSED TO BE REALLY UM..TURNED ON RIGHT NOW? THIS WASN’T THE POINT! OH. MY. GAWD. I LOVE HIS WIFE.” I was red faced! Thank GOD for a cool water dispenser… Moving along…

Sophia and Leah (and mini doula Clara) ended up coming to Bonney’s Birth Den (my grandma’s house which ended up being the “homebirth” location) that evening. I didn’t have a blessingway, but if I could do it all over, this is what I’d do again. A group of birth junkies surrounding me while early labor contractions were transitioning from prodromal labor to ACTUAL early labor. I was getting pepperminted, lotioned…and even sang to (“My dick need no introduction, Your dick don’t even function, My dick served a whole lunch-in, Your dick, it look like a munchkin”…Sophia must have a HORRIBLE taste in music).  We were all laughing; even Frank was a part of the group, which is a change from his normal video game routine. It all just felt right…the kids were asleep, Ruthie, Morgynne, Sophia, Leah & Clara (they count as one doula entity) and Frank….All just hanging out and having a blast. Sophia had come from a birth and was exhausted…We all turned in and tried to get some sleep. Well, they tried to sleep…Frank and I tried to get “busy”.

001

002

003

004

Labor Day…I’m a Believer

Wednesday began with chaos…Breakfast for everyone; getting the kids situated…We were all exhausted. Sophia said what the others were thinking…It was time for them to leave and we would all meet back again when things picked up. Once everyone left, go figure, things picked up… I spent the afternoon in bed with my headphones listening to Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Stevie Ray Vaughn…I’d lay on my back to rest and when I’d feel a contraction brewing, I’d turn real fast on to my hands and knees. Like a ninja. Thinking back at the intensity of the contractions, I have NO idea how I was able to get up and turn myself while hugely pregnant…I could hardly turn in bed for the previous 4 months (coughGREATCHIROPRACTORcough).

I called one of the midwives after I saw some bloody show following some (more)  “let’s get this party started”-sex. Lael (midwife, not to be confused with Leah the doula) came by to do a status check while another client of hers had been pushing for hours and hours with Judy. A stretchy 3cm. WOOHOO! I was on cloud 9. Not only did I dilate, but I had ZERO previous vaginal checks with this pregnancy…I hadn’t dilated with labor EVER. I couldn’t believe it. 3 centimeters. I could’ve been ½…or 2…and I’d still feel the same. I did it. It’s open… I trusted myself and it happened. After a stall and sending everyone home it was exactly what I needed to hear. Not that I did it…but that I was doing it! It was happening! With every breath and every contraction early labor was coming to a close. I’d be done with this crap soon! Once the stalling would just stop and I could get into my groove I’d get my birth posse back and have my epic birth party that I had envisioned for months…

Evening came and Rachel (Dr. Hanses’ wife, as previously mentioned) and Eliza came over to play with June and bring my LAST EVER pregnancy craving. In & Out Burger and a beer. Leah & Clara came as things were starting to get rough for me (Perfect timing. Literally. Perfect.) .  Frank was able to focus on me (Yes, AGAIN. Nudge nudge, wink wink) and while I didn’t have to worry about June I went from early to active labor. Rachel had to leave but gave me a great boost of confidence… I could do this! I WAS doing it! It was going to happen!

Shortly after Rachel left…And I mean an HOUR after Rachel left, BAM. Active. That’s also when I got naked. No idea how ladies labor in clothes…Screw that. Crazies. I would lean over the birth ball during a contraction….get up, walk around, giggle with June…Back on my hands and knees/birth ball in total hard-to-talk intense contraction mode. I went from 6 minutes apart to 2 ½ minutes within one contraction. I remember feeling my body just “give”…My cervix must’ve  opened up within one contraction.

I Love James Brown

Frank put the Rocket Man station on Pandora and I found a spot in the bathroom, hovering myself on the window seal of an open window with a nice breeze. My poor neighbors… I would moan through one breath and then breathe through the rest of my contraction. They were probably really confused with all the sex noises…I really didn’t feel pain. It was a blissful feeling for me. Not orgasmic (I had done enough of that between Monday and Wednesday night…no more orgasms were happening…) but a calm, intense feeling. I went from the window to the ball, from the ball to the window… Little Clara would come up and rub my back like her mama did, and she’d wipe the hair from my face. Best. Doula. Ever.  All the doula power from one big doula just concentrated into little itty bitty hands… I specifically remember a huge contraction while Leah was changing the sheets on the bed…It was almost an SOS call for some back rubbing when suddenly, there Clara was, with her little fingers running down my back. I lifted my head (which was RARE during all of my labor and pushing…VERY RARE) and saw Clara, not scared by my noise or intensity. Just little Clara, my 16 month old doula. I do know for a fact she helped during this birth as much as all the big girls.

