Browsed by
Tag: natural birth

When I Saw Her Face, I Started Crying: A Birth Center Birth

When I Saw Her Face, I Started Crying: A Birth Center Birth

Birth is an amazing, beautiful thing! The birth story of Evangeline Lily began on February 28th, 2017. Actually, it began a few months before because I always said I didn’t want a February birth day. On Tuesday, February 28th, I realized a would get my wish of a March baby. I told my friends and family that we need to make it to March 1st. In no way did I think I would begin labor that early because our baby had been measuring small my entire pregnancy. I was fully prepared to go past my dates and told my family that the previous evening.

Tuesday evening, Aaron and I were hanging the last decorations in the nursery. The bags were ready to go, just not packed. I had a list of things to get done the next day before the baby arrived such as organize the freezer, monthly budget, last minute shopping, and purchasing more nursing bras. Ha! That evening, Archer, our dog, was acting very strange around me. He wouldn’t stop looking at me, sniffing me, always had to be touching me, and even jumped on our bed twice, which he’s never done before. Aaron and I joked that maybe I was in labor and he was the only one that knew. Boy, was he right!

The next morning, Wednesday, March 1st, I woke up at 5am to losing my mucus plug and having bloody show. I later texted our midwife and she said that it could be early signs of labor or could still be weeks away. I tried not to get too excited because I knew it could still be a while, but these were the first actual labor signs I had besides Braxton Hicks contractions for the previous few weeks.

Around 9am I began having what felt like period cramps, which became stronger throughout the morning. I had a lot more bloody show but still didn’t think I was in labor. The contractions began at 10 minutes a part, which I thought was pretty close together. We were told that early labor could take hours, I would be chatty and full of energy, and contractions could be anywhere from 15-20 minutes apart. Around 11am I ran to the bank and my contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart. At this point, I had been talking to Aaron about what was going on, but still didn’t think I was in labor. It’s supposed to take a long time, right?

Driving in the car on the way back from the bank was rough. I had to really concentrate and breathe through contractions. I needed to go to the store but decided to stop by the house to pick up a few things. Around 1, I told Aaron that I was not feeling well. I was hot, nauseous, and having to breathe and sway through the contractions. The funny thing is, I still kept saying I don’t know if I’m actually in labor or not. The contractions were happening about 5 minutes apart and lasting for 45 seconds—not what I thought “early” labor looked like! I finally told Aaron I thought he should come home because I was not doing well. I also updated my midwife and doula, still telling them I didn’t know if I was in labor. He called me on the way home and I couldn’t talk through my contraction.

By the time he got home at 2pm, he had to call the midwife because I wasn’t able to talk. They said to come in and they would check me, if I was 1cm they would send me home. I told him I don’t know if I’m being a wimp or not but we needed to go get checked. I quickly had him throw the rest of the bag together and out we went. He was probably only home from work for 20 minutes. We had a 35 minute car ride and I timed the contractions on the way. They were happening every 2 minutes and lasting for 45 seconds. By the time we got to the birth center, they took one look at me and said “yeah, I think you are in labor, you’ll be staying”. When we got up to the birth room, they checked me and I was 8cm! I asked, “So we are staying, right?” I did NOT want to do that car ride again! I was laughing and smiling so much when they told me how dilated I was because I didn’t think I could handle things if I wasn’t in actual labor.

We arrived at the birth center around 4pm. Our doula was amazing. Anytime I had a contraction she was right there, rubbing my back, which helped with the pain immensely. I got in the tub soon after I got there. The water was amazing and made my body relax and float. I switched positions and places a few times while laboring. I sat on the toilet for a while, which was so difficult and scary, but very effective. I labored in bed while leaning over the birth ball. Aaron was by my head the entire time. Telling me what a good job I was doing, holding me, putting washcloths on my neck and face, and the rest of my birth team did the same. There were a few times during transition when I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I got sick and threw up. My body knew exactly what to do during this whole process. It was in my mind that I had to talk to myself, pray, and let my body take over. It is true that you go “inside yourself” during birth. I was hardly talking to anyone and was fully aware of what was going on, but it was a different instinct that took over.

I never really knew how far or what stage I was in during labor, it just happened on its own and my midwives didn’t keep me updated on progress. A part of me thinks it would have been more helpful to know what all was happening, but the other part knows it allowed my body to do its job and shut my mind off. When I was laboring on the bed, they told me I could start little pushes if I felt like it. I did that for a while then got back in the tub. The water helped my body relax and float because I was getting really shaky on the bed. I pushed in the tub for a bit and it was really difficult. They told me later I was pushing really hard. I could reach up and feel my baby’s head at this point. Her heart beat was so strong during the entire process. They had me get out of the water because for the amount I was pushing, the baby wasn’t making much progress. Kim told me I could go get in bed if I wanted to slow things down. She said I was having a very fast and intense labor, but I just wanted it to be over. I got on the toilet and this was one of the hardest parts. I thought something was wrong with the baby, but they assured me she was fine. I labored on the toilet for a bit, threw up again, and could really feel the baby coming down. At this point, I got scared and didn’t think I could do it. I remember thinking I either wanted to die or get the baby out. Anything to stop the intensity. I don’t remember there being overwhelming amounts of pain at this point. Sure, it hurt, but mainly just the most intense and difficult thing my body had done. The pushing contractions reminded me of when you have to throw up and your body just takes over, only much more intense.

Meredith asked me to move positions off the toilet because she didn’t want me to have my baby there. I got up and could hardly walk because the baby was between my legs. I got on the bed and laid on my back and left side. They helped hold legs up and I pushed in this position. I was way more vocal than I thought but tried to keep my sounds low. It was a very intense and scary moment as the baby was crowning. I could reach down and feel her. At this point, I definitely felt pain. They had me stop and breathe in between contractions to avoid tearing. They said I did a great job at this even though I didn’t even realize it! The most encouraging part was when Aaron told me he could see her head and she had a lot of hair. I didn’t know how much more I could take, and this made me realize I was almost done! Once her head came out, it was the most amazing feeling of relief. Her head was out and I was waiting for the next contraction, she started to cry and Kim told me I needed to push her out. Once her head was out, her body slid right out. She came out crying and Aaron and Meredith helped put her up on my chest. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the baby had her hand by her head when she was born. That’s one of the reasons my body was pushing so hard. Meredith realized it when I was on the bed and she checked for a cord.

When I saw her face, I started crying. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Aaron cried too because he realized we were both healthy and safe. We laid there for a few minutes, all of us crying. At this point we didn’t know if we had a little girl or boy. We checked together and she was a girl! Those first few moments together were something I’ll never forget. Evangeline Lily Teter was born at 7pm on March 1st, 2017. She was born to the song “Over the Rainbow” by Iz. Even while pushing her out I smiled when I heard this song playing. She weighed 6lbs 12 oz and was 18.5 inches long.

I am amazed and humbled at how the Lord created life and my body to do this. The whole time, I never really felt like it was “me” doing anything, but my body. I know he created all of the processes to work together from conception to birth. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made. I am so thankful for the safe, positive, and encouraging atmosphere that she entered the world in. Never was there a moment of interruption or panic. The lights were dim, candles lit, beautiful music playing in the background, and a birth team full of love and confidence. They encouraged, supported, and affirmed me the entire time. I had a husband who was strong and reassuring. And I had God who promised to give me strength and to never leave me. I am so thankful for such a wonderful, healthy birth of our daughter.

Birth experience and photograph submitted by Sadie T. 

The Long, Beautiful Births of Solla Zakara and Winter Lumina {Natural Birth Story of Twins}

The Long, Beautiful Births of Solla Zakara and Winter Lumina {Natural Birth Story of Twins}

(Editor’s note: This birth story was originally posted on August 5, 2014.)

I can still feel my heart drop. I can still feel how cold my feet went, as if they weren’t even part of my body anymore. I was 20 weeks pregnant. The ultrasound tech was swiping back and forth, from my left to my right, and in almost perfect Pisces form it went head-spine, spine-head. That was the day our family dynamic changed in the most beautiful and chaotic way.

I had been tired when I was pregnant with Z, but this time it felt different. I would lay down with Zandros and read him a book at nap time and fall so deeply asleep that I couldn’t get up if I tried. It felt like I hadn’t slept in days. At 10 weeks I couldn’t button my jeans…”It’s your second pregnancy! That’s what happens! BODY MEMORY!” It didn’t feel like that to me. I felt like I was growing so quickly, the scale told me I was gaining so quickly that I started to second guess what I was eating!

Alex kept telling me “yeah you’re more nauseas because it’s TWINS!” “You’re so tired because it’s TWINS” That was the running joke of those first 20 weeks. When I began cracking eggs with 2 yolks I started freaking out. Over and over, two yolks- I googled it. It said “it means you’re having twins!” “NO TWINS!” I would say. “WHO WOULD WANT TWINS?!? THAT IS INSANE! TWO BABIES? THAT’S SCARY!”

