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Raw, Beautiful, Amazing Home Water Birth!

Raw, Beautiful, Amazing Home Water Birth!

This post is about birth and I am sharing it for all my friends who have babies or want to have babies and for their husbands who aren’t sure how to support their wife during pregnancy.

One day I will become a midwife because I want to help moms and dads bring their babies into the world just like I was able to do with Matthew. I want other moms to feel safe, educated, respected, and loved while they bring new life into their arms. In our country, we tend to keep mother’s in the dark, we tend to treat pregnancy like it is a “condition” instead of the natural process of a woman’s body. We don’t educate our mothers about how their body works and we don’t support them enough in their birthing decisions. I fell victim to this many times.

Every one of my six births was different. I was young when I had my first baby, Allison, and her birth was very traumatic for me. I had no idea what to expect or what my body was supposed to do. With my next two babies, I was coerced into major surgery for NO GOOD reason. I felt resentment and contempt for those births because I didn’t listen to my body, didn’t educate myself about what my body was capable of doing and I wasn’t supported by the medical community to birth my babies the way I wanted to.

I educated myself and found a supportive medical doctor for my next two births and was able to birth my babies the way I wanted. The problem was that I had to travel over three hours each way for all my prenatal appointments and the births. The local hospital here doesn’t support women giving birth vaginally after having a c-section, even though the data and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists support the safety. Those two births were both hospital births where the medical providers supported my rights to birth my babies.

When I became pregnant with my last baby, Matthew, I knew right away I didn’t want to travel again to have him. I couldn’t have him in the local hospital without being forced into ANOTHER unnecessary surgery, so my option was to have him at home. I carefully vetted local midwives and found one I knew would support me during my pregnancy and delivery.

No, not all midwives are the same and again, you MUST educate yourself!

Matthew’s arrival was raw, beautiful and amazing. I delivered him in my own home where I felt safe, respected and loved. I had everyone I love with me supporting me and feeding me positive energy. Not one time did I ever doubt my decision because of all the absolute love I was surrounded by. I couldn’t have done this birth without the support of my incredible husband who told me from the beginning of this pregnancy we needed to do a home birth. He was more than 100% on board with delivering our baby at home. My midwife was competent and encouraged me and Matt to bring our baby into the world the way my body was meant to. She provided the knowledge and skill to ensure a safe delivery. All of my children were in the room when Matthew arrived and it warms my heart that they were part of such an incredible miracle that God blessed us with.

The kind of birth I had isn’t for everyone, and I respect that. But the message here is do what is right for you, educate yourself, surround yourself with love and support and your birth can be just as beautiful! Don’t let the medical community dictate your birth. Educate yourself about your body and know that YOU are in charge of how your baby is born!

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth, husbands

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth

water birth, home birth

Submitted by Tara Menza

Photography by Lauren Gross Photography.

Third Time’s the Charm: A Successful HBA2C

Third Time’s the Charm: A Successful HBA2C

The birth of my first child was a failed induction that ended in a cesarean. I remember the nurses laughing at my natural birth plan when we checked into the hospital and telling me to “wrap my head around what was about to happen”. It wasn’t long after they started the Pitocin that I could feel intense cramping, but with the comfort of the yoga ball and some deep breathing, I was handling the labor well. After the internal monitor fell out the second time, the nurse told me I would need to get in bed and stay there. The doctor came in and broke my water, which is when things got intense. My contractions were hard, long, and one right after the other. I felt like I didn’t have time to catch my breath in-between contractions. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I asked for the epidural.

After dilating to six centimeters and 12 hours of intense labor, my doctor told me that the baby was showing signs of distress and that it was in our best interest to have a cesarean. Forty minutes later, we had a beautiful baby boy. I remember telling myself that I had a healthy baby and it didn’t matter how he came into the world as long as he was healthy, but I was lying to myself. The truth was, I was scarred physically and emotionally. I had planned on a natural, vaginal birth and nothing went as planned. I felt as though labor was done to me and that I was told what was going to happen instead of what my options were.  It wasn’t long after the birth of my son, that I decided I wanted to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with my next baby. At my follow up appointment I asked my doctor about the possibility of a VBAC and she told me that it was “once a cesarean, always a cesarean.”

When we started trying to conceive our second child, I started researching my options and decided to look closer at home birth. I made a consultation appointment with a home birth midwife that was referred to me by a friend. I was pregnant by the time we went to our appointment. The midwife looked at my surgical report and told me that I was a perfect candidate for a HBAC (home birth after cesarean).

