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My CBAVBAC – Cesarean Birth After VBAC

My CBAVBAC – Cesarean Birth After VBAC

The birth of my second child was shared on your blog several years ago: Long Labor Ends with Beautiful HBAC. With my home birth I really wanted to inspire other women. I wanted to show them that they are capable of having the birth that they want. This time around, I think it’s important to share that sometimes the birth you want ISN’T the birth you get – and that’s okay too. Here’s my story that talks about when VBAC doesn’t happen…

The birth of my sweet Kelsie.

Every labor is different.

How many times have I heard that sentence? How many times have I said that sentence? I thought that I understood that as well as anybody. My first two children had completely opposite births. My son was born at 36 weeks via emergency C-section and my daughter was born at almost 42 weeks, at home, after 35 hours of drug-free labor. Because of these completely different experiences, I really thought that no matter how Kelsie’s labor and birth went I would be pretty prepared.

I wasn’t.

My water broke at 4:30am on June 15th, 2015. I was 41+1 weeks pregnant. I woke up to a small gush and quickly ran to the restroom. Broken water – Check. Bloody show – Check. YES!!! It’s baby time! My water has never broken at the start of labor before, but I had dozens of dreams that it would this time around, so I really wasn’t too surprised. I went and woke up Eric and let him know that my water broke and we would be having a baby either that day or the next. I knew that it could be several hours before contractions kicked in, so I kissed my hubby, told him to let his work know that he wouldn’t be in that day and advised him that we should both try and get a bit more rest since we would probably need our energy later that day.

About a half hour later I gave up on sleep and went downstairs to make some coffee. Eric joined me and we had a light breakfast, played some cribbage, and talked about what we thought our labor would be like and how excited we were to finally meet our newest daughter. A couple hours later my two kiddos and my parents (who flew out to stay with the big kids while we were in the hospital) got up and I told everyone that I was officially in early labor. We decided to try and get the contractions started by going to Ikea to eat some breakfast and to walk the entire store. We spent over an hour and a half walking around. We left Ikea and decided to take a drive by the hospital to show my parents how to get there later. We also wanted to show them how close the hospital was to the beach, an awesome park where they could play with the kids if they needed to burn some energy, and most importantly, the closest coffee shop.

We went back to the house after and I decided to rest. A little bit later I decided to try the breast pump to see if I could get contractions going. Afterwards, my hubby and I went to a park and walked close to a mile as quickly as I was able to (which isn’t saying much). My water had now been broken for almost 12 hours. I started to get really emotional and frustrated. I decided that I must have been imagining what had happened that morning. I called my doctor, Dr. C, to give him an update and after going over our options in lengthy detail Eric and I decided to go in to the hospital to get confirmation that my water had broken.

We took our time getting our bags together and made sure to give the big kids extra hugs and kisses. I cried off and on the entire way to the hospital. I told Eric that my two best case outcomes would be that either my water had in fact broken and I wasn’t losing my mind, and even though the contractions I was having weren’t super uncomfortable I would somehow still be dilated to 6cm OR that I had completely misread the situation and my water had NOT broken.

Then we could just go home and come back a few days later to have a baby. We got checked into the hospital and were taken to our room. I got changed into the hospital gown and went and sat on the bed; my husband said I looked so scared and anxious that he decided to build my confidence by dancing for me like Ray Lewis (you can see it here…). My goofy husband was able to make me smile but I was definitely not feeling any more relaxed.

Not long after we arrived it was confirmed that my water had broken. A bit later Dr. C came in and checked me. I was dilated to 2 to 3cm on the bottom, but my cervix was still very posterior and almost cone shaped, meaning it was still closed pretty tight at the top – not at all what I had hoped for. Because I am a VBAC, we were told that we would be staying put, but that we would not be on any clock – meaning that even if my water was broken for over 24 hours as long as the baby and I were doing well we would be able to continue labor as long as we needed to. This was not at all our original plan, as we had hoped to labor at home as long as possible and only go in to the hospital once, in my doctor’s words, there was a “baby coming out of my vagina.” However, I knew there was nothing I could do about that now. Dr. C told me I needed to have a good cry about it and then I needed to get out of bed and see what I could do to get this baby coming.

So I did. I sat there and cried, trying to understand why my body didn’t want to start the process that would bring my baby into my arms. I sent Eric out to the car to grab our bags and tried to focus on the few positive things that came with being at the hospital so early. We had plenty of time to set up our music and oil diffuser and for me to spend a few minutes playing birth photographer for my own labor. I changed into the labor gown that I made and called my parents to bring my kids over for a visit. I really just wanted to hug and kiss them and needed a bit of a distraction. My family showed up soon after and I snuggled my babies and my oldest read me a bed time story.

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After they left, we called in my doula. I paced the room back and forth as far as the monitors I was hooked on to would allow. I paced and paced and paced and began to feel increasingly like a caged animal. I was so frustrated having to be attached to those stupid monitors and not feeling like I was really being given a chance to get things going. My wonderful nurse Lisa came in around this time and reminded me that no one could make me do anything that I didn’t want to do. She had to have some record of monitoring, but that if I refused there was nothing they could do. So I did. I said I needed to use the restroom for a long time and removed the monitors so that I could have at least a half hour of freedom to move about the room. I walked some more and spent some time on the birth ball. A little after 10, I got back on the monitors to try and give my poor nurse some more readings. She had been so kind to me and I didn’t want to put her in a bad position.

A few minutes later my wonderful doula Crystal arrived. She was quick to offer help in any way that I needed. She rubbed my back and shoulders and feet and prayed for me. She whispered words of encouragement and when I wanted to try and sleep she sat beside me and held that stupid monitor in place since my little lady inside insisted on kicking it off.

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Now I know that during the next several hours I had another visit from Dr. C, I cried and felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster going from completely defeated, to motivated, to crushed, to relaxed. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. We were coming up on 22 hours since my water had broken and I had slept less than ten minutes. Around 2:30 in the morning, the nurses moved me and my crew into a different room with wireless monitors. YES! But they didn’t work. NO! So we continued pacing as far as they would allow me and bouncing on the birth ball. And many times I crawled into bed hoping that rest would bring something on. My doula kept offering things that we could try. Some of them I did, others I looked at her like she was crazy.

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This pattern continued for the rest of the night and well into the morning. My big fears at this point weren’t only what would happen if my body never went into labor, but also what would happen if it did? I had been awake for going on 30 hours and I could barely put together full sentences. How was I going to push through a labor?

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I was anxious for Dr. C to come in for a visit. I really wanted a check to see if anything we had tried throughout the night had helped. He arrived a bit after 9:00am. It had been 15 hours since my last check. I tried so hard to remain hopeful, but as soon as the check started I knew.

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Before he even had the chance to say anything I looked at Eric and Crystal, shook my head no and let the tears fall. There was no change.

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No. Change. At. All.

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My heart broke. Off and on throughout the night I had thought, talked, and prayed about what to do if there was still no change the next day. I didn’t feel like I had it in me to keep going. Dr. C sat down and we started to talk about options. As far as he was concerned I had several. First, everyone looked good so I was free to continue laboring as long as I wanted. Second, we could start to talk about other ways to get this baby out. Third, I could take off the monitors, go to sleep and not decide anything at all. I had already shared with Eric and Crystal what I was thinking. I feel so strongly that babies know how to be born and I know for a fact that my body is strong and capable of birthing a baby – so in my heart I felt that if Kelsie wasn’t coming there was a reason for it. I didn’t want to make this decision based solely on exhaustion or fear so Eric and I asked Dr. C a bunch of questions and then agreed that we would all just take a break before we made any decisions.

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Dr. C left, saying that he was hoping that rest was all I needed and he hoped I woke up in active labor. I no longer felt as hopeful. Crystal left shortly after to get some rest and to allow Eric and I some time together. While Eric and I were alone I was able to be completely vulnerable and vent out everything that I was thinking and feeling. I told him that I was leaning towards a gentle cesarean, but I needed to know that he wouldn’t be disappointed in me. He hugged me close, kissed me lots and told me that no matter what choice I made he knew I was making it for the right reasons. He reminded me that I was strong and that I was a wonderful Mom just trying to take care of our baby. He told me that he was proud of me.

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He laid down to get a much deserved nap, while I laid in bed, finally free from the dreaded monitors. I tried to sleep, but wasn’t able to. I don’t think I could possibly put into words how much I battled with myself during this time. I tried to rest, but when I wasn’t able to I decided to call my munchkins and make sure that they each knew how much I loved them. Hearing their sweet voices calmed me.

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A while later Crystal returned and Eric woke up. I didn’t tell either of them what I had decided. Our nurse walked in to check on me, “What do we think?”

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My eyes filled with tears and I looked at her and answered, “I think it’s time to meet my baby.”

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Even the nurses knew that Kelsie was in charge.

