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When I Saw Her Face, I Started Crying: A Birth Center Birth

When I Saw Her Face, I Started Crying: A Birth Center Birth

Birth is an amazing, beautiful thing! The birth story of Evangeline Lily began on February 28th, 2017. Actually, it began a few months before because I always said I didn’t want a February birth day. On Tuesday, February 28th, I realized a would get my wish of a March baby. I told my friends and family that we need to make it to March 1st. In no way did I think I would begin labor that early because our baby had been measuring small my entire pregnancy. I was fully prepared to go past my dates and told my family that the previous evening.

Tuesday evening, Aaron and I were hanging the last decorations in the nursery. The bags were ready to go, just not packed. I had a list of things to get done the next day before the baby arrived such as organize the freezer, monthly budget, last minute shopping, and purchasing more nursing bras. Ha! That evening, Archer, our dog, was acting very strange around me. He wouldn’t stop looking at me, sniffing me, always had to be touching me, and even jumped on our bed twice, which he’s never done before. Aaron and I joked that maybe I was in labor and he was the only one that knew. Boy, was he right!

The next morning, Wednesday, March 1st, I woke up at 5am to losing my mucus plug and having bloody show. I later texted our midwife and she said that it could be early signs of labor or could still be weeks away. I tried not to get too excited because I knew it could still be a while, but these were the first actual labor signs I had besides Braxton Hicks contractions for the previous few weeks.

Around 9am I began having what felt like period cramps, which became stronger throughout the morning. I had a lot more bloody show but still didn’t think I was in labor. The contractions began at 10 minutes a part, which I thought was pretty close together. We were told that early labor could take hours, I would be chatty and full of energy, and contractions could be anywhere from 15-20 minutes apart. Around 11am I ran to the bank and my contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart. At this point, I had been talking to Aaron about what was going on, but still didn’t think I was in labor. It’s supposed to take a long time, right?

Driving in the car on the way back from the bank was rough. I had to really concentrate and breathe through contractions. I needed to go to the store but decided to stop by the house to pick up a few things. Around 1, I told Aaron that I was not feeling well. I was hot, nauseous, and having to breathe and sway through the contractions. The funny thing is, I still kept saying I don’t know if I’m actually in labor or not. The contractions were happening about 5 minutes apart and lasting for 45 seconds—not what I thought “early” labor looked like! I finally told Aaron I thought he should come home because I was not doing well. I also updated my midwife and doula, still telling them I didn’t know if I was in labor. He called me on the way home and I couldn’t talk through my contraction.

By the time he got home at 2pm, he had to call the midwife because I wasn’t able to talk. They said to come in and they would check me, if I was 1cm they would send me home. I told him I don’t know if I’m being a wimp or not but we needed to go get checked. I quickly had him throw the rest of the bag together and out we went. He was probably only home from work for 20 minutes. We had a 35 minute car ride and I timed the contractions on the way. They were happening every 2 minutes and lasting for 45 seconds. By the time we got to the birth center, they took one look at me and said “yeah, I think you are in labor, you’ll be staying”. When we got up to the birth room, they checked me and I was 8cm! I asked, “So we are staying, right?” I did NOT want to do that car ride again! I was laughing and smiling so much when they told me how dilated I was because I didn’t think I could handle things if I wasn’t in actual labor.

We arrived at the birth center around 4pm. Our doula was amazing. Anytime I had a contraction she was right there, rubbing my back, which helped with the pain immensely. I got in the tub soon after I got there. The water was amazing and made my body relax and float. I switched positions and places a few times while laboring. I sat on the toilet for a while, which was so difficult and scary, but very effective. I labored in bed while leaning over the birth ball. Aaron was by my head the entire time. Telling me what a good job I was doing, holding me, putting washcloths on my neck and face, and the rest of my birth team did the same. There were a few times during transition when I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I got sick and threw up. My body knew exactly what to do during this whole process. It was in my mind that I had to talk to myself, pray, and let my body take over. It is true that you go “inside yourself” during birth. I was hardly talking to anyone and was fully aware of what was going on, but it was a different instinct that took over.

I never really knew how far or what stage I was in during labor, it just happened on its own and my midwives didn’t keep me updated on progress. A part of me thinks it would have been more helpful to know what all was happening, but the other part knows it allowed my body to do its job and shut my mind off. When I was laboring on the bed, they told me I could start little pushes if I felt like it. I did that for a while then got back in the tub. The water helped my body relax and float because I was getting really shaky on the bed. I pushed in the tub for a bit and it was really difficult. They told me later I was pushing really hard. I could reach up and feel my baby’s head at this point. Her heart beat was so strong during the entire process. They had me get out of the water because for the amount I was pushing, the baby wasn’t making much progress. Kim told me I could go get in bed if I wanted to slow things down. She said I was having a very fast and intense labor, but I just wanted it to be over. I got on the toilet and this was one of the hardest parts. I thought something was wrong with the baby, but they assured me she was fine. I labored on the toilet for a bit, threw up again, and could really feel the baby coming down. At this point, I got scared and didn’t think I could do it. I remember thinking I either wanted to die or get the baby out. Anything to stop the intensity. I don’t remember there being overwhelming amounts of pain at this point. Sure, it hurt, but mainly just the most intense and difficult thing my body had done. The pushing contractions reminded me of when you have to throw up and your body just takes over, only much more intense.

Meredith asked me to move positions off the toilet because she didn’t want me to have my baby there. I got up and could hardly walk because the baby was between my legs. I got on the bed and laid on my back and left side. They helped hold legs up and I pushed in this position. I was way more vocal than I thought but tried to keep my sounds low. It was a very intense and scary moment as the baby was crowning. I could reach down and feel her. At this point, I definitely felt pain. They had me stop and breathe in between contractions to avoid tearing. They said I did a great job at this even though I didn’t even realize it! The most encouraging part was when Aaron told me he could see her head and she had a lot of hair. I didn’t know how much more I could take, and this made me realize I was almost done! Once her head came out, it was the most amazing feeling of relief. Her head was out and I was waiting for the next contraction, she started to cry and Kim told me I needed to push her out. Once her head was out, her body slid right out. She came out crying and Aaron and Meredith helped put her up on my chest. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the baby had her hand by her head when she was born. That’s one of the reasons my body was pushing so hard. Meredith realized it when I was on the bed and she checked for a cord.

When I saw her face, I started crying. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Aaron cried too because he realized we were both healthy and safe. We laid there for a few minutes, all of us crying. At this point we didn’t know if we had a little girl or boy. We checked together and she was a girl! Those first few moments together were something I’ll never forget. Evangeline Lily Teter was born at 7pm on March 1st, 2017. She was born to the song “Over the Rainbow” by Iz. Even while pushing her out I smiled when I heard this song playing. She weighed 6lbs 12 oz and was 18.5 inches long.

I am amazed and humbled at how the Lord created life and my body to do this. The whole time, I never really felt like it was “me” doing anything, but my body. I know he created all of the processes to work together from conception to birth. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made. I am so thankful for the safe, positive, and encouraging atmosphere that she entered the world in. Never was there a moment of interruption or panic. The lights were dim, candles lit, beautiful music playing in the background, and a birth team full of love and confidence. They encouraged, supported, and affirmed me the entire time. I had a husband who was strong and reassuring. And I had God who promised to give me strength and to never leave me. I am so thankful for such a wonderful, healthy birth of our daughter.

Birth experience and photograph submitted by Sadie T. 

A Couple Working Together: A Birth Center Birth Story

A Couple Working Together: A Birth Center Birth Story

When I was 6 months pregnant, my husband took a job in South Bend, Indiana. This was fortuitous because it meant we could move out of Chicago and we would be only 1.5 hours from my family, instead of 3. The move from Chicago to South Bend also meant we could afford to buy an actual house with a backyard – something we couldn’t have dreamed of in Chicago. The transition from Chicago ended up being complicated and drawn out. Brett started his new job and I transitioned out of mine. We only had the chance to attend one Hypnobabies class in person before we had to move. We had to self-teach the remainder of the class by following along in the book and listening to scripts. Unfortunately, the total lack of stability during this time resulted in us being a bit behind the Hypnobabies schedule. I comforted myself with the thought that we would be able to catch up once we moved into our new house, long before the baby arrived.

We eventually closed on a house on August 12 but decided to immediately hire out some drywall/ceiling repair work prior to moving any belongings into the house. We knew once the drywall work was done we’d be able to paint (all of the rooms in the house were in desperate need of painting). We figured it was wise to knock out all of the big projects before the baby came and before we got too settled in the house. Our baby was “due” around September 25 so everything seemed perfectly timed. So as the contractor took up the bottom half of our house, we essentially camped out on a mattress on the floor and lived out of a suitcase. I spent most of every day painting the upper floor while Brett was at work and then we worked on other parts of the house when he got home. I kept telling myself that once the house was in order we would buy all the items we needed for the baby and make sure the space was ready for him by late September.

