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A Healing Home Birth After a Fourth Degree Tear: Part One

A Healing Home Birth After a Fourth Degree Tear: Part One

I always knew I would have natural childbirths. My mom had four very fast labors and delivered naturally. My sister followed in her footsteps. Childbirth wasn’t something that I feared. It is a normal bodily function that women have been doing for thousands of years! I would just be another one of those women…

When I got pregnant with my first son, I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. It confirmed for me that childbirth is a normal thing, but it also introduced the idea of homebirth. Before reading it I had already chosen an OB practice that was part of the hospital group that I worked for, so financially it made sense to me at the time to just deliver with them at the hospital. I knew that my mom, who has over thirty years of experience as a labor and delivery nurse, along with my husband would be with me for delivery. So even though I liked the idea of a homebirth, I thought I would just go into the hospital and stick to my guns about having an intervention free birth.

Well the day after my due date, I woke up to my water “breaking” – it was more of a slow leak than a gush. It was a Saturday, so we spent the day doing normal Saturday things. I bounced on my birth ball, went to our friend’s son’s first birthday party, just waiting for contractions to pick up. Around 4pm I had my first decent “gush” of water, so I called the OB to tell her my water had broken. She advised me to go to the hospital, because I was GBS positive and would need to have antibiotics, especially since my water had broken.

We got to the hospital around 6pm. I told them that my water had broken at 4pm, because I wanted to give my body more time for labor to start on its own and I knew I was going to be getting antibiotics anyway, so the chance of infection was greatly reduced. Since it was a weekend my doctor was a first year resident and my OB, who had I met once or twice during my whole pregnancy, was on call for when labor picked up. This wasn’t a huge deal to me, because like I said, I had only met my OB a couple of times; I wasn’t really attached to her. Plus, the nurses are the ones you spend most of the time with anyway.

BUT this resident lost my respect quickly. The first time she came into my room she told me she wanted to start Pitocin immediately, because they wanted babies to be delivered within 12 hours of the water being broken. That did not go over very well with me, or my mom. We knew that the most conservative recommendations are 24 hours, some even going to 48 or 72 hours. She had nothing to say when we pointed out these recommendations. This pissed me off for two reasons – first, because she lied to ME and lost all accountability as my provider, and second, because she has most likely lied to a lot of other mothers who trusted her at her word. Not every woman in labor has a mother with them who has over 30 years of experience in the field.

So I was able to hold off the Pitocin until 6am the following morning when I was only 2cm dilated after walking the halls of the hospital all night long. Luckily labor progressed very quickly after that. I was checked a little before 10am, after contractions got really intense, and was 5cm. About ten minutes later I was pushing! What a relief pushing was! It felt great! It was absolutely exhausting and took all of my energy to push, but it also took away the pain of the contraction.

I had coached pushing. The nurses were counting to ten while I pushed and did that three times during each contraction. Around 7 or 8 I wanted to stop pushing. Every. single. time. It did not feel natural to me to push like that and looking back I wish I would have just yelled, “SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE!” But I didn’t.

Unfortunately, I just think nurses/OBs/even some midwives just don’t know any better. They think that’s the way it’s supposed to happen. My nurses were wonderful and were not rushing me at all. And my mom, who like I mentioned was a labor and delivery nurse for decades, was even counting, too. With so many people in hospitals having epidurals or pain meds, I don’t think nurses or OBs see a lot of natural childbirth, so they don’t know how it could be if a woman just listened to her body. I pushed and pushed like they were telling me to do for three and a half hours. His head was just not coming. I tried all kinds of positions – side lying, all fours, squatting, squatting while pulling on a rope…I was exhausted. I’m talking like I was falling asleep between contractions, then waking up to push, then falling back asleep exhausted.

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The OB came in and said she knew I didn’t want a C-section, but he just wasn’t coming. She thought using a vacuum was the best thing to do. Did I mention I was exhausted? Honestly if she would have walked in the door and said, “We need to do a C-section.” I would have said, “OK.” That is why it is so important to have a birth plan, a provider you trust, and loved ones who know what you want, because in labor, especially at the end, you don’t have the strength to do anything else but labor. I’m not saying I did not need a vacuum at that point, because I did. I had exhausted myself too much to push him out on my own. I was three and a half hours too late for that. If I could go back and change one thing about his birth (there are many, but this is the biggest), I would not have had coached pushing. I would have just listened to my body and pushed with its urges. If I had done that, I don’t think I would have needed the vacuum.

The OB gave me a pudendal nerve block, episiotomy, and used the vacuum to pull him out. I didn’t feel a thing. Nothing. I had my eyes closed while pushing and they had to tell me to open them when he was born. It was 1:26pm. Abram Jonathan (AJ) was 7 lbs 8oz and 20.5 in. I don’t even remember seeing him after he was born. I had asked for immediate skin to skin and delayed cord clamping, but because she used the vacuum she said she had to cut it right away so he could be taken over to the NICU team on the other side of the room to be examined. Again, I was exhausted and had no fight in me, so I said, “Ok.”

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It took about thirty minutes to stitch me up because of the 4th degree tear that I had, and almost all of that time, my son was laying in the little plastic box thing, being cleaned, weighed, etc. I’m pretty sure my mom and husband held him before I did. At that point, I honestly didn’t care. I was so exhausted that I was barely awake and I think I might have been in a little bit of a state of shock. It wasn’t until after my second son was born that I really realized how awful my experience was. I mean don’t get me wrong, I knew it wasn’t great, but I didn’t realize how traumatizing it really was.

Emotionally I was somehow fine after his birth. I had such a great support system with my husband, mom, and in-laws that I didn’t go through any postpartum depression. Physically, I healed very well. I think my OB did a great job of stitching me back up, so that really helped with my healing. They had me doing Kegels right away to help the blood flow to the area and promote healing. I also had my mom with me for two and a half weeks after his birth to help around the house. It still took nine months to feel completely “back to normal,” but compared to other moms who have had a 4th degree tear, that isn’t very long at all. Some moms have permanent damage and need multiple surgeries after. Some are still not able to have sex even years later, because it is too painful.

Something that I wish I would have done after his birth was see a pelvic floor specialist and start pelvic floor therapy. I was never referred to a specialist and looking back I think it should be routine for all women who have had a severe tear to see one, and to do therapy. Even though I may feel great now, there is always the thought in the back of my mind about how I might be in a couple of decades. All of our pelvic floors weaken as we get older, so what kind of problems could I be facing later in life?

After my son was born, I knew that I never wanted to have another birth like that again. Even before I got pregnant a second time, I was researching homebirths. A C-section never crossed my mind for my next birth, because I knew that there were things that I could do differently. I trusted my body. I didn’t feel like my body had failed me.


Please visit tomorrow to read part two of this story.

Quinlan’s Birth Story

Quinlan’s Birth Story

It took me over a month to write my son, Sawyer’s, birth story. There was so much to process. Some parts were so traumatic and others felt triumphant. I spent over a year in therapy after his birth, to work through my anger and fears associated with the violation that came with being physically and verbally assaulted through my labor. The on call OB had been very resentful of my natural birth plan when we had to transfer, due to Sawyer’s early entrance at 35 plus weeks. Knowing that the OB can no longer accept transfers and had to go through a medical board hearing gave me a small peace of mind, but many emotions were still looming over my head when we started trying to get pregnant for the second time, at 18 months postpartum.

