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Dancing Doctor & Mama

Dancing Doctor & Mama

“Who you choose as a provider will play the biggest role in the options, support, and respect you receive through your pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum journey. Choose carefully, be picky as hell, and don’t hesitate changing if needed. Love yourself enough to get the care you deserve. As much as you would for someone else you love. Yes, love yourself that much, darling, because you’re worth it!” – January Harshe

We love seeing providers like @drfernandoguedescunha who is dancing with mama to get baby down and earthside!

27 ways to Support Pregnant, Laboring, and/or Postpartum Mama

27 ways to Support Pregnant, Laboring, and/or Postpartum Mama

birth without fear, partner, pregnancy, labor, postpartumThere are so many different ways for a partner to support mama. Some are obvious, some are not. Read on for some ideas on what to ask for from your partner. If you are the partner, here are some examples for you take note of.

  1. “Because he is interested in knowing my birth plan, my wishes and needs, and willing to be my voice in the hospital when I may not be able to communicate well for myself.” -Kimberly D.
  2. “When I wanted a home birth after my first was traumatizing and in a hospital, he supported me 100%. And when I received my GD diagnosis and was heartbroken and afraid of losing my midwife, he helped me make meal plans and get a handle on my diet so that I was able to manage it on my own and did not require insulin. When I was in labour he helped apply counter pressure during contractions, poured water on my back, got coffee and tea for the birth team. Oh and he baked pies for everyone who helped deliver our little girl. Basically, he was my rock and my source of strength.” -Robin K.
  3. “Lots of things, but one that comes to mind was him picking good songs for us to listen to.” -Moriah B.
  4. “Every pain, tear, doubt, decision. He was there. He held me up (literally) when I was too weak to stand. He washed my sore body after 18 hours of labor and an emergency c-section the first time and then held me again after 26 hours of labor and another emergency c-section. When I was too weak to hold our babies after surgery, he held them for me while they nursed. When we got home he showered me until I was strong enough to do it with out pain. He got up every time the baby cried to bring her to me so I didn’t have to get in and out of bed because it hurt so bad. Even though he works 12 hour shifts. He fought the doctors with me when I refused to be induced after I passed my due date. He supported me when the doctors doubted me trying a VBAC. He’s my favorite person.” -Michelle G.
  5. “He supported me whole heartedly to have a water birth at home even though he was scared. He never once left my side during labour and gave me so much strength and courage when I needed it. He was simply amazing!” -Mai W.
  6. “When we were exhausted from a false labor and my hubby bolted from half sleep to tell the doctor I did NOT want pitocin. I was so tired, not dialated, contractions had stopped. My doctor was pushy and seemed upset with me and I’m a bit of a pushover especially when I’m stressed. If it wasn’t for him I would have had a very long, strenuous labor. Baby came safe and easy 2 days later (at a different hospital)” -Kate I.
  7. “Feeding me after the baby was born.” -Kristina M.
  8. “He reminded me that we were so close to meeting our rainbow baby.” -Susanna Y.
  9. “He stayed awake…. 50 hours of labour and that man managed to stay awake with me. Just that in itself was enough. I don’t know how a person does that when you’re not in labour yourself.” -Karen H.
  10. “He worked well with my doula and basically did whatever she said which helped us both a lot. He never left my side. I don’t think he even left me to go pee. He was amazing.” -Cora M.
  11. “Being with me through my entire labor applying counter pressure and wading through the whole gruesome scene, and knowing breastfeeding is very important to me and making sure I was able to do it successfully and without public shame. (Boobs out all the time anytime).” -Tosha M.
  12. “His response when we did non emergent transfer. I was a puddle of useless mess. Totally triggered out from birth trauma from the minute I walked into the hospital. It was awful. I couldn’t get it together. They kept asking me if I wanted pain medication because I was so hysterical and it had nothing to do with pain. He stepped in and knew the answer to every question. He demanded they respect my body. He demanded they respect my midwife. he was there to take me home when they said we were both fine and I didn’t need to stay. He was there when my baby was born, at home as planned, 24 hours later.” -Jessica M.
  13. “He turned his hat backwards when I started pushing–like he was about to work too! Like ‘here WE go’, together.” -Meg M.
  14. “My husband spoon fed me many times while I nursed postpartum which is an incredibly sweet memory for me.” -Melissa H.
  15. “Our girl is our second and I had a rough, rough pregnancy this time around. But on our induction day he had learned all my birth cues. He advocated for me, requested a new nurse when it took her 8 tries on different spots on both arms to hook up my IV, made sure I was given juice on top of my water, bought me 6 boxes of Popsicles, rubbed my back and made sure that, even though transition kicked my ass, I got my med free delivery! I don’t think I would have done so well without him. My daughter was born in 4 minutes, 2 total pushes, no blood and no tearing. He was my rock.” -Eliyana T.
  16. “He helped calm me and relax me during labor and helped me with the birth by reminding me how far we’ve come and how close I was. We both cried during the birth. I had so much love and respect for him in that moment.” -Cassielynn O.
  17. “Foot massages really helped me!” -Chelsea R.
  18. “He read on natural birth and breastfeeding without prompting. And then would rattle off random facts and information. Told me we didn’t need a doula because he was all I needed.” -Ashley M.
  19. “He got all of my craving food and followed directions well during labor and delivery.” -Sarah W.
  20. “Second day home and I was having trouble getting my baby to latch. I was exhausted and in tears. My husband sat by my side and used a bottle of formula to help entice my baby and squeezed my breast just like the nurses in the hospital while I tried to adjust the baby with my hands. Now I’m going on 7 months breastfeeding!” -Jessica M.
  21. “The fact that I was literally in (primal) beast mode, unshowered, broken blood vessels all over my face, straight up demon-screaming, clawing at his hands and arms, and he was looking at me like I was the single most beautiful and amazing thing on this planet.” -Katie S.
  22. “Caring for our toddler after baby was born so I could focus on nursing and resting.” -Imani C.
  23. “My sweet husband just said ‘Whatever mama wants’ during my whole pregnancy.” -Devin S.
  24. “He made a schedule for my recovery so some one was with me at all times.” -Jocilin O.
  25. “My method of coping with labor pains was to “bah” like a sheep. My husband got right in my face and ‘bahed’ with me. It made me feel safe and comfortable and allowed me to let my body open up and baby to come out.” Jodi R.
  26. “He is working many late nights leading up to the birth of our daughter so he can take time off to take care of us postpartum.” -Allegra L.
  27. “My husband sat with me while I labored on the toilet (stalled labor, very intense toilet contractions) and prayed over us while I squeezed the life out of his thigh. During this time my other birth attendants left us alone and I progressed from 6cm-8cm.” Amanda S.