 I started to get bad anxiety about getting the ultrasound. We had the most wonderful home birth with Zandros and I planned on welcome our second child into the world in the same way. I started to think that maybe I shouldn’t get an ultrasound at ALL this time. “Maybe we should just wait and see”, “maybe in a few weeks I’ll be ready”. The anxiety was building and I couldn’t pinpoint why.

When we got to the hospital and were walking into the ultrasound room, the head of maternal fetal medicine, who apparently has a gift for guessing birth weights by looking at the mom’s belly, looked at me and said “how far along are you?” “20 weeks” I said. “Feeling a lot of movement? A lot of arms and legs?” she asked. “YES! This baby is INSANE. It literally NEVER sleeps! How is that even possible?” I asked “Sure it’s just one?” She said coyly. I could feel my face go white.

Before we knew it we were being told that we had AT LEAST 2 babies growing inside of me. I started shaking and freaking out. I knew NOTHING about twin pregnancies, twin births. I felt so confident in my ability to grow one child and so comfortable with my home birth plan and in one second I felt like I was in thrust into a whole different galaxy. I looked at Alex and Z. Alex was whiter than a sheet and had leaned up against the wall for support. I’ve never seen him look so scared. Luckily Zandros was watching a movie on my phone and didn’t hear me screaming. I was scared out of my mind. After being reassured that they both looked amazing, my cervix length was ideal, and that it was a good sign that I had carried Z to term, I was told “let’s shoot for 35 weeks.”

I went home, didn’t sleep, just read and read and read until 5am. I feel empowered and relaxed when I have a plan of action and I needed to know how to carry two babies 40 weeks. How can I grow two full term babies? I want normal sized, healthy, full term babies. Ask and you shall receive.

The rest of the pregnancy was uneventful, aside from me tripping over a rocking horse in the dark, catching myself with my FACE, breaking my nose, biting through my lip and, oh right, landing on my belly. We spent that night in the hospital, with a poor nurse holding a monitor on Winter because she wouldn’t stay still for 4 hours. Other than that I grew and grew and grew and ate as much protein as possible. I started craving and eating meat again for the first time in 7 1/2 years because I couldn’t eat as many calories and grams of protein as I was suppose to be without it. My belly stretched beyond the limits of my poor skin, no amount of coconut oil, belly cream, or shea butter could help me. Luckily my doctors and midwives were on board with my birth plan, which was now to have a completely natural and as hands off as possible birth in the hospital, and as long as the babies and I looked healthy, we were good to go.

Weeks came and went and I fought to stay pregnant. I didn’t want to be induced. I really wanted my babies to decide when they were ready. At my 39 week appointment I was told to get prepared to fight even harder because while the babies still looked great and had plenty of fluid, they don’t like to see twins go much past 40 weeks. My appointment was on Monday, my exact 40 week due date, and I was starting to feel really stressed. At this point my belly was insane. I am not exaggerating at all when I say people gasped and shielded their children’s eyes in the grocery store!

Friday night we were having dinner at my mom’s and she made my favorite meal. I didn’t feel like eating. I was hug, crampy and over it. Alex and my mom kept looking at each other. “Is this it? Are we going to the hospital?” At this point we worried that, because of how short my labor was with Zandros, I might go really quickly and we had a 35 min ride to the hospital. “NO! I’M NEVER GOING INTO LABOR EVER!” I was feeling frustrated and huge and ready to be myself again and not insanely large, and ready to meet these little babies! We went home and crawled into bed. I began to find myself still asleep rocking on my hands and knees. I would slightly wake up, pee for the millionth time, drink another 3 glasses of water because I was so insanely thirsty and crawl back into my huge pile of pillows. Again, I’d wake up rocking back and forth. After a few times I thought woah, I’m contracting (nothing new for me at this point) so I hopped into the shower thinking the shower would calm the contractions and I could go back to sleep. It was about 4 am at this point.

The shower didn’t calm them. Nothing did. I put mascara & jewelry on, thinking if I get ready, earrings and all, there is NO way I’ll go into labor. I continued rocking on my hand and knees, and getting ready until 6am when I woke Alex up. “We gotta go” I told him. Z woke up and asked why we were up so early. I told him the babies were coming! He looked at me completely unimpressed and said “are you kidding me? That’s why you got me up?”. He always knows how to make me laugh. I called my midwife to let her know we were coming in. Called my mom to come stay with Z. Texted everyone I wanted there to let them know things were finally happening.

When I went into labor with Zandros, when labor starting picking up I had the birth tub there, I had my bed, my bathroom, my birth ball all in my house. This time we were in the car and I was contracting every 3 minutes. It was lame. I’ve never wanted to get out of a car so badly in my life. When we finally got there, we were walking in talking about the rooms. I mentioned that I had been promised a birthing tub to labor in and some receptionist chimed in with ” You cant have a water birth room with twins”. Word to the wise: Don’t tell a laboring twin mama she CAN’T have what she wants. I may have not so nicely snapped at her…but I got my water birth room! At this point it was 7am and I was 6cm.

twin natural birth story 1

They wanted to do a quick 10 minutes of fetal monitoring to make sure everything looked good. “Quick” 10 minutes is relative when you’re contracting. I told them I’d sign whatever waivers they needed me to sign but I did NOT want to be hooked up to that machine. We could do heart rate checks with the doppler, and the fetal monitoring every once in a while but not the whole time. They filled the tub for me and I climbed in. The contractions were very intense at the peak but there seemed to be a lot of time in between still. Silence. Peace. Tranquility. I was so scared that they would start to pile one on top of another. With Z it felt totally different. Like he was erupting through the birth canal. This felt more serene. I also made a LOT of noise with Z, humming and rocking and moaning, and this time I could barely bring myself to whisper. “I’m so tired.” I kept saying and at one point I looked at Alex and said “I don’t want to do this anymore”. He looked at me with sad eyes and said “I don’t know what to tell you”. He is such a rock for me in labor. He is my words when I can’t form them when I don’t have the strength.

At 11:00AM my OB came and checked me and I was still 6cm. (I stalled at 6 with Z too) Not wanting to stay at 6 all day, we decided to break my water, as we had with Zandros. Things moved quickly. I didn’t feel like getting back in the tub and all that seemed to help was standing and pulling things. I was ripping the mattress off the bed. Alex gave me his arms but I swear I almost ripped his hands off. I started getting really frustrated and wanted to be alone. I do best in a quiet space, by myself, where I can go completely inwards and direct my breath into the pain. If I could I’d like to give birth in a field, completely alone. The thing about transition is you never know when it’s happening, but everyone around you does! I slammed the bathroom door and grabbed onto the sink. I turned the cool water on, grabbed the faucet knobs and pulled through the next few contractions. I have never experienced such an incredible moment in my life. Here I was in this cold, hard, porcelain sink but it didn’t feel that way at all. In my mind it was this beautiful tree woman. (I know how this sounds…. but seriously, it was insane) She was embracing me and I could feel her soft belly and bosom. I could feel her pulling me into her, letting me find comfort in her chest. Then I felt Solla’s head drop. It wasn’t painful at all like with Z, it felt familiar. My body began pushing and I swung the bathroom door open. “I’m pushing!” We had to move to another room since I wasn’t going to deliver in the tub. Everyone was very concerned with me walking through the hallway with just a bathing suit top on. Let me tell you, I could not have cared less. I shuffled out with everyone shielding me and trying not to drop down and give birth in the reception area.

Another contraction in the bathroom with my tree mama sink helping me out and I was ready. Alex had told them to make a bed on the floor for me (I am someone who needs to feel grounded when pushing. The thought of being up on a bed freaked me out beyond belief. I need to be on the ground.) Just in time I dropped to my hands and knees and Solla’s head popped out. No sharp tearing like with Z. Her head felt so tiny! I was seriously concerned she was going to be 3 lbs. The contractions calmed a bit and my body took a break, with Solla’s head hanging out just looking around at everyone. Another contraction came and my body squeezed her out. She was born at 11:53am weighing 6lb 13oz. I swung around to grab her and tried to bring her to my breast to nurse but her cord was too short. So I just cradled her on my lap saying “OMG WHY IS SHE SO LITTLE! SHE’S LIKE 3 LBS!” Everyone assured me I was insane and she was at least 6 lbs. She had this gorgeous head of hair and squishy little face. Then I started to feel another contraction coming. Terrified I would crush her with the pain, I asked them to cut her cord as it had just stopped pulsing and take her. Alex took his shirt off and snuggled her naked body on his chest while I delivered Winter.

twin natural birth story 2

I flipped back to my hands and knees and felt Winter slip out in one contraction, still in the caul. “STOP, wait! She’s in the caul! take a picture Courtney!” they were saying…my body wasn’t listening and she slipped all the way out at 11:59 weighing 6lb 12oz. They say that babies born in the caul are different, special. She really is. She KNOWS. She has been here before. Always watching. She had the most insanely dark almond shaped eyes and round little face. I flipped back to sit down and inspect her. The placentas came out easily with one push, and just like that we had our little girls.

twin natural birth story 3 I started hemorrhaging a bit, typical with twin births as my uterus was so stretched out. I nursed the babies in bed, snuggled them, sat in shock as my arms were filled with two new little beings, one who wore my face and one who wore Alex’s. Zandros came and met his sisters, slightly timid at the sight of two little babies nursing on HIS mookahs (what he called my breasts). Visitors came and went and I was still bleeding quite a bit. When I would sit up or move at all I would feel gushes of blood hit my feet. They gave me a shot of Pitocin in my leg, and some other pills to help stop the bleeding but nothing was working. I had some dinner plate size clots that were slightly concerning. My midwife came in and said “Listen, you willed all of this to happen. You wanted this perfect labor and birth, you got it. You wanted full term twins who looked nothing alike, you got it. WILL YOURSELF TO STOP BLEEDING.” So I did. AND I DID.

