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Complete Pack of 3 Boys: Connor’s Birth Story

Complete Pack of 3 Boys: Connor’s Birth Story

With each of my pregnancies, I have changed my goals for labor slightly. For my first pregnancy, I was concerned with having a totally natural birth without any medication. My labor was incredibly long and slow, and by the end I felt like a zombie lying in bed waiting in fear of the next contraction. With my second pregnancy, I wanted to be more in control of my labor and feel like an active participant (God willing, this labor would also be much faster). I hired a doula, and had a much more active labor, even though it was still a long second labor. This summer as I prepared for my third baby boy, I felt confident from my last two labors that I could have a drug free, active labor, and my goal this time was to not tear my labia. They had torn badly with my first son, and again with my second. It seemed like a reasonable goal. Just keep things intact!

As my due date approached, I felt certain that I was still at least a week away from delivery since my last two pregnancies went a week overdue. At my 40 week visit I had the midwife strip my membranes to help move things along. I had a little spotting and cramping, but didn’t think much of it. However, six hours later, after driving an hour away to visit my cousin at college, I realized I was having contractions five minutes apart. They weren’t super strong, but they were regular. I drove home and called my husband to enact the “go plan”. I stopped at a friend’s house next to the hospital, and spent the next few hours walking up and down the street to help keep labor going. To much disappointment, the contractions basically stopped after about three hours. We all went home and tried to sleep, knowing that it could still be several days.

The next morning I walked my son to kindergarten and had some irregular contractions, but I tried not to focus on them. After a few hours of intermittent contractions at home, I decided to walk and walk and walk, and by noon, they were coming faster and stronger. I called the midwife when they were about 3 minutes apart and a minute long, and she told me to head in right then.

When we got to the hospital I was at 4 cm and 70% effaced, so I knew that I still had a long way to go and needed to keep walking, squatting, lunging, and whatever I could to bring the baby down. The contractions were strong enough that I needed to focus and breathe through them, and my wonderful husband and sister took turns squeezing my hips with each one to ease the pressure. I knew I didn’t want to be checked very often, because it would almost certainly ensure disappointment. My previous labors were very long and slow, and it took hours and hours to dilate to a 6. Unlike some women who have lightning fast labors with their 2nd and 3rd, mine seemed to be going at a glacial pace yet again, so I had to remind myself that this is okay, it’s just how my body works. I was afraid if they examined me and I was only a 5 it would dishearten me. So for a little over four hours I walked around and squatted with each contraction (I told you my labors are slow!)

I was supported by my husband, sister, Mom and mother-in-law throughout the labor. My sister brought along music for me, and it is probably one of the single greatest tools I used. During the contractions, I could close my eyes, nod along with the beat of the music and get through it! Between contractions I was singing along with the music, which let me take my mind off the anxiety of the next one. I was rocking out to everything from Queen to Flo Rida! Music is such a powerful and emotional part of being human, and it got me through many hours of pain. From this day on, “My House” by Flo Rida will always remind me of Connor’s labor!

My nurse was wonderful and came in about every 30 minutes to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. She worked around my positioning, whether I was in the tub, or on the ball or squatting on the bed. Other than the first 30 minutes of intake where I had to lay on my back with the monitors on, I was free to walk and roam and move. I know not every hospital is as accommodating to laboring women, but I was lucky to find one that supported my goal of natural labor with as much movement as possible.

When I finally felt some pressure, I had the midwife examine me. I was at 8 cm and fully effaced. I had a mixture of relief that I was close, but also disappointment that I wasn’t at a 10. However, the midwife told me that my cervix was stretchy enough that if I pushed while she gently moved it, I could have this baby in a few minutes! I was ready to meet my third little boy, so I agreed. I laid back while she broke my water, and then they setup a squat bar at the end of the bed. Using the bar for support, I gave a few slow pushes to help bring down his head. I didn’t want to tear like I did with the last two, so I pushed slowly and without much force. Once his head was down and engaged, I decided to turn around on my knees and push from a kneeling position. I gave a strong push, and then came the burning sensation. Every fiber of my being screamed at me to push as hard as I could and get him out, but my husband and midwife kept reminding me to push slowly and not eject him like a bullet from a gun. I opened my mouth so that I couldn’t hold my breath and bear down with each push, and finally I felt the pop of release as his head came out. It was such a wave of relief as I felt his wiggly body slide out the rest of the way, and I needed to hold him right then!

My husband and a nurse helped me turn around and sit down so I could hold my sweet little Connor. He was absolutely beautiful and worth all the pain and anguish! After the cord stopped pulsing, my husband cut it and my baby was free. The hospital gives what they call a “golden hour” where Mom and baby have an hour to be together, breastfeed and snuggle before they begin their exams, eye goop, weight and length check, etc. It was a beautiful time to just hold the little angel who had been living inside me for so long and bond. Thanks to the reminder from my midwife not to push too hard, I didn’t tear after all! After about 30 minutes of struggling to get my uterus to clamp down and stop bleeding, Connor and I were cleared to move up to the postpartum wing. All my labors have been beautiful in some way, and this was no different. With Connor’s arrival, my pack of three boys is complete!

I hope that any pregnant Moms reading my story will feel empowered and confident. God gave women amazing bodies that have the capabilities to do AMAZING things. We were created to bring life into this world, and whether it’s through a natural home birth, epidural at the hospital, or c-section, we CAN do it! We are strong, beautiful, powerful warriors! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Story submitted by Katie K. 

