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The Harshe Podcast – Episode #35: 5 things Your Doula Wants You To Know!

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #35: 5 things Your Doula Wants You To Know!

The Harshe Podcast welcomes its first guest! Tara Brooke from Doula Trainings International joins January to speak about the difference in parenting culture in Spain vs the US, racial disparity regarding birth in the US, the importance of making a postpartum plan, dealing with family after the birth, not being afraid to ask for help from family or your doula, and what your doula really thinks of you!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on iTunes!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Google Play!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Stitcher!

Click here to download Episode #35: 5 Things Your Doula Wants You To Know!

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Considering certification as a childbirth educator but haven’t quite found the right fit yet? Interested in creating inclusive classes where birthing people can become educated about their options and patient rights?

If you’re eagerly nodding your head along to one or all of these questions, we got ya! Become a childbirth educator with Doula Trainings International‘s Childbirth Edu Training program. 

https://www.doulatrainingsinternational.com/dtis-childbirth-edu-training-program/ 

The online platform will take you through certification requirements, tracking your participation progress for your own review of the curriculum and corresponding teaching guide, required scholarly reads and required videos.

https://www.doulatrainingsinternational.com/dtis-edu-childbirth-education-different/

This training is available for both conference attendees and those only seeking Childbirth Education Teacher Certification at DTI’s inaugural Born Into This Conference on July 12-13 in Austin, TX. What you would normally get in our 3 month online program, you will get in this 2 day in person training. You’ll walk away ready to go!

Check out WeAreDTI.com for more details!

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #25: Doulas and Seahorses

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #25: Doulas and Seahorses

January and Brandon talk doulas on their way to date night! They discuss their three experiences with doulas, the advice about pee January received from a doula that sticks with her to this day, and how emotionally unstable male seahorses are to be getting pregnant immediately after birthing hundreds of babies!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on iTunes!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Google Play!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Stitcher!

Click here to download Episode #25: Doulas and Seahorses!

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Doula Trainings International, or simply DTI, is an organization that certifies doulas while focusing on issues of justice.

DTI has reimagined what it looks like to become a modern doula, with a comprehensive 9-month program that includes ongoing peer to peer mentorship, business skills and in-depth video classes that complement a rigorous initial workshop, an extensive reading list, and practical experience requirements. 

DTI certifies both birth and postpartum doulas and that certification is for life!

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DTI will be hosting its first ever conference, the Born Into This Conference on July 12-13 in Austin, TX! Birth workers, holistic health professionals, thoughtful leaders, and creators will gather together in one space to ignite the birth justice movement. For more details, visit the Born Into This Website!

A Bathroom Hospital Birth with 2 Doulas and a Midwife

A Bathroom Hospital Birth with 2 Doulas and a Midwife

I woke up around 3:00AM on April 29th with an achy feeling and saw that daughter Mia had wandered into my room and was staring at me. I like to think that somehow she knew today would be the day; that kids know these things. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I got up, made myself a red raspberry leaf tea and jumped on Facebook and played a bit of a videogame. I went to the loo a bit later and had what I realized later was my show. I was getting period type pains around 10 minutes apart. The aches were getting stronger and a bit closer together by 5:00AM so I messaged my doula Nicole. She said she would call my other doula, Talitha and they would be around later that morning and to keep on timing the pains.

I messaged my mum a bit later and told her she would need to come babysit Mia for us. Mum arrived around 9:00AM and Nicole and Talitha arrived about an hour later. I told them the pains were getting a bit stronger and were about 5 to 6 minutes apart. We sat around for a while and then went for a walk to see if things would speed up. Things picked up a bit but a little while later they started to die down and I got a bit disheartened. My doulas decided to go back to Talitha’s for lunch and said to call when I needed them. Around 1:00PM the pains got worse and closer and I got them to come back. We went for another 2 laps around the oval (stopping every 2 – 3 minutes so I could double up in pain). On the way home I had a concerned neighbour ask if I was alright which was sweet. Back at home things started to progress but still weren’t quite bad enough for the hospital.

At about 4:30PM Nicole asked if I wanted to lay down or go to the hospital. I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep and laying down sounded great but I was in pain and decided the hospital would be a better idea. My partner Matt said he would follow behind us after he made sure Mia was happy to stay with my mum. After what seemed like the longest car ride ever we got to the hospital, heading up the elevator we got to my room and realized the new baby’s bag was downstairs still! Talitha went back down to get it while I got changed and settled in. It was about 5:00PM and the midwife asked if I wanted my cervix checked so I said “yes, why not”? She checked and I was already 6 centimeters!

About 20 minutes later Matt arrived and told us he had to stop on the side of the road as his car window was trying to fly off (it didn’t wind up properly and popped out and it was raining hard!). I was in a lot of pain by now but was managing it by concentrating on Nicole’s voice telling me to relax through the contractions. I ended up laboring on a chair sitting backwards leaning on a pillow. Matt and Talitha held a heat pack on my lower back and Nicole coached me in front of the chair. Without her coaching I honestly think I would have lost control of the situation but she kept me so calm.

It was almost 6:00PM and Nicole suggested a shower so I went into the bathroom and had to use the loo, unfortunately I had some pretty painful contractions on the loo and while Nicole was kneeling trying to coach me through them my waters popped all over her! There wasn’t even time for the doctor to arrive and before I knew it I was having Kaia right there on the bathroom floor! I was lucky and only pushed for a couple of minutes before beautiful Kaia Sophia was welcomed into the world by the wonderful midwife. I am forever grateful to Nicole and Talitha for being my doulas and couldn’t have done it without them.

kaia's birth story, natural birth in a hospital

Kaia's birth story, natural birth in a hospital

Epic HBA2C After a Surrogacy

Epic HBA2C After a Surrogacy

The Prequel to the Sequel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BFP

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

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

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

The Midwives

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

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

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

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

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

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

Osiris, Lord of Eternity

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

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

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

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

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

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Labor Day…I’m a Believer

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

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

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

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

I Love James Brown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Not Broken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Empowering Hospital Birth with HypnoBabies and Massage

Empowering Hospital Birth with HypnoBabies and Massage

September 28th, 2012.