A few days later, very tired and weak and ready for my big bed so I could have a place to comfortably nurse the babies together and sleep together, we went home.

I have never felt as empowered as I have after I have given birth. To meet that dark place, that place of such physical agony, where you know you can’t escape the pain, you can’t escape your body and to persevere…to make it through that, to me, really illuminated my strength as a woman, as a mother. I needed to know going into motherhood how strong I really am.

Our family grew by two and it has changed us in immeasurable ways.  This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. It was terrifying and empowering and hysterical and lovely and amazingly enough, everyone was right- I don’t remember a thing!

twin naturla birth story 4

Submitted by Samantha Kelly. You can find her blog here.

One Mama’s Birth Without Fear Tattoo

One Mama’s Birth Without Fear Tattoo

By Simone Burton

I actually forgot to share this when I got it back in 2013.

I had my first son when I was 18, and I was scared out of my brain to give birth, until an amazing friend of mine showed me her birth video and she completely changed my view on birth.

Not long after I found Birth Without Fear, and my mind was set. I was going to have a drug free natural birth, and after months and months of countless different doctors and midwives telling me I couldn’t because I was “too young.” (??)

I had my son on the 9th of Feb 2013, born en caul naturally in the water. I had the support of my hubby and my midwives to get me through it. I had the support of this page and the power of my mind, that there was nothing to be afraid of.

My second son was born in July last year, and I really saw the power of the mind then. I couldn’t lock my brain my birth zone and I struggled terribly. I managed to have another natural drug free birth, and I was defeated for a few days with how I acted, until my midwife kicked my butt and told me to kick that labour’s ass with the next one.

Birth Without Fear continues to inspire me and is a big drive in my life. I can still hear my husband whispering “what do you have tattooed on your ribs?” while I was in labour with my second.

Thank you so much January, you have seriously brought a very strong woman out of me, that I NEVER knew existed in me.

Beautiful Hospital Birth From a Mother’s Eyes

Beautiful Hospital Birth From a Mother’s Eyes

February 1, 2014: That tiny internet cheapie pregnancy test finally showed two faint lines. I mean barely see it, squint your eyes and pretend it’s there type of faint. Suddenly, disbelief became my emotion. How could I tell Tyler I was finally pregnant, after just shy of a year since we began trying to conceive, if I wasn’t even 100% the test was positive? I kept quiet and waited for Tyler to go to bed, knowing good well I should just wait and test again in the morning. Emotions took control over me and I whipped out the expensive store bought pregnancy test that had been hiding under my bathroom sink just waiting for this defining moment. So, I took the test and waited. Before the time had elapsed, I looked at that stick and thought no way is this happening. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we wanted this, we had been praying for this moment, but after peeing on what felt like hundreds of sticks, you start to think it will never happen. Of course, I shared the news with Tyler and we each went through extreme ranges of emotions, ending in cautious excitement.

Approximately 7 weeks pregnant: The day finally arrived to go to our OB appointment and confirm that we are actually pregnant! Seeing that tiny little bean on the ultrasound broke me in the most beautiful way possible. I was carrying a tiny human! A tiny human that I had to nourish and protect. A tiny human that I had no control over, because after all it’s in God’s hands.

16-20 weeks pregnant: My phone rings while I am at work, I look down and see it’s the OB calling. I hesitantly answer, wondering why they would be calling; not thinking it may be the results from our downs syndrome screening. It was the nurse on the other end, who informed me that we were high risk for downs syndrome and would be referred to a specialist. Two weeks later, I found myself sitting in the parking lot at this new and strange office. As I was waiting to go in, Bring the Rain by Mercy Me came on the radio. I lost it! All I could do was pray and remind myself that no matter what this doctor said, no matter the outcome of any tests, I had a miracle growing inside of me, and I would remain strong for this baby. Then the hard part came, getting out of the car and making it in to the waiting room to see a specialist. How did such a beautiful miracle end up with us sitting in this waiting room, leaving us feeling alone and afraid of the unknown. Now we knew regardless what the results were, that we would love this baby unconditionally. We were finally called back to ultrasound, to take more in depth measurements of our little pumpkin and then to meet with the doctor. We left this appointment feeling a little more positive, since the ultrasound showed no markers that were of concern. A couple of weeks after this appointment, we got a phone call saying that the blood test was negative and we could just about rule out downs syndrome. I hung up the phone praising God and realizing that everything happens for a reason. Never doubt God, even though we felt very much alone, He was always there.

20-34 weeks pregnant: Other than morning sickness since about 8 weeks, everything seemed to be going smoothly at this point. We found out we were having a little girl and anxiously awaited the arrival of little Lana.

34 weeks pregnant: I went in for my regular 2 week check at the OB. However, the appointment was a little different. My heart rate was way above my normal. My heart rate was in the 150’s, which I had consistently been in the 70’s this entire pregnancy. This scare ended in blood work and a referral to the cardiologist, where they did an echocardiogram, EKG and a 24 hour holter monitor. After the testing, I was put on a beta blocker to control my heart rate and vitamins to help with severe anemia. I was also taken out of work to rest and allow my blood volume to hopefully increase before delivery.

37 weeks pregnant: At this point, I went in to the “it could happen anytime now” mindset. After a few days of that thinking, I kindly reminded myself, that it could also happen at 42 weeks, so I decided to try and enjoy these last few days/weeks, instead of focusing on it as a countdown.

October 10, 2014: It’s officially our estimated delivery date! I went with my mom to get pedicures as kind of a celebration that we made it! I was secretly hoping the foot massage would put me in to labor. Nope. Our estimated date came and went.

October 11 – October 19, 2014: Patience is a virtue, right? I had my rough moments, but I was prepared for the long haul (42 weeks). I kept reminding myself that I would let my baby choose her birthdate. If there is no medical reason to be induced, then why do it? The more days that passed, the tougher it got to handle the comments about why I haven’t been induced or the recommendations on what I should do to go in to labor. I had several episodes of false labor, which can totally mess with your mind. With each back ache, stomach cramp or strange feeling, I thought could this be it? We continued to wait.

October 15, 2014: I went to my appointment with my OB. I was a beautiful, swollen, 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant woman. Everything checked out fine and we scheduled my next appointment for October 20th at 3:15pm to discuss our induction plan, which would be set up if I did not go in to labor by 42 weeks (10/24/14).

October 16, 2014: My mom and I went on several walks just to keep me moving and help ready my body for labor….if it would ever start! I began showing a few signs that labor would begin…at some point.

October 19, 2014: I literally had come to the point where I thought I would never have this baby. Could I be pregnant forever? Surely, no one has been pregnant forever. I talked to our doula and we decided to chat before I went to my appointment the next afternoon, just to put me at ease and prepare me for the induction conversation. This was an appointment that I was absolutely stressing over!

October 20, 2014 (41 weeks, 3 days pregnant): I hadn’t been able to sleep for weeks now. I would stay up until 4am or so wide awake! Sometime after midnight, I decided to update the chalk board in our kitchen to say “Welcome Lana” because she would eventually be joining us…I think.

3am- I decided to get a bath and see if that would help relax me enough to go to sleep. This had become a normal nightly, well early morning routine. I started feeling those achy back pains, which I had been feeling for a week or so now. All I could think was seriously, I am so tired of this, why can’t I just have this baby already. I was dreading the appointment that I would no doubt be going to later in the day. I was trying to prepare myself, knowing I would end up being induced and that my desire for a natural/med free birth was slowly slipping away. As I got out of the bath, the achy back had turned in to cramping. Hmmm…definitely not labor, because I am never having this baby…I will be pregnant forever.

