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Cholestasis, a Change of Plans, and a Respectful Induction

Cholestasis, a Change of Plans, and a Respectful Induction

I’d planned a natural birth in a birth center from the second I found out I was pregnant with my third child. I’d had a dehumanizing induction with my oldest; my second baby’s birth was far better than my first but still not exactly what I wanted so I made huge changes during my third pregnancy in order to finally have the experience I desired. My pregnancy was wonderful and healthy and everything was perfect every step of the way, I received care from a wonderful practice of naturally-minded obstetricians and midwives and truly enjoyed every prenatal visit. Everything was going great and my husband and I were happily anticipating our impending daughter’s birth.

When I hit 37 weeks I started noticing that my skin was very itchy. I used a lot of lotion and didn’t think much of it at first but I quickly realized it was getting worse by the day. I was soon so miserable I was even willing to try anti-histamines despite being reluctant to take any medications while pregnant. Unfortunately neither anti-histamines or any lotion or cream helped at all. After six days it was so horrible I was becoming concerned, this just didn’t feel normal. I called my doctor’s office on a Sunday morning and asked for advice. The midwife I spoke to thought it would be a good idea to come into labor and delivery and have blood drawn to be tested for obstetric cholestasis. After examining me she was hopeful that it was just a miserable case of PUPPPS but felt that the tests were a good idea.

Unfortunately the tests took about a week to come back so we wouldn’t know for sure anytime soon.

The next day I noticed baby was moving a bit less than normal. By that evening movement was significantly less but I was still feeling her enough that I wasn’t panicking. I was up all night trying everything I could think of to get her to resume normal movement but had no luck. I got up in the morning, took our big kids to school and called my doctor’s office. They had me come in immediately for a non-stress test. After a few minutes on the monitors baby wasn’t moving so they brought me apple juice… and more apple juice… and cups of ice water. Attempts to buzz my stomach yielded no results. Baby’s heart rate was perfect but for some reason she was clearly not moving.

A few minutes later one of the doctors came to talk to me. My hands and feet were where the itching was the worst, he examined them carefully and found there was no rash or apparent cause to the itching and said that this was concerning. The timeline of my symptoms and the appearance of my skin were textbook signs of cholestasis, a condition where a build up of bile acids in the blood stream cause intense itching. Still birth is a potential risk of cholestasis and given my baby’s major decrease in movement he felt it would be best to induce labor. He could tell I was extremely upset and was willing to support me even if I disagreed with his recommendation. He told me to call my husband and discuss it with him but that if we decided it would be best to induce labor that he was going to schedule my induction immediately. It didn’t take my husband and I long to agree that this was the best option. Several months before I had attended a Birth Without Fear Meet Up where January described the birth of “Beard Baby”. Prior to her birth she had had decreased movement and January described this as feeling that her baby had “nudged” her. I had a brief moment of peace realizing that my baby was nudging me as well and that this was all a sign that it was time for her to be born.

My mother picked up our children, we packed our bags and in what seemed like seconds we were at the hospital starting the induction. I had a very hard time processing what was happening to me and barely spoke a word for hours. I couldn’t believe that in such a short time my plans for this birth were completely shattered. How could a pregnancy go from complication-free to this in a matter of minutes? I was three centimeters dilated and 50% effaced but I truly did not feel my body or baby were ready to be in labor and I was absolutely terrified to start down this road of interventions.

After getting settled into our hospital room, the midwife from my practice who was there that evening came in to talk. She had a student midwife with her and they were both extremely compassionate and willing to do whatever they could to try to give me as much of the birth center experience as they could. The induction plan was to use Pitocin very slowly and to bring in a portable birth pool for me to labor and birth in. After talking to them I felt a million times better, this wasn’t exactly the birth I wanted but it was going to be okay.

Pitocin was started and I quickly began having regular contractions. I tried to rest through the night but the itching was worse than ever and prevented me from resting at all. One thing I’d found that helped the tiniest bit was Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple cream and luckily the hospital used this brand. My midwife’s student brought me tons of packets of it and I passed the night applying nipple cream to my entire body. By morning I’d had little progress and was feeling discouraged. I felt sick to my stomach I was so worried that this was going to turn out badly. As the morning went by however, things finally started to pick up a bit and contractions became much more intense. I began having to actually breathe through them and was only comfortable standing up, rocking through them. My midwife Missy and her student Lila Rose thought it would be a good idea to check me and see if they could break my water. They thought that since this was my third baby that if they broke my water things would progress very quickly but I was absolutely convinced there was no way that would work. Regardless I agreed that it was worth a shot. They checked my cervix and found that I was five centimeters. They broke my water and left the room for a bit to be with another patient.

