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A Baby Who Cried: Birthing Without a Plan

A Baby Who Cried: Birthing Without a Plan

All three of my births were far from empowering experiences. I never felt like some sort of superhero. I never felt strong. In fact, after my daughter’s birth, I think I just barely showed up for the others. I checked myself out, terrified of the pain and what was going to happen in the hospital. I mentally stepped out of the experience.

At the young age of 19, I gave birth to my daughter. I had spent weeks working on my birth plan. I wanted so many things for this experience. I had wanted a private room, with just her father and I, my mother when she got there, and the doctor. I wanted dim lights and soft music. Everything I wanted disappeared, because when they realized what was needed to get her into this world, the room filled with people, bright lights, and loud noise.

I had entered the emergency room with a harsh set of contractions that were barely giving me seconds between to breath. I was hyperventilating and my blood pressure was rising. I didn’t know she was stuck, that her head was twisted in my pelvis…that she, my dear daughter, was going to fracture my butt on her way out. I didn’t know that twelve hours of labor, an epidural, a vacuum, and forceps were going to be needed to get her into this world.

And she didn’t cry. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. All of that, and she was silent. The last shred of my birthing plan was tossed out the window as my daughter wasn’t placed on my chest, but instead whisked away to a table surrounded by nurses and doctors and I couldn’t see her. It took 15 minutes for them to bring her to me. Her lungs had been acting up and the cord had been around her neck and her poor head had the marks of the forceps on them, but they gave her to me finally, my quiet baby, and she were perfect.

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So almost three years later, when I found myself back in the hospital to deliver my son, I hadn’t even bothered with a birthing plan. I figured they were a joke, and not worth my time. I just signed up for the epidural and lay and waited for my body to do what it would do. No one ever taught me how to labor. I didn’t have a clue what to do, except pushing. I remembered pushing and so when they told me it was time, I got to work. Mentally, I prepared myself for the vacuum and the forceps and the tearing that would come along with that. I prepared myself for them to take him away from me for a little while. I tried hard to focus on pushing and not let myself get upset about those things.

It was a surprise when instead, a mere six hours after entering the hospital, my son slid into this world and they laid him on my chest. And he was silent. There was nothing wrong with his lungs, and he had come out easily on his own, but he was quiet. My son looked around the room with his dark blue eyes, and didn’t make a sound. It was terrifying. I wanted him to scream his head off, but he didn’t. He was healthy and happy and we even left the hospital a day early with him to come home.

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Now, fast-forward seven years and there I was, talking to the nurses as they hooked up my IVs and the doctor ran through the procedure for the Pitocin. I was barely a week overdue with my youngest son, but the doctor felt he was getting too large and that I needed some help to move him along. In hind sight, I should have let my body do its own thing, but I had no experience with trusting my body. All of my birthing experiences had been dictated by my daughter’s birth when I was too young to trust myself and I let everything I wanted be tossed away.

Two days of induced labor later and we were making little progress. I got to 6cm and they broke my water. I moved up to 7cm and froze there. Suddenly my cervix started to swell and we got back to 6cm, then 5cm. The doctor came in and told me we were going to have to have a C-section. I broke apart, right there on the bed. I completely fell apart. I’d never had surgery and I was terrified of what this meant. I watched my husband back away; sit on the couch and cry.

I don’t remember much from those moments of prep.

I remember a young boy, one who seemed far too young to be working there, coming to take blood work from me. I was sobbing and he kept patting my arm. I apologized for crying and he told me not to say I was sorry.

I remember one of the nurses saying, “Don’t worry. I won’t let him cut through your tattoo.” She laughed and I didn’t.

I remember telling my aunt not to call my mother yet, that it would frighten her and my children.

I remember them taking me away and into a freezing cold room and I looked up and told them to stop everything. “I want my husband. Where is my husband?”

