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Faith and Healing: A ‘Post Dates’ Home Birth After a Cesarean

Faith and Healing: A ‘Post Dates’ Home Birth After a Cesarean

(Editor’s note: this birth experience was originally posted on August 23, 2011.)

To gain a little insight of why I had a C-section with my first born, I have it written down as a “vent” on my blog. It basically started out as one intervention cascading into a ball of interventions that led me to a transfer from a “Birth Center” birth to the hospital that ended in a non-emergency C-section for being stuck at 5cm for hours and hours. I did a lot of processing and mourned the birth and post par tum bond of my beautiful baby girl, Alana.

I did my research, got in touch with my local ICAN Chapter and soaked up as much info as I could. I also found a lovely CPM who takes VBAC’s as I knew the best chance of a successful VBAC would to be at home with the least intervention and the most support. I did all my own prenatal’s, skipped the ultrasound, listened and trusted my body to grow my baby and prepare for birth. I was on top of my nutrition and got monthly adjustments from my chiropractor and even got a wonderful massage at the end of my pregnancy.

My VBAC Baby Born at Home
Wow! Where do I begin? Ethan’s birth has so many emotions attached to it. So many hopes and dreams came true the night he was born, on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010. It’s hard for me to even write what I really want to write here. Whatever I write, it comes from a deep place in my soul.

First, I just have to give praise and honor to our Heavenly Father…for knowing the desires of my heart, for loving me through some hard challenges in my life and for allowing them to grow me. Our Creator is so good. While Ethan’s birth was hard work for me, I have no regrets. I guess I could say I “wish” things had gone differently, but really I’m grateful for how it was. This is his story.

I woke up Friday the 14th (9 days after my due date) still very pregnant and no end in sight. Then around 10am I went to the bathroom to find “bloody show”. It renewed my faith in my body that things were progressing and that I would be having this baby. I was really hoping that I would be holding my baby within 24 hours, but no. Bloody show came and went and Istill had my all day, every day braxton hicks that would always go away when I went to bed. There was no way I was willing to do anything to speed things along. I knew that in order to have the best possible chance at a VBAC, I would have to allow things to unfold completely unhindered. While it was hard and uncomfortable being so big, I was so at peace with where my body was at and what it needed to do. I continued to have bloody show all through the weekend.

Monday the 17th, I felt different. Lots more bloody show and my contractions were slightly stronger. So I did some massive “nesting” and Alana was my sidekick. It was truly a wonderful day spent with my daughter for the last time just the two of us. We made a pot roast in the crock pot, went to Trader Joe’s for some shopping, cleaned the house top to bottom and made cookies! It was such a beautiful, peaceful day. A day that I will remember forever. Matt was in and out of the house throughout the day working and it allowed Alana and I some time alone together.

Monday night, as we got ready for bed at 11:30pm, I noticed that my braxton hicks were still coming despite how late it was. Usually they had died down by now. So of course I wondered. Went to bed and as I lay there, I couldn’t sleep. Contractions were still coming. I got up to find my phone so that I could start timing them. They were coming every 3-6min. Very short though.

After an hour of this, I decided to get up to pee and I woke up Matt telling him I couldn’t sleep, that I may be in labor. I went pee and had a huge gob of bloody mucus, so I knew that this was the real deal. I told Matt I was going to shower and asked him to pump up the pool. Actually, I think I demanded him to.

I felt really calm, but part of me wanted things ready in case things went quick (wishful thinking). Took a shower and tried to check myself, but everything just felt like mush. I couldn’t tell or maybe I just couldn’t reach my cervix. Matt and I then made the bed up with a shower curtain and a sheet over it while the tub filled. I went downstairs and made some raspberry leaf and nettle tea and grabbed a water and set up my birth snacks on my dresser next to the tub. I told Matt I was happy to labor alone if he wanted to sleep downstairs on the couch. So he grabbed his pillow and a blanket and headed downstairs. To help pass time, I blow dried my hair and did my makeup in between contractions.

I did some hip swaying to give room and even did some squats during the contractions. I made sure to empty my bladder every hour. I was drinking and eating to sustain energy. At 6:30 am, I text my girlfriend, Jessica, to give her the heads up that I had been in labor since 12 am. She was my birth photographer and has an almost 2 year old and knew she was up getting ready for work, so I wanted to give her time to plan for the birth and would keep her posted.

At around 7am Matt’s alarm went off, so I went downstairs to tell him he probably shouldn’t go to work. Matt then asked if I had called the midwife to give her a heads up. That kind of annoyed me because I felt like it was too early yet. Then Alana woke up and pretty much my contractions died at that point. Matt took Alana downstairs and told me to sleep for awhile. I was really distraught because I felt like things were progressing and then the moment Matt and Alana woke, it distracted me and labor had stopped. Ugh!

So I took some Rescue Remedy to help me calm down and I layed down and slept for a couple hours. Then I woke up and took a shower to freshen up. Matt and I had an “upset” so we worked that out (I was still mad over the comment her made about calling the midwife). Nothing like getting irritated at each other when you want to be laboring. Then we ate and decided to go for a walk around 3:30 pm. While walking, I timed my contractions and there were coming every 5 min. I had to stop and lean over something for every contraction or hang on to Matt, whatever I could grab first. I’m sure I was a sight to the passing drivers.

Contractions continued to come after walking and eating dinner. I called Jessica, my mom and sisters and let them know to head on over around 8pm. Even though I had planned to labor alone for the majority of labor, I was so ready for some support. They all showed up and my sister Callie announced that she was making brownies. Grrr. I really wanted some and I never got any. I called my midwife sometime after 8 pm to give her the heads up. She listened to me while I went through a couple contractions and said they are about 3 minutes apart, but only lasting 30 sec. She was currently at another birth and I agreed to keep her posted.

I labored all through the night. Everyone found places to sleep and in the early hours, I want to say around 2am, things were  intense. I think I was pretty tired and my contractions were getting painful. I was in the birth tub for quite a while at this point, but I had been in and out and changing positions every hour. I called the midwife around 3:30 am and was ready for her to come. She and her assistant headed over. I remember about this time feeling intense energy and it was quite overwhelming. I was getting very vocal and loud.

When my midwife came in, she prayed over me and told me where to release the energy in an effective way by vocalizing in a low/deep tone. What a difference that made. I really wanted to scream the pain away, but with the direction from my midwife I was able to welcome the pain and release the intense energy in an effective way. That is what gets me through the rest of my labor.

I ended up moving to my bed to lay down and rest. Contractions spaced out to allow me to doze and get some sleep. I held on to my mom’s hand and squeezed for every contraction. After an hour or so, I was up and ready to get back to business. I labored all over my room and in the tub. Mom made me some breakfast-eggs and hash browns. I layed down again and was able to get a good sleep. I decided to not vocalize and just relax during my contractions. That was hard, but I needed the sleep.

Around 9am, I got up and decided I was ready for a check. I NEEDED to know at this point what progress had been made. My midwife said that I was about 7cm. Yay! To me, that was a good thing. I had only progressed to 6 cm with Alana, so I was happy to be past that hurdle. It was just what I needed to hear to keep me going. My midwife needed to head out for a little while and so did my mom, sisters and Jessica. It allowed me to focus on getting busy with labor.

My mom and sister Kimberly came back around 1 pm and started timing my contractions. I was in the tub, on my knees, hanging over the side and contractions started getting closer, longer and more intense. I held on to my mom for every contraction. My almost 4 year old daughter pretty much stayed in my room. She was amazing. I rubbed my knees raw from staying in this position for so long. There was lots of pressure in my bottom and at the peak of my contractions, I wanted to push. It was so intense, its all I could do. We called the midwife and she was on her way.

About this time, it started to storm outside. It was really cool. I walked the hall, did some laboring on the toilet and would hang from mom’s neck. Midwife got there and I asked her to check me and she said I still have a rim of cervix (9cm) and that I would need to relax through contractions to melt it. “Yeah right!” is what I thought. She said another option was she could hold the cervix while I push the baby past it. I told her I would try “relaxing” to melt the cervix.

Well, an hour later, I hit my wall. I started having thoughts of going to the hospital. I just couldn’t go on. I was exhausted and there needed to be progress. So I yelled down the stairs to my midwife that I would like her to hold it back. She came upstairs and got prepped. She warned me that it would hurt. I didn’t care. What could hurt worse than those contractions? I got propped up in my bed with Callie and Jessica holding each of my legs, while my midwife massaged cervix in between contractions and held it up while I pushed during contractions. It was so hard finding the right place to push. Thank goodness I even had the urge to push. I pushed 4 times per contraction and pushed hard and at one point the assistant told me to hold my breath while pushing. I tried it once and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath in time for the next push so decided that wouldn’t work and I needed to blow air out while pushing.

During this time, I was fed yogurt and drinking Recharge and Emegen-C to keep me fueled. I think I even apologized for any toots I couldn’t hold in. LOL. Finally, the cervix was gone and his head was low enough that I was able to get into a different position.

I head straight for the toilet.  It’s amazing how intense the urge to push is. Our bodies our amazing in that it just takes over and you don’t have a choice. While sitting on the toilet, I was hugging the assistant and my mom and reaching for my midwife’s hand. I think I was reaching for help, for someone to just take the intensity away. For whatever reason, it made sense at the time. I really used some muscles in my body as I was hugging on them hard. I remember saying out loud “I can’t” and the assistant saying back to me, “but you are”. That was powerful and gave me the push to keep going (not like I had a choice, but I was able to rationalize it in my head to keep going).

Some of this is really hazy and I don’t remember much detail, but at this point I was sooo hot and sweaty. I asked for cool rags so the ladies started putting cold rags on me. Then I got in the tub in a reclining position and was still cooking so they brought in a fan and aimed it right at me. I pushed and pushed, then got onto my knees to hang over the side of the tub. I had Callie put counter pressure on my lower back and that was AMAZING relief. I could feel the head come down low during pushing and then suck back up in between contractions.

Midwives suggested moving into different pushing positions since its like trying to cork screw the baby out. So I said I wanted out of the water, but when it came time to move, I didn’t want to. The ladies said “lets go” and so I finally just did it. I really didn’t want to move in fear another contraction came while moving. I squatted on the floor at the foot of my bed and wrapped my arms over my mom and sister’s necks for support. There was a mirror on the floor so that I could see the progress. That was cool and kept me going! Then I decided I wanted to push in a reclining position on my bed. I really wanted to see the progress and my legs were tired so it was time to move.