5am- I finally get my very pregnant self into bed. I am lying on my side, because at this point, it’s the only option left. The back pain had picked up in intensity. The thought of it being early labor flickered in my mind. I thought I would try to sleep just in case labor was really starting. After laying there realizing this achy sensation was becoming more intense and cramps had really started to pick up, all I could do was rock back and forth while lying in bed. I wanted sleep to come, but it was nowhere in sight, so I rocked to keep myself comfortable.

7am- Tyler begins getting ready for work. I tell him how I am feeling, but encourage him to finish getting ready and go to work, because I doubt this is labor. I told him if it ended up being labor he could just come back home, but don’t waste a vacation day for nothing.

8am- I text my mom and tell her how I have been feeling. She offered to come over to the house and be with me. I debated whether she should really waste her time coming over and decided that whatever was happening to my body was not slowing down and definitely not stopping, so I wouldn’t mind the company. Mom showed up within probably 20 minutes. When she got to the house, I was bent over on the couch with crazy back pain. She asked if it was mild, moderate or intense. My response was it hurt like sh**. I was still in denial that this was labor. Shouldn’t I be feeling contractions? Heck, how would I know if it was a contraction or not? What does a contraction even feel like? All of these questions flooded my tired mind. I figured since whatever was happening was picking up, we would take a walk to see if it would continue. As we are walking around my street, I am doubling over with back pain. It was surreal. Knowing my neighbors may very well be watching me, all while having no care in the world. It was a beautiful moment, to be outside, the sun beaming down on me and preparing to birth my daughter.

10am- Lisa (our amazing doula) arrives at the house. Honestly, I don’t know what time I contacted her or what I even said. All I knew was Lisa was at the house and my mind kept thinking, “I hope she did not come all the way over here for nothing.” I remember at some point shortly after Lisa arrived, that she said this seemed to be the real deal! I remained cautious; thinking this probably really isn’t labor. But that back pain was constant and I felt everything getting tight. Lisa worked with me and did a few different positions during contractions to see if we could alleviate the back pain some. We walked up and down the street and all around the living room. I received countless back massages that really helped me to keep going. It eased the back pain and allowed me to stay in my own little world. I was almost enjoying the pain at this point. I knew my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to. I was in my own world, some type of trance, a birth high. Whether I was or not, I felt quiet and private, empowered and beautiful, strong and powerful. I really had no idea what to expect labor to be like, but this definitely was not it. My eyes remained closed through most of it and I did whatever my body told me to do. Again, I found this pain to be tolerable and amazingly beautiful. I was falling in love.

11am- Tyler came home from work because this was really labor! I continued to follow my body’s cues on what to do. Lisa made suggestions which I believe aided in helping things continue to progress. I walked around the back yard, leaned on my husband, took a bath and did lunges on the stairs. While in the bath, the song Oceans by United played. I relaxed and just silently talked to God. All I could really manage to say was “it’s in your hands.” Through the intense moments, I actually found myself loving this. I wanted it to keep going. I wanted it to become more intense. I wanted my baby girl in my arms.

1:45pm- Our photographer (Heather Dimsdale) came to the house to take a few photos before Lisa said it was time we make our trip to the hospital. I was so thankful knowing that she came to our home, to give us permanent memories of such an intimate time.

2pm- We load up in the car. It took me a few minutes to get from the living room to the garage. These contractions were coming closer and closer together, increasing in intensity. Contractions in the car picked up even more! I never knew a car ride could be so intense. As we were turning towards the on ramp for the interstate, I had my first moment. I yelled at Tyler, not in a hateful way, but in an intense tone, I just told him he could slow down a bit. I just wanted to be in my zone again, alone and by myself, and out of this car. I did my best to focus, stay within myself, and allow my body to open.

2:40pm- Finally, we arrived to the hospital and made it through admissions. I leaned against the chair in the admissions office, signing paperwork between contractions. Thank goodness I preregistered, so it was a quick process. A nurse came to get me with a wheelchair, which I refused, because my mind kept thinking, as long as I keep moving, this baby is coming down. Truthfully, I didn’t think I could sit at this moment. I remember passing my OB who was sitting at the nurses station. He asked how I was doing and I managed thumbs up. I felt amazing, like I’ve made it. I labored at home! We continued the walk to my room, pausing for contractions in the hall way.

3pm- Made it to the room! My OB wanted to get a quick monitor before allowing me to be unhooked from the IV and baby heart rate/contraction monitors. He checked me at 7cm! I had done it; I had almost made it to transition! After being unhooked, I walked the room, leaning on whatever was available during contractions, bed, sink, railing, and people. I feel like a lot of the time laboring in the hospital was spent sitting on the toilet. It was the most comfortable place to sit. I was able to feel my body opening and could lean forward during contractions. Someone was constantly massaging my lower back with coconut oil and I felt amazing. I had almost done this! With each contraction becoming more intense, I became more vocal, making a moaning/humming noise with each exhale. I think I also chanted “almost there” or “I am doing it.” My mom and Lisa would reinforce my statements, saying “you are doing it.”

4pm (or something close to it) – My OB came back in the room to check me again….9cm! It’s almost time to push! My OB said he had to leave at 5pm. Part of me wanted to panic, I wanted him to deliver this baby. He knew my plan, he knows me. He offered to break my water and said I could possibly deliver before 5pm, if not it would be the on call OB. I declined, knowing the pain would be more intense if my water was broken. I didn’t want any interventions, my water remained intact and my body was doing its job. He told me who the on call OB was and said he would bring her up so I could meet her before delivery. They began to bring tables in the room and ready everything for delivery. Lisa said this means you’re very close; see they are getting everything ready. I tried to remain in my world, away from all of this. While we waited, Lisa suggested squatting and leaning on the head of the bed. It felt awkward being so pregnant climbing up in bed to squat. We finally got situated and I thought I might be feeling an urge to push. Again, so unsure? What’s “the urge” supposed to feel like? I tried to relax and remind myself that my body was designed for this and I would know when it was time to push.

4:40pm (or something close to it) – Things became very intense. I yelled “oh, my butt!” That was the only statement I could make that described how I felt. So, this is what the “urge” feels like. Within seconds, my water broke and the pressure became so intense. Is she almost here? The room filled with people. Through the intensity, I heard Lisa asking me if I wanted her to coach me through pushing….ummm…yes! I have no idea how to do this! Her look was so comforting, so reassuring. I felt extremely vulnerable and was so thankful she was there. A brief thought crossed my mind that I could not handle this. As soon as that thought entered, I remembered that when you feel like giving up, that’s the moment you need to keep going. I prepared myself and tried pushing while still in that squatting position. The pressure was so intense; I was trying to stand instead of staying squatted. My OB in a kind, but firm voice said, “Britney, you cannot keep doing that, every time you do, you are closing your pelvis.” With those words, I flipped over on to my back and began pushing with all my strength. I reached down and felt a head full of beautiful hair. That feeling was all I needed; I knew our little miracle would be here very soon. I set it in my mind that when I felt like pushing, I would push with all my might. My body knew what it was doing.

4:55pm- After less than 10 minutes of pushing, Lana Faye was born. The cord was wrapped twice around her neck, but after it was unwrapped, she began crying and was immediately placed on my chest. I had done it, we had done it! Our little miracle had finally made it!

I still am in awe at all that my body went through. I desired a natural, med-free birth and by listening to my body, trusting God and having an amazing birth team with me, I was able to have a beautiful birth.

I want to thank my husband for his support from day 1! His love through the entire process was unconditional. He was quiet during labor and delivery, but so helpful. He was my rock.

My mom for being a sweet reminder that I was doing this! Until my mom arrived at my house that morning, I wasn’t sure I wanted her in the delivery room. Nothing against her, I just thought it would be awkward. Now, I couldn’t have imagined doing it without her. Mom, I love you!

My OB, for supporting me and allowing my body to do things naturally and not rush in to unnecessary interventions. He truly listened to me and encouraged me to achieve this birth.

To Lisa, who gave incredible support from the day she became our doula. She gave advice, without ever being pushy or judgmental. Lisa, I could not imagine going through pregnancy, labor, and delivery without your knowledge.

Our L&D nurses, thank you for being supportive of our decision for a med-free birth. The experience you all provided was exactly what I had dreamt of.

Our nursery nurses, thank you for sharing your knowledge with us as first time parents. The first night in the hospital we had a scare with her choking, as a new mommy, I was so thankful for your quick responses and for reassuring us that everything was ok.

Our postpartum nurses, thank you for allowing us to have time alone with our daughter to bond in the first days. Your courtesy in allowing me to recover and bond as a new family should not go unnoticed.

And to our lovely photographer, Heather. She followed our story, from our birth announcement photo shoot through the end of pregnancy, and those first moments with our daughter. We have documentation of the most intense and joyful moments of our lives. Tears, smiles, laughter, and some pretty intense faces were all captured for us to cherish for years to come.

I love you guys and could not have done it without each one of you.