I was a week overdue and I had been in false labor for over a week. Things were getting frustrating and the pressure was on from the doctors to induce once I went past my due date. I knew that Peanut was just fine in there and was not willing to accept that my body would just stop doing what it had been doing for nine months. It’s amazing how much doctors will bully you to try to get you to induce when it isn’t medically necessary. So on Friday, the 28th, because I was 41 weeks and refused to induce, I had to undergo some testing. I was sure I was in labor this morning when I went to the hospital. I went in for a non-stress test, which measures contractions in relation to the baby’s heart rate. This was pretty easy and normal. It took all of 30 minutes, and then I was sent in for my fluid check, where Kyle met up with me. We watched the ultrasound and saw our beautiful baby’s feet, etc. Then the ultrasound tech started to measure my fluid. She looked at me and said “Your fluid is low…they’re going to need to induce you.” I quickly got upset, as did Kyle. I knew the baby wasn’t in immediate danger and that induction was not necessary. This was a cop out and an excuse from the doctors to get me in and out. Just as the ultrasound tech burst out of the room, a nurse from the NST came in and asked me, “Ma’am… are you feeling your contractions?” I answered with a yes. “We need to send you to labor and delivery to get your cervix checked. We believe you are in labor.” Well then of course I have low fluid…my body is almost ready to be done!

My birth had just become a race against my body and the hospital. But I was going to do everything to be sure that the race was won on Peanut’s time. A doctor came to get us and as we were walking down the hallway he casually said, “So, Mrs. Francis, would you like to have a baby today?” I looked him straight in the eye and said “Not if my baby is not ready.” I don’t think he expected that. He chuckled condescendingly, “Well, I think you’re ready. We like to have them out by 41 weeks.” They tried to admit me and I just stood there laughing, “You mean you aren’t even going to let me go home and get my stuff?” They assured me that my husband could do it. I assured them that they were wrong. They all kept worrying I was going to go AWOL and leave the hospital. They brought in about 5 different doctors to talk to me and tell me the same exact things, but couldn’t give me a straight answer when I asked them why it was necessary to pump me with drugs to induce when my baby was not in distress. In the midst of the doctors coming in and out, I was texting and calling my friend Stacy, a PA who assured me that my baby was fine and the hospital was putting me through the ringer, just as every hospital does. She encouraged Kyle and me to stay strong and stick to our guns.

Then a nurse came in with a bunch of tubes and wires. She smiled at me and said “Hello, Kimberly, I’m the nurse who will be performing your induction today.” Only a split second later, Kyle jumped out of his chair and said, “WHOA!!! No one is inducing labor right now. We are weighing out our options.” It was really scary to us how pushy the hospital was. Finally a midwife came in and talked to us. She agreed that there was no immediate danger and that she would work with my birth plan. She agreed to let me go home, get my stuff, and even encouraged me to eat lunch. We then decided we were going to try to induce with acupuncture and a Foley bulb, since it was apparent that my body had already started to labor on its own.

So Kyle and I went home, ate a brownie sundae with our neighbor, Amy, and gave instructions to care for our house. We called those who needed to know where we were going, went for a nice long walk together, and then calmly drove to the hospital. Upon getting to the hospital I was checked, and was 1cm dilated, 50% effaced and -2 station. Things were moving along…slowly…but moving. The Foley bulb was placed in and the acupuncturist started her treatment. The midwife told me that if these methods didn’t work that they’d have to use Pitocin. I broke down crying and she asked me why I had so much fear about Pitocin. “Did you watch that Business of Being Born documentary?” she asked. “Yes I did, but the reason I fear Pitocin is because of the birth my mother had,” I told her through tears. She was understanding, but not really willing to change her position on the need to use Pitocin. I wasn’t allowing it to happen until this was an emergency.

After this, my doula Tana showed up. She kept me relaxed. She put glow candles in the room and played the soothing music she used when she gave me prenatal massages for the past 9 months. I was calm and I was ready to labor. Tana did pressure points and massage as I got through every contraction. She asked me to tell her when I was getting one, because she couldn’t tell when I was having them, my face was so calm. The only thing that was letting people know they were happening was the monitor I was hooked up to. They were about 5-8 minutes apart at this point.

After the Foley bulb fell out and two treatments of acupuncture, I was dilated to 3 cm. I had made progress. Contractions were still the same though, and the medical staff didn’t want to wait around for my body to naturally make them pick up. They started to again, push Pitocin. It was 2:00am at this point and I was exhausted. I kept telling them that I needed sleep before even thinking about inducing a labor. (Not that I was going to anyway, and I think the midwife knew that.) She annoyingly stated that all I was doing was buying time, and that we really should do it sooner rather than later. I knew I was buying time and I didn’t care. My baby was fine. I knew what was best for Peanut and I didn’t care how scary or threatening these doctors were going to get.

The night was long. I didn’t sleep much because of how much I was poked and prodded at. They kept pressuring me about Pitocin and it truly stressed me out. I watched as Kyle and Tana slept and prayed that God would show me why this was dragging on so much. I wanted it to be over, but I knew what I needed to do for Peanut. I continued to stay strong. In the morning, a new midwife came on staff. She again suggested Pitocin and I declined. I told her that if she would just let me walk the hallway, I could probably get things moving, but she insisted I needed to be hooked to the monitor to make sure baby was okay. I could feel Peanut moving! I didn’t need a dang monitor! I was getting so frustrated.

Finally, after checking with multiple doctors they agreed to allow me off the monitors for 30 minutes. That was all I had. I walked and walked and walked with Tana and Kyle. We walked around the entire floor. Then, when they hooked me back up to the monitors I walked some more and swirled my hips with every surge (contraction) to try to work baby down. When the midwife came in to check me, she was upset to find that I was only 4cm dilated. “You only dilated a centimeter more in three hours.” I was upset. I knew it wasn’t in 3 hours. I knew I did that dilating from walking in the half hour I was free. I knew things would move along if they would just let me do what my body needed to. But instead I was a prisoner, hooked up to all their tubes and cords.

Despite the fact that the monitors were on me for 24 hours at this point, and showed everything to be fine, they still told me how ridiculous I was being. I stayed strong and wanted my body to do this on its own. I told them that if they would just let me rest, then maybe things could move along. But if they kept stressing me out and mentioning Pitocin, of course my labor was going to stall! Our nurse was horrible and every 30 minutes kept coming in and mentioning that we needed to decide soon. I was exhausted; I felt defeated and truly wanted to punch her in the face at this point.

I knew I was never going to sleep in this damn hospital. I knew they were going to win eventually. They were going to give me the Pitocin and then I was going to need an epidural due to my exhaustion. And then there was the question of if I’d even be able to push the baby out. I was flirting with a c-section at this point. I sat on my birth ball, looking at Tana and Kyle, and just started to cry, “I just don’t know what to do.” Kyle asked if I wanted him to call Sunshine, our Hypnobirthing instructor. I declined. I asked him to call Stacy.

Stacy answered her phone and agreed that the doctors were being unreasonable. She was upset because she knew that if I was just able to go home and get some rest that I would probably have the baby by midnight. She assured Kyle this and told him that he had to get me out of there. As I talked to her on the phone I told her I was giving up. She encouraged me to go with my doula and sit in the bathroom. I did this, and Tana locked the door so the medical staff could not come in and bother me. Kyle then went to the midwife and informed her that he didn’t care about her policies, and didn’t wish for her to discuss it with me at all…but that we were going home. I was going to get some rest, and we would return when my labor was more advanced. The midwife actually agreed with Kyle, (and of course couldn’t say it) but told him we would have to sign a waiver because it is against the hospital’s policies.