At this time things started to move pretty fast. Despite the speedy pace though, I felt in control and respected, which is so different then my first cesarean. Everyone was kind and went out of their way to try and keep things as calm as possible. Eric was given his awesome new duds, Kelsie’s blanket and hat were brought into the operating room and I was introduced to the anesthesiologist that would be working with my doctor. I sat on the bed in our hospital room, trying to just remain calm and cling to the small moments of peace that I felt. As I was sitting on the bed, letting Eric put some cozy socks on my feet, I heard my phone vibrate next to me, indicating that a text message had arrived. I had mostly been ignoring all messages since we had kept the news that my water had broken very quiet. But for some reason I decided to read this message before I walked into the operating room. It was from my best friend Lisa:

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“I love you so much. You are an amazing mom and will see that sweetie soon! Enjoy as her story happens knowing that God wrote it just for her!”

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Wow. The exact words I needed to hear in the exact moment that I needed to hear them. Eric helped me out of the bed, we walked to the operating room and I kissed him and let him know I’d see him soon.

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This cesarean was so different than my first. The operating room, while busy, was not at all chaotic. Everyone let me know what was going on and what to expect next. I was treated with respect the entire time and even felt comfortable enough to make jokes. For instance, when the nurse asked someone to let Justin know that he’d be able to come in just a few minutes I calmly replied, “Actually if you don’t mind I’d rather Justin just wait outside, but if you see my husband, Eric, he’s welcome to join us.” Prep went quickly and easily and before I knew it the drape was up and Eric was sitting next to me holding my hand and waiting on our girl. Before we knew it the drape was being lowered and the anesthesiologist was lifting my back up a bit so that Eric and I could watch our daughter being born. I cried and cried. She was here. 32+ hours after my water broke – and born at the exact same minute that I was: 12:31 p.m. She was perfect and pink and loud and tiny and COVERED in meconium. I mean head to toe covered in poop. And I had only ever seen anything that beautiful two other times in my life. She was quickly looked over while Dr. C did his best to get her as much cord blood as possible, while still keeping me safe. And less than two minutes later she was in our arms. As requested she hadn’t been bathed or weighed or measured. None of that mattered.

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One of the nurses came over and helped pull my pajamas down and slide Kelsie in so that we could lay skin to skin while the surgery was completed. Eric also held her during this time and we all laughed at how much she was rooting. The anesthesiologist mentioned that he had never seen a baby with such an immediate and enthusiastic root instinct. While she was laying on me and trying so hard to find what she was looking for I said, “I’m so sorry baby. You have to wait just a few more minutes.” Her response was the most perfect, most dramatic pouty lip that you can imagine. She had Eric and I and several others in the room laughing. Before I knew it everything was done. Eric held Kelsie while I was moved from the operating table to a bed. Kelsie was again tucked in with me skin to skin and we were rolled back to our room together.

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Eric, Kelsie and I were left mostly alone for more than an hour after she was born. Everything else that needed to be done was done with her in my arms. She wasn’t measured or weighed until we requested and when I did decide to have them rinse some of the poop out of her hair, they were quick to honor my request that they only use water.

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We stayed in the hospital for two days and were blessed to be taken care of by so many wonderful nurses and one exceptional CNA. I have had a few moments where I have felt sad about the way everything went down – like when I had to sign my consent to have cesarean, because of a “failed trial of labor” (I don’t think that’s the right reason – I never went into labor and I certainly didn’t fail). But the fact is I made the best choice that I could make with the information that I had at that time. I was supported and respected in all of my choices and I felt like I was in control. I never felt bullied or pushed into anything I wasn’t comfortable with. I wanted Kelsie’s birth to be joyful. I prayed for that for the entire 10+ months that I carried her. And when I look back at her birth, I will remember laughing at her silly faces right after birth and joking with my doctor about a dream I had where I had a C-section, but in the dream he had bleached blonde backstreet boy hair and him asking someone to bring him a wig. I will remember the jokes and fun that I had with my husband and doula in the middle of the night when we were all so exhausted that we were borderline giddy.

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I will own the choices that I made during this labor and I choose not to regret any of them.

This is Kelsie’s story and I will tell it to her proudly and remember it with joy.

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Welcome to the world, Kelsie.
You are loved.
You are wanted.
You are precious.

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*** I wrote Kelsie’s birth story the week that she was born. That was over 6 months ago. One thing that I wasn’t prepared for after her birth was how hard it would be to process everything. How much I would doubt my choices. How often I would ask myself, “What if…” Not having a VBAC when you prepare for one and want one so badly is HARD. With my first child’s birth his emergency C-section was out of my hands. It was easy to be frustrated with everyone else, because I had zero control in that situation. But this time around the decision to have a cesarean was mine alone. Processing Kelsie’s birth has been hard. For over four months I obsessed over everything that had happened. What could I have done differently? How much better would it have been if I had just planned a home birth? What if I had just given myself more time? Did I give up too easily?

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The self-doubt that comes in can suffocate you and it felt like nobody really understood WHY I was upset. My baby was healthy after all and my recovery had been as easy as it could have been. Yet still, I felt like I had let myself and my daughter down. For months (and sometimes even now) I couldn’t read birth stories without feeling sad, disappointed, and even jealous of these other women achieving their drug-free vaginal births and VBACs. My sweet doula sat me down and told me, “You’re only thinking of this one way. But what about these ‘what ifs?’ What if you HADN’T had a cesarean? What if you HADN’T followed your instinct? You birthed a beautiful baby. Be kind to yourself.”

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And you know what? She was right. The decisions made that day were mine alone. I chose the decision I could live with and now, over half a year later, I truly can accept that. Her birth story is unique to her. I did the best I could do and I am so grateful that the choices I made led to a beautiful, healthy, joyful baby girl. I think that I will probably always have moments when I wonder “what if,” but I no longer feel like I failed. Kelsie’s birth story is her own. I hope that other women reading this, possibly in the same situation, will know that they aren’t alone. It’s hard when VBAC doesn’t happen. Those feelings of disappointment, sadness, and anger are real. But in the words of my favorite doula, “You birthed a beautiful baby, be kind to yourself.” ***

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Birth Story of Sybil | When Instincts Replace Doubt

Birth Story of Sybil | When Instincts Replace Doubt

The birth of my rainbow was an emotional one. It was exhausting for me, mentally and physically. The end of the pregnancy was full of many mixed feelings. I was terrified of becoming a mom of three. I was sad to be thinking of Nadia’s (3.5) turn being the baby coming to an end. I wondered how I could handle the demands of more children, not to mention how I could love them all.

I also worried about labor and birth. I felt so prepared for Nadia’s birth. I took classes, read tons of books, just totally absorbed myself in the birth world and felt extremely empowered and ready. This pregnancy flew by, as I’m sure most third pregnancies do, and I didn’t feel quite as ready as I quickly approached my due date. I was nervous about the baby’s position, if the house was clean enough, if we had all that we needed, if the big girls were prepared to gain a new sibling.

I knew my body was ready and confident; my mind just wasn’t so sure. I was in no hurry to go into labor.  I was enjoying this baby on the inside, and to be very honest, wasn’t sure I could handle it on the outside. I was very happy and excited to meet this new person, I just didn’t have the confidence in me to believe that I was capable. I’m not sure where this lack of confidence stemmed from. I wonder if I started to question my body when I lost a baby last August. I also lost my dad last year, and wonder if knowing he wouldn’t meet this baby earthside was something I was struggling with. Whatever my holdup was, I knew this sweet baby was coming, ready or not.

My “due date” was May 7, 2014. I had been having warm-up contractions for awhile before the real thing hit. I woke up on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 around 2:00 AM with a wave that I couldn’t sleep through. After it was over, I drifted back to sleep. About 10 minutes later, the same thing happened.

That continued the rest of the early morning hours. I knew this would probably be the day. I spent time in the darkness with my Blessingway candles lit, thinking of the day to come. My sweet daughters were so excited to have a brother or sister joining us. Tessa (8) begged me every day to “please have the baby today!” She made a checklist of everything she needed to do once I went into labor, and was SO helpful during it all.

My doula, Hilary, asked me previously to let her know once I thought things might be happening, so she could arrange childcare for her children and make plans for the day. I sent her a text message around 5 AM to let her know that I would most likely need her at some point that day. She arrived here around 10:00 AM after I told her the waves were uncomfortable. I definitely couldn’t talk through them at that point and wanted her with me. She is such a source of peace, calm and strength to me during labor and I just needed her there. All that morning, before she arrived, we all got cleaned up and ready for the day ahead. When Hilary arrived, Bryan went out to mow the grass. The girls both were showered and put on their Big Sister shirts.