In a matter of minutes my contractions intensified. They went from very uncomfortable to actually painful and I continued standing up, rocking and swaying through them. I suddenly realized I’d been too upset to eat anything for almost twenty hours and became very worried that this would effect my ability to get through labor. My husband offered me several healthy snack options but the only thing that sounded good was a Kit Kat bar that he helped me eat in between contractions. I don’t remember Missy and Lila Rose coming back in the room but when they saw me they realized I was getting close. I didn’t realize this myself though and still truly felt that I was half a day away from giving birth.

I was in a lot of pain at this point and asked to get in the tub. Lila Rose got it ready for me and helped me get in. The warm water was an immediate relief in between contractions but during contractions I was in extreme pain. I remained sure that I was no where near giving birth and this began to alter my state of mind. I was so sure I was going to be in labor for hours upon hours and didn’t know if I could handle this pain for the rest of the day. Lila Rose helped me breathe and focus more during contractions, despite my being a total wreck her words of encouragement were extremely helpful. She was using a Doppler to check baby’s heartbeat frequently and realized her heart rate was going up and staying up and she asked me to get out of the tub. She and my husband helped me get out. As soon as I stepped out I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. Lila Rose told me that that was just the baby and I didn’t really need to use the bathroom. I remember thinking “I’m not an idiot! I know that feeling like you need to use the bathroom is actually the baby when you’re close to giving birth but I am NOT even close to giving birth so I must actually have to go.”

I labored on the toilet for a minute and Lila Rose draped a warm blanket over me. Baby’s heart rate was still high so Missy asked me to try to get on my hands and needs on the bed. I moved into this position pretty easily and the contractions suddenly became absolutely unbearable. Contractions were maybe 20 seconds apart so I wasn’t getting a break between them at all. I started saying there was no way I could do this and that I needed an epidural. Missy tried to calm me down and reminded me that I didn’t want an epidural and that I would most likely regret it. She and Lila Rose tried to get me to focus more on what my body was doing and how each contraction was getting me closer to meeting my baby. I was still sure that I wasn’t actually close to meeting my baby though and asked again for an epidural. They explained that this baby was going to be born before they would even have a chance to request an epidural and I was perplexed. I didn’t understand why they were so sure that I was very close to having a baby when I was beyond certain that I wasn’t close.

Suddenly I felt the urge to push. I slid down on my side and started pushing and instantly my entire mood and mindset changed. I could feel my baby descending and the urge to push made me realize that I really was very close to giving birth. The urge to push was such an immense relief compared to the contractions that I’d been feeling that they actually almost felt good. I could tell each push was extremely productive and she was coming fast. My midwives started telling me that they could see her hair. I could feel intense burning and felt like I was pushing too hard and too fast and I tried to slow down and breathe her out but my body was on auto pilot and I didn’t feel lik&e I had much control over pushing. Before I knew it I could feel her body sliding out and I reached down to touch her, suddenly she was on my chest, screaming, and I was in disbelief. I immediately asked my husband what time it was and found that it had only been about 40 minutes since my water broke.

I birthed the placenta painlessly but my midwives said there were still a lot of large clots in my uterus and working them out was extremely painful. I was bleeding more than they liked though and they wanted to make sure everything was okay. Once they were sure, they checked me for tears and found two very small tears and asked if I would like them to stitch them. They thought they would probably be fine either way but that they would heal a little faster if they were stitched and I agreed. As soon as they were finished they covered my naked baby and I with warm blankets, dimmed the lights and left my husband and I to bond with our baby girl. We were left completely alone for hours and it was absolutely wonderful. No one bothered us or tried to bathe our baby or mess with her at all. A pediatrician stopped in just as I was actually feeling ready to try to get up and use the bathroom and clean myself up a bit anyway so the timing worked out perfectly.