On August 23rd, I finished painting the trim in our bedroom and went to meet Brett at work where a mass and student/staff picnic was being held to celebrate the start of the school year. I remember being self conscious about my incredibly swollen feet and ankles. Following the picnic, we went to Lowe’s to pick up supplies and then went home. We worked on putting our bedroom back together until midnight and then went to bed.

I woke up at 3am with the sense that I needed to go to the bathroom. As I walked to the bathroom, I felt a leaking sensation but was too sleepy to think much beyond “What’s going on with my bladder?” I sat down, urinated, wiped and then wiped again and again. Why did it seem like I needed an endless supply of toilet paper? I stood up and a bigger gush of liquid flowed out of me and I panicked, shouting into the bedroom. “Brett, I think my water just broke!” Brett leapt out of bed and (probably hearing the panic in my voice) said, “Okay. It’s okay.” I frantically tried to recall what week of pregnancy I was in – determined I was 35 weeks and 3 days – and realized I didn’t know if it would be considered safe and normal to go into labor that early.

Brett is not typically clear-headed immediately upon waking, but he was laser focused in this moment. He called the hospital and put them speakerphone. When the front desk person picked up, he explained that my water had broken and I interjected that I was “only 35 weeks along”. The woman asked what color the liquid was and I answered that it looked clear. She then asked if I had felt the baby moving. I had only been awake for a few minutes and hadn’t felt anything in that time but the baby had been really active right before I fell asleep at midnight. She asked if I was experiencing contractions and I realized that I had been experiencing mild tightening sensations. She said to come directly to the hospital to be checked out.

Brett hung up and I choked back a sob and said, “This is too soon! We’re not ready.” Brett stopped me, hugged me, and assured me again that everything would be fine. He took the dog outside to go to the bathroom and I bumbled from one (completely disheveled, partially renovated) room to another trying to think what we would need at the hospital and locate it. Of course we didn’t have a hospital bag packed! I remembered a phone charger, my phone, earphones and Hypnobabies materials. The few baby clothes we had were still packed away somewhere in the garage. Brett reminded me that the hospital would have the necessities.

I put on a maxi dress and grabbed a towel to hold between my legs. I called my mom’s cell phone but she didn’t pick up so I tried my dad’s. He groggily picked up and I said “Dad, my water just broke so we’re going to the hospital and we don’t know if everything is okay.” my voice broke halfway through. He said something calm and comforting, although I don’t recall what exactly it was. He sounded so confident that I recall feeling he didn’t understand how early I was.

Brett and I headed downstairs, through the virtual construction zone of our 1st floor, and into the car. Brett opened the car windows and turned on the air conditioning as he drove (something we managed to remember from Hypnobabies) the 5 minutes to the hospital. I texted my sister that I had gone into labor and she replied that everything was going to be okay and that she loved me. I felt my belly contracting during the ride but I wasn’t mentally collected enough to time the waves. My mind was racing not really able to slow down enough to think clearly. I just felt fear. Mostly because I feared something was wrong with the baby and that’s why my labor started early. My secondary (but very real) fear was that we hadn’t finished our Hypnobabies material and that I wouldn’t be able to manage labor without medication. It felt like everything had spun out of control. For some reason it had never occurred to me that I might go into labor early. We had only been to two midwife appointments and had just toured the hospital’s birth center four days prior.

We arrived at the birthing center and walked to the front desk. There was a couple in their pajamas ahead of us, talking to the receptionist. They turned around and smiled at us, saying “It’s a good night to have a baby”. I felt a spark of annoyance and hardly responded – I wondered how to explain that we weren’t sure our baby was okay or would be okay. The couple was led back to triage and I sat down on a couch through a wave.

Moments later, we were taken back and brought into a triage room. I immediately felt a little more in control. At least we were in the right place and we were able to get there promptly. The nurse came in and attached the monitor to my belly. A few seconds later she located the baby’s heartbeat and assured us that it sounded fine. She gave me an internal exam and announced that I was about 3 cm dilated. This surprised me, considering I had just woken up 30 minutes earlier. The nurse also said, in an off-hand way, that our baby didn’t have any hair on its head. The nurse had placed an absorbent pad underneath me, which she whisked away for testing to make sure the liquid was indeed from my bag of waters. The nurse kept coming in and out of the room, asking us if we had ever been to the hospital before since they couldn’t find any of my records. This went on for a while until they determined they would call the midwives once the office opened.

My birthing waves were beginning to demand more of my attention so I began to practice my finger drop technique at the outset of each wave. Between the waves, Brett and I would incredulously remark to each other how crazy this was. We were actually going to be having our baby. It was also during this time that Brett realized he must have stepped in dog poop prior to leaving for the hospital. I was too distracted to notice, but our triage room had been filling with a bad smell. Brett went into the adjoining bathroom and did his best to remove the offending poop. This situation provided us with some much needed levity.

A few minutes later we were brought back to our birthing room. I was relieved to see it had a birthing tub. I asked Brett if he wanted to grab some coffee and something to eat. He took this as me being selfless but in reality I knew I needed him with me and didn’t want him to have to leave me to hunt down sustenance when I was further along in labor. An OBGYN entered (the midwife had been called but hadn’t arrived yet) and asked how I was doing. He asked if I had any questions and if I had intended to utilize any pain medication. I told him I didn’t want any. He watched me during a wave and commented that it looked like I was handling them well and then he left the room. I appreciated how low key and considerate he was.

After the midwife entered and introduced herself as Susana, I asked her if I would be able to birth in the tub. She advised that since the baby was pre-term, he was too susceptible to losing body heat being birthed in water. She said I could labor in the tub but would have to move out for the birthing. I was content knowing I could be in the water for at least part of my labor.

Susana also advised that they would have to treat me as though I was Strep B positive which meant I would have to have two IV treatments during labor. The nurse inserted and secured the needle and then started the first course of antibiotics. I initially got settled on a birthing ball but I started experiencing really intense sensations in my lower back during each wave and it dawned on me with mild horror that this was a symptom of back labor. I asked Susanna if there were positions I should be in if I was having back labor. She set out a yoga mat and suggested that I move to all fours during each wave. I found that I had a hard time dropping into hypnosis in this position because I was having to hold myself up and wasn’t able to relax as effectively. I dropped onto the mat and laid on my side with the Hypnobabies recording playing in one ear. I spoke as little as possible from this point on. Susana was holding a heat pad to my back and belly and Brett had his hands on my head and shoulders. I was in this position for a while, but I’m not sure how long. I started to shiver uncontrollably and the midwife brought over warm blankets to cover me. At some point, during a particularly strong wave, my eyes were still closed but I felt a wave of strong emotion (a combination of sadness? self-pity? fear?) and tears started to stream down my face. Brett and Susana comforted me.

After a while, the noise I was making during birthing waves changed from hums to low moans. I asked when I could get into the tub – although I worried I was using up my one comfort measure too early. Susana got the tub ready and told me I could get in. Partway to the tub I felt a contraction coming on and could only get out an “uh oh” before starting to sink to the floor. Brett caught me and slowed my descent. When I got into the tub the water felt incredible. Brett sat at my head and kept the earphone in my ear and made sure the iPhone didn’t get wet.

Susana’s end of shift came at 7am and she was relieved by Mercedes. Mercedes came over to the tub and introduced herself. She said, “You’re having your baby early, and I’m sorry about that.” Mercedes had an almost unnervingly direct way about her and I think she was making an effort to put words to my emotions, even though I hadn’t said anything. The nurse hooked me up for my second dose of antibiotics. Mercedes watched me through a few waves and then went into the adjoining room to wait with the nurse. My entire time in the tub is hazy in my memory although I know that with each wave I would lean back with an arm on each side of the tub and moan through the wave- trying to keep my mouth wide open and relaxed – getting louder at the peak and tapering off to silence at the end. I would immediately rest my head on the side of the tub, close my eyes and drift off until the next wave came. The nurse would monitor the baby’s heart rate during waves and that really irritated me but I didn’t say anything.

As I got louder Mercedes came back into the bathroom and observed me. I told her I was starting to feel a full sensation and “thought” I kind of wanted to push. I remember thinking that maybe it was all in my head because I just wanted to move to the next step since I felt overwhelmed. She told me if I felt like pushing I could do so really gently and see how it felt. I did this through several waves but wasn’t certain if I was pushing enough or if it was doing anything. Pushing definitely didn’t bring relief as I hoped but I believe that was mostly because of the back labor.

I don’t recall if I asked to move to the bed to continue pushing or if Mercedes directed me to. I got on the bed and laid on my side but Mercedes asked me to lay on my back. She checked my dilation and discovered a lip that she was able to push back during the next wave. Then she and the nurse each held a leg and encouraged me to push through each wave. This continued for a while but Mercedes wasn’t happy with my effectiveness. She asked me why I seemed to be holding back. I told her didn’t know but honestly I didn’t feel I had the energy (or breath) to explain that I was avoiding the pain pushing caused in my lower back and I hated that it felt like I was going to poop with each push. She must have sensed the poop concern because she outright asked me if I was afraid of pooping and then she said, “If you poop, you poop!”