It was a beautiful, windy but sunny, balmy day, and lilacs (my favorite flower) were in full bloom. Hilary and I decided to head outside with the girls and pick some lilacs while I labored. That was by far one of my favorite memories of the day. The lilacs smelled so sweet, and watching my beautiful girls run through the grass made me so joyful. I pushed Nadia on her swing for awhile and chatted with my wonderful doula while the sun was warming us. At this point, my contractions were still not very regular, but very intense when they did come, about every 5, 7, or 10 minutes. We decided to go back inside and see how things did if I sat down and rested for awhile.

By this point, I had called Amanda (the photographer) and Brande (my midwife), to let them know this would probably be the day baby was born. My mom had also come over around 12:00 to help with the girls. Brande let me know to give her an update in awhile and Amanda was going to head over to get some shots while I was still in early labor. Before Amanda arrived, I decided to hop in the bathtub and be alone for awhile, as I was feeling discouraged about the irregularity of things. I put bubbles in the tub, lit my Blessingway candles, and put on my labor music. Then I cried. I was so tired and disheartened. I wondered why this labor was so inconsistent. I worried about the birth team and was mad at myself for calling them over so soon. I thought I may labor until the next day, and the thought was overwhelming. I talked to my very encouraging friend, Beth, on the phone, and she talked through a few of my fears with me. She is someone who knows the right words to say, and it always makes me feel better to talk to her. I truly believe this baby was staying inside because I wouldn’t let it out. I was too afraid of the next part of labor and of life. Literally at the same moment, Brande, the midwife called. She told me that she had another mom in labor, and she was headed to that birth in Bloomington (about an hour away). This also shook my confidence, but I knew she had a back up midwife that was very capable. I had to process that Brande may not be with me when I gave birth, but I quickly realized I would be in good hands and worrying would accomplish nothing.

I emerged from the bathtub around 1:00 PM with a tear stained face, but wearing my birthing necklace and outfit. I said hello to Amanda, the photographer and chatted with everyone. I was really an emotional roller coaster. Crying, then laughing, then moaning through waves. My contractions had spaced back out at this point and I was getting more discouraged as time went on. I mostly felt terrible for everyone sitting around when the actual birth could be hours and hours away. They were all so kind and assured me that they didn’t mind and they were so happy to be with me on this special day. Still, I was struggling.

We decided to go back outside and take some pictures. Hilary, Amanda, the girls and I all headed to the backyard. I leaned against the trees during contractions and chatted with my friends and daughters between them. It really was a beautiful time. I will forever look back with happiness on those last moments of being a mom of two girls and spending time with two of my wonderful friends.

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We went back inside after awhile and again, the contractions had spaced out. Throughout the day, although inconsistent, they were contractions that I moaned, swayed and leaned through. Some of them felt like two contractions in one. One would peak, then start to subside, then peak again a few seconds later.  Hilary often squeezed my hips, which felt good. By this point around 2:00 PM, I knew birth would happen, but I had convinced myself it wouldn’t be for many hours, maybe even the next day. I made the big decision to send Hilary and Amanda home. It was very hard for me to make this choice, as both of them had such a calming and caring presence. However, I couldn’t stop worrying that I was putting them out in some way, so I asked them to leave for awhile. They were both eager to stay with me, but I promised I would call them if things picked up. I was going to try and rest. I was going on no food (nothing was appetizing) or sleep and was feeling pretty gloomy.

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Around 3:00 PM, my mom took the girls to a park down the street, just to get them out of the house for awhile. With just Bryan and I at the house, I felt a little worry leave me, and I rested on our bed. The contractions still came, and I would hop quickly out of bed and try to breathe through them and stay loose and open. They were still coming every 5-10 minutes. This went on until about 4:00 PM, when things started getting more intense. My mom returned with the girls and I no longer could lie down. The contractions were a bit more regular now, and getting much more powerful. I decided to get back into the bathtub, as water always helped the waves feel more comfortable.

Before getting into the tub, I called Amie, the back-up midwife and the birth assistant, Marcia. I tearfully asked them to come over. They assured me they were on their way. Bryan could tell things were getting serious and he and my mom started trying to fill the birth pool with warmer water. I was in the bathtub alone and could hear them frantically boiling and dumping water. With the two baths I had taken in the previous hours, there wasn’t much hot water left. He also texted Hilary (doula) and I texted Amanda (photographer) to let them know to come back. This was around 4:30. Amanda asked through text how I was feeling and I told her I was feeling a little crazy. She assured me I was not, and was getting ready to have a beautiful birth.

While in the bathtub, I remember entering “labor land”. I was having a hard time responding to questions when Bryan asked, and I honestly didn’t care. I knew that in just a moment, another contraction was coming, and I needed everything within me to get through it. I felt alone, and was praying someone from my birth team would get there soon. I kicked myself for not calling sooner and sending everyone home. I had visions of delivering the baby in the bathtub all by myself. A bit before 5:00 PM, the midwife Amie arrived and I was so happy to see her. Although I had never met her, she gave off a radiant vibe that calmed me intensely. I felt very, very safe in her care. I asked her at once to Doppler the baby, as it hadn’t been checked all day. The heartbeat was 120 and strong. I could feel the baby squirming all around inside of me, lowering itself down further. Marcia (birth assistant) arrived soon after, then Amanda and Hilary also returned. Marcia was so helpful and stayed right with me in the bathtub. She talked to me calmly and happily, which made me feel good. She also felt my belly and assured me that baby was quickly coming. That’s the first moment I truly believed that very soon, I would meet my baby, and it was music to my ears.

It was a relief that everyone was back. I was in a strange place and was very somber between contractions. I felt like I was looking through people, and I couldn’t respond when they talked to me. I was very tired and going on no food, so Hilary made me a chocolate milk shake, which was delicious. I decided to head into the living room and attempt to get into the birth pool around 5:30 PM.

Bryan and my mom were still finishing putting hot water into the pool, so I labored next to it, on the rug for a few contractions. By this point, I was feeling very pushy, and was grunting and bearing down. I had a bloody show, but my water bag was still intact. I could feel it bulging and then decided to get into the pool, warm or not. It was lukewarm and felt great! I remember glancing at the girls, and seeing them wide-eyed with excitement. I accidentally said the “S word” during one wave and apologized to everyone.

Every contraction was a pushy one now, and they were coming quickly. I knew it wouldn’t be long and with each contraction, I pushed and grunted with all of my might. I felt very primal, like a wild animal growling. I thought some part of me may explode.

My bag of waters popped and during the next contraction, I could feel my baby’s head. It was moving up and down in the birth canal. I decided with the next contraction, I would push with everything I had, and get baby out. And I did! Baby’s head crowned and came out. I held her head with my hand under the water and felt all of the bones molding and the soft hair. It was magical. I gave one more monstrous push and baby slid the rest of the way out into the water. It was 6:08 PM on May 6, 2014. I was elated and so glad it was over. I pulled my baby to my chest and heard those first beautiful cries. After a few moments, someone asked what baby was… A girl! We had our third beautiful daughter. How blessed we were!

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She quickly calmed and lay skin to skin with me. Brande, my midwife, arrived 5 minutes after she was born. I felt so safe and loved by her and the whole birth team! I eventually stood and delivered the placenta, splash, into the pool. Bryan held her skin to skin for the few moments that it took me to walk to the bedroom. She was so beautiful and covered in vernix. We were all so elated! She started nursing immediately and continued for a good three hours.  The midwives checked me and baby and we were both very healthy! Her big sisters got a good look and were over the moon (and still are!). More family came to meet this new life and everyone dined on Mexican food that I had prepared previously. I ate tons and couldn’t get full. There was wine and laughter and love. My worry was gone and peace was in its place. Sybil Anne, all 7lbs 6oz of her, was here, perfect, and safe in my arms.

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By 9:00 PM everyone had gone, and we were heading to bed for the first time as a family of five. As the girls slept, Bryan and I sat up and talked about the day, remembering all that happened from our individual perspectives. It wasn’t the short, easy, birth I’d had with Nadia. It challenged me in ways I never knew possible, mentally and physically. It was an intense, emotional, but beautiful birth, we both agreed. God’s perfect timing was at work, from the moment of her conception to the moment she was in my arms. We were both so joyful as we settled down to sleep with our three marvelous daughters between us.

Kara Sylvester, IBCLC

New Addition | Birth Without Fear

New Addition | Birth Without Fear

“Your inspiring stories empowered me to have a wonderful birth at home, I just want to share a photo or two with you. Westin was born 11.7.14 @345pm. He weighed 7.2 lbs. and was 20.75 in. Healthy baby boy.  Thank you Birth Without Fear.  May you know the impact you truly have on the empowerment of women.

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Emily’s Birth Story

Emily’s Birth Story

Monday, the 15th of December, 2014 – my husband and I anxiously waited in the waiting room of the hospital for our midwife appointment. At this point, I was eight days late and we were a little anxious to meet our baby we’d waited nine long months for, anxious about the impending labor and delivery that we both had no idea about what to expect, and the idea of the afterwards, we’d have a baby to take home. What did that mean for us? How will we know what to do with her if she cries or needs something? How will we know?