Fast-forward nine months later to a beautiful October evening, my labor started and we called the team. Labor with my daughter was long and slow to progress. My contractions were sporadic and changed in intensity; some were intense and some not so intense. After 36 hours of laboring at home my midwife suggested we transfer to the nearest VBAC friendly hospital for an epidural. She said that would give my body the chance to rest so that when it came time to push, I would have the energy.

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We arrived at the hospital and had to spend quite a bit of time with the staff explaining our wishes. The doctor on shift agreed to continue my labor in the hospital with minimal interventions. After 12 hours with the epidural and a low dose of Pitocin, the doctor came in and said, “I’m sorry but it’s time.” He explained that because my water had been broken over 24 hours, I was risking infection. At eight centimeters and behind many tears, I signed the consent for cesarean. I was devastated. Once again, I was thankful for my healthy baby girl, but I was mourning the loss of my dream birth. I mourned that birth for over a year. I thought we had completed our family and I wouldn’t have another chance to have a natural birth.

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We were surprised three years later by the news of our third baby’s impending arrival. I knew immediately that I wanted to try again for a home birth, but my husband was not so sure. We visited our midwife and she shared all of my options with us. She told me that she would love to have me as a client again, but my chances of a successful home birth were around 50%. I knew this was my last shot and that if I didn’t at least try I would wonder forever what could have been.

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So with a reluctant, but supportive husband, I got busy with my Spinning Babies exercises and started listening to my Hypnobabies CD’s daily. One evening, months later, my contractions started, they were ten minutes apart and intense enough to wake me up, but they stayed that way all night and through the next day. My husband and I had a friend take our older children while we tried to rest and distract ourselves.

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It was in the evening that things got intense.  I contacted my birth team while my husband set up the birth tub in our bedroom. Contractions started coming hard and close together. I had to work hard to focus and relax during my contractions. My husband gave counter pressure on my back while repeating, “Breathe IN peace. Breathe OUT tension.” Those words helped me focus my breath and visualize my cervix opening. I labored in the tub, then on the toilet, on my side in my bed and then back to the tub. At some point in the tub, I asked my husband to get in with me. I just wanted to hold him and be close.

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It was shortly after he joined me in the tub that my water broke, my midwife checked my progress and I moved to my hands and knees. The very next contraction the baby was on my perineum and I felt the urge to push. I had my husband behind me in the tub, one midwife next to me with a flashlight, the other midwife and my doula in front of me holding my hands and coaching me how to push and to keep me intact. I loved pushing. It felt great! I felt powerful, successful, and strong. My doula told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head and I did. There it was! I knew it wouldn’t be long before I could hold my baby in my arms. After five or six pushes she was out. I heard her let out a cry and then my team helped me climb over the umbilical cord and my husband handed me our daughter. I just sat there and held her. There was no rush for us to go anywhere, we could just BE. The room was dim, quiet and calm, and we all just stared at her in amazement. A home birth after two cesareans – I did it!!!

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The experience of having a natural birth taught me to appreciate my body, because it is capable. A women’s body is amazing and although it’s hard to remember as you look in the mirror and focus on your flaws, it’s important to appreciate what your body is capable of doing. This experience also taught me to trust in my decisions and myself. It wasn’t easy telling my family and friends that I was planning a home birth after my last failed attempt.  Only I knew what was best for me and I am so thankful I trusted in my team, my body, and myself.failedhomebirth7

I Will Birth My Baby {Out Of My Vagina!}

I Will Birth My Baby {Out Of My Vagina!}

VBAC I

I am STRONG because I spent 9. 5 years since my first babies traumatic birth educating myself and becoming informed. 7. 5 years since my sons unnecessary, failed induction leading to my second cesarean, I learnt to trust my body.

I am STRONG because I knew I wanted a VBA2C, I also wanted a Homebirth as I had wanted to with my 1st, but I also knew I would have Gestational Diabetes. When I fell pregnant I chose to have my care done through the same hospital I’d had my traumatic birth in. I endured ‘dead baby’ cards & doubt, until one day I stood up for myself and told them enough was enough. I wrote a letter stating I am an informed woman making informed choices, in the best interests of myself and my baby I have chosen a VBA2C. From that day on my choices were respected.

I am STRONG because I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes as expected. I changed my lifestyle for my baby from the very start of my pregnancy to minimise any adverse outcomes for when my blood sugars would rise. I was told I would birth a big baby, but knew through research this wasn’t correct for my strict controlled Gestational Diabetes.

I am STRONG because I pricked my finger 6 times per day & injected insulin 4 times per day after diet & exercise alone didn’t work.

I am STRONG because I was told under hospital policy I was to have a repeat cesarean at 38 weeks because of Gestational Diabetes. I declined. My Gestational Diabetes was strictly under control and my babies well being tests were perfect. I spent all of my time researching studies, and the lack of. I knew I was making the best decision for myself and my baby.