I realized I was only making birthing last longer by not pushing with all of my might. So, from then on I pushed with everything I had (and pooped with what felt like every push, unfortunately). Mercedes started to have me try different pushing techniques. She tied a knot in a towel, handed it to Brett and had me pull against him with every wave. She asked Brett to take the leg the nurse had been holding and had me grab under each knee when the wave began and pull my upper body up as I pushed. This went on for a while.

Mercedes would check the baby’s progress and reported that the baby was moving forward and then slipping back. I was really discouraged to hear that. The frustration was compounded as I also was struggling to catch my breath sufficiently before the next wave hit. Mercedes asked me what I needed to hear. I told her I didn’t know but I didn’t feel like I was making progress and I felt like I was “pushing uphill.” She lifted up the back of the bed and attached a bar for me to grab onto, pull myself up and squat while pushing. When the wave subsided I would fall back onto the bed and try to breathe as deeply as possible as I waited for the wave.

It was around this time that the baby’s head started to emerge. Mercedes, Brett and the nurse were cheering me on through each push. Mercedes asked me what I was feeling and I described the discomfort in my lower back. She removed the bar, rolled up a towel and placed in under my hips. “This is called the ‘California Roll’,” she said.

She and Brett got back into position bracing my legs and I pushed through another wave. “How did that feel?” she asked.

“Terrible,” I responded.

“Good. You’re making progress.”

I continued to push in this position. At one point Mercedes consulted the monitor and told me the baby was getting tired and I would need to get him/her out soon (I later put together that this was at 4 hours of pushing). This struck fear into my heart and I pushed with absolute abandon. A nurse came into the room shortly after to relay a message to Mercedes and commented that “that baby’s holding on by its toes”. My spirit was somewhat buoyed by that observation. Mercedes started applying oil to my perineum and told me I’d be feeling the ring of fire soon and to keep going. I did feel burning a few pushes later and howled through that push – the baby’s head came out the rest of the way, followed by his shoulders.

Mercedes instructed Brett to slide his fingers under the baby’s armpits and helped guide the rest of the body out and onto my belly. Mercedes had to remind Brett, “what is it, dad?” and Brett announced that we had a boy as the baby howled. I looked down and saw our baby boy with his daddy’s nose and – hilariously – horseshoe pattern baldness (which Brett also had at birth). So the triage nurse was partially right about the baldness. Brett and I looked at each other tearfully – absolutely bursting with love, pride and relief.

I pulled baby Simon up to my chest and he stayed there as I birthed the placenta and was examined by Mercedes. She informed me that I had no tears. She also showed me a true knot in his cord – which i still regret not taking a photo of. Brett took him for skin-to-skin as Mercedes massaged my legs and scalp with oil which was incredibly relaxing after all of that strain. She hugged me and told me I did an amazing job and I should be proud. She commended Brett and I for the way we worked together. The nurse said she was glad to have been able to witness such an “interesting” birth. The birth lasted 9 hours and when Simon was weighed he came in at 5 lbs 7 ounces. Besides jaundice, he had no complications from his early arrival.

We felt so supported and cared for throughout Simon’s birth. I spent years reading Birth Without Fear birth stories so I know how differently our experience could have gone. I feel that I have BWF to thank for educating me on how to empower myself and increase my chances of having a pleasant birth. I’m so grateful for all of those stories!

Story and photos submitted by Anne B. 

Starting Life as a Family of 3 in the Birth Center

Starting Life as a Family of 3 in the Birth Center

Thursday September 22nd 2011

I was 38 weeks pregnant with my first baby, had finished my last day at work on the previous Sunday as a midwife and was looking forward to relaxing for the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy. Most things were ready for the baby’s arrival, but I still needed the car seat put into the car and to finish packing my half packed hospital bag. But with no signs of this baby coming and knowing from experience at work that you usually go over your due date with your first child I wasn’t too concerned, and would finish up the last few things on the weekend.

It was my husband Ben’s day off, so we were enjoying our last few childfree weeks together and with friends. I had seen a friend for coffee that morning and Ben headed off to his mates place for an arvo catch up and few beers before life changed for us.

I hadn’t slept well the night before so once Ben left I decided to try to have a nap. While lying in bed I felt and heard a pop, my heart froze, was that my water breaking? I jumped out of bed and ran to the toilet, and as I sat down a large gush of clear fluid poured out of me. Ok, so that was my waters. My midwife mind kicked into gear, clear fluid is fine, and I wasn’t having contractions yet so I was just going to stay quiet about what had happened for a while and see if anything changed. I noted the time, 4pm, and knew that the baby was moving around in there so I wasn’t too concerned. Sometimes it can take hours to start getting contractions and first labours are usually long so I was just going to wait and see.

I messaged my friend who is also a midwife, letting her know that my waters had broken. She was going to come around to check on me before we made our way to the midwife lead birth centre in Perth, Western Australia (I didn’t want to rock up thinking I was in labour when I was only 1cm dilated!). She told me to keep her posted when things started happening, so I went out to sit on my fit ball and see if I could get some contractions started. I was probably rocking round for an hour when I did start to get some cramping. I thought I should let Ben know and tell him to head home, as I was planning on picking him up at 6pm and going to dinner at his parents place, and those plans were changed now!

He answered the phone with a joke “Hey love, are you in labour?” to which I replied, “Well not really yet but my water has broken…” He didn’t think I was serious at first, and then he realised I wasn’t joking, so he rang a taxi to get himself back home.

In the meantime my cramping was starting to ramp up in intensity, so I decided to get my TENs machine on while rocking on my fitball. I was kind of timing the contractions, they were coming every 5 minutes or so but not that regular yet. That maybe lasted half an hour before I started getting really strong contractions every 3 minutes or so. I decided to jump into the shower, and sat on the floor enjoying the hot water running over my back.

Ben arrived home to quite a shock- me in labour! I remember him saying to me I thought nothing was happening, and me replying that it all happened so quickly. I hadn’t called the birth centre to let the midwife know anything yet, so between contractions I was telling Ben what he needed to do, let the midwife know my waters had broken and I was contracting but happy to stay home for the time being.

Then he had to call my mum and let her know too, put the car seat in the car and finish packing my hospital bag. The poor guy, he went from a nice chilled out afternoon drinking beers in the sun to running around like a headless chook!

By 630pm I was contracting regularly and strongly, and Ben and my mum were pacing up and down the hallway while I sat in the bath. I asked Ben to call my midwife friend to come check on me, and I think that was the happiest he had felt all evening, he was going to have some backup and support as he felt out of his depth. I was in my own world and didn’t really notice how tense my husband and mum were, but my mum has told me afterwards that they were stressing out in that time!

My friend arrived soon after that, and she checked to see what was going on, I was 4cm but bubs was really low and in a great position. I remember being upset that I was only 4cm when I felt like I should have been further along because the contractions were so intense. She told me to go and hop back in the bath and that I was doing great, it was words I needed to hear.

The next hour was spent going back and forth between the bath and the toilet, (got to love labour) and my poor husband likens it to the exorcist, with me crawling around moaning and groaning.

At one stage sitting on the toilet I had a contraction and felt a heap of pressure and my body sort of started pushing at the peak of the contraction. As soon as my friend heard the change in my moans and the little push noise during that contraction she was telling me it was time to head to the birth centre.

My friend had to drive us in her car to the birth centre, because Ben had probably had too much to drink to legally drive. So my mum followed in my car and called my sister who was at work (she’s a hairdresser and it was late night trading) telling her to meet us at the birth centre. Everything seemed to be happening so fast!

The 20 minute drive felt like it lasted forever, with my contractions coming every couple of minutes. I was having a shorter contraction followed my a longer one, and my poor friend was trying to talk me through them, encouraging me to not push, warning me if I had a long or short contraction coming and to keep my head. I was in the back seat and remember looking at the speedo which would creep a little over the limit as I got a contraction and back to the limit as it finished. It must have been a stressful drive for her too!

We finally got to the birth centre around 845pm, with me squatting out the front involuntary pushing, and my poor husband banging on the door to let the midwife know we were there. We were quickly shown to a room and Belinda, the midwife that was on call, checked me and said I was 9cm dilated, and to try not to push, as I wasn’t quite ready. As a midwife I have told women to try not to push, but I didn’t realise how hard that actually is in reality!

My husband had called when we were on our way saying I wanted to get in the birth pool, so luckily it was full and ready for me to get into. I think I practically dove into the tub, water is amazing as a pain reliever. I also got given the gas to use to try to breath through the urge to push, and by then my mum and sister had both arrived.