 

A Positive Emergency Induction Story

A Positive Emergency Induction Story

Natalie shares the story of her son’s induced birth.

I’d been researching about babies and birth for as long as I can remember; so when my husband, Greg, and I found out we were pregnant, I was so excited to put what I had learned into practice. I hated reading stories about all the awful things that went along with pregnancy and I was determined to love carrying this baby. I had only mild morning sickness, and I never had any swelling, heartburn or cravings. I credit this to eating a really healthy diet with lots of whole foods.

Our due date was Leap Day 2016, and in October we found out we were having a little boy.

Through all my research I had outlined a very specific birth plan: I’d labor at home with my husband for as long as possible, then we’d go to the birth center where my midwives would help me deliver our baby in a very calm, peaceful environment with few interventions. But we all know what they say about best-laid plans…

At 35 weeks, I started having itchy feet. It was odd enough for me to Google it and I read about Cholestasis—a potentially very serious complication with the liver/gallbladder in pregnancy. The risk of stillbirth is much higher than normal pregnancy, and induction before 37 weeks is strongly recommended. The labs came back at my 36-week appointment on February 1 and were very high—borderline severe—so I was referred to an OB practice.

After wrapping up things at work in the morning, we went in the next day and had a biophysical ultrasound. Our little man looked great; he had perfect fluid levels, and they estimated his weight to be about 6.5lbs. We met with the OB and he recommended we induce ASAP as there were no guarantees how long he would be okay in there. The problem with Cholestasis is that things can go from fine to terrible without much warning. We were to go in the following morning at 7 a.m., but the Maternity Unit was full; so we ended up going in Wednesday evening, February 3.

My cervix was high and unfavorable; not great conditions for inducing – but we needed my baby out. On Wednesday night they gave me Cervadil to try and soften my cervix. On Thursday morning, February 4, they administered Cytotec to try and get things moving. All day I had mild irregular contractions, and we kept moving around in between long stints of monitoring. At 6 p.m. they started a low dose of Pitocin to try to get things started; but I was still barely dilated.

Later that night they gave me a Foley Bulb, which was the most uncomfortable thing ever. The constant ache from the Foley bulb, mixed with the artificial Pitocin contractions, was way too much to handle. We decided to turn the Pitocin off, and I was able to get a half decent night of sleep.

On Friday morning, the OB removed the Foley bulb and I was dilated to about 3 cm and was not having regular contractions. At 10 a.m. our dog escaped from the sitter. She was loose on the town for two hours, and my labor stalled until she was found. Once my husband came back from canvassing our neighborhood, they started Pitocin again and I labored all afternoon as they turned the Pitocin up and up. At the peak I was on 15ml/hour. I had to be on the monitors constantly, which I thought I’d hate, but it was reassuring to hear his heart beating steadily. The OB checked me at 6 p.m. and I was back down to 2 cm but 70% effaced. It was really disheartening, but I was determined to get him out.

At 10 p.m. the OB checked and I was dilated to a 5 and 80% effaced. This was awesome news as I was doing loads of work. I labored in the shower because I was having a hard time relaxing during contractions, and I was definitely questioning my decision to go pain-med-free. It wasn’t that the contractions were unbearable; I just didn’t think I could handle another eight hours like that.

Greg was able to give me the “Tyler Durden” pep talk and got my head back in a better spot. While in the shower my body temp rose, which caused baby’s heart rate to stay too high. Greg was really concerned so I got out and lay on the bed and tried to rest between contractions, but I was having both back and front labor. The contractions focused in my lower abdomen, but I was having really painful back spasms, and the only way to help was to have Greg massage my lower back and push on my tailbone. The nurse said that when I was ready, they would move us into the delivery suite and break my water. I knew this meant the end was near, but I spent a while on the bed, scared to take the leap and move forward because I knew it was about to get harder.

I walked to the delivery room sometime around 2:30 a.m., where the OB broke my water. I was 7 cm and 100% dilated. Breaking my water definitely started transition. It was a lot of intense contractions with no break. Transition was difficult; Greg was working so hard to help me, but nothing could make the pain go away. At this point they turned off the Pitocin and let my body take over. I needed to pee but there was no way in hell I was going to get up and go to the bathroom so I asked the nurse if I could pee there. It apparently I didn’t get my point across because she and Greg were surprised when I just started going on the bed. Not a single f*** was given at that point; plus, the bed was already covered in pads and towels from my water breaking. We all had a good laugh about this afterward.

Transition was over quickly and soon I started to feel my son moving down. The pressure was immense and my body started to push involuntarily, so I went along. The OB came back in, checked me quickly, and said “His head is moving down and you’re fully dilated.” I thought I was going to want to push on my hands and knees, but my legs were too unsteady. Greg held one leg and also held the Doppler in the right spot so we could hear his heart beat, and held my hand while I pushed. Pushing was really uncomfortable; the pressure was insane and felt like I couldn’t breathe very well. But besides the discomfort, pushing was actually the most romantic experience I’ve ever had with my husband.