I am STRONG because I spent week 40 crying, doubting my bodies ability to go into labour on it’s own, I surrendered and let go the day before I went into labour. I am very STRONG because I had reached 41 weeks, I had never laboured before. My body went into labour on it’s own & I rocked it!

I ROARED my baby out of my vagina after 4 hours of labour into the water. I Birthed my baby out of my Vagina, at HOME, at 41 weeks, after 2 previous cesareans, with Gestational Diabetes, to a very healthy 7lbd 7oz baby girl who had a beautifully healthy placenta.

I am STRONG because in 2011 I had a breast reduction and had 2kgs taken out of my breasts, unsure if I would be able to Breastfeed I sought out Donor Breast Milk, I wanted to give my baby the best start in life & believed donor milk was the next best thing to my own. I bought an SNS so I could breastfeed. I have 20 litres in my freezer, thank you to those wonderful mums.

I am STRONG because I am not special, I am just an informed woman who did what she believed was the best for herself and her baby. I believed in myself and didn’t let the fears of others overcome me. I refused to make decisions without evidence & it led me to a beautiful calm POWERFUL birth at home surrounded by love.

– Mel

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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.

River Violet’s Birth Story: HBA2C

River Violet’s Birth Story: HBA2C

For the past nine months Raul and I have been preparing for a HBA2C (home birth after 2 c-sections). We read all the books (Ina May was my favourite), watched all the documentaries and took a Bradley class to educate ourselves on the process. We were well versed in the “mechanics” of labour, but there was a mental/emotional component that I struggled with from day one.

Deciding to do a VBAC took a leap of faith. I can’t even count how many times I was asked about our delivery plans and when I told them we were planning a home birth, I was met with everything from caution to full out dissension.  While I had done all the research and looked at all the statistics, it was hard to quiet the little voice in my head that would say “what if?”

The pregnancy itself was fairly uneventful, besides the usual aches and pains and low iron there wasn’t much to complain about. I was able to skirt past the gestational diabetes, which was the biggest hurdle (since Jackson was a GD baby) and we started to hunker down and prepare for labour.

Mentally I started to work on the little voice in my head. First, my doula knew that I was a worrier, so she suggested I write out an alternate c-section birth plan as a plan B. We never needed it, but I felt a little better knowing that my wishes were typed up if things didn’t go as planned. Then I read all the birth stories again in the Ina May book, and paid attention to her words about how the mind/body was crucial to a successful ending. Every night before bed, I would play out how the labour and delivery would go in my head.

Sunday morning (Dec 30, 2012) I woke up on a mission. I suddenly realized that I had forgotten a key thing in my labour prep process. Before I was induced with Jackson and before my c-section with Zachary I sat down and wrote a letter to them in the womb. So I sat down in the office and wrote out River’s birthday letter. I told her about my hopes and dreams for her; how much we all loved her, at one point Raul came looking for me and found me crying my eyes out staring at the computer screen.

Note: Raul says that it was at this point he knew I was going into labour that day and suggested we go to the park knowing that it would get things moving.

That afternoon we decided to take the kids to the park down the street. It was rather cold, and my hips were killing me, so we didn’t stay very long but the kids enjoyed the change of scenery. We made it home and had hot chocolate, and then I lay down for a bit of a nap before dinner. I didn’t get much sleep though; I tossed and turned, and Zachary came in a few times to tattle. So I woke up kinda grumpy.

I then decided that I needed to use the new kitchen aid food processor I got for Christmas, so with Raul’s help we put together a chocolate chip cookie pie that I saw on Pinterest (again, I was a bit of a grump and got on Raul’s case for almost breaking the new food processor, LOL). That along with meatloaf, carrots, and mac and cheese… dinner was going to be awesome!

As I was bending down to get the meatloaf out of the oven at 7pm, I felt a little gush (like when your period starts). I went to the bathroom and saw a little bit of clear discharge and when I wiped there was a tint of pink. I figured I was losing my mucus plug and texted Ginni (my doula) to confirm. I thought it would be days before anything else happened, so we sat down to dinner. I wasn’t very hungry, so I ate a little bit of macaroni and then decided to take a hot bath.

I then called the babysitter to see what her plans were for the evening and see if she could come pick the kids up to watch them overnight. I wasn’t sure anything was going to happen, but I figured it would be better to have them there just in case.