I remember asking for the radio to be put on, and telling everyone in the room that the gas wasn’t working and they all laughed at me. The second time I told them that the gas wasn’t working, Belinda checked the bottle, I was right it was empty. Everyone had a little giggle about that; I knew I wasn’t going crazy!

It was around 9pm and there was no way I couldn’t push, my body was doing it without me even trying! Belinda asked me to feel inside myself to see if baby was right there, which I did. I could feel a squishy little head sitting there, so she told me to just go with my body, which is what I started to do. After half an hour of pushing there was a small amount of head on view but I felt like nothing else was happening, I remember telling them that the baby wasn’t coming. My mum told me to stop being so impatient; I had only been pushing for half an hour. But every time I felt the baby’s head it was the same amount that I could feel.

Another 15 minutes of pushing and with one almighty heave my baby’s head was out, and looking down I could see her fishy lips and eyes looking up at me under the water. The next contraction the body was out and along with the midwife I guided my baby out of the water! Oh the relief, except my coccyx bone in my bottom was really sore! My husband checked what we had, a girl, and told me I could call her whatever I liked! (After months of arguing about names!)

Once we had all calmed down, Belinda reminded me that I had pushed out a posterior baby, which is one of the hardest positions for a baby to be in when pushing. She must have turned right at the end of my labour, because I had no signs of a posterior labour, no back pain and no slow progress, which are two signs of a malpositioned baby.

My beautiful 2730g (6lb) baby girl Lydia Lee was just perfect! I had a physiological 3rd stage, my husband and I slept at the birth centre overnight and headed home the following morning to start life as a family of 3.

Story and photograph submitted by Sam M. 

Barely at the Birth Center! A Fast & Easy Birth

Barely at the Birth Center! A Fast & Easy Birth

The birth of my first child Adelyn Perry was one of the greatest life changing, and empowering experiences that I have been a part of. It has put me in a place of awe and trust in the way God has beautifully designed a woman’s body. Probably like most new moms I was fairly naive about what labor and birth really meant before I actually experienced it, but I read a lot of books on natural childbirth and purposely searched unassisted births and breech births online (which is how I came across the Birth Without Fear blog).

Reading stories of the unassisted births particularly encouraged me that if women can give birth without assistance I could give birth with the caring help of a midwife! I’m am so thankful that my husband, Elijah, was on board with doing a birth center birth. Honestly it was kind of by default that we ended up at the birth center. At the time many of our friends were hiring the midwife, Tiffany, and using her birth center facilities with great results, so she was the first (and only) care provider we looked into. We immediately felt comfortable with her, and LOVED the fact we would not have to deliver in a hospital (Elijah greatly dislikes hospitals).

During the pregnancy we chose very little testing, and even declined an ultrasound, therefore we did not know the gender of our baby. Most of the pregnancy I thought we were having a boy, but as it got closer to meeting baby we simply could not decide on a boy name, yet we both had fallen in love with the name Adelyn. It was from that point on (about two months before the due date) that I felt we were probably having a girl, all because of the name. The entire pregnancy was very easy, with little to no morning sickness and very few complaints. I kept exercising the whole way through and felt great.

My due date was December 23rd, 2012. Leading up to the date and after I did not feel in the least that I was about to go into labor. I was nine days overdue (January 1st) and my family, who had been in town for the last two weeks were going to be leaving in a few days.

That day my midwife, Tiffany, called to see how I was doing and suggested if I wanted I could get a membrane sweep the following morning, to see if it would move things along. Both Elijah and I really wanted me to go into labor with NO interventions. After getting off the phone with Tiffany I remember sitting there and praying to God. I told Him that I was ready to have this baby, I didn’t want to hold back anymore (up till that point I had been fine with being overdue) and I really wanted to have the baby before my family had to leave town.

Around 3pm that afternoon two of my very best childhood friends who had driven all the way from Oregon to California came to visit me. One of them had said it would be neat to both see me pregnant and then meet the baby during the few days they would be in town. They got what they wanted! We all went on a hike up a mountain by my house, and of course my non pregnant athletic friends set a fast pace. I didn’t complain however, I wanted the exercise. It was funny though how unaware they were with my very pregnant state and that I usually would not walk that fast! During the hike I started getting painless contractions, but thought maybe they were Braxton Hicks, something I had rarely experienced before but heard many other pregnant women complain of. After the hike I said good bye to my friends and was pleasantly surprised to find that the tightening sensations did not go away. I was getting several painless contractions every hour.

Elijah came home from work, and I showed him how my body was contracting. By 7pm the contractions got slightly uncomfortable, it felt like I was stretching way down low in my abdomen. Slowly they got more intense, longer, and more frequent, but they were never unbearable. I was preparing myself for a potentially long labor and really did not want to drive a whole 45 minutes to the birth center only to be sent home if I wasn’t far enough along. I was going to stick it out as long as possible at home. Birth stories I read encouraged doing what you would normally do if you weren’t in labor, so as to conserve energy. For example if you usually eat or sleep at a certain time of day, do the same if you’re in labor (if you obviously are capable of doing it). I thought of a story I read of a woman who had a really long labor, and looking back had wished she had slept. I did not want that to happen to me and was determined to learn from even the harder more unfortunate stories I read.

It was 9pm by then and I was getting bloody show and starting to lose my mucus plug. I thought I should pack my birth bag, notify my midwife of my labor suspicions, and then try to get some sleep. When I called her to let her know about the loss of mucus plug and the tightening sensations, she told me I could be in the start of labor or it could be a while that things actually got going. I was having contractions about every 7 minutes by then but did not have to focus on them to get through it.

After the phone call I went upstairs to our loft bedroom (while Elijah cleaned the house… he likes to keep moving and doing things). I rested/slept between contractions, took several trips downstairs to the bathroom, and ate a piece of toast for energy. Eventually Elijah came to bed and the sensations got stronger and closer together. I felt the most comfortable during a contraction to get up on my knees in bed and sway in the darkness breathing deeply. Elijah’s presence next to me in bed and occasional comforting hand on me was strengthening. We were unsure of when to go to the birth center and even though the contractions took a lot of my focus, they still never felt out of control. It wasn’t the easiest thing to time the distance and length of contractions.

It was around 1am when I thought they were coming about every 4 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds long. We decided to call Tiffany to check in and see what she thought. When I had Elijah call Tiffany to let her know I was in labor he was relaying some of the timing of the contractions wrong, so I corrected him, and Tiffany could hear me talking in the background. I think because of my ability to communicate well, and lack of obvious pain, she did not think I was very far along. She said to call her back when the contractions were lasting longer like around 1 minute long and have been that way every 4 minutes for over an hour. After that I stopped timing contractions, I didn’t feel like spending all my focus and energy on the clock and timer on my phone, plus I believed what Tiffany said: that I might have a long way to go…

It was somewhere around 3am when I distinctly remember the contractions starting to come at a much faster and actually overwhelming pace. Elijah was finally asleep and I was having a harder time managing. I decided to go down stairs and take a really hot shower. I turned the water on and while letting it get hot, sat on the toilet. For the first time I was really not enjoying this. I cried out to Jesus saying I can’t do this anymore please help. Looking back I realize now that I was going through transition, and it was just me and God. I jumped in the shower, finding temporary relief with the hot water. Every contraction brought me to my knees and they were coming quickly. I wanted Elijah, but I was so consumed with the contractions I couldn’t call out to him. All I could do was loudly moan hoping he would wake up. He did wake up, thankfully, coming into the bathroom. At that point I definitely wanted to be at the birth center having my midwife help me. I asked Elijah for us to go to the birth center and he wanted to time the contractions first and call Tiffany to see what she said. I didn’t have the energy right then to talk about it. He timed between two contractions and they were a minute apart; He immediately called Tiffany. While Elijah was talking to Tiffany I was loudly moaning in the background (surely she would think I was in real labor, because of all the noise!).

Then I got the urge to push. It was scary but so instinctive; I did not want to be pushing though, I wanted to have my midwife with me! I told Elijah I felt like I was pushing. I decided to reach up inside to see if I could feel the baby’s head, but I really did not want to feel the baby’s head. I nervously reached up there a little tiny bit and was amazed at how open I was! Thankfully I did not feel a head. Tiffany told Elijah we needed to immediately drive down to the birth center; I didn’t think we could make it with such a strong urge to push. He briefly hashed out on the phone the option of having her drive to our house, but Tiffany had no idea where we lived, and we were very far out in the dark country down a winding dirt road. Without my knowledge Tiffany told Elijah we had a much better chance of getting to her faster than her getting to us, and also that it usually takes an average of 1 ½ hours to push out a first time baby, which was within our driving time.