Leah called Lael at some point, geez, I don’t even know. But I’m glad she was called when she was! Lael came, did a quick check and I was a good 7cm. Lael got things ready in the room and I remember saying “I LOVE James Brown” (which was playing on Pandora)…She laughed and found a spot to rest and waited until she could hear me “ripen” so to speak. I guess not many mamas talk about James Brown while in active labor?  Sophia and Ruthie weren’t far behind the midwife… I had a photographer and I’ll be damned if my face was even out of the pillow to get a picture of me in labor!

I remember peeking from my head-in-pillow position and seeing Sophia and Ruthie…THEY MADE IT! I was totally into myself and remember the “conversation” I had in my head during labor… When Ruthie and Sophia came I told myself it was time to just let go and start the real stuff. Upon Ruthie showing up, it reminded me that the Birth Beads she had blessed upon me during my third trimester were “nowhere to be found”. I didn’t say much while in labor…but I uttered “I can’t find my beads!” to Ruthie. I was so bummed…I meditated with those beads for weeks.

005

006

007

008

I turned in and began to use my mind to guide and instruct my body. I have a great friend that sent me a book early into my pregnancy about meditation in martial arts… Sounds crazy, but I used more from that book than any birth book I *tried* to read. I knew I’d have a wall like a marathon runner and I knew I’d have to break it down… I thought to myself, “Or, well, how about I skip the wall completely, focus on breathing and visualize the prize?” There’s a passage from the book the mentions a world class sharp shooter….He didn’t even pick up a rifle for a year, but instead went to the shooting range and visualized hitting his target. He won a world competition the first time firing his gun in over a year.

That needed to be me. And I had spent months and months visualizing my cervix opening…I’d imagine the muscles in my uterus contracting, squeezing my baby down. I saw myself from within. I saw my baby, I saw his head moving down the birth canal and I felt everything. I was into this vision when I felt an overwhelming urge to scratch everyone’s eyes out, bite them, tear them apart… I did a “get THAT OFF ME!” freak out and upon hearing my own voice I KNEW…CHECK! Transition.

“Holy, fuck, Lyndsie, we’re doing it. And we’re close.”  I was getting deeper and deeper into my meditation…probably too deep as I heard Ruthie say “um…She’s not breathing. Lyndsie, breathe”.  I then started to focus on bringing oxygen to my baby. I told myself this was going to be quick. I felt the urge to push and didn’t believe it…. So I went 1-2 contractions trying to breathe out the push. I didn’t realize I could be ready yet. Lael wanted me to roll over for a check, which she never got to do… Once I was told I didn’t HAVE to wait for some signal from the midwife to push, I was PUSHING. And pushing HARD.

I asked how close he was…. “Closer than he was!” “He’s close!”…. I didn’t want to know that. I wanted to know where the fuck this little kid was….because I had been guiding him down my birth canal for months in my mind… “CMON, BABY”. I was getting heated, angry…”OSIRIS, WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU,” I heard in my head… THEN…a h-u-g-e POP. While  for a nanosecond I did a “WTF OMG UTERUS RUPTURE”, I then  heard my mind say “FUCK THAT WAS MY WATERS!”. Confirmed by the midwife…Yup. Check that off the list, too. Immediately after, I told Frank…”Frank! I want YOU to catch the baby!” (We had talked and before he didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of catching OR cutting the cord).

Ooo, Baby, baby… Ah….Push It Real Good

Now, if you haven’t been lucky enough to push with hot compresses on your perineum, let me tell you this… I’d marry Lael if I planned to have more children. Warm water counter pressure on my prized perineum? I didn’t even feel pain while pushing! Lael used fancy pure olive oil (out of our pantry) to lube my chute and I was loud and encouraged to be louder… but I think I was yelling because I had expected pain and I was pissed that I wasn’t feeling any. Like maybe I wasn’t pushing HARD enough? “Oh yeah? Take this!” Two more pushes, a Chewbacca cry and out came my baby. How’d I know he was coming out?? I heard Ruthie’s war cry…”FRANK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”…He was downstairs getting more hot water.  He ran up the stairs and scooped up his son. Ruthie jetted downstairs to wake up June (she couldn’t find her at first…June fell off the couch and ended up under the coffee table).

009

010

011

012

014

015

016

017

019

I stayed on my hands and knees for a moment. I didn’t even turn around to look at the baby. I was so amazed with my body and then heard the baby cry…I knew he was okay, with his dad…and I had to soak in my moment. I did it. I FUCKING DID IT. I kept saying it. Over and over.

Osiris Nova was born October 18th, 2012 at 2:28AM. He was 7lbs even, 19 inches long. 3 ½ hours of active labor and 20(ish) minutes of pushing. No tearing. No stitches. No pain.

