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Our Ray of Sunshine, the Storm and the Rainbow {Trigger Warning}

Our Ray of Sunshine, the Storm and the Rainbow {Trigger Warning}

(Editor’s note: this birth experience deals with loss.)

I have had two natural births, the first to a beautiful and healthy baby girl – who is now three, and the second to a stillborn son born at 29 weeks.

Due in April with my third, another baby girl – how am I to birth without fear?

I feel so empowered to have birthed both of my beautiful babies.

After two years of trying and three miscarriages – Frankie came into the world.

Frankie’s birth was textbook – ten hours from first contraction to delivery, and spontaneously on her due date. I was so lucky. No damage, no intervention, no drugs. Happy baby, happy mumma.

Ruben’s labor was at the opposite end of the scale. A week after being told he was “incompatible with living” followed ten hours of failed induction, and then another two hours of the most painful and traumatic experience of my life. The room was silent, the doctors cut his cord and took him away to check for any signs of life – though the chances were slim that he was capable of surviving labor. I remember watching my husband from the bathroom as he cradled his son. I had to stay seated on the toilet to try encourage my placenta to birth. I couldn’t fathom what had just happened, it felt like an eternity before I met him. To then go home without him.

Only 8 weeks postpartum the clouds cleared and we were told the news of our rainbow baby. At the time the news was overwhelming, we weren’t ready.

Now 7 months pregnant I am excited and anxious for my daughter to be placed in my arms. Rosie cheeked, crying, flailing around as she adjusts to entering the world. To bring a baby home to Frankie as promised. A sibling for her to dote upon, a sibling she has been so patiently waiting for.

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Jade M. 

Postpartum After Miscarriage

Postpartum After Miscarriage

birth loss, baby, miscarriage, A couple of months ago, a picture of the “real side of postpartum” went viral. It was a picture taken by a dad, of the backside of his wife wearing postpartum mesh underwear. Yes, that is a very real side of postpartum fourth trimester life. But that is also a very real side of life after a loss. I’m certainly not the first person to go through this, and not the first to speak about it. And many would consider this to be a huge and inappropriate over share, but this is a side that’s never seen, rarely talked about, and is very raw and very difficult.

My throat is sore from the breathing tube. I lost a lot more blood than expected during the D&C and required medical intervention to stop it. Everything is still woozy, two days later, and Percocet is barely touching the physical pain. The doctor’s initials indicating the area of operation are still marked on my belly in permanent marker, a persistent reminder of everything that just happened. I can’t keep my eyes open because I’m so tired but can’t close my eyes because all I see is the ultrasound screen. Dark. Still. Quiet. Should we have looked again? Looked harder? Checked just one more time? No. Should I have tried…? No. Could we have done…? No. What if I hadn’t…? No. There’s nothing that could have, should have, or would have been done to keep this from happening. It’s no one and nothing’s fault. Just science and nature, preservation and survival. What our incredible bodies are designed to do.

The rational side of me knows this was never a healthy pregnancy, and this is for the best- better now than later. But the emotional side of me is trying to discern why? What was and is the point? Why did we have to read this chapter? Why go through all of this? 11 weeks pregnant, six weeks of pure hell, constant and relentless nausea, throwing up, blacking out, 14 pounds lost (10% of my body weight), multiple blown veins, four days in the hospital, who knows how many liters of fluids given, countless milligrams of meds consumed, long appointments every fourth day and so many hours of life and opportunities with my family, missed, because I couldn’t be there with or for them.

Now for seemingly no reason at all. No reward, no payoff, no sweet squishy baby on the other side. Instead just bruises, blood, an empty uterus and these damned mesh underwear. There’s no “right” way to process a loss. It’s complicated and messy. Selfishly, I feel a small sense of relief; there will be freedom from the sickness that has consumed and ravaged my body. And that’s okay. It’s okay to acknowledge me and my complete self. But that doesn’t minimize the reality of the emotional shock and the loss of what was supposed to be. I have no closure. I won’t have closure. It’s over without warning. 11 weeks in, almost in the “clear,” and it’s done.

Each new day will bring healing and clarity, I know this. I know that there is a reason for all of this that will become evident with time. But I also know it’s okay to feel and process, be real, grieve and not have those answers right now.

Submitted by Joanna B.

A Natural Hospital Birth, A Peaceful Miscarriage at Home, and A Future Homebirth Coming Soon

A Natural Hospital Birth, A Peaceful Miscarriage at Home, and A Future Homebirth Coming Soon

It has been three years since I had my son in a natural, med-free hospital birth. It was 27 hours of total labor. Contractions were every three minutes (lasting a minute long) from the get go, so I got no rest once they started at two o’clock in the morning! I went to the hospital after about 18 hours thinking surely I’d made some progress, but they said I was only at 1cm. They told me to go walk around for an hour and come back and they’d check me again. I was a little discouraged, but when I came back an hour later I was at 4cm and was then admitted to Labor and Delivery.

We settled in the room and my husband put a movie on. All the staff that came in the room had read my one page birth plan and was very respectful of my wishes. My nurse was awesome and very supportive of natural birth. She made sure I got the room with a portable monitor so I could walk around and wouldn’t be stuck in bed. I walked, bounced on a birth ball, changed positions, and did whatever I could to move things along. My husband had made me a playlist of serene, relaxing music, so we listened to that for a while. I was exhausted, because I had not slept for two nights now, so I decided to lie down and rest for a bit. My husband got settled in his cot and started to fall asleep, until the nurse came in and told me if I wanted to get this baby out I needed to do some more work. My husband got up and put his shoes back on (he said it made him feel more awake, haha) and I did some more bouncing on the ball and walking and moving around.

After 24 hours, they broke my water and my nurse told me things were about to get more intense. I didn’t believe her, but Yowza! The next couple hours were tough! That was really the hardest part of the whole labor. I would do okay for a few contractions, leaning, and swaying on my husband while focusing on deep breathing. Then I’d get freaked out and lose focus and get scared that I couldn’t do it and cry out to God to help me. Then I’d remember to breathe and focus and gather myself. I almost asked for an epidural at this point, but I knew that I was almost done, so I just kept going. Once it gets to that point, you are so close to the finish.