I felt immense relief knowing that our baby girl was earth side, safe and healthy. I had salvaged a pretty awesome birth out of a situation that terrified me. I had been induced with my first baby and had absolutely no control. Every decision was made for me, without me. Not only was I never consulted but I was so disconnected from how birth should be that I didn’t even realize that I had a right to be consulted. I remember feeling as though I was in the way during my own birth. I remember thinking everyone would have an easier time delivering this baby if I wasn’t there. This induction was a completely different and wonderful experience. My health and the health of my baby were the priorities of my doctor but they were not used against me. My choices were respected every step of the way. I received guidance from my health care providers and was allowed to make my own choices. This wasn’t the birth I had planned but it was exactly the birth my baby needed.

Submitted by Kate S. 

Roaring for Aurora: A Hospital Birth Story

Roaring for Aurora: A Hospital Birth Story

My entire pregnancy had been spent preparing my body and mind to bring a wonderful little girl into the world. Including the fact that as a first time mom, she would probably arrive later than her expected due date of April 10th! So in order to prepare for her arrival sometime in April I left my job on the last day of March, giving me at least a full week till my due date to finish cleaning, shopping and sleeping before I had my daughter… Or so I thought.

In the early hours of April 4 I rolled over and, much to my surprise, felt a gush of liquid. My first thought was that I had peed myself; it hadn’t happened before but at 39 weeks pregnant anything can happen, right? I got up, changed my pajamas and crawled back into bed. I then proceeded to roll over again and there was more liquid. This time I was pretty sure my water had broken but nothing else was signaling the start of labor, so I changed again and curled up on the couch and started googling “how you know your water has broken” because I was convinced that she was going to be late.

My husband Kevin got up and started getting ready for work and I crawled back in bed to try and rest some. But rest was not happening and when Kevin came back in I said, “Hey you can turn on the light, I’m awake. Also, I think my water broke…” I was still unconvinced.

“Do I need to stay home from work then or what?” he asked.

“No, I’ll take you. And if anything changes I’ll let you know.” So, I got up and got dressed, texted our doula Amy and let her know what was happening and drove my husband to work.

On the way home I decided to stop at a lake and take a walk; it was a nice day and out and I took about a lap and a half before I decided that I was having a few contractions. I texted my husband and let him know I was going to come get him after I went home and showered. I put on my labor clothes, picked Kevin up from work and came back home to pack up the last few things I needed for labor.

I was already scheduled to have an appointment with my OB and my mom had been going with me due to some previous high stress appointments and she pulled in shortly after we arrived home. “Why is Kevin home?” she asked.

“Well… I think my water broke.”

“Okay… so what’s the plan?”

We decided to hang out at the house, make sure we had everything we needed and I bounced on the birth ball for awhile, before finally making the decision just to head to the labor and delivery triage around 10am. We got checked in to triage and they took my vitals, as well as testing for amniotic fluid. My water had broken, but I was only 1cm dilated and they of course immediately offered to start Pitocin, but I was determined to do this without it, so as soon as we got to an L&D room my husband and I started walking laps.

The doctor came in and introduced himself and assured me that I could labor wherever I wanted including in the tub as long as I didn’t deliver there. He was fine with my decision to put off Pitocin but did remind me that we could only do that for about 24 hours, as long as everything was still looking good. Over the course of the day my parents, Kevin’s parents, and a whole slew of family and friends came and visited me. My doula arrived later on in the afternoon since I wasn’t quite in active labor and I was doing fine without her.

The nurse came and checked to see if I had progressed any around 4pm or so and I was still only at a cm and they again offered Pitocin. My doula knew I was trying to avoid it and we opted to try nipple stimulation instead. We got hooked up to the fetal monitor and started that for about an hour and it helped get some contractions going but not anything sustainable. We continued to walk and late in the night I took a shower, listened to some music and read some. Around 1am they checked again and still no progress. I tried to get some sleep because I knew I would need it. At some point Amy, our doula, went got me some oatmeal and gatorade; she was a great help in making sure I was hydrated and fed.