While in the bath, I started getting noticeable contractions and had a few other spurts of leaking fluid. They hurt mainly on the bottom of my belly where the cervix is. I started up the contraction timer on my phone, and it said that I was having contractions every 3 minutes and they were one minute along. It was around 8pm at this time and we texted Ginni and our midwife Robin (from Multiple Blessings Childbirth Services) to tell her that contractions were consistent and coming every 3 minutes. Robin told us to count contractions for the next 30 minutes and let her know if they are increasing in frequency. Raul tried to get me to walk a little, and we got the boys packed up and sent to the babysitter’s house. Every time I would try to walk the contractions would be a minute or two apart. Sitting on the birthing ball they were 2 and a half minutes apart.

It was around 9pm when we finally decided my water had broken. So we updated Robin and Ginni and I settled in on the couch to work through some contractions. Raul was a whirlwind of activity as he moved the dog into the garage and started setting up the birthing tub. Robin showed up a little before 10pm and had me give her a urine sample and then laid down for an exam. She checked me and I was already 7cm!

Things started to happen pretty quickly after that. Robin was busy getting the birth supplies out and giving directions to the house to another midwife and Raul was texting Ginni to tell her that she needed to get her ASAP. I got into the birthing tub at around 10:15pm or so, and thought that the water was cold. Raul told me later that it was in the mid 90’s, so I think that my chattering teeth were more a result of being in transition than the temp of the water.  They kept boiling water to heat the pool up, but I kept complaining of it being cold. Jean (midwife in training) showed up sometime thereafter. I floated in the pool, moving around and working through contractions for another 30 minutes or so when I felt the need to push.

Note: Raul said that once I got in the pool I went into a “Zen” state and closed my eyes and got really serious. I only remember bits and pieces of the time in the pool so I guess I was somewhere else.

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I told Robin that I thought I needed to push at 11pm, and she checked me and said I was complete and it was time to push. Raul got behind me and held my arms and I started to push. The first few pushes I had no idea what I was doing, but someone (Robin) put her fingers where I needed to push and that helped me focus. I had my eyes closed the entire time- and I focused on the feeling on her fingers. They were telling me that I had to push to get her past my pubic bone, then they had me reach down to feel her head, and then she was crowning.  It burned (as was expected) but the only way to make it feel better was to keep pushing!

They had Raul move in front of me in order to catch the baby, and Ginni was behind me holding me up and talking in my ear. I don’t remember her coming in, but I think she came in as I was pushing. I pushed for 20 minutes. After her head, there was another push or two and her body came out.

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They put her on my chest, and she just looked up at me. She didn’t cry or fuss, she was very calm. They put a towel over her to keep her warm, and she was covered in vernix (very cheesy baby!). We sat in the pool just staring at each other for a few minutes waiting for the cord to stop pulsing. She was really zen, it was such a peaceful way for her to come into the world and you could tell in her eyes.

Then it was time for the placenta, which as a strange sensation. It felt like I was going to have to really push to get it out, but it sort of just plopped out. They had me cough, cough, cough instead of pushing. I thought it was funny for some reason.

The three of us then moved to the bed. Raul held the baby and started calling family, while I got dry and got into bed. I had a bit of an adrenaline rush and shook for a bit, and Ginni told me not to fight it just to let it happen. We then snuggled with River for a while, letting her breastfeed (which she latched on immediately), and oohed and ahhed over her. And then we all had awesome chocolate chip cookie pie! The midwives checked the baby out and weighed her at the end of the bed, and we finally got a cry out of her. She was mad that they were bugging her! She was 8 pounds 1 ounce, and pretty and pink.

The midwives headed home a little after 2am, and we just lay in our bed in awe of River. I think I stayed up another hour just staring at her little face, and she was so alert and stared right back. The doulas stuck around for a bit longer, cleaning up and taking the birth pool down.

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I am amazed at how good I felt after! And how amazing it was to sleep in our own bed the very same night. It took me another day or two to come to terms that not only did we get our HBA2C, but we did it amazingly fast!

Kimberly is the owner of Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent

 

Photography by M.Y. Photography

The Moment {Planned HBA2C, Unplanned Unassisted}

The Moment {Planned HBA2C, Unplanned Unassisted}

You posted a photo of “the moment” and it reminded me so much of my own. Especially because that moment is something I had waited for through 2 attempted vaginal births that turned into c-sections…

I was told I was broken.

I was told it would never happen and I couldn’t try.

I KNEW BETTER!

On April 2011, at 42w2d, I experienced THE moment.