Propped in reclining position and hanging on to my mom for dear life, I pushed and pushed. There is no pain like the ring of fire. I seriously dislike those ladies who’s babies come flying out and don’t feel the ring of fire. It’s so intense. I watched in the mirror the whole time and reached down and touched his head. It was incredible! I’m so thankful it was slow so that I could process the whole experience. I didn’t want to miss a moment. I just wanted to soak the experience in…the experience that I had longed for and what I missed with my daughter’s c-section. So even though it was painful, God knew that it needed to happen slowly. It was needed for my healing. I will never forget, I was the first one to touch my baby. I was in the moment and feeling totally connected to my unborn baby.

VBAC HBAC

My midwife suggested I grunt, to not push him out too fast and I did that to get his head out. Part of me just wanted to push hard and to get it done and over with. But I chose to ignore that thought since I really didn’t want to tear. Once his head was out (sweet relief!!), I reached down and started touching his face. I got a good minute of touching him and it was surreal. Then my last contraction came and out he came with some maneuvering by the midwives since there was a loose cord around his neck and wrapped around his body and then I reached down and pulled him up to my chest.

HBAC VBAC

He was born on Wednesday, May 19th, at 8:01pm. My sister Callie then saw his parts and announced “its a boy!” and we all squealed in delight! His apgars were 8 and 9 and he squawked when he was born and then it took him another 45 seconds or so to get out a good cry.

The “love cocktail” is real and I got to experience it with my beautiful son. I was instantly in love with him and I smelled, touched and kissed him within minutes of him being born. My daughter got to experience and watch the whole thing. She was right at my side within a minute of baby’s birth, talking and touching him. He knew who is sister was. When she talked, he looked for her and it was soothing to him. She has been so loving with him and I know that her being there for the birth, instantly bonded them. My husband had to walk out of the room because of the intensity, but I know that his heart was full and that he was happy with the outcome. And that he was a BOY!

HBAC VBAC

VBAC HBAC

HBAC VBAC

I had two small tears, one on each labia. I took the stitches in hopes of a quicker recovery. Baby boy weighed in at 9 lbs 10 oz (major shock), 22in long and a 14.5in head! Big, happy and healthy boy milked his time in mama. He came at exactly 42 weeks with no pressure from anyone to have him before then. He chose his birthday! And it took us a little over a week to choose his name, Ethan Matthew Wright. He is simply amazing!

I am forever grateful for my “hands off” midwife who became “hands on” when I needed a little bit of help at the end to get that pesky lip of cervix to move and for her patience and trust in my ability to birth my baby!!!

I also have a picture video here.

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Melissa. 

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.

failedhomebirth2

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.

failedhomebirth5

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

Healing Home Waterbirth After Traumatic Cesarean and Miscarriage

Healing Home Waterbirth After Traumatic Cesarean and Miscarriage

“This is the story of my Home VBAC Water Birth after a traumatic cesarean birth and a miscarriage. My story really begins with the birth of my first son. It is fairly lengthy, so I didn’t want to repeat the whole thing here. Some of what I will share will make more sense if you do read it. It was written over a year after my son’s birth, and while I might not write it exactly the same today, it is very much how I felt at the time and a part of my journey. My son is now 3 1/2 and this birth was just as much for him as it was for me and our new baby!” – Melissa

I separated my cesarean birth experience from my son from the moment I met him. I knew I had to in order to be a mom to him. Those few days had torn my heart and made me question everything. I couldn’t have this beautiful new little being attached to such horrific event. He was here, he looked like my husband so he must be mine, and I was going to do everything I could to succeed at what was left for me to do – be a mom.

For months I didn’t dare think about what happened, I was holding on to my faith by a thread. When I did start to think about it I struggled with making sense of it. The only conclusions I could come to were either A – God wanted this to happen, in which case I was incredibly pissed at Him and didn’t want to talk to Him, or B – This was a test, as I had felt it had been, and I had failed in which case I was ashamed and didn’t want to talk to God. So I stopped. I wasn’t until our son was about 2 years old that I started to make any sense of the spiritual aspect of the events. I often get flack for saying this but it doesn’t change what I know. My first experience was a test, God tests His children with trials, and I failed. He asked me to trust Him and I didn’t. It’s taken a long time, but I have come to terms with that. The key is “His Children”, even though I failed, I am still His child and I have learned from my failure.

In March 2012, I found out I was pregnant again. We were both so happy! We wanted more children and hadn’t expected to take as long as it did to conceive again. I was in the middle of planning the first Bellies to Bambinos Expo. I knew I would have a lot of work to do to prepare for a VBAC but I was busy with the expo and figured I would have plenty of time after it was over. I did, however, come to the conclusion that there was a good chance that I could have another cesarean and that I needed to be at peace with that. My husband thought I was giving up on a VBAC like I had given up on my first birth. But I explained that I just needed to be able to be at peace with either outcome so that I wouldn’t be in fear the whole time. I knew that even if I had another cesarean there was no way that it would be like the first. One major reason for that is that I was educated this time and I was going to trust God. If I had another cesarean, it wouldn’t be because an inpatient OB bullied me into it, it would be because there was not other choice and it was truly needed. This was a bit of a revelation for me.

April 8, 2012 around 1am, I was up with my son, who had been woken up by our new noisy neighbours again, and I had a cramp and got dizzy. I thought it was odd and was a little worried but I as 10 weeks, I went back to bed. I woke up with bleeding. I called for Dave, in tears, and asked him to pray. Even thought it wouldn’t end up being over for 8 days, I knew in my heart that our baby was gone. I had cramping and bleeding all that Easter Sunday that peaked that night in about 6 hours of, what I can now say was transition like, labour but without the pressure. I had taken another shower as it had helped before, but it was too hot and I started to pass out. I had no intention of going to the hospital and I was fine by the time my husband was on the phone to 911, but I went anyway. They confirmed in what I knew in my heart. I was so sad, and scared, but I was trusting God. They had offered me a pill to speed things up, but even though I thought they were right, I knew they could be wrong and there was no way I could take control of this. I left it in God’s hands and our little “Sprout” came to us on April 16, just after I had attended a birth. It is still incredibly sad, but I am at peace with it. God loves me and knows best and this is what He chose.

The end of October 2012 and I was pregnant again! I was excited, but both me and my husband were a little hesitant to be too excited. He will admit that he had issues bonding with the baby even up to the birth. He had been hurt by the miscarriage and was afraid to get attached and lose another child. I knew either way, this was going to be hard. I was either going to face another miscarriage or have to fight for the VBAC I knew I wanted. With the planning of another Expo in the works, I went to some counseling with a doula friend of mine who is also a Christian. She asked some hard questions about my faith, as I had come to terms with my failure at my first birth but hadn’t really known how to move forward from there. How do I see myself? How does God see me? Who did He make me to be? In light of this, how should I live? Questions we should all ask. I didn’t get time to finish all the sessions before the birth, but even just having someone listen to me and not throw out the standard “Thank goodness for Drs, God made them too and they obviously saved you from yourself” and “you should be happy you have a healthy baby” was a load off of my shoulders.

I remained cautiously excited and did what I could to stay healthy and give myself the best shot I could at a successful VBAC. This included having midwives and choosing a home birth. I also wanted as close to an unassisted birth as I could get and still have the midwives there. I wanted to know that this was happening on my turf and I was calling the shots. My midwives were so supportive and respectful of my decisions all the way through pregnancy and the labour.

I had gained about 70lbs with my son, I believe mostly because I was allergic to wheat, diary and corn and didn’t know. This time I gained about 25lbs and attended belly dancing classes, to which I attribute the amazing core strength I had through out my pregnancy. I also took a few different vitamins and supplements, saw a naturopath and had a few acupuncture treatments. While for months I would jump at any little twinge or gush, in fear of another miscarriage, but the pregnancy was without any major complications. I was, and remained a good candidate for Home Birth and a VBAC.

I didn’t know it was possible, but I started having Braxton Hicks contractions from about 6 weeks pregnant, I had never had any the first time. The baby also dropped in to my pelvis and was quite low very early on. Everyone, even the midwives, speculated that I might go early! Since being post dates was the major instigator of everything that happened the first time, I really hoped they were right!

Week 40 came and went, I was now 40+5 and creeping closer and closer to the 41+4 that my son was taken from me at. I was still in good spirits but the worry was always there, quietly in the background and saying that the clock was ticking and I would have to fight. I had a plan, I would be 41+1 on Canada day and I have a fairly severe allergy to milk. My plan was to go to Dairy Queen and get a Blizzard if labour was no where in site! A BIG one! I knew that it would have about the same effects as castor oil on me and would taste far better. The midwives thought the plan was hilarious and even said they hoped it would work so they could write “induction via Blizzard”. My husband didn’t mind the idea either as he hadn’t had a Bilzzard in as many years as I had.

My midwives appointments were every Friday now. Thursday afternoon I lost my mucus plug! I was excited as I knew that meant change, but cautious as it was no guarantee anything was going to happen soon. My Braxton Hicks came back again, as they had stopped for a couple of weeks, but were different. I didn’t know for sure what it meant – early labour? Nothing? I was excited about both at my appointment and really didn’t have any desire to discuss induction at our Friday meeting. I really thought the baby might be here by Canada Day. My Midwife was optimistic, but was talking about what day the hospital did inductions. I think I started to tune out at this point. I am sure she knew I wasn’t going to agree to one, even if it meant being 42 weeks and having to deliver in the hospital, but it was on the check list for the appointment. I left still in good spirits but anxious to move things along.

I had been doing and taking everything I could over the last couple of days to get labour going, homeopathics, essential oils, sex, evening primrose oil, acupressure and letting my son nurse as much as he wanted (which was the only thing that seemed to do anything). Each evening feeling hopeful I would wake up to labour. When my husband got home that evening, we went out and got some groceries and went to the bank. At the bank I saw my naturopath and asked if she would be able to do a treatment on me, she said “Yes!” and came to our house later that evening. She put in about 25 needles, ALL the way. I think that was about my third or fourth treatment ever and I really wasn’t expecting the needles to disappear into me! My husband thought it was hilarious and just had to take a picture to commemorate the moment. I thought for sure I would wake up in labour this time!