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Then I felt like pushing, and with pushing the pain went away and I had a new focus. I pushed for about an hour and a half and then the baby came out. I didn’t really feel it – it was so surreal. The doctor gave me an episiotomy while the baby was crowning, which made me tear a little more. I will not be getting an episiotomy for future babies – research shows no benefits; but in the moment I was like ‘whatever just get this baby out of me’. I didn’t feel the episiotomy or the sewing up – though he did inject some lidocaine before stitching me up. I don’t remember the placenta coming out either, because I was in awe of meeting my little guy. I held my baby skin-to-skin for a long time and he nursed wonderfully. I was up walking around and doing everything right away and never had any pain with ‘recovery’, even where I had my episiotomy/tear. I’m so thankful for no pain or complications! My husband was so wonderful through everything and I’m thankful he’s been such a good husband and father.

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Two years after the birth of my son, I had a late miscarriage and went through full blown labor contractions and dilation at home. It was about two hours long, with the last hour being the really tough part of transition. I did a lot better at focusing and breathing this time around and never lost focus. I breathed through the contractions and really relaxed as deeply as I could between them, soaking in the minute of rest. I took them one at a time, instead of getting overwhelmed and thinking they would last forever. The last ten minutes of that tough hour was the hardest, with no break or rest between contractions. I basically chanted/hummed in a deep voice to get through it, and that really helped a lot. I didn’t care what I sounded like – it was what I needed to do to get through it. And then it was done. It was very hard emotionally – I prayed a lot and listened to some relaxing spiritual music to get through. I was trying to not get upset or let negative thoughts in that this was ‘all for naught.’ I wasn’t expecting it to be as intense as birth with a full term baby was, but it gave me strength and courage that I could do it again when the time comes.

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I’m now 8 months pregnant and have planned a natural homebirth this time around, with the help of my husband, midwife, and doula. I’m very hopeful that this will be another good, natural birth experience. I think this will be our last baby, so I want to enjoy and soak it all in.

The Story of Aurora

The Story of Aurora

This story is hard for me to write, because while it ends with a glorious rainbow baby, it begins with an intensely bad storm. February 5, 2014, Chris and I learned that we were expecting our second child. We were surprised, but glad. I called my parents that night at Barnes Jewish Hospital, where my dad was a patient, and told them the news. One week later, I had a miscarriage. Then on the 13th of the month, we found out that Dad was going to come home on hospice — although his cancer was gone, the stem cell transplant which had cured him was now seen as a foreign thing and his body was in rejection. On the 14th, as my parents pulled into their driveway, Dad died.

On March 17th, 2014, I found out that I was pregnant again. I was happy, because we had been trying for another baby, but also intensely frightened. My world, as I knew it, had been shattered with the recent deaths in my family and I didn’t think I could handle losing another child. A dear friend came over and prayed with me that day. Chris was ecstatic, not scared, and he kept encouraging me.

I had ultrasounds at six, seven, and eight weeks pregnant, all showing a heartbeat and normal development. It became more real and something I was allowing myself to hope for: another beautiful blessing from the Lord!

I was so much sicker this pregnancy than with Abbi. It was so bad that I spent almost a week laying around so I would throw up less. I felt GREEN, even when medicated. My sweet husband did a lot more of Abbi’s diaper changes during this time, so that I wouldn’t have to gag over the smell.

I looked pregnant much faster this time around. At Katie, my sister-in-law’s wedding, I was 12 weeks along and visibly pregnant. At 14 weeks, I began feeling the baby kick from time to time. I called her my little womb ninja, because she was so active.

At 17 weeks, the morning sickness finally subsided. Things were looking up. I thought the worst was over.

A week later, my world came crashing down when my husband of eight years was killed in a car wreck on his way home from a church mission trip. All the way to the hospital that night, as I waited to find out his condition, our little child kicked around in my pelvis, as if to reassure me. On the way home, without my husband the next day, she kicked and kicked again, reminding me just how much I still had to live for. The grief vomiting began that day and lasted for the next 4 weeks.

I found out the day before Chris’ visitation that I was expecting another baby girl. At the ultrasound that day, my Mom, Chris’ mom, my sister, and my older daughter all got to watch. They got to see this tiny, beautiful person moving around inside my womb. Chris and I had previously discussed and agreed upon the first name Aurora if the baby was a girl. I kept her middle name secret from everyone until her birth.

During the five-hour-long visitation for the daddy of my children, I had the worst migraine of my life. A combination of pregnancy hormones, crying most of the day every day for a week, exhaustion, and stress all had my head in a mess of pain. Partway through the visitation, Mom made me step outside to see, in the sky above the church, the biggest double rainbow I have ever seen. It seemed to originate over the place where Chris’ body lay. I believe God sent that rainbow, in part, to show me that life would still hold beauty. My “rainbow baby” was in the works, after all.

Once I hit 22 weeks, I enjoyed the pregnancy. It was pretty uneventful from that point until 34 weeks, when I found out that Aurora was in a footling breech position. I feared that she would not turn head down before labor and that I would now need a C-section. For me, the idea of being a single mom to a toddler and a newborn was scary enough, without the added concern of trying to recover from surgery at the same time. My little ninja, as I had previously dubbed her, would routinely flip between feet down and head down, sometimes more than once in a day. I could feel her flipping — a sensation of a five-minute long contraction followed by kicking or pressure in different places.

One afternoon, when I was 37 ½ weeks along, I was getting ready to take Abbi to the sitter’s so I could nap before work. I started contracting HARD, all of a sudden. They were so strong they were taking my breath away. I didn’t have the strength or energy to take her to the babysitter’s, so I called to see if she could come get her. She took Abbi and I continued to labor, or so it felt like. I called my doulas and one of them came over. The contractions were super intense for 20 minutes, then regular and painful for a couple more. I spent some time in the tub, trying to relax and remain calm. My doula was with me, and she felt my belly. She encouraged me that it felt like the baby was now head down again. I went to bed shortly after and the labor stopped.

That evening my OB doc confirmed that Aurora was head down. From then on, she behaved herself and stayed put.

The week I was due, I had some GI upset for two hours, two nights in a row. Sunday, the first night of it, I packed my hospital bag. The second night of it, I was at work at the hospital and the bag was in the car, just in case. Then on Tuesday the 18th, I was at home and asleep after a long night at work. Around 1 pm, I woke up and got up from bed to use the bathroom. As I stood, I felt fluid leaking, but I assumed it was urine, because that’s just how pregnancy can be. I went back to bed and then contracted painfully every seven to eight minutes for an hour. I was tired, and I was supposed to work that night, so I told myself, “If this is really labor, and my water broke, then it will get more intense and I won’t be able to go back to sleep.” Thus I continued to lie in bed, the contractions eased up, and I slept.