My Final Birth Story

My Final Birth Story

Jessica shares the story of her third son’s birth at home. 

I wanted to write about the birth of Mattis, our third baby boy, but I quickly realized in order to get to the point of my husband and me deciding to have a home birth, it would take a little back ground info; well, actually, a lot. This maybe more of a book than a typical “birth story”, but I wasn’t one of those women that initially desired a home birth or even a natural birth. I think those women that know exactly what they want with their first child are incredible and inspiring, but for me it wasn’t like that. Childbirth for me has been more of a “you live you learn” and confidence-building journey than anything else in my life. I didn’t really know what I wanted, nor did I have the confidence in myself; because let’s face it – labor and birth is rarely talked about in a positive light, and I had no idea how much it would mean to me to have a positive birth experience. Most think, “Hey, healthy baby, healthy mama… that’s all that matters.” But in my opinion, that isn’t true; the way you birth, the knowledge you have about it and having medical professionals that TRULY support you MATTER!

Abram Colt

In 2010, my husband and I found out I was pregnant with our first son. He was due on October 17 and I was fortunate to have had a very smooth and easy pregnancy in spite of it being a record-breakingly hot summer that year. Also, we were very fortunate in that my husband was able to be there for the whole thing – every appointment – with the exception of a few weeks away in Florida. Being a military spouse, this is nearly unheard of. We didn’t have to worry about him not being there for the delivery.

October 17th came and went, and like most first-time parents, we were so anxious for our new arrival. Also as a lot of first-time parents, I had very few expectations for the labor and delivery. I knew what I knew about it from friends, movies, doctors and a few terribly written books. So at five days past my estimated due date (which still in my mind was an expiration date), I decided well, I guess my body just CAN’T go into labor… I’ll just settle for the hospital evicting this little guy.

So I asked my doctor when I could go in to be induced; and she said they could schedule me for the next day. We went in and they just acted as if it was the most normal thing on earth – sign this, consent to this, do you want an epidural? Well, of course I did; why would anyone willingly go through the pain? So they hooked me up to monitors, IV, Pitocin, and an epidural all within what seemed like 15 minutes. I had already been dilated to 5 cm and 80% effaced since I was about 35 weeks, so things progressed rapidly. Although the person who did the epidural was a student, he clearly did a great job because I could hardly feel anything.

I thought this was what I wanted, but I felt completely out of control; and it didn’t help that I was shaking uncontrollably. A couple hours in, although I couldn’t feel much, I felt pressure and let the nurse know; she came in and said I could push. She sat on one side, and David sat on the other and held my legs because I couldn’t feel them at all. I pushed and pushed and pushed, all directed by the nurse… and finally, after about 30 minutes of that, she said, “Oh that was it; that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.” I was pretty disappointed and exhausted, but eventually, about 30 minutes later, he was born weighing 8 lbs 12oz, and was 21½” long! We had never guessed he would have been so big; and neither did the doctor; they had guessed around 7½ lbs the day prior. The whole labor was about 3½ hours long.

Depression

Birth is special no matter how it’s done, but for me, this birth seemed to lack something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I don’t know if it contributed, but about 2-3 months afterward I still didn’t feel anywhere close to myself, or how I anticipated to feel as a mother. I was ashamed to admit I didn’t want to take care of my baby. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or that I literally didn’t care for him, but I was overwhelmed and didn’t feel motherly to him. I never told this to anyone except my husband; and of course he didn’t understand, so we decided I should start therapy ASAP.

I did, and was clinically diagnosed with postpartum depression; I started several prescriptions of antidepressants and therapy sessions. Over the course of the next several months, and adjusting meds, thankfully I was able to feel like a fog was lifted. I started asking to be taken off the meds although the doctor told me it’s most effective when kept on for a year to ensure stability. I reluctantly agreed, knowing the possible negative side effects of trying to wean myself from the meds. So I decided to trust her, until….two blue lines…again! Just over a year since Abram’s birth. The doctor assured me it was safe to continue my medication while pregnant, but I refused. I told her I just didn’t want to be on anything while pregnant that could possibly have a side effect on our unborn child. So she took me off, and all was well…

Deployment

…Until we realized that my husband was slated to leave on his third deployment right as I was going to be 13 weeks pregnant and raising our 1-year-old. Well, that’s the military life; if we were to have multiple children, it was inevitable. Next, we found out that he would be scheduled to come home about a month after my due date. Talk about stressful; we lived five hours from our nearest family. Over the next few months he spoke to his commanding officer about of course wanting to be present for the birth if it was an option, so they made a deal of sorts. At that time, David was an osprey airframes mechanic, and his Commanding Officer agreed on the condition that he worked the entire deployment to become a Collateral Duty Inspector and also run the Corrosion Control Shop. Both jobs were something that take a while to learn, and they needed more guys that knew the jobs inside and out. Upon learning these two things they would allow him to leave on an advanced party to return home prior to the birth so he could re-setup shop in the states and wait on the arrival of the rest of the unit. He worked diligently and accomplished both tasks of course, and returned stateside on a Friday. I was 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant.

The entire time he was gone, I had told him that this time I wanted things to be different – that I didn’t want to feel medicated, and that I wanted to be able to move since Abram’s birth felt so unnatural to me; it hadn’t felt like how I thought it should have – it was special, of course, but it was lackluster. He basically said, “Okay, whatever you want.” I had been going to my prenatal appointments and toward the end they mentioned induction, and I just told them no; that I’m not doing that this time, unless it is a true medical need.