She came in, said nothing to me, handed me the form, and I signed. I looked at her and apologized. I could only imagine what the medical staff thought of me for being so pushy. She just encouraged me to come back if my water broke or I felt decreased movement. She also said that, either way, I should come back in the morning for another non stress test. I agreed. The pushy, mean nurse came in to take out my IV and I apologized to her for wasting her time. “Oh it’s okay,” she said, “I think you’re doing the right thing. I think it will be what is best for you.”

My jaw dropped. The nurse who was pushing Pitocin on me for HOURS was suddenly on my side? It’s just crazy how the legal system and policies turn these people into such bullies, but once you sign your life away they completely change their professional opinions.

As I stepped out of the hospital in my own clothes, I felt AMAZING! I was free and I knew Peanut had the chance at a beautiful birth. We were going to do it. We called my Hypnobirthing instructor, Sunshine, and told her that I checked myself out of the hospital. She laughed, “I would have never thought to do that.” She said. She was proud of us though. I slept for a couple hours on the couch and then Sunshine came over to see me. I also got to take a nice hot shower while she was there. It felt so good through all the surges I was having. Sunshine ate dinner with me and just talked to me about her past births.

She told me about how she did have to take Pitocin and that it was an intense birth. She said that sometimes it is medically necessary, but that in my case she agreed it wasn’t. We hung out, laughed for a bit, and then at 8:30pm she told us she had to leave. I got up to let her out the door and as I stood up I felt a gush of fluid. Was it my water? I had no idea. I went to the bathroom, and upon looking at the fluid I noticed it was green. I started to stress, wondering if it was meconium in my amniotic fluid. But the gush was so small; was it really my water? I didn’t want to go back to the hospital after all that work to get out of there. I felt Peanut moving and just knew that it was okay. I needed more sleep at this point and I knew that. So after talking to Stacy again, who reassured me that if something was wrong my instinct would kick in and I would know, I decided to get some sleep. I slept for about 6 hours.

Around 1:00am, I sat up straight in bed and began to freak out. I woke Kyle up and he looked at me. “Babe, we need to go to the hospital now. Something is wrong.” He was a little confused after all the hard work we had done to leave the hospital. “I just need to go there,” I told him, “I will feel a lot better if we do.” So we got our bags together yet again and headed to the hospital. I called on the way over to let them know I was coming. The midwife was at the front desk when we came in.

“You’re back?” She asked, “I was so confused when they told me you were coming back. I thought you were waiting until tomorrow morning.” I looked at her worriedly, “I know, but I think my water may have broken and I just want to make sure my baby isn’t in distress and get checked out; better safe than sorry, right?” She agreed. She took me to triage where I was hooked up to monitors again and Peanut still showed a good, strong heart beat. Contractions were about 5 minutes apart. She checked my cervix to find it still at a 4. She then looked further.

“Oh…your water did break!” she said. “I can see your baby’s head now and there’s a bunch of hair.” It was real now. She pushed the head to the side and there my water went a gushing out on the table. THIS was what I envisioned when I envisioned my water breaking. The midwife then realized that, yes; there was meconium in my water. The baby had passed the first bowel movement in my womb. When your water breaks, you are already on a 24 hour time clock to deliver, but with the meconium, we had to act fast. I knew this and knew that I had to surrender to the fact that an intervention was needed. I agreed to the midwife’s decision to start the Pitocin. I felt defeated, but tried to stay as positive as possible. I looked over at Kyle and pleaded with him, “Whatever happens, please don’t judge me.” We called Tana and Sunshine, and they headed to the hospital.

As the nurse started the Pitocin, I blocked it out in my mind. I continued affirming to myself that the contractions I was having were getting stronger because they were my own. I convinced myself that there were no alterations in my labor and that I would stay relaxed. Tana massaged my feet while the contractions started to get stronger and I breathed through them with ease and comfort. We had gotten into a good rhythm.

Then the nurse came in to check on me. She watched me having a contraction and started to up the Pitocin. Kyle asked her why she was doing this and she said “Your wife doesn’t appear to be in any pain, so we need to give her more.” Kyle got very upset with this and went to talk to the midwife about it. I wasn’t appearing that way because of the hypnosis! They continuously asked me to rate my pain, and I declined, telling them that I didn’t want to focus on pain. This made the nurse rather angry and uncomfortable as well. To top this off, the monitors were not working. I would be having a contraction and the monitor would be flat. But no one bothered to look into this. They just continued to up my dosage until I was at 10 ml/hr. The nurse told me I would want it to be high because then I wouldn’t have to have a pressure catheter put in to prove I was having contractions. At this point, the freaking catheter sounded better than the amount of Pitocin being pumped through my veins.

About an hour later, Rosemary, the midwife, came in to check me. I was 5cm dilated, but they were still confused about my surges and because I didn’t appear to be in pain, had to put in the catheter to make sure the Pitocin dosage was accurate. What they found was shocking to them. My contractions were literally on top of each other. Rosemary, and one of the nurses felt my belly and realized it never stopped contracting. Rosemary grew nervous. “Turn off the Pitocin!” She said sternly. They turned it completely off, and I continued to labor on my own for 3 hours with no Pitocin.

I labored in the bed for awhile because of the stupid pressure catheter they put in me. It was bearable, but I was really squirmy and dying to move around. The nurses agreed that if I was comfortable I was welcome to. I stood up and labored holding onto the squatting bar while Tana and Kyle alternated pushing on my lower back and hips. I breathed with each surge and imagined a hot air balloon filling up until I could not inhale anymore. Then I blew the balloon away off into the sky. My balloon changed colors every time. I must have gone through hundreds of them during labor.

Sunshine was watching me breathe and encouraged me, telling me that I looked very relaxed through my surges. I thought I was going to need more tools than this but counter pressure from Tana and Kyle, along with the balloon visualization, seemed to be all I needed for most of the labor. Tana also had some really soothing music on which reminded me of more comfortable times when she gave me my amazing prenatal massages.

The midwife came in to check me and I reluctantly laid down on the bed again. The exams started to get less and less uncomfortable though. She looked up at me and said, “You are a 7…almost an 8. You are so close!” I still felt discouraged. If I was only going to dilate a centimeter every three hours I didn’t know how I could keep up with this. I was getting tired, and though I didn’t feel any pain, the pressure was getting intense.