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Saturday morning came, and I had slept the whole night. No only that, but I wasn’t even getting the mild contractions anymore that I had been. Letting my son nurse wasn’t working either. Everything had stopped. I was started to panic, to doubt, to play worst case scenarios over and over in my head and to think that I was NEVER going to go into labour on my own. At more that one appointment I had told my midwife that I was hoping and preparing for a pain free orgasmic birth, but really all I was worried about was actually getting into labour and whatever happened after that I could deal with as it came up. She thought this was a good plan, but so far it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. Saturday came and went, my husband arranged for someone else to cover the sound board at church as he didn’t know if he would be there, but I was starting to get a pessimistic and wanted to just make plans for the rest of the week and forget everything that was going on.

Sunday morning came, and once again I had slept the whole night. My husband went and did the setup and sound and took our son with him as he usually did. I slept in and made sure I went into church late. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, especially when most knew that I was due or post dates. I didn’t want the questions, the looks, the “You’re still here??” stare. I came in and sat at the back, with my husband at the sound table and avoided eye contact with everyone. Much to my pleasant surprise, one of the other moms came in a bit after me and walked right over and said “You look like you are going to have that baby any day!” It almost brought me to tears. I had carried very high and trim the whole pregnancy and most couldn’t believe I was full term because I looked to small this time. This instigated a lot of “You don’t look like you are having a baby any time soon” type comments, even when I was 40+ weeks. This was the first time anyone had said I looked ready. I needed that. One concerned friend came over with an almost frantic look on his face after church and said “Where is your baby??” His wife had been a part of the Blessing Way group and my Mom had told them on Friday that I was in early labour, I guess some had assumed that I would have had the baby by now. I relied pointing at my belly “In urtero.”

I came home from church tired and exhausted. I was getting scared, worried, frustrated and just plain fed up. I felt like I had done everything I could and my body was just saying “NO.” I didn’t feel like it would ever say “Yes.” My husband went took our boy outside with him and worked on the shed that we had been building, he had hoped to finish it before the baby got here so he was taking the opportunity while he had it. This left me some time to think. I often do my best thinking when I am journaling, something I haven’t done a whole lot of lately but I felt I needed to get it out. I wrote/prayed to God and wrote to my baby. I begged God, pleaded with Him to make me go into labour NOW! As I thought this I realized that this wasn’t His way. While I am all for doing things to prepare your body as best you can for labour, I had been attempting to take things from His hands, once again I wasn’t listening to Him or asking Him or trusting Him. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If I “made” myself go into labour, who would be glorified? God doesn’t like to share His glory, and He clearly told me He wasn’t going to. I could either trust Him, or fend for myself. Well, I know how well that worked out for me last time. I chose to trust Him. I also wrote to my baby, I told it that I was sorry I was so sad and that it was safe to come out now, but if it waited to much longer, it might not be. Mostly I was scared to fail, scared to fail by baby and my son, who wanted to be at the birth so much. After my praying and journaling I felt more at peace, I had let go.

Once I had let go, I decided I needed to do something to keep busy and keep my mind off of things. Cleaning the bathroom has been my husband’s job for a long time. It started with the toilet when we got married. I said the two things I do not do are garbage and the toilet – that is a boy’s job. Since he was already there he kind of just took over the rest of the bathroom and it’s been that way for years. However, every woman knows that most men’s version of clean isn’t quite the same as ours and I would need to do a really through clean every once in a while to satisfy myself that it really was clean. I had found out I was pregnant right after moving into our house and had never had the energy to bother with a good scrubbing the whole time we had lived here. In the back of my mind I had known for weeks that the bathroom was going to get cleaned by me before the baby would come. Now was the time! I scrubbed my heart out and cleaned every inch. My husband came in at one point and tried to take over, being sweet and not wanting me to have to do it. I quickly bit his head off, tired of waiting for labour, and said “Just leave me alone! I have to do SOMETHING!” I just as quickly apologized and he left me to clean.

About 8pm Sunday I started to feel the surges again, but stronger. My heart was elated, I knew this was it! I kept it a secret as I wasn’t having to breath through them yet and didn’t want my husband to be too excited to sleep. I had a bath in our soaker tub with a small glass of wine and some cheese. I floated and swayed in the water, reveling in every surge and delighting in secret that only myself and my baby knew – we would soon meet. I went to bed but I didn’t feel I would wake in the morning.

About 4am Monday I had been awake for a bit off and on, the contractions were becoming stronger and I couldn’t sleep through them any longer. The birds were singing outside our window as they always were at this time. The sun was just beginning to make it assent into the sky. I had to get up and move. I put on my robe and paced and swayed. They were strong enough that I couldn’t ignore them but I didn’t have to breath through them yet. I hummed and sang to my baby, standing and swaying in the front door watching the sun rise. I sang the song from church the day before that’s lyrics were “Grace to you and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It was new but words and the melody had been playing in my head since I had heard it. I enjoyed our time together, some of our last hours so close. I am in tears remembering the beauty of it as I write.

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About 6am my husband and son woke up. He had known that things were happening but had tried to get some more sleep. He got us breakfast then proceeded into a flurry of action that lasted the rest of the day. He was excited and nervous and I think he felt like completing tasks was the best way to “fix” the situation. Some of the things needed to be done, he went to the grocery store and got some food for everyone and kept our son busy and fed. But all I really wanted was for him to hold me, sit with me and for us to spend some time together as a family. The contractions had gotten stronger and I was having to breath through them by mid morning, but they were still irregular and anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes apart. I waiting until I thought everyone would be up on a holiday Monday and let them know what was happening. I called my doula, my midwife, my photographer and my Mom. I had at least 2 or 3 contractions when I was on the phone with each of them and always felt like a creep doing all that heaving breathing on the phone. I had a good laugh with each of them about it too. They all appreciated that I had waited until morning to call and were on standby if anything changed. Nothing really changed.

Canada Day continued that way all day. The contractions would get stronger and closer together and then they would space out, they didn’t get any weaker but every time they got stronger they got further apart again. Then they got closer and stronger then spaced out again. I walked, bathed, ate, drank and continued the day like that. Evening came and I paged my midwife about 8pm. I wanted to check in with her before bed time as I knew I wouldn’t be getting much sleep. She asked if I wanted her to come and assess me, I said my biggest fear was that I had laboured all day and she would check and I would be 2 cm. We decided that she would come and see where I was. When she got there I was on my knees and draped over the birth ball. I looked at her and said “It just occurred to me what actually molds the baby’s head – that’s not nice!” She checked me and sure enough, I was 2cm… She suggested that I try a Gravol shot and Tylenol. I have issues with Tylenol so she was going to just do the Gravol but discovered she was out. While she went to get some more, I heard the Canada Day fireworks and laid down in bed and slept! I had maybe 2 contractions in the time she was gone, which was about 2 hours. My body knew I needed a rest and it gave me one. I probably could have slept longer but when she came back I woke up, the contractions started again and she gave me the shot. It didn’t do a thing, and the silly part was that the injection site was hurting like crazy, was red, hot and swollen! It almost hurt more then the contractions at that point. She left us to go to a hotel and get some sleep. I, unfortunately, didn’t and the contractions picked up where they left off. By 2am Tuesday, I knew I needed some support and called in my Doula and paged the midwife to come back.

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When my doula and midwife arrived to stay, I felt like things were finally really happening! I was vocalizing through contractions and coping well. Up to this point I had been labouring on my own. My husband had been home for the most part, as well as our son, but mostly I was going doing my own thing without any support through the contractions. It was good to know I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to troubleshoot things myself anymore. I could just let my mind go and let things happen.

My husband filled the birth tub in our living room while our son was still sleeping. I was in different positions and tried the tub. I was still eating, drinking, peeing and pooping – oh the pooping! I don’t think I have ever pooped so much in my life! The student midwife arrived and at 6am I was 3cm and 90% effaced. I didn’t want to hear that, I was tired and already felt like I had been in labour forever. It was progress, but it wasn’t as much as I had hoped. The midwife called this the start of active labour. I knew I wasn’t going to give up but I was discouraged that I had made what seemed like so little progress. I also knew that things could change quickly as my cervix had almost completely thinned. We called my friend, fellow doula and volunteer birth photographer to come when she was ready. I continued in and out of the tub and different positions, vocalizing eating, drinking – pooping! Around 10am they checked me again.

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I was 6cm, once again it was progress but labour was getting really hard and it seemed like it should be happening faster. I was in the thick of active labour and it hurt like hell. Nothing seemed to help. I was getting frustrated that nothing seemed to even be taking the edge off. At every birth I had attended there was always something that helped. I couldn’t understand it and I was starting to feel like no one was helping me. They were all there and supporting me but I didn’t feel like they were. I think everyone could tell I was hitting a wall and suggested I go out side for awhile, it was humid but a nice day. I really didn’t want to, but did it anyway.

As soon as I stepped out the door I had to drop to my preferred hands and knees position as this was how I had been labouring, that, and howling like a banshee! When it was over I made it about another 20 feet and was down again. I stayed down when it was over. My husband was with me and I could tell he was worried. I really wanted to say “I can’t do this” but I knew I couldn’t, I wouldn’t. I did say “I don’t know if I can do this” but that is because I didn’t know. It was so hard, nothing had prepared me for that. Not the books I had read or even the births I had attended. My husband was strong for me when I couldn’t be, he told me I could do it and that I there was no way I was going to give up.

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I made it back in side and sat on the birth ball. My midwife could see that I was still having a hard time, she talked to me about my head space. She suggested that maybe I was trying to have three labours at once – my first son’s, my miscarriage and this one. She later said I gave her a look of death and that is why she had backed off after, but it was just that I hadn’t had a conversation with anyone in a while and just wasn’t in the head space to think quickly. I took a few minutes and really thought about what she said. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t think that was the issue, or at least the biggest one, but I did realize that I was thinking too much about the future. I needed to deal with what was happening right then and there. I needed to take it one contraction at a time and the truth of the matter was that I WAS doing it and had been doing it already much longer then I ever thought I could have! That was the moment I dug deep and fully committed. This was happening, it was what I had wanted so desperately and I was going to see it through. I wasn’t alone, God was with me, friends and family where praying for me and I was joining every other woman throughout history that had every given birth.