Cannon Knox

40 weeks 2 days rolled around. Exactly two weeks after David arrived stateside, I woke up around 2:45 a.m. and felt cramps. I eventually got out of bed and started timing them. I wasn’t convinced in the least that this was labor. About 30 minutes later, I woke David up and said, “I think I maybe in labor?!” I had never experienced “true” labor, so I just couldn’t believe it.

I called the hospital and told them my symptoms, and they assured me that I could wait at home for at least another hour. So I got off the phone and called my friend Cara, since the plan was that whenever I went into labor she would watch our son while we went to the hospital, until my parents could make the five-hour drive down. She came right away, and by that point contractions were probably three minutes apart. We hopped in the truck at around 5 and made the 15-minute drive to Camp Lejeune. The drive was terrible; and looking back, I know why – I was in transition.

When we arrived at the hospital, we hurried in; stopping along the way for contractions. Finally once in labor and delivery they needed some documents signed, but I had other plans, kneeling in the hallway to push out a baby! Nurses came from everywhere at probably 5:25 a.m. shouting, “Don’t push! Don’t push!” But I was in another world, pushing out a baby. They got me on a bed and checked me, and agreed that yes he’s coming; so down the hall we flew into a labor and delivery suite. The doctor was already in there; he grabbed a pair of gloves, and within a couple minutes, at 5:30 a.m. he handed me my baby. THAT IS HOW IT’S DONE!

Two hours and 45 minutes from first cramp to holding my baby. He was 7lbs 4 oz. and 19″ long. What a sense of accomplishment and empowerment; my baby was here and I didn’t really need anyone telling me how, or hooking me up to machines; I was able to have my baby, just like women had done for thousands of years. In the little bit of time between pregnancies, the more research I had done the more it led me to believe a lot of times “help” leads to complications; and I didn’t want that. To me, this natural birth was a major accomplishment.

Trying to avoid depression

Another thing that I had researched throughout that pregnancy was how to avoid postpartum depression naturally. I found article after article on placenta encapsulation. Gross, right? People have been doing this for centuries; it’s not a new thing; it’s more ancient if anything; but not well known in our medicated culture. In this process someone takes your placenta, which is enriched with tons of your natural hormones, iron, and nutrients that are used to sustain your pregnancy, then dehydrates it, grinds it into powder, puts it in capsules, and then you take it like a super vitamin over the next few months to level out your hormones. It increases milk production, increases energy levels, and overall helps with recovery.

When you’re pregnant your hormones are obviously at an all-time high at the end, then after delivery you plummet back down to a baseline, which can cause “baby blues” or worse: postpartum depression. Some say it’s a placebo effect, but I was willing to give it a shot since the potential positive effects would be great, and there are little to no negative side effects. And it changed my life. My husband thought I was looney for even considering it, but after several months he couldn’t believe how well I recovered and felt, which was a good thing since he was working up to leave me with two kids under two years old for deployment number four a few months later. I rarely talked about this to anyone, because I feared everyone’s judgment. I only shared with a few close friends, or pregnant women I thought that may benefit from it as well. Now I can look at it and say that if it helps one person reading this, then it is worth the judgment of all the others.

Mattis Jett

Fast-forward to May 2015, when we found out we were surprisingly expecting our third child! I wasn’t sure how to feel about it; I was excited, but it was such a shock, and I had just started a new job. Also, my husband had started a new path in his career as a recruiter, which means he works absolutely all the time – 16-18-hour days. I felt as though this couldn’t be a “good time,” but of course you make plans and God laughs, right? We had no idea how bad we needed this third baby, but God did, and perfectly placed him in our lives.

We decided I wouldn’t be able to return to work after the baby, since the cost of childcare for three children is astronomical; it just wouldn’t make sense financially – not to mention I couldn’t send a newborn to daycare. But guess what? Just as we were getting used to have a double income, then found out I was pregnant and wouldn’t be returning to work, my husband worked super hard and eventually got a promotion; so once again, God took care of it. After we had our second child we decided that if we had any more children, which we planned to have at least one more at some point, we would have them at home. The last labor and delivery was so easy, David said that we could have done that at home! Then we wouldn’t be trapped in a hospital for three days while someone else cared for our other son.

So I was on the search for a midwife, and met with Nancy Harman on a Saturday in June. I already loved how different the experience started out because I was able to take my whole family to the consultation, at her home office, on a farm, on a Saturday. Yep, that’s not the norm; she worked around us, rather than the other way around. I knew immediately after meeting her she was our midwife. She encouraged David to take the boys outside to see the cows, and her “mud hut” out back while we discussed previous pregnancy experiences. She determined I was definitely low-risk enough for a successful home birth. In North Carolina home birth is legal, however it has to be attended by a certified nurse midwife; and you also do parallel care with a supportive OB – for us it was UNC family medicine, where you do labs, ultrasounds and any further testing.

So we did our prenatal appointments with her, and saw UNC once per trimester, we found out at 19 weeks 2 days, on September 1, that we were expecting our third boy! How perfect! My pregnancy really flew by, and was easy and uneventful. We got down to the last appointments and all had gone so well, the weekend of my due date, our area was expecting our first snow storm! Take that lightly; it’s NC – we are in the south, so “snow storm” is a strong term; however, Nancy lives about an hour and fifteen minutes away, and in snow and ice we started to anticipate the idea of her maybe not making it!