My alarm went off around 4 pm and I got up, showered, and headed to the babysitter’s house to eat dinner with her family and my toddler. Abbi was especially cuddly with me on the couch that night and I wonder if a part of her knew, instinctually, that something was up. It was, in fact, her last moments of having me to herself. Before I left for work, I again had the nagging suspicion that my water had broken.

I went to work. I clocked in. I got ready to work on labor and delivery. Then I went to the bathroom and decided that, yes, maybe my water really did break. I wasn’t contracting though. I went to my good friend, who was our charge nurse, and told her the situation. I clocked out and became a patient. We sent a test down to lab to confirm my suspicions, and I called to give my mom and my doulas the heads-up.

While waiting, I began to contract. They were painless at the beginning. Then I started to walk the unit, like so many other women had before and would after me. I started having strong enough contractions that I had to stop and breathe through them. The verdict was in: this was the real deal. About 30 minutes later, the test results finally came back and confirmed what I’d already figured out. I called Mom and she came in.

She labored with me for a while. I remember sitting on the birthing ball a lot in the early stages. Mom and I talked about some of the emotional fall-out of what this birth meant to me…for nearly five months after my husband’s death, his DNA literally grew, lived, and thrived inside my body. It was a kind of beautiful, marital intimacy to have that child created by our love, inhabit me for those months following his death. Giving birth meant no longer carrying Chris inside me, at least not physically or literally. We cried together and held each other as I continued to labor.

Birthing room three was finally clean for me and I moved in. We kept it a dark, quiet birthing space so I could do the work I needed to do. I called my doula, Trish, and she came in, bringing the glorious birthing tub with her. She set it up and filled it. A dear co-worker of mine brought me contra-band (real food!) from Steak ‘N Shake. I ate my cheeseburger and was thankful for the sustenance.

My sweet nurse, Amy, who was my nurse when I delivered my first child, was working that night and I got to choose her to care for me again. She was great, always as unobtrusive as possible to the process of my more natural birth experience. She checked with Doppler the heart tones from time to time and Aurora sounded fine. It was such a blessing not to be strapped to a continuous monitor!

At some point, my doula, Carolyn, came in, too. Both these doulas are so special to me, and Carolyn was there for my first child’s birth. She had seen me labor once before, but with my husband at my side. She understood, on a different level, what was “missing” from this labor, because she had seen it first-hand.

I was in and out of the birthing tub at that point. Somewhere around 4:30am I was in the bathroom, laboring on the toilet. Just Carolyn was with me, face to face. Some gentle music was playing and it was very dark. I remember being in active labor and then just dealing with my feelings. “I need Chris.” I sobbed into Carolyn’s arms and then would stop to moan and breathe through an awful double-peak contraction. As she held me in her arms, she “held space” for me. She let me feel what I felt and validated me in that vulnerability so I could move through it.

Somewhere around 5am, she mentioned I might want to have my wonderful nurse, Amy, check my dilatation. I was hesitant to do this, only because I was fearful that I wouldn’t have made any “progress” since I had been checked before. I decided to go ahead and do it. 5 cm, -2 station, bulgy forebag, was the “word”. The 5 cm was okay, but the fact that the baby still hadn’t dropped into my pelvis concerned me. Unfortunately it’s hard to “turn off” the labor and delivery nurse part of me, even in labor! I declined having the doc come in to break the forebag.

The very next contraction after I was checked, I think I went complete. All of a sudden it just felt more intense than ever and all I knew was that I needed to get back in that birthing tub IMMEDIATELY.

Once back in the water, I kind of felt like pushing, but I kind of didn’t feel like pushing and I said this aloud. I screamed with a few contractions as the discomfort was becoming unreal, but my doulas reminded me to keep it nice and low, guttural. I got quieter and more focused. I felt my forebag break into the water of the tub.

Somewhere in this span of minutes I remember thinking how stupid I was to get pregnant again and why didn’t I get an epidural like a “normal” person and this could not be worth it! I continued to push, quietly moaning, on my knees in the tub. My doulas and my mom were very near, with Carolyn face to face with me. I think I must have said the words, “I can’t do this,” which my wise nurse, Amy, took to mean it was time to get Dr. Bishop in the room. She went to the desk to get him, and they came back in.

Moments after they entered the room, I whispered, “She’s crowning.” Then I whispered, “Her head’s out.” Then I felt the shoulders come, but the baby didn’t finish gliding out fast enough for my liking, so I reached down and I pulled her from my body. We had a “Lion King” moment as I lifted her out of the water with her cord still attached, and said, “Oh! I delivered my baby!” She was beautiful and squishy and perfect, her head free of any molding.

Someone helped us out of the tub and into the bed then and the moment was so surreal, I can’t even picture who they were. I had a lot of varicosities, and so I was still in an excruciating amount of pain immediately after her birth. Thankfully, though, there was no tearing.

At 5:35am, on November 19th, 2014, Aurora Kay Williams came earth-side. It was worth all the pain in the world to see that little face. Even the little detail of her birthdate — the 19th — is meaningful, because her daddy was born on October 19th. She was God’s fulfillment to me of His goodness — His faithfulness — the fact that rainbows follow the storms, but it takes trust and perseverance to get there. My Jesus promised me hope and He gave it to me in a 7 lb. 8.6 oz baby girl.

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I Am Strong – I Continued to Live

I Am Strong – I Continued to Live

I am strong because at 36 weeks, I gave birth to a baby who I knew would not be with me very long.

I am strong because at my 20 week ultrasound, there were a few “little things” that looked off and a possibility for Trisomy 21. Even though I am 31 years old and had less than a 1% chance of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome, I had to reimagine our lives together as a family of four. I pictured a life where our family might be different, and our daily lives would be challenging, but beautiful. I cried, yelled, and then began to embrace the beautiful boy who was coming to us.

I am strong because at 24 weeks we saw dilation in my son’s brain, and consented to a long needle into my stomach, to check the genetic material in my son’s amniotic fluid. I soon learned my son did not have an extra chromosome, but instead was missing very important genetic information on his first chromosome, and was carrying extra genetic material from his fourth. I learned that no one was documented to have both of those issues combined, but each on their own is quite severe. There was no guidebook for this.