I pushed out and caught my baby in the comfort of my own home (actually it was an unplanned unassisted HBA2C when the midwives didn’t make it in time). My husband supported me every step of the way and I couldn’t have been prouder of the team that we made.

unplanned unassisted homebirth HBA2C

I’m currently 8 months pregnant with my 4th and planning another home waterbirth. What’s amazing is that I never realized how much my HBA2C healed me until a few weeks ago when thinking of my upcoming birth. I realized I’m not even sad about those first 2 births anymore. In a way I am almost thankful for them because it was the heartbreaking lows of their births that has made me understand and appreciate just how miraculous and empowering a supported birth can be. The birth of my 3rd baby totally saved me- it gave me the confidence to face some pretty scary things in my life I’d been hiding from and it has given me the confidence to plan an unassisted birth sometime in the next 6 weeks or so. I am so excited for this upcoming birth. Everything just seems so perfect now and it blows my mind that I ever felt so much sadness from the first 2 births. It’s a sadness no woman should ever feel!  Everyone should get to feel as magnificent and empowered as I do today!

A video I created of my two cesarean births: http://www.onetruemedia.com/otm_site/view_shared?p=a76117e7f38d98af7cd815

And the video of my successful HBA2C can be found here: http://animoto.com/play/ItYrcQPpRVsdz5dMKxhTUQ

Photo and the HBA2C video credit go to Crystal Turner at Indy Birth Photographer (indybirthphotographer.com)

 

The Long Journey Home: An HBA2C Story, {Part V}

The Long Journey Home: An HBA2C Story, {Part V}

Yesterday, we shared the fourth part of Rose Homme’s HBA2C story. In this five-part series, she shares her journey to home birth: the emotional ups and downs, the pain of her first births, and how believing in herself and her body guided her through. Here, you can read (and watch) the HBA2C birth story of her daughter, Penelope!

“I woke and made Kyle Breakfast. Sylvia had a specific plan for his meal: two pancakes, one to represent Oliver’s head and one for hers. A dress made out of cheese and a cracker for Oliver’s shirt, and carrots for their arms and legs. After breakfast I proceeded to make our Father’s Day feast – we were hosting 16 people! I was done cooking by noon, and we spent the rest of the day in the pool with the kids.

That evening I was exhausted and sore from standing all morning. I went to bed super early (for me) at 9pm. I woke up the next morning with an, “Oh shit, I over did it yesterday, now I’m sore and can barely walk, I’m going to need a massage or something feeling!” But after I walked around a bit, my muscles loosened up. Around 8:30am I was getting intermittent tingly feeling on my cervix. I was unsure if this was early labor so was cautious to even acknowledge it. But when it was making me walk on my toes, I decided to give my midwife a heads-up. I called her and when I hung up, I actually had a little cry and told Kyle I thought it might be labor but felt so unsure and didn’t know my body. (looking back, this was clearly a sign it was actual labor.)

Since my plan was to ignore labor until I couldn’t ignore it any more, I still intended to take the kids to swimming lessons by myself. Right before we left, around noon, I changed my mind and had Kyle drive. It was a little uncomfortable driving there but not unbearable. I was still questioning if this was real labor or my mind playing tricks on me. Sue called to check in and I told her I was fine and had a contraction on the phone. She didn’t seem too concerned, and I was trying to downplay the pain, I didn’t want to over-exaggerate if it was early labor and could be going on for days. Through the kids’ lesson, I had to go to the front yard so I could moan and talk to myself. The instructor actually commented, “Are you having a baby today?” which made me feel good and think, hey maybe this is actually labor!

By the time the kids finished I was in the front yard on my hands and knees. I got in the car to go home and things got intense. We were listening to Jimmy Eat World, and I told Kyle to turn on a fast song and turn it up LOUD! I was hanging on the door trying to pull myself off the seat and singing/moaning through contractions. It was HOT, and I was tired. It was kind of perfect, looking back: Kyle was playing that same Jimmy Eat World album in his car constantly when we began dating when I was 17 (see picture!). Full circle, man.

We got home around 2pm. I turned on the air and tried to lay down. I couldn’t lay down, so I walked straight to the backyard, took off my dress and got in the pool. It was a little cold, so I stayed in the sun, resting my head on the railing, trying to sleep until the next contraction. Kyle came out to check on me. I was working really hard to be conscious and alert between contractions and acknowledge Kyle when he checked on me. I drank a glass of water and took a few bites of food – all things I didn’t do during Oliver’s labor.

It was painful, but manageable. I took one contraction at a time and rested in between. Every time I looked down and saw my bright pink toes poking out from my round belly, I couldn’t help but smile. As I continued to work through contractions, something beautiful and alive would catch my eye, and I would ask it for energy – the sunlight, clouds, or an abundant tree. I would also ask for the strength and power of all the women who’ve done this before me, and think of them by name, the women I know who have had natural births. I’d remind myself of the billions of women who have done this for centuries. But perhaps the most powerful thing was talking to the baby through the contraction, thanking her and acknowledging that she knows how to be born and reassuring her that I would listen to what she needs. I also talked to my body and reminded myself that my body knows how to have a baby.