Thankfully, her assistant Edie, who is a fellow midwife, lives about 30 minutes away from us, so we knew she would be first to the house. That Saturday, the day before my due date, I had experienced contractions roughly five minutes apart for several hours. Of course since the storm was hitting it brought on babies and Nancy was attending a birth. She sent her assistant to the house to check and make sure it wasn’t the real deal and that she needed to come after she finished at the birth she was present for. The other midwife came and found that I was at 1 cm. It was sort of disappointing just because I’d been so dilated with my previous pregnancies by that point. We decided it was prodromal labor, or “practice labor”, and she went home. This happened at least two more times over the next week, but thankfully I knew better than to call every time. The next Sunday rolled around; I was 41 weeks, and had been in contact with Nancy discussing what we should do to encourage him, since we didn’t want me to go into the 42nd week just because the hospital really wants you to come in for an induction at that point.

I had set up ultrasounds for 41 weeks 2 days 5 days respectively to check on baby, and I wasn’t prepared to defend my choice not to induce in the hospital. She said we could do a membrane sweep after 41 weeks. In the non-traditional relationship of a midwife and client she told me she would meet up with me on Sunday after church to do that; how convenient! So we went to the appointment and she did the sweep, then informed me that I was now 2 cm. We discussed some other ways to encourage labor; she gave me a labor tincture that has black and blue cohosh, and some other herbs, and told me to take one dropper full in a shot of juice per hour for 3-4 hours, and also if I wanted to use a breast pump 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off three times, then call it a night. I did everything she said, had a few irregular contractions, then went to bed.

I woke up with a major cramp at 12:30 a.m. I lay there for a while, then another came along. I decide to get up and walk around. I came in the living room and pulled up my app to time them; the first two were 15 minutes apart, so I wondered if this is just another “practice”. Shortly after another, I checked the app, which said they was only five-minute intervals. Over the next 30 minutes they remained steady; five minutes or so apart, and about one minute long.

I stood behind the couch and leaned over it, swaying and squatting. I went to wake David up and told him, then called Nancy at about 1:40. She asked me about what was going on, and I let her know; then she said she would call Edie, the assisting midwife, and she’d be on her way. We decided to go ahead and put a few inches of cold water in the tub while we waited; I walked around, stopping wherever a contraction would hit. I drank some water, read my birth affirmation cards that I had written out a few weeks before. I had written some positive scripture and words affirming that I CAN do this, and I HAD done it before. In the midst, I had called our birth photographer also.

Eventually, at about 2:45, Edie arrived; like a ninja, she had come in through the garage with her bags and swiftly started setting up. I asked her if she wanted to check my dilation, just to see where I was; at that point contractions had been about three minutes apart. She texted Nancy and asked if she wanted her to, and Nancy told her she was still about 20 minutes out so if I wanted her to check she could. She checked, and I was at 7cm! What a relief! All this work hadn’t been for nothing!! I jumped up from that bed feeling reenergized and excited. I was so excited to report the news to David!

I bounced back into the kitchen holding up seven fingers, and told him to get the hot water in the tub and let’s have a baby! At about 3 a.m. our photographer snuck through the garage door, and got to work. I informed her that I was already at 7 cm. We all stood around and talked, and they brewed coffee; David loaded the dishwasher just to be doing something. They took turns filling pots of water and heating them on the stove since the hot water heater ran out rather quickly. Every few minutes I would either grab the kitchen sink, sway and squat, or grab David’s neck, and we would sort of dance around the kitchen. Nancy arrived at 3:30 a.m.; things were slowing down some, but intensifying.

At some point I did get sick and threw up a couple times; throwing up mid-contraction wasn’t pleasant, but it was over quickly. They told me I could get in the tub whenever I felt like it. Sure, that sounded like a great idea! Before the birth I decided in order to be as comfortable as possible I would wear either a maternity bathing suit top or a tank top and a skirt. I’d heard of other moms laboring in a skirt, sounded like a great idea, so I had bought a knee-length yoga-style knit skirt and had been wearing it and a tank top throughout the labor. I decided to just keep it all on to get in the tub; it may sound a little silly, but even something as small as being comfortable in what you’re wearing can make a huge difference in labor.

I stepped in the water, knelt down on my knees and leaned over the side to rest; I could just let my belly sort of hang down the warm water. It felt so good! Contractions were slower, but when they came, they were intense. Both midwives were standing by watching; I think Nancy was knelt down beside the tub; occasionally she would whisper some type of affirmation: “You can do this; slow, deep sounds; you’re very powerful.” David was directly in front of me sitting on a stool, holding my hands. The entire time I was pregnant we had planned at some point for him to get in the tub and catch our baby, but at that point I didn’t realize how much I wouldn’t want him or myself to move out of that squat position. So I told him not to move!

1

I asked if one of the midwives would check dilation again. Nancy came over and had me flip over so that she could, then said I was 9 cm, thank goodness! I quickly flipped back over onto my knees, leaning over the tub, and grabbed David’s hands as we said a prayer out loud. I prayed for it to be over soon, so we would have our healthy baby boy.