The craziness continued. Looking back I am so thankful for an amazing husband who managed to get everything together to get me to the birth center. He grabbed all the things on my list to bring to the center, plus a bunch of towels in case we had the baby in the car. The worst part about transferring was having to get out of the shower soaking wet and then put cloths back on. I briefly wondered if I could go naked, then decided that if we got pulled over for speeding I would prefer to have cloths on. I managed to dry off and get my pajamas back on. I crawled into the car and buried my head in a pillow, informing Elijah not to tell me how close or far we had to drive, I didn’t want to know. I had three contractions on the first mile of bumpy dirt road and it was awful. I started praying out loud that the contractions would stop until we could get to the center. After praying I only had contractions every 10 minutes for the rest of the 45 min drive.

When we arrived at the birth center, the dark parking lot and surrounding office buildings were lit up with only a street light. Tiffany and my mom (who Elijah thankfully called while I was getting my cloths back on at the house) walked out of the birth center, to help me in. I made it to the room when I had another contraction bringing me to my knees. After the contraction Tiffany asked if she could check me. When she did she said the baby’s head was right there. I was fully dilated and baby was already in the birth canal. My body kicked back into gear with pushing the baby out. I tried several pushing positions preferring being upright and on my knees on the soft bed. Pushing contractions felt much different than the dilating contractions. They did not take lots of focus and energy, but rather felt very natural; my body seemed to know what to do. Eventually Tiffany suggested I lay down because the baby’s heart rate responded the best in that position and it was beginning to drop low. Having been awake off and on all night I was very sleepy at this point, and was surprised I was actually able to dose off between pushing. While pushing Tiffany broke the waters and there was some meconium in it. Even with these potential concerns Tiffany had a very calm reassuring presence that encouraged me so much. I asked her if the pushing was doing anything, and if she could see the baby coming. She said yes, reach down and feel. I reached down and was amazed to feel a bulge of head right there. It gave me so much strength to know I was very close to being done, and with that I worked harder. Baby’s head began to crown and I felt the burning ring a fire. Tiffany supported, oiled, and put warm compresses on my perineum. I felt like I was tearing everywhere, the first true sense of pain during the labor. Wanting to cross the finish line I gave a loud roar. Her head came out with an immediate sense of relief, and then her body slid out without any more pushes. Tiffany held her up and I saw a purple screaming baby, and she put her on my chest. Elijah and I were both so dazed we did not think to check the gender. Tiffany finally asked Elijah what the baby was. He looked and announced that it was a girl.

Our Adelyn Perry was born at 5:42am, January 2nd 2013, about an hour and a half after we arrived at the birth center. She weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces and was 19 ½ inches long. When I pushed her out, her head and her hand came out at the same time. Surprisingly and thankfully I did not tear at all!! Elijah cut the cord, and the placenta was delivered easily. Adelyn pooped all over my stomach right after she was born, but I could care less. Eventually we put a diaper on her because she pooped all over the blanket again after cleaning up the first mess. The meconium that was found in the water did not cause any problems for Adelyn’s breathing. Elijah and my mom got to hold and look at her, and my mother in law drove down to meet Adelyn, while Tiffany helped clean me up and get me comfortable. I rehydrated and ate some food, feeling amazed that I just gave birth and that it was all over and our baby girl was with us. Only about two hours after having Adelyn, while the world was waking up on that fresh sunny winter morning, we loaded up in the car and headed home. At home I was greeted by my warm bed where my baby and I snuggled up for a much needed nap, and various family members came over to meet Adelyn and bring us dinner. It was then I decided that next time we had a baby we would be doing it at home; we were barely at the birth center!

I loved almost every aspect of the birth of Adelyn and fondly thought about it over and over again in the many months to come. The hardest parts about recovery was a very sore tailbone from pushing her out while lying on my back and the challenges of breastfeeding and getting use to a newborn. I eventually healed from my bruised tailbone, so thankful that it wasn’t a fracture. As for learning to breastfeed, I was surrounded by other moms who were successfully nursing their babies and encouraged me to push through the first hard three months. Things got easier and smoother knowing how to feed my baby, and we ultimately found a rhythm to our new life. For me having an enjoyable birth experience was an empowering stepping stone into entering the unknown world of motherhood, and I wouldn’t trade the experience!

Story and photograph submitted by Janelle. 

Prepared by Bradley Method: 3 Birth Stories in 1!

Prepared by Bradley Method: 3 Birth Stories in 1!

I have three beautiful children. All born very close together within the 5 years that my husband and I have been married. I jokingly call myself “Fertile Myrtle”. My husband is more of a natural/holistic person than I am and convinced me to go the natural way for our first pregnancy. We read a Bradley Method book that prepared us extremely well for all of our pregnancies. We chose a OB/GYN that was highly recommended by friends. She agreed with our birth plan and was very nice at every office visit. What we didn’t know at the time, was that she was in the middle of at least one lawsuit where she had lost a mother.

Two months before the delivery, she asked us to give birth at the birth center in town since she didn’t have rights at the hospital anymore. We didn’t know any better what that meant at the time. We lived 14 hours away from family and chose to keep that information a secret and let our parents know we were still giving birth at the hospital. We felt like it was too late to change plans anyway. We were kind of excited to get the “best of both worlds.” Labor was long and hard but pretty much by the book. No surprises and 12 hours long. I was able to give birth to a beautiful 9lb baby girl. We named her Luciana.

It wasn’t until after the birth that my doula told us all of the awful things the doctor did to me during labor that could’ve ended badly. The doctor broke my water without my consent, physically dilated me the last two centimeters, pulled on the placenta and fished it out herself, pulling out globs at a time. I had bad tearing but never found out what degree it was. It took me two weeks to recover. Let’s just say she’s not a practicing doctor anymore.

Towards the end of my second pregnancy, we were back in our home state and living at my parents’ house. We opted for a Certified Nurse Midwife and homebirth, much to the disappointment to my mother, a Labor & Delivery nurse. I absolutely loved our midwife. She had 30+ years of experience and gave me so much confidence. This time around, labor was 16 hours long. I think it was because I laid down in bed for most of it; afraid of going too fast and getting torn again. Our 9lb son, Matthew, came into the world at my mother’s home and it was absolutely beautiful. No tearing and no complications.

We planned another home birth for our third child but things didn’t go according to plan. My water broke on its own on a Friday morning. My husband and midwife were confident that I would go into labor soon…but Friday turned into Saturday and I was beginning to freak out. My husband didn’t want to go to the hospital and was convinced that I would eventually go into labor. But I knew with each passing hour we were putting myself and the baby at risk for infection. I had to beg him to bring me to the hospital Sunday afternoon. He was convinced that the hospital would give me an epidural or whisk me to a C-section without our consent. I, however, was so happy to be there and so happy when they hooked up that pitocin. I was so tired of not being in labor. I just wanted my baby!

My husband wasn’t kind to the nurses and I had to convince them to listen to me and not my husband, who very obviously didn’t want to be there or trusted anyone. They kept saying “I’m just trying to make everyone happy.” But I informed them that they weren’t gonna make him happy. Just focus on me. Once the contractions got intense he was able to come back to reality and be the birthing coach that I needed. I was so happy to have him there. I could not get through my labors without him. He is the best coach. Better than my doula was for our first labor! He always ends up being more exhausted than me at the end of the birth. Labor only lasted 5 hours and I pushed for 5 minutes and had no tearing. I loved that the labor was so fast even though it was a little more painful than my first two. Our second boy, Augustine, was so beautiful at 8lbs.

However, 9 days after he was born he ran a fever and his breathing was sounding funny. We brought him to the ER and he was in septic shock. He was intubated, put under sedation, and immediately started on antibiotics. He had contracted E-coli. They said we’ll never know how he got it, but the nurses said it was probably from my waters being ruptured for so long. We stayed in the hospital for over 3 weeks. He recovered like a champ. He is now 18 months old and is quite possibly the happiest baby on the planet. He has been so easy and such a delight to see grow up.

We are now pregnant with our fourth baby! I’m due in late July and can’t wait to write up that birth story next.

Story and photographs submitted by Kristin J. 

Supported and Respected and Encouraged: Wiley’s Birth

Supported and Respected and Encouraged: Wiley’s Birth

My due date was Sunday January 22nd 2017 and on Thursday January 19th I woke up with a feeling that it may be my last day at work before maternity leave. My mucus plug fell out throughout the day and I was feeling different than I had during the rest of the pregnancy, but I didn’t want to get myself too excited because I knew the mucus plug could indicate birth within anywhere from hours to weeks. I got home from work and went to the gym to get a walk in and try to get the baby moving. Around 8:30 p.m. I had my first contraction. I was able to use breathing techniques to work through the pain. These contractions continued on and off until about 2:30 a.m.