The next month, we were pregnant. We were still nursing and I have irregular cycles due to P.C.O.S., so I was shocked that things happened as quickly as they did. I went back on the hunt for a midwife, asking many more questions this time. I was looking for someone who wasn’t afraid of a challenge, someone who could help me work through my fears, and accomplish my goal of another natural birth, despite my fears. After interviewing three awesome midwives, I met Christy, and knew she was the one, despite being the furthest away from our home.

The pregnancy was very different from my first in many ways. I was much sicker than I had been with my son and the heartburn was so intense! I tried to rest, as much as one can with a two year old, and maintained a very limited work schedule. At 23 and 29 weeks, I lost a piece of my mucous plug. It was the exact same timing as I had with my son. I opted out of cervical checks this time, hoping the lack of stimulation might help me go a little longer, but I started preparing for a possible early arrival.

We decided to do a Mother’s Blessing way this time. I felt like I could use all the support and encouragement I could get from my mama friends as time got closer. A pendant was made with positive messages and birth affirmations. There was also a lovely bead ceremony where everyone said how we met, attributes they admired, hopes for the upcoming birth, and why they chose the bead. It was one of the most emotional and spiritual things I had ever done. I feel like every woman should get the honor of being surrounded by the people they love and be uplifted by that. We strung the beads together and I wore them through the birth.

At 33 weeks, I met with a resonance re-patterning therapist who helped me clear some more of the birth fears. I had never done it before, but Christy recommended it. We met over three hours. At the end of the session she told me I needed to write down a list of affirmations and tuck them into a safe place. She said I would need them at some point in the labor to confirm that I was making the right decision, not coming from a place of fear. I didn’t think much of it and tucked it into my nearly packed birth kit.

At 34 weeks on the dot, I was scheduled to teach a makeup class to mothers. When my mother came over to keep my son, I commented that the baby felt low. The class went well and was hosted in a beautiful home. The last 30 minutes of the class, someone dropped a glass of red wine on a beautiful, white wool rug. A few minutes later, a bottle of tequila was dropped on the glass kitchen table. The bottle didn’t break, but a big hunk of the table broke off! My friend, who had hired me said, “These things come in threes! I hope your water doesn’t break!” I told her to knock on wood! We rode back out of town together and I came in to snuggle and nurse my two year old.

I felt a small gush and knew that my water had broken. It was very strange, because my son’s labor had been 60 hours and the only intervention I asked for was to break my water. I called my mother and midwife who were really hoping that it was just pee. I told them that pee doesn’t come from that particular area. I was hoping for a high tear and that maybe it would repair itself so we could stay home as long as possible. Every so often another uncontrollable gush would happen. I hopped in the shower to slow things down and collect my thoughts. I asked my husband to get in with me and he sat behind me, holding me so I could gain the strength I needed to move forward.

Contractions started coming every 45 minutes, then 30, then 15, then 3. We decided to go to the closest hospital, which also had an excellent NICU. I called one of my clients, who works as the head nurse practitioner of the NICU, and asked her to see who the doctor on call was. She told me I was in very good hands and I got ready to face my biggest fear, another hospital birth. I remembered the paper in my birth kit and read over it twice. I wiped my tears and we headed out.

When we got to the hospital, I opted to take the stairs. I think my husband and mother thought I was crazy, but I knew this labor was going much faster than my last and I needed it to move quickly before I could get caught up in my own head. I had one cervical check the whole labor. I came in the hospital at 100% effaced and 6cm dilated. My last labor, it had taken me 3 days to reach 6cm. This birth, it had taken about 3 hours.

The nurse was very pushy about paperwork and consent forms, which was a huge trigger for me, due to my last birth experience. We argued through contractions and I finally sent my mother out of the room to talk with her. Whatever she said changed the nurse’s attitude and I signed the papers not really worrying about it this time, because I knew this baby would be here soon.

I started squatting through contractions and holding onto the bed, vocalizing through the contractions. My midwife showed up around the time things started getting more intense. Since my first son was posterior until shortly before birth, the back labor was awful and everyone took turns doing counter pressure as hard as they could. This time, I did not want to be touched at all, so my poor husband, who thought he knew what to expect this time, was thrown yet another curve ball.

At some point, I got onto my hands and knees on the floor and started rocking my hips. I knew it wouldn’t be too much longer. I hadn’t met the doctor yet, and thought she might not make it in time. I pondered this for a moment and decided that it didn’t really matter, because I had the people I needed right there in the room! I decided not to say anything. Shortly after that, I got an overwhelming sensation that I had to use the bathroom. “I have to poop!” I said. My midwife grabbed a bed pad and laid it underneath me. I was squatting and felt the head moving down. Just then, a tiny piece of poop came out. My midwife looked over and said, “That is the tiniest turd I have even seen!” We both died laughing, as babies head kept moving down. My midwife asked if I could reach in and feel the head, trying to see how far away we were from go time. I got one joint of my finger in and felt the head. As I said this, my mother asked if I felt any hair. My two year old is still pretty much bald. I told her I hadn’t noticed as I was kind of busy trying to have a baby right then!

The urge to push was getting stronger and the doctor must have heard I was getting close, because she came in and was all business. Here I am, on my hands and knees, butt towards the door, and she asks me how I would like to deliver. “On my hands and knees,” I said. She showed no emotion, but told me that was fine, but we would NOT be delivering on the floor! I then looked up at the hospital bed, which had suddenly become as tall as Mount Everest. Somehow, I climbed up and it was time to start pushing.

Since my first had ended in an unnecessary third degree episiotomy against my written and verbal consent, staying on my hands and knees made me feel grounded and less vulnerable. I did not want any coaching on how and when to push and I think everyone instinctually knew that. My midwife and husband stayed by my head, holding my hands, and giving me encouragement. They helped my tones stay low, so I could harness my energy on pushing. My mother and doctor stayed at the foot of the bed, watching the baby descend. My mother was very excited to see that the baby had hair and was so ready for me to push baby out, but I stayed calm and pushed slowly and on my terms. I needed to move with my body’s instincts and did not want to tear after my last experience. I pushed through the pain and slowed things down as she was crowning. The body quickly followed the head and they cut the cord, which I was bummed about, to take her over to the NICU team.

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Yes, it was a girl! We hadn’t found out the gender and were thrilled to find out she was a beautiful little girl. She weighed 4 pounds 14 oz and was 17 and ¼ inches long. She was actually bigger than her brother, who had come at nearly 36 weeks. She had some trouble breathing on her own, and I got to see her a few minutes before she began her 12 day stint in the NICU. She is now two weeks old and home with her family, nursing like a champ, and growing every day. While her birth wasn’t the dreamy, home, water birth that I had been dreaming of, it was healing in its own right. I faced my biggest fear of another hospital birth and had a beautiful birth on my own terms, in my own way. I am proud that I accomplished another natural hospital birth and that I am able to show hospital providers what birth can look like.

Natural Birth: Conquered with Type 1 Diabetes, Polyhydramnios, Macrosomia, and Shoulder Dystocia

Natural Birth: Conquered with Type 1 Diabetes, Polyhydramnios, Macrosomia, and Shoulder Dystocia

The night before Kate’s birthday, I left work early. I’d been having contractions for weeks, but something was different that night. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but knew I needed to get home and get to bed.