I finally felt someone pick up my leg and toss me over after I even made an excuse like “I don’t want to kick the baby!” (eyeroll). I was put on my back and looked around the room. Osiris, Frank, Lael, Ruthie, Leah, Clara (who had fallen asleep next to me, on her mama), Sophia and my Grandma Bonney. I raised my arm in the air and yelled, “I DID IT!!!!!”. I kept sarcastically yelling things like…”16 months between? No we won’t VBAC you”…”vaginal after 2 c-sections? Are you crazy?” “What if you rupture?!!”. Oh, and an epic…”SOMEONE TAKE A PICTURE OF THIS *cord hanging out* AND SEND IT TO MY MOTHER IN LAW WITH THE CAPTION: NOT EVEN A TEAR!” (she isn’t very pro homebirth…).

June was nervous…Lots of things going on to be woken up to. A room full of happy smiling ladies, a naked mommy, a crying baby and a bowl of placenta. She was glued to her daddy, just figuring out what was happening. My mom came within minutes of getting a phone call, at the same time Judy made her way. Once Judy and my mom arrived, June warmed up and welcomed her brother with a smile (and a poke into his soft spot…sigh…siblings).

Frank cut the cord and there we were… They handed Osiris  to me and I had to make a point to say he smelt WONDERFUL. Birth and pure olive oil. I can still smell it. And I hope I never forget. Osiris latched almost instantly, only after grabbing my nipple with his fist. Boy has grip.

020

021

022

023

024

025

026

027

028

029

030

031

032

Not Broken

I mentioned how I idolized Judy…But it’s funny. I felt like I could do this because I had her as my midwife. People would ask if I was nervous and I’d reply, “No! I have the best midwife EVER!”…But really, I could do it all along. Her care and her confidence in my body directed me to trust and believe in myself. Even when we first met, on a park bench while June was running around and climbing all over, I knew she’d be a big aspect of this birth. She apologized for missing it…And I replied that she didn’t miss a thing. It meant I had a great midwife and she prepped me well, inside and out. She gave me power through her knowledge and faith in birth. I am forever changed. I did it.

Judy and Lael never saw me as damaged goods. They never lost faith in me. I was never actually broken or destroyed like I felt for the last 3 years.

And, while I can highlight how amazed I am that they believed in me, the most amazing thing is that I believed in myself. I read the studies of VBACs, I knew the risks of a homebirth VBAC and I decided that for me, my baby and for my family, a homebirth after 2 c-sections was right. I am so happy with this birth. It was perfect.

Now, 2 weeks after the birth, here I am with my squishy baby, next to a rockstar big sister and the most amazing father. Frank has been more than supportive through all of this, and he even pushed himself further than he expected. He caught his son, went downstairs for a Guinness and came back up (after the cord stopped pulsing, of course!), set his Guinness down on the window ledge and cut the cord. Osiris brought us so many things… new friends, a whole new community of people and support, the inspiration to go (back) to college, new job opportunities… Our family is closer than ever…Frank and June literally fight me to hold Osiris. I only get to see my sweet boy when he wants a boob!

A little funny about those Birth Beads I thought I lost… I woke up on my first day as a mother of 2 with a kink in my neck. I had slept on something and  reached into the pillow case that I had bit into during pushing, the pillow that I moaned into, basically, my life link during labor… Sure enough, there they were. I had my beads the whole time.

033

I want to thank everyone that played into this wonderful experience…Even went it was tough, having my groupies made it worth every moment of confusion and misdirection. We have found our way now that Osiris is here…And know that we appreciate every little bit and cherish our relationship together. This little guy began more than just his own life…He changed ours and will continue to inspire us (just as his sister inspired us to grow the fudge up 3 ½ years ago). I could’ve done this without you…But I’m glad I had ya’ll! Special thanks (in no special order, except Ruthie): Ruthie and Matt Davis, Morgynne Rees, Jasmin Miltose, Rachel and Mark Hanses, June Melissa Park, Diana Hurwitz, Sophia Williams, Judy Luce, Lael Stimming, Leah and Clara Coppa, Jordan Cummings, Lynne Gomez, Lynn Heinisch, Elizabeth Ochoa, Ellie Cook, Yvonne Hightshoe, Kristi McCoy and all those along the way that believed in us!

Photographer: Sophia Williams of Sophia’s Special Deliveries. You can see more photos of this birth and many others at Sophia’s facebook page or website.

Pre-Order The BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR Book Today!!!

Click on one of the book retailers below to get your copy now!

Hachette Book Group • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • iBooks 

 Google Play • Books-A-Million • IndieBound

***Sign up below for more updates on the Birth Without Fear book!***

We respect your privacy.