I sat in a chair on a bed pan to try to get more relief and Tana and Kyle continued to do the counter pressure. This went on for a good while, until I finally stood up exclaiming, “This needs to stop.” I started to tell Tana and Sunshine that I could no longer do this. They helped me get onto the bed on all fours, and Tana pushed on my hips, while Sunshine fed me ice chips and tried to talk me through it. Kyle was also rubbing my back and helping to push when he was able. I should mention things got really fuzzy at this point and I have no idea where anyone really was, I just felt their presence.

I wanted to cry, but no tears would come out, so I just pouted my face. I looked at Sunshine and told her I could not do this anymore. “You are doing SO great!” she said as she smiled back at me. Tana also continued to affirm that I was doing awesome. Apparently at this time, Sunshine looked over at Kyle and gave him a thumbs up. She knew I had hit transition and that the baby was so close to coming out. She went and got the nurses, who mostly left us alone at this point. Sunshine and Tana had me under control.

Sunshine smiled and said, “Kimberly, you’re going to get your sapphire! Your baby is going to be born today, so soon! You are close!” I glared at her, “Don’t lie to me,” I pleaded with her. “I’m not lying!!” she said as everyone laughed a little. Kyle was behind me watching the entire thing. I suddenly heard his voice saying “Wow, this is so amazing.” He apparently could see my pelvis open and the baby start to descend. Hearing how much awe he was in really inspired me to stick with my plan. I could do this; and although I was not comfortable and ready to be done, at no point during transition did I ever think I’d rather have a needle in my spine to numb what I was feeling.

The midwife came in to check me, and Tana and Sunshine let me know she was here. “I’m not laying down, I can’t.” I said. “Honey, you can stay right where you are! I think she can check you from here.” Sunshine said. The midwife checked me and told everyone, “I don’t see a cervix.” At the time, I thought this meant she had no clue how far along I was, but what she was really telling everyone was that I was 10 centimeters and ready to push. I stayed squatted on the bed and used the squat bar to pull myself up when I had a contraction to push Peanut down. I continued to hear Kyle’s voice, just in awe of what was happening. It was more encouraging than anything seeing just how amazed my husband was at his child coming into the world through my body. Sunshine and Tana continued to do awesome at getting me through everything and focusing me.

Before I knew it, Sunshine had me turn onto my back in a sitting up position with my legs spread. I held onto my legs and pulled them up with each contraction as I pushed the baby out. The midwife was ready to receive Peanut, but I still had no idea she was there. I didn’t know where anyone was. I heard voices and knew there were tons of people in the room…but I was only aware of me and Peanut in this moment. The pressure was intense and I just wanted Peanut out at this point, so I pushed with everything I had.

Suddenly the midwife got my attention, “Now, Kimberly, your baby is sunny-side-up, so you’re going to have to push a little harder to make any progress.” She must have under estimated my strength, because I started to push with everything I had and before I knew it she was trying to get my attention again. I focused in on her stern voice finally, “Kimberly!!!” I looked down at her. “Now I need you to listen to me, Kimberly. If I tell you to stop pushing, you need to stop.” At this point, I knew the baby was almost out, but really just wanted Peanut out. I couldn’t stop.

She started to make me grunt to avoid tearing too much. I did this for a good while. Everything was so blurry and fuzzy at this point. Before I could even focus on what was going on, Peanut was out, and a little slimy human body was placed on my belly. The midwife looked at Kyle, “Tell us what it is, Dad.” Kyle looked at me and told me it was a boy. I was in shock, but so, so happy! We announced to the room that his name was Tristan Michael Francis. They took him to the other side of the room to suction him from the meconium and make sure all was okay. Kyle followed, cut the cord and then put on his first diaper.

They brought Tristan back to me where he nursed right away and later on Kyle and I were able to have our own moment with him. Everything was absolutely perfect. Nowhere near where we’d planned, but still so perfect and so meant to be!

After the birth, I had an amazing burst of energy and euphoria. While I was waiting for Tristan to be handed back to me, I looked around the room in shock at what I had just done and uttered the words “Holy s***.” Everyone laughed. I also joked that someone had better go get me a blizzard from dairy queen and a shot of tequila. I was full of jokes, and it was so not like me. But I was on cloud nine. It’s amazing what your hormones do when you don’t numb them, and I’m still in disbelief at how interactive my son was in the first few hours of his life. I know a birth like this is not for everyone, as people have their own beliefs and values, but after my experience, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I hope my story can show women that there is nothing to fear in childbirth. It is not a medical experience, it is a natural one. I heard so many horrible, heinous birth stories before my baby was born and I just don’t understand it. My whole experience was just so cool. As women, we have got to stop fearing something that is so natural. It is my only wish that everyone can feel the way I did about my birth.

Thanks for reading!

Normalizing Twin Births; Twins Born Naturally in the Hospital

Normalizing Twin Births; Twins Born Naturally in the Hospital

*A few parts of Jess’ birth footage were used in part 3 of More Business of Being Born, so if you’ve seen that, you’ll see her!

Nothing about my pregnancy went according to plan. After nearly 13 years of marriage and completion of my clinical social work graduate program, we decided it was finally time for us to start thinking about a family. It took us about 6 months of trying before I figured out there was a problem with the luteal phase of my cycle that was making conception more difficult than it should be. But after about 8 weeks of weekly acupuncture, yoga, chiropractic, and dietary changes, we got that plus sign we’d been waiting for. (The day after starting my new job, incidentally). Part of me always knew I’d have twins and so when I began dreaming of twins in the 5th week of my pregnancy, I had a feeling then that something magical was happening. And when I would talk to “baby” in my tummy, my whole body said, “That’s not right”, so I always talked to “babies” instead, just in case…

Each time we had a midwife appointment, Mitch would ask, “Can you tell if there are two in there?” (Mitch and I have been together 14 years – long enough for him to know that my intuition isn’t just a fluke.) My best friend was pregnant at the same time, due the same day, and I was consistently bigger than her, and MUCH sicker than her. I remember one day shopping for maternity clothes together – the two of us standing in the dressing room and seeing how much bigger I was, telling her, “Look at my belly compared to yours. I think there are two babies in there.” In retrospect, I also started feeling movement around 12 weeks – like little ping pong balls bouncing around my belly – what my midwife referred to as an “early quickening”. So there were lots of signs backing up my intuition.

By the time our first ultrasound came around at 20 weeks, I told Mitch I was pretty sure they would find two babies. But I didn’t completely believe it yet – my heart knew it, but my head had not quite caught on. The sonographer put the wand down on my belly and two perfect circles appeared on the screen. She immediately removed the wand, looked at us, and said, “So, …um, is this your first ultrasound?” Thinking this was a standard question, I told her that it was. “Ah,” she said. She put the wand back down and said, “Because here’s a head, and here’s baby number two’s head.” Mitch immediately started laughing and I screamed and said, “I knew it!” The only place my intuition was off was that I had dreamed of one boy and one girl. Instead, there were clearly two sweet identical little boys in there.