A little background: I was getting so many contractions due to having severe polyhydramnios. I had almost double the amount of amniotic fluid than a normal pregnancy would have. The doctor had placed me on Nifedipine to slow the contractions in the hopes of getting me to 37 weeks, which I was still 5 days away from.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. I literally did not sleep one wink. I was beyond uncomfortable – so full, so tight, so restless. I tried every possible position, on every piece of furniture. I tried walking, reading, relaxation tapes, and solitaire. Nothing worked. This was a whole new level of discomfort; I had crossed into “the miserable.”

As the morning sunlight filtered through my living room windows, and I was faced with another day of tortuous, preggo anguish, I broke down. I cried that cry of frustration, of discouragement. That cry when you realize there is nothing you can do to change your situation. All you can do is wait and endure.

And pray. So I prayed, out loud – a desperate plea through my tears:

“God please. Please help me. Give me a leak. Something. Anything. Relieve this pressure in my belly. I can’t do this much longer.”

I shuffled into my bedroom, plopped into bed and, amazingly, I fell asleep. About an hour later I awoke and found myself lying in a puddle.

Ummm. What. Is. This. My water?! Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh…Don’t panic.

I totally panicked.

I slowly got out of bed to use the bathroom and fluid gushed out of me and proceeded to gush with every step I took.

Holy smokes, this is the real deal.

I hurriedly walked across the house to the hubs office and, through my shaking voice and trembling body, informed him of the news. I called Laura, my doula, and then called Dr. B, who had graciously given me his cell number. He was excited and said it would be best to get to the hospital soon as this was my second baby and things could progress pretty quickly. Hard contractions hadn’t really kicked into gear yet, but I didn’t want to take any chances. So off we went.

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The ride there was a mixed bag of emotions. One moment I was crying and saying, “I’m not ready! I’m not ready!” The next moment I was relieved, knowing we’d get to meet our baby girl soon and this discomfort would finally come to an end. I prayed for good nurses and that I could progress through labor naturally. Since I was still almost four weeks from my due date, there was a chance my body wouldn’t progress and would need some form of induction, which I was hoping to avoid. I kept reading my affirmation list, trying to stay positive and focused.

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We got checked into triage, the nurse checked me and I was only 1cm. Dang it! She made the comment that they would “let” me try to progress on my own for “about four hours,” before inducing labor. I knew that had to be bogus, four hours is nothing and my water hadn’t been broken for too long! I couldn’t wait for her to call my Dr. He knew the plan, he knew my wishes, my fears, my anxieties, my concerns. Then Laura arrived and my anxiety instantly lowered.  I knew I needed her to help keep me focused and calm and get me through another med-free birth. (If you’re on the fence about getting a doula, HIRE THE DOULA. They are worth every penny.) They admitted me to a labor room, started an IV for antibiotics, due to being GBS positive, and also hooked me up to the monitors.

(A note about monitoring: Protocol usually states, as a diabetic, I need to be continuously monitored – meaning I’m practically tied to the bed. The. Entire. Time. This is the worst thing for someone trying to go without pain meds. I needed to be able to pace the room, walk the halls, get in the shower. My Dr. knew this and was fine with intermittent monitoring. My by-the-book nurse, however, was not a fan. Thankfully the hospital had wireless monitors, so I could still roam the halls while they kept an eye on baby’s heart rate and my contractions. Once my Dr. showed up, he allowed me to get off the monitors for an hour at a time.)

Then I made the appalling request for food. Slight panic flashed across my nurse’s eyes. (Typically it’s fluids only, in case you need a C-section.) She said no, then called Dr. B at my behest, and sure enough, he allowed me to eat. I’m sorry, but if having a baby is like running a marathon, as one OB told me once, you kind-of need to eat for energy, right?

As far as blood sugar management, the goal was to keep my insulin pump on. I did NOT want an insulin drip.  The worst thing you can do to a diabetic, in my opinion, is take away their control over their own sugars. We checked my blood sugar every hour and I titrated my insulin via my pump as needed. The whole labor I stayed between 70-125! I ate some oatmeal, eggs, crackers, and a fruit leather. I never took any boluses; I just let my basal do the work.

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Early in labor I got a text from Dr. B that read: How you doing mama? Keep those blood sugars perfect so we can keep the pump. You are a super mama!

Seriously? Best. OB. Ever.

Contractions were starting to kick in – very mild, but at least they were present. Hubs and I walked the halls, chilled in the room with Sting and Simon and Garfunkel playing in the background as our labor soundtrack.

Eventually Dr. B showed up, smiling from ear to ear, so excited and energized. Contractions were coming about every three minutes, but I told him they weren’t very intense. He said step it up! Don’t just walk the halls. JOG the halls, lunge the halls, squat, power walk, take a shower – do everything possible to get labor going. NOW.

So we did lots of this:

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(At one point during our run, my pants actually, without warning, fell straight to the ground….right in front of the nurse’s station….in front of Dr. B.  We laughed so hard, but unfortunately it’s not on tape.)

I hate jogging, but I have to say, I was having a blast. We snuck outside, got some fresh air, walked some stairs, and checked out the gift shop. Then we headed back for more jogging around the labor ward, pausing during the stronger contractions to breathe through them and really focus on relaxing my body. The hubs and Laura were at my side the whole time. Laura reminded me to relax my shoulders, hubs held my belly up during contractions to ease the pressure. Mind you, I’m also continuing to gush fluid THE WHOLE TIME, especially during contractions. It was a little ridiculous, running down my legs, onto the floor…it wasn’t slowing down at all.

I remember telling hubs and Laura, “This can’t be labor. I’m having too much fun.” Of course, I knew that would change. At some point Dr. B offered to check me, Laura suggested I decline, as there weren’t really enough signs yet that things had changed significantly. I agreed. Plus, since my water had already broken, the more “checks” I had, the higher the risk for infection. Dr. B went home, instructing us to call if needed.

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Hubs and I jumped in the shower and that’s when things took a turn. Everything intensified dramatically. I had to focus more during contractions and started to turn inward. It was getting real now.

At this point we stayed in the labor room. I paced the room, back and forth and back again, over and over, leaning on my IV pole for support, moaning through the contractions to focus my breath to move the baby downward. At times I said aloud, “I can do this, I am doing this, my body is made for this, I can do this.” Hubs and Laura were encouraging me the whole way, cheering me on.

I was feeling A LOT of pressure down below; I could feel her moving down. The contractions became more and more intense. I kept pacing, pacing, pacing. I would pause at times, during the peak of the contraction, and focus on the leaf pattern on the tile floor, tracing the leaves over and over with my eyes, trying to keep myself distracted from the pain. I was so ready for the nurse to check me, and by this time, miss by-the-book nurse had gone home. I so hoped and prayed that I was getting close. She checked me out and, praise God, I was at 8cm!

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“And…,” the nurse said. “You have a forebag.”

Dr. B had mentioned this earlier in the day. The way I understood it at the time, there are actually two layers of the amniotic sac. The one the baby is in and then the forebag, like an outer layer. Apparently what had ruptured for me was the forebag. So there was another inner bag that had not ruptured yet, the bag that had the baby directly in it. I couldn’t believe it. All this fluid gushing out and the actual sac the baby was in had not even ruptured. Ugggg!

Doc showed up shortly after that and I was faced with a decision. I could continue what I was doing and wait however many hours until the other water bag broke and baby fully engaged, OR I could allow Dr. B to break the bag. He assured me I would go from an 8 to 10cm in almost no time at all, once the bag was ruptured. I knew this meant a significant increase in the intensity of the contractions and…time to push. The whole pregnancy I had been dreading, D-R-E-A-D-I-N-G pushing. Pushing is my arch nemesis. Pushing is my Moriarty, my Kryptonite. I pushed an exhausting two hours with my first baby. It was not enjoyable. I was always out of breath and felt overwhelmed. I was not ready to push. Just writing this brings back all those anxious feelings.