I threw up. Kyle called Sue and she was on her way! When she arrived a few minutes later the first thing she said was, “It sounds like you’re pushing.” I didn’t even realize I was pushing – it just felt right and relieved pressure during contractions. I looked at her and said, “Only because I have to poop!” She put on her bathing suit to get in the pool. I love my Sue, she was ready to jump in and catch the baby! But when she put one foot in, she jumped out and said, “That’s too cold. We need to move you to the birthing tub in between the next contractions.”

To ensure we didn’t have a repeat of Oliver’s attempted VBAC, I had been telling myself the baby was ready to be born when we moved to the tub. My water broke before labor started with Oliver, so again to ensure I didn’t have the same experience, both Sue and I kept saying throughout this pregnancy that my water was not going to break – so in my head that meant baby would be born in the caul.

I got in the tub and as I pushed through the first contraction, my water broke. It was like a pop, and I was kind of shocked that it wasn’t the baby coming out. Then Sue checked me (for the first time this pregnancy) and I was sure the head would be right there. Again I was shocked when I could feel how far she could go before feeling baby’s head, another “Oh Shit!” moment. Then she said she could feel a lip, and I was like Oh. No. Not. A. Lip. What the hell!

My mind immediately went back to Oliver’s birth. I started to lose focus for a second and wasn’t sure what to do. Sue told me to just keep doing what I was doing. So I sat through one contraction, then I thought, Fuck it, I’m moving this baby down! Sue held back the lip and I pushed like crazy. I got a bit loud and unruly and was not being the most effective. Sue gently reminded me to focus my energy down below and try not to scare the baby with my screaming. That was what I needed to hear to get back to lower, more effective vocalization through my pushes.

I could hear in Sue’s voice that baby had moved down a bit, and this assured me that things were going to be different this time and we were making progress. My right leg started cramping so I was feeling the pain of that more than anything and really focusing to push through to the right place. I had to move around a lot to push through the leg cramps, so much that Kyle had to move out of the tub. I knew our baby was crowning when Sue commented on her long hair. It took another ten minutes get her completely out. This surprised me again, since I figured it would be like other stories I had heard where the baby just shoots out with two simple pushes.

Sue said, “She’s out to her eyebrows!” and I was thinking, Seriously! Her eyebrows?! Come on, Sue, just pull her out! I felt her move out more on the next push. Then I accepted we’d be sitting here forever, and all of a sudden she just flew out! Sue’s voice was so kind, encouraging, and gentle, and I was squealing with excitement. Kyle was able to get back in the tub and support me just before baby was born. It was incredible to be the first ones to hold our baby, and to have done it all together in our bedroom. Every part of the experience was unexpected and incredible! I’ve never felt so amazing in my life! I felt like I was in heaven. I couldn’t believe it was over and she was here… and it was still daylight!

I had meant to put a bottle of champagne in the fridge when labor started. But since I never acknowledged labor starting, that didn’t happen. Sue came prepared with two bottles and everyone was ready to celebrate! My brothers and sisters slowly showed up and we all toasted our ever-growing family. Penelope Rose was peacefully born at home in water at 5:25pm June 18, 2012. Our largest baby at 8lbs.

This birth experience healed old wounds and allowed me to put my past births into a new, healthier perspective. It was probably the most amazing experience of my life. It bonded our family on a different level, healed old wounds, and brought Kyle and I together stronger than we have ever been in our nearly 14 years together. I love my husband so deeply, but birthing a child together and sharing that moment is remarkable on a level that words can not explain. All of my children have taught me so much. My past birth experiences gave me the strength and courage to fight for this outcome, so with all my love I thank Kyle, Sylvia, Oliver and Penelope!

Something I learned during Penelope’s birth was that I could have had a very similar birth experience at a hospital. I could have labored at home almost as long and headed to the hospital when I threw up in our swimming pool. I didn’t need to be monitored or managed through that point and could have arrived at the hospital ready to push. That’s another great thing about an experienced doula: they should be able to judge transition and help you decide when when it’s time to go.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Birthing From Within are both great books and every woman should read at least one of them whether you are pregnant or not. We no longer have a society where we see our peers birth, so we don’t know what to expect or what a normal process is. These books can help familiarize you with what normal birth looks like – it’s not what is seen on TV or what is done to us in the hospital. Normal birth does not need to be managed. If you’re not getting what you need from your care provider, switch or get to a place where you can take what they say with a grain of salt. You’re paying them and quite frankly, you don’t need the bullshit. Limit your stress. I would say my OB was my leading cause of stress during my first pregnancy. If I had trusted myself and my body then the way I do now, I would have left or not let her comments effect me.”