Our first glimpse of the babies! Two beautiful heads…

twins sonogram

This was the first of many changes to how I imagined my birth would go. I’d been planning a home birth or a birth center birth and had been getting my care through a local birth center. My midwife offered to do a home birth for us since they could not birth twins at the center due to their license. (No twins, no breech). I did some serious soul-searching and intuited that these babies were not meant to be born at home. So my midwife recommended an amazing OB in just over the border in Wisconsin. Kind of a drive, but totally worth it. Dr. H is more midwifey than many midwives I’ve met, and I felt totally calmed to be working with him. He had a lot of experience with twins and is regarded as a local expert on vaginal breech delivery – something that is fairly common with twins. “Breech is a perfectly valid way to come into the world,” he told me. I have never been afraid of a drug-free natural childbirth, but the idea of a hospital birth has always scared me. Dr. H and this small community hospital were as close to a birth center as I would get this time around, and I knew it was the right place to get my care.

We certainly experienced some major “twinshock” – I spent the day after our ultrasound alternately laughing hysterically and crying hysterically. But once the news sunk in, we began to realize what an amazing miracle was taking place. Feeling the boys grow and move in my belly over the next few months was something I’ll never forget. As the months went by, I got bigger and bigger. I was measuring 40 weeks by 28 weeks pregnant, so… fun.

One of my final belly pictures, at 34 weeks…

pregnant with twins

Fast-forward to 34 weeks: I’d been feeling restless the past few days. I’d gotten up at 2 in the morning and taken a shower one night because I just…had to. Mitch later told me that the late-night shower was when he started to think that the babies would be coming sooner than we thought – I’d never done anything like that. On a Thursday, I took a nap on the couch and woke up to a feeling that wasn’t quite right. Turns out I’d lost my mucus plug. I saw Dr. H the next day and he said not to worry – losing the mucus plug was a “nonspecific” sign. For the next few days, I started passing mucus regularly. Again, not necessarily anything to be concerned about. Still, we scheduled our second meeting with our doulas for that Monday just in case we were closer to the big show than we’d thought. Tuesday morning, I woke up with another feeling that a change had happened and found that I’d had some bloody show. We drove in to the L&D unit at our hospital and they put me on the fetal monitors, found that both babies looked good and saw that I was having some mild Braxton-Hicks contractions (which I’d been having since about 20 weeks). I was 80% effaced and just 1 cm dilated, (normal for twins) so they again weren’t worried.

That night, some friends came over for a visit. In retrospect, I was having a low “restless” backache, and some crampiness in my thighs, but I chalked it up to the fact that I’d been laying on that hospital bed all day. I was in denial that I would go anything less than 40 weeks, so why would I think that labor would begin any time soon?

1:45 am, Wednesday 1/12/11: I was asleep and heard/felt a slight “pop!” and felt what seemed like a tidal wave of amniotic fluid rush out. (Good thing we’d just put the waterproof mattress pad down). Our joke now is that Mitch and half our bedroom furniture went rushing down the hall on the gigantic wave of amniotic fluid. Mitch woke to me saying, “Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit.” There was no mistaking what had just happened and it was too early. Just as Mitch asked me what was wrong, he started getting drenched and realized what was going on.

Because I was 34 and 6/7 weeks, it meant we couldn’t have the delivery at our Wisconsin hospital that we’d wanted, but my wonderful OB could catch our babies at a local hospital in the Twin Cities (ha!) with a NICU attached. Already one of my biggest labor fears was being realized: I’d be delivering in the most medicalized possible environment. Quite the change from my initial dream of a water birth at home. But I knew it was best for my early boys.

We called one of our doulas, who told me to take a shower, have a little meal, and take some time to breathe and reflect on the fact that my babies were coming today. This really helped me calm down and feel more centered. I’m so glad I took that time.

Mitch printed out my birth plan, put my labor playlist on my iPod, and made me some oatmeal. I sat on the couch and cried some tears – both happy and scared, and listened to a favorite song from my labor playlist, Djorolen, by Bela Fleck and Oumou Sangare. I hummed quietly to my boys and connected with them, and let them know that it was okay that they decided to come earthside today. I didn’t remember it at the time but the translation of the lyrics to this song are, “The worried songbird cries out in the forest. Her thoughts go far away. For those of us who have no parents, her thoughts go to them.” Looking back, this was a spiritual moment. At that moment, I was that worried songbird whose thoughts were far away. I felt worried, lost, happy, excited, calm – all at the same time. But from that moment on, there was no fear. I knew somehow that it would all be okay, that I would push both these babies out of my vagina with little problem, that my body knew how to do what needed to be done that day.

About two hours from when my water broke, we were on our way to the hospital. By the time I got to there at 4 AM (on all fours in the backseat, which felt GREAT), I’d begun having some mild contractions – nothing worse than period cramps. Our doulas Sarah and Amber met us in our labor room and we met Lori, our nurse for the day. Much to my pleasant surprise, she was totally accommodating of my natural birth plan – not wanting pain meds, epidural, or continuous fetal monitoring, etc. It really was the luck of the draw because depending on the nurse, she could have required continuous fetal monitoring due to hospital twin policy. The nurse checked me and I was dilated to 4 cm. I couldn’t believe it – I’d barely felt a thing at that point.

I spent the morning in the early labor phase doing lots of hip circles on the birth ball, doing squats and lunges, and yoga led by Sarah. This was where I was sooooo glad I’d gone to prenatal yoga classes during my pregnancy. I felt so strong and powerful. I was able to moan through contractions and recover my sense of humor and ability to converse between contractions. Both my doulas and Mitch had their hands on me almost all the time, which was exactly what I wanted – I felt so supported. I had my labor play list playing which was also tremendously comforting – it helped the sterile hospital space feel more like home.

Sometime around 10 or 11am, a distinct shift in my labor occurred. We’d taken a class at the Childbirth Collective called “The Natural Rhythm of Labor” where the teacher, an experienced doula, acted out the stages of labor in a very realistic manner. This proved to be one of the most helpful things throughout my labor because I sort of knew based on how I was acting where I was in the labor, and that how I was behaving was normal. Once I felt this shift, I knew we’d moved to the next level. I was beginning to feel tremendous downward pressure in my bottom and a need to bear down. The contractions were intense and I could no longer talk between them. I was less able to be present with my low moaning and tensed up quite a bit. Again, my doulas and Mitch were amazing in helping me to relax as best I could. Because of the urge to bear down, my favorite place for the rest of my labor was on the toilet in the dark bathroom. I spent some time in the tub, but it wasn’t very deep and didn’t provide the relief I’d hoped it would. While I was in the tub, our nurse checked me again and even though I was sure I must be at about 28 centimeters at that point, I was at 6.