To my daughter, you are more than worth the labor of love that I endured for you. I would do it over and over again, just to have you in my arms. I couldn’t have done it without you either baby girl. You were so strong. Our bodies worked together for you to arrive on your chosen birthdate. Mommy loves you!

Story submitted by Britney A.

Photographs by Heather Dimsdale of Two Little Loves Studio

Focusing Through the Ring of Fire: An Unmedicated, Natural Birth

Focusing Through the Ring of Fire: An Unmedicated, Natural Birth

My husband Chris and I made the decision on having a natural unmedicated birth after watching the documentary “Business of Being Born”. Being the planner that I am, we prepared for our estimated due date, September 21st, for months.  Chris and I were both very determined! Unquestionably, I knew I could do it, despite the doubting comments I’d been receiving from a few close friends and family. I was excited and anxious for the day to finally come, so that I could not only prove them wrong, but to also meet our munchkin and finally find out the gender.

EARLY LABOR?

On September 11th, I was FaceTiming my family at 12 PM JST (we live in Japan), happily bouncing away on my exercise ball. As I was talking to my mom, I felt my belly tighten up. In fact, it was a feeling I had felt many times before, however, that time was different. Unusually, it lasted for about a minute with very mild cramping, so I knew it was different than a Braxton Hicks. However, I chose to ignore it and went about my day, in fear of getting my hopes up.

Later that night, I went to the bathroom before heading to bed. As usual, I checked the toilet paper after I wiped in the hopes I would see something out of the ordinary. I was so anxious for any sign that would indicate our baby was coming soon. Granted, I did see something I didn’t see at all my entire pregnancy: My mucus plug! Yet, I was still skeptical, since there was no blood. With the thought of early labor being too good to be true, I decided to ignore that sign as well.

After a few hours later, I woke up at 2 AM to use the bathroom, and noticed more of my mucus plug, except this time there was a tinge of pink blood! At that point, I began to feel a little hopeful. Of course, it was hard to fall back to sleep, so I searched for forums of other moms who’d experienced the same thing; Desperately wanting to read they ended up going into labor. Guess what? Most of those mothers went into labor within the next 24 hours after losing their mucus plug and experiencing the “bloody show!”

By 5 AM, I began feeling more tightening of my abdomen, in addition to period like cramps that would come and go. Curiously, I decided to start timing them, but unfortunately noticed they weren’t consistent. For this reason, I decided not to tell Chris anything after he woke up for work at 6 AM; trying to avoid him becoming disappointed if I truly wasn’t going into labor. Obviously, I still wasn’t fully convinced.

CONVINCED! EARLY LABOR!

Between 6 AM and noon, I attempted taking a nap, but kept waking up from stronger “cramps”. Since taking a nap seemed impossible, I decided to call my mother to tell her everything that was leading me to think I was in early labor. With a tad bit of worriment in her voice, she assured me I was, and told me I would have our baby very soon. Thanks to my mom, I finally came to accept that I was indeed in early labor. Especially since my contractions were happening every 5 mins!

After hanging up with my mother, I called Chris right away and told him he needed to come home ASAP because we were going to have our baby very soon. Thankfully, he left work immediately. In the meantime, I  paced back and forth in my house and bounced on an exercise ball so my contractions wouldn’t go away. As soon as he got home, I called the hospital, and they instructed me to start heading there when my contractions were 3 mins apart and I was incapable of walking or talking through them. Immediately after hanging up, I timed them and realized they were 2-3 minutes apart! Although my contractions were still bearable, they were very painful.

HOSPITAL TIME

Around 2 PM, we started heading towards the hospital, but stopped at Subway first, since I was told they wouldn’t let me eat anything aside from ice chips after being admitted. Oh my goodness, was it hard to eat my sub due to having to take small bites in between each contraction. First time it had ever taken me that long to eat in my entire life!

As soon as I got to the Mother Infant Care Center, a nurse took me to triage for monitoring and to check if I was dilated. The nurse confirmed I was in fact having very strong contractions, very close together, but I was ONLY 3cm dilated! It turns out because we live about 30 mins away from the hospital they asked me NOT to go home. Instead, they advised me to walk around for two hours and go back to be checked for progression.

Chris asked me if we could go to the barbershop so he could get a haircut. Honestly, I thought I could handle it, so we did. Geez, what a bad idea! I got lots of worried looks while I paced back and forth in front of the barber, as I deeply hummed through each contraction. Can you believe how difficult it was to focus on my breathing knowing I was being stared at? For this reason, my contractions were becoming more and more painful. As soon as Chris walked out of the barber, I urged for us to go back to the hospital because at that point I could not handle walking or talking. Clinging onto Chris’s neck with my arms and swaying my hips side to side during each contraction and then quickly walking when it stopped was the only way we made it back to the car.

Thankfully, we made it back to the hospital and walked for the remaining time in the hallways. If I’m not mistaken, the pain got much worse during those two hours, which led me to think I had to be at least 6cm dilated. At around 6 pm, we walked back, the nurse hooked me back onto the monitors and shortly after, she checked to see if I was making any progress. The nurse told me, yes, my contractions were stronger, but I only progressed to 3 1/2cm. Discouraged is the best word to explain how I felt at that moment. In that moment, I desperately wanted to go home so I could sit in my tub full of hot water to help me through the pain. Unfortunately, they advised me to walk around for another TWO hours so the nurse could check me again for progression.

THE WAITING GAME- ACTIVE LABOR

For the most part, those two hours were a complete blur to me. Honestly, the pain was something I swore I never wanted to experience again. All I could do for the entire two hours was breath and pace down the hospital corridor with Chris by my side, encouraging me to breathe through each contraction. So I continued to remind myself during each contraction that I’d shortly be getting a break and each contraction was just a step closer to meeting our baby.

Two hours later, we walked into Mother Infant Care Center, this time only to be checked for dilation. The nurse looked at me and told me “I’m sorry, but you are only at a 4…” A huge sense of doubt came over me that I didn’t even care what else she had to say. Sadly, we ended up being sent home.

LABORING AT HOME

In a nutshell, I labored all night at home; alternating between- laying in the bathtub filled with hot water, to bouncing, hugging and rolling on the medicine ball, and listened to my hypnobirthing DVD. The DVD helped me focus through the pain I was feeling and reminded me of everything we learned and practiced in our Hypnobirthing class. I’m not going to lie, I was so afraid I would have our baby in the house. So I called the hospital at 3 AM to see if I should go in, but the nurse on the phone instructed me to labor as long as I could at home and to come in the morning. I stayed up all night doing anything possible to help me stay focused and calm. As soon as the clock hit 7 AM, I woke Chris up and we got ready and headed to the hospital.

ADMITTED

When we arrived at the hospital the nurse took me straight to triage, checked me… AND THANK GOD I WAS AT A 6! They asked me if I wanted an epidural and I told them I wasn’t sure. Unfortunately, I was in so much pain I didn’t know how much longer I could take. Out of standard procedure, the anesthesiologist came into triage and discussed the risks of getting an epidural with us. Still unsure, I asked her to give me more time to think about it, so she told me to ask for it whenever I was ready. Chris and I looked at each other, and he lovingly reminded me why we wanted to go natural and helped me remember the pain would go away as soon as I had our baby. Thanks to him, I agreed and decided to stick it out longer.

Soon after, I was admitted into my room at around 8 AM. Chris provided them with our birth plan and went through it with our Midwife and the staff. The heparin lock was placed in case of emergency, and I was intermittently monitored throughout my entire labor, which allowed me as much mobility as I needed. They dimmed the lights and spoke softly just as I’d asked. Between the times of 8 AM to 6 PM, I labored on and off the bed, on the exercise ball they provided, and in and out the shower. Believe it or not, I managed to stay very calm during each contraction by humming through them and switching positions as often as I could.

TRANSITION PHASE

It wasn’t until 6 PM that I started to doubt myself again, lost focus of each contraction and started to wonder how much longer it was going to take. Fear swept through me and I felt like it was never going to end. While I labored in the shower, I turned to Chris with a face of defeat and told him I wanted the epidural. I’ll never forget how he stared right back at me with so much love, and let me know I was the strongest women he has ever met and there was no doubt in his mind I could do it. That’s all I needed in that very moment, he believed in me, so I had to keep pushing!

Deep down I needed some reassurance I was progressing, so I asked him to call the nurse so she could check and confirm I was in the transitioning phase of labor. Sure enough, I was 7cm dilated. In that moment I remember hearing the pain wouldn’t get any more painful after 7 cm and I would have our baby very soon. Shortly after, the nurse spoke to the midwife and they came into the conclusion I wasn’t progressing fast enough. They gave me two options: Have them break my waters or give me one more hour. With the intention of letting my body naturally go through the process of labor, I asked them to please give me one more hour. Thankfully, the midwife granted my wish.