And for once, everyone listened to me. For once, I got exactly what I wanted. Everyone stopped and they moved aside so I could see my husband outside the window as he slid on the blue gown and cap and shoe covers. They didn’t touch me again until he came in the room and then sat him down right next to my face.

I don’t remember my youngest son’s birth much. I don’t remember how it felt, but I remember these moments with my husband so clearly. They completely changed our relationship, opened it up to a whole other level, and made me fall in love with him in a deeper way.

Because when they finally pulled, that large baby boy from me, he cried and cried and I laughed.

“I’ve never had a baby that cried.”

I watched tears fall silently from my husband’s eyes. He barely even looked over at our son as they brought him around and they showed him to us. He simply buried his forehead against mine and cried. Our son was beautiful and screaming his little head off.

But when they asked my husband if he wanted to go with the baby or stay with me, he quickly said, “I’m not leaving her.”

He never took his forehead from mine, my hand clasped tightly in his. Our son was taken to our room with my aunt and best friend, while my husband and I sat together and marveled in one another.
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I have three, beautiful children…and three different birthing stories. They don’t seem nearly as empowering as others I’ve read here. I didn’t go without pain management. I didn’t have much of a birth plan after my first. I just went with the flow of the doctors and nurses around me…

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But I have that moment with my husband where he chose to stay by my side, where he showed every bit of weakness and strength and fear and love that was in him, and I had babies that were quiet and a baby who cried.

I wish I had an empowering story to share about overcoming the pain to have the delivery I wanted, but I truly believe that things happen the way they are meant to and that there is value in everything. These experiences will help me when one day I have a daughter or son who might find they are preparing to help bring a baby into this world.

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I will tell my daughter to trust herself and her body and to learn from others how to handle labor.

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And I will tell my sons to do as their father did.

Jyn’s 8th Baby {Hospital Waterbirth}

Jyn’s 8th Baby {Hospital Waterbirth}

I have been pregnant every year since 1998 with the exception of 2004. We lost 2 in that time, but I have effectively been either pregnant and/or nursing for the past 14 years.

Just because you have been pregnant and have birthed a lot does not mean the next one will be easier. Your body doesn’t stay stretched out. You have to do it all over again. You have to contract, you have to open, you have to efface and dilate.

My 7th birth was harder and needed way more intervention than my 6th, so when #8 came around, we really had no clue what to expect!

I was due July 14th, but was walking around in labor for 2 weeks prior to the 4th of July. I was dilated, stretchy, 4-6 centimeters and my bag of water was bulging- to my midwife’s amazement. I had bloody show, I passed the plug constantly (as it renews itself). My pubic bone was separated so I was super uncomfortable. I PRAYED for it to end, I had never felt so ‘done before!

Late on the 3rd of July, I noticed the contractions I had been enduring for the past 2 weeks were every 5 minutes, now. I started timing them at midnight and finally decided to call the midwife at 1am to discuss if I should come in. On one hand, the contractions were regular and, knowing I had Group B strep and needed the antibiotics, should get in sooner than later so I could get the full 2 recommended bags of IV fluids in before birth. On the other hand, I didnt want to be premature and drag everyone in only to have everything stop, like it had in the past.

By 2am after chatting with the midwife, she finally said, “Jyn… come in and have your baby!”

So I gathered my husband, woke one of my daughters and got any last thing we needed which felt like the equivalent of a backpack prepared for a week’s stay in the wilderness. I texted my mom to come stay with the rest of the kids, and we left.

We got to the hospital at about 2:30am fully expecting it to be busy because, after all, it was now the 4th of July. It wasn’t.

They had the birthing pool ready and hot- but I couldn’t get in yet. They had to monitor me first. I actually didn’t even get into the tub until 3:30am. Enduring contractions in the hospital bed was awful.