We went back to the labor room and this was when I was beginning to tell my support team, “You guys, I don’t think I can do this anymore.” Again, I remembered from the Childbirth Collective class that this was a good sign because it meant I was getting closer to the end. “You ARE doing this!”, my support team reminded me. Eventually I began begging for an epidural – supposedly another sign that things were progressing. Sarah, Amber, and Mitch knew I didn’t want the epidural so they helped me through more contractions. All the while, I was begging and saying I couldn’t do this anymore. I was so exhausted – I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just let me lay down in the bed! It was hard not to tense up so much, but Amber helped me do a low roar through my contractions. I also threw up several times at this point – I again remembered from our Lamaze class that this was a “good sign”. Even deep in laborland, I was somehow able to remember that barfing was often an indicator of transition.

Amber and Mitch, helping me through a contraction…

husband and doula

The nurse checked me again because I was doing so much grunting in my contractions that she felt sure I was ready to push. She discovered that I was still at 6 cm, had a slight fever, and that my cervix was beginning to swell from all the downward pressure over the hours. Sarah and Amber had me switch my breathing technique so that I wouldn’t bear down so much, but it was nearly impossible not to. The nurse said, “Okay, I know you don’t want an epidural, but I think we need to do something to take the swelling out of your cervix.” There was part of me that wanted to look at my labor support team and say, “See!? I won! Epidural!” Even though I didn’t want it, the idea of relieving the intense pressure of the contractions had taken over. The anesthesiologist came in and as he was prepping me, he said, “I see you have some acne on your back. That can increase the potential for infection which can lead to paralysis and death.” I was like, “Yep, paralysis, death, got it. Sounds good. Let’s get that epidural now, please!”

After the epidural was placed, it took only about 10 minutes to realize that I was one of the small percentage of women the anesthesiologist mentioned for whom epidurals don’t work. The intensity of the contractions had only increased and I had full feeling and movement from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. I could have stood up and tap-danced, no problem. (If I knew how to tap-dance). Sarah and Amber sent Mitch to go get something to eat thinking that we’d have some time now that the epidural was in. Wrong – nurse checked me again since I was still bearing down and clearly feeling the increasing intensity of each contraction. In retrospect, this was the final part of transition.

25 minutes after my non-functioning epidural was placed, I had gone from 6 cm to 10 cm! Sarah called Mitch and told him to get back upstairs quickly. The nurse got scrubs for everyone (Twins automatically have to be delivered in the OR at most hospitals. Lame.). And even though I was in a deep internal place, I knew we were at the end and the birth was near. I have never felt so fully in my body in my life – it was the most profound physical experience I’ll ever have. Sarah told me it would be okay if I started doing some little pushes when my body felt like it. My OB was on his way from Wisconsin (at about 4pm – rush hour!) and I could tell the nurse was beginning to get a little nervous that she was going to have to catch these babies. Luckily, we rolled past Dr. H as they were wheeling me to the OR. Seeing him smile was very reassuring.

There were about 15 people in the OR – a team of NICU nurses for each baby plus the NICU resuscitation team, and some nurses for me. Mitch was at one side, my nurse at the other, and Sarah was at my head. Amber was videotaping. Side note: I’m SO glad my delivery was videotaped. I tell everyone to video their birth if possible. It was very healing for me to be able to watch what I did during the birth of my sons. It was tremendously empowering to be able to see the whole experience from a different vantage point. In the time since the birth, I’ve watched the video literally 50 times, and I will show it to anyone who will watch it so they know the amazing things I am capable of. UPS guy? Thanks for the package, want to watch when I pushed two babies out of my vagina without the aid of any pain medication?

So anyway, pushing. I didn’t realize how much pushing a baby out feels like the exact same sensation as pooping. My pushing wasn’t super productive at first, but once Sarah started telling me to push into my bottom, it made all the difference. No wonder I’d wanted to sit on the toilet for the last several hours. At one point, I reached down and felt my little baby A’s head as I was pushing. That really helped me focus as well – there really and truly was a baby coming out of me! All this pushing wasn’t for nothing!

I was in such a deep internal place – a place I’ve never been before. Most everything just melted away and I had a singular focus that I wasn’t in control of. It was as if my body was pushing, rather than me pushing. I was aware of Sarah at my ear. I was aware of Dr. H’s gentle encouragement. I was certainly aware of the intensity of the physical sensation. What I was most aware of, though, was my sweet Mitch at my left side. With each push I could hear his words of excitement, telling me I was amazing and telling me how each push got us a little closer to the end. I could hear the smile in his voice. I could tell he could see the progress I was making – the first baby’s head making more and more of an appearance with each push. I didn’t hear a trace of worry in his voice – only joy and amazement, and that more than anything got me through.

After what felt like an eternity, but what was actually less than 40 minutes, Oskar Jeffrey was born at 5:09 pm. O had a tough time at first – he was gray and floppy and did not cry for quite some time. They whisked him off to the NICU team as soon as Mitch cut the cord. Mitch went to Oskar and Sarah told me to talk to him so he could hear my voice. He had to be incubated because he was having trouble breathing on his own. But Sarah told me, “Jess, if they were really worried about him, they’d have taken him out of here by now. He’s going to be okay.” I don’t know if that was true, but it calmed me down. Even as she was saying that, I could see that he was pinking up, much to my relief.

No sooner had she said that than I began to feel the urge to push again. I’d sort of forgotten that I had another baby in me. I heard Dr. H say, “There’s another bag of waters” and as he was saying that, my second bag of waters broke. When that happened, I heard him say, “And there’s a head!” Those were some of the sweetest words I’ve ever heard. My second little boy, who’d been breech the whole time in utero, had somehow managed to turn after his brother was born. I was honestly thinking, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this a second time.” But one contraction and about 3 pushes later, Henry Christopher entered the world at 5:13pm, wriggling and crying. I barely felt him come out. They were able to put him on my chest for about 15 seconds and it was amazing – the biggest high of my life. I cried out, “Baby, baby, baby, baby, sweet baby! I’m your mom!” I felt an almost primal urge to lick him, and I wanted to kiss him nonstop. But he had to be intubated as well, so he was taken off pretty quickly also. I didn’t even notice delivering the enormous placenta that my boys had shared over the last nine months.

Meanwhile they’d stabilized the boys and were able to bring them to me briefly before transporting them to the NICU. I couldn’t believe how much I loved them. It was scary seeing them with their ventilators in, but I had the feeling that everything would be alright. I knew they were in good hands. Something in me knew they would be okay.