The midwife called us in and asked me to make myself comfortable on the bed and my husband sat on the chair next to me. The midwife discussed what they were going to do. A stretch and sweep, and check how much I was dilated. They did this and said that I was 1cm dilated. At eight days late, with no sign of labor coming any time soon, the midwives decided with a conversation with the delivery doctor that if it didn’t happen in two days, by Wednesday the 17th of December 2014, I was to be induced and then that was it. We could go home and wait until our baby came naturally or wait until Wednesday to arrive. We were excited. We had a clear date of when we would meet her. The whole pregnancy was a question of when the baby will come, what day to expect her, guessing, researching old wives tales on the date she’ll arrive, never really knowing, but now we did. We knew then that we would meet her in just a few short days and we were excited and terrified! We immediately called my husband’s parents and told them the news. The induction was a scary thing for me, because I’d been explained that an induction can increase the risk of needing to have a cesarean and being major abdominal surgery, needing a spinal block, and the recovery afterwards with a new baby. I was scared. We didn’t tell anyone else of when she was to arrive. We wanted to keep that all to our self and have the next few days together.

Tuesday the 15th of December, we went out for lunch. We ate at a café down the road from our house and we laughed. We talked about our baby and who she might look like. We discussed her hair colour and whose eyes she’d have. We talked about names we liked and laughed about what would happen if she were a boy, having spent the last five months being told it was a girl! We watched a movie at home and just spent time together. This was, for a while, to be the last moments it was just us two. Tuesday night came and she still hadn’t arrived. The midwives explained to us on Monday that if I hadn’t gone into labour by 6am on Wednesday morning to call them and let them know we were coming to the hospital and the process of induction would begin.

So we went to bed. I don’t think either of us got a lot of sleep that night, but before we knew it the alarm had sounded. It was 5.15am and we had to get up and get ready to go to the hospital. We lay in bed awhile and said good morning to each other. We checked our phones for any calls and cuddled awhile. My husband said, “C’mon it’s time to get up, have a shower, and we’ll call the hospital.” I sat up in bed and as I did I heard and felt a “pop” sound come from inside me. I felt a slight trickle of water and said to Shaun what had happened. I stood up out of bed and felt some more water come from me. My waters had broken. Shaun said, because it was only a small amount to call the hospital and check what we should do. I called the midwives on the labour ward and explained what had happened.

I remember so clearly the midwife on the other end of the phone excitedly tell me, “Yes honey, your waters have broken, you’re gonna have a baby today.” I cried! She told me to still come in as I was now ten days overdue and I’d need to be monitored anyway. I couldn’t believe it. We had booked an induction and we were mentally ready for that to happen and then my labour had started naturally! We showered and changed and we were on our way. We dropped the dog off to our parent’s house along the way. They hugged and kissed us and wished us luck and we were on our way to the hospital to meet our baby girl. We got to the hospital carpark at about 7am. Shaun sent a text to only his close friends telling them, “It’s go time.” They all knew exactly what that meant and they sent texts back wishing us luck and love; we walked inside.

The midwives were beautiful. They greeted us warmly and showed us to our room and we sat on the bed waiting for someone to come back in and see us. The midwives came in explained they would break my waters. They knew I had lost a little water earlier, but needed to be sure, and explained and carried out the process of the induction. They explained and carried out the beginning of the induction. They inserted an IV into my right arm. The internal examination during the braking the waters process showed I was still 1cm dilated. This was a concern, but we were optimistic that the dilation would increase with the help of the induction. They placed heart monitors on my tummy to be able to watch our baby’s heart rate as the induction process was going on. They sent the oxytocin into my blood stream and the labour was officially started. Around 9.30am I really started to feel the pain. Induction is rightly known as “0-60,” as the labour pains started immediately with barely any lead up! After a few hours of searing pain, then turning it down, semi awful pain, then turning it up it was 6pm. I sucked on the gas, I sat on a gym ball, I laid over the back of the bed, I probably stood on my head, but I just couldn’t find a position comfortable enough that I could get through the pain easily and quickly.

Shaun was amazing. He held my hand through every contraction, some minutes apart. He rubbed my back and whispered he loved me in my ear. He reminded me through every moment that he was the most amazing man I’d ever met and I was so glad we were doing this together. 6pm. The midwives did another internal examination to check how dilated I was. I was 2cm. This was obviously taking a long time. An epidural was offered to me. This was the one thing I didn’t want. The midwives explained to me that as this was taking too long. If our labour happened to speed up, by the time we got to it I would be too tired to push her out vaginally, possibly sending me into an emergency caesarean and they recommended I have the epidural so we could get some rest, hopefully relaxing my cervix and bringing on labour faster. 11.45pm and we had both fallen asleep waking to the midwives introducing us to the delivery doctor, Dr. Lee. They asked me if they could do an internal examination again to see how well the epidural had worked and to give us an idea of when she might arrive.

I was 3cm dilated. The doctor and midwives quickly decided that this wasn’t happening naturally. The baby had showed increased signs of distress, her heartrate wasn’t consistent and what they could feel from that last internal was her head wasn’t close enough to my cervix and too big for my pelvic opening and I needed to have a caesarean, immediately. By 12AM we were on our way to surgery. Shaun was given a blue gown and pants and asked to quickly change. I was scared. After the epidural I could still slightly feel the contractions in my left side and knowing that I was having this surgery with just a little “top up” I was scared that I was going to feel the pain or have to be put to sleep. We waited in the surgery waiting room, and I cried. I cried at Shaun saying how scared I was and he was so brave. He kept telling me it would be okay. I was scared because I knew if the spinal block didn’t fully take I would have to be put under local anesthetic and put to sleep were I wouldn’t be there to see your little girl come into the world. I was scared because I didn’t think I’d wake up.

After about 15 minutes I was brought into the delivery room. I went in alone so they could get me ready while Shaun waited outside. I was crying. They moved me to the surgical bed and the doctors and nurses were all busy around me getting everything ready. Shaun was let into the room and he was seated to my right, next to my head. A blue sheet was put in front of us so we didn’t see the surgery. The anesthetist topped up my spinal block and the doctor rubbed ice cubes on my legs asking me to tell him if I could feel it. I could. They waited a few more minutes and it had fully worked and they could begin the surgery. Dr. Lee talked us through the whole procedure. I was panicked and asking them to stop and they kept talking me through. “Your baby will scream and cry out for you any minute.” Shaun was doing his best to keep me calm, as was the anesthetist sitting to my left. They told me where they had cut and what they were dong next and told me she’d be here any second, and then just like that, she came earth side.emily3

Dr. Lee called out, “Baby girl born at 1.06am” The midwives called to Shaun and asked him to come over and see her and all I heard was: “She’s not breathing on her own, but that’s normal” I panicked. I was calling out to my baby and asking Shaun what was happening. The anesthetist explained that some babies born by caesarean need help to start breathing on their own and she was one of them. I didn’t hear at the time, but she started to cry a few minutes later in the surgery room. Shaun came over to me quickly and said, “She’s here; she’s okay, but we’re taking her to the neonatal ward to be sure.” I told him, “Don’t leave her side.” He assured me he wouldn’t and they both were gone.emily2

Shaun and the nurses rushed our daughter up to the neonatal ward, but on the way decided that she was okay and all came back down to the recovery to wait for me. They asked Shaun to have a seat and relax; they wrapped her up and gave her to him. He held her for the very first time. He fell in love! I was alone in the surgery room. It took approximately an hour to be stitched up and to come out of surgery. Up until this point I had not seen my daughter or her dad. I didn’t know if they were okay and I was scared. They wheeled me out of the surgery into recovery and I saw my husband sitting there. He was holding a white bundle of blankets and I asked him where our baby was and what he was holding. He said, “She’s here, come and meet our daughter.” Shaun asked me if I liked the name Emily and I said of course. Up until that point we had no idea what her name would be. We had mentioned the name Emily a few times, along with others, but never really stuck to any one name. We met her and we knew that she was an Emily.emily5

She was a beautiful, healthy baby girl, Emily. He handed her to me and she laid on my chest. She cuddled into me, our skin touching. She cooed at me and cried a little and I fell in love with her. She was a part of us. She was a piece of our heart outside of our body and she was ours. 42 weeks and 20 hours later I got to hold her in my arms. She was our beautiful daughter. The longest hour of my life not knowing if she was okay, 19 hours of a really painful and scary labour, nine long months of waiting and we finally got to meet her. I knew I loved her when I found out we were pregnant, but I could never have fathomed this feeling. I was devoted to her, proud of her, and I was completely and utterly in love with her, and I had only just met her. She was here, she was finally with us and we would never be happier than we were in that moment.emily4

Together we became parents in what I can only describe as the very best moment of my life. It was a magical and intimate moment we shared together. She chose us to be her mum and dad and for that we are forever grateful.emily1

HBA3C with Inverted ‘T’ Scar

HBA3C with Inverted ‘T’ Scar

{Each woman, baby, and birth are different. Educate yourself, hire the right support, and do what is best for you and your baby. We share experiences and wisdom that is passed on from mother to mother. Please contact your care provider for questions or concerns regarding your pregnancy and birth.}

“The knowledge of how to give birth without outside interventions lies deep within each woman. Successful childbirth depends on the acceptance of the process.” ~Suzanne Arms

Quick history on my other kiddos births:

*McKenna born via cesarean section in 2008 due to “failure to progress”, and decelerations in fetal heart tones which we were told were completely normal after the delivery.