But I decided to go for it. Pop the dang bag and let’s get this baby OUT.

I got in position, contracting, and uncomfortable the whole time. I felt and heard the “pop” and felt, again, the warm gush of fluid. Instantly I was fully effaced and 10cm and could push whenever ready.

Let me just say, the “urge to push” cannot be ignored or suppressed. It’s a full-on, involuntary convulsion. Kind-of like when you vomit – that heaving, retching sensation – except it’s in your vagina, and it hurts.

I tried various positions – leaning on the back of the bed, hands and knees, squatting, side-lying and slightly reclined. Dr. B suggested reclined to get better leverage and I’d have less chance of tearing.

I don’t know how to best describe how I felt during this phase of labor, so I’m just going to be honest:

I totally lost it. I freaked. I panicked. I lost all composure, all focus. I broke down and kept saying, “I can’t do it, I can’t.” What if she’s too big? What if I can’t get her out? What if I’m not strong enough? What if I run out of air?

Everyone around me kept telling me to stay positive and that I was pushing, I was doing it. But I pushed and pushed and wasn’t getting anywhere. Dr. B kept telling me to stop pushing with my face. He showed me where to focus my pushing. So I tried and tried….and got nowhere. I can’t tell you how frustrating and discouraging it all was. I panicked again thinking maybe my sugar was low. Dr. B assured me it wasn’t and he was right. With every contraction the nurse, my doula, the doctor, and my hubs would psych me up hardcore. They would count out loud, “1-2-3-4-5-6, keep pushing, push hard, don’t let it go, 7-8-9-10, take a deep breath, push again. Go! Go! 1-2-3-4….,” and on and on with each contraction. “Push her to the ceiling! 1-2-3-4! Chin to chest!! 5-6-7! Act like you’re pooping, 8-9-10! You got this! You can do this!”  I could never make it all the way to ten; I was losing my breath too quickly and couldn’t focus the energy downward to get her out. I was done for. Dr. B kept telling me I was close, but I didn’t believe him.

I have no idea how much time had passed, but it felt like hours that I was pushing. I was so exhausted, so weak from pushing yet full of adrenaline, my whole body was shaking. It was all at once terrifying and exhilarating. Eventually, by some miracle, I got it right. I started listening to just one voice, the nurse who said, “Push her to the ceiling,” and that worked. She was crowning! Dr. B told me to listen carefully to his voice, because there would come a point where I needed to stop pushing or to push very lightly. I knew if she was indeed a chunky babe, there was a chance of shoulder dystocia (shoulder getting caught on my pubic bone). Her abdomen always measured so massive, I figured the doctor just wanted to go slow for those reasons. Next thing I know the nurse is putting, what seemed like all her weight, onto my pelvic bone and was pushing – freaking HARD. It was like in CPR, when you do chest compressions, except this was on my pelvis. Not pleasant. I continued to focus on Dr. B’s directions as he slowly worked baby out of me.  Hubs and Laura continued their supportive words, “Almost there….She’s got a full head of hair!….You got this….She’s almost out!”  And finally at 9:18pm, nearly 14 hours after my initial water break, baby was officially BORN. Easily the biggest relief of my life.

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Dr. placed her directly on my chest as we all gasped at how huge she was. I knew she’d be big….but she was a tank. I just kept saying, “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! She’s huge! Oh my gosh!” We couldn’t wait to see how much she actually weighed. Unfortunately, we couldn’t wait for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it, because babe needed her shoulder checked ASAP. The nurse took her to the warmer to get vitals and check her shoulder. Her right shoulder was stuck for a full 40 seconds so they needed to make sure she had good tone on that side and there was no nerve damage. She did fine.

Next, the weight: 9lbs 9oz.

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Holy smokes chub.

I attempted to breastfeed her, but she was somewhat lethargic. She scored great on her APGARs (8/9) but her blood sugar was 37. Baby’s blood sugars can run lower than adults, but 37 was pushing it. Also, due to her being almost four weeks early, she had trouble with the whole suck/swallow/breathe routine. Because of all of this, they suggested trying some formula to get something in her to bring up her sugars and then maybe she would be more interested in breastfeeding. She managed to get some of that down. All the while, Dr. B tended to my wounds.

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As soon as baby and that lovely placenta were out, Dr. gave me Cytotec and started Pitocin in my IV, as Laura gently massaged my uterus to minimize the risk of hemorrhage. Because my uterus had been so stretched, both from a larger baby AND all that extra amniotic fluid, it would then be harder for it to contract down properly, putting me at risk for excess bleeding.

Then the stitching – I managed to sustain only a mild 2nd degree tear, but acquired a decent size hematoma that needed to be drained and stitched back together. Good times. He worked on me for a really, really long time. I gladly accepted some Ibuprofen and Percocet, some water and snacks. I held my sweet baby, Kate, smiled at hubs, and said, “We did it.” I thanked God over and over for getting us through it all. This was no easy pregnancy, but she was here. We both survived, all my fears had been conquered.  Diabetes can’t hold us down! And I had the most amazing support team on the planet.

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Photographs by Laura C., Birth Doula. You can visit her website or Facebook for more information.

One Woman’s Successful Frank Breech Vaginal Hospital Birth

One Woman’s Successful Frank Breech Vaginal Hospital Birth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Amber Hansen

Natural Hospital Birth {Support is Essential}

Natural Hospital Birth {Support is Essential}

OK, I have to be honest.  Writing this is hard for me.  For some reason, I don’t want to write it.  Like I’m dreading it?  I think there are just too many things about it to write down so I know it’ll take me forever…?  I have no idea.  But here’s my attempt.  I definitely want it documented. I have to thank a few people before I begin:

Joe.  He has been such a support this whole pregnancy, in what I have been wanting to do.  During Labor, he was right there, helping me over such a huge mountain.

My Midwives. I have grown to love hese women.  They truly care about me, my body and my baby.  They are completely supportive of what is best for us.  They also were there during the labor and helped me get through it. (Once my care was transferred to the hospital & Dr. Wells, they were no longer able to be in charge.  They then became my doula’s in helping me ease my labor.)

Karlye. Man, I am so fortunate to know this girl.  One of my best friends.  We have too many things in common and I love that.  I can talk to her about anything.  And I can also invite her to my birth and take pictures for me.  That’s how comfortable and grateful I am for our friendship.  She was the talent in documenting my labor.  I am so grateful to have these pictures!!  I can forever look back at them and remember exact feelings that were happening.

Dr. Wells.  It was no accident that Dr. Wells was the one in the office when I went to do my Non-Stress test the day before Jake’s birth.  He took interest in my case and worked flawlessly with my Midwives to make my birth plan happen.  I also liked that he is also LDS which meant he knew my values and I him.  There was like a secret, non-spoken, pact with him because of it. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.  But he understood my faith, which is a huge part of my life. The added Spirit he brought to the table probably helped too!

And let’s not forget Joe’s Mom.  She came in on the 27th and was there until Nov. 10th. Such a long trip!  I was grateful she came into town to help with the kids before and after the baby came.  I was so big and in pain those last few weeks. It was nice she could take and pick up kids for me, and more important, clean my house!