I was on such a high after the delivery. They wheeled me back to my room and right away I asked for the room service menu. I ordered grilled cheese and chocolate pudding and nothing ever tasted so good. Mitch was shocked to hear me say, “You know, that wasn’t so bad. I’m really already starting to forget how much that hurt!” About an hour after that, I started to feel like I’d been put through the ringer, and was so so anxious to go see my boys. It was such a strange and empty feeling to have given birth so triumphantly but to be without my babies.

The first picture of the four of us, in the NICU at Children’s…

twin boys

When it was all said and done, even though almost nothing went according to plan, it worked out exactly like it was supposed to. I had what can only be described as an amazing, magical labor and delivery. Because of my experience, I also feel strongly that beautiful, sacred, soulful birth can happen anywhere: I have had two truly transcendent experiences in my life, and one of them occurred in a brightly lit, sterile OR, on my back, in stirrups, with a literal crowd of people looking on. I felt every second of each passing sensation and now I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I ended up getting my natural childbirth after all, and I’m really glad now that the epidural didn’t work.

In the difficult days after the birth when my boys spent a few weeks growing and getting stronger in the NICU, I thought over and over about how strong and amazing and powerful I was during their birth. If I was capable of that, I am capable of anything. One of my best friends told me later, “You’ll never get tired of telling that story as long as you live. It’s an amazing thing that you did and you should never forget that.” We are now approaching my boys’ first birthday and hardly a day has gone by that I don’t think about the day that I gave birth to them. I’ve often heard the saying that when a baby is born, so is a mother. This has held true for me – I feel like when my boys were born, I was reborn. I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I was not a strong person, but after birthing my babies I know that I have strength I never knew I had. I’ve since become a doula and I always tell my mamas, “You have no idea how strong you are.”

So to whoever reads this, please know that twin birth can be just as normal as singleton birth. It’s a bummer that as twin mamas we have to fight that much harder for our births, but we can still have the birth we envision for ourselves and our babies. My advice from my experience is to hire a doula (or two!), and find a care provider who is experienced with both twins and breech vaginal deliveries. If you have a good birthing team in place, you can focus on birthing those beautiful babies without all the extra worry. If you are expecting twins you are not automatically a high-risk ticking time bomb. Twin birth is just a variation on normal birth, period.

Cytotec, Birth Trauma, Hypnobirthing and a Healing Birth Center Birth

Cytotec, Birth Trauma, Hypnobirthing and a Healing Birth Center Birth

This is the first time I have written this down. I’m sure it will be emotional, even though you will only get the very shortened version of my hospital birth experience.

I had had a fairly normal pregnancy with Ethan. Nothing out of the ordinary until around 36 weeks when my blood pressure went up suddenly. I was from then on monitored twice a week plus one doctors appointment a week. Thankfully, my blood pressure gave me no serious problems. It went down to an okay range and stayed there. While I was being monitored for Pre-E, my belly was found to be measuring small. I was now 38 weeks pregnant and measuring at 35. My obstetrician decided to do an ultrasound to determine the approximate size of my baby. I did not know at the time the inaccuracy of using ultrasound to predict size, so I consented.

A week later at my regular appointment, I was informed that the ultrasound had concluded that my baby was 3-3.5 lbs and that my placenta was starving him. We would be inducing that night. I did not know any better so at 39 weeks and 3 days, I took my bags and my fear up to Labor and Delivery to be induced.

I was immediately put into a gown and hooked up to monitors and an IV. Somebody came and took my blood. At around 6 pm I was administered my first dose of cytotec. I am going to take a little detour here. Nobody told me that cytotec is an off label drug and that the drug company specifically states on the FRONT label of the package not to use on pregnant women or women in labor. It can cause a whole host of problems ranging from hyper stimulation of the uterus to uterine rupture. I was told that it was used to induce labor. They made me believe that this was a drug MADE to induce labor. When I found this out later, I began to feel lied to and violated by my care providers. It was made even worse when I discovered that there is a drug called cervadil that is specifically made to dilate the cervix and that cytotec is used because it is cheaper option.

Going back to my birth story. Contractions came on, and came on strong, around 8 pm. My husband was in the room with my but was no help at all, sleeping on the couch. I was feeling full on pitocin contractions, and I was not doing well. I was not allowed to get off of the monitors since the drugs can cause distress in the baby. I had not wanted an epidural but almost immediately started begging for one. The nurse came in to check my cervix 2 hours later and told me I was still closed, no progress. I started to cry. Shortly after, I began to vomit. My contractions were lasting 1 minute long and I was having 3 in a row with no break. After the 3, I would have less than a 2 minute break in between.

What was this? Nothing in any of the information I had read had said anything about this. I was fully versed in the ‘stages’ of labor and I knew this was not one of them, nor was it normal. Around 6 hours later another nurse came to check me. She kept looking at me like I was being overly dramatic and she wasn’t quiet about the fact that she thought I was. She kept telling me I ‘had’ to let her check me and I was only going to hurt my baby if I didn’t. I was barely coherent at this point from the pain of the hyperstimulation of the uterus that I was experiencing (more on this later!)

Finally, I gave up. I gave up and let her check my cervix. It hurt so bad and I couldn’t figure out why because I wasn’t having a contraction. After she removed her hand and told me I was still closed, I noticed that she had left all 4 of her gaudy over-sized rings on her fingers when she was checking my cervix. She made me feel less than human.

Around 8:30 am the next morning after 12.5 hours of the 3 in a row contractions and a cervix still closed, I started to hyperventilate and black out. At this point, they decided to give me an epidural. I got my relief at 8:45am. I immediately fell asleep. At around 9:30 am I woke up and felt an extreme pressure. I yelled to my husband to get the nurse because my baby was going to ‘fall out’. He was in the middle of eating a cheeseburger and told me in a minute. I couldn’t reach my call button so I yelled for her. When she came in and checked me, my son was about to crown. She ran out of the room and all of the sudden 20 people run in. The doctor barely made it.

At 9:43 am on May 5, 2007 my baby boy came into the world. 6lbs 5oz, 21 inches long and beautiful. My Ethan Bryce. They chopped his cord and whisked him away. I kept yelling, ‘Where is my baby?!’ and ‘Bring me my baby!’ but they all ignored me. When I finally got to meet him 20 minutes later, nobody could explain to me why he had been taken away. He was perfect.

I was thoroughly traumatized from this birth event. The nurses had let me down. I felt lied to, violated and sick about what had happened to me. They knew I had hyper stimulation of the uterus and let me suffer for 12.5 hours. They KNEW. My husband had let me down, he was not there for me. When I needed him, he said he was tired. When I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours, he ate in front of me. They took my baby from me and could not tell me why. 18 months later when we decided to have another baby, I was terrified and angry. Mostly angry. Everybody would say to me, ‘You have a healthy baby, you should be happy.’ I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t happy. I felt like I was being weak and ungrateful. So I began to research.