Between contractions I looked into Greg’s eyes, and he encouraged me while I held his hand. The feeling in the room at that moment was something I’ll never forget, and is difficult to put into words. I breathed our baby down slowly and I held my hand on his head as he crowned then popped out. The OB assisted in getting his shoulders out and I got to pull my wiggly little babe to my chest. James Gregory was born at 3:20 a.m. on February 6, 2016.

1

He had tons of hair, a thick cord and was covered in vernix. I held him skin-to-skin as I delivered the placenta, which looked amazing (the concern with Cholestasis is that it breaks down the placenta rapidly). James started crying right away and pinked up quickly. He received an APGAR score of 9, and the nurses couldn’t find anything to take off.

The OB checked me, and I hadn’t torn at all! After I got to hold James for awhile, I passed him off to Greg and he got to hold him skin-to-skin before they weighed him. He weighed 6lbs 8oz at birth, and was 20″ long – both great measurements for being technically premature. They brought him back to me and we tried breastfeeding. He latched right away and all the nurses were amazed. Preemies of his age usually have a hard time with breastfeeding.

2

Labor was hard; it was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done – but I am so in awe of what my body was able to do. This birth wasn’t the one we planned for, but it ended up being perfect. I got to have the best of both worlds: the one-on-one personalized care from a midwife, and the specialized yet compassionate care from an OB and medical team.

For more information on Cholestasis, or ICP, visit icpcare.org. Awareness saves little lives!

From Braxton Hicks to Immediate Transition: Backseat Car Birth of Kenan John!

From Braxton Hicks to Immediate Transition: Backseat Car Birth of Kenan John!

On Wednesday, January 27th at 2:30 pm I went to my birthing center for my weekly checkup. With me being 38 weeks and 4 days and having had consistent Braxton Hicks for the past couple weeks, my midwife decided to check me. She said I was at a 1 and my cervix was completely soft. While she was down there she did a little extra stretching to maybe encourage things to move along. I left her office at 3pm and headed to my mom’s house to pick up Brecon. While I was there I started to feel more Braxton Hicks and my stomach continued to stay tight. Bobby was working in Galveston that day and was going to be home late so we decided I would hang out at my mom’s until it was time to put Brecon to bed. Nothing really changed throughout the day. At 7:30pm Brecon and I headed home and I got him in bed. I was laying with him and started to feel what felt like real contractions but VERY mild and VERY inconsistent.

Bobby got home around 8:30pm and by the time he showered and ate it was 9:30pm and the contractions were the same but I just had a feeling it was for real. We decided to go to bed and try and get some sleep in case I was right. I slept on and off until 10:10pm when I was woke up with a HARD contraction! I woke up moaning! I crawled out of bed and went to the living room to figure out what was going on. About five minutes later I had another hard contraction and called my mom to come over. I didn’t plan on calling her over this early in labor but when I got Bobby up I didn’t want to be alone if Brecon woke up and he had to go put him back to bed.

I woke up Bobby and we called my midwife Kathy. She said it sounded like the early stages of labor and to call her back in two hours and we would assess the situation. At this point I was already on my hands and knees rocking back and forth through contractions. I should have known that I wouldn’t last that long!

My mom got to the house and started timing my contractions with the app on my phone. Things get a little foggy at this point but the time was around 10:45pm.

I remember having to go to the bathroom. I had two contractions while in there and my mom said she heard my voice change and knew things were progressing. When I came out of the bathroom I was shaking. I was in transition! I got back on the couch and had 2-3 contractions right on top of the other. My mom called Kathy and said this is progressing very fast. It takes us 30 minutes to get to the birthing center so Kathy said she would meet us there. We had called Bobby’s mom to come over and stay with Brecon but she hadn’t made it yet so we called my brother to come stay until she got there.

My next contraction my water broke and the next contraction after that I felt the need to push! Mom called Kathy back and told her I was pushing. She told her to get me in the car NOW!

I remember them telling me I had to move and walk to the car. I cried and said I wasn’t going! Somehow I got the strength to stand and walk to the car. I had one contraction on the way out to the car. It was around 11:25pm at this point.

We got in the car. I was in the back on my hands and knees, my mom slid in behind me, and Bobby drove. I don’t remember much else except that after his head was born, there were about three contractions where he didn’t budge! Mom had checked to make sure the cord wasn’t around his neck so she knew that he wasn’t in any danger. I remember she had me put one of my feet on the floor board to give him more room to come out and that seemed to work. Two more pushes and he was out! 11:39pm!

birth, pregnancy, birth in the car
This was as soon as I got him in my arms.

His cord was really short so I had to do some acrobatic move to get my leg over the cord to sit down so I could hold him. Even then I couldn’t get him all the way to my chest so I laid him on my belly the best I could laid out in the back of a Prius! We were about five minutes from the birthing center at this point. When we got inside, because I had labored so fast the midwife wanted to make sure my uterus would do what it was supposed to so she gave me a shot of pitocin to help with the bleeding and birth the placenta. Bobby got to cut his cord and then we instantly worked on nursing.

birth, pregnancy, birth in car

This boy knows how to nurse! It took maybe two minutes before he was latched on! I feel like he hasn’t gotten off since!

We let him nurse a little while and then cleaned him up and weighed him. He came at 9lbs even, 21 inches long, 14 inch head circumference, and 15 inch chest circumference. Much much different from my 4 lb 10 ounce Brecon!

After I got cleaned up we got to go home! It was around 3:30am. Definitely the most crazy six hours of my life!

birth in car, pregnancy, birth

Submitted by Kellie Lister.