The techno-medical model of maternity care, unlike the midwifery model, is comparatively new on the world scene, having existed for barely two centuries. This male-derived framework for care is a product of the industrial revolution. As anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd has described in detail, underlying the technocratic mode of care of our own time is an assumption that the human body is a machine and that the female body in particular is a machine full of shortcomings and defects. Pregnancy and labor are seen as illnesses, which, in order not to be harmful to mother or baby, must be treated with drugs and medical equipment. Within the techno-medical model of birth, some medical intervention is considered necessary for every birth, and birth is safe only in retrospect. 

― Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Rose owns the natural baby store, Rosie Posie Baby, in Anaheim, California. You can read more about her and her family on her blog, Rosie Posie Baby.
The Long Journey Home: An HBA2C Story, {Part IV}

The Long Journey Home: An HBA2C Story, {Part IV}

Yesterday, we shared the third part of Rose Homme’s HBA2C story. In this five-part series, she shares her journey to home birth: the emotional ups and downs, the pain of her first births, and how believing in herself and her body guided her through. Here, you can read the goals and intentions she set for herself for her third labour. Check back tomorrow to read the birth story!

“I know that our bodies are not flawed. All of us were built to birth regardless of our size, weight or height. I’m 4’11, I look huge when I’m pregnant, and I had to get to a point where I embraced my body and size for the work it was doing. That my size is normal for me and my babies. I think this played a part in my first birth experience as well, where I was as surprised by my size as everyone around me. I think that was the seed of doubt that started me questioning my ability to grow and birth a baby.

It is important to keep in mind that our bodies must work pretty well, or their wouldn’t be so many humans on the planet. 
― Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

I also had to get to a place where I accepted my previous births and could acknowledge the strength and lessons they taught me. One of the last things Amy (my therapist) and I worked on was being “ok” with a hospital transfer, and epidural; it was like accepting those possibilities let them go into the universe, and I was no longer attracting them or inviting them to our birth.

I knew one of my goals for this birth was to be completely conscious, responsive and active in the process. I acknowledged that it was as much our baby’s birth as it was mine and we were going to work together. Through the pregnancy I had to remind myself that I could listen to my instincts throughout the labor and my body, mind and baby would tell me how to move and cope.

Our bodies know how to birth. Our babies know how to be born.

Sue had embedded in me that we were going to ignore my labor, and treat it like any other day. On one level this sounded completely crazy to me, but I believed it to be the best way to handle labor. Since I was induced with my first and in la-la land with my second, I was very unsure of what to expect. Even with doubts popping up here and there, I knew that if I trusted my body it would lead the way.

I let go of any expectations or ideals of perfection, the IF – THENS I had during Oliver’s pregnancy. I knew I wasn’t going to make it to yoga class, so I just did yoga daily at home, totally ok with kids jumping all over me, interrupting me. I would stretch on the floor or crawl around the backyard, some days that would be all the exercise I could get. I did one yoga DVD from about 20 weeks on and memorized it. I modified it so that it felt right for me, staying in some positions longer and skipping others altogether. I walked as often as I could. I knew that our daily lives didn’t accommodate daily strolls, so I went for distance. As a family we would take walks on Sunday to the Orange Circle about three miles away.

I tried to keep my activity level the same in late pregnancy as it was early on. I made sure to do the stretches and squats Sue recommended. I always had my car seat set in an upright position with my bottom slightly higher than my knees (good for babies’ positioning, see spinning babies). I sat on my yoga ball, and saw my chiropractor, Britney Cicon, on the same schedule as my prenatal appointments. I was probably the most active during this pregnancy. Because of my previous ectopic I had been treated like I was sick or slightly handicapped during my first pregnancy – no one wanted me to lift anything or do too much. Which is sweet, but really pregnancy is the time to keep up your endurance.

Two young children are awesome endurance trainers! They didn’t let me sit and put my feet up – half the time I couldn’t even acknowledge I was pregnant. I continued to chase after them and carry them throughout the pregnancy, which made me feel strong. I took a holistic approach and listened to Sue. Sue wanted me to watch my sugar intake – so even with a major sweet tooth, I listened. I took my supplements and really appreciated the care and knowledge Sue provided me as a whole person, not just a uterus.

Gardeners know that you must nourish the soil if you want healthy plants. You must water the plants adequately, especially when seeds are germinating and sprouting, and they should be planted in a nutrient-rich soil. Why should nutrition matter less in the creation of young humans than it does in young plants? I’m sure that it doesn’t. 
― Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

I knew that I believed in this and wanted it more than anything! Here I am at 39 weeks.