I researched everything. Everything I could find. I found other moms like me who were traumatized and I realized I wasn’t weak and what happened to me was NOT okay! I found that if I could find my courage, I could have a baby on my own… without anyone else trying to interfere. It took me 2 years to get pregnant with our daughter and by the time I was, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be free and birth my baby freely. I was scared but I was ready.

I started out my care at the Naval Hospital that is on the base that we live. When I refused the vaginal exam at my first appointment, the nurse was so mean to me that she made me cry. But I was strong from so many years of anger and the knowledge that I had gained. Around 20 weeks I found out about a free standing birthing center that my insurance covered 100%. Around 26 weeks, I switched my care fully to the birthing center and that decision changed my life. The midwives there were so kind to me. They respected my decisions. They treated me like a person. My doula had done births there before and assured me that they were hands off during birth.

I’ll let you into my head at this point. I was still afraid. I did not trust anyone. The midwives had done nothing to make me not trust them but I was so traumatized from my previous birth that I couldn’t let it go. I didn’t trust them to advocate for me when I was going to be at my most vulnerable because the people I trusted before violated me. They scarred me for life. My spirit was scarred. I was scarred as a woman. I had not yet learned that scars aren’t always a bad thing. They can remind us that we have made mistakes in the past but the future is unwritten; blank and waiting for us to weave beautiful stories and experiences into an afghan of knowledge and hope for those who look upon it after we are gone.

My doula, Amanda, doubled as my Hypnobirthing instructor. Hypnobirthing was something I chose to do because I believed in the power of my own mind to get me through labor. I didn’t think I needed anyone but myself. Amanda was the only person I trusted and I do not know what I would have done without her. She calmed my fears and when I thought of her, I knew she would be the one to stand up for me which is what I desperately needed. When I looked into her eyes, I could tell that she was all in for ME. Just me. I had all these fears. Fear that my body wouldn’t go into labor on its own, fear that people I trusted would let me down, fear that my husband wouldn’t be there for me and that I would hate him for it. Strangely enough though, never fear of pain.

My due date came and went. 3 days after, on August 3 at night I began to feel contractions. Not strong ones and I could sleep through them. When I woke up on the morning of the 4th, they were semi regular. They would go at intervals of 5 minutes for an hour, 7 minutes for an hour, 2 minutes for an hour and so on. They were nothing I couldn’t handle so I went to walk around Babies R Us with my mother and my sister. I even drove. By the end of the day I was getting frustrated that the contractions would not even out and put me into active labor.

At 11 pm I laid down to try and get some sleep. I dozed a few times but was too anxious to actually sleep. Around 1 am I got into the tub because I was becoming more and more uncomfortable. I called my husband upstairs at around 1:30 am to sit with me. My contractions were now 5 minutes apart. I decided to get out of the tub and lie down in bed. My baby started to move and make the contractions more painful, so I got onto all fours with my butt in the air which helped a ton.

I stayed like this for another hour and at around 2:30 am my doula showed up. She was so amazing, we talked and she reminded me to keep fluids and use the restroom. I told my husband, I feel like these contractions should hurt, they should feel bad, maybe they’re not doing anything. Amanda assured me that they were. At this point I was still fine and pretty comfortable, just breathing through my surges.

At about 4:20 am, something changed. The contraction just felt different. I told Amanda, we need to go to the birthing center NOW! When I got up, my teeth started to chatter. We walked downstairs and when I stopped for my surge my legs started to shake. I was transitioning and the hormone surges were making me shake.

We got into the car at 4:30 am and arrived at the birthing center at 5:30 am. The midwife checked my cervix (the first time my entire pregnancy that anyone saw or touched my vagina) and I was 8! That gave me so much hope. I immediately got into the water. The next few hours are sort of a blur to me. At one point I vomited and the midwife told me that it was good and it would help me dilate. I was breathing through my contractions and rocking back and forth to help ease the pressure. My husband was amazing the whole time!! I couldn’t have done it without him and I believe this restored a piece of our marriage that had been broken before.

After a few hours, the midwife checked me again. At this point I had (or my body had) been pushing for a little while. She informed me that I had a lip of cervix over the baby’s head and that she needed to move it away so the baby could come down. After she moved it, I started to feel my baby move down into my pelvic area. I reached up and felt her water bag, still in tact, and through it I could feel her head. I knew I could push her out right then but I didn’t. I felt like I should wait.

After a little while of waiting and a few small pushes, my body started pushing for me! I couldn’t control it, it was the strangest feeling. A few pushes later, her head came out (still in the bag). At this point I remember yelling GET HER OUT GET HER OUT! Even though I had planned on catching her myself. The midwife broke the water bag around her head, helped her shoulders out so I could grab her and I delivered my baby girl, Elaina J., at 8:24 am.

She didn’t cry right away, she just kept looking at me and blinking her eyes. I’ll never forget that. She was trying to clear her throat but wasn’t in a hurry. We started to rub her back to get out the extra fluid and she let out a few coughs and a tiny cry. So different from the harsh treatment babies receive in the hospital! After about 10 minutes we got out of the tub and moved to the bed so I could deliver the placenta. Man, I was mad I had to deliver the placenta, I was ready to be DONE!! Baby girl latched on like a piranha and nursed the whole time. We waited to cut her cord for about 2 hours. In those 2 hours she pooped 4 times!

When the midwives finally got a chance to check her out and weigh her, they had to get a new scale just to check: 9lbs 13oz! The midwife looked at me and said “Honey, if we would have weighed her right when she came out like a hospital does, she wold have been over 10 lbs!! Good job!” Now we knew why my body told me to wait and not push… I would have torn if I pushed her out too fast. We also knew why I was only comfortable on my knees…this position can help a large baby into the pelvic area. I listened to my body and it was right. As it was, I delivered a 10 lb baby easily and with no tearing! A woman’s body is such an amazing thing!

Since I’ve already written 3 pages, I’ll bring this to a close. I was traumatized and I didn’t trust anyone… but I trusted myself and I trusted my body. My second birth was so healing to me. I wasn’t weak and I wasn’t wrong in feeling like my body and my womanhood had been violated. I listened to my heart and it led me down a path that changed my life. I am so proud of myself and my husband for doing this together. I am proud that I listened to my body and my instincts ONLY. I am proud that I now feel more like a woman than ever because I stood up for myself and my baby.

As I sit here with tears in my eyes, I only hope that someone will take away from this that she is strong and she is beautiful. That she CAN do it and she DESERVES to. That I, and all the other women who believe in birth, are there in spirit cradling her and her baby, helping them on their journey. THEIR journey. I want all you ladies to know that you are all amazing and you can do things you never thought you could if you put your whole self into it. You are beautiful, you are smart and you are strong. You were made to be strong and your body was made to birth your baby. I believe in you. Don’t forget it.

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