Riding the Waves – The Birth Story of Hailey Faith Part 2

Riding the Waves – The Birth Story of Hailey Faith Part 2

To read Part One of Hailey Faith’s birth story, click here

All of the sudden my body began pushing and I could hear myself sounding much more deep and guttural than before, almost angry. I remarked to the room that it felt like throwing up and it was the weirdest sensation ever. It’s so odd that during a contraction, it is extremely painful and violently strong yet moments later there is no pain and my head is clear and calm. At this point, the pain was unbelievable and I would have for sure demanded drugs if I’d been in the hospital. I’m so grateful that it wasn’t even an option because my body was doing great work and progressing quickly.

As the intensity and frequency of the contractions reached a peak, I could hear God calling my name. He had given me a verse before this birth: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine,” and I’d carried it in my heart for the last several months. At this time, I could hear Him matching my volume and calling my name, urging me to keep going, to stay strong.

I made eye contact with Tracy and told her I just wanted the baby to come out now. She maintained eye contact with me and said, “I know,” in a way that was so comforting because she did know. She’s had five kids of her own and has been attending births for 10 years. In between contractions, I marveled at feeling Hailey move down. I kept reaching down to see if I could feel her head because I could tell she was so close. During one particularly strong contraction, my bag of waters popped underwater and it felt like I had burst a giant balloon! Finally, when I reached down I could feel her head and I was very excited! She went back up slightly and I tried to control my pushing a little bit so as not to tear. It was about two or three more pushes and she was out at 12:06am! I did feel myself tear slightly but couldn’t have cared less. I know in books and birth stories they always talk about the “ring of fire” as being pretty bad but honestly I didn’t care about that either because it was so brief and she was out the next second.

Tracy was right there at the tub and she helped to guide Hailey between my legs and up into my arms. Hailey came out crying and covered in vernix! I thought beforehand that I would be grossed out by the vernix but I wasn’t at all. It was more like lotion all over her skin than anything disgusting. I was able to hold her and rejoice with Jim. I did it! She’s here! She’s so little and cute. She lay on my chest and I looked at her, both of us shocked and exhausted. She was getting cold being half in and half out of the water and so we decided that I should try to deliver the placenta and move to the bed. I gave a few arbitrary pushes and Tracy guided the placenta out. I got to look at it and see the broken bag of waters and where the umbilical cord attaches.

Then, this birth took a turn. I hadn’t put much thought into the third stage of labor and was surprised when I didn’t feel calm and safe anymore. I felt panicky and detached from my baby. As I lay down on the bed, I told Tracy. She checked my uterus and it didn’t seem to be clamping down well. Due to this, I was still losing quite a bit of blood. Quickly, the room became busy and serious. Jim held Hailey as my midwives moved me to the toilet to try to get me to pee as that could have been causing my uterus to continue bleeding. As I sat down, blood gushed into the toilet and I felt woozy. We moved back to the bed and Melissa gave me a shot of Pitocin in the thigh and an IV bag of fluids. Kyla gave me doses of two different tinctures as Tracy massaged my uterus. She put in a catheter to empty my bladder and gave me misoprostol suppositories. I told Jim to pray. All of this, and my bleeding was still not stopping. As a last resort, Tracy scrubbed up and manually scraped my uterus of any partially retained placenta. The assistants checked my placenta but could not tell if a piece was missing. This process was understandably extremely painful and terrifying. As she finished, she told Kyla to call the ambulance so that I could go to Legacy Emmanuel. She couldn’t be sure if she’d gotten everything and my uterus still wouldn’t clamp down. In only moments, the EMTs helped me out on a stretcher into the ambulance; Tracy rode with me. Jim stayed with Hailey at the birth center and I was assured that she could wait to eat until either I came back or Jim brought her to the hospital.

I believe that God lead me to Tracy and Melissa. I am not exaggerating when I say that these two women acted as angels to me during this time. Tracy never left my side and continued massaging my uterus to control the bleeding. I tried not to panic and the EMT was very friendly explaining that I was doing well, not in shock and still maintaining good pulse and blood pressure. When we arrived at the hospital, they wouldn’t let me go to Labor and Delivery. They instead insisted that I go to the ER despite the fact that we’d called ahead and that my midwives have a good working relationship with the OB hospitalists. At this point, I don’t feel out of line in saying that the hospital was atrocious and negligent in my care. They were asking me every arbitrary question to admit me and they would not allow me to be seen by an OB. Rather an ER doctor came by and in my panic I started demanding to be seen by an obstetrician. These doctors and nurses must’ve been having a really bad day because instead of responding to me with medical care and attention, the doctor left saying that I was refusing to be seen. A nurse came in to give me a second IV and tell me to “stop it,” and that they could give me a transfusion if I needed more blood. At this point my pulse was around 150 bpm and I was losing my ability to hear. I pleaded with them to get me a doctor, as I could still feel myself gushing blood and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to keep myself from full on losing my mind.

I have to say it again, Tracy and Melissa are angels. They never left my side even for a minute and Tracy massaged my uterus for an hour as we waited in the ER. Melissa put her face right above mine and talked to me calmly about her life and her ambitions to become a midwife. I knew that Jim had called my dad to pray and he’d texted my dear friends in Texas to pray as well. I was distraught because this was very similar to the scene of Amelia’s birth, only it was a botched epidural/spinal and a traumatic c section the last time. My midwives continued to listen to me and reassure me. Tracy was advocating for me and trying to get a doctor to come examine me. As I felt my panic reach its breaking point, I laid my hand across my abdomen and I said aloud “In Jesus name, bleeding stop. In Jesus name, bleeding stop. I am not afraid.” I heard Tracy agree with me. As I’m writing this, tears come to my eyes because I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and my pulse began to drop. An OB finally came in and she was attentive and concerned. Her name was Wendy Smith and she wanted to take me to the OR to do an exam and possibly a D&C because everyone was fairly sure that I had some retained placenta. Tracy and Melissa accompanied me to L&D so that I could meet the anesthesiologist and be prepped for the OR.