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Less then an hour later I was on the toilet, again, and started feeling a little “pushy.” My contractions actually stopped for a little while too, and my whole demeanor changed. I “woke up” and looked around, I was smiling at people and greeting them, as I didn’t remember doing it when they came in. It crossed the back of my mind that this could be my “rest and be thankful” stage before pushing! I asked to be checked. About 1:30pm I was 8cm with a thick lip at the front, they told me not to push. Once again I was feeling somewhat defeated, happy that I had made progress but really expecting to be closer to fully dilated. Now I was in transition, wanting to push, feeling like my pelvis was going to break into a million pieces and I couldn’t do the one thing that had brought me any relief – push. I got into some forward leaning positions to try and put pressure on the the front of my cervix, it was so hard, but there was only one way out – quite literally! And that was for things to progress. At some point my husband had started breathing with me as I had totally lost control of my breath at the peak of the contractions, he said “Breathe innnn and ouuuut.” This became my ritual, my breaths were me saying/yelling “IIINNNNN – OOOOWWWWTTTT!” And, yes, “Out” just so happens to start with “Ow!”

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Just after 2pm I was into the tub again and that is where I stayed! I was actually sleeping in between contractions and my body was starting to push all on it’s own! About an hour later they checked me again and I still had a cervical lip at the front, so they said not to add anything to the pushing my body was doing. My body might push through the lip but they didn’t want me to cause anything to swell. The student had checked me and she also said that I could likely reach the head if I wanted to feel – did I ever! It was the most amazing thing to feel my baby’s head while it was still inside me. I could also feel what my body was doing and boy was it doing something! I had moved into a squatting position in the tub and thought I might as well try and do a bit of pushing with a contraction to try and get the feel for it.


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I had my finger on my baby’s head and it moved a little when I pushed, but right after I stopped, my contraction peaked and my body pushed – it moved about a 1/4″! WAY more effective than anything I was doing. My contractions spaced out a bit at this point, likely to catch up to the movement of my baby down the birth canal, and I slept in between them. I felt my baby through every one, I even let my husband feel too.

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The second midwife was there and keeping our son occupied as official “Pooper Scooper” and got him involved in checking the tub temperature too. It wasn’t too many contractions before I started to feel a bit of the “ring of fire” and everyone said they were starting in be able to see hair! I hadn’t been freaked out or worried up until then. This was the part that I had been a little worried about – crowning – I didn’t want to tear and I heard it burned like hell. I had to take my hand away for a bit so I could gather myself. I put my hand back and my baby’s head was right there! It was slipping back a bit in between contractions so I did a little bearing down in between so that I wouldn’t loose any progress. A couple more contractions and it’s head was out! They knew I wanted to be the one to pick the baby up so all they did was check for a cord around it’s neck. It had a tight one they couldn’t get off, so I pushed out the shoulders. My baby was born! I picked it up and brought it into my arms. As a family, my husband, my son and myself – we welcomed our new son!

At 5:49pm on July 2, 2013. Our family was reborn. As a family we welcomed our new son and brother, Levi, into this world, into our home, without drugs, without interventions, without fear and in God’s own timing. Levi means “joined together” or “joined with him”. That day our family was joined together and so was my heart, it was healed.

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Photos © 2013 Nicole Marozzo & Melissa Van Dam
Awesome Waterbirth {HBAC Birth Without Fear}

Awesome Waterbirth {HBAC Birth Without Fear}

“My sweet man will be a year old tomorrow so I wanted to share my story and pictures. I wrote this a couple of weeks after his birth and never could have realized how much this baby would change and bless our family. We’ve come a long way in our almost 15 years of marriage. My story does leave out a major event. Due to a difference in opinion in my care, one of my closest friends and I split ways when I was almost 37 weeks. The trauma from that, really effected the last weeks and threatened my focus.” – Piper

So much happened to lead up to the conception and birth of this baby. Dealing with infertility. Re-evaluating our marriage and relationship with God. Deciding to sell our house where we’d built our family. So much had changed in our lives in the 7 years since I was pregnant with Pruitt and things had really changed since Cale’s birth in 2002. Pruitt’s birth was quite traumatic for me and we knew this birth needed to be different. It was immediately decided upon that I would VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and that I would birth at home. We were confident in our decisions and not once did Chris or I question what we felt was the best for our family.

My pregnancies with Cale and Pruitt were pretty uneventful. I felt great and thoroughly enjoyed pregnancy. However my pregnancy with Callaway was NOT at all what I had expected. We found out that I was pregnant one week after moving into our new home. Surprise and shock don’t adequately describe our feelings, but we knew that this baby was a gift. You can’t argue with God! This pregnancy, I was constantly nauseous, tired, had pain from what we think was stretching/ripping of scar tissue from my c-section with Pruitt, major pubic bone pain. Then right as I started to feel great again, I was hit with rising blood pressure, protein in my urine and the threat that I may need to birth at a hospital. The entire pregnancy I did my best to not complain, to feel grateful and blessed, but the last 4 weeks of my pregnancy were some of the most difficult.

We did many things that we believed would help achieve the homebirth I wanted. I had received chiropractic care the entire pregnancy and continued to do so right up until the day of the birth. I received personalized care from midwives. I had my BFF as my doula. I kept my plans of VBAC and homebirth to myself (which I highly recommend since both topics seem to get TONS of unsolicited information/opinions!). We spent a lot of time as a family, planning, talking, praying for a great birth. I even went for hypnosis. I visualized and prayed for a relatively quick, easy birth, with very little discomfort (these were my exact words). I told myself that my birth would be easy considering how trying the pregnancy had been. That made sense, right?! And most of all, my husband, Chris, he continued to support and encourage me. He was my rock the entire pregnancy and birth.

From the beginning of my pregnancy I told people that I was due at the end of September. I wasn’t ever really sure of my due date and knew that it didn’t mean squat. The midwives had my due date as the 23, my chart said maybe the 25, and I had given myself the date of the 28. I decided to start counting weeks on Tuesdays so when I hit the 40wk mark, I did have a mini-breakdown. I had never been that pregnant before and couldn’t believe that I was STILL pregnant. I started to question if my body knew what to do, if my body worked. I had to truly let go and come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t ME in control. I knew I needed to trust God, my body and my baby, but that’s easier said than done!

Friday, September 28

My midwife came to the house AGAIN, to check on us AGAIN. Blood pressure, urine, baby – all doing well. Told the midwife that I was sick and tired of everything. I was done with the prodromal labor. I was done with the pubic bone pain. I was done with drinking a gallon of water. I was done with counting grams of protein in each meal. I was done with the constant blood pressure and urine checks. I was done with taking all the supplements. I WAS DONE. She assured me that even though she’d told me it wouldn’t be much longer, it truly would NOT be much longer. I assured her that I was not believing anything she said anymore, but accepted that he’d come when he was ready, not when I was ready. I found out later that she told Chris that I was truly truly close since my attitude was deteriorating! After she left, I introduced my boys to Psy’s “Gangnam Style” song/dance and decided to relieve myself of “resting” and dance. Chris shook his head and the boys laughed at me attempting to “Gangnam Style” the baby down and out. Unfortunately, there are no pics and there’s no video. I do wish I had both!

Chris and I went to bed as normal. He rubbed my back as normal (yes, he’s freaking AWESOME!) and during that back rub, at 11:55pm, I felt a kick and internally heard a POP. I yelled about how much that movement from baby hurt and started having a contraction. After it was over, Chris continued and I had to have him stop again for another contraction. I explained to him that the pop I had heard is what I imagined women heard when their water broke, but how baby’s movement seriously hurt and how shocked I was. Denial much?

Saturday, September 29

I got up to go to the bathroom before going to sleep. As I hit the tile, I felt something run down my leg. I flipped on the lights and looked at my legs. I then looked at Chris, gasped and stated that I thought my water had broken. He lunged up on his elbow in the bed and said, “YOU ARE KIDDING!!!”. I started laughing and ran to the toilet. When I got up, I started laughing again and there was a big GUSH. Chris then asked me to quit peeing on the bathroom floor. I didn’t know what to do at that point and just kept laughing. When I’d talked with baby during the last weeks, I’d told him that with all the contractions I’d been having, he needed to break my water so I’d truly know that labor was indeed labor! The contractions had continued but weren’t bad at all when I was upright. I attempted to clean up what mess I had made, but kept making it worse with gushing fluid. I knew my BFF was out on the town so I decided to call her and give her a heads up. She didn’t answer! So I called her back as I sat on the toilet laughing. When she did answer, we were both way too excited. Chris then shows up in the doorway and asked what he needed to be doing. We decided he would start filling the birth pool that had been sitting in the corner of our bedroom for 3 weeks. I then decided to call the midwife to give her a heads up. I was still in disbelief but the fluid kept coming! Everyone decided to lay down and rest while we could. However, after laying down and going through more contractions, I decided that was NOT going to work. It was way more comfortable being up.

I had no concept of time at all. I kept going to the bathroom as my body had decided to cleanse itself. I then found a comfy spot in the chair in our room. At this point, Chris was nodding off and I was just breathing through the contractions. Around 1:00am I told Chris that time was flying, that I thought the contractions were coming too frequently and lasting too long to only have been “in labor” since around midnight. Chris started timing them and fell asleep again… *sigh*

My 1:44am text to Brandy: “avg 3 min apart, lasting over a minute.”. I was feeling well and doing well but really in shock that it was all happening!! I explained to Chris that this is when we usually tell doula clients to head to the hospital or call their caregiver. At 2:06am I texted Brandy again to tell her that Chris was sleeping through all the contractions! I tried to sit on the birth ball at this point and Chris made coffee. It was another attempt to rest for me and his attempt to stay awake. I asked Chris to light my labor candles from my Mother’s Blessing and he brought them in and lit them. 2:38am text to Brandy: “Ball is a no go. Too much pressure”. 2:46am text to Brandy: “Sorry. Everything is intense down low” because I wasn’t answering her texts! At 2:58am Brandy called to check in with Chris and give more ideas on how to get me comfy. I wasn’t having any of it! Around 3:10am, I decided I was getting in the birth pool. It sounded inviting and holy cow it felt great. However, as I relaxed into the pool, my doula brain told me that I was going to relax and those contractions were going to start coming more intensely.

At 3:25am Chris called Brandy for me to let her know that I thought “This is stupid. I’m not doing this.”… She said she was on her way.

After hanging up with her, Chris decided to call Margarett because of the way I was acting. He had surpassed his level of comfort with my laboring. Again, my internal thoughts were “How is this happening so quickly? Am I really overreacting? I can’t believe it’s time! There’s a birth pool in my bedroom and I’m in it!”