The next few contractions, I felt the urge to push; so I did with everything I had. With each push I could feel baby moving. Then I felt a sort of pop and gush; and realized, oh my gosh – my water just broke! It was so neat to actually experience that on my own, because in my last two deliveries, even with my natural birth, the doctor broke my water. When my water broke it was in the height of a contraction so I couldn’t speak, but right after I told everyone. Nancy asked to feel what was going on. She did, but nearly right as she pulled her hand back up out of the water I pushed twice and his head came out! She felt again and told everyone the head is out and there was no cord around his neck (remember no one could really see what was going on because I was kneeling, with the skirt on, and it was very dim lighting).

I rested for maybe 20-30 seconds; then one more push brought out the rest of his body. I flipped over so quickly and reached down to pull him up to my chest! He was born at 4:14 a.m. Wow, what a relief. He and I both let out a cry! Nancy and David helped me get my shirt off so he could be skin-to-skin, and wrapped us both in a warm towel. Then all was calm. It was so surreal – I just delivered my own baby, myself!

2

Nancy said, “Wow, that was fast!” Just a minute after that, Cannon walked in rubbing his eyes. They lit up when he saw what I was holding; what perfect timing. Since Cannon had awakened I told David he should probably go wake Abram up. He went upstairs and got him, although he was sound asleep. Both of the boys leaned against the pool to touch their new brother.

3

Only a few minutes went by and with a little effort the placenta was passed. The older boys acted as if it was just whatever – it didn’t faze them a bit; in fact, at one point, Abram said, “Mama can you get out of that tub so we can go somewhere?” Yes, just minutes after birth, at like 4:30 a.m.! I sat in the tub for 20 minutes or so and latched baby on to nurse for the first time. Eventually we let the older boys cut the umbilical cord; they each got a snip, then I passed baby to his daddy. They all went to the couch to check him out while the midwives helped me out of the tub, and to the bed.

4

Nancy did her assessments on me and decided a shot of Pitocin would be good to slow bleeding, which I was fine with, and I felt really good! Meanwhile, Edie drained the tub, cleaned up supplies and got the house probably cleaner than it had been before they arrived. David brought me the baby to nurse and went to cook breakfast, while the older boys went upstairs to watch a movie. He brought me breakfast in bed and we watched Nancy do her newborn assessment, APGAR scores and measurements. He was 7lbs 15oz and 20¾” long, with a head full of dark hair just like his brothers. Once they were done they finished packing up and went over some postpartum instructions, asked if we had any questions, and were out the door by 9 a.m., so we were able to enjoy our new family of five! Our older boys lay down around 1:30 p.m. to nap, and David and I said we were going to too, but we just couldn’t. We sat around and talked about the whole event for nearly three hours – how amazing and how natural and mostly how easy everything was being in the comfort of our own home.

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Afterthoughts

Although David claimed I made it look easy, labor was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done; but of course, it’s also the most rewarding thing also. Even though it’s probably not a good thing, I had so many expectations for this birth; I had talked about it, prayed about it and dreamt about it for months – well, really, a few years. And to my surprise, it really and truly couldn’t have gone any more perfectly. Nancy returned the next day and after she did assessments on us both, she asked me if I would change anything if I could; and I answered, “Absolutely nothing. It was purely magical.”

Raleigh Birth Photography | Home Birth | Mattis from Amanda Ditzel on Vimeo.

Photographs by Raleigh Birth Photography.

The Birth of Robinson Blake Sylvester: Part I

The Birth of Robinson Blake Sylvester: Part I

Kara shares with us the powerful story of her son’s birth.

In October 2015, we found out we were expecting our fourth little miracle. It was a definite surprise to us, coming sooner than we had planned. There was no trying, or medications, or hoping month after month like the last time. It was definitely not our timing at work, but God’s timing, perfect as always. We quickly became excited, especially after seeing how joyful our three daughters were when they heard the news. Our youngest, Sybil, was 16 months at the time, which would make her newly two when she became a big sister. Although that is a fairly good age gap, it was much closer than our others, so new for us. However, I knew if anyone could handle it, it would be my happy, independent, chatterbox Sybbie.

The pregnancy went well. We were planning for our third home birth (Tessa was a hospital birth) with our lovely midwife, Brande, and her assistant, Malory. All three girls were born in the 39th week, so we assumed our fourth would be about the same, or maybe even earlier.

The end of my pregnancy had a few ups and downs. Bryan and I took a trip in my 38th week, and I ended up very sick with dehydration and sun poisoning. This lead to a hospital visit with IV fluids and a UTI – not a very fun way to wrap up a pregnancy. I ended up having pretty awful anxiety during this time. I was feeling so terribly, and was so afraid that I would go into labor feeling so sick. I didn’t think I had the strength for both. I was sick for a good 10 days, nervous all the time that the baby was coming. It didn’t, however. Baby stayed put, and my outlook began to change. I felt better physically, emotionally, and mentally and I knew I was ready to take on this birth when it happened.

By this time, I was nearing my due date of July 4, 2016. We thought I would surely have the baby the weekend before the 4th and we would be cuddling a newborn as fireworks blasted outside. How surprised we were when the day came and subsequently passed. Never had I been pregnant on a due date! And then another day passed, and another, and another… Bryan was wondering if he would ever get to stop going in to work every morning!

I remember a few days after my due date, it was early morning, and there was a big, booming thunderstorm. All the girls were cuddled up in our bed with us, and we all took turns telling the baby that it was safe to come out and that we were all so excited to meet them. That today would be a great day for a birthday. It was such a sweet moment. But still, baby waited.