In the early hours of April 5 the doctor came in and talked Pitocin since it had been over the 24 hours. While I had been fighting it all along I was ready to see my baby earthside and gave them the go ahead to start the IV. Sometime between 6 and 7am they started the Pitocin and, because of the risks it poses, I was able to labor only as far as the fetal and contraction monitors let me go. I had hoped to labor in the tub but they couldn’t find a cord for the monitor so that was no longer an option. As soon as they started the Pitocin my contractions really started picking up. I managed to eat some breakfast (which was all liquids) but by 9am I couldn’t talk through my contractions anymore. My mom left around this time telling me not to have this baby until she got back. I lost track of time soon after that. Kevin and Amy were a huge help during all of this. I felt immense pressure in my hips and Amy provided counter pressure while I was sitting on the bed. I stood and swayed with my husband for most of labor, but at some point ended up back on the bed, on my hands and knees and I felt immediately nauseous; thankfully Amy came fully prepared and had lemon oil in her bag for just such an occasion, it helped so much. I also remember thinking as Amy said aloud, “Yay! That’s a good thing!” We all knew I was align through transition. I changed position again with my legs dangling over the sides. With every contraction I would curl my toes as Amy told me to relax them. She placed heating under my hips to help ease the pressure I was feeling there.

When my mom got back to the hospital around 11am she came in and started stroking my hair and using a cool rag on my neck. Kevin was holding my hand and keeping the fetal monitor in place, because with every contraction she would move and we would lose her heartbeat. He kept it in place so that the nurses could track her heartbeat. During this entire process the nurses came in and out only to bump up the Pitocin drip. They hadn’t checked me since 1am, for which I am thankful, but they didn’t realize how quickly I was progressing, because around 11:45am my body began to push. Amy suggested to my mom that she call for the nurse and joked that we may have a baby before the afternoon! The nurse came in quickly and asked me to lie back so she could check my progress. Much to her surprise she could see my baby and asked me to not push, which is the hardest thing to do when your body is telling you something else! I did my best while she frantically paged the doctor. She actually paged him twice because she was afraid he wasn’t going to make it. He ran in followed closely by the baby nurse who began getting the baby warmer ready. Tearing the bottom off the labor bed and breaking one of his gloves in the process he gave me the go ahead to push all I wanted! My husband on one side and my mom on the other both helped me to relax and Amy reminded me to use the low register groaning to my favor; she called it ‘roaring for Aurora’. I pushed two or three times and then there she was!

At 11:56am. All of 6lbs 10oz and a head full of hair. The first words out of my mouth as they handed her to me were, “Is this real life?” I was in awe of the tiny little girl curled up on my chest. She was perfect in every way.

Story and photographs submitted by Ashley B.

The Powerful Experience of One Woman’s Homebirth

The Powerful Experience of One Woman’s Homebirth

With the birth of my first daughter in 2013 I thought I knew everything needed to have a natural birth. I hired a midwife, read books, researched, and read more books. None of that prepared me for labor or for my new role as a mother. Little did I know that while my midwife yessed me at every appointment and made it seem like natural was possible she quickly turned cold while I was in labor.

I awoke to my water breaking and contractions coming steadily. I was told to stay home as long as possible. Well this being my first rodeo I had no idea how long this could take. After being home for about six hours my husband Tom and I decided it was a good time to go since we had a 50 minute car ride to the hospital ahead of us. Once we got to the hospital my contractions slowed down to practically nothing. I was admitted and checked. The nurse told me I was maybe 2cm dilated. Not too long after my midwife comes in and tells me things are not moving fast enough and she wanted to start pitocin. I asked the nurse at the time if this would make my contractions worse, she told me no. Well that is a big fat lie. My contractions started coming faster and more intense. I was having horrendous back labor (due to baby being posterior, but no one told me) no amount of rocking or moaning was keeping me calm.

My midwife would come in periodically and turn up the Pitocin without saying a word to me. She at one point asked if I was ready for the epidural. I shook my head no because I thought there was an understanding of me wanting to do it naturally. After she left I had a few more contractions and cried out for the epidural. The epidural was given to me but did not take effect properly. The anesthesiologist was called in for a C-section and I was left to labor in bed with one side completely numb and the other side feeling like it was on fire. Two hours later he came back to redo the epidural. After that I was finally feeling comfortable but had no idea what was going on. It felt very isolating.

After quite some time my midwife came in but this time told me the baby’s heart rate was dropping. She told me that they were going to give me an hour and if nothing changed they would have to section me. I was so tired and at that point all I wanted was for my baby to be safe. The end of the hour came and my midwife checked me telling me that I was fully dilated and ready to push. After about 30 min of coached pushing she was here. She was purple, wide eyed and silent. She was breathing and everything was fine but she never cried. She looked like she was in as much shock as I was.