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As the contractions came closer and harder and he moved down more- the pain in my back got worse and worse. I attribute that, now, to my separated pubic bone which was probably pinching in the back. I was worried about a stretchy but not fully dilated cervix being dragged down with the baby’s head. This is what happened 2 years earlier with my 7th. So I was prepared with some Astroglide to help ease the baby’s head through the cervix and out with minimal scraping on the inside. With each contraction I eased the cervix around his head myself, but really- he felt more like he was going to come out the other end!

Finally, at 9 centimeters dilated my water burst with a sonic boom and he was coming and the contractions were harder.

With a primal roar, out came his head and shoulders at 6:17am on the 4th of July- and up to my bosom with a great big sigh of relief and “Ohhhhh!”

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The water was quite warm as I had insisted, and I started bleeding a little more than we wanted- so they had me get out to an awaiting bed. The whole ordeal, on video, looks so quiet and collected and calm- absolutely the farthest from how it felt! I felt, most of the time, like I was on the edge of insanity!

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Jude Elias was officially 7lbs, 9.5 oz and 19 inches long- beautiful and full of life! The placenta was huge, with 2 lobes (like a heart) and a very thick long umbilical cord that pulsated forever, it seemed!

We rejected the Vitamin K injection as well as the silver nitrate. He was my second child to not receive the Vitamin K injection and my second child to leave the hospital with absolutely no jaundice! It also took them 30 minutes to get a proper PKU sample because… his blood kept clotting.

{Story and photos submitted by Jyn Meyer.}

A First Time Mom’s Hospital Birth Without Fear

A First Time Mom’s Hospital Birth Without Fear

Before we even started trying for a baby, I was reading birth stories. I’ve always been obsessed with babies and that naturally progressed into an obsession with all things birth. After reading every single birth story that Birth Without Fear had to offer, I came away feeling extremely informed and excited to see how my own birth would play out; but I also got the impression that first births rarely went to plan, so I tried to accept that it probably wouldn’t go the way I hoped – drug and intervention free.

Our blessed birth started right when we got pregnant the first month of trying – shocked! The pregnancy continued on smoothly, and I loved being pregnant. Our biggest complication came when my husband (J) was told that he would be sent on a field exercise (he’s in the Army) in our due month (March). They couldn’t tell us the exact dates, so we couldn’t exactly come up with a plan because we didn’t know when he would go or come home. Eventually, after lots of stress and waiting, and still with no solid dates, we decided that I would fly from where we were posted back to our home town where I could be supported by our family and friends, and J would join me when/if he could. This wasn’t ideal, but a plan had to be made, so at 36 +5 I flew home to Brisbane.

Shortly after I left, we got good news – they would be sending J to meet up with me in Brisbane on the 14th, 3 days before my due date! I thought ‘no problem, I’m sure baby will be late anyways’, and relaxed into waiting for J. Baby had other plans, and now we finally get to the birth story…

I had been having back pain for a few days, but it was constant so I thought it was just gas or something. I went to bed on Sunday (10th) with the back pain bad enough that I had to sit on my knees draped over the back of my bed, but it was still constant. I finally fell asleep but I woke up around 3:00am with the pain and started to notice that it was coming in waves because I was falling asleep between them. I pulled out my phone and started timing contractions around 4:00am – they were about 40 seconds long, every 2-5 minutes. I timed them for about an hour and when I realised that they were relatively consistent I thought ‘oh, shit!’ because we were still 4 days away from J arriving.

I heard my mum’s alarm go off and her get up to get ready for work, so I went to tell her I was having contractions. She also reacted with ‘it’s too early! J isn’t here yet!’. I got in the shower to see if that would stop them, but I had 3 contractions in the 15 minutes I was in the shower. I was still able to talk through them though, so we decided that mum would still go to work and I would wait and see what happened.