SURRENDING TO THE CONTRACTIONS

Honestly, I don’t remember ANY pain within that hour, and I was no longer moaning, humming or grunting between the contractions. As a matter of fact, I surrendered myself to each surge (contraction) and finally let my body do what it needed to do instead of fighting it. There I sat Indian style on the hospital bed peacefully breathing in and out, in and out, envisioning my baby moving down. Something I learned in my hypnobirthing class and wish I had done from the very beginning.

THE URGE TO PUSH

A little over an hour later, the nurse came in to check me once again, told me I was doing amazing and had progressed to a 9 ½. Needless to say, I felt so empowered and I knew I would make it till the very end. Ten minutes after the nurse left the room, I began to feel so much pressure and an urge to push (a feeling like having to go # 2 lol), so  I decided to listen to my body and lightly pushed and pushed. It wasn’t long until I asked the new nurse to check me because I had a feeling I was going to have the baby very soon. So she did and told me I still wasn’t fully dilated. Even though I was having the urge to push she advised me to wait, however, I chose to listen to my body instead.

I was laying on my side on the hospital bed, working with my body with each surge that would come. Chris was by my side the entire time reminding me how strong I was and how much he loved me. Shortly after pushing a few times, I felt something odd in between my legs, so I lifted up my leg and felt myself down under! With a look of confusion on my face I told the nurse: “I feel the water bag!” She looked at me in shock and asked me what I meant. Then instructed me to lay down on my back so she could take a look. Sure enough, our baby was coming!

DELIVERING OUR BABY

Surprisingly my bags were still intact! Everything happened so quickly after that. My nurse asked me if I’d like to change positions so gravity could help our little one come out. I agreed, so I slowly went from my elbow and knees to my hands and knees on the hospital bed, while Chris applied pressure on my lower back to relieve my back pains.

Our nurse suggested a more comfortable position and brought up the back of the bed so I could rest my arms on it. Such an excellent idea! Chris continued to encourage me to keep lightly pushing and focus on my breathing.

All of a sudden, I pushed and his head began to crown! Yes, I clearly remember placing my hand down there and feeling his head. My water broke and I didn’t even realize it. I panicked and started to scream. The “ring of fire” was indeed no joke my friends! Chris quickly calmed me down and reminded me to focus on my breathing.

Only a few minutes later, I felt our baby come out and Chris announced: “It’s a boy!”. Luckily my umbilical cord was long because I flung around so fast to see our baby, completely forgetting about it!  A sudden burst of energy, emotions, and a natural high took over my body as I reached out and grabbed our baby. Time stood still holding him in my arms for the very first time as we stared at his beautiful little face.  He looked so peaceful and barely cried. Those first few whimpers were music to my ears. I remember looking at him and saying “Hi Jayce! Welcome to the world baby boy.”  It was hard to believe he was finally in my arms after 38 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy and 31 hours of labor. In that moment I knew it was so worth it and would gladly do it 1000 times if I had to.

Chris did the honors of cutting the umbilical cord after it stopped pulsing. Shortly after, he held our son for the first time. My heart melted as I watched the man of my dreams hold our baby and stare at each other with so much love. 

From then on, our lives have never been the same. Thanks to him, we now have a new profound meaning of love. Welcome to the world Jayce. We love you so much.

Side Note: Yes, having an un-medicated birth was difficult, but it was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. Again, I would do it again 1000 times if I had to. Bringing Jayce into the world was the most rewarding and one of the happiest moments of my life. I can’t thank God enough for a loving, motivating, supportive husband, a healthy beautiful baby boy and for such a great hospital staff who respected and also helped me have the labor I envisioned and hoped for.

If you’re pregnant and want to achieve a natural – unmedicated birth, I am here to tell you- YOU CAN DO IT! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or just need some encouragement. I’d be more than happy to be there for you. 

Birth story submitted by Michelle R.

Photographs by Deirdre Leigh.

A Photographer’s First Natural Water Birth

A Photographer’s First Natural Water Birth

It was a cold, December afternoon when the miracle of yet another beautiful soul coming to the world had happened.

The birth of Raphael was a debut both for Betânia and Fred as parents and for me as a photographer. I am completely honoured to have been a part of such an incredibly emotional, miraculous celebration of life.

It was around four in the morning, when Fred in his usual calm and positive manner, had called us to say that Raphael had decided to come into the world. With all our gear prepared we rushed to the clinic, and we must confess that we seemed more nervous than the couple who was very in control, and mentally and physically prepared to what was about to happen.

The new parents decided to have Raphael delivered in water, and they also made sure that the ambient was labour-friendly with calmly lit candles, soothing aromas and relaxing music in the background. Betânia had all the help and assistance she needed throughout the journey. It wasn´t an easy one, but the new mom was powerful, courageous and laboured beautifully, with such peace and grace that one could admire the strength and power nature gives to a woman that is about to meet her child for the first time.

Fred was always by Betânia’s side being very supportive and making sure his wife had all the comfort she needed. It was wonderful to watch the two in such a perfect union and harmony- once again love prevailed over pain and suffering.

It was 14:16 when Raphael decided to finally abandon the comfort zone and meet the world and his happy parents for the very first time, and it was without an inch of doubt one of the most remarkable moments I have ever lived and had the pleasure to photograph.

After the first exchange of glances between Raphael and his parents, the doula let the baby stay on Betânia’s chest for some skin to skin, mother and child beautiful bonding…These were utterly miraculous, unique and candid moments that I have been so fortunate to live and document. Our sincerest congratulations go out to amazing Betânia and Fred, who brought sweet Raphael into the world in such a gentle and loving way. It was my greatest honour to have been part of their incredible journey.

Birth Story and photos submitted by Maria Niezgoda Azanha.

One Giant Push Without Pain Meds: “He’s Coming!”

One Giant Push Without Pain Meds: “He’s Coming!”

I am once again reminded that nothing is gained by worrying. I was more anxious about this birth than the others. But this baby is our New Hope. I kept reminding myself throughout pregnancy that my hope comes from the Lord. That He is in control. As induction drew nearer I found more things to worry about. Labor and delivery has never worked out exactly according to our plan, but each of our births have been so empowering and a reminder of God’s providence. I had to believe this one would be no different.

new hope, hospital birth, birth without fear

I keep thinking about how well everything went. I had regular contractions for days, thinking that I would be going into spontaneous labor before our scheduled induction date. Because of those contractions I stopped taking the Lovanox shots earlier than anticipated, per doctor’s orders. But labor never truly began. On Sunday morning, the day before my scheduled induction, I called Dr. G to ask what to do since I had been off the shots for four days already. He advised to go into labor and delivery to get checked and see about starting my induction early.

Once we got there they checked me and I was 4cm dilated! Those contractions had been making progress. I was taken to a room to start the induction. Our baby was coming. Excitement filled the room.

I didn’t start the induction with my drug of choice because I was too far dilated already, but instead went straight to the dreaded Pitocin. Pitocin got the contractions going but I could still easily talk through them. Contractions got to every 2 to 3 minutes, but they didn’t feel like they were doing much. This was not at all what I expected from Pitocin.

My friend, S, became my labor and delivery nurse at the shift change, 2 1/2 hours into the induction. Had we waited until Monday, my scheduled date, she wouldn’t have been there. She didn’t have any other patients during my labor so she was with me the entire time. She was my midwife. She was my doula. She advocated for me. She believed in me. She was amazing.

After talking over the risks and benefits of breaking my water with S, and seeing how labor wasn’t really progressing, we made the decision to go ahead with it. It sounded like it would make my body do more of the natural labor things by releasing the prostaglandins and inducing stronger contractions. Breaking my water wasn’t part of my plan, but it was definitely the right thing. I was still at 4cm when they checked just before breaking the water, over three hours after the start of the induction. It almost immediately made the contractions more intense. I could no longer talk through them. And at that point I just pretended it was natural labor. I was hooked to the IV and Electronic Fetal Monitoring the whole time, but I moved around as much as I wanted to, which wasn’t farther than the side of the bed.

Just after breaking my water, the anesthesiologist came in to discuss epidurals, or whatever it is they have to talk to each patient about. S asked him to come back later so she could help me clean up a little first. The doctor said that I may be asking for him soon though since she just broke my water. S responded, “No she won’t.” Love her! I suggested we push this baby out before he had a chance to come back.

The Hubby was amazing. He is the best labor partner I could ever ask for. He jumps at every opportunity to help and support me, to comfort me, to encourage me. He asks all the right questions when I forget to. He remembers the things that we need to be mindful of during and after labor. He knows me so well, he turns on the right music, reminds me of my birth affirmations, and offers other comfort measures at exactly the right times.