Total time was 23 hours. I have suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life and after the birth of my first daughter postpartum depression hit me hard. I was upset over my birth experience, replaying it in my head, what if’s and should have’s. I eventually found peace with my first birth. Got the help I needed to get through PPD and really started to enjoy motherhood. Two years later I was at the birth of my nephew and I helped support my sister-in-law through a very tiring labor. This birth opened my eyes to the wonderful world of being a doula. Four months after my nephew’s birth I took a doula certification class. I learned so much and was so excited to give back what I learned. Little did I know that just two weeks later I would find out I was pregnant.

It was two and a half years after the birth of our first daughter and I was ready to reclaim my birth. I switched to another midwifery practice and knew immediately that this group of women would give me the right tools to get the birth I desired. At just a month and a few days into my pregnancy I was hit with morning sickness. Not just “Ugh, I feel so queasy and gross” morning sickness. I was throwing up 6-8 times a day and couldn’t eat anything or keep fluids down. It was a horrible pregnancy. Six months of non-stop throwing up and three months of feeling like I had the worst hangover ever, every day. During those nine months I found birth without fear. I loved reading all these women’s amazing powerful birth stories. I prepared much more mentally for this birth then I did with my first.

The midwives I was seeing offered homebirth as an option as well as going to the hospital. I had looked into homebirth with my first pregnancy but my husband was not comfortable with the idea of it. This time he knew that I was looking for something different and was completely supportive. The midwives offered us an opportunity to attend what they call a homebirth social. You go and talk to other families about their experiences of birthing at home. It was a wonderful way to gain confidence in myself as well as put the few fears my husband still had to rest. Every story was different but the consistency of how the midwives worked was reassuring. So I was armed with my wonderful midwives, I hired a doula, did my affirmations and just waited for the day baby decided it was time.

I awoke on June 10th (my actual due date) at 3:30am to the feeling of what seemed like mild menstrual cramps. I laid in bed trying not get excited but knew that this was it. The day before I had some bloody show and was so tired I could barely stand. I had gotten a good amount of rest that night and decided that after an hour and half to get up. It was around 5am and Tom was getting ready to get up for work. I told him I was feeling crampy and had to breathe through the feeling. He decided to stay home to help with our three year old and just see where the day took us. The midwives had told me that second babies always come faster but I was skeptical thinking about my 23 hour labor the first time.

I went into the living room, sat on my birth ball and watched American Hustle. It seemed like every 30 minutes I was feeling a rush. It was nothing that I couldn’t breathe through. By 7am our 3three year old was up and ready to start her day. I made her breakfast as my husband milled around asking if I thought this was it. I told him I wasn’t sure, things at the time didn’t seem consistent and the rushes were not lasting very long. I left the house around 8am to see my chiropractor while my husband stayed home with our daughter. I had two rushes on the way to the office, which was 30 min away. While getting adjusted I had another. My chiropractor suggested that I call my midwives when I got home. On the way home I had two more in the car and needed to breathe to get through them. They still didn’t seem to be lasting very long and were manageable.

Once home I walked around on our back deck stopping occasionally to breathe through the rushes. I called the midwives and spoke to Cindy who was on call. She said to give a call back when they were more like 10 minutes apart. I lived 50 minutes from their office and they needed time to get to me. I also texted my doula to keep her up to speed. We took our daughter to gymnastic class around 9:30 am. While at the 45 min class I could tell that things were getting more regular. I was swaying and breathing through each rush. I wasn’t timing them I was just letting the waves come and wash over me. I leaned into my husband for a few. I can only imagine what this must have looked like to the other women in the gymnastics waiting room.

We left the class and were heading home when my daughter asked if we could stop at her favorite place she calls the purple place for lunch. My immediate answer was “Sure! Why not? This isn’t so bad.” Then a rush came that was different than the others. Active Labor. It was more intense and I recanted my decision to go out for lunch. We got back home and my husband made lunch for our daughter while I paced back and forth on our deck, hunching over various chairs and railings when I needed. I remember feeling like I just wanted to walk and move as much as possible. My husband asked if I was up for a walk and I agreed. We walked up our street and back to our house. It was a slow pace as I was stopping every so often to hunch over the stroller to breathe through the rushes. We even stopped to talk to our neighbor who was outside.