Alright, those were the main characters in my Birth Story. Anyways, here we go.

When I hit my last month of pregnancy, my body kind of shut down.  Everything seemed to start to fall apart.  Things started aching and hurting.  Going walking was even starting to become a chore.  And I would be so SORE that night.  I feel that the smoke that filled the air most of Sept. probably had something to do with it.

I also was becoming really really big.  Like seriously.  For months, people had asked me if I was due “any day?” for how big I was.  So when Oct came, I just kept getting bigger.  I started to think my due date was off because I was becoming gigantic.  It was really annoying.  I was so hopeful that this baby would come before my due date. But he never did.  My mother-in-law even came in on the 27th, hoping I would come early because I was so big…but I didn’t.

As I approached my due date, my midwives noticed the large state of my stomach and also the fluid that my body was retaining, inside and outside the uterus.  They started talking about if there were too much fluid in the womb, that they probably would have to transfer my care to a doctor and induce.  I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case but I didn’t worry too much about it since we still had a few weeks.

So my Due Date came and went.  It was Thursday, Nov. 1st.  The Midwives weren’t too worried about the baby not coming yet and frankly, nether was I.  There was only one thing that they kept an eye on and it was the size of my uterus and the fluid retention my body was experiencing. By then, I was SUPER swollen.  My legs and Belly.  So they kept an eye of that, to avoid problems like Prolapsed Cord. They then talked about if I was still pregnant by 41 weeks, then they would schedule both a Non-Stress Test & an Ultrasound to measure the fluid and baby.

Let me just say that everything my body was doing was ripe for labor.  The only thing that wasn’t aligned was the baby’s head.  It was not down where it should have been.  Since there was a lot of fluid in there, it had room to float.  There was nothing forcing his head down, which then cause me to not go into labor.  So we were hopeful that it wasn’t too serious and that his head would drop.

But we hung in there, I was determined to let things happen naturally.  As I’ve stated before, I wanted to experience labor how it’s naturally supposed to.  My 3 previous pregnancies were all induced before going into labor.  I kind of felt like my body was broken because it had never gone into labor alone.  So I wanted to test my body and see if it would if I gave it a chance.  Sounds lame but that’s just how I felt. They did strip my membranes on my 39th week appt. to help things along.  I was also doing things at the home front to move things along, like walking, dancing on the Wii, and other things….So some nights, there were some serious contractions.  But I would fall asleep.  I would wake up the next morning, frustrated and a little bit discouraged.  But I just kept it up.  They also checked me and I was at a 2. That was good to know that something was going on down there but it also didn’t mean I would go into labor anytime soon.

I went into the midwives again the following Monday and I was at a 3 and effacing pretty well.  They stripped my membranes again and hoped for the best. They scheduled the Non-Stress Test for Thursday, at the Hospital clinic which would be 41 weeks for me.  From there, they wanted to see the results to then schedule the ultrasound.  We were all hoping it wouldn’t go to that point…

Thursday, Nov. 8th (41 weeks) had come.  I went into the Clinic to do the Non-Stress Test.  The majority of the time, this little guy was asleep!  He wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing and moving around!  So of course Dr. Wells was concerned that he wasn’t moving as much as he should.    Luckily Jake started moving the last 10 minutes so he passed.  But the Dr was concerned at the size of my belly.  So he recommended the ultrasound and tried to schedule one that day.  But there were no openings.  So they scheduled one for the next day, Friday Nov. 9th at 10:30 am.

So Friday morning, I went to my ultrasound.  It was interesting to see this guy so big on screen.  She did all the measurements, for the fluid and the baby. She even played with the 3D camera for fun.  Afterwards, she went upstairs to show Dr. Wells the results.  So I waited to see what happened next. The Ultrasound lady came back and told me that Dr. Wells was discussing my case with Laurie, my midwife about the result and what option should we take that would be the safest one for me and the baby.  So I waited some more.  She came back and had me follow her into her office, where Laurie was on the phone, on hold.  She wanted to talk to me first and tell  me what they found out.

So I get on the phone and after asking how I’m doing and feeling, she tells me that the Sonographer measured my fluid.  A normal measurement is usually around 15-25.  My measurement was 34.  That was super duper high. Because it was so high, there was a great chance of water rupture & cord prolapse.  I could no longer have my birth at the birthing center.  I was now a High Risk patient and would have to be at the hospital.  Both her and Dr. Wells felt that the best route would be to check into the hospital and from there, prick my bag of waters to slowly leak and control the water so that the umbilical cord could not come out in front of the baby’s head.  They recommended doing that sooner than later to avoid my water breaking somewhere outside of the hospital.   At that point, with the new information and what my options were, I was ready and willing to get this baby out.  So we both agreed that this was my best option and to move forward.  After talking to her on the phone, I went up to talk to Dr. Wells.  We again talked about my condition and possible risks that were involved.  I told him my conversation with Laurie and so we then talked about when.  I told him, the sooner the better.  He asked, “Today?”  I said, sure.  By that time, it was around noon.  He was then talking about immediately heading over but then changed the time to 3 pm.  That would be fine, I told him.  That gave me time to call Joe.

“Hello?” -Joe “You ready to have this baby today?!” “What?!” I then went on to tell him what happened and that he should probably cancel the rest of his appointments that day and get home! I was also able to go home, pack a revised bag, take a shower, call Karlye so she would be ready to take pictures etc.  (There are definite benefits to planning a labor time!)

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So we arrived at the hospital at 3 pm.  Checking in was a breeze.  It seemed like there was no one in the hospital and that I was the only patient.  Once I got into  my room, we met my nurse and got changed into those ugly hospital ponchos and waited.  They came in and tried to insert a needle to draw blood on my arms.  I say tried since I got poked about 6 times.  They kept getting an empty vessel.  3 nurses came in to try and finally one succeeded.  It was the worse thing ever.  That has always been worse than getting an epidural!

As I laid there, my midwives came for support and help & Karlye arrived too, ready to document.  Apparently, the doctor told me to come a tad early since he didn’t even come into my room until around 6 pm.  But the weird thing was, as I was sitting there, I started having major contractions pretty close together. Wouldn’t you know it, I was going into active labor ON MY OWN!  By the time Dr.
Wells came in to prick my bag, I was measuring 4-5 cm.  I warned them that as soon as they broke my water, my body kicks into high gear.

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So as discussed before, they nicked my bag so that it was slowly leaking.  They didn’t want a huge gush of water to push the umbilical cord out since his head had still not dropped into place.  My contractions started to get a little big stronger but it was still bearable.  There was just so much fluid in there! Finally at around 9:30 pm, Dr. Wells broke a larger hole and started draining my uterus.  While it was draining, we had the nurse pushing my belly down to keep baby’s head in position (down and dropped) and Dr. Wells coming from my birth canal, holding the baby’s head up so the water could come out.  It was a tad uncomfortable  to say the least.  We did that for 10 minutes.  There was so much fluid!  Again, explains the large belly I had!  At that point, I was dilated to a 7-8.  Sweet.

Something that happened though as they drained out the water was that Jake turned to the other side of the uterus.  I heard them say that but it didn’t click in my head what that really meant…that he would be facing UP going through the birth canal.  I didn’t really understand that until later….