Sometime during this intense labor I looked at the clock and told Hubby we were having this baby before midnight. Baby Skywalker would share a birthday with my mom. As I stood next to the bed I started to feel pushy. I said he was going to come soon. S called the doc back in to check dilation. S and Hubby helped me on the bed. The doc checked and I was at 8cm. No sooner had she left the room than I yelled, “He’s coming!” The pediatric nurse ran across the room and caught him. I think he came out with one giant push. I pushed his head out and it felt like his body just slipped out behind.

I can’t believe it was so fast. Four and a half hours from the start of the Pitocin drip. I can’t believe I did it without pain meds. I can’t believe I got the natural feeling birth I wanted with an induction in a high risk pregnancy. I didn’t even have issues with the placenta. It was out within 10 minutes of birth, and with a history of retained placenta, that was an amazing feat. This birth that had me so worried was empowering.

birth without fear, new hope

We had uninterrupted skin-to-skin time for the first hour. It was amazing. I hadn’t expected that much time with him in the hospital setting. After 30 minutes of laying on my chest, he pushed himself up, leaned over, and landed directly on my nipple and started nursing like he knew what he was doing. I had heard of the breast crawl, but didn’t experience it with my girls. The nurses waited until he took a break from nursing before they moved him to the warming table to check his weight and other vitals they didn’t do while he was on my chest. They quickly returned him to me and he nursed some more.

I was totally comfortable in the hospital environment, which I didn’t expect. I labored how I wanted to, how my body needed to. I made a LOT of noise! But I warned them ahead of time that I’m a loud laborer. We talked about our options for pain meds at the very beginning, but I had also requested that they not ask me during labor if I wanted pain meds, that I would let them know if I needed them, and they respected that. I never did see that anesthesiologist again.

Baby Skywalker has been a very sleepy baby. He has awake moments too, but he is very calm and just looks around. After four days of painful engorgement, things are started to even out and he is nursing like a champ. He is a joy to have in our family. He is a great reminder to keep our hope in the Lord. To trust that He has everything under control. His Plan is always the perfect plan. Even when we don’t know what will come next.

Stats: Born December 4, 2016 at 8:58pm. 7lbs 7oz, 20″ long.

birth without fear, new hope

Originally published by Rebekah R. on A Pastorale.

Eloise’s Birth Story: Finding Healing & Hope

Eloise’s Birth Story: Finding Healing & Hope

By the time I became pregnant with my second child, I knew the kind of birth I wanted. I had spent most of my life hating my body. For not being thin enough. For not being pretty enough. For not being good enough. I hated my body for its infertility and, most of all, for the miscarriage that I had suffered when we first started trying to conceive another baby. My first birth, an induced birth in a hospital with an epidural that gave me my beautiful first daughter, was nothing short of lovely. Though the induced labor was hard, everything went according to plan and I had no complaints or regrets. It was the perfect thing for me at the time.

But for my second, I knew I wanted more. I had heard talk of how wonderful it was to give birth naturally, without medicated pain relief. How empowering. How profound and transformative. Every birth has the power to do that. My first transformed me, certainly. But with my second chance, I yearned for a deeper, more transcendent experience. And so a natural birth, one without an epidural or any other intervention of the sort, was written into my birth plan.

And then, two days past her due date, my precious, unborn baby girl turned breech. And I was suddenly, between my sobs, signing papers to agree to a c-section because no doctor that I knew of would deliver a breech baby vaginally. And then a day later, on the morning of my scheduled c-section, my baby flipped again and suddenly I was begging to be induced. Another induction was not what I wanted and, in retrospect, perhaps I should have just waited for labor to begin, but I was scared. I was scared my baby would flip again and that would be that. I would have to have that baby cut out of me. A c-section scared me more than anything else and so we went forth with the induction.

It was a cool, overcast October day in 2013 when we dropped my daughter Sydney off at a friend’s house and drove the few miles to the hospital. It was my mom, my husband and I in the car and we arrived for the induction fifteen minutes late. We were out of breath, anxious, nervous, and excited. We had been waiting for this day to come for a very long time. And still, we waited some more. In fact, we spent the next eight hours waiting. Waiting to be checked in and taken to our room. Waiting to complete all the admission questions. Waiting through an hour of fetal monitoring. Waiting for my blood work to come back and my urine to be tested. Waiting for the doctor (not my OB, but one of his partners) to do an ultrasound. (The baby was still head-down, thankfully.) Waiting for my first dose of Cytotec to ripen my cervix (which I did not even get until 11 a.m. though I arrived just after 8 a.m.). Waiting through more fetal monitoring. Waiting for contractions to start. Waiting for them to get stronger and closer together. The waiting was endless.

Around 4 p.m., the few contractions I was having pretty much petered out. They were at least ten minutes apart and I couldn’t feel them at all. It was decided then that I’d be given a second dose, this time twice as much, of Cytotec. This meant at least another two hours of fetal monitoring. It felt like I would be tied to my hospital bed forever. I ached to get on my feet, to stretch my legs and back, but instead I had to be happy with switching from sitting to side-lying on one side or the other. The whole process seemed endless and I was beginning to worry if an induction would even be successful this time.

And then everything started to change.

Within an hour of my double dose of Cytotec, I went from having essentially no contractions to having them every ninety seconds. They weren’t yet strong enough to cause me the sort of pain that I would experience in the hours ahead, but they certainly were enough to make me stop and catch my breath. And they gave me hope that this thing might happen after all. That my body could and would respond to another induction and bring forth the baby I felt kicking away in my womb.

But then suddenly, the baby’s heart rate dropped. During one of many contractions, her heart rate dipped from the 130s to 80 or so. My nurse had me quickly recline and turn onto my side and the baby’s heart rate returned to normal, but I could tell the nurse was shaken by it and so was I. We waited and watched in the minutes that followed and while the baby’s heart rate did not decelerate again, it also didn’t show the variability (the up and down of a heart rate that often occurs with contractions or movement) that is considered a reassuring sign. The charge nurse came in to watch the fetal monitor alongside my personal nurse, but nothing changed. I became worried. They kept assuring me that my baby was okay and probably just sleeping, and I could hear her heartbeat and knew she was alive, but I suddenly felt so very vulnerable. We were in a hospital and well on our way to welcoming our long-awaited-for baby into this world, but she still wasn’t safe. We had spent a year, praying for her conception. I had spent nine months of pregnancy, in an almost constant panic, always afraid that we would lose her too. She was now about to be born and she STILL wasn’t safe. She wouldn’t be until she was in my arms. It was a frightening realization and the tears flowed quietly as I sat there waiting for her to move, waiting for that sign that she was still okay.

What was supposed to be two hours of fetal monitoring became two-and-a-half. Three. Three-and-a-half. I was so sick of lying in bed, but the nurses didn’t want me to get up until they saw a change in the baby’s heart rate and, in my fear and anxiety, I didn’t have the heart to protest. It was decided that the best course of action would be to administer terbutaline, a drug sometimes given to stop premature labor, but for me it would be used to slow down my contractions, hopefully giving my baby girl the time to catch her “breath” and bounce back after contractions coming too close together for too long.

Around this time, I also decided I was ready to text my dear friend Kim to ask her to come to the hospital. Kim birthed her second child naturally and feels passionately about women’s birth rights and the benefits of natural birth, and I knew her presence and encouragement would be a crucial part of my birth plan. With the contractions becoming painful, my body shaking uncontrollably, and my heart so full of fear for my baby, I knew then that I needed her, not only to help me through the contractions, but to give me the extra emotional support and comfort.

Kim arrived 45 minutes later just as my contractions were finally slowing down to a more manageable spacing of 2-3 minutes apart. The doctor arrived shortly thereafter to check my dilation (3cm, I think?) and try to tickle the baby’s head to see if her heart rate would respond to touch. I was also encouraged to go to the bathroom and, just as I climbed back into bed for more monitoring, our precious baby finally awoke and began kicking and wiggling away, which led to the heart rate accelerations we had all been waiting for. The relief in the room was palpable. I felt such a sense of calm flow through me and my shaking stopped almost instantly. So the terbutaline had done its job and the baby was rebounding nicely, but there was a new problem: my pulse was abnormally high. It was most likely a side effect of the terbutaline, but it was a cause for concern nevertheless and once again kept me from being free from all the wires. So I was monitored some more. Perhaps I should have fought them at that point and demanded the opportunity to walk around, but I had always known this was one of those unfortunate parts of being induced. And I also believed that having a good rapport with the nurses was going to be critical if I wanted this all to go as smoothly as possible. And so I stayed in bed and allowed the monitoring to continue.