After our walk I was feeling kind of fatigued. Tom suggested I lie down and try to rest because we weren’t sure what was head of us. I went to go lay down but had three big rushes fairly quickly and close together. It was about 1:30pm and I texted my doula. I told her I was trying to rest but couldn’t and asked her to come. She told me she would be there in 30 minutes. I got up because laying down made everything worse. I told Tom that I sent a text to Chrissy the doula and she was coming over. I also asked him to just start keeping time of the contractions. This whole time I was managing my contractions by doing deep breathing and swaying.

I decided to get in the shower after I texted my doula and that’s when things changed again. Transition. I had to hold onto the window in the shower and was very vocal through each rush. I kept saying “Oooooookaaaaaayyyy” in a low growl like way as if to remind myself that this was all okay. Also the wide open mouth made me visualize myself opening. I get out of the shower and at this time it’s about 2pm and things start to get a bit hazy from here. I finally realize that this is for real and call my midwife. I don’t even have to say more than a few words before she is telling me that she is on her way and to not get in the tub before she gets there. Tom had been writing down the time and they were about every two to three min apart. I was hoping for a water birth and had the tub but it wasn’t even inflated or anything. In fact nothing was ready.

My doula Chrissy comes into the house all smiles and sees me in the kitchen making witch hazel pads to put in the freezer. She comes over and starts to help without saying a word. I have another rush that makes me want to fall to the ground but I just lean over the stove moaning while my doula does counter pressure on back. I start to feel shaky and nauseous with each rush. In between each rush though I feel normal and talk to my doula and ask my husband to start getting the bed ready by layering. At this time it’s about 3pm and my mother-in-law shows up to help with our daughter. I greet her as she comes in the door giving her a big smile and hug. Thanking her for coming to help. She takes our daughter out for a walk while I keep laboring and again have another rush, this one bringing me to my knees. I am kneeling on the floor hunched over our couch and think to myself “Oh man, this is painful. I should have just gone to the hospital, got the drugs, and been done. What the hell was I thinking?” My doula saw that I was getting introspective and reminded me that I am strong and that this is what I wanted and that I’m kicking ass at it. My mind set refocuses on the task at hand and I go back to vocalizing and swaying my hips.

At some point my midwife calls and my doula answers my phone. I didn’t know it at the time but my midwife was prepping my doula in case she didn’t make it and would have to deliver the baby. My doula kept her calm and got Tom to help put the waterproof pads under me and get my skirt and underwear off. I move from leaning over the couch to leaning over my birth ball trying to stay as relaxed as possible, letting my body do the work. I start to feel pressure in my lower back and my doula kept up with the counter pressure which was amazing. My midwife has still not made it to the house but the midwife assistance showed up at some point. She and Tom start blowing up the pool. I asked Chrissy if she thought the baby was coming soon to which she replied “Well, your contractions are a minute apart but there is still time and you’re doing great.” I remember looking over at Tom, feeling a bit loopy and I couldn’t really focus on anything, but I saw him smile and all felt just as it should be. My daughter had come back from her walk with my MIL and brought over a flower for me that she had picked while out. She went outside after to swing in the backyard. I realized at that moment that she would come back into the house a big sister and my heart soared. I continued to ride each wave in till it felt like I had to take the biggest poop of my life. The midwife’s assistance asked me if I was feeling any pressure and with the next rush I yelled out “I feel it in my butt!” with that I hear someone say “Cindy is here!” and as soon as she walks in my door my water breaks and I yell out “Something’s happening!” Cindy is immediately behind me and I hear her say “There is no time for this pool–the baby is coming.”

Out of the corner of my eye I see Cindy toss the pool a side and pull out the tablecloths to put under me. I start to get a bit scared at this time because the sensations I were feeling were so intense. I felt like a wild animal. I couldn’t focus on anything or anyone and felt panicked. My body starts to take over and I feel like I need to poop so badly. I can hear Cindy behind me and her voice is so clam “Stacy just push your baby out” Like it’s that simple. She says it again and I regain some composure and start to push. I can feel the burning and I yell out that it hurts. Cindy tells me the baby’s head is coming out and I’m just stretching to accommodate it. She directs me to just breathe slowly and then the burning stopped. “The head is out!” She tells me to reach down and touch our baby’s head but I’m afraid. I reach down and quickly pull my hand away.