Here’s where my viewpoint gets hazy. Things did start to ramp up even more once I was in the water. I was still in disbelief that things were moving so quickly but couldn’t figure out why it was taking everyone so long to get to my house. The reason they weren’t there? It had only been 5 minutes since they had been called! I was having to start vocalizing through the contractions. I would say OPEN during the contractions. As the contraction started, I’d tell the baby to “come out come out come out”. Brandy showed up about 20 minutes after the call. I barely remember her showing up, but remember her hanging the labor necklace by the pool so I could see it.

Around 4:00am, 15 minutes after Brandy arrived, Margarett came in. I don’t remember much about her coming in, just some quiet talking and incredibly cold hands that felt so good! I do remember announcing to everyone, in between a contraction, that I was done – I didn’t want to do this anymore. Chris was awesome as he watched on from beside the pool. He’d remind me to breathe, to relax deeper and deeper, he held my hand, and he would place his giant hand on the side of my face which has ALWAYS triggered me to relax. I did have a thought during one contraction that I really wanted to bite him!

As I held onto the edge of the pool, I do remember shaking. Again, doula brain kicked in and I knew that shaking, deciding I didn’t want to labor anymore, the nausea I was feeling, the burping, were all signs that things were very close, but I didn’t grasp HOW it could be so close when it hadn’t been long since my water had broken! Margarett asked if I wanted her to check me and I said yes. I then looked at Chris while Brandy and Margarett were busy and told him that if I’m at a 4, we were leaving and going to the hospital. Margarett checked me and lo and behold an 8. EIGHT. Holy moly. I was an 8. I was close to finally meeting my baby!

The next two contractions I felt like I was starting to lose control. Everyone kept me calm and talked me back down but I just wanted to cry and crawl out of my skin. Then my body decided to do a test push. Margarett asked me if I was pushing because I wanted to be done or because my body was doing it. I let her know that I had NO plans on pushing because it didn’t feel good. I personally remember freaking out and screaming too. I’ve been told that I did NOT scream at the top of my lungs, just started to vocalize more. I couldn’t focus on stuff much but tried to focus on Chris and tell him that I was going to leave, that I was seriously done. He told me that he wouldn’t let me quit. That this is what I had wanted and had fought for and I could do it and that it hadn’t been taken from me. All things that I needed to hear and to be reminded of. Margarett got in my face at one point and talked me back down too. I would go back and forth from handling a contraction well to begging for help. Seriously. I’d say “Someone help me!”. They’d all agree to help but never took away my discomfort so I bounced back and forth from Chris’ side of the pool to Brandy and Margarett’s side of the pool. Brandy also had to step in and quietly reminded me that there were people that were skeptics, that didn’t believe I could do this, that didn’t believe in homebirth and that I was showing them that it can and would be done MY way! Again, exactly what I needed to hear! Then my body decided it was ready to push.

I gripped the side of the pool and let my body take over. Margarett said I had a lip of cervix left and said she was going to push it back. During a contraction, sometimes my body would push, sometimes it would just rest. I swear I pushed for a year, but was later told it was 15-20 minutes. The pushing was very controlled, I couldn’t voice that I was letting my body push when it needed to, but that’s what I felt was right and that’s what I was telling myself in my head: let your body work and push him out. I could feel him moving down and stretching things. I kept waiting for that ring of fire feeling, but it never really hurt, was mostly an intense pressure feeling. Chris reached down a time or two and felt the baby’s head.

I was in my own world. During this 15-20 minute period, I had a few thoughts: “Wow, this is TOTALLY happening!” “Remember all the love and support that women brought into the house at the Mother’s Blessing” “So many women have birthed their babies and now it’s my turn.” “I can do this.” “There’s no way out.” “This is MY body doing what it needs to do and it is NOT stronger than I am, it can’t be!”

As he crowned, his head was out to his eyes and the pressure was pushing his fat cheeks up and Margarett later told me that she had a thought about baby being able to fit. I remember ignoring most everything around me, seeing my labor necklace hanging by my head and the intensity of my body pushing by itself. During this part of pushing, I do remember biting the side of the pool.

Then I remember hearing Margarett saying that one more big push and baby’s head would be out, that I could finally see my baby. I was SO ready at that point so I pushed with everything and he literally shot out. I couldn’t believe it. The emotions hit and I felt Margarett place him on backside to get a better grip on him. I then said that I couldn’t see him! They got me flipped over and she handed him to me.

I’ll be honest, I wanted that euphoric feeling of “I DID IT!!” but I do remember thinking “OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! I am so glad that’s over!”

I looked up and saw Chris’ face and told him to come see! He leaned over, kissed me, looked at his new son and said “You did it!” Pretty sure I just sighed and whispered back “I did it.” I also stated he looked just like Pruitt and then asked to have the boys woken up and brought in. They had both wanted to be present for the birth so I wanted them there as soon as possible. Brandy went and got them and I sat in the pool, holding my squishy baby and made sure that he was indeed a boy. Next thing I knew, Brandy said the boys were there. Their faces right there by the pool, as they looked at their new baby brother, an incredible feeling as a mom. And I had hoped that their presence would help me regain strength and control as I was then reminded that I still had to birth the placenta! Baby C was very calm and peaceful. He squeaked a few times but just sat and looked at me.

The feeling of the umbilical cord still attached to the both of us is still fresh in my mind. Not sure why that memory is so vivid but it is. And the shock of the 5 hour labor and the fact that I did indeed birth, unmedicated, in my bedroom is/was overwhelming. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and the placenta detached. I’d always heard that the placenta coming out was an incredible relief and oh my heavens was it ever! We then handed baby AND placenta to daddy for some bonding while I got out of the pool and tucked in bed.

My thoughts after the birth besides disbelief: my body works! My body worked to get me pregnant with no medical interventions as I’d had with the other 2 boys. My body worked to birth my baby on his time, not when someone told me that he should be born and my body worked to birth my baby quickly (and with no tearing!)! There were no unwanted checks, no poking and prodding, no constant monitoring, no pitocin. I got everything that I wanted and that I’d worked so hard to achieve. I was now one of “those” moms.

Callaway, born September 29, 2012

5:13am | 9lbs 8oz | 22 ¼” | 15” head | 15 ¼” chest

 

Miracles Do Happen {HBAC Waterbirth}

Miracles Do Happen {HBAC Waterbirth}

Thank you Clara for sharing your story!

I found out I was pregnant on April 3rd, 2012.  This was a planned pregnancy, but I was nervous. I looked at my 4 thriving children and remembered back to their births.

My first son was induced when I was 38 weeks, but was immediately whisked away after our first feed together because the doctors felt something was wrong. They refused to let me hold him or have him in our room and later explained that they thought he had a mass in his stomach. This so called “mass” was merely fluid that had built up from his birth, but, nonetheless, they kept him for a 3 day observation. I was discharged, without my baby.

My second son was born under the care of Dr. A (anonymous). I immediately fell in love with his charisma and had full faith in him. This turned out to be my first mistake. I carried our beautiful son to 35 weeks. I went in for a routine check that week where he realized I was already 3 cm dilated. I was immediately sent to labor and delivery. A few hours later he broke my water, loaded me up on Pitocin, and I gave birth to a little boy that struggled to breath. I was discharged, without my baby. My second mistake was not realizing my first mistake. Why did I not question his actions? The answer is simple: I grew up in a generation that believes anything a doctor deems necessary, is then in fact necessary.

Our third son followed the same story. I was 35 weeks, 3 cm, had my water broken, and delivered a baby that struggled to breath. I was discharged, without my baby. At this point I was brainwashed into believing that something was wrong with my body.

When we found out about our fourth child, a precious little girl, I was told I would not carry her to viability unless I was put on weekly shots and medications. I was a good little patient, didn’t ask questions, and took my medication. At the time I began the medication I wasn’t having any negative symptoms of pregnancy. Two weeks after beginning the medication I began to cramp. Dr. A told me that this was merely what he had predicted to happen, but that this medication was my miracle that would take me to term. On February 7th, 2011 I gave birth to a teeny 31 week 5 day baby girl that was viciously ripped from me via c-section. She seemed life-less. I was not allowed to hold her, kiss her, or talk to her. I feared the worst and was on a roller coaster of emotions. Do I celebrate the birth of our first daughter? Do I cry? What do I do now? The medical team transferred her downtown to the same hospital her older brothers went where she spent the next 6 weeks. I was discharged, again, without my baby; but, this time I was mad and I had questions. I remember my 6 week appointment after she was born. We had just brought her home from the hospital the day before, my milk was barely hanging on from her absence, and I was in a state of rage. I could not even face him. He lied to me. Lies that put my children’s health at risk, my health at risk and I was done!

Would this pregnancy become the disaster each of my other pregnancies had become? No, it would not. I did my research, I asked my questions, and realized the mistakes I had made by entrusting my body to a medical community that wants nothing more than a hefty pay check. I came across Central Texas Birth Center after researching natural birth. I made an appointment to view the facility and immediately fell in love, but would they take me as a patient? Was I too much of a liability? Heather and I sat down for an hour during my first appointment and we went over my entire medical history. I was nervous she was going to decline me, but instead she told me something that will always stay with me.

“You’re not sick, you’re pregnant.”

Just writing this makes tears stream down my face. It was absolutely the most empowering statement I’ve heard. Heather helped me build confidence in my body, and I am sure there were times when she wanted to strangle me, but she had faith in my ability to have a healthy, pink, squishy baby that would stay in my arms.

So, there I was, November 2012, 35 weeks, and nervous. I was having periods of back pain and went in for an exam to see if something was changing. Heather checked me and I was 3 cm. Chills went down my spine. This was it, what I had feared; I was going to be transferred. Heather looked at me and said, “You’re perfect. Go home and put your feet up.”

Wait, what? You’re not going to break my water? Birth isn’t imminent? I was amazed. I remember telling my husband that evening that I was 3 cm, but NOT in labor!! And…that’s when it dawned on me: I was never in labor at 35 weeks with my other children!! Boy-oh-boy did this make me fume. I nearly waddled my angry little tush over to Dr. A’s office to let him have a piece of my mind, but I remembered I was a lady and it wasn’t going to change anything. 3 more weeks went by and I felt my beautiful baby getting bigger by the day. My back was bothering me again and the pressure was building. Heather checked me and I was about 6 cm dilated, but alas was not in labor. I made a visit to the chiropractor for “The Business” which relieved some pressure in my back, but still nothing. I gave up, the pain in my back was becoming unbearable, and I started thinking “What have I done? I’m 6 cm! I could waltz into any labor and delivery and have this baby!” I’m fairly positive I even threatened to do so, but Heather knew I could do it.