*Liam born via repeat cesarean section in 2011 after 67 hours of labor due to “failure to progress” and mentioned I was probably not able to have a vaginal birth.

*Wesley via drug free vba2c in 2013, 10lbs 2oz!

*Gracelyn via repeat cesarean section in 2014. At 33 weeks my water ruptured, and it was discovered that I had placental abruption. I was still determined to deliver vaginally, but she was breech. When I went back into labor, there was meconium, her heart rate was all over the place, and I decided the cesarean was the best choice. They had to do a t-incision to help deliver her head.

After we had Gracelyn my desire for more children was hugely lessened. I was afraid of having another cesarean and was pretty traumatized from her birth in general. For the first time in our seven years I was trying NOT to get pregnant. My husband, Tony, brought up how much he didn’t like seeing me this way. He didn’t want me to stress about having another baby and encouraged me that if we did get pregnant again, we didn’t HAVE to schedule a cesarean. It made me feel more confident and I put my trust back to God with our future children…if there were any more to come. Around this same time, Tony said he was praying for each of our children by name and felt like God said, “What about your unborn son, Jackson?” About a week later to our surprise, we were pregnant! I spent a few weeks reading everything I could find about VBA3C, specifically with a special scar. Unfortunately there is not much, but I felt confident trying with what I did find. Fast forward through a normal pregnancy…

I wanted an autumn baby so badly and didn’t think it would be an issue whatsoever, since typically my babies come late. I didn’t think I would literally have a baby born on the first day of fall. On September 23rd, at 1:20am, a contraction woke me up. I went to the bathroom experiencing fun early labor stuff and lost my plug with some show…I was excited, but assumed I had at least a day or two until baby. I continued contracting inconsistently until around 8am when things almost completely stopped. I had prayed for this moment, because I was exhausted and really wanted to nap. I stayed in bed the majority of the day and had a contraction every once in a while and assumed baby would be coming for sure within the next few days.

Around 5:30/6pm the kids got insane and Tony was pretty exhausted, because he was still recovering from eye surgery. I made dinner, and did dishes and started having contractions again, but they were different. I had so many things left I wanted to do and kept trying, but it was getting pretty difficult. I finally took a bath, thinking it could help with back labor, and it was AWFUL! I lasted about two contractions and had to get out. I resorted to our room around 7pm and tried to sit on the ball and I extra hated that and had to stand up during the contractions.

I took a shower to use the heat on my back, spent way too long looking for something to wear, and then I tried to lean against the wall in bed with a tower of pillows and that wasn’t cutting it either. My midwife friend texted me at 7:50pm and asked if she could stop by, my response: “Please.” A doula friend said she would head over also. At 8pm I sat on the toilet and around 8:15 my birthy friends arrived and my mother-in-law came a few minutes later to help with the kiddos. I started to feel pushy at this time, but did not think it was time and was getting really mad that my body was pushing already. I was recognizing the sounds and my thoughts as transition, but could not convince myself that it was near time. I thought I had hours to go and kept saying, “I just need a nap,” or “I just want a break.” I decided to check my cervix, because I still believed it couldn’t possibly be time and felt something really strange!

At first I was completely panicked thinking it was the baby’s cord or something terribly wrong, and then I realized it was the baby’s head beginning to crown already! I said something out loud about the baby’s head being right there, I think mainly to reassure myself. I had a few more intense contractions, trying to breathe baby down, but found myself needing to push. Suddenly Tony and my friends were helping me off the toilet, because baby’s head was halfway out and they tried to help me deliver standing.hba3c3

I was not comfortable at all, because I couldn’t relax my weight on them and ended up inches from my toilet squatting. With the next contraction I announced that my water had broken and baby’s head was out, which I only knew, because I reached down and could feel eyes and a nose. I really liked vocalizing everything for some reason! I waited for what felt like forever for baby’s body to be delivered. I didn’t want to rush anything, but the “ring of fire” was intense and I really couldn’t wait till it was over! I finally had that last contraction and the baby was here.hba3c2

It took a minute for me to hold him, because his cord was around his neck three times…he had a crazy long cord! Tony said, “It’s a boy,” and I couldn’t believe I was a mama to three boys! I repositioned and was able to hold him and hear that first amazing cry. Only a few minutes later my placenta delivered, which was extremely surprising…I hadn’t even fully grasped the fact that my baby was in my arms and without trouble at all. My body did exactly what it needed to finish the birthing process. Kenna was the only child awake, so her and my mother-in-law came into see him. Kenna cut his cord and was so excited to have another brother, even though she had hoped for a sister. I love how loving she is, with no disappointment at all, just blessed to have another sibling, and I was so blessed to have her have a part in his delivery.hba3c1

After all that, I got into a nice herbal bath and nursed him for the first time. Kenna helped get me some food and delivered it to me in the bath…I felt like a queen! I got dressed, and comfy in my bed where I ate fresh berries, peanut butter toast (at my request), and dark chocolate. We all guessed how much we thought he would weigh as we relaxed in my room: 8 pounds and 21 inches of perfection.

“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” -Ina May Gaskin

Happy Hospital Birth

Happy Hospital Birth

My name is Krista Parrilla and I am the mother of two beautiful babies.

My birth story will, hopefully, bring positive light to hospital births. Although, my birth was not planned to be in a hospital, but at home, it turned out the way I planned.

I knew my midwife personally. I was her son’s manager at a retail chain; she was the doula at the birth of my daughter and was more than patient when teaching my husband about birth. We went through the regular prenatal visits at her house and she came to my house to tell me that she would not provide care for the birth of my son due to weird complications and physical stress from my job. However, wherever I chose to go, she would be there for me and be my doula.

I was 40w and 5d (it was a Wednesday) pregnant when I first went into labor with my son. I called my doula and grabbed my bag and went to the hospital. The doctor said I was barely effaced and was only 3cm dilated. They wanted to pop the bag and get things rolling. I told them that I was happy to wait. I went home to sleep and eat.

Thursday, my mother-in-law kept my daughter, while my husband and I snuggled, were intimate, and relaxed, because I knew my son would be here soon. We took a walk. Then I went to get a pedicure and have that massage chair do some work – it did wonders for my preggo back. I returned home to lit candles and fantastic 80s music. We laid in bed and snuggled. I slept very little because the contractions started getting closer together.

Friday, I was up at 7am – which never happens. It was time. My MIL had a bowl of oatmeal ready for me, my daughter gave me snuggles, and I paid some bills while my husband was taking a shower. At 8:15am everything picked up way too fast. The contractions were coming every two minutes and it was getting difficult to concentrate on anything else. I got into the bathtub to refocus on what needed to be done. I had my husband call the doula, take the bags down to the car, and then help me get dressed.

In the car, I headed to the hospital with no underwear/bra and didn’t care. My husband managed to catch every red light and every bump there. I wanted to kill him.

We got there and the entire atmosphere changed for the positive. They put those awful elastic straps on me to monitor the baby. I asked the doctor if I could get them off and sit in the tub. THEY PUT ME IN A ROOM WITH A TUB!!! Oh, it was wonderful. Dr. Lady told me I could. I waddled my way to the tub and my doula showed up and turned some incense on and my husband massaged my shoulders. The nurse brought me a Sprite. It was nice. My contractions were strong and steady.

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The only issue with my birth was I started having a panic attack after each contraction. The contractions eased me from the panic attack. Nobody knew why it was happening. It sucked – until my water broke! Once my water broke, everything became euphoric. I was 100% relaxed. The oxytocin did its job and the birth high started. I looked at everyone and told them it was time to have this baby. I got out of the tub – the water had become cold and I pooped in there (heh, don’t care). They walked me to the bed and once I got on the bed – on hands and knees – it was over and time to push. I don’t know how long it took, but it felt fast. My husband caught our son. It was beautiful. I was empowered. I did it. And it was a natural birth, happy experience, doctors and nurses followed my birth plan, and made it about the family in a hospital.
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Midwife/Doula Services

Second Photo by Blue Silk Photography

Arlo’s Birth Story

Arlo’s Birth Story

I was 38 weeks and 1 day, and it was it was 2:30am on the morning of my husband Jeremy’s birthday. I was trying to sleep when my cat, Sparky, crept up to me and purred as I patted her and she snuggled into my tummy. I adjusted my hips slightly and suddenly felt a ‘pop’ inside me. I jumped out of bed and, sure enough, felt the liquid that meant my waters had broken.