With the next contraction she tells me to lean back and catch my baby. I tell her I can’t and she calmly tells me again to sit back and catch my baby. So I give one last push and grab the baby and bring it up to my chest. I am filled with relief and look at Tom who was in front of me. His face says it all, awestruck. We didn’t know the sex of the baby and I hear someone say “What do you have?” I looked down at this baby who was now crying and I see we have a girl! I am overcome with so many emotions and start to cry. I can’t believe I just did this. In our home, on the floor of our living room. It was pure bliss. From the time my rushes started to the time she was born was a little over 12 hours. It was really only that last hour where I felt things were hard.

homebirth, midwife

At some point another midwife had shown up as well as her assistant. I’m not sure how long I stayed in the living room but eventually the midwives helped me up and I walked the 25 steps into our bedroom. I carried our brand new girl into our room and lay on the bed where she immediately rooted for my breast and latched on. Cindy told me it was time to push the placenta out and I gave a few little pushes and it sort of slid out.

Tom cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing. Our daughter came in to meet her new sister. It was just the four of us in our room, on our bed. Our oldest was in awe and asked if we could sing happy birthday to her. So my husband, our now oldest daughter and I sang happy birthday to our newest girl. My husband and I couldn’t help but shed a few tears at the sweetness of the moment. After a while the midwives came in where they performed the newborn exam right in front of us. Tom weighed her and helps to measure her. 7lbs 6oz 20in. A pound and inch bigger than her sister. My doula cooked me eggs and feed them to me in bed while everyone cleaned up. By 7pm the house was empty. You would have never guessed that a baby was just born in the living room three hour before. The house was clean and looked just as it had but now there was this tiny new being with us.

We settled in for the night recapping the day’s events and thinking how crazy it was that she was here and we were home and it was just pure bliss. This birth made me see myself in a whole new way. I can only hope that other women get to experience a birth that makes them feel powerful.

homebirth, midwife

Submitted by Stacy C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

birth, pregnancy, birth in car

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

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

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

birth in car, pregnancy, birth

Submitted by Kellie Lister.

A Wilde Birth Story, from NYC

A Wilde Birth Story, from NYC

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We named him Wilde, just as his entry into this world was. My partner, Simon, and I arrived to the hospital early on a late, September, Monday morning. My water had broken and I had been laboring lightly at home. I was just barely full term, four days into my 37th week of pregnancy. My midwife said to come into the birthing center so she could check to make sure all was okay. If it was, they’d send me home to labor.

We had been preparing for this day for months. We took ten birthing classes, including a Bradley course and extensive Hypnobirthing preparation. After watching the Business of Being Born, ten years earlier, I had committed myself to a natural child birth. I wanted to go through that rite of passage that is labor and fully earn my badge, without having any numbing effects. Any time someone would say, “The best made plans…” I would think, Yeah, but I’ll be different. I will have the birth I want.

When I sat with the midwife that morning, she looked at my blood pressure reading wide-eyed and with worry. I felt my best made plans quickly slip away. My blood pressure was through the roof, 190/100. She explained to me that I had preeclampsia, a pregnancy-induced high blood pressure condition, and that the only cure was delivery. I immediately flashed to Sybil in Downton Abbey, thinking that if this were the turn of the century, I’d be toast.

As the midwife discussed the course of action to induce with Pitocin, I immediately jumped to the worst case scenario and suggested they just wheel me in for a C-section right then and there. The midwife humored me and said we didn’t have to jump there. Besides, going through a labor process would be good for me and my baby. The important thing would be to keep my blood pressure in check, staving off a seizure or stroke.

In the hospital room, I resigned myself to putting on the hospital gown. My birthing ball, birthing outfit, the arnica massage oil, and the aroma therapy seemed so far from where I was at. I lay in the bed, hooked up to an IV, catheter, a blood pressure cuff, and a fetal monitor. I curled up on my side and the tears came. Simon embraced me as I fell apart in her arms. The disappointment I felt was so deep. I felt like a fool for being so narrowly focused on a birth plan that had only one outcome: no interventions. I felt lost and afraid of what was to come. The other side to all of this seemed impossibly far away.