At 6:00am, I was still having contractions 40ish seconds long every 2 minutes, so I decided to call J and tell him. I knew it could be a false alarm, but I didn’t want to wait too long, have it turn out to be real, and have him miss it because I was too late calling. I called his Captain, who put him on the phone. I said ‘I’m having contractions every 2 minutes’, J responded with ‘are you serious? I just woke up, give me a second to figure this out’, and hung up (haha, he was a bit shocked). As soon as he hung up, I went to the bathroom and saw I was losing my plug – a good sign, but it could still be false labor. I heard back from J about an hour later and he was already on his way to the airport and would be home at 4:00 that afternoon, so now the pressure was on to make sure this was real!

I sat down and timed contractions while watching How I Met Your Mother. I also called the hospital but the midwife said my contractions needed to be more regular and be coming regardless of my position (they were stopping whenever I sat down). By 10:00am they had really spaced out and were only coming when I was standing, so I began doing laps around the block. They were around 40 seconds to 1 minute every 3-5 minutes while walking, but the second I sat down, they disappeared. I was getting so cranky and really upset that I had called J home for nothing. I continued to walk all day, and even baked muffins, but my contractions stayed the same irregular 40/5. Finally J arrived and took me for another huge walk, had some dinner and watched some TV.

Even though we all knew that these contractions were just the start, my mum, J and I decided to drive to the hospital (30 minutes away) just to establish whether or not they were doing anything. I was starting to have to close my eyes and breathe through the contractions, but the ride to the hospital wasn’t too bad.

When we arrived, around 8:00pm, we went to the admitting area, and a midwife came in to check – I was only 1cm dilated, and still pretty thick. I was disappointed, but not surprised, and I wanted to tell her that we had just come in for a status report because she was looking at me like she thought I was an idiot for coming in so early. She started to ask me when my next antenatal appointment was – next Monday – and I think she was suggesting that I might not pop before then – not happy. She asked if I wanted a panadol, and I said no. She asked what pain relief I was thinking of using in labor and when I said none, she gave me the look I knew well – the ‘oh, you’ll change your mind’ look.

I loved when people gave me that look, it gave me extra motivation. The previous Saturday night my mum and I had gone to a work dinner (I used to work with her, at the hospital I gave birth in – me, admin, her, a nurse), and one of the men had asked when my scheduled C-section was and when I laughed and responded that I wasn’t having one, he said ‘well make sure you get the epidural as soon as possible then’; when I responded with ‘the goal is to do it without drugs’ he gave me that same look – I thought about him frequently throughout my delivery! haha

Anyway, back to the story. We headed home to try and get some sleep. J went straight to sleep because he hadn’t gotten much sleep during the exercise, and I tried, but my contractions were getting more intense, so around midnight I went into the bathroom and filled the tub. The next couple of hours I labored in the tub and on the toilet (toilet contractions were INTENSE). I now had to totally focus during contractions. I pictured the baby’s head pushing down on my cervix – it helped to keep him in my thoughts and to feel like we were doing it together – I love him so much that I would have gone through anything to meet him, so thinking of him helped me stay focused.

I went back to the toilet around 2:00am, and noticed there was bright red blood – the midwife had said to come back if my water broke, the contractions were a minute apart, or there was blood, so I went to wake up J and my mum. The contractions were no more than 3 minutes apart and lasting for about a minute, but I had stopped timing them because they were clearly frequent and intense. We all loaded up and got in the car. At this point I had to vocalise through each contraction, but I tried to keep it low-toned and controlled. I sat in the back seat with my eyes closed, breathing and moaning through contractions while J held my hand from the passenger’s seat and mum drove. On the 30minute drive, I had 8 intense contractions – things were definitely different, but I was so afraid that this was still just the beginning and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it if it was going to get much worse.

I had another 2 contractions just walking from the front door to the admitting unit, and I had to lean on J and moan through both of them. They took us back to a room, and contractions were pretty much on top of each other. Mum joined us after parking the car, and then the midwife came in (a different one). She watched me have a contraction then asked if she could check. She felt around while I had another contraction and then she said ‘how dilated do you want to be?’, I pretty much cried ‘just enough that you won’t send me home again!’, and she said the greatest words ever; ‘you’re 7cm!’; I could have kissed the woman! She left to get my chart ready to go to delivery suites, and I actually did a celebratory dance! We’d made it to transition!