As I got up to L&D, I began to feel much better. My bleeding slowed and my hearing was returning. I no longer felt terrified but instead I felt calm and able to make decisions. We decided on sedation and I headed back with a really caring OB and team of L&D nurses. One of them was named Anna and I was so glad that they were all making eye contact with me. As I headed into the brightly lit OR, I wondered if I would feel terror or have a flash back of my c section but instead I felt God’s love. I felt the weight of His immense love for me and I started to blink back tears on the table because there is no way to bear even a small portion of that love without overflowing. The anesthesiologist did a great job because I spent about an hour having the most real hallucinations! I told the room afterwards that I was going to make him cookies and it reminded me of both the Lego Movie and the sci-fi movie Lucy at the same time.

In the end, the cause of my bleeding was undetermined because the OB could find nothing wrong! She stitched up two minor tears and I awoke to Tracy and Melissa. They had stayed right outside the OR waiting for me for me. Again, angels. The L&D staff said that I had lost a significant amount of blood but that as long as I felt able and my vitals looked ok, they would release me back to the birth center that morning. So, Jim packed up the little baby and drove to the hospital where I could feed her and then we could recover for the next two days at the birth center. Funnily, I left the birth center completely naked so Jim brought me some clothes but he forgot shoes! At 10am I slowly walked barefoot out of the hospital and gratefully into the arms of the postpartum midwives at the birth center where I received nothing short of excellent (even luxurious) care for the next two days enjoying my baby and husband.

birth center, midwife, midwives, birth

Overall, what can I say? Neither of my birth experiences have been “normal.” I’m assured that the third time’s a charm! Some might say that because of this birth, I regret not being in the hospital to begin with. But nothing could be further from the truth. It was always our plan to treat birth as non-emergent unless it became so. And in that sense, everything went according to plan. I feel that my midwife is highly educated and trained to respond to an emergency and that’s exactly what she did. I’m so grateful that she let me labor uninhibited and deliver my child in the way that my body knew how to do and yet she stepped in when her hands-on attention was much needed. Some people will decide that hospital birth is best for them, and I’m totally on board with that! But for me, I know that God guided me to make the right decisions about my care. I know that He was not surprised by anything that happened and He did not leave me or Hailey at any point.

Tracy thinks that I did retain part of my placenta; she said that it looked “shreddy,” when she checked it out later. Her opinion is that when she manually swept my uterus, she got the placenta out but that it took a while for the bleeding to stop. The hospital said that it was my first degree labial tear that caused so much bleeding, but truthfully that doesn’t seem plausible to me because of the way my uterus was reacting. Ultimately, I don’t know what caused the bleeding and the failure of my uterus to clamp down but I believe that God heard my prayer in the ER. I believe that God heard Jim’s prayer, and my dad’s prayer, and my friend’s prayers.

In many ways, this birth has been healing because I went through the fire and yet wasn’t burned. I birthed my baby on my own without surgery or drugs and God held me through the complications. He replaced my disempowerment and fear with strength and peace!

Hailey is perfect and lovely in every way. She has a peaceful and accommodating nature. Amelia loves her and gives her kisses all the time. I am grateful, for my daughters, my midwives, my husband, the L&D team, all the people who prayed, all the people who supported our family, and the plan God had for our lives at this time.

hailey

Submitted by Anna Ryan. 

Riding the Waves – The Birth Story of Hailey Faith Part 1

Riding the Waves – The Birth Story of Hailey Faith Part 1

*It will be helpful to know that Amelia was born via unplanned c-section 22 months before I had Hailey. Amelia’s birth was traumatic to me for many reasons including copious unnecessary medical interventions and complications with anesthesia during my surgery. Hailey’s birth was a planned VBAC, vaginal birth after c-section.

I woke up at 3:30am, nine days past my due date. I’d been dreaming about waves in the ocean and I was having fun surfing. In fact, I was literally riding waves as my labor contractions had begun! I wasn’t thinking that it was definitely labor because I’d become used to routine practice contractions but these were coming about every ten minutes and they were stronger than before. I tried to go back to sleep but the contractions were keeping me awake, not from pain necessarily but they just took my attention.

I ended up taking a shower just to have something to do and decided to ask Jim to stay home in case it was baby day. His alarm went off at 6:30am and he decided to sleep in since he wasn’t going in to the office. Amelia got up and we did normal waking up and breakfast routines. Contractions were still coming regularly but not painful so I tried to just act like it was not a big deal.

I called my midwife Tracy around 8am because I had an ultrasound and appointment scheduled that morning since I was past my due date. She said to go anyways so Jim, Amelia, and I made our way to the birth center around 9. The ultrasound looked great and on we went. Tracy said we’d likely be back that evening in active labor. We stopped at Shari’s on the way home to get some breakfast and then headed home.

Jim and Amelia napped but again, I couldn’t sleep. So, I rested and watched Jimmy Fallon, all the while willing my contractions to get stronger and closer together. I was so ready to finally have the baby and I didn’t want this early labor to drag on for days. I was beginning to get discouraged and so I prayed that active labor would begin soon and decided that we needed to get out of the house. Around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, we packed up Amelia’s overnight bag and went to a big kid’s consignment sale to kill some time.