On the evening of November 30th, 2012 I had just bathed my older children and put them to bed. I remember the story we read that night; Frog and Toad.  I remember crying as I tucked in my youngest knowing that her life was going to change, and, unbeknownst to me this change was closer than ever. My husband and I sat down for the evening and we watched my belly dance along with the music. There’s nothing quite like being able to count your unborn child’s toes poking through your tummy. I was in a complete stage of peace and living in the moment. Then, something happened.

I felt a twinge, a real twinge. Every emotion rushed through my body. Is this it? Will I meet my baby tonight? Am I strong enough? I didn’t want to say anything, so I waited.3 minutes later I felt another twinge! Now, I must admit, I was so excited I nearly wet my pants: and we all know how easy this is to do! I filled up my bath tub and told my husband I would be right back, but this was our 5th baby and not his first rodeo – he knew! The warm water rushed over my belly and I witnessed my baby burying deep within my pelvic bone. Each wave became more intense and I felt it was time to close my eyes, connect with my little one, and become a team. My husband called Heather around 9:30 pm and she came right over.

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By the time she got here my contractions were 2 minutes apart and I could feel little Bean and I were efficiently and effortlessly working together. I was in tune with my body and my baby. Each pain brought a bought of happiness knowing I was closer to holding this precious life that had been growing inside of me for so long. I climbed into the birth tub around 10:45pm. Baby and I worked together during our transition and we were one step closer to snuggling. I could feel baby pushing down against my blooming cervix. I worked when baby worked and rested when baby rested. I let out deep hums in our dark bedroom where the only light came from a fireplace in the back ground: I was in birth heaven.

There was a moment during a long pause between contractions when I became nervous. Adrenaline was pumping throughout my body and strength poured into my muscles. I knew our last big birth adventure was about to take place. I looked at Heather and without saying a single word, and with just one single glance, she empowered me, calmed me, and cheered me on. Heather has a gift to talk to you without words and hum with you when you need a partner to hum with in the moment; she gives you the strength you never thought you could have. I instinctively pulled my legs back and let my body take over. My water still had not broken and I looked down to watch my baby emerge within the amniotic sac. In the midst of all the peace in the room I remember my husband proclaiming, “Oh wow it looks like a snow globe…” that’s a man for you!

Just 3 quick intense pushes later, at 11:19pm, I felt my baby leave my body and enter the water. But, as quickly as I felt this beautiful being leave, I felt it come back. I remember the warmth of our skin touching and the immediate spark between mother and child. Love poured out from my eyes; I was overcome with emotion. Gender didn’t matter I had my baby, in my arms, screaming healthy cries.

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10 minutes passed before Heather asked us if we had decided on a name and that’s when we realized we hadn’t yet peeked “down below”! I lifted up the towel and there it was, a part I am all too familiar with! Noah Henry was in my arms and joined our family as our 4th handsome boy.

Heather stayed with us as I delivered his placenta and gave our beautiful son his first warm meal. Then, after giving Noah a final scan and me a final stitch, she left for home.

So there we were, alone, lying with our newborn son, and he wasn’t  going to leave my arms.

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Heather, Thank you for believing in me and my body. You gave me the confidence that others had taken away from me. Noah was born into my arms and didn’t leave them because of you. You are our gift from God, and I am so glad that you answered your calling!

We are now pregnant with our 6th baby and I’m sure I will have another amazing birth story to tell.

Next time, I want floating candles!

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I Did It! {HBAC}

I Did It! {HBAC}

“A week ago I was able to have an awesome HBAC with my new daughter! Reading all of the wonderfully supportive comments on my first birth story that you published was almost like a virtual blessingway that close to the end of my pregnancy. My birth experience this time was all that I wanted it to be. I wish that all women could have a great supportive birth team around them like I was blessed with.” – Allie

On Friday May 4th, at 42 weeks and one day pregnant I woke up still feeling like I had another week to go. I spent the day babysitting and then we had dinner at my parent’s house that evening. We got home around 8 in the evening and I started the bedtime routine with our nearly 3 year old son, Jake.

Right at 9pm my husband, Paul, was tucking Jake and I into our bed, and just as he shut off the light and closed the door I felt a pop and instantly knew that my water had broken. I yelled for Paul to bring towels and I made a dash for the bathroom. I called our midwife to let her know what was going on but told her that I felt like it would be a while since I was having no other signs of action. I would just call her back when I needed her. I also called my mom and doula and gave them the same heads up.

Jake was wound up from me yelling and jumping up from bed so quickly that I decided to give him a little while to settle back down while I started laundry and picked up his toys that were all over the house. When I went to lay back down with him I was really uncomfortable. I decided that Daddy was going to have to do bedtime, so I got up to get him and before I got to the bedroom door the first contraction hit. It was not some nice, easy, warm up contraction either, it was POWERFUL and had some real pressure behind it, and I had to sink down to my knees to get through it.

My first thought was that I was just being dramatic and that I was scared from my first traumatic birth experience, and it probably only felt so strong because I wasn’t relaxing into it. So I stayed there on the floor of my bedroom to wait for the next one. I was going to be sure to relax and just let it wash over me and surely it wouldn’t be as bad as the first one. But 2 minutes later I got another and it was every bit as strong as the first. And the next 6 were all the same and all about 2 minutes apart. I decided that it was time to call the birth team back and ask them to come.

My doula had suggested that I get in the shower because that might help me relax and might even slow the contractions down a bit and I thought that sounded like a great idea. So I got into the shower while Paul was putting Jake to bed.

The heat felt nice but I couldn’t stand up through the contractions I had to just sit in the tub and let the water spray on me. I was still very uncomfortable and I had to hold myself up with my arms or I felt unsteady and out of control. Paul peeked in on me and I just started screaming there was so much going on with my body and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. I started to doubt myself and thought “Holy Cow, there is no way I can handle this for hours and hours.” I heard my phone ringing but couldn’t move my arms get it so I told him to grab it. It was our midwife calling to check in. Paul put her on speaker phone and after hearing me screaming, she just told me in her “midwife voice” that this baby was coming faster than we thought it would and that it was ok. She told Paul to get some towels and blankets close to me. She asked me if I could feel the head and I checked and said I wasn’t sure (now I know that yes, I was absolutely feeling the head starting to come down). I just closed my eyes and let her voice guide me through the sensations that were happening and listened to her constant encouragements. Right about then my mom showed up and was quickly by my side. I asked our midwife how far away she was and she told me not to worry about that and just to stay in the moment and to just take a deep breath and blow everything away. I felt so much better then, not so alone and I was able to stop screaming and bring my sounds down to the low tones that I knew were better. I was able to stop fighting what my body was trying to do now and just let the process happen.

I asked our midwife if I could get into the birth tub and thankfully and she said yes. Sinking down into the deep warm water felt really nice. She asked me again if I could feel the head and I said I thought so but part of me was still in denial a little. How could this all be happening so fast?!?

Then there was a knock at the door and our doula/birth assistant walked in and I immediately asked her if she knew what a head felt like and if she could check for me. She said yes and grabbed a glove and told us that the head was only a fingertip in. I couldn’t believe it, I hadn’t even really TRIED to push yet and my body had worked my little one down that far already on its own! It still seemed so incredible to me that this was moving at such a rapid pace. I had a couple more contractions and reached down to feel a little head starting to come out. I told Paul to get the camera – I knew I would be sad later if we didn’t end up with any photos. My mom was still sitting next to me and I kept asking her for my water in between contractions because my throat felt raw from the crazy sounds that were coming out of it.

I heard the midwife – still on speaker phone – say she was here and Paul moved to let her in. I was so glad to see her; I had never even considered the possibility of needing to be prepared for an unassisted birth. She quickly came over and checked baby’s heart beat, which was just perfect, and then she started to set up the rest of the room.

Reaching down and feeling the progress of your baby’s head as it becomes more and more visible is something really amazing. My doula kept remind me to let my shoulders relax and she had me try a couple of different positions. I was really feeling a lot of pressure in the back of my hips during contractions and I didn’t like that at all. They calmly told me that once baby’s head got past that area that I wouldn’t feel that sensation any more so I pushed a couple of times and sure enough they were right, my hips stopped hurting. But then my legs started to go numb, which I also didn’t care for, but at least I knew it would be over sooner than later.

I really wanted it to be sooner… so I pushed with my contractions and a few minutes later I felt SWEET RELIEF and heard my midwife say that the head was out! My doula asked if I wanted to feel baby’s entire head and I said no because I felt like I really needed my arms to hold myself up. With the next contraction and a little push our baby came out of my belly and into the world at 12:13a.m. I looked down and saw little arms and legs moving around in the water and then the midwife handed baby up to me. Words can’t even describe how amazing it was to hold my brand new, still covered in birth fluids, baby on my chest!

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Paul asked what I had given us and I checked to find that we had a baby girl! I just got to hold her and rub her back and watch her change colors. No one took her away from me, no one tried to make a pin cushion out of her or roughly suction her nose and throat, and it was so peaceful.

I asked my mom to go get Jake. I knew he had really wanted to watch the birth but he actually slept through the whole thing in the next room! He was so sleepy he wasn’t really interested in her right then, he just wanted to go back to sleep. Shortly after that I birthed the placenta and handed baby off to her daddy after he cut her cord so I could get out of the birth tub.

They helped me out of the tub and checked me over while feeding me strawberries. Once they got me squared away they put baby and I into a nice warm herbal bath. Paul came in and the three of us had some alone time. We chose a name for our sweet little girl, Amelia. We had not even begun to talk about middle names so that part would have to wait a few days.

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While in the bath Amelia nursed for the first time and it came just as easily for her as it had for her older brother.

We soaked for a while and then it was time to get out and do her newborn check. Miss Amelia was 8 pounds 15 oz and 21.5 inches long. I needed a few stitches and oddly was more afraid of that than I was of giving birth, but my wonderful midwife and doula team talked me all the way through that process too.

It has been one week since her arrival and I am still riding the high of giving birth naturally, at home, the way I always wanted to. It is incredible what a difference giving birth in a loving, supported environment makes!!! I can’t even come up with words to thank my birth team; they knew exactly what to say to help me through every step of the way and that made all the difference.