I am strong because I began to transition to care with highly specialized doctors, and prepare for a birth at one of the top five hospital in the country for children like mine. I let go of my dreams of a water birth at home, even though I, a 31 year old, fully healthy prenatal yoga teacher was capable to birth without interventions. But my son needed much more, and I would lay down my life for him.

I am strong because I was poked, prodded, MRI-ed, and transferred many times from doctors and midwives who had not worked with cases like his. I was starting to feel untouchable. Like a liability no one wanted. How many doctors’ office ceilings did I stare at, tables did I lay on, machines did I get scanned by? I don’t know.

I am strong because after my 32 week ultrasound, the maternal fetal medicine doctor got up out of his chair, and suggested we “make plans in case he doesn’t make it.” And then he left the room, and transferred us on again.

I am strong because as the weeks went on, I watched my son’s life rapidly unravel around me.

I am strong because at 33 weeks I was taken into a conference room at Children’s Hospital of Colorado. I sat with my husband and my midwife, as my mouth became increasingly dry and eyes wet, and looked across the table into 16 eyes of specialists, who seemed surprised that things had taken such a turn for the worst. I saw images of my son’s brain, with no neurons growing, having never branched out as they should. They were shocked. So was I. I allowed it to wash over me. I listened without crying, saving my breakdown for the moment when I escaped from that awful room.

I am strong because I had to then, at 33 weeks, choose what to do next. Subject him to a short and miserable life kept alive by machines, and surgeries? Choose to interrupt the pregnancy so he would not have to suffer? Oh the irony of having moved to Denver, CO this year. 20 minutes from the best Children’s Hospital in the US, and 30 minutes from the only doctor in the country who will perform late term abortions for chromosomal abnormalities.

I am strong because at 34 weeks we decided to press on and let our sweet Jack decide when he would come on his own, and when he would pass… on his own. We were told, in that case, we would have about a week with him.

I am strong because at 36 weeks, I went into labor. I watched them bring the infant warmer into the room, and listened to it beep as my contractions, which were strong at home, began to stall in this sterile and scary environment. I was told that instead of days with Jack, I would have hours. Maybe.

I am strong because I went through an incredibly painful labor anyway, knowing I would not get the reward of a plump and healthy baby. I was hooked up to pitocin as the impatient OB on call rushed me along. He said I would be there for three days if I didn’t.

I would have been happy to have three more days with Jack. My body knew this, and held on tight to stall labor and to give us more time together.

I am strong because I labored on, without an epidural.

I am strong because I had to hold my son’s lifeless body, as he was born still on August 20, 4 weeks before his due date.

I am strong because as everyone cried and left the room, I did not cry. I needed to be a mother for my son. As my husband fell apart next to me, I spoke calmly to Jack as I held him, and told him how loved he was, how brave his was, and how proud we were of him. I thanked him for showing me how strong I could be in the midst of physical and emotional pain.

I am strong because I prayed for a miracle. And the miracle was not that Jack lived, it was that I continued to live, even when he passed away.

I am strong because I had to go home to hug my three year old, and explain that Jack did not come home with us.

I am strong because when he asks me if I am sad, I say yes.

I am strong because I will tell his story. Our story. He will be known for the beautiful boy that he is, not a baby forgotten or never spoken about.

You are strong for opening your heart and reading this. You are strong for listening to a story about a baby who doesn’t make it, which is an unthinkable tragedy.

If you have had a high risk pregnancy, or a child whose genetic blueprints are different… you are a warrior. If you have had to consider a life for your child so different from what you imagined, you amaze me. If you have had to face your child’s death, you are an incredible force of maternal nature, and I see you. I see you and the incredible effort it is just to wake up. Brush teeth. Get dressed. Get out the door. Smile. Cry. Walk. Eat. Breathe. Live anyway. Your strength inspires me.

Logan Kinney, MA, RYT, RPYT

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My Breech Twin Vaginal Birth After Three Miscarriages

My Breech Twin Vaginal Birth After Three Miscarriages

My story starts with the journey of getting pregnant and what I endured to get these precious babies.

My husband and I got married June 2012 and had the most amazing honeymoon filled with love. We decided for me to stop taking birth control and to see what happens. I found out I was pregnant in October, 2012.

Before I could celebrate or be happy, I started bleeding. I was so confused. Was I really pregnant? I took 6 tests and all were positive. I thought I was just 2 weeks late on my period, because I was in denial that I was pregnant until I passed a small sac. I never really grieved it because I didn’t believe it was real.

A month later I had one of the most realistic and vivid dreams of my life. I saw Jesus in a white robe, holding a baby. He said, “It’s okay child, He will be okay, I will take care of him.” I woke up and cried and felt a wave of something majestic. Some days I feel guilty about not letting the miscarriage sink in, and not properly grieving it. I named this baby, Joey.

We got pregnant again in January, 2012! I was so excited! I immediately called my Mom to tell her the good news! My first week of knowing I was pregnant flew by and by week 5 I started getting tired and having pregnancy symptoms. Week 6 rolled by and my phone app said my baby had a heartbeat. I grew more in love everyday. Week 7 came and I thought wow, this is really happening, I’m going to be a mom. I secretly knew it was a girl, although that was something I kept to myself.

I was 8 weeks 1 day when everything changed… I started spotting. I went right to my doctor for an ultrasound. I was so nervous and anxious, praying everything was okay. I was laying there staring at the ultrasound screen anxiously waiting for those words, “Here is your baby, this is the heartbeat….” But instead I hear “This right here is your gestational sac and it looks like the baby didn’t develop properly.” I was numb, I didn’t even cry right away. She said that we would need to do a D&C. My doctor left the room and I took a picture of the screen. I sat there and stared at the empty sac, still in disbelief.

I got in my car and lost it. I started bawling. I could barely breathe. My Husband called hoping for good news. The words came out of my mouth for the first time, “The baby didn’t make it.” “What?”, was his reply. “Are you okay. Where are you? I’m coming.” I sat in the parking lot and my heart was literally hurting. My husband got there, got out and hugged me. I couldn’t talk. I thought to myself, did I let him down? Why me? What did I do wrong? The following weeks were some of the hardest of my life. I was very upset. I didn’t understand why I had to go through this. I dreamed about becoming pregnant for a while and imagined it to be so wonderful, but my dream just became a nightmare.