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Once they drained a TON of fluid, the contractions started coming hard.  I was able to get up so I sat on the big ball.  I bounced on that for a while.  The nurse, Melissa, and my midwifes started implementing soothing treatments for my contractions, like squeezing my hips together and pushing on my lower back simultaneously.  That did the trick.  Next, I started antsy so I walked the halls.  I had a trail of people following me so they could do the squeezing and pushing on me when I got a contraction.  They also didn’t want me going too far away from the room since I was getting close.  The told me if I started feeling lots of pressure down there & hurting really bad, to haul belly back to the room.  I wasn’t out in the hall for that long…

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As I came back in, I bent over the bed during contractions while they squeezed & pushed.  Laurie, my midwife, suggested I kneel up on the backside of the bed so I could rest on it between contractions.  So I “hopped’ up there, kneeling, & facing the back of the bed, which was reclined up.  This is when things started getting pretty serious for me.  These contractions weren’t messing around anymore.  To help Jake descend, I would rock my hips back and forth.

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All the while, the crew would squeeze and push on me as I went through each contraction.  Karlye not only was taking pictures during this whole time but she put it down to help me during this phase with cold compresses, giving me water and pulling my hair out of my face!  This was the hardest part.  It’s hard to describe how I felt during this time.  There was be no pain in between contractions.  And then BAM, I could feel it build and mentally tell my body to RELAX and BREATHE.  I had to really FOCUS on relaxing.  That’s one of the key things I learned from the Bradley Method classes.  Relaxation and breathing are key to avoid unnecessary pain during labor. That went on for who knows how long…It felt like forever but probably only 15-20 minutes.  I could feel the baby too, which was pretty cool.  And then things started getting really really REALLY painful and HARD.  And I remember thinking, this better be transition because otherwise, I won’t be able to make it.  I remember during those contractions, I would be battling thoughts in my head “Keep going Lyssa” “You can do it!”  VS. “Holy Hell, this hurts SO BAD” “I can’t do it!”  Back and forth, as I struggled through each contraction.  I was also just Praying to Heavenly Father for strength and energy to get through this!  And looking back, I know He did.  How else could I have done what I did?!   I remember those last few, I was literally whimpering from the pain.  And then, like a switch, I started feeling the urge to push.  And around that same time, the nurse said, “if you feel the urge to push, do it!”  With that, I told her YES I DO!

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So Dr. Wells had to stick his hand in me and turn Jake around.  Ok, that part hurt freaking bad too.  haaa haa.  I know I said a few complaints but they reassured me that things will run much smoother if he is in the right position. After that ordeal, Jake’s big head came into view.  Things kind of slowed down at that point.  Dr. Wells did a great job at stretching the “hole” to avoid tearing.  When a contraction came, I was pushing as hard as I could to get that head out because it was BURNING.  lol I got the full dose of “ring of fire”. And then in between them, his head would sit there as everything burned. Another PAINFUL part of the process in my experience.  But oh the joy when that head finally broke through!  But we had to proceed slowly with Jake’s shoulders too to avoid any dislocation since he was so BIG.  At 11:47 pm, once those shoulders came out, Dr. Wells pulled him out and I couldn’t believe this baby just came out of me! Jake Ryan Zimmerman was finally born!  lol   We were hoping to have him on the 9th, an exact month before my birthday.

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There is something so raw and real in that instant when you are aware and free from any medications.  My senses were definitely overstimulated at that point. I was wide-eyed and in shock.  They gave him to me so I could hold him and have some skin on skin contact.  There was no cries, just grunting, ha haa.  I did a little breastfeeding too and he seemed to know what he was doing (I would hope so seeing how he was the size of a 2 month old!)

I know most people say during this time, you are so high on the natural emotions and endorphins your body makes that you don’t notice the last phase of the placenta birthing and stitching…Well for me, that wasn’t the case.  I was definitely aware of what was going on down there.  And any sort of pushing on my stomach REALLY hurt.  And because of Jake’s size, I couldn’t avoid tearing so I got a 3rd degree laceration.  So I was also aware of the prodding and stitching. Again, Another painful part of this process.

But during that, they took Jake, cleaned and made sure he was “crying”.  They weighed him at 11 lbs 1 oz.  We were all shocked and laughing at the fact that I just gave birth naturally to an 11 lbs baby!  When I really think about it, I can’t believe it. Another reason I know I was given endurance and strength from God to do this. I think He knew how bad I wanted to do it and have this experience that He pathed the way for me to do it.

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Also I might add that both the midwives & Dr. Wells suspected that I developed Gestational Diabetes the last month of pregnancy.  I took my test when I was supposed too and passed.  But for some reason, I got it later.  Which makes everything that happened make sense.  I got huge.  The baby got huge.  I did eat like crap. Darn Halloween.  So in hindsight, its scary to think what could have happened having that.  Lots of thing could have gone wrong.  Any small complications that could have happened would have sent me straight to the OR to have a C-Section.  yikes…  So another experience that humbles me and makes me truly grateful for what did happen.

Clean up and all that aftermath took some time.  Jake was sent to the nursery to get cleaned up and made sure all was good.  By the time i got to my recover room, it was well past 1 AM.  I. was. exhausted.  I had never felt that tired my whole life.  And I knew what to expect during the night at the hospital.  So I tried to get as much sleep as I could.  I had wonderful nurses during my stay. They even watched Jake during the night for a long stretch so I could sleep since they knew what I had just gone through.  Apparently I and one other person was in the maternity ward that day and word quickly spread about my 11 lbs baby. I had nurses not assigned to me come and see him or come see me and congratulate me.  haa haa, I felt famous for the day.

I was excited for the kids to finally meet him on Saturday with Joe and his mom. They adored him and the free popcicles my lovely nurse had given them.  After a bit, we all started getting restless so I said goodbye to them and went back to sleeping throughout the day.  One of the perks of staying at the hospital is the room service.  I loved being able to call any time of the day to order whatever
food I wanted.  It was so nice!

Jake and I were discharged Sunday night.  Joe picked us up.  It was freezing cold and raining.  The drive home was foggy in my mind.  I was under medication and was definitely feeling the side effects.  But it was so surreal, having a new baby in the backseat.  We talked about the labor and all the things we weren’t aware of at that time and how things could have gone terribly wrong.  We both felt that God had watched over me and Jake during the pregnancy and labor. We were so thankful that there were no serious complications.

This experience has been life changing for me.  It definitely testifies to me that there is a Heavenly Father who loves me and my family.  He watches over me, knows my righteous desires, and gives me tender mercies endlessly.  As a mother, I feel more confident, capable and I trust myself more.  This experience also shows me that my body was made to do this!  God blessed women to bear children.

It is not a burden but a blessing in my mind.  When  you are aware and understand the process and what it can be, it’s a beautiful thing.  I am just grateful that I was able to experience that.  ( and by no means do I look down or judge other moms who do not give birth this way.  Each to his own!  Every woman is different!  I know that.  More power to you!  This is just what I have learned for myself.  What matters is the end result: Healthy Mom & Baby!)

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{http://www.lyssa-beth.com/2013/01/jake-ryan-zimmermans-birth-story.html}

A Midwife-Assisted Cesarean for Breech Rainbow Twins Complete with Skin to Skin

A Midwife-Assisted Cesarean for Breech Rainbow Twins Complete with Skin to Skin

After a year of trying to conceive without success I saw a doctor and was diagnosed with PCOS. A year later I conceived with our first round of fertility injections and IUI. We were beyond excited…we ordered a crib the same day I got the call about my blood test! Sadly, I miscarried at 6 weeks. But our little one will never be forgotten and even has a name in our hearts even though we will never know the sex of the baby.