I went to bed early the night of July 8th. I wanted to have energy and rest just in case baby would come that night. I felt totally normal. I hadn’t really had many practice contractions throughout the entire pregnancy. I was feeling good and positive, but not at all like I would be heading in to labor soon. It was a Friday night, so Bryan was home for the weekend. We hoped he wouldn’t be going back on Monday morning!

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 9 with a nice, strong wave. Even through the fog of sleepiness, I knew within the first second that this was it. There is something about a “real” contraction – it’s not that is more painful or stronger than a practice one… It’s just real and somehow your body and brain knows that. I decided to try and go back to sleep. I was woken up again about 10-15 minutes later with another. I got up to use the bathroom and tried again to go back to bed. The same pattern happened again. Around 4:00 a.m., I woke Bryan to tell him I was getting in the shower and that I was definitely going to have our baby today.

I took my shower, and Bryan got out of bed after that. Around 4:30, I decided to call my friend/doula/birth assistant Malory and let her know what was going on. She was excited and told me to update her in the next hour. At this point, Bryan was timing my waves, and they were right at 3-4 minutes apart. They were getting more intense and I was starting to vocalize through them. Instead of waiting the hour to update Malory, I texted her 10 minutes later and asked her to head our way.

The next 45 minutes was just Bryan and me. It was a really special and memorable time for me. The sun was rising, pink and blue and orange, and we were out on our back deck talking and taking breaks through contractions. It was going to be a hot July day, but the morning was mild and cool. The birds were all singing happily and even a bat swooped down, chirping all around us. It was a truly beautiful start to labor, as I moaned loudly through waves with the sun rising over the cornfield behind us. Our girls were all still in bed, unaware that today was the day they would have a new baby to love.

At some point I lit my candles from my Blessingway, and posted in my group of mommas, asking for them to light their candles as well, and send positive labor thoughts my way.

My photographer, Amanda, was leaving on vacation this morning. I was so sad in the previous days that she was going to possibly miss the birth. I wasn’t sure what time she was leaving, so just decided at the last minute to send her a text and check if she could come for awhile before leaving on her trip. Little did I know, she had decided that if I called after 5:00 a.m., she wouldn’t be able to make it. I texted her at 4:45 asking her if she could come. It was such a crazy coincidence that she made it. I was literally overjoyed when she said she was on the way…Nothing like the last minute!

I also called Brande, my midwife, around 5:00 to let her know today was baby day. She told me to have Malory give her an update once she arrived. I called my mom as well to let her know to head over (and bring donuts!). She was the caregiver for the girls.

Malory arrived at about 5:30 a.m., and I was so happy to see her. We made coffee and joked with Bryan. She came outside with us and supported me through my waves, which were still about 3-4 minutes apart and quickly gaining in intensity. I remember at some point thinking “I hope I have the baby by 10:00 a.m.” and then Bryan jokingly saying “We could still be doing this at 10:00 p.m.!”… He got a death glare for that one. Our neighbor was also outside, and had quite a puzzled look each time I started moaning.

After this, Amanda arrived to take photos and my midwife Brande arrived as well, quietly setting up her equipment. My mom came, and the girls started waking up one by one. First Baby Sybil, who was a bit nervous when she saw all of the people and heard momma making loud sounds. She quickly woke up though, had some breakfast, and joined the fun. Then Tessa woke up, and woke up Nadia as well saying, “Mom’s in labor!”. Nadia didn’t believe her at first, until she came up and saw for herself. They all got dressed in their “Big Sister” shirts and were set to meet their baby. The big girls said since this was their second and third times being at a birth, it was pretty easy for them.

By this time it was around 6:30 a.m. My contractions were pretty intense by now, and I was making really deep, loud, long noises through them. I remember calling for Malory if one started and she wasn’t right next to me. She did an amazing job of reminding me to breathe between moans, and her presence calmed me. Each wave I would close my eyes and go somewhere else. I thought a lot of the ocean. I felt pretty calm and centered at this point. It was almost like I was seeing it all play out in my mind. I could tell myself what was coming next.

I thought I may be close to transition, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up, either. I started to get that far away feeling, shaking my head no, and saying I couldn’t do it. I then let myself believe that yes, transition was coming, and I completely released myself to it. Even though there were people around me, I felt so deep within myself. I felt focused and in my own head during waves. There was my body, doing all the work, knowing how to do it, and doing it well, and there was my brain, always with a bit of doubt and disbelief, but telling me that it was ok, and knowing deep down that I would soon meet my baby.

My contractions were close together now. I could feel my baby’s body moving so far down. I could feel the head coming into my pelvis with each wave. I remembered to stay loose in my throat and jaw and bottom and voice as I walked throughout the house.

During one contraction, I was walking down the hallway, moaning low and long. I turned around, and my sweet two-year-old Sybil was following right behind me, moaning with her eyes closed as well, making everyone giggle. I told myself through the next wave, that I was giving my daughters such a beautiful gift. Time after time they saw normal birth, and the sheer strength and capability of a woman and her body.

Read Part II of Robinson’s birth story here.

Photographs by Amanda E Photography

4 Practical Tips for Capturing the Essence of Your Birth Story

4 Practical Tips for Capturing the Essence of Your Birth Story

birth photographer, birth photography

Giving birth in a few week’s time? You must be excited to see your little bundle of joy.

Why not make the most out of your birthing experience by documenting it? You can preserve the best memories of your birth story with a photo book or a photo collage printed on photo paper, metal, canvas, or acrylic. It will make for a lovely keepsake that you and your family can look back on and treasure as years go by.