People didn’t really know what to say to me. Some people avoided it, some people said it wasn’t meant to be, some people said they were sorry and left it at that. I took a 2 weeks off of work… still awaiting my D&C. I was definitely in 7 stages of grieving and there was a clear sense of denial even after seeing 2 ultrasounds that clearly showed a non viable pregnancy. I thought maybe my tilted uterus is hiding the baby.

The morning of the D&C was emotional for me. I went through the procedure and woke up feeling empty and alone, even though I had a nurse there. I went home and slept all day. I woke up the next morning and wanted to start getting through this. I went through days of hopefulness, days of anger, bitterness and jealousy. I had a sadness that no one understood and a want for my baby that was so strong. I swear I saw a pregnant women everywhere I went- reminding me of what I wasn’t capable of. The world around me was pregnant and I was just living in it. My Mom kept reminding me that I would be a Mom someday, but there was a worry deep in the pit of my stomach that it wouldn’t happen. I didn’t want to go out because I knew that I would keep seeing things would remind me of my losses. At times I would just lay in my bed crying. My Mom and I came up with the name Stella for her. I wanted to start trying again after one cycle, and that is what we did. I didn’t think I would get pregnant again right away and to be honest I was still scared.

I woke up on a Saturday morning in May and I just felt like I was pregnant. I thought that was silly because I would have only been 3 weeks 3 days. I tested anyways. I got out a pregnancy test and nervously took it. I saw a faint but visible line! I started smiling, could it be? I got on my knees and thanked God. I felt so blessed, I felt like I was given another chance to have a sweet, beautiful baby. I rubbed my non existent belly/ baby bump and said” Thank you for picking me as your Mommy, I love you so much already”. I wanted to get creative on how to tell my husband because the first two times I just told him. I got a onesie and ironed on I love my dad in Bosnian (my husbands first language), along with the positive test. He was shocked and also informed me I spelled it wrong. I went right away for an HCG and Progesterone test. I had a good feeling, I tried to stay positive. My Dr’s nurse called me and said that the HCG was rising  now like it should and but my Progesterone was low. My heart sunk, and I asked if there was anything I could do. She said she called in Progesterone and to pick it up right away and take it. I took the rest of the day off, called my mom and rushed to the pharmacy. In my mind I thought that this couldn’t happen again. I was so scared.

I went to my Mom’s house and there was a lot of crying and hugging. I hadn’t even lost the baby yet nor did I know if I was going to lose it, but somehow I felt defeated. I even thought stupid things like well maybe I’m not meant to be a Mom. My Brother very quickly reminded me that I have so much love to give to a baby and that I was born to be a mommy to either my own biological baby or adopted baby. I had HCG tests every 2 days. The doctor was cautiously optimistic. My levels were still rising but not doubling every 2-3 days. At 6.5 weeks I got a miracle phone call. My levels doubled in 2 days. Finally the news I was desperate to hear! I cried tears of joy. We scheduled an ultrasound for the next week.

I went to my ultrasound appointment and we didn’t see anything but my doctor said it was probably too early. He saw a “hotspot” meaning that’s where the baby implanted and was growing, it was just too early to see the baby’s heartbeat. I felt calm and I knew the next ultrasound we would see the baby.

Three days later, my life changed again. I started bleeding. I stayed calm and told myself that I was okay because I wasn’t cramping. That night I passed a small clot and stayed in bed all day and the next days to come. A few days later I passed a large clot and I just knew that I would be miscarrying again. I started cramping and my world was shattered again. I went to the ER and passed a lot of blood. I had full on contractions. I tried to be at peace. I talked to my baby I named Anthony as I was miscarrying, and it helped me. I felt so broken, so useless. My body wasn’t capable of carrying a baby. I wondered how people would perceive it. Once again “why me” kept popping up in my head. I knew I had to do something to figure out why I kept losing my babies. I did a lot of research and finally went to a reproductive endocrinologist.

She was wonderful and helped us figure out the issue: low Progesterone, short luteal phase and MTHFR mutation. We started Clomid and got pregnant immediately. I was so happy but still rightfully scared. Our first ultrasound was set for 6 weeks. We waited for the tech and my heart was racing. She said how many babies do you think there are and I said I thought we were having twins. She turned the machine on and looked around and I could see it! Two sacs. Then she showed us something that would change my life. There were heartbeats! Two healthy, perfect little babies. My dreams had come true.

twins

I had a pretty uneventful wonderful pregnancy. I was very positive and didn’t see the aches and pains as a bad thing as I felt so blessed! We were beyond excited when we found out they were girls. We had a big gender reveal party and everyone was so happy. It seems every milestone we got to kept happening quicker and quicker. The biggest was making it to 30 weeks. That was one I was really happy about.

Maternity Shoot

At 32 weeks there was protein in my urine and I had elevated blood pressure, so my doctor wanted to monitor me twice a week. My labs and 24 hour urine test stayed pretty moderate and weren’t too concerning yet.

One morning at 34 weeks 2 days I woke up with severe upper abdominal pain that I tried to ease with a bath and laying down but I couldn’t move or breathe without it hurting. I decided to go to labor and delivery to be checked out. I arrived and my blood pressure was high. They consulted with my doctor and did labs. I was diagnosed with pre eclampsia. My doctor came to talk to me about my options because he was concerned if he sent me home I would end up back in labor and delivery that week and the few extra days of development wouldn’t really be a make or break in the health of the babies compared to the risk of the pre eclampsia. He checked my cervix and I was 2.5 cm and 50% effaced. He felt that it was in everyone’s best interest to induce me.

Gown

I called my husband and told him that I was being induced that day and he needed to go home to get some stuff and meet me at the hospital. I’m sure he was feeling a ton of emotions.  The nurse gave me an IV with fluids and gave me some apple sauce and cereal as my last meal before I was given Pitocin.