On Friday January 20th I was exhausted from the contractions the night before and decided to take the day off work and spend time walking and relaxing in case the baby decided to make an early appearance. My husband Jason and I walked the mall all day and ran some errands to pass the time. I felt a few mild contractions throughout the day, but nothing compared to what I had felt the night before. I didn’t have much of an appetite, so we snacked a little for dinner, watched TV, and headed to bed. Around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday January 21st I woke up to contractions. These contractions were much more intense than those I felt on Thursday. I couldn’t just breathe through them, I had change positions frequently and needed Jason’s support. These contractions lasted all night and all day. Around 5 p.m. the contractions had become more regular, about 5 to 6 minutes apart and around a minute long. We called the birth center, and the midwife told us to wait until my contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasted at least a minute each. She said I would feel the difference when I was moving into active labor and that this could take a long time, possibly until the next morning. My motherly instinct told me that it would happen faster.

Between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. my contractions changed. I could no longer work through them by simply using breathing techniques and changing positions. I had to make loud, intense sounds from my gut. Jason was amazing. He played calming music, sprayed essential oils, rubbed my back, physically held me up, and encouraged me. I felt an extreme calm, as if I was inside myself. At some point during this time Jason called the birth center again. This time they told him to come in so they could check to see how I was progressing. He packed the car and we headed to the birth center. On the way there I had 5 contractions, and it was only a 15-minute drive.

We arrived and were met by my midwife Deb and our nurses Kendall and Silvia. We settled into our room and Deb came to check on my progress. I was 7cm dilated! I was so incredibly happy. My goal had been to labor at home as long as possible so that when I arrived at the birth center I would be close to transition. With Jason’s support I had done it! Deb encouraged me to sit backwards on the toilet with my head on a pillow for 9 to 10 contractions to get things moving along. This position was extremely intense, but Jason sat with me rubbing my back and giving me juice to keep my energy up. The nurses set up the tub and after my time on the toilet I moved into the water. It felt amazing! Such relief. I spent some time in a squat through contractions with Jason giving me juice, water, and fruit snacks. At some point, I remember saying “This feels different!” and turning onto my back. The nurses came in when they heard this and asked some questions about the pressure I felt in-between contractions. They listened to the baby and left Jason and I alone for some more time. I spent time laboring in a spread eagle position and the sounds coming from me continued to get louder and more intense.

In response to my changes, Deb, Kendall, and Silva came into the room and asked if I felt ready to push. I did! With some advice from them on how to do this, I began pushing. It was like nothing I had ever felt before and in my mind was taking a long time. I had an expectation that the pushing phase would move very quickly, but everyone encouraged me and told me that I was doing great, progressing very well. I trusted them and kept telling myself that I could do this, as millions of women had before me. At some point, Deb told me that my water had not broken yet and if I would like she could break it, but that it wasn’t necessary. If she did so, things would move along a little faster and with more intensity. I remembered that a good friend said she had her water broken and the pain was terrible. I decided I did not want this intervention and continued to push. I was so glad I made this decision, as the water ended up breaking on it’s own. When it broke we all screamed, I thought the baby had come out! It was not that easy, but I knew that my water breaking was a good sign that I would meet my baby soon. I kept pushing and at one point I turned over to push in a squatting position for several contractions, before returning to pushing on my back. I was feeling exhausted at this point, and all of the sudden Jason was looking down and they said they could see the head! Deb told me that using a mirror to see their progress often helps women at this point in labor. I was worried about how I would react, but I decided to give it a try. It helped! Seeing the progress was the encouragement I needed to keep going. Instinctively, I reached down and touched the head at the end of one intense contraction. After seeing me do this, Deb told me that it would help if I guided the baby’s head out. This is not something I thought I would be comfortable with, but I went for it. It burned, but out came the baby’s head. I was so excited and I just wanted to keep pushing to meet my baby, but Deb told me not to push unless I was having a contraction. She needed to check the location of the umbilical cord. She checked and told me the location was good. Then, on the next contraction out popped the body and I caught him! Immediately I brought him to my chest and held him tight. I was crying and kept repeating, “My baby is here. I love you”. There really are no words to describe what I was feeling at this point.

Baby Wiley Gregoire Smith was born at 1:35 am. I immediately held him skin-to-skin as I delivered the placenta. Then, Jason held him skin-to-skin as Kendall and Silva helped me out of the tub and Deb checked to make sure I was recovering well. Wiley never left our arms and we got to spend hours bonding with him. What an incredible experience!

I am so grateful for the support I received from Jason, Deb, Kendall, and Silvia. Jason supported me throughout labor and never let on that he felt nervous. He rubbed my back, responded to my needs, and provided words of encouragement. Deb took a hands-off approach that made me feel safe. If she wasn’t worried, there was no reason for me to be worried. She provided advice and encouragement when I needed it and respected my birth plan. Kendall and Silva provided words of encouragement, were relaxed, and made sure my baby was safe throughout labor. I could not have done it without this incredible group of people.

Seconds after I caught Wiley before delivering the placenta.
Seconds after I caught Wiley before delivering the placenta.
Wiley right after Jason cut the umbilical cord.
Wiley right after Jason cut the umbilical cord.

Story and photographs submitted by Meghan M. 

All’s Well That Ends Well: A Surprise Breech Birth

All’s Well That Ends Well: A Surprise Breech Birth

After a smooth and complication-free pregnancy, I expected my birth to be no different. I had chosen a free-standing birth center and a team of midwives for my care providers, took Bradley Method classes, and felt ready to have a pretty run of the mill, unmedicated, intervention-free birth. Little did we know what was in store for us…

I went into labor on a Friday night, the day after my due date, and had a lengthy labor at home, with contractions not really picking up until the middle of the night Saturday night. Our doula joined us at around 2:00am early Sunday morning, and we headed to the birth center a couple of hours later once my contractions were about 3 minutes apart.

Upon arrival at the birth center, I was told I was 7 cm dilated, and labored there for another hour or so before I started feeling the urge to push. My water broke shortly after, and our midwife noticed meconium in the fluid, so I was told I couldn’t get in the tub like I had hoped to, and that baby needed to come out quickly (to prevent baby aspirating the meconium, which can lead to infection). A couple minutes later, as baby boy started to crown, we heard one of our midwives exclaim “Wow, that is the baldest baby I’ve ever seen!” My husband and I both raised an eyebrow at that comment, as we had expected our little guy to have a full head of hair, like we both had as newborns. A few pushes later is when the world stopped spinning for a brief moment while it dawned on everyone why our baby was so bald: it wasn’t his head that was crowning, it was his butt! Baby boy was breech, and we had no idea until this moment.

How did we get to this moment without knowing he was breech, you may ask? That’s a great question, and one we’ll never have the answer to. Our guy was breech at both ultrasounds at 20 and 24 weeks, but we were assured that most babies are breech at that point, and we had plenty of time for him to turn on his own. During subsequent checks by our midwife (including an internal exam just to be sure!) we were told he had indeed moved into the head down position. So, was he breech that whole time and somehow fooled our midwife? Or did he turn sometime in the days or hours leading up to delivery? We’ll never know….

What we do know, however, is that we were fortunate enough to have an extremely skilled team of midwives present at our birth, with whom we owe everything to! Our lead midwife had delivered breech babies at home births before, so she knew exactly what to do, and sprang into action. Basically, the biggest risk with delivering a breech baby is the point at which the head is being delivered; there’s a chance that the baby’s chin can get caught on the pelvic bone and essentially get stuck. After I had successfully pushed the little guy’s body out, I was told to stop pushing. My midwife had one person pushing down on the top of his head from the outside, while she reached in and hooked a finger into his lower jaw – all in an effort to keep his chin tucked to his chest and prevent it from getting caught on my pelvic bone. One more big push later, and he was out!

While it was a huge relief to have our guy delivered (after just a half hour of intense pushing), we weren’t quite out of the woods yet. His breathing wasn’t quite where they wanted it to be, so they decided to transfer him, accompanied by my husband, to the hospital for closer monitoring. I had to stay behind because I had two two-degree tears that needed repairing, and a significant amount of hemorrhaging from my placenta detaching early. Luckily, however, my little man got a clean bill of health almost immediately upon arriving at the hospital and was able to return to me within just a couple of hours for his first feed and snuggles.

We feel so incredibly fortunate to have had the expert team at our birth that we did. It’s scary to think about all the ways that my surprise breech birth could have gone terribly wrong, but I choose instead to feel grateful for how well it did turn out. While I didn’t go into my birth thinking I was having an unmedicated, vaginal breech birth, I’m glad that my choice of care team supported that when it became a possibility. Had I been in a hospital, I would have had an emergency c-section no question, and would have possibly ended up with irreversible damage to my body due to the fact that baby boy was already on his way out when his positioning was discovered. All’s well that ends well, and we joyfully welcomed Ember Daniel into the world, backwards, on November 1st, 2015 at 6:56am.

breech, breech birth, midwife

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Submitted by Julia Hogan.

Photographs by Kyla Berry Photography

The Births of Henry & Thea Part 2: Stubborn and Taking Her Time!

The Births of Henry & Thea Part 2: Stubborn and Taking Her Time!