Whether you plan to hire a seasoned maternity photographer to capture the process or ask a family member to do it for you, here are a few things you can do to make sure that everything will go smoothly:

1. Choose the right photographer.

Not every mom can take her own birthing photos. So look for a birth photographer on the internet and ask your friends for recommendations. Once you’ve rounded up your list, talk to each one of them. Get to know a bit about them and how they work. Make sure you feel comfortable being around your chosen photographer. Remember, the photographer will cover a very private moment of your life (and see your private parts, too), so make sure you choose someone you can trust, not just someone with good reviews.

2. Make sure that correct camera settings will be used.

If someone who’s not a professional photographer, like a family member or friend, will take photos of your delivery, remind him to avoid using the flash. Lighting is not exactly flattering inside hospital rooms or any enclosed areas, but compensating with flash will make your photos look unnatural. A workaround for this is to set the ISO high enough for shooting in low light.

Also, make sure that the camera has a shutter speed faster than 1/250 for good exposure and sharp images. In terms of aperture, select within the ISO range from 800 to 1600 to avoid blurry images.

3. Plan out your shots in advance.

A few weeks before your expected due date, sit down with the person who will be taking your photos and let him know the kind of shots that you want.

Also try to take practice shots. For example, if you plan to have a homebirth or water birth, ask your husband or friend to take practice shots of you in the bed or birth pool where you plan to give birth in your home just to see how the light and shadow will play in your photos.

You can also look at pegs from other birth photography sites and magazines for inspiration.

4. Focus on the emotions.

More than good lighting and photography techniques, you should also ask the photographer to capture the whirl of emotions that will transpire that day. You’ll remember the memories of your childbirth more vividly when you see the mood and emotions that day captured in pictures.

Ask him to take multiple candid shots of you holding your baby or your husband seeing your baby for the first time. A shot of the baby crying as the midwife or doctor holds your baby up for everyone to see can also be heartwarming. If you’ll have a doula or birth supporter with you that day, you might want to ask your photographer to capture moments of her helping you.

There’s beauty in every woman’s birth story with or without photos to accompany it. But having photos of your birthing process weaves your story better, making it more relatable and inspiring to every expectant parent out there.

Author bio

Lacey Hauptman is a freelance writer and budding travel photographer. She has been doing freelance writing since 2009, and has written extensively on the subjects of digital marketing, travel photography, and home design. You can find her on Google+ and Twitter.

Positive Support for Pregnant Mamas with Breech Babies

Positive Support for Pregnant Mamas with Breech Babies

birth without fear, breech birth, breech, frank breech, footling breech, pregnant, birth, childbirthI have written before how a breech baby is another variation of normal. Having a breech presentation does not mean you automatically need to schedule a c-section. Remember, our babies are wise and know just how they need to be for birth. Most of the time, babies will turn, even late in pregnancy and labor!!!  You can read my other post for more thoughts, support and ideas here.

I want to share a few breech birth videos for inspiration. My first baby was breech and everyone I talked to said, “Sure, you can have a vaginal breech birth, but if it goes bad, it will do so fast.” Not very encouraging. I had no where to turn to for POSITIVE support. I did have a c-section after doing everything I could to help baby turn. I had to fight for that opportunity.

So, if you are finding yourself pregnant with a breech baby that is not turning, you have our support and you do have options, one of them being cesarean birth.

As always, consult with your midwife or doctor and remember you can change providers. Assisting in breech deliveries has become a lost art, but there are those who are skilled and experienced in doing so.

From Panic to Joy – Unassisted Birth in the Car!

From Panic to Joy – Unassisted Birth in the Car!

Let me start by saying I have planned an all natural childbirth (no pain medications) from the beginning, and lied to anyone who asked if I was planning all natural. We hired a doula around 16 weeks pregnant and sat in several hours of childbirth classes. We felt prepared.

On Thursday, June 9th, we (David and I) went to the Albertville Farmers Market from 3-6 to sell pork and eggs. Afterwards we ate at Maters with my sister, Anna and her kids. The first contraction came while they were paying the bill. We had to go by Anna’s when we left and then to CVS to buy pads because my mucus plug had started coming out that morning. While David was in CVS the contractions got a little stronger, I started timing them. Five minutes apart lasting one minute each, which is when my doctor said to come to the hospital. They were manageable though. When David got back in the car I told him we needed to get home fast.

I text my doula, Courtney, she asked me to time contractions for five minutes and let her know how they were. After three minutes I text her describing them and how often they were coming, she replied that she was going to go ahead and make her way to our house. That’s the moment I realized this was the real deal and started to cry, I could tell my husband got very nervous, too, but was trying to be strong for me. Courtney lives within 15 minutes of the hospital, so I joked that we should just meet her at the hospital instead of her driving an hour north to see us just to turn around and go back.

Contractions continued to get a little stronger. She arrived at the house at 9:15. At 10:00pm she mentioned that I might want to go to the hospital because contractions were getting worse, and quickly. David wanted me to labor at home a little while longer but I felt like it was time to go. David knew once we got to the hospital if I didn’t progress as fast as they wanted then interventions would start. He wanted to avoid that.