My husband arrived and it was go time! At 4:45pm the nurse gave me my first taste of Pitocin. My mom arrived and I tried to sleep but couldn’t. I didn’t really feel much pain or the contractions at that point. I was riding on adrenaline and it took a while to feel contractions. At 6:30pm my doctor came back to check me and I had progressed to 3.5 cm, but he unexpectedly broke my water. I’m actually glad I wasn’t warned of it because I probably would have tensed up in anticipation. That was when the fun started!

labor

I started getting stronger contractions. My mom and husband rotated giving me back rubs since I was having pretty bad back labor. I didn’t make much progress by 9pm. I felt discouraged as my contractions were bad enough that I though I would have progressed more. I was in pain and wanted an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It didn’t hurt and I felt relaxed immediately.

I was checked at 11:30 PM and I was 4cm. We decided to change my position and use a peanut ball between my legs. I will tell anyone wanting to have a vaginal birth to use the peanut ball! Only an hour later at 12:30 AM I got uncomfortable, partly because my epidural was wearing off- I called my nurse in. I wanted to switch positions as well as tell her I had the feeling I needed to go to the bathroom. She decided to check me and I was 9.5 cm. When she said that I was completely shocked! How did I go from 4cm to 9.5cm in an hour? My husband was sleeping on the couch and I called his name to wake him up, I said 9.5! He said what? I said 9.5 centimetres. He got up quickly and didn’t know what to do.

Meanwhile the nurse wouldn’t leave since the babies head was right there.  She called my doctor. My husband had the pleasure of holding my right leg up as the nurse took my left and on my next contraction I had my first experience with pushing. My nurse was surprised at how good I was at it because after two practice pushes she said stop. If I kept going she would be delivering Arijana. My husband got scrubbed up since I was delivering in the OR. It was very interesting to have contractions and not push. I had to breath through them and focus on keeping her in.

My doctor got there and they wheeled me into the OR where they deliver twins in case of the possibility of an emergency cesarean. I lifted myself up and moved to the bed and all the nurses were wondering how I could feel my legs to do that. I told them the epidural wore off and I was completely mobile. I remember music being on and while they were setting up and I thought it was funny the song We Will Rock You was on. I guess it was a good song to give me some energy to do this.

My doctor was ready and it was go time. On my next contraction I pushed twice and Arijana was out at 1:36 am. I was teary eyed and in awe of my sweet baby I just gave birth to.

Arijana

They did a quick ultrasound to see where Isabella was positioned, and she was still breech and very high up. He said he wouldn’t be able to turn her. I thought that meant he would have to do a c-section. As I thought this, I hear him say, “So that means were gonna deliver her breech.” He broke Isabella’s water. Having a baby breech was a totally different feeling. I felt her legs were out and with 2 pushes I pushed her head out and she was here at 1:41 am. The song Yesterday by the Beatles was on when I gave birth to Isabella.

I laid there shocked. I just gave birth vaginally to two babies with pre-eclampsia and one baby was breech. I felt like a total rockstar!

Isabella

Seeing Arijana for the first time was amazing. I got to look at her and talk to her for a few minutes before I gave birth to Isabella.

Snuggle

I was able to see them a few minutes before they took them to the NICU as a precaution to monitor them to see if they needed to stay longer. I got wheeled back into the labor room where my mom was and she was shocked at how fast it happened. She was proud of me and so happy I got to have the girls the way I wanted. I told my husband to go with the babies. My Mom and I cried at the pictures my husband was sending me. I so badly wanted to be with them and that was hard.

An hour later I was finally able to go to my postpartum room and the NICU to see the girls. I immediately breastfed Isabella and she latched on amazingly! I had a picture perfect delivery with active labor only lasting 4 hours. I am so lucky and fortunate it went so well and the girls are healthy. Arijana weighed 4lbs 10oz and Isabella weighed 4lbs 3oz. They needed to stay in the NICU for 18 days and it was very hard to leave them, but they’re now home with us and although I’m barely getting any sleep, my heart is so full with these two beautiful & amazing daughters of ours. I can’t wait to watch them grow.

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The Birth of Sicily Rose {Postpartum Hemorrhage, Vanishing Twin Syndrome}

The Birth of Sicily Rose {Postpartum Hemorrhage, Vanishing Twin Syndrome}

Had it not been for your blog and all the  amazing women behind the stories you share, I might not of had the courage to go through what I endured. But, looking back now, I made and I’m a stronger mother and women for it.

This past February, we welcomed our second daughter, Sicily Rose to the world. I didn’t know it at the time of writing her birth story, but we found out a short time later that she was a twin. In my blog post, I write about hemorrhaging during our home birth, but I didn’t find out until I was 4 weeks postpartum it was because her twin was left inside of me. I hemorrhaged again at 4 weeks postpartum and almost lost my life. After being rushed by ambulance, getting a D&C, and a blood transfusion, we learned that our princess wasn’t alone in my womb.

(Side note, we thought our daughter was a twin at the beginning due to finding out about the pregnancy very early on and suffering from HG. I bled at 6 weeks pregnant and went into the emergency room. We again suspected twins when my HCG levels were off the charts but that was not confirmed nor denied by the hospital. During my D&C, they removed a 6 cm piece of placenta that was firmly attached to my womb. It was an entirely separate placenta from my daughters because I encapsulated her placenta. In the lab write up, we learned it was a vanishing twin. Vanishing Twin Syndrome occurs in 1 in 10 pregnancies on average. He or she may have “vanished from my womb”, but my baby has never vanished from my heart after learning about him or her.)

In my post, I write about dilating to a 10 twice. I dilated all the way to a 10 one week before our baby girl actually decided to arrive. And looking back now, I find it kind of symbolic. It was as if I was birthing the twin I would never hold or meet.

So in honor of our babies here is the birth story of Sicily Rose:

The Birth of Sicily Rose

Our Sicily Rose has finally arrived! She was indecisive about coming at first, but when she was ready, she was READY! On Sunday February 9th, we planned a birthday party for our Audrey Girl. She just turned 3 on the 7th so we all went to Dave and Buster’s to eat lunch and play some games. I had contractions start up that morning at about 10 am. By 11:30, we were at the party eating lunch and they were still coming on pretty strong. I couldn’t eat a whole lot, because they just kept growing in intensity. Christian and I decided to leave the party and head for home because it was snowing pretty hard and we didn’t know how fast I was progressing. Nana stayed behind so our Audrey Girl could finish up her games.

I called my midwife about 5 pm and just let her know I had been contracting all afternoon, they weren’t letting up, and that I felt like today was the day. She asked Christian to check my purple line for dilation, so she could get an estimate at how far along I was. (If you don’t know the purple line trick…Google it.)