I stood at the end of the bed, and roused Jeremy. “Sorry, but I think we’ll be having this baby on your birthday,” I said. We had both agreed that this was the only day we didn’t want the baby to come, so Jeremy could still have one day that was just about him! I guess that was the first lesson – babies come when they are ready and he must have been ready!

Jeremy jumped up and found a pad for me. It was only a small amount of fluid, but it was enough for us to think that it might be a bit green. It was very pale and we weren’t really sure. We started getting a few things together and rang my mum at 3am to tell her to start heading down. She lives nearly two hours away and was our ‘plan A’ to care for our two year old, Jasper, in a very complicated list of alternative plans which depended on when and how I went into labour.

Things were very calm for us at home. I hadn’t had any contractions, just the occasional crampy feeling, much like a Braxton Hicks, but nothing I had to concentrate on at all. We left it a little while and rang our midwife, Jo, at about 3:45am. We let her know what had happened and that we thought the fluid may have been green, but we really weren’t sure. She asked us to come in to the hospital and meet her at 5am so she could check the fluid, just in case. We rang our neighbour, Mel, who was also part of ‘plan A’, so she could come and be in the house for Jasper, just until my mum arrived.

Before I left, I had some very, very mild tightening that I wouldn’t even classify as contractions – just a crampy feeling again, without much need to focus on them. I got a little teary with some mixed emotions when we left Jasper at home – his life was about to change in ways he couldn’t imagine and I felt sad for him knowing he would have to adjust to not being the baby of the family any longer, but also excited that he would have a little brother to share his adventures with.

We arrived at the hospital at 5am and walked into the examination room. Jo met us and asked me to lie down on the bed for 20 minutes so she could check if the fluid really was green. As soon as I lay down, the contractions began. They were immediately intense and extremely uncomfortable. I wasn’t able to move around and I really struggled to deal with the intensity of them just lying still.

After 20 minutes Jo checked and confirmed that the waters were green, which indicated they contained meconium, which can mean that the baby may be distressed. She also confirmed that I was 5cm dilated and would be having this baby soon.

I remember finally being able to roll onto my hands and knees and crying into the bed that I wasn’t ready. He was two weeks early and I just didn’t feel ready to deal with what lay ahead in the next hours, and the next months. Jeremy and Jo reassured me that I was ready and the next contraction came, which took all of my focus to deal with.

We agreed to head to a birth suite, but sadly, not the one with the new birth tub. I was meant to be one of the very first women to have a water birth in that hospital’s new purpose made baths, but because of the meconium, I wouldn’t be allowed to get into the water.

I was now having very strong and painful contractions which felt like they were very close together. No-one was timing them, but I could only take a few steps before another one would stop me in my tracks. I required extra monitoring, again because of the meconium, so on arrival at the birth suite I was fitted with a mobile monitor, so thankfully I could still move around. It was a little annoying though, because it wouldn’t stay in the right place, so Jo would have to readjust to make sure it was just the monitor and not a problem with the baby’s heart rate.

I was kneeling over the bed and really struggling with the pain. Jeremy was pressing a heat pack into my lower back, which helped a little, but any breathing I was doing wasn’t helping me at all. I felt like I was trying to escape from the pain in my body rather than breathing through the waves like I did in my first labour.

As per our ‘birth preferences,’ the midwives suggested sterile water injections. This worked almost instantly with my first labour and was well worth the intense stinging as the water was injected. Unfortunately, this time it didn’t work at all. On reflection, the pain was very intense and all-encompassing, whereas in my first labour it was very specifically in my back.

We moved into the shower so I could have the hot water run on my back. This offered some relief, but I really wasn’t dealing well with the pain. I think maybe we had been in the hospital just over an hour. I spent some time trying to find a position that I could manage the pain in, but still felt like I was trying to get out of my body and away from the pain.

It was some time when I was in the shower that the baby’s heart rate dropped into the 90’s and stayed low for a while. There was some concern from Jo, but there were no suggestions to make any urgent changes. My waters seemed to break a second time around now – and not just a trickle like I had at home, either!

My body started feeling like I needed to push. Jo checked me and I was at about 8cm with a small lip of cervix. I tried as hard as I could not to push – such a challenge! My body was doing what it wanted to and I had to try with every ounce of my being to go against it. Jo managed to push back my cervix and I was able to work with my body and begin to push my baby out on the birth stool. His head very slowly emerged after only a few pushes. When the next contraction came, I pushed again, with all I had. But, my baby didn’t move. His shoulders were stuck.

The emergency buzzer was pressed and, within seconds, the room was full of people – more midwives, a paediatrician or two, and an obstetrician. It was quite amazing the speed at which they were able to get to me. All this time, I understood that he was stuck and I was watching Jo – her face was one of serious concentration, but certainly not panic, which I am grateful for.

Two midwives moved my legs up and back, into what’s called ‘The McRoberts manoeuvre’, while Jo manipulated the baby slightly, and I pushed with everything I had. Thankfully, this was enough, and out he came, with the cord around his neck. He was placed onto my chest, but I was told not to stroke or rub him (in case he startled and breathed in the meconium which may have been in his mouth). He was very floppy and not breathing or moving. Jo quickly cut the cord, and my baby was taken over to the table. The paediatrician intubated to remove any meconium from his throat, and placed the oxygen mask over his face. Jeremy and I were watching this happen and it felt like hours, but in reality was probably less than a minute. Suddenly Jeremy yelled out “He’s opened his eyes!” and we were both filled with relief as he started to cry. It was just before 7am.

Meanwhile, I had a minor haemorrhage and was given sintocinon to speed up the delivery of the placenta, which was slightly ragged. The bleeding abated and I was able to lie on the bed and my baby was given back to me for a skin to skin time. He was 9lb, 12oz!

I was shaking and felt quite shocked at how fast everything occurred and it probably took a good hour or two before those feelings began to subside and I was able to focus properly on our new son. He had been delivered less than two hours after arriving at hospital and having my first real contraction. What a birthday present for Jeremy! (And quite a surprise for his parents who rang a little later to wish him a happy birthday!)

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We stayed in hospital to be monitored, but all was well, so we were able to go home the next day to begin life as a family of four. Three days later, our two year old son Jasper made the decision for us to name him Arlo Thomas.

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Although pretty much nothing went according to my birth preferences, I always felt informed, supported and cared for by Jo and the rest of the team who helped to ensure he arrived healthy. I feel so lucky to have had such amazing care, especially in the public hospital system in Australia.

shannonFinal Photo by Shannon Langbecker

“I Pooped My Baby Out on My Hands and Knees!” – My Birth Story Without Husband or Midwife

“I Pooped My Baby Out on My Hands and Knees!” – My Birth Story Without Husband or Midwife

I wanted to share with you the birth story of my second child, my daughter, Elizabeth Rose. The support and strength that I’ve gained from following you through social media these last two years, as well as attending two BWF conferences, helped get me through this sweet baby’s birth without my husband or my midwife. I never in a million years would have thought it was possible to do something so challenging without them both, but I did thanks to you. My mom had given me a Birth Without Fear Moon Over Maizes necklace when my son was one year old for Mother’s Day. Throughout the pregnancy of my second child I wore it often and towards the end of my pregnancy I wore it every day. It was a reminder to me that women all over the world give birth every day with strength and courage and that I could do that too. Little did I know how much I would need this extra boost of encouragement during the labor of my second child.birthalone1

My due date was June 17th. My husband’s nephew was getting married May 30th and my husband was a groomsman in the wedding. We decided that since it was still three weeks until baby’s due date (and since I went right on my due date with my first child), it was unlikely I would go into labor that early and we felt comfortable with my husband traveling six hours to attend the wedding. The weekend was approaching and I sent my friend this text on Thursday May 28th:

“Did I tell you Carl is going out of town Friday for his nephew’s wedding (he’s a groomsman)? I have this ridiculous overwhelming feeling that I’m going to have this baby while he is gone. It’s a six hour drive so he likely wouldn’t make it. I realize I’ll only be 37w3d this weekend…and the chances are SO slim…but I can’t help but worry!!! Please stay in baby!!!”