I wondered if people could tell; there I was in my labor shirt (I’d decorated a T-shirt with verses to encourage me) and stretchy pants, belly literally hanging out and trying to look normal as contractions became 3-4 minutes apart and much stronger. Jim and I laughed as I concentrated really hard on displays of baby socks and crib mattresses every few minutes surrounded by other mothers and children. We got out of there with a little pile of kid’s stuff; thank God it all was the right size and style because I really wasn’t paying very good attention! I felt excited and consumed by the process that was unfolding. Contractions were painful but in the way that a good run is painful or a deep stretch. We dropped Amelia off at my cousin’s house to play with their little girls for the night. I wasn’t worried about her or feeling nervous about our separation even though this would be our first night away ever. Lo and behold, that’s when active labor began!

Jim and I went back to the house to regroup and enjoy our alone time. Contractions were every 2-4 minutes now but still very manageable so I had Jim pack up all our stuff in the car and make me a snack. I called Tracy but she wasn’t available and so I talked to Carman, another one of my midwives, and she suggested that I get in the bath. She said things would either pick up very quickly or slow down in the water. Initially things felt much slower in the bath and I got a nice break to eat my toast and chat with Jim. I felt that I needed to get out and keep moving so we put on some Eddie Murphy stand up and I bounced on my yoga ball. I’m so glad that we were watching comedy because although my contractions were strong, I was still laughing and excited.

Eventually, I couldn’t sit on the ball anymore and shortly thereafter I couldn’t understand the jokes because I was “vocalizing” through my contractions. I was nervous beforehand that I wouldn’t feel comfortable vocalizing because I’m not really a yelling kind of person but it came second nature and was hugely helpful in managing my pain. I didn’t understand before that it’s not really yelling, it’s more like singing. At least to me anyways! I decided to give Tracy a call at that point and she said that we could meet at the birth center in an hour if I felt ready. I wasn’t sure but I said yes. For some reason, I still wasn’t thinking that I was really in labor or that I was very close to actually having a baby. The pain was real but I didn’t feel out of control or like I needed help. Honestly, I was nervous that it would all stop!

I wasn’t looking forward to being confined in the car but we made our way to the birth center (again!) at 8pm. The ride was fine and my labor slowed down in the car and upon our arrival at the birth center.

I really understand now why Ina May Gaskin and other midwives talk so much about the mental state of a mother and her level of safety and comfort affecting the progress of her labor. It took a few minutes but I began to feel comfortable to labor in the birth center. We were the only ones there aside from Tracy and my two birth assistants, Melissa and Kyla. We walked up and down the hall and then upstairs. I had Jim grab the stereo and put on Latin pop. It must have been a funny sight to see us walking in circles and dancing to Pitbull in between contractions! I remember the song Fireball was playing as we marched hand-in-hand. This is actually one of my favorite memories because it was such a sweet and happy time with my husband. I was still making jokes and enjoying our time together. Tracy came in every 20 minutes or so to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and everything was going great! Around 10:30pm, I was feeling pretty tired and the pain was beginning to be enough that I wasn’t laughing anymore. I still had no idea how far I’d come or how far I had to go.

I decided that I’d like to get in the tub to see if I could catch a break. Tracy asked if I’d like to be checked before I got in. I hesistated because I didn’t want to have her check me and then be discouraged. I thought I’d be something like 4 cm dilated. With Amelia’s birth, I’d only ever dilated to a 5 so I didn’t know what to expect. Tracy said I was a loose 7! I couldn’t believe it! Not only had I gone into labor on my own (and believe me that waiting nine days past my due date was extremely challenging), but I’d dilated all the way to 7 without even realizing it! I felt very encouraged and know that I’d be heading into transition which I’d heard was typically the most challenging part for mothers.

I had Jim change our music to Jesus Culture and I got into the water. It was very helpful to be there in the water with my music and candles burning. Still, it was so peaceful with just Jim and me in the room when Tracy left. I leaned against the side of the tub and sang a little bit with the music, “To You our hearts are open, nothing here is hidden, You are our one desire. You alone are holy, only You are worthy, God let Your fire fall down.” I felt God there with me and I began to feel weepy and shaky. I recognized these as signs of transition but I was also feeling a profound sense of God’s love and His faithfulness.

As the contractions continued to come, I could no longer sing. The intensity was through the roof! I have no words to describe that kind of pain other than to say it is at once excruciating, tiring, and fascinating. I told Jesus that although I could no longer praise Him through my words, I was praising Him through my vocalization.

Jim asked me what he could do to help and I said “You can have the baby for a minute.” But in all honesty, just having him there with me was the best thing. He couldn’t take away the pain at all but his support was what I needed. He said, “What are you thinking?” And I said, “I can do it.” He replied, “Ya, you can.” At that point, I feel like it was just me and Jesus in that tub working to get the baby out. I don’t think I’ve ever felt His presence so tangibly or heard His voice so audibly. I felt that He was right there beside me encouraging me and giving me strength.

The next time Tracy came in, I asked her if pushing was better or worse than this. I appreciated her honest answer. She said that, “Some people think it’s better, I think it’s worse. Do you feel like pushing?” Tracy and the birth assistants were so great. They were calm and realistic, silently supporting me and my body’s ability to have our baby.

In only a few minutes, they could hear that something in my voice had changed and the baby was coming soon. The three of them silently came into the room and sat on the sofa by the tub awaiting Hailey’s arrival.

home birth, jesus culture, birthing tub, birthing pool

Part Two will be posted tomorrow.

Submitted by Anna Ryan. 