We guessed I was about 5-6 cm dilated, so I told my midwife to just hold off on coming for right now. I kept contracting, tried to eat some good protein so I would be ready for what was to come, but I felt too nauseated and what I ate did not stay down. I called my midwife about 8 and gave her the green light to head this way. She got here and checked my dilation. She said I was at an 8. She listened to Sicily’s heartbeat and I went ahead and got in the birthing pool. My contractions weren’t horrible, but the water helped ease any discomfort that I had.

After an hour and a half, I got out of the water. My midwife wanted to see where I was with dilation. I was finally at a 10. I decided to rock on the birthing ball for a while to see if I could persuade Sicily to burrow down. She was right at the edge, to the point where I could feel her head, but she was getting hung up on my pubic bone on the right side. I did some stretching and then began feeling overwhelmed. 10pm turned into 3am and still nothing. My Midwife, Sarah, suggested I lay down and rest so when it was time to push, I would have the energy to do so.

I slept until 5am and woke up to find my contractions had died down. I got up and decided to just walk, walk, walk. I did circles in our living room around the birthing pool. Sarah told me I should eat something, so I had my mom cut up some deer sausage and I ate that. It was so good in that moment. I remember that being all I wanted to eat.

I was so flustered at this point, because I had been contracting and had progressed all the way to a 10 and then nothing. The contractions just stopped. The walking didn’t stir them back up again. I was so tired. At 7am, I found a pillow and laid down on the living room floor. Christian slept on couch beside me. At 8am on February 10th, I could hear Sarah tell Christian to get me into bed, so I could sleep more comfortably and that she was going to head home to do the same. She said she would come back over later to check on us.

I was so bummed. Here I thought “this is it”, made it all the way to 10cm, and then nothing. Everything just stopped. I slept a little while but when I woke up, all I could do was cry. My baby was supposed to be in my arms by now. Christian worked until noon that day and then came home to help comfort me. He called Sarah and had her come back over to talk with me. She came right over without hesitation and suggested I see our chiropractor. She thought that would help Sicily get in the right position and not get hung up on my pubic bone anymore. It was worth a shot to me, so off we went. I was glad I did because it really helped me settle down and relax.

After my adjustment, we went home and I fell back asleep. My mom took Audrey home with her so I could have a few day to myself to recuperate and see how things progressed. I woke up Tuesday morning to my phone ringing off the hook. Everyone wanted to know “is she here yet?” It was so hard for me. I think I cried most of that morning. Christian came home from work and told me to get dress because we were going out. He surprised me with dinner at BeerKitchen…my favorite place to eat chicken and waffles and then we rented Bad Grandpa from Redbox. It’s been a long time since I laughed that hard and it was a treat to get a last minute date night with him before we became a family of 4.

Audrey came back home Thursday night. I was more than ready to have my big girl in my arms. Nothing beats snuggles from your child when you’ve had a rough day…or week. Friday I went back to the chiropractor for another adjustment. She suggested acupuncture and I was all for it. I didn’t get anxious and told myself whatever happens…happens. Saturday was spent relaxing at home. I was tired and indulged in a nap or two. Sunday, Christian did some painting around the house, so I decided to get out and get a pedicure with my BFF, Mallory. I thoroughly enjoyed some much needed girl time. Little did I know, this would be our last day as a family of 3…

Monday morning I woke up about 4:45. I had the urge to pee but I didn’t want to get out of my nice and warm bed. I laid there for a few minutes, then I felt this wet, warm sensation. I didn’t know if I had just peed myself or if my water had finally broke. I got up, pants soaking wet, and went to the bathroom. Sarah told me that if I was ever unsure to just smell it. A broken water bag doesn’t have a smell, but urine does. Mine didn’t have a smell and I was able to then go pee so we were all good. 🙂

I changed my clothes and Christian rolled over to see why I was up making so much noise. “I’m pretty sure my water just broke,” I told him. I wasn’t having contractions at this point, so I got on my phone and googled to see how long I could possibly be waiting for my labor to really start….it said up to 3 days so after all I had just went through, I was expecting the worst. I texted Sarah around 5am and told her my water broke. Since my contractions hadn’t started up yet, we decided there was no need for her to come over. I texted our birth photographer, Rachel to give her a heads up too and then I laid back down.

By 6:00am, the contractions were coming. Christian got up and decided to make me some eggs so I could eat, set up the birthing pool, and see how things progressed. He brought my plate into our bedroom to me where I was standing over our bed rocking through the contractions. They were coming fast and strong. As much as I wanted to eat, I just couldn’t. The contractions were getting intense and I wanted to get in the water so bad. My birth pool wasn’t filled up all the way just yet so I went into the bathroom and kneeled by the bath tub. I had to tell myself to just keep breathing through it.

At this point, I knew this was the real deal and Sicily would probably be here sometime today. I told Christian to call Sarah and Rachel and tell them to get here now. I had called my mom when my water broke and I knew she would already be on her way. Sarah got here around 6:45am and just as soon as she listened to Sicily’s heart rate, I was in the birth pool. The warm water felt good and the contractions kept coming about 2-3 minutes apart. My mom got here soon after. She sat next to the pool on our chaise lounge and asked me what I needed her to do. At this point, there was nothing no one could do for me. It was just me and Sicily…working in sync with each other and trusting each other.

Sarah’s birth assistant walked in as I was laboring in the pool and I could vaguely hear Sarah tell her to get her gloves on and get ready because things were about to go fast. I smiled to myself when I heard this because that meant “this was it”…our girl would be in our arms today!

Rachel got here and then things went fast. I didn’t say a word to anyone as they arrived. I just kept breathing and focusing through the contractions. I remember thinking to myself, “When is it going to really hurt?” This pain was bareable to me. It was a good pain, because I knew in the end I would have my baby to hold. (Kidney stones hurt worse than child labor incase you wanted to know. I would birth 10 babies in a row before I would ever deal with another kidney stone.)

Audrey woke up and went to sit with Nana on the chaise lounge. She really impressed me that morning. She was so calm and spoke softly. She just laid in Nana’s lap and they watched me together. Christian came to the edge of the pool and held my arms as I sat in a squat in the water. I wanted him there. Right there holding me up. He was so cute. He kept giving me encouragement and telling me how strong I was. Sarah helped me remember to keep breathing. “The ring of fire” was felt just as Sicily was crowning and I knew we were getting close.