These are some of the things I believed without a doubt and wanted for this birth:

-Home birth was the best option for me and my baby
-I wanted a peaceful birth for both of us
-We didn’t need intervention
-Home birth was safer than a third C-section
-I needed to surround myself with positive supportive people
-I was going to ignore labor for as long as possible
-We would have immediate skin-to-skin contact after the birth
-We would do delayed cord clamping
-I needed to move around during labor
-I would eat and drink during labor
-I would have a conscious, vibrant birth experience
-It was as much my baby’s birth as it was mine
-My baby played a role in this and I needed to communicate with her.

You can read Part V and the HBA2C birth story here!
Rose owns the natural baby store, Rosie Posie Baby, in Anaheim, California. You can read more about her and her family on her blog, Rosie Posie Baby.
The Long Journey Home: An HBA2C Story, {Part III}

The Long Journey Home: An HBA2C Story, {Part III}

Yesterday, we shared the second part of Rose Homme’s HBA2C story. In this five-part series, she shares her journey to home birth: the emotional ups and downs, the pain of her first births, and how believing in herself and her body guided her through. Here, you can read about how she worked through the trauma of two emergency cesareans. Check back tomorrow to read the goals and intentions she set for herself during labour.

“This third pregnancy there was no IF in my mind. It helped that Sue wanted a home birth for me just as much as I did. Of course I had doubts and fears that came up throughout the pregnancy, and most I acknowledged, thanked and sent on their way. Some I just told to go away, and some I knew would be joining me through the birth. Other things I chose to avoid, or not read. Months before I became pregnant Sue told me she had a dream I achieved my VBAC and I was laboring in the swimming pool. Once I became pregnant she told me constantly, “We’re just going to ignore your labor, I’m going to get there and you’ll be ready to push, have a pool party!” I loved hearing those things from Sue. I’m not sure if I really believed I was going to be able to ignore my labor and have a pool party, but everything she told me was positive and felt right.

Like anything, normalizing is a HUGE step! I am so incredibly thankful to all the women who helped me heal and get to this point of truly believing birth is normal and my body is not flawed. My research had already given me the facts on the safety of a VBAC, the statistics on cascading interventions, the benefits of natural childbirth, risks of cesarean, etc. Now I had to work on believing in myself and my body’s capabilities. I had to work on calming my doubts and fears and coping with my defeat and sadness from my previous births. I had to not only trust birth, but trust nature on a deeper level. I miscarried in April of 2011, and though it was a deeply painful experience, it actually reenforced my trust in my body and healed some of my previous experiences. It gave me faith that this pregnancy was perfect, and absolutely meant to be.

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

When people would ask about our birth plans, I could see the doubt in their eyes. Whether it was real or imagined, it felt like a weird pressure, so I tried my best to avoid those conversations. I couldn’t explain myself to anyone since I was still working through some of those emotions myself. I carried my own self doubt – I couldn’t deal with anyone else’s on top of that. I actually went into a bit of hibernation in the few weeks before the birth, which was a safe place for me and I’m thankful I honored what I needed.

In keeping my “bubble of peace” by not discussing the birth publicly, I added two weeks onto my due date of June 22 and gave that to anyone who asked. Even though I had a strong feeling baby would come on June 19th, I tried not to get my hopes up and reminded myself that 42 weeks was perfectly normal and possible.

I chose not to take any classes or have a doula this time, but both are great tools in expanding your community as well as preparing for childbirth. I was fortunate enough to cultivate relationships with my birth team from Oliver’s birth and through the store. If you do not have a community I highly recommend building one – take classes, come to the store and hang with us, find a doula! Talk to someone about your true feelings, find someone with whom you are comfortable sharing any doubts or fears. Maybe, a doula, midwife, or friend.

I’m a super private person, so I found it easier to work with a stranger. Amy St. Hilaire offered a holistic approach to finding the issues and resolving them effectively. This private approach worked for me and I never really shared I was going to therapy with anyone besides my midwife and chiropractor. I really appreciate the growth and knowledge I gained.

I kept the option of having a doula open, and knew I would figure out what kind of support I needed. It wasn’t until late in the second trimester that I knew I would better acknowledge my feelings on my own. I knew I had a lot to work through and being somewhat guarded, I needed to be alone so I could express myself freely. You’ll read all the wacky things I told myself in the next installment!”

Rose owns the natural baby store, Rosie Posie Baby, in Anaheim, California. You can read more about her and her family on her blog, Rosie Posie Baby.
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