A Blood Clot, Zika, and High Risk Natural Hospital Birth

A Blood Clot, Zika, and High Risk Natural Hospital Birth

Three years ago I was traumatized during my son’s birth and it took me a long time to be ready for another baby. When we found out we were pregnant again we were excited and ready to give natural birth another shot. When I was 21 weeks pregnant we moved to Tonga (in the South Pacific) to serve as missionaries for two years. We met with a local midwife who barely spoke English and she agreed to do our home birth. But when we were offered a different ministry job when I was 29 weeks pregnant we decided to come home to Washington. As we were driving to the airport my leg began to swell and I knew that I had developed a blood clot. Over the course of our twenty-four hour trip home my husband began to feel sick and we knew that he had contracted Zika. When we finally arrived home and were able to go to the ER, they confirmed that both were true – I had a large DVT from my iliac vein to my knee and Charlie’s test came back positive for Zika. Our dream of a home birth went out the window, and it took me nearly two more months to find an OB who would take my high risk case so late in my pregnancy. I was put on a blood thinner and the doctors let us know that if my labor was quick (meaning I had taken my blood thinner within the previous twelve hours) that an epidural would not be an option.

It was Saturday morning and I was 38 weeks and 6 days into my pregnancy. It was a beautiful day and after discovering the loss of my mucus plug that morning I knew labor was going to be happening sometime that weekend. I didn’t have any signs of labor all day other than just feeling very “ready”. She had been getting lower and lower for weeks, and the previous Tuesday my doctor had confirmed that I was dilated 4cm. I was very discouraged by the time I went to bed that night around 10:30pm, I thought for sure that I would have started having at least some cramping by then.

Around 2am I woke up to some loud banging upstairs and checked to make sure everything was okay, which it was. I went back to bed but shortly after laying down felt my first real contraction. It felt like a Braxton Hicks contraction, but lower in my uterus and painful. I started having them every few minutes, they were about ten breaths long. I knew it was finally time and I was so excited! After about half an hour I got in the shower and by the time I got out I knew it was time to wake up Charlie and start packing our stuff. The contractions were short but very intense, I could not talk or move through them. Charlie was excited and giddy as he got ready, and he seemed to miss how fast things were progressing until I finally looked him in the eyes and told him we NEED to leave soon. I was struggling to walk around and finish getting ready and packing and was frustrated that I couldn’t brush my hair because I just wanted to leave! We were finally ready and left for the hospital around 4am.

Once we got in the car I began timing contractions and they were about 3-4 minutes apart and 1-2 minutes long the entire 40 minute drive. At one point we had to pull over so I could throw up on the side of the highway. I was feeling very scared about what lay ahead of us and I was regretting my choice to have a natural birth. I knew that if these contractions were already this painful that transition and delivery were going to be hell. I kept telling Charlie how I didn’t want to do this.

Emma, our doula, greeted us in the parking lot and was very helpful in confirming for me that “Yah, this part sucks balls.” Which made me feel better. We somehow managed to get the worst nurse in the entire hospital who asked me during a contraction, “So, what brings you in?” When she checked my cervix I was 6cm, 90% effaced and my bag of waters was “bulging”. I wanted an epidural so bad at this point but she confirmed for me that they couldn’t, because I had taken my blood thinner seven hours earlier. I was so pissed and did not want to be labouring naturally anymore. They transferred us to a delivery room and during my next contraction I must have muttered the word “pressure” because she checked me again and I was 9cm. Apparently I went through transition in the wheel chair 😉

I was really happy to hear that my doctor was on call that night. I had a crazy time trying to find an OB in my last trimester and was so relieved when I started seeing him, but I knew that my odds of getting him for delivery were slim. He brought some familiarity and comfort to the situation. He let me know that everything was ready to go and I could either continue to labor and wait for my water to break, or he could break it right now and she would most likely be born immediately. I didn’t know what to do and was frustrated that no one would tell me what the better choice was. On the one hand my contractions were incredibly painful, but they were actually spaced out pretty far apart. But on the other hand I was terrified of pushing her out and couldn’t bring myself to jump into that next phase. So I continued to lay on my side in the bed for about another hour as my contractions got more painful and I could feel her moving lower and lower.

Emma and Charlie suggested I roll to my right side so I did, and during my next contraction I felt my body do a huge involuntary push and my bag of waters exploded all over the bed. “Breaking” is not the correct term for what happened, it was honestly the biggest gush and it terrified the crap out of me (I don’t know why). I immediately began panicking and screaming and soon my doctor and nurses had returned to the room. This part is more of a blur than the rest because it happened so fast and I was completely freaking out the whole time. I grabbed Charlie and wrapped my arms around his neck and began pushing her out. This was very different than I imagined it because it wasn’t controlled pushing during contractions punctuated with breaks, but more like one long push with pauses, while I screamed bloody murder. I remember feeling her crown briefly and then they told me her head was out. I don’t think Ive ever been so happy in my life! I gave another hard push and the rest of her was born. I was so glad it was over and couldn’t believe it all happened so quickly. After a few minutes Charlie cut the cord and I was able to lay her on my chest. She was born at 7:08am, about five hours after my first contraction.

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

hospital birth, labor, zika, blood clot

It was such a beautiful celebration and the atmosphere in the room alone made all the pain worth it. It was amazing just being able to take unlimited time together as a family without anyone stressing over us. Eventually we moved into our recovery room and ordered breakfast and called our families. Everyone was able to meet her within a few hours!

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

Submitted by Sara Montes. 

Photographs by Have Heart Photography

Pushing Past Pubis Symphysis for a Natural Hospital Birth

Pushing Past Pubis Symphysis for a Natural Hospital Birth

I was dreaming that my water broke, with this odd sensation of fluid flowing from me, then I woke and it took me a second to realize I wasn’t dreaming at all, my water had actually broke!

It was 4:30am January 21, 2016, exactly one week before baby’s due date. I was very thankful I had placed a soaker pad under the sheets a few days before! I woke hubs and told him the news, he jumped out of bed and I reminded him we weren’t in a rush and to get back in. The first call I made was to my mom, she answered the phone screaming, and was so excited to hear things were happening. The next call was to the midwife. She was very calming and reassuring, and suggested hubs and I go back to sleep in preparation for little one’s arrival. We both laid in bed and nodded on and off, but we were so excited we couldn’t sleep. We got up and went about our day. I was full of energy, we cleaned the whole house, I made cookies!