Sarah got behind me and put a mirror in the water to see where she was at. Feeling her head crown hurt. I was in the moment, I needed to bite something and Christian’s arm was there. He pulled back just as I realized what I was doing so I grabbed a towel and bit it instead. Just then, the ring of fire was over and out came her little head.

Sarah and Christian helped me lay back so I could push her the rest of the way out. I wasn’t in pain anymore. I was just breathing trying to muster up enough energy to get my girl here. Sarah’s assistant said, “it’s been two minutes. We need to move things along.” And just then I pushed and out into the water came our girl. I picked her up and brought her to my chest. She had inhaled a little bit of water and she wasn’t crying. Sarah told us to just keep talking to her as she patted her on her back. It worked because she let out the cutest little squeak. No crying. Just completely content laying on her mama’s chest in the water. All I could do is stare at her in awe and say, “I did it….I did it.”

Our story doesn’t end there, but how I wish it did. I wish I could tell you that I laid there in the birth pool holding my sweet girl and the rest of the day was just spent snuggling my little family of 4.

I felt the urge to push again and I knew it was my placenta coming. Sicily was still attached to her cord at this point and laying on my chest in the water. I told Sarah I needed to push and I did. Blood just shot out. The pool turned pitch black. Sarah, her assistant, and Christian helped lift me out of the pool and onto some towels on the floor. I remember Sarah sternly telling me, “Stop bleeding. You have got to stop bleeding.” And Christian told my mom to take Audrey into the other room.

Everything was happening so fast. I glanced down at Sicily still laying on my chest as I felt my placenta escape from me. The blood still flowing out much faster than it should have. I don’t really remember how but my birth team managed to get into our bed. Sarah examined me and said I had 2nd degree tearing in 3 different places. I was so glad I birthed in the water, because I can’t imagine how it would have felt if I didn’t.

My bleeding still hadn’t subsided. I was soaking the blue puppy pad looking sheets every few minutes. Sarah felt my uterus as we tried to get Sicily to latch on to eat. She examined my placenta that Sicily was still attached to, to make sure there wasn’t any leftover in my uterus. There wasn’t, thank God.

My options were running out, so Sarah did the last thing she could think of to stop my bleeding. She cut a piece of my placenta and told me to put it in my cheek and suck on it. I didn’t care. I would do anything at this point. I just wanted my bleeding to stop. I did not want to be rushed to the hospital. Christian turned white as a ghost. I’ve never seen him look so scared in all my life. The way he looked at me was terrifying. I asked him to leave the room and get himself something to eat.

Sarah’s little trick worked. My bleeding stopped and she was able to stitch me up. Her assistant fed me eggs and juice and mothers milk tea as Sicily laid on my chest still attached to the placenta. I kept trying to go to sleep but Sarah wouldn’t let me. She was afraid I would go unconscious and no one would know. Every time they moved me I started to faint. Christian came back in and helped feed me. Sicily latched on and Sarah gave us the green light to just snuggle skin to skin as we had been. Christian cut the cord and Sarah kept my placenta to encapsulate it. Another hour or two went by and Sarah continued to monitor me. She went over her concerns with Christian and came back in to tell me goodbye. She said she’d be back over later that evening to check on us again.

I spent the rest of the day laid up in bed snuggling with my babies. I was asked later if I regretted doing a homebirth because of the bleeding episode…I absolutely do not. I am glad I had a homebirth. If that had happened to me in the hospital, things would have gone a lot differently. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience….and “I did it!”.

Birth of Sicily Birth of Sicily 2

Our birth photographer, Rachel was amazing. I can’t tell you what these images mean to me. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to have her there to capture these moments. I highly recommend Tripp Over Love Photography.
www.photosbyrtripp.com

Loss, Rainbow Baby, Heart Surgery {I Am Strong}

Loss, Rainbow Baby, Heart Surgery {I Am Strong}

I am strong…

I am strong because when I was 30 years old my dream came true and I was finally pregnant.

I am strong because three weeks later I suffered a miscarriage and was heartbroken.

I am strong because even though I lost almost a year of my life grieving the loss of my baby, I was determined to get pregnant again and did about ten months later.

I am strong because at my 20 week ultrasound we found out that our little boy was going to be born with a severe heart defect.

I am strong because even though his defect meant that we would likely live in the hospital for a long time after he was born and he would have to endure three surgeries just to have a somewhat normal working heart, I prepared myself for that journey.

I am strong because that pregnancy brought eighteen weeks of sickness, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.

I am strong because I carried that beautiful baby boy until 37 weeks and had him via emergency c section at 3:04 am in a town two hours from my home.

I am strong because I didn’t get to see my baby until he was 13 hours old and I couldn’t hold him until he was two days old.

I am strong because when he was six days old he was rushed to the Edmonton Stollery Children’s Hospital via air ambulance  because he was essentially dying.

I am strong because when he was eight days old, I gave him up to the surgical team and he had his first surgery.

I am strong because two weeks later he wasn’t getting any better and in fact suffered a stroke.

I am strong because our choices were minimal and I listened as a doctor told us we may have to make some tough decisions.

I am strong because I sat back and watched my miracle baby go from being on death’s doorstep TWICE to finally being able to bring him home at 50 days old.

I am strong because when we brought him home, I had a bag of medication that weighed probably five pounds, which would serve him for one day.

I am strong because for five months I had to give my baby a needle in his leg twice a day to avoid another stroke.

I am strong because when he was seven months old, we traveled back to Edmonton and gave him up for his second heart surgery.

I am strong because I stayed in the hospital with him every night until we got to bring him back home.

I am strong because I take him to physiotherapy, speech therapy and chiropractor every week because he is almost three years old and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, doesn’t talk, is just starting to walk and I would do ANYTHING to give him the most normal life that I can.

I am strong because his love of being around other children prompted me to take a risk and have a sibling, because he deserved that.

I am strong because two years, to the day EXACTLY I brought that little boy home. I brought home his two day old perfectly-healthy-in-every-way baby brother.

I am strong because in a couple of weeks I will take my amazing, miracle, perfect and precious little boy back to Edmonton for his third and hopefully final heart surgery.

Finally I am strong because although the start of his life was hard, the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with, that boy brings more joy than I could have ever dreamed of every day of my life.

{By Rachelle Beler}

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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
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