I feel like this labor took off exactly where my son’s birth started to go awry. Almost like this was me getting a second chance to finish something that I started 3 years ago. This was a second chance that I so badly needed, even though I have done a lot of healing since Jake’s birth, I feel like I got a piece of myself back that I had been missing for a long time. I feel whole, and powerful and proud of myself. I love myself again, and I haven’t really felt that way since my first birth. More importantly I feel like I can be the mom that I want to be to my babies because there is nothing holding me back anymore!

Plus-Size Mom with Physical Disabilities has an HBAC {RAD Outline of Baby’s Foot through the Belly}

Plus-Size Mom with Physical Disabilities has an HBAC {RAD Outline of Baby’s Foot through the Belly}

My name is Jennifer, and this is the birth story of my daughter, Luet. My son, Julian, was born in December of 2009, and his birth was an attempted homebirth turned hospital transfer for a c-section. I labored with Julian for over 36 hours, and then his heart rate began to drop with contractions and became erratic. We transferred for his safety, and he was born without any issues. When we decided to have a second child I knew I wanted an HBAC, because I could not imagine having another c-section and I knew that I could not get the care I wanted from an OB. I am a fat woman, I am a woman with Multiple Sclerosis and physical disabilities, and I had a previous c-section. On paper I am not the ideal candidate for a VBAC, but my midwife is amazing and she knew that my heart and soul were in this.

My midwife and I talked at length about my HBAC. We knew I needed to have a waterbirth so that I could actually move around. Because of my MS I have mobility issues and muscle spasms. I feel fine in the water and I can move without pain. We knew that in order to give me the greatest chance for success a birthpool would be needed.

Without further ado, here is my and Luet’s story.

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Thursday (11/1) morning, I woke up and felt like crap. I was 42 weeks and 1 day pregnant, after all. I decided that I should try to get in to the chiropractor, because it had been about a week since I’d gone. I had canceled my Monday appointment because I thought I was in labor, and just hadn’t felt like leaving the house since then.

Nate stayed home with Julian and I drove to the office. My appointment was at 10:15. I had a few contractions on the way, but I had been having contractions for weeks, so I didn’t pay much attention to them. Everyone in the office commiserated with me and wished me luck. My chiropractor did a lot of work on my hips and he decided to adjust something in my upper back, too. He sent me off with well wishes and hoped that I’d have a baby soon.

It was about 10:45 when I left, and I called home to see if Nate and Julian were hungry. I decided to pick up food, and on the way I had a couple intense contractions that I had to vocalize through. I was still ok to drive, but I was surprised at the intensity.

When I got home I had a really strong contraction in the car, and Nate ended up coming out to see if I was ok because I took so long getting out of my van.

While we ate lunch my contractions started coming more regularly, every 15 or so minutes, and I had to vocalize through them. It freaked Julian out a bit, but he decided that he wanted to help me and wanted to hug me through the contractions.

Nate asked me if we should call Stacia (our lead midwife) and I told him I didn’t think so. Mostly I didn’t want to call her for a false alarm. However, apparently he didn’t listen to me and he texted back and forth with her for a bit while I was focusing on what I was doing.

He started setting up the birth pool about a half hour later (probably noonish?) and I asked him what was up. He confessed that he’d been talking to Stacia and she thought it was a good idea to get things set up. So he and Julian worked on that while I continued to vocalize on the couch. Julian started to get really upset because I was vocalizing more often and more loudly, so I decided to call my mom to come get him. My parents live ~70 miles away, so it takes between 60 and 90 minutes for them to get my our house. Julian has spent many weekends staying with my parents, so he is very comfortable with them. We had planned on this being a possibility, and my parents were planning on coming up anyway.

Around 1 Julian wanted to take a nap. My mom had meetings at work, and since we wanted Julian to leave the house she sent my dad up ahead of her and she said she’d leave about an hour later. I decided to lay down while Julian did to conserve my energy. I remembered my first labor was very long and I wanted to be prepared.

Stacia called to talk to me around 2. My contractions had slowed down a bit, so they were still 10-15 minutes apart so she said to just relax. She assured me that she believed this was real this time, so to just take it easy and then to call her when they were consistently 10 minutes or less. I stayed in bed and realized that the contractions were very strong, even though they weren’t close together.

By the time Julian woke up from his nap my dad was in town, so Nate called him to come get Julian. I was lost in a haze in the bedroom, trying to remember to time the contractions (luckily I had an app on my phone for it) and rest. My dad arrived and Julian left for the hotel. I told Nate to call Stacia because my contractions were 8-10 minutes apart but they were really strong.

I got in to the pool. While I was in the pool and Nate was continuing to fill it my mom arrived. She and Nate talked to me and worked on getting things more set up. I realized I felt pushy through some of the contractions, so we called Stacia again and she left Ann Arbor. She said Connie (midwife under supervision, now 1 birth away from taking the NARM exam) would be there in 15 minutes.

This is where it got weird. Connie arrived and we talked. I labored in the pool and she tried to assess my “pushy” feelings.

When Stacia arrived (5ish? maybe?) I consented to a check. I was only 4-5 cm, and this news started to break my confidence. See, with Julian I felt pushy when I wasn’t fully dilated, either. I started flashing back to Julian’s birth and it got harder to focus on what I was doing.

By this point, the contractions were extremely painful and coming 5ish minutes apart. I couldn’t relax between them.

After another couple hours I asked Stacia to check again. She then suggested that they break my waters. She said that my water bag was pressing against my cervix and she thought that might be part of why I was dilating slowly. So different from before, because with Julian my labor started with my water breaking before contractions.

I consented to having my water broken. I was in a lot of pain and I was starting to lose faith. My mom was telling me how her waters had been broken with both her pregnancies, so she thought it was a good idea. Shortly after my water was broken my mom had to leave because Julian had been asking for her. I barely noticed her leaving.

I labored in my bed for awhile after my water was broken. This is where things started to turn south a bit. I was in a lot of pain. I was very frustrated. I was having a very hard time believing that I could make this happen. I started telling Nate that I wanted to go to the hospital. I started telling my midwives I couldn’t do it.

They got me to change positions. They encouraged me to move to the toilet for a bit and try pushing there. I was losing my mind at this point, crying and screaming and grunting. I felt like I couldn’t control my body, my body was doing things against my will. I was shaking and losing control completely, and I couldn’t get a grip.

Around 8:30 I told Nate, Connie and Stacia that I was done. I wanted to go to the hospital for a c-section. I was finished. I never felt like this with Julian. I was losing my mind in with how intense the contractions were, they were back to back and I couldn’t get a break to catch my breath.

Stacia asked me if I’d try a birthing stool for 3 contractions. I believe my exact words were “ok, fine, what the fuck ever.”

Sitting in the hallway on the birthing stool, leaning against Nate I started crying and sobbing and screaming uncontrollably. I said they weren’t listening to me. I told Nate if he loved me he’d take me to the hospital and make it stop. I told him I hated him and what was happening. I think I yelled at my midwives that they weren’t even trying to help.

Just after 9 pm Stacia told Nate to go turn on the van. She then told me “We can go, if that’s what you want. But remember that it won’t be instant relief. You’ll be in a hospital bed, in triage, it’ll take at least an hour because you are not an emergency case. It isn’t going to stop the pain. Just remember that.” I am SO GLAD, now, that the three of them repeatedly ignored my requests and tried to talk to me about what was going on. I didn’t really want to go t the hospital and they all knew that. I strongly believe that if I was truly done and if I told them I definitely wanted to go that we’d have gone. I was not being ignored, I was being given support and encouragement in the way I needed it.

Stacia went to do something and Nate came back. Connie and Nate were discussing what clothes to get for me.

I said “I’m getting in the pool.” and got to my feet. Connie sort of called out after me “Stacia! She’s getting in the pool…” Stacia’s response was “It’s going to be hard to transfer you to the hospital from the pool.”

I sort of jumped, sort of fell in to the pool. I had no grace left. I got in the pool and I ignored all three of them. I was so angry, so enraged, so… just absolutely pissed off. This is something that has helped me deal with my MS and my disabilities, and I think the three of them knew that and I believe this had been the plan all along. If I get angry, I turn that anger inwards and use it to push myself harder. I use anger and pain as fuel to do the things that others may believe I cannot do. I got mad at them and so I turned that anger inwards to find the strength to just keep going.

I pushed. I moved. I was half squatting (one leg up, on my other knee). I was on my side with one leg over the edge of the pool… I was just off in my own world. I kept screaming for water and then I about punched Nate because he gave me Gatorade.

Somewhere in all this it started working. She started moving down. My midwives commented on it. Someone asked if they could check and tried to get me to reach down and feel her head. I refused because I was too focused on what I was doing. I was told that she was definitely working her way down, and that the midwives could feel her head. Nate said he could see something, and they had him behind me watching.

Stacia tried to check her with the Doppler and since it was dark she missed and I roared “That’s my clit!” She quickly took the Doppler away.

They kept talking about checking my blood pressure. I kept ignoring them.

At some point they started telling Nate to get water out because they wanted him to get in the pool with me. I tried to tell them no, but I couldn’t speak.

I realized I was on my last reserves. I could feel my body giving me the cues that I was about out. My muscles were burning and I was shaking. Labor and birth are like a marathon, the amount of energy that is expended is intense. My MS can only be ignored for so long, and my muscle spasms were getting worse and worse. I was quickly losing the strength to hold myself up at all. I had no idea how they would get me out of the pool and to the hospital if my body gave out before Luet was born.

I reached down and I felt her head. I knew it was now or never. All I could think was that I needed to use every ounce of strength I possessed and I had to get my baby out. It didn’t matter what would happen to me; I was unconcerned with any consequences to myself. But my daughter? My daughter had to be born here, in to the water, in this room full of love and beauty, in this place full of feral and primal power.

I somehow heaved myself in to a full squat. I don’t know how, but I did. I held on to the sides of the pool and I squatted and felt my body doing things that I had no idea it could do.

I pushed, and I started feeling the Ring Of Fire. At this point I think they realized what was going on and I guess Connie got in position next to Nate to catch the baby.

And then I pushed with every ounce of strength I had. I didn’t have the strength to stay in position. I had to get her out and out THAT SECOND. One push from “she’s starting to crown” to “OH MY GOD.” One push.