Two more rounds of injections and IUI brought us the delight of another pregnancy. This time it was twins! It was both a surprise and a wish come true. We had talked about how we would love to have twins if it were to happen. I had a rather uneventful pregnancy; no morning sickness or other early symptoms. In fact, the only discomforts were Braxton Hicks that started in my second trimester and lots of round ligament pain in my 3rd trimester.

We planned on an un-medicated natural birth in a hospital with a midwife, using the Bradley method. As time drew near it became apparent that my girls were still BOTH breech as they had been the entire pregnancy. I tried inversion techniques from SpinningBabies.com and saw a chiropractor for the Webster technique but nothing seemed to help. We scheduled a cesarean section. I was saddened to not be able to birth them naturally but decided there must be a reason and trusted God to keep us safe.

I couldn’t have asked for a better scenario. Our midwife accompanied us to the operating room and held my hand until my husband could be there. I was so grateful for her presence; she must have sensed my fear. She had gotten prior permission to let us do skin-to-skin in the operating room. Skin-to-skin was very important to me and seemed to ease the disappointment of not getting a natural birth. It’s one small thing I could do for my babies since it seemed so much was no longer an option.

I planned on nursing but couldn’t seem to get established so I decided to pump. Pumping was a constant struggle for me to maintain supply and I seemed to always have a blocked duct, but I persevered for 9 months.

In looking back, there are things I would change if I got to do it over again, but I realize that we did the best we could with where we were and the knowledge we had. I’m at peace with that.

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C-Section Without Fear {Baby Reaches His Hand Out from the Womb}

C-Section Without Fear {Baby Reaches His Hand Out from the Womb}

I went in for an induction due to having preeclampsia, after 24hrs I showed absolutely no progress. Our baby was still doing well so we decided to go ahead with a c-section while it was not yet an emergency situation. I believe my hypno-birthing techniques helped me tremendously through my induction. On  9/1/10 our son Zander Knight was born  The C-section (besides the recovery) was awesome: no worries, no fear, the staff was amazing, and I felt so comfortable. I cried when I first heard my son cry 🙂

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Vaginal Hospital Birth of TRIPLETS

Vaginal Hospital Birth of TRIPLETS

Triplet pregnancies can be absolutely terrifying. You feel so out of control. There are three little lives growing in your belly and you are told by all your doctors and OBs all the risks and all the dangers, you begin to feel like you are made of glass. Please no TTTS, please no preterm labour, please let my babies survive and be healthy. Each day was frightening, and each day was a milestone.

It was at the very beginning I was told that I only had a 30% chance of any ONE baby surviving and I’d be lucky to make it to 24 wks, and if I did, they’d monitor me till my body packed it in and then they’d (their words)” cut them out of me.” No idea what that old midwife wished to accomplish by saying that, but it simply terrified me!

I went home and started researching.  All I found was c-section YouTube videos. I searched for weeks, and cried each day. I was horrified at how early they’d come and the medical procedures and intervention they faced in their first moments on earth. So I just kept looking. I knew I needed to let my babies cook as long as they could, and birth my babies as naturally as I could, so they had the best possible start to life. I wanted to give them the same beginning as I’d given my three boys. So I Googled, and joined forums, and asked questions to everyone I could find with a hand full of answers.

I joined a group for triplets, one that was Australia based, it was there that I found a few vaginally birthing triplet mums and I found another pregnant mum who was as committed as me. We found that any posting about our desires to birth vaginally was faced with terrible negativity. So we started a Facebook group Birthing Multiples Naturally. In that group we found like-minded people and shared information freely. I was on my path to meet my girls.

At every OB appointment I was bullied and told what I WILL be doing with my body. I WILL have a c-section, I WILL have it when they say. But I had armed myself with knowledge – for every bit of information they gave me to support their wanting to take my babies out early by c-section, I researched and found evidence contradicting them. I gathered all the information to make an informed and educated decision and stuck with it.

At every appointment I maintained that I would go to 36 wks or as long as the babies needed, I would have three heads down and I WOULD have a vaginal birth. and at each appointment I was scoffed. Even my sonographer would smirk and say “I’d be impressed if you made 30 wks”.

At 30 wks my three girls decided they’d all prefer breech, putting a smile on my OB’s faces as they smugly said…” well, you’ll be having a c-section now?” In answer, “no, I’ll go and have acupuncture and use positions to turn my babies”. You can imagine their responses. LOL.

Well I did. Chinese acupuncture and using “spinning babies” techniques and I found myself in hospital with two heads trying to both get into my pelvis. It was then they decided to keep me in hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy.

The bullying began. Strong, nasty, consistent bullying. Tag-teaming OB’s, doctors, nurses. They even had OB’s from their sister hospital come over to talk down to me. But I knew what was right for my babies. Id birthed three big babies before; I knew I could birth three tiny little triplets.

I kept researching, taking vitamins and minerals, magnesium for prevention if preterm labour, and doing my positions on the hospital bed. I missed my boys like crazy, but I was determined to keep this pregnancy going. Week after week I designed my birth plan, and week after week I terrified my OB’s. I built a strong relationship with wonderful midwives. I was looked after and treated with dignity by these amazing women who never doubted me. They helped me day to day with my teary days and my discomfort, they made a belly cast of my enormous belly, and helped me with my birth plan.

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At 34 1/2 weeks I felt three sets of feet in my ribs! They did an ultrasound to check, and yes!!! Three heads down!!!!!! I wrote my birth plan out on a big piece of cardboard and pinned it to my wall. My OB’s walked in, saw it, turned white and walked out. Soon they came back with paperwork for me to sign. I was going to have a good birth. I believed in my body. I believed in my babies, and I believed in my midwives, who is decided would be delivering my babies and with no epidural using active labour.

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At 35 wks I felt strange. I truly felt like my body had hit a wall. I asked for a growth scan as I believed that my babies had stopped growing. I felt something was not right. A few days later they did the scan and sure enough the babies had stopped growing and things needed to progress.

I decided to try bringing my labour on myself. I used everything. Every old wives’ tale, right up to stretch and sweep. Nothing!!!! Can you believe it, all that time fearing preterm labour and now I want it to start and it won’t!!! I tried and tried, but nothing but a few strong BH contractions.

So I decided that I had no choice but to induce.

I was terrified of induction. I was worried that one intervention would lead to another. I had a few friends, my sister and my husband with me after they gave me a strong stretch and sweep and broke my waters, and then they hooked me up to the synto drip. I walked around, bounced on the ball and rotated my hips, I laughed and joked and talked. I was scared, but this was my day! I was going to meet my girls.

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Once contractions were established my friends and my sister left so that I could focus. I concentrated on feeling my little sweetheart lowering to my cervix. Aneyah was the leading baby. We had a head monitor on her, (which I wasn’t struck on, but it was needed) I stayed standing until I physically couldn’t any more. They had me famining just in case, and I was completely exhausted. I’d brought berocca with me but was not allowed to have it in case they needed to intubate me in an emergency. So I got up on my hands and knees on the bed. The contractions were so strong now. People were starting to fill my room, but I used gas and concentrated on blocking them all out and just feeling my daughters lowering.