When she came back, she said the words I needed to hear; ‘you’re handling things beautifully, you are fully in control and I don’t see any reason why you can’t do this drug-free like you wanted’, this put me in the mindset that I could do it!

We moved to the delivery room and met our AMAZING midwife, Anne. I love Anne, even though I didn’t actually really spend any time with her because she left us to it. Besides checking baby’s heart (perfect) every once in a while, she stayed completely in the background. I spent my entire labor with my head buried in J’s chest. I tried a few different things, but the only place I felt in control and like I could handle it was with him. He listened to me breathe, reminded me to breathe in, and helped me regain control every time I began to lose it. There is no way I would have had my amazing birth without him.

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Around 5:00am I started to feel a bit pushy and got on the bed on my hands and knees. I started to push down (totally out of my control), and all of a sudden there was a huge pop, gush and release of pressure – my water had broken! So glad I was on the bed, because it would have gone EVERYWHERE had I been standing. Anne suggested I get in the shower to clean up, so I did and it was AMAZING! I had wanted a water birth originally, but the new hospital didn’t allow that, and even though I’d planned on laboring in the shower, I hadn’t had any desire to get in the water once we got to the birth suite – big mistake – it was so nice!

I kept involuntarily pushing in the shower, so Anne asked if she could check me to make sure I actually was fully dilated. This meant getting out of the shower, but I agreed anyway and moved to the bed. There was still a lip, so she tried to hold it back while I pushed; it hurt, but it seemed to do the trick. It must have been around 5:45am by this point, and I was given the ok to start really pushing. I never planned on pushing on my back, but that’s how I ended up feeling most comfortable.

A lot of stories I read said that pushing was the best part, and while I was excited that it was almost over, for me pushing was the part where I started to lose control. It REALLY stung, and I was so afraid of tearing that I held back a bit. J was in my ear trying to keep me in control, Anne was holding my leg and reassuring me that it felt worse than it was and that he was moving down, and mum was holding my other leg, taking pictures and also cheering me on.

I kept asking if they could see his head, and being told not yet. Labor felt like it had only taken an hour (it actually wasn’t that much longer than that), but this felt like it was going forever. Finally they said they could see his head and I asked if he had hair; ‘not as much as we thought’ replied my mum. I reached down and felt his wrinkly little head – amazing. This part is all a bit blurry, but after his head came out, Anne said ‘now reach down and pull your baby up’, I love her for this because I was too overwhelmed to think about doing that in the moment but it was the most amazing thing ever, and my favorite part of the whole experience. I reached down, grabbed him, pulled him to my chest and started totally sobbing.

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He cried a little bit, but then just looked around while I continued to sob. I just held him on my skin, and after some time (who knows how long?) Anne showed me that his cord had stopped pulsing, and so J cut his cord. I continued to hold him skin to skin for the next hour/hour and a half and he latched on like a pro, while they delivered the placenta and stitched me up; I would have gotten away unscathed, but Archie decided to punch his arm out as he was crowning and I ended up with a small 2nd degree tear.

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After the torture of stitches and fundal massage (the worst part, by far) I asked the midwives to weigh Archie so J could have a hold. I knew he seemed a bit big, but when she announced that he was 8lbs 11oz, I was shocked! I started sobbing all over again because I couldn’t believe I’d given birth to such a chunky boy with no drugs!

My birth was better than I even dreamed it could be. I pictured it so many times, and the reality was actually better than anything I ever imagined. I believe that the calm birth has resulted in a calm baby. We haven’t had any problems breastfeeding, and he had surpassed his birth weight by 4 days old. I am so grateful for my experience because I know how often things don’t go to plan and women struggle with these things. I still can’t believe I got the birth I wanted the first time – it’s the greatest feeling in the world!

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