(Editor’s note: click here to read Part 1 aka Henry’s birth.)

I stood in the birthing suite holding Henry, and saw that it had been ten minutes since he came. I was eagerly hoping that Thea would join us soon. My dad took Oliver so we could continue to labor. I handed Henry to William and stripped down so I could get into the birth tub. Though contractions had not started back up, the water still felt soothing against my body. I rubbed my legs clean and settled in, unsure of what to expect. Sensing that we had a bit of time before Thea came, William stepped into the bathroom to shower and change while my mom brought Henry over to me in the tub. I took him and held his little body against me and marveled at the fact that he was here in my arms. I attempted to nurse him and was happy that he latched quickly and eagerly. His suckling spurred a few contractions to start rolling in and I handed him back to my mom so I could meditate and will Thea to join us. My doula Kelly arrived somewhere in this time frame. I had managed to text her from the truck “birth center”. It was all I could get out but luckily she knew what I meant. She walked in and didn’t appear surprised to see Henry but was surprised to hear that he had been born in the parking lot. My photographer also arrived pretty soon too, and I was so happy that she would capture Thea’s birth at least.

The room was quiet, calm, and filled with a sense of patient waiting as I rolled in the tub and met each contraction with hopefulness. Kelly jumped in and got a cold rag for my face and neck, and did hip squeezes like a badass. (On the fence about hiring a doula? Take my advice – hire a doula. They are worth their weight in gold.) Each wave brought back pain more than anything and the counter pressure on my hips was heavenly. William joined me by the tub and whispered words of love and encouragement as I calmly breathed through each wave. I looked around the room and shook my head at Kim. “She’s teasing me. I thought she’d come by now.” My contractions were mild and my mood was still light – delivery seemed distant. At some point my Dad brought Oliver in to say hi – I loved seeing his little face while I labored, and even though our original plan did not include him being at the birth center, I was very grateful that he was there. After a few more contractions Kim suggested we get out of the tub and attempt walking to spur Thea into descending. She was still head down and her heart tones sounded good. It had been over an hour since Henry was born and the time was surprisingly moving fast. I got out of the tub and slipped into a sexy adult diaper, because birthing babies is glamorous like that. A contraction hit me as I was standing and it was a bit more intense than what I had been experiencing. I turned to the closest person to me, Kelly, and leaned my head on her shoulder. She was soothingly whispering in my ear and coaching me to breathe through the wave since I was suddenly feeling a wave of panic at the pain. I felt intensely grateful for her presence in that moment and I knew my mood was starting to reflect the next level of labor we were entering.

My mom brought me Henry, and William sat and wrapped his arms around me as I nursed our new little baby and breathed through contractions. At this stage, things kind of get fuzzy for me. Time to a woman in labor means nothing. I remember stepping out to see my dad, Oliver and Henry. I wanted to be sure that Oliver had eaten (he had) and my dad even got him down for a nap in an empty birth room. As my contractions ramped up, Kim wanted to check me. Laying on the bed was torture – worst position ever for a woman in labor, in my personal opinion. As contractions came I would roll on my left side and grab Meredith’s hand (student midwife). I think this is when Kim could tell that my bag of waters was bulging and creating a lot of pressure. Shortly after this (or before? Again, fuzzy) Tara (the in house chiropractor) came up to adjust me.

At this point it had been two hours since Henry had been born. While my contractions were coming more frequently, I still had a ways to go. As badly as I wanted to just push her out, I knew my body wasn’t there yet. We went ahead and moved into the bathroom where I sat backwards on the toilet. Someone got me a pillow to lean against and Kim pushed little stools under my feet to put me in a good squat/labor position. Kelly suggested we turn off the lights and the room became quiet as it was just me, Kelly, and Kim. It all did the trick. Each contraction in this position got me closer and closer and I started feeling the need to push. My eyes were closed and I focused on breathing and visualizing Thea moving down, down, down. Someone kept offering me water, Kelly rolled tennis balls across my lower back, and in the quiet and darkness I told Kim she could break my water if it was needed.

As helpful as this position was, my gentle pushes weren’t doing much. I didn’t know what was going on exactly, but I knew she wasn’t coming down like she should have been. At some point (twenty, thirty, forty?) minutes later Kim suggested we move to the bed. “Can I get back in the tub?” I asked, longing for the comfort of the water. Kim gently told me that probably wasn’t our best bet since Thea was being stubborn. She really wanted me to get on my hands and knees on the bed, and I trusted her completely. I had a peanut ball under my arms and chest and I rocked my body through each contraction. I pushed my heart out, leaning back and giving it my all. I used my mom and mother in laws hands as leverage – tugging on them while leaning back and pushing, and William and Kelly started working together to provide amazing relief through my back and hips. I pushed for what seemed like twenty or thirty minutes but nothing was happening. She wasn’t coming. I heard some talk behind me, then Kim told me she was going to break my water and that when she did, I needed to push and get Thea out. I didn’t know what was happening but all I heard was that she needed to get out. My next contraction came, I felt a pop then an immediately feeling of relief as amniotic fluid burst out of my water. The intense pressure was gone and I pushed, one hand holding my mom and one hand holding my mother in law. And suddenly she was out – I felt her tiny body slide out into the world. Three hours and ten minutes after her twin brother had been born, Thea was here. Kim told me that she was handing Thea up to me from between my legs and I reached down to grab her as I sat back.

I’ll never, ever, forget what happened next. I knew immediately that something was wrong. I brought my baby girl to my stomach and said “Hi, Thea” as I started rubbing her. But she did not respond. She did not cry. She was completely limp, her skin was white, her lips were blue. “Thea?” I said, feeling my voice waver as I rubbed her more briskly. “Kim?” Definite wobbly voice as I called out to my midwife. Suddenly Kim was beside me, up on the bed, taking Thea and immediately breathing into her mouth. The other midwives were suddenly there too, pulling out an oxygen tank with a mask. The room burst into motion as time slid to a halt. It was as if everything were in slow motion. I felt William behind me whispering calming words, Kelly was whispering in my right ear that she was okay, some babies just needed help transitioning to life outside the womb. Panic raged in my heart as I stared at my sweet, unresponsive baby, who was so sickeningly limp. I looked around the room – my mother and mother-in-law were clutching each other. Kim was using a device to suck fluid out of her throat and lungs, as the other midwives prepped the oxygen mask. I took solace in the fact that Thea was still connected to me. Her cord was pumping oxygenated blood into her body and Donna, a seasoned and wise attending midwife, kept reassuring us all that her heart rate was strong. Donna looked at me and said “she’s okay. She’ll be fine.” She was making raspy noises, not quite breaths, but it was something. It was a start. But when Meredith told Kim that it had been five minutes, my heart sunk and my throat closed. When Kim said “Someone call 911!” I nearly lost it. I felt a sob sticking in my throat and I suddenly couldn’t breathe. Kim looked at me and said “This is just a precaution, we like to have them here just in case.” I knew that she was saying this only to keep me calm, but I still took comfort in her calm and collected actions.

I reached for Thea, wanting desperately to hold her but I was afraid of interfering. I rubbed her arm and talked to her. “Thea, breathe for mommy. Mommy’s right here. Cry for me Thea. Give me a cry. Breathe, baby. I need you to breathe.” Kim told me to keep talking to her, that she was responding to my voice and touch. So I kept touching her tiny arm, kept begging her to breathe and cry. A midwife stepped outside as the call connected to the emergency dispatch. All I could think is that this couldn’t be happening. All I could think was the worst.

“Thea, breathe baby! Breathe for mommy! I’m right here!”

At nine minutes, Donna reached for Thea and said “Give her to me.” Kim moved to cut the cord and suddenly Thea was disconnected from me. The cord white and limp as she was handed to the most experienced midwife in the room. Again my panicked gaze swept the room wildly. My eyes met my moms and all I could do was silently plead with her to tell me it was going to be okay. This couldn’t be happening. We couldn’t lose our baby girl.

And then, suddenly, I heard her take a breath. And then another. And her face began to take on color. And then she was screaming. And in that moment it was the most beautiful sound in the world. I sank against William, crying with relief. The whole room seemed to breathe a huge sigh. Donna called “All clear!” and the 911 call was ended as a false alarm. Kim immediately reached over and unsnapped my bra. “We need to get her skin to skin.”

My screaming baby girl was placed against my breasts and a warmed towel and heating pad was laid over us both. She was beautiful. Red faced and squalling, mad as hell, but breathing and beautiful.