We were in the car by 10:20 heading to the hospital an hour away from our house. Right when we got out of town I told David she was coming. He of course didn’t believe me. By this time contractions were bad, actually horrible. I kept yelling at David to get me to the hospital and asked a million times how much longer, he would reply “Not much longer, you’re doing great.” I had emailed him birth affirmations that week and asked him to read them with each contraction. I’m so glad I did; each one he said helped me so much. Courtney was following us to the hospital and had suggested I ride in the backseat so I could squat on the floor… thank goodness she did! I started praying that God would help me because I knew we weren’t going to make it to the hospital. David was driving almost 100 MPH, but when we finally passed by a shopping mall and I knew we were no where close to the hospital.

That’s when I let go and let my body take over. I yelled at David again that she was coming and he needed to pull over. He wouldn’t. I finally had the courage to reach down and feel if she was crowning or not. I felt the water sac, it felt like a water ballon hanging between my legs. With the next contraction it broke and my daughter came out in my hands. I guided her out and in to my pants. It was 11pm, it was so dark I couldn’t see anything, I was terrified to lift her up onto my chest not knowing what I was grabbing or if I would somehow hurt her if I didn’t pick her up correctly.

David immediately pulled over and called 911, Courtney followed. I opened the door and yelled for Courtney, she grabbed our daughter up out of my pants and realize the cord was wrapped around her neck twice and tight. Courtney took over and tried desperately to remove the cord. After what seemed like several minutes she was finally able to remove it. I held our blue, what looked like lifeless daughter, talking to her, putting her to my breast, rubbing her, trying anything to get her to breath. Courtney took her from me and tried some things she has seen a midwife do, which included breathing into our daughter’s mouth.

She immediately took in Courtney’s breath and started turning pink. I got our daughter back and she let out a loud beautiful cry.

Without the support of my husband and the natural childbirth class we had taken I never would have been prepared for our daughter’s birth.

birth in car, unassisted birth

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breech

Originally written 10/29/2010.

With my first child, I knew I wanted a natural birth. I chose the local birth center and hired the team of midwives. I attended my regular appointments and the birth classes they offered. Starting around 30 weeks I questioned the position of my baby. I asked three of the midwives at three different appointments if they could tell if my baby was head down. I was overweight at the time and did not think palpation was enough to determine her position. On midwife #3, I requested that we check it out and she agreed.

At my ultrasound appointment and 36 weeks pregnant, I was not shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Yep, she is breech.” I was not surprised, but I was devastated. This was not something I was educated about or prepared for. Looking back, I was just along for the ride. Big mistake. My doula told me there was still time for her to turn, but not being educated about this, I wasn’t sure.

I started asking my midwives, chiropractors and friends about breech vaginal birth. All I received were mixed answers and usually, “Yes, it can be done, but if something goes wrong it will happen fast. Why take the risk?!” I did a few things, like hanging upside down frequently and handstands in the pool. My chiropractor did the Webster technique, as it has a high success rate in giving babies more room to turn head down. At 39 weeks I had an inversion done. Let me tell you that is painful and unnatural. Wouldn’t do it again.

Finally at 39 weeks I met with a good OB. My husband and I decided to have a c-section because we knew the OB was there to do it (he was in a practice with 16 docs). It was a very emotional ride and left me wondering why there wasn’t more information or support of breech birth.

If you are trying to educate yourself more or are finding yourself in this situation, you might be asking, “What can I do differently? I need more information!” I am here to provide just that for you. Educate yourself, pray about it (or meditate) and make the best choice for you and your baby. Be strong and get the right support.

So, you find out that your baby is breech. What now?

Don’t panic! It’s going to be OK. Your baby is breech for a reason. (S)he may or may not turn and can do so even right before birth. So, be patient.

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breechWhich breech presentation is your baby favoring? There are three common types.

  • Frank Breech, which tends to be the most favorable. This is when baby’s bottom presents first and feet are by the head.
  • Footling Breech is when baby has one or both feet presenting first.
  • Complete Breech is when your baby is comfy sitting cross legged.

There are things you can do to help baby turn if that is what baby wants. Remember, your baby knows best what position to be in for his/her birth. Look into the following options:

Even when you decide to have faith in your body and your baby, you still want to be prepared and know how to help him/her gently enter this world. Here are some things to consider and research.

  • Know and be firm in your knowledge that a breech baby does not automatically mean c-section.
  • Make sure your OB or midwife is 100% on board and does not fear breech birth.
  • Always listen to YOUR intuition. If you have a fear, process it. If someone else does, don’t waiver in your faith. Trust your gut!
  • When birthing, get in a favorable position like standing, squatting, or even hand and knees (unless your body is telling you different).
  • Read a lot of great breech birth stories! Here is one with awesome pictures.
  • Do NOT let anyone (your midwife, spouse, doula, OB, etc.) pull on baby!
  • Something to educate yourself on further is making sure baby’s head is birthed before they start breathing. The book Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White was helpful for me.
  • Have a back up plan. There is nothing wrong with having one.  Don’t focus on it, but know it’s there. Continue to have faith that your vaginal birth will be wonderful and successful.
  • If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: even if you have a c-section, WAIT. Wait for baby to start labor. I say this for two reasons. First, you will know for sure that your baby is ready to be earthside. Second, is that you have given your baby every chance to turn head down. In hindsight, my first baby was born at least 3 weeks early as all my other babies have been born between 42-44 weeks!

A baby that is breech is not an automatic dangerous situation or cesarean. Breech babies have different risk factors and those should be discussed with your care provider, so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your baby and birth, with their support.

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

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