I had convinced myself that this fear was simply there, because it was a possibility, not because it was any type of “gut feeling” that something would happen. That Thursday evening, I went on a walk with my two year old son, my husband, and my mom. At one point during the walk I had a Braxton Hicks contraction that made me stop walking and I had to breathe through it. I had a lot of Braxton Hicks throughout pregnancy and this one felt different, but I didn’t put much stock into it. I just figured we were getting closer to 40 weeks and my body was just getting ready for labor in a few weeks. Good job body! Later that evening, while getting ready for bed, I had another Braxton Hicks that I felt in my lower back. I told my husband and we both thought it was weird, but we didn’t really consider it the start of labor or anything that we needed to cancel his trip over. Throughout the night I had a few more and noticed that the contractions were pushing on my bladder much more. They weren’t painful, but enough that I felt them when I was sleeping and I had to get up and pee a lot.

Friday morning I was feeling good and hadn’t noticed any contractions, so I went to work as normal and my husband left for his six hour drive north. I had a very busy morning of meetings and presentations, and didn’t notice too many contractions, but knew I had had some. Around 11:15, I was back at my desk and had one that I actually said, “OUCH,” out loud to. After this, I decided I probably should pay attention to my body (what a novel idea!) and see if I was having more contractions. I started tracking them while half attempting to work and they were coming about every 18 to 25 minutes. I set up some meetings with colleagues for the following week and sent a few emails. I called my husband just so he knew what was going on and even said, “I have no reason to believe this is actual labor. I very well could have these for a week before baby comes.” We agreed there still was no reason to have him come home (by this point he hadn’t yet made it to his destination but he was almost there). I told my husband I would keep track of them and call my midwives if I thought things were progressing.

I had lunch plans with two friends from work, both mothers themselves. At lunch, I told them I had been having what felt like contractions and had been keeping track of them. They were shocked I was still at work and as well at lunch with them, and provided the sound advice that I probably should call my midwives, because they were kind of consistent. We had a 1:30 meeting after lunch, so I said I would just call them after the meeting. They again gave me the sound advice that I needed to call before that. We returned to the office around 1:15 and I left a message to have a midwife call me. I went to our meeting at 1:30 and told my boss somewhat non-nonchalantly that I might have to step out and take a call as I might be in labor. After a look of somewhat surprise/somewhat confusion, he said, “Ok no problem,” and the meeting started. I continued to have contractions throughout the meeting, still about every 15 to 20 minutes. I could relax and breathe through them, and still managed to contribute some thoughts to the meeting. The whole time thinking, This isn’t real labor…my husband is out of town and I’m 3 weeks to my due date. I received a call back while I was still in the meeting and stepped out to speak to a nurse from my midwives’ office. The nurse had suggested that I go home, take a bath, and see if the contractions change. She said if they change/slow down/etc., then it’s probably not “true labor.” If the bath does nothing to my contractions, then it’s probably the real deal.

I headed home (which thankfully was my parents’ house at the time, whom we were living with while we were waiting to move into our new house) and took a bath in their large tub. I put on some relaxing classical music and got comfortable. I used my son’s Babyganics bubble bath, because I owned no adult bubble bath – I couldn’t even remember the last time I had taken a bath. During the 45 minute bath, I had two contractions that were getting a tad more intense than they had been, but the bath really helped to relax me. Upon standing up to get out of the bath, I had one more and this time I peed during it (only had a momentary concern it was my waters, but a quick color check in the water directed me to the proper conclusion that I did, indeed, pee myself). I remember with my son during contractions I had to pee during contractions in the early stages of labor. This is when I thought, Hmmm maybe this is real?

After the bath, I laid down before I had to go pick up my son from daycare. My contractions had slowed to about every 45 to 50 minutes. I excitedly thought this was a sign that it wasn’t real labor. I went to pick my son up from daycare around 5pm, continued to have contractions throughout picking him up, bringing him home, playing with him and feeding him dinner. My parents had dinner plans and had already left the house, so it was just me and my usually rambunctious two year old. He was as sweet and calm as could be that night, playing well by himself, and going to bed very easy. I was grateful for him to go to bed at 7:30 and immediately laid down myself in bed. I texted my husband and told him I was going to sleep and would wake up in the morning contraction free. Ha. In a way, I did. I fell asleep around 8pm and continued to have contractions while sleeping.

At 10pm I had a contraction strong enough and real enough that it got me out of bed. After contemplating ignoring it, I realized I needed to accept the fact that I was actually IN LABOR, as much as I still sort of thought it wasn’t real! I immediately called my midwife on-call service to leave a message and wait for their call back. In the meantime, I called my husband to tell him I needed him to come home. I felt awful and was crying that I was causing him to miss his nephew’s wedding and maybe it wasn’t real labor and we might not even have a baby that weekend. I spoke to his nephew on the phone, who of course understood and tried to calm me down. Of course my husband and his family were not concerned about him missing the wedding, after all this was A BABY!

Around 11pm, my husband began the six hour drive back home. I think at this point I was still sort of in denial, but knew I had to be serious about it all. I called my parents and told them to come home, I was in labor. I spoke to my midwife and told her what had gone on that day, and what was going on right now. She said to call her when I’m going to the hospital. I asked her when that should be (with my first they said contractions every five minutes lasting one minute, but with my 2nd baby one of my midwives told me to go when intensity changes)? The midwife on call (whom was newer to my practice and I had only ever met once) told me to go at five minutes apart. I thought that seemed odd and I should have reinforced with her that I had a eight hour labor with my first child, so this was likely to be just as short if not shorter…but again, I was a bit frazzled, being all alone in labor, without my husband, my teammate and my favorite ‘doula’ of sorts. The contractions at this point were still around eight to nine minutes apart, but the intensity was gaining.

For a while, I labored all alone in bed, on my hands and knees, which was the only position that felt good for my back labor and doubly helpful, because I could rest in between. During this time, I had a fleeting moment where I wanted to cry, not because of pain, but because I was all alone. I wanted my husband with me. I wanted to go hold my son for the last time before he was no longer an only child. I wanted to not be alone. I felt sorry for myself. Everything felt unfair. But during a particularly intense contraction, I looked down at the birth without fear necklace dangling and remembered that I could do this alone, and I would do it alone. I was strong and I could do anything for a minute at time. There was no time for crying or breaking down, my baby and body didn’t need that extra stress.

I gathered my composure and started adding things to my hospital bag that I had only started packing the night before. I went to my parents’ basement and carried up the infant car seat and base (poor decision now that I think about it, as I was still alone in the house). I checked in on my son and held back the tears as I watched his sleepy breaths and soft blond hair in the dark. He was going to be a big brother the next time I saw him and it was emotional. I put dry shampoo in my hair and deodorant on (because labor brain thought this was important?). I continued to labor alone until my parents arrived home and then my amazing mom (seriously, moms are amazing) laid in bed with me as I worked through each contraction and rested in between.

My husband had started out on the road and I was nervous that he would have to drive through the night. I made him promise to be safe and stop and rest. Around 2am the contractions started getting more intense and closer together – four to seven minutes apart. My mom said, “Maybe we should go,” and I said, “I really don’t want to get there, find out I’m only 3cm and have to walk around triage for an hour,” (which is what I had to do with my son). So we labored more at home in bed on my hands and knees.

After about ten more minutes and three more contractions, the last one that had me making all sorts of odd noises, I agreed with my mom that we should get going. I asked her to make sure to get the cooler for my placenta and we gathered up the rest of our stuff. I called my husband and he talked me through a few contractions I had on the phone with him. I stopped in the downstairs bathroom to take a selfie before heading out (why? labor brain thought it was an important moment to document and I’m so glad I did). I asked my mom to get a bucket for the car, because I was sure I was going to throw up. Before pulling out of the driveway at 2:15am, we took a picture together to remember this moment always. It’s the worst picture of our entire lives, but we are somehow smiling in it.birthalone2

Before we got out of the neighborhood, I had hit transition and began throwing up and then dry heaving. I was expecting this, as I also threw up during the birth of my first child during transition. It was around this time I was also telling myself, “It’s ok if you get an epidural, you’re husband is not here to help you through a natural birth and you can get one if you want.” I had a natural birth with my son and wanted one with this birth as well, but as transition goes, the doubt started setting in.

The drive to the hospital was about 25 minutes and I continued to work through contractions in the car. At one point I realized that I hadn’t heard back from my midwife, whom I called around 2am to let her know we were leaving for the hospital, so I called the on-call service again and they said they would page her again. She called me back immediately and I told her I was on my way, things were progressing quickly. She said after I get checked in triage they would let her know where I’m at then then she would come in. At this point, I should have thought to tell her that I was going to have this baby very, very soon, as I was already in transition, but again, labor brain. My husband would have been doing all the talking and probably would have told her that, but when you’re in hard labor and trying to have conversations that make sense, it’s not the easiest thing in the world.