Soon after I birthed the placentas – they had fused together and were in the shape of a heart which I found both fitting and beautiful. Henry was brought back in to us and William did skin to skin with him, and I asked that Oliver be brought in to meet his new siblings. As the five of us curled up on the bed together I couldn’t help but feel joy – a wild, heart stopping feeling of love and happiness at my beautiful family. We were in the same room that Oliver had been born in two years before, with two of the same midwives. I was proud of my body for carrying our babies to 38 weeks, for laboring hard to bring them into the world. I had three great births, and three beautiful healthy children. I was grateful for my birth team who reacted calmly and professionally to not one, but two crazy births and who worked hard to ensure that both births had a good outcome. I felt strong, supported, loved, and respected. This was birthing with options. This was birthing in a positive environment. This was birthing without fear.

birth story, birth without fear, car birth, birth center

Submitted by BreAnn Brown.

Photograph by Aly Renee Birth Photography.

The Births of Henry & Thea Part 1: Baby in the Parking Lot!

The Births of Henry & Thea Part 1: Baby in the Parking Lot!

Sunday, July 10th, started off as a lazy Family day. We (me, William – my husband, and almost two-year-old toddler, Oliver) woke up around eight and laid in bed relaxing and snuggling as is our custom on weekends. I was 38 weeks and four days pregnant with our di/di twins. At 8:30 I got up to pee and was surprised at how much I seemed to be going. I chalked it up to the gallon of water I had drank the previous day and went about our morning. My husband was in the kitchen making coffee and the toddler was running around the house playing. As I sat on the couch I felt a small squirt of water. “Oh great,” I thought, “this is what it’s come to. I’m now peeing myself.” I went to change after announcing to William that I was now apparently incontinent.

Ten minutes later, in my fresh clean pants, I sat with Oliver and yet again felt another leak of pee. “What the hell?!” I said in frustration. I walked to my husband and leaned in for a hug – suddenly feeling like I needed his support. “I keep peeing myself. I can’t help but wonder if it’s my water breaking. Is it ridiculous that I can’t tell whether or not it’s pee or my water breaking? Shouldn’t I know the difference?”

I went to go change again and decided to do the smell test – it didn’t look like pee and it didn’t smell like pee. It smelled slightly sweet and I knew immediately that it was amniotic fluid. I sat on the toilet where a little more gushed out. It was clear, with a slight cloudy tinge. Definitely not pee. At this point I became giddy. Finally! We were going to have babies soon! I was so ready.

By then it was 9 am. I sent my midwife Kim a message describing the morning and she agreed that it did indeed sound like my water broke. She gave me a few suggestions to encourage contractions to start since I hadn’t had any yet, and I told her I’d keep her updated. At 9:12 she texted “Well, let’s have some babies today!” Having my suspicions confirmed I told my husband to get ready – they were coming! At 9:15 I then called my mom who was two hours away. While on the phone I had one mild contraction. She and my dad were going to head our way. I contacted my doula, Kelly, and our photographer, Alyson.

At this point, 9:30, my contractions started in earnest. I pulled out my contraction app, sat on my birth ball, and began breathing. William made me breakfast and we started “Nemo” for Oliver, expecting to spend the next several hours laboring at home like we did with our first labor. By 9:45, just 15 minutes after contractions started, I knew things were going faster than with Oliver. My contractions were a minute and a half apart and lasting 45 seconds each. I just didn’t think that could be right. “That’s too close together, too long for this stage of labor.” I decided to jump in the shower for mental clarity. I needed to breathe, relax, and reset. The hot shower felt amazing and I stayed in there for close to thirty minutes, breathing and contracting and preparing myself for the day ahead. When I got out – I reset my contraction timer and started getting dressed. Ten minutes later, 10:30 – barely an hour after my first contraction – I knew things were going fast. Too fast. Contractions were still consistently a minute and a half apart and lasting for 45 seconds to a minute. “Where’s my mom?!” I asked in frustration, as William called them. They could tell from his voice that they needed to step on it. I was sitting on the toilet and rocking back and forth, feeling very uncomfortable. I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement, but sitting still on the toilet was not pleasant. My body was writhing and when I stood up my contractions changed. I should have known at that point just how close we were but it didn’t dawn on me until a moment later. I said “Call Kim.” At this point, my contractions were back to back – double peaking with no breaks in between. I was feeling pressure down really low. “What do you want me to say?” He asked. “I don’t know! Tell her…tell her I don’t know!” The minute the words left my mouth I realized what was happening – transition. We were somehow already at the point of transition and moving fast towards delivery. I was completely shocked – but also completely sure. I knew my body – I was listening to it’s signs and I knew we were very close to having a baby. “We gotta leave now. Get Oliver dressed. We have to get to the birth center.” My husband, trusting me, set off in a panic. As he loaded the truck with Oliver and our birth bag, I took a few minutes to breathe. The contractions had stopped. I felt an uncanny sense of peace fall over me. “The calm before the storm” I remember thinking. At 10:45, as I was climbing into our truck, I first felt the urge to push. I held onto the door frame, threw my head back and let loose a very primal grunt with my contraction. We were so so close. I knew that if we didn’t leave right at that moment we may not make it. I told my husband to drive. We had to get to the birth center right away.

Kim called us as we careened out of our neighborhood, after receiving a text from me that simply said “I gotta push.” I was in the passenger seat on my knees, facing the back seat. As I answered, a guttural moan came out and the urge to push returned. Kim told me to breathe, to not push and get here ASAP. She told William to put on the flashers and drive as fast as possible. As another contraction hit me, I told Kim the obvious – “They are coming!” She asked if we needed to pull over and said she could come to us. She could hear it in my voice – in my moans – they were coming. I took a deep breath and knew I could hold on. “We’ll be there in ten minutes. William drive faster!” Kim told us she’d meet us downstairs and I went ahead and disconnected. Between my startled and freaked out toddler, my speeding and panicked husband, and the overall urge to push Henry onto the seat of the truck I needed to have one less distraction.

Somehow, someway, we pulled into the parking lot of the birth center about 11:10. I saw Kim running to meet us and I took a deep breath and let my body completely relax. We almost made it. As Kim opened my door another contraction hit me and I moaned low and deep and I felt Henry descend. I was stepping down out of the truck as Kim was lifting my dress up to check me. “It’s just a bowel movement – let’s try to make it upstairs!”

As she was saying that, I felt the ring of fire. William had ran around the truck to help me out and I knew he and Kim were right there to catch Henry. I grabbed the handle of the truck and shouted “he’s crowning!” It seemed like sudden chaos around me – Kim was telling William to get my panties off, and telling me to get back in the truck (which was impossible at this point). I don’t even remember pushingI don’t remember making any noise – I just remember standing on the running board of the truck, holding the handle and suddenly there he was – my beautiful Baby A – sweet Henry. William caught him and was trying to untangle him from my panties. I felt calm, happy, and shocked as I reached down to grab him. “I got him!” I said as I brought him up to my belly – which was as far as his cord could reach. Someone asked if I was sure I had him, and I was. I knew he was perfectly safe in my hands – even as I hovered a foot off the concrete under an already hot July sun. As William supported me on the running board, Kim came around to the driver’s seat to clamp and cut Henry’s cord. He was wailing that beautiful newborn cry as I brought him all the way up to my chest. His cries were mirroring Oliver’s, who at this point was still strapped into his car seat in the backseat. “Someone get Oliver!” I shouted – because somehow in that moment he was the one I was worried about. Because I’m a mom.

I felt full of joy and relief, although it all felt so very surreal. “I can’t believe we just had him in the parking lot. I can’t believe he came so fast!” Someone asked if anyone had caught the time and the reply came back: 11:11. My make-a-wish baby was born at 11:11 in the front seat of our truck less than two hours after labor started, which was a far cry from the 17 hour labor I had with Oliver. My mind was still spinning. William helped me onto solid ground and made sure I was stable before turning to get Oliver. It was in that moment that I realized just how panicked my husband was. His hands were shaking and he was dripping in sweat. I looked around and realized there was blood everywhere – including all over my him. It seemed strange to see him so upset as I was feeling so calm and collected. One of our babies was here! Easy as a breeze! I was full of oxytocin and riding my birth high.

“Let’s get upstairs before Thea comes!” Was the general consensus and as I started making my way to the back door of the birth center, I caught sight of myself in the reflection of a window. My dress was still bunched around my waist. My pink panties that were now red with blood had hastily been slipped back on. There was blood and afterbirth running down my legs, I was carrying a pink vernix covered fresh-as-could-be crying baby and grinning ear-to-ear. I’ll never forget how crazy beautiful fierce I felt in that moment.

(It is to be noted that my parents arrived at the birth center four minutes after Henry was born. By this time we were upstairs in the birthing suite, but our truck was wide open, with the keys hanging in the ignition and the ground, seat, and running board covered in blood. Birth is messy. And my parents thought the worst. They were relieved to rush into the birthing suite to find me smiling and holding our sweet Henry – though my poor mother was trembling and on the verge of hyperventilating from thinking the worst.)

twins, twin birth, birth without fear, hospital birth, car birth, birth in car

Editor’s note: Part 2 aka Thea’s birth to be posted tomorrow. 

Submitted by BreAnn Brown.

Photograph by Aly Renee Birth Photography.

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