Connie yelped. I am told that “Luet rocketed out of you and bounced off my hands…” I said “Is she out?” and the reached behind me and picked my baby up out of the water before collapsing against the wall of the pool and weeping.

Nate was crying. I was crying. My midwives were grinning from ear to ear.

All I could hear was Nate saying “You did it. You are amazing.”

I couldn’t speak. I’m crying thinking about it now. I tried to give up. I almost missed out on the most amazing experience of my life.

But they didn’t let me. My husband and my midwives refused to let me give up. I know in my heart that if they had truly believed I wanted to stop, they would have. But they all knew how much it meant to me and they wouldn’t let me sabotage myself.

When I could finally speak I just kept telling Nate “thank you” over and over. All he said was “I know you better than you know yourself. I knew you could do it.”

Stacia asked me if she could give me a shot of Pitocin. She said that she was mildly concerned that I may have issues bleeding because of how quickly Luet came out. She said she just wanted to do it as a precaution. I consented and got a shot in the arm while holding Luet. I also wondered if the speed of her birth had caused any tearing, but I was still in the water and we couldn’t check that yet.

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Finally the cord stopped pulsing and the placenta released. Connie encouraged me to push and the placenta came out easily. She told Nate to cut the cord, and he did. He said it was much more challenging than he thought it would be.

I gave Luet to Nate and Connie helped me out of the pool. I was very shaky and weak. Connie helped me get to my walker. Stacia went to get me some fruit juice out of the fridge while Connie helped me to the bed. Nate and Luet and I cuddled in bed while Stacia and Connie began to clean up. Then Connie came in to talk to me and help get breastfeeding started.

Finally all of us were in the bedroom and they began to do Luet’s assessment. Stacia also checked me over and that’s when it was discovered that I had a second degree tear and she recommended stitches. I got the stitches in my bed, while Nate held Luet.

I think everyone finally left around 5 am, and Nate, Luet and I went to sleep.

Luet Levoil was born at 12:09 am, November 2nd, 2012. She was 20.5 inches long and weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces. She had a 15 inch head, a record for my midwife. She was 42 weeks 2 days gestation.

Giving birth to my daughter was the most difficult and most amazing thing I have ever done. I could not have done it without my midwives and my husband cheering me on. I did all the hard work, yes. But I had an amazing team who believed in me when I doubted myself, who held me up when I felt defeated, and who gave me so much love. I needed all of them to help me achieve this goal. And they were there. I can never thank them enough.

My body has many challenges. But I was able to give birth naturally. Physical disabilities or not – with determination and with people who were willing to work with me I made it happen. And I am so grateful I had the chance to try.

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Note from Ruthie: Check out this picture from earlier in Jennifer’s pregnancy! This is not photoshopped, you can distinctly see baby Luet’s foot. SO COOL!

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HBAC with PROM, Fast Dilation, Long Pushing Stage {Previous Cesarean with Twins}

HBAC with PROM, Fast Dilation, Long Pushing Stage {Previous Cesarean with Twins}

My water broke at 10pm on Saturday night. It was a distinct popping sensation, followed by a gush of fluid that left me in no doubt about what had just happened. It was the night before my due date, and one way or another, my third son would be earthside soon.

Now, maybe I should back up to clarify that this was the night before my earliest due date. I’d had three at this point. One based on the standard 40 weeks after last menstrual period. Then another, slightly sooner, accounting for a shorter-than-average cycle & meticulous record keeping. Then another even sooner based on baby’s bigger than average size at my 20-week sono.

Having that sonogram not only changed my due date, but filled my heart with so much reassurance. You see, this was my third son, but only my second pregnancy as last time, I’d had twin boys. I’d had my first sonogram with them at 11 weeks because something told me it was necessary. That day we’d discovered that I was both pregnant with twins, and that they had some developmental issues which would bear watching. I threw myself into research to combat the fear of that pregnancy. I learned about twin pregnancies. Twin infancies. Each of the health issues they had. I learned and learned and learned about everything but informed birth.

Ultimately, I had eleven more sonograms of varying types for my twins. And they were born prematurely, at 35 weeks, growth restricted and via cesarean section without a single contraction, let alone a trial of labor. A whopping three and four pounds respectively. Had I known then what I know now, different decisions may have been made, or may not, but ultimately what I regret most about that pregnancy & birth was that I made their birth decisions based on fear, not solid information combined with faith in God. Oh, regret.

So fast forward to my first, and only, sonogram with what I now knew was a sweet singleton boy. I watched the acronyms and abbreviations pop up on the screen and read them out to my husband through tears of joy. Average. Healthy. A few days big. This was a boon to my mama’s heart and seemed like nothing short of a miracle.

I’d been introduced to the beauty of natural birth about a year before that sono, when a dear friend asked me to photograph her out-of-hospital birth center birth. Friends, I dearly hope she shares that birth some day because watching it through my camera absolutely changed me. She gave me such a gift. And I began to learn and learn and learn again, but this time there was no going back to the old obstetrical model of care.

So when I discovered I was pregnant a second time, I found a great home birth midwife, and set out to make things different. I researched & prayed & waited. There were a million legal reasons I might have to transfer my care to an OB, but every time I prayed about that fear, the gentle answer I would receive was, “Then I’ll walk with you through that, too.” The last pregnancy had been about fear. This one was about learning to trust.

So my water broke on Saturday night. I text my midwife, doula and my sweet friend whose birth I’d photographed, who had agreed to be photographer for me. I told them I’d not had any contractions, but my water was definitely broken and I’d keep them informed. My husband and I straightened up a bit, gathered our birth supplies, and I went to bed envisioning my Sunday baby.

I had irregular, light contractions all that night. They were tough to sleep through, but that was anticipation talking more than pain. I finally gave up on sleep about 7 am & woke my husband so he could get the twins up & ready to spend the day with their grandparents. Contractions started to become regular around 9 or 9:30 am, mostly because my midwife suggested the use of castor oil & my body revolted against that plan. Or so I believe.

My wonderful doula arrived just before the big boys left, around 10, and the midwife arrived to check me out not long after that. Things were going beautifully, if slowly, so I continued to labor in peace while my midwife left to check on another mama. The day passed and I tried everything. Every trick in the bag. My midwife had returned, my doula never left, and I was bouncing in and out of labor land. My husband was a rock for me the entire time, holding my hand, holding me up physically and emotionally all day long. Finally, the midwife checked me about 8pm for the first time. 22 hours after my water had broken and I was dilated a whopping 4 centimeters. I’d read enough birth stories at this point not to be discouraged, though. I knew it could change rapidly at any point.

So my midwife suggested I get into the birth tub, a true miracle of the modern age, and gave me the go ahead to try some “grunty pushing.” That was an hour of bliss. It felt so, so good to take some action. I was horrible at letting labor just happen, awful at relaxing through the contractions. Pushing. Was. GOOD. And by the end of that hour in the tub I was fully dilated and ready to push for real. It was 9pm on Sunday.

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Again, we tried everything. Every position. EVERY position. I pushed and pushed and talked and grunted and moaned. People kept telling me to stop sending all my power out through my voice and start sending it down through my body, and I knew that was good advice but try as I may I couldn’t make that happen. I was pushing to a mental count of 15, but my body was only effectively pushing for a couple seconds of that time. I just couldn’t figure out how to make my body do what I wanted it to. I was frustrated, exhausted and so disappointed in myself. Why couldn’t I make it work?

Finally, around 3am on Monday, my midwife began to talk about transfer to a hospital. She was well past the limit of what she was technically allowed to let me do while she attended me. This was true, but at the time I didn’t realize she was making a play to see if I could kick it into high gear. I cried and begged her not to give up on me. I prayed aloud. My husband went through the house hurriedly packing us a hospital bag. I pushed with all I could muster, but at this point I’d lost three nights of sleep and my tank was empty. Not just mine, but my whole birth team as well. My friend and photographer told me later that she was wondering if she’d even be able to drive a car to the hospital through the haze of exhaustion and tropical storm Isaac, which had set in hours before. There were buckets and buckets of rain and heavy wind howling around outside going unnoticed by me.

My midwife eventually relented, and made a deal with me. If I could lie down in my bed for an hour, stop pushing and relax as much as possible through the contractions to help recharge my battery, then she’d agree to help me push a while more before we decided to transfer. I agreed; I would have agreed to almost anything to keep me out of the hospital. Everyone lay down, including me, and for about 2 contractions I really tried my best to resist pushing. But that was really, truly the only part of the birth that was genuinely awful. I’d reached the point when my body just couldn’t be ignored. I tried to sleep between contractions, and push as gently as I could when a contraction came on. I just couldn’t NOT push, though.

I have no idea how long I lasted that way, it could have been 5 minutes or an hour, before the midwife’s assistant came in to check on me & take the baby’s vitals. She never ended up leaving because it was clear to both of us that I was fighting a losing battle. She knelt next to the bed, encouraged me, soothed me & did everything she could to help. I’m not sure how it happened, but everyone was eventually back in the room and we were working in earnest again.

My doula was pressing on my belly with the contractions, which felt wonderful, and getting me to drink, and then chew ice. My bladder had become painfully full while I lay down, but the baby was pressing too hard on it even for a catheter to be inserted (we did try!), so it simply had to be lived with. The midwife & her assistant were applying warm compresses, anointing me with what seemed like buckets of warm olive oil, checking heart tones and encouraging me. Everyone present was holding a leg or a hand, working incredibly hard right alongside me. I never learned to make my body work exactly the way I wanted it to, but my pushes became somewhat more effective than they had been earlier in the evening, and after several more hours, my sweet baby boy finally made his way out.

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Fist up against one side of his face, cord looped up against the other, he still managed to cope with the long labor and pushing beautifully. He made his big debut at 8:06am on Monday; 34 hours after my water broke, 11 hours after I started pushing in earnest. My doula asked me, as I was sitting up in bed holding my brand new son what I’d thought: I admitted it was much, much harder than I thought it would be. But also that I’d never do it any other way. This was the complete opposite of how I’d felt after my section. That day I’d felt that the pain was never as bad as it had been advertised, but also that I never, ever wanted to go through that again. This, THIS day was the day I had wanted all along. This was me getting the desire of my heart, and also learning just how much work I’d put in to get it. And, above all, knowing that God had walked with me every single step of the way. It was the hardest, and also the best, thing I’ve ever done.

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Birth photos by Tara Rojas at Tara Lynn Photography

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