Finally, though, after hours stuck in essentially the same position, I was able to walk the floor. I would still have to be monitored the entire time and kept hydrated with my IV fluids, but I could use the portable fetal monitor instead. So I walked about as the contractions grew in their intensity and my mom, Kim, and my husband took turns pushing my IV pole and holding my gigantic jug of apple juice.

hospital birth, birth without fear

After an hour of walking the halls of the birth center, I was ready for a change of pace. My contractions were back to being about ninety seconds apart and they were becoming more difficult to talk and walk through. We decided to try the bathtub instead, since the portable fetal monitor was also waterproof. That hot (so hot we had to add ice cubes to it) water was such a relief. The first couple contractions I spent there I didn’t even feel and the ones that came after were greatly reduced in intensity. I felt like I could have spent the rest of my life sitting there, immersed in that warmth. Unfortunately, the water made it difficult to monitor the baby and, given our earlier scare and my constant fears for our rainbow baby, I really wanted to be monitored, however cumbersome it was. And so back to the bed I went.

As the contractions continued to come very close together and seemed to become more painful with each one, and the back labor became nearly impossible to endure, we tried everything we could for natural pain management. A variety of positions, from all-fours, to side-lying, to sitting on a birthing ball while leaning on the bed (my favorite), and more. We tried massage with a rolling pin. Counterpressure from a rolling pin. Hip squeezing. A hot water bottle against my lower back. Cold rags on my face and back. Listening to my labor CD. The list goes on. We had quite the “toolkit” and yet nothing felt like it was enough. The back labor had me crippled with each contraction and, with the contractions so constant, there were no breaks. No recovery time. I felt like I was treading water. And sinking.

When my water broke shortly after midnight in a gush that soaked me and the bed, I got scared. Throughout my labor, I had been telling Kim, “I’m scared. I’m scared.” And I was. It was my constant mantra, this admission of fear. Fear of the pain. Fear for my baby’s well-being. Fear for my ability to endure. Fear of the unknown. And this time, I meant it more than ever. I was afraid. So afraid. Afraid because I knew the contractions would get harder without the cushion of amniotic fluid. And they did. Oh, God, did they! Ten minutes earlier, it had been hard to imagine any more pain than what I was experiencing in that moment. But now I knew…it could get worse. It would get worse. I still had a long way to go.

I will say this: I was really at my most vulnerable, my most primal, during my labor. The low, deep moans. The wailing and whimpering I couldn’t control. The wild hair that has me cringing when I look at photos, but that I didn’t even ponder when I was in the middle of it all. The cries for help. The farting. The peeing. The vomiting. I didn’t poop during delivery, but I did just about everything else.

And yet, I had never felt more present in my life. I had my eyes closed throughout much of it, but my senses of touch and hearing were incredible. I could tell who was touching me just by the weight of their hand. I heard every conversation even as I turned inwards to get through the worst of the contractions. I was able to respond to questions, able to hear my baby’s beating heart, able to laugh when Honey told a joke. I felt more empowered than perhaps I ever had. I was doing what female mammals had been doing for thousands of years. I was experiencing, fully, truly experiencing the glory and grief of womanhood at an acute intensity. It was amazing.

It’s a funny thing to feel so strong and weak at once. Strong because I felt completely and totally alive. But weak because I really was beginning to feel like I couldn’t go on. I was tired. And I was in excruciating, unbearable pain that was relentless. As soon as one contraction ended, another began, and it had been that way for hours. More than once, I wished that my baby had been breech after all and I’d been forced to have a c-section. And with those thoughts, the “e”-word also rose to the surface. Epidural. Epidural, epidural, epidural. The four syllables thudded through my head over and over and over. I wanted to give in and give up. I wanted someone to give me the permission to do so.

I started to feel some painful rectal pressure and I said so. It was about 2 a.m. The nurse checked me. I wanted her to say I was 7, 8, 9, 10 centimeters dilated. I needed to know the end was near. And I told myself if it wasn’t, I would consider accepting pain meds. I would admit my weaknesses and cry uncle.

I was then told I was 4-5cm along.

“Oh, god. I can’t do this. I can’t do this anymore!” I felt like crying.

The charge nurse, Debbie, knelt before me. She told me to open my eyes and look at her. She told me I had a decision to make. “You need to decide what you want to do,” she said. “Not during a contraction. Not immediately after. But in between. Talk to your husband. Decide what you can live with. And we will support you in whatever you choose.” She never said the “e”-word, as I had requested that it not be offered to me, but essentially, she was giving me the permission to give up that I so desired.

After another contraction, Kim gently asked me if I wanted to talk to my husband. “No, I want to talk to you,” I said. “I don’t want to let you down. You were so strong when you had your baby and I know this isn’t the kind of birth you wanted to attend.” Kim laughed. She said not to worry about her, that this had nothing to do with her. That each woman’s labor is unique and I had already been so strong, so amazing.

Another contraction gripped me and then I asked my husband if he would be disappointed in me if I asked for an epidural. Though I yearned for the permission to give up, a part of me was hoping he would say yes. That someone would require me to stick with it. Instead, Dan whispered loudly, “Honestly, I can’t even remember why we want a natural birth.” The nurses laughed. Mom and Kim laughed. So did I. “Why do we want to do this again?” he asked.

“Because it’s what’s best for the baby,” I said. And I did believe it was best for my baby girl AND for me, but with another contraction coming on strong, it was hard to feel much conviction. And so as soon as I caught my breath, I relented. I asked for an epidural. I was disappointed in myself, and for a long time afterwards I would hold onto that shame, but I was relieved too. And desperate for the anesthesiologist to come as quickly as he could. Fast would not be fast enough.

I kept asking for the epidural. Or rather, screaming for it. Begging for it. “Where is he? Where is he?” I asked over and over. “I need heeeeelllllp!” I could feel myself losing control, spiraling. I was a mess. A number of times, it occurred to me that if there was another pregnant woman walking the halls in early labor and if she happened to pass my room, I would probably scare that baby right out of her. My pain terrified me; surely it would terrify someone else too. But even while I knew that I had lost all grip on my pain management, and even though Kim worked very hard to guide me in getting it back under control, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t listen. I wanted no part in working with the contractions anymore. I just wanted pain relief. And I just wanted that baby out of me.

And then suddenly, I felt the most incredible, undeniable pressure. It felt like I was being turned inside out. Like I was being ripped apart. “I feel like I have to poop!” I screamed. But even as I said it, I knew I didn’t. I knew I just needed to push. I knew my baby was ready.

And when the nurse checked me, just fifteen minutes or so after my last check when I was only 4-5cm dilated, sure enough…it was confirmed that I was fully effaced, fully dilated, and ready to push. With no epidural in sight.

The problem? The on-call doctor was at home a half-hour away. And the other doctor on the floor was no where to be found.

“I have to push! I have to push!” I screamed.

“No! No, don’t push!” Everyone screamed back. My nurse ran to gather a team of nurses to help in the delivery while Debbie (the charge nurse) tried to convince me that I had to wait until the doctor arrived. And I did try, but only half-heartedly. I already knew that I couldn’t hold back much longer.

“I can feel her coming! I feel her head. I need her out! I need her out!” Phrases like that streamed out of me, over and over, while everyone kept telling me not to push. To wait. To hold on.

But there came a point of no return. The baby was coming, ready or not, and so I let go. I screamed and I pushed. One, two, three. Three pushes, one vivid ring of fire, and less than five minutes later, and then there she was, in the hands of Debbie and my nurse, whimpering. Not crying. It was 2:23 a.m.

“Is she okay?” I asked, straining to see her, already on my way to forgetting the intensity of the pain that I had just endured.

“She’s fine,” they told me and she was placed on my chest, warm and gooey and beautiful, and then she did cry a loud, perfect wail and the greatest weight was lifted from my shoulders. My second daughter was here, safe at last, and nothing mattered more than that. This was the moment I had been fighting for, crying for, praying for, waiting for, hoping for, yearning for, preparing for, for months and months and months. Perhaps my whole life.

hospital birth, healing, birth without fear

Kim once asked me if I felt any trauma from this birth. I think my husband does. Seeing me writhing in pain has lingered in his head and heart for years. But me? All of the pain, all of the fear, the sense of helplessness and defeat, was buried by a mound of relief and joy the moment I held my Eloise in my arms. And time has only made the sweet moments sweeter in my memory and helped the rest to fade away.

I have since gone on to have another child, my first boy. He was born naturally as well, and was my first that didn’t require an induction. And though he helped me to understand just how different induced contractions are compared to natural ones and his birth was the ideal scenario, everything I had hoped for across the years, it is Eloise’s birth that was the most powerful for me. Her birth brought me to the brink. Stripped down. Raw. No other birth has made me suffer so much or empowered me so greatly. I found such healing in bringing her into this world. After so much pain, both in trying to conceive her and in laboring through such agony, and after so many years of hating my body for one reason or another, I learned just what my body is capable of. I learned what I am made of. I learned just how strong I can be. And for that, I will never be the same.

hospital birth, birth without fear, healing

Pre-Order The BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR Book Today!!!

Click on one of the book retailers below to get your copy now!

Hachette Book Group • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • iBooks 

 Google Play • Books-A-Million • IndieBound

***Sign up below for more updates on the Birth Without Fear book!***

We respect your privacy.