Contractions had started around 6:30am but they were not painful and disorganized, My midwife would later tell me this was typical of early labor and that I wasn’t in true labor yet. Throughout the day I kept active, doing the stairs in hopes of getting things going. Around 4:30pm I was getting discouraged, the contractions were getting farther apart, though they seemed a little stronger. My midwife happened to call and check in at this time, I told her how I was feeling and she decided to come over and see how we were doing. She checked me and I was 3cm, did a membrane sweep and was able to stretch me to 5cm, and decided I was officially in active labour at around 5pm. She left and encouraged me to call her when things started getting more intense. Hubs and I decided to go relax and watch some movies, and the contractions slowed waaaay down, some even stretching to 30 minutes apart. This was extremely discouraging, I even cried a bit in fear that I would have to go to the hospital and get induced. I decided to try and sleep a bit and closed my eyes and then all of a sudden I was struck with the strongest, longest contraction yet, I had to moan through it and even swore a bit because it caught me so off guard.

That’s when things really started happening, the contractions all of a sudden picked up to 3-5 minutes apart and within 30 minutes I knew things were happening. I called my midwife around midnight and she decided to head over. When she arrived she checked me and said I was 7cm, transition had arrived! Although I didn’t have that breakdown that most women experience in transition, I felt energized! I was excited to know that our little boy would be arriving soon! Hubs filled the birth pool and I jumped in, and it was the greatest thing ever! Contractions picked up to about two minutes apart, we chatted, watched friends and laughed. It was all so relaxed and peaceful! Around 3:00 the contractions started feeling overwhelming and I decided to try and push, what a relief! I told the midwife and she was excited. I pushed for a little while in the tub, then she decided to get me out and check me because I wasn’t making as much progress as she would like. She found I wasn’t yet completely dilated and helped me along. I got back into the tub and pushed some more. About an hour into pushing I started experiencing excruciating pelvic pain, my midwife explained this was my pelvic bones (pubis symphysis) separating to allow baby through. This was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life! I tried to push through it, but it was so, so painful. The midwife saw I still wasn’t making much progress so she got me back out of the tub to try some different positions. It seemed like forever. We tried every position you could think of; squatting, hands and knees, on my back, on my sides. Nothing seemed to make any difference.

At about 5 am, I was exhausted. I had been awake for basically 24 hours, save for a few short naps. My contractions slowed to 8 minutes apart and I was literally passing out from exhaustion between contractions. Every contraction was a nightmare and I cried through pushing. The midwives suggested we try one more push then if nothing changed we transfer to the hospital to try a vacuum and give me some gas for pain relief. I was so over pushing so I said screw one more push, let’s go now! We quickly packed everything up, I managed to walk myself up the stairs, to the door and out to car, pausing for a few contractions along the way.

The car ride was awful. The longest 10 minutes of my life.

I had three contractions in the car and something felt different but I was too tired to tell what. When we got to the hospital and were on our way to the labour ward, the midwives heard me pushing and knew something was different too! When we got to the room, I tried to pee but couldn’t, and just ended up pushing on the toilet! They got me into the bed, and I pushed again and there was little to no pelvic pain, and they found that the baby was crowning! Something had shifted in all of the movement between the house and the hospital and he managed to get past my pelvic bone! They encouraged me that we were almost there, and after another ½ hour of very careful pushing, he was here! He cried immediately (before he was even completely out!) and it was the most profound sense of relief I have ever felt. I remember the moment so vividly. Nugget crying and being placed on my chest, and all I could say was “I did it! I can’t believe I did it!” He was a perfect 8lbs 1oz, 21 ¼” with the cutest little brown birth mark on his left arm. He nursed right away and we cuddled for 2 hours! Everything went perfectly, no complications for me or our little man, and we were at home in our own beds, off to sleep three hours after he was born!

I truly, strongly, 100% believe that being able to get up, move, and walk up those stairs and out to the car is what saved me. That amount of movement, plus pushing in odd positions was the key to get baby past my pubic bone and into this world. I am so thankful I chose to attempt a home birth and go as natural as I could because it saved me so many potential interventions!

hospital birth, birth, labor, labour

Submitted by Kirsten Carruthers.

From Niggling Pains to Quick Water Birth at the Hospital!

From Niggling Pains to Quick Water Birth at the Hospital!

I’ve always wanted a water birth, so I arranged to speak to my midwife about my birthing plan. The day I had my midwife appointment I started contracting (niggling pains) at 6am. I was really worried that I wouldn’t get my perfect delivery. After a couple of hours thinking about if I should go or not, I managed to get to my midwife appointment at 11am and told her what I really wanted. At this point my contractions were coming quick, but I wasn’t in that much pain.

After my appointment, my friend dropped me off at my mother’s. She told me to ring the ward because of how fast the contractions were coming, although I still wasn’t in that much pain. By 1:30pm, I decided I’m going to go to the hospital, because I was getting a lot of pressure and was worried that I was going to have my baby at home. My sister got me to the hospital, but I was scared that they were going say I was about 3cm dilated and send me home. The midwife checked me over and I was actually 6cm dilated!

That’s when the pain started to come. I asked about my birthing plan and luckily there was a birthing pool available! I was really happy to the point I wanted to cry. I got in to the pool, the midwife dimmed the lights, and I felt so relaxed. At 4:06pm my little girl arrived (she came so quickly).

birthing tub, water birth, hospital birth

A water birth was the most amazing experience of my life and the whole labour was so easy. Couldn’t ask for a more perfect labour and delivery. Amazing!

hospital birth, water birth, birthing tub

Submitted by Hannah Novak

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