As I began to push, Aneyah’s heart rate started dropping. I could feel her head at my cervix and could not seem to push her through. One of my midwives checked and said that my cervix just wasn’t letting her through, so she helped. While I pushed, she gently helped my cervix over her head, it worked. I turned around to sit up with my knees up at the end of the bed. It was time. Before I knew it my little princess’s head was crowning. Two more pushes and Aneyah was out and placed on my chest. My beautiful, amazing little girl, screamed for just a moment then just looked at me. I was in love. She was so beautiful. My husband cut the cord, and before I knew it I was feeling the need to bear down again. They passed Aneyah from me to my husband and I started to push. Another head started to lower through my cervix and crown, the OB decided to help by breaking my waters, as he went to do so, I beared down, and with a beautiful twist, my waters exploded all over him. A moment that gave me a good laugh! Just 15 minutes after her sister Kalanee arrived into the world and straight to my chest. Such intense love. Another perfect beautiful wonderful little girl who screamed for just a moment then snuggled into my arms. Complete love. But I could only hold her just a moment, because I had one more special person to concentrate on. Lealah. I passed Kalanee over to one of my midwives and put my hands above my third little princess. It was much harder to push with her. I could not feel my stomach muscles because they’d stretched so much, and all that space and one tiny little baby, but I held my hand above her and beared down. My waters broke as she was crowning and she literally came out in one slurp with what seemed like a bucket of blood. Lealah was placed immediately on my chest and I was given the scissors to cut her cord. What a moment. She gurgled a little and I passed her over to be checked. Immediately afterward, I felt the need to push again. My placenta had come away early and was chasing Lealah out.

The placenta was so big; it was two that had shared and one that was fused. It felt like another baby, and it was at this point that someone in the room decided to joke about a possible fourth that had gone unseen. I was quite unimpressed.

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I did lose quite a decent amount of blood, but the body is amazing. My haemoglobin was actually higher after than the day before. It seems all that bloating was my body preparing.

They were: Aneyah – 4lb 7oz, Kalanee – 4lb 9oz; and Lealah – 4lb 11 oz. The first two were 15 minutes apart and the second and third were 12 minutes apart. They were 35.6 wks, and all head down. My entire labour was calculated at 4.5 hours.

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 My three girls were very quick to pick up breast feeding. They had no formula from the moment they were born. We had a little jaundice from being four weeks early, but they were healthy and strong. After just five days we all left the hospital fully breast fed and mummy’s little princesses. Today they are nearly six months, still exclusively breast fed and doing amazingly. I have three beautiful boys and three beautiful girls. I feel like the most blessed woman in the world.

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Compassionate Elective Cesarean Birth {Photographer’s Point of View}

Compassionate Elective Cesarean Birth {Photographer’s Point of View}

A story as told by the birth photographer, Angela

This is Jessica’s story, but also in some strange way, it became mine as well because I can honestly say it changed my views. As I type this, I’m assuming Jessica is cuddling her sweet baby boy – who she brought home a little over a week ago.

Jessica decided to have an elective C-Section. Why? What? WHY!? Those were the thoughts I had when I heard about it. You see, I have become a sort of birth junkie (it’s true what they say, Oxytocin is kin to crack – you get hooked with just one hit).  I had an amazing, natural birth with my second son (although trust me, it wasn’t one of those beautiful, peaceful, calm, quiet ones that I’ve seen – you know who you are out there & I applaud you!) almost a year ago, and after experiencing that you want everyone to see how wonderful, beautiful, and simply empowering it can be. But Jessica experienced that resonating birth high when she watched our friend Megan catch her own baby in a pool set up in her living room.  So when Jessica said she was getting a C-Section, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of it. BUT she is my friend and it was her choice.

Why would anyone want to do this some of you might be thinking? I’ll tell you why: Birth Trauma. Some people don’t think it’s real – some people don’t think it can happen and that people who SAY they have it are exaggerating. It is very real and alive in our world, which makes me sad. One of the most amazing things we are supposed to experience as women is taken from us by a lack of education, a lack of support, and lack of belief in today’s society that women’s bodies CAN do this. I wasn’t there when Jessica had her first baby, but what I do know is that it was an induction and it was everything she DIDN’T want but was TOLD she needed. She didn’t have trust with her doctors; decisions were made FOR her instead of WITH her. You can see that it affected her in such a negative way and she wanted to avoid it happening again so much that she decided to have an elective surgery. To me, that alone shows me that there should be no question that birth trauma is a very real and scary thing, affecting the women around us.

When Jessica asked me to photograph their birth, my whole level of anxiety went up.  I of course said yes, and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

I couldn’t sleep the night before. The next morning I couldn’t eat because I was so nervous. Not only was I photographing this, I was worried about my friend. I met Jessica and her husband at the hospital at 7 am. She was radiant- she had slept well the night before, she felt 100% confident in her decision and was ready to meet her baby boy. Jessica wrote a VERY specific birth plan. I sat with them while the anesthesiologist and OB came in and talked to her about everything – and to my surprise, guess what they did?! THEY READ HER BIRTH PLAN!! Not only did they read it, but they respected it. They explained everything that she would be getting. How the procedure would go. They talked the WHOLE thing over with her. I was in utter shock. Memories of when I had my first son came back to me. With him, I gave my OB a birth plan and he looked it over and said “okay, we’ll see how it goes” and stuck it in the back of my folder. A birth that tumbled into a ton of interventions I didn’t want followed for me. Oddly enough, just seeing how they were respecting her wishes started to calm ME down.

I walked in nervously into the OR. I had never been in an OR room. I was still nervous.  It almost felt like for me, when you first board an airplane and you’re supposed to look for your emergency exits. Her OB is amazing. He had been my OB a year before and many of my friends as well had gone to him – he is truly the best of the best. She was in good hands. Seeing him calmed me down as well. That’s when I realized everyone was calm, except for me. I needed to snap out of it.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I was told to sit on a chair against a wall a bit away from them. So I sat…and then, the OB said “you better get over here if you want to see this baby”.  I got up and as I did, they lowered the curtain – Jessica propped herself up and then, the most amazing thing happened: James Brody entered the world.

The OB immediately put baby James into her hands and she put him to her chest. They didn’t cut the cord right away. They might have a surgical sheet between them, but they were still connected.  They never once asked to take him. They let them have their moment. They were able to look at each other and get to know each other face to face now.  She was able to start breast feeding as soon as she wanted to. Her husband was able to meet his son in his wife’s arms. There was no “hey this is your baby now we’re going to go wrap them up in a million blankets and put them near your head for a quick picture and then you can hold them later.”After a while the midwife asked if she could get the baby’s vitals and Jessica obliged – still beaming. Nothing was done that Jessica wasn’t aware of, or that wasn’t what she wanted. I can honestly say, with tears coming to my eyes as I’m reminiscing: it was a beautiful birth.

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I never thought a cesarean section could be so lovely. My wish is that if a c-section is necessary that it would be just like hers.  It’s not something that I would personally want….but, I haven’t been through what she’s been through. What I learned through all of this is we can’t judge.  We can only support.  I support women making a decision on their own. For being educated, supported, and believed in. That they get the kind of birth THEY want. I cannot support someone making the decision for you – someone telling you this has to happen and you just simply saying “okay”.  Jessica’s first time around didn’t go at all how she planned. This time it did. She made a decision knowing all the facts. She was not TOLD she was going to have to do something she didn’t want to do. She had support, she had a birth team who advised her of the risks, but who also understood her history and tried to make it right the second time around.  What I want is for every woman’s first birth to be their best birth. For caring medical teams who understand what birth means for a woman. How empowering it is meant to be no matter where: your bed at home, a birth pool in your dining room, a hospital room, or an operating table.

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