I managed to give my mom directions to the medical campus, which we navigated to find the right parking garage, my mom dumped my bucket of puke out over the side (got yelled at by someone below who happened to see) and we made our way in. As we were pulling into the parking garage, I saw another pregnant woman and her husband getting out of their car and my first thought was, We have to beat her in. I can’t wait behind her at check in. She looked like she was feeling absolutely fine, while I was leaning on anything and everything (think disgusting parking garage trash cans, hand rails, etc) to work through contractions on my walk in.

Thankfully they stopped in the lobby to try to make a call and we caught an elevator before them. My ridiculous labor brain thought, Haha – we beat you! Arriving at check-in, I was grateful we had pre-registered and I only had two or three contractions while the nice old lady got me checked in, while hiding her concern that I was going to have the baby on her desk. They whisked me back to triage where I changed into my green pretty pushers gown I had won at my first BWF Columbus meet-up. The nurse said, “Are you ok getting that dirty?” I wanted to say “This isn’t my first time giving birth, lady.”

My mom helped me change into the gown and I went to the bathroom. Throughout laboring at home I had to pee and poop after almost every contraction for a good hour and I think this was my last “get it all out” bathroom trip. I had a contraction while on the toilet which was amazing, the amount of pressure that was taken off while sitting there, and then came out to get checked. The nice resident on call who was checking me gave me a towel to “cover myself up with,” because apparently I just got up on the bed and hiked up my gown. All I could do was laugh…I’m about to push a child out of my vagina in front of ten people and you want me to ‘cover up’ while you check me, sir? I was six cm dilated. To which I said, “Holy shit!” I then got on the bed on all fours while they monitored baby and continued to labor that way for a few minutes. They then told me it was real labor and I was ready to go to labor and delivery (well no shit!) and I asked where my midwife was. They said they called her and she was on her way.

They brought me a wheel chair and asked if I wanted to walk to the room or ride in the chair. The thought of sitting down was excruciating and I was pretty sure I couldn’t walk at this point without the baby falling out. I stood up out of bed to try to lean against the wheel chair and had a huge contraction where I opened my legs and the nurse grabbed me and said, “Get on the bed and lay down!” I said, “NO! I’m not lying down; please let me get through it this way!” She said, “I don’t want a baby falling out on the floor,” to which I said, “No baby is going to fall out on the floor!!!” Then she left me alone and let me labor leaning my elbows against the bed.

After that contraction, I got back on the bed on hands and knees and told them I needed to start pushing. I remember this exact feeling with my son, but at the time I wasn’t as confident. This time, I knew it was time to push and this baby was coming. They flipped the side rails up on the triage bed, and about six of them surrounded the bed and ran me down the hall with my ass up in the air while I was on all fours. I remember feeling a strong wind on my face as they were running and it felt really good.

The second we got in the room, I looked at the bed they wanted to transfer me to and I said, “NOPE I’M PUSHINNNNGGGG!!!!” I grabbed on to the front rails the bed and pushed my baby out in one very hard push, accompanied by a bellowing scream from me and a gush of fluids. I completely couldn’t believe it. I kneeled there, stunned, not having seen my baby yet, but knowing I pushed something out. I kept saying, “Did that just happen? Did I just push my baby out? Is that my baby crying?” They told me, “It’s a girl,” born at 3:24 (only 40 minutes after arriving at the hospital) and I was completely shocked and overwhelmed.

I always envisioned myself as a mom of all boys and I couldn’t believe (in the best way possible) I had a little daughter. Our birth plan included delayed cord clamping, but at this point I think the only person who had a chance to look at our birth plan was the triage nurse, so the resident began to cut the cord immediately. I remember my mom trying desperately to yell out different wishes to the doctors and nurses. “Delayed cord cutting!” “Immediate skin to skin!” “No eye stuff!” “Save the placenta!”

It was part terrifying, part heartwarming. Baby girl had a true knot in her cord, and the resident explained that when this happens they like to cut the cord right away. If my husband was there he would have advocated for more information from my midwife, but since both were missing, I agreed to have the cord cut and my mom was able to do that. I was still on my hands and knees at this point, desperate to get a look at my baby girl. While they cleaned us both up a bit, my mom was yelling, “No! Put the baby on her chest, don’t take her away!” We both didn’t realize how tiny she was. They told us with babies that small they need to check them right away. They checked her and she was 4 lbs 4 oz of perfection, so they brought her back to me immediately and we did skin to skin. I remember her hair was covered in vernix and it appeared dark and curly, just like my husbands was when I met him in college. At this point, they were working hard to help me deliver my placenta, because I was bleeding a lot. I told them I wanted a natural placenta delivery and they said with all the bleeding they were trying to help it along gently – I remember them pushing on my abdomen and wondering if the midwife was there if anything would be different.

I wasn’t upset or angry, just disappointed that I didn’t have the advocacy I so desperately wanted and trusted. Baby girl latched a few times while on my chest and the placenta eventually came out naturally. “Save the placenta! She’s going to encapsulate it!” my mom yelled again. Bless her heart. I think I asked the resident five times if I tore, and he said every time, “Nope, you look great,” and I was so appreciative of his overly nice description of the completely wrecked and bloody mess between my legs.

The residents attempted to clean me up the best they could, as I continued to bleed a lot. They ended up giving me a shot of Pitocin in my leg. During all of this, I hadn’t had an IV line yet, because everything happened so fast – so while holding my fresh babe on my chest, I remember the nurses working for 15 minutes to find a good vein in my hands for the line. The pricking and failing was almost more painful than childbirth – I was extra sensitive due to my state of exhaustion and losing blood. They finally gave up for a bit and another nurse came in and was able to get the line in – I was given Pitocin through the line for the bleeding as well.

At some point during all of this I called my husband and said, “It’s a girl!!” He couldn’t believe it either. I also told him, “I just pooped her out on my hands and knees in one push!” which he loves to tell people to this day that I “pooped out” my daughter. I must have called him before knowing her birth weight, because when I texted him her stats later he was very worried due to her size. Thankfully, the only thing she needed was a little warmth from the nursery, because skin to skin with me wasn’t getting her temp up enough. Later that night I found out if we need her temp up, just to do skin to skin with dad, because he practically cooked her. Another reason I hated him not being there at birth was to do skin to skin when I couldn’t.birthalone3

Thankfully my husband was able to stop and rest after I gave birth so that he could continue his drive home. He finally made it to the hospital at 11:30am to meet his baby girl and I’ll never forget for the entire first few minutes of his meeting her, the staff came in to take my lunch order and was asking me all sorts of questions: “Do you want fruit or yogurt with that,” “Do you want juice or water to drink?”….I could hardly answer their questions, because I was trying to soak in the memory of my husband and his little girl’s first encounter.

At this point I realized nothing is perfect and the entire experience was nothing like I imagined it would be, so all I could do was laugh. My husband missed it, my midwife missed it; I didn’t get to use the labor water tub I so badly wanted, and so on.birthalone4

Ultimately, I was so incredibly proud of baby and myself – we worked together as a team and I truly was able to birth without fear. I am forever grateful that she knew it was time to come meet me and get the nourishment she needed from my milk that she was no longer getting through her knotted cord. We were discharged two days later and baby had only lost 2oz. She continued to amaze me with her strength and determination in the weeks following, nursing like a champ and gaining 1 to 2 lbs. per week. Now, at a whopping 9lbs at two months old, she is the song our hearts never knew it needed.

Without the BWF movement, I’m fairly certain that I would have been a disaster during the birth of my baby girl, but from reading these amazing birth stories from other moms on your blog and following your support and inspiration through FB and IG and attending BWF meet ups, I had the strength I needed to birth my baby regardless of the circumstances. I am forever grateful for what you do for women and families everywhere, January. I can’t wait for my next birth experience, whatever hurdles that may throw at me. Next time, my husband is on house arrest until baby arrives, and I’ll inform all six of my midwives how quickly my babies arrive. First I just have to convince my husband we need a third.

I Am Strong – MoMo Twins

I Am Strong – MoMo Twins

I am strong, because the day the test finally said, “Schwanger” (pregnant) was the best day of my life.

I am strong, because I had a solid plan for a natural pregnancy and birth.

I am strong, because my seven week ultrasound showed two heart beats, but only one amniotic sac.

I am strong, because for two horrible weeks they were thought to be conjoined.

I am strong, because my pregnancy vocabulary expanded to include monoamniotic monochorionic, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, and cord entanglement.

I am strong, because I spent six weeks inpatient under intense monitoring.

I am strong, because I mourned my natural birth, but embraced my C-section.

I am strong, because I gave birth at 31 weeks and five days to beautiful, healthy boys.

I am strong, because I stayed another five and a half weeks in the hospital so I could room-in and bond with the boys.

I am strong because, although everyone said it wouldn’t be possible, we left the NICU exclusively breastfed.

I am strong, because in the hardest phase of my life, I chose love over fear, joy over sorrow, and was blessed with gifts greater than I could have ever imagined.

momo

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