At 6pm, after 10 hours at the hospital, I was one centimeter dilated. I slowly let go and turned inward as the Pitocin started to advance my labor. My birthing team: Kori, my doula; Shannon, my midwife; Kate, my doctor; and Simon my partner, became my rocks through the building intensity. Each had a position to assume during every contraction; Simon held my hand, Kori pressed into my hips, and Shannon held my feet. Kate made sure my blood pressure was steady, not easy to do with readings like 201 over 110. I ended up on Magnesium Sulfite and high blood pressure drugs to keep things as stable as possible.

With my blood pressure still so high, it became clear that I needed to deliver this baby as soon as possible. At about 9pm, three hours after starting the Pitocin, contractions built to a jagged peak in their intensity. I had the conversation with my midwife of when to begin the epidural. She suggested I wait 40 minutes to coincide with the blood draw I was slated to already have. After another strong contraction rattled my body, I reasoned that I didn’t care if my blood was drawn twice. I wanted relief from the ever-increasing pain.

Then, at 9:30pm, like lightning through my body striking my uterus, I had a contraction like none of the others before. I was compelled to hold the bar on the bed and bear down. The sound that escaped me was an electric scream – hard and fast. Shannon jumped up and said, “I am going to check you now.” I resisted and said I was afraid another contraction would come, but she was already inside of me. Then she proclaimed, “We’re there! 10 centimeters!” I hardly could believe it; I made it. The energy in the room suddenly shifted with excitement.

With Kori coaching me along, she said, “It’s time to push your baby out! Get in a position you want and follow what your body tells you to do.” I immediately got up, flipped onto all fours, gripped the back of the tilted up hospital bed, and rode the bucking horse of the next three contractions. Each one was stronger than the next. Each felt crazier than the last. Kate and Kori reminded me to make deep, grounded sounds, to direct the energy down and out. It’s also what I had practiced, but felt so hard to harness in the moment. I felt the baby move down. I reached down and felt the top of his head. He felt like a pear inside of me and all I could see was green. He felt small and possible to move. With the next contraction, I embraced Simon with all of my might, bore down, brought my breath to the deepest place I could, and birthed my baby.

Wilde came out screaming and perfect. I held him in utter disbelief, feeling victorious and incredibly grateful.

You can view Wilde’s first wonderful day by clicking the link here: Wilde_Day1 – Medium

Photography by Sarah F. Keough

I Am Strong – Becoming a Mom at 15

I Am Strong – Becoming a Mom at 15

I was 15. I had just had my last day of freshman year. Summer was starting. Little did I know that night, I became a Mother. That night a little baby started growing inside of me.

17 weeks passed.

I was partying still. Not having any symptoms. I was still having periods and only threw up twice, so I just thought I was sick. I had been taking pregnancy tests because the condom broke. But they all said no. I started getting stretch marks on my sides, but thought I was just getting larger. I took a pregnancy test when my period finally stopped coming and it finally gave me the correct answer.

I told the father, he told me to get an abortion. I told my mother I was going to do adoption—so a family that had the means to support my child could. My Mom supported that, but also told me if I wanted to keep my child she would care for us financially. I went to the doctor and found out I was having a girl. The same day that my pregnancy was truly confirmed by ultrasound I was told I was having a girl, that I’m 17 weeks pregnant and regardless of the foolish things I had done my baby was perfectly healthy.

I am strong because I packed up and moved states. This was due to everyone just wanting to fight me in school because I wouldn’t get an abortion and “was ruining his life.” My due date was 2/15/12. On 2/13/12 I was in the hospital. My child was moving like crazy, but I couldn’t feel or see her anymore. I was admitted and put on Pitocin. Hours went by, and I wasn’t progressing very fast, so they broke my water. It was such a yucky feeling. Hours passed and I was getting so exhausted from the contractions; I knew I needed sleep if I was going to push my baby out.

They bumped up my pitocin and my baby stopped breathing. When they reduced the piton, my baby was fine. My contractions were still going. I got the epidural and went to sleep. I woke up to the nurses freaking out. The shift change had happened and no one told the new nurse that my baby couldn’t handle the stress of the pitocin. It had been up for so long that my baby had no heart beat or wasn’t breathing. So here I am, 15 years old fighting with the nurses about them saying my mom couldn’t come back with me. Finally they agreed my mom could come back.

On Valentine’s Day my baby was born via c-section.

I am strong because I’ve made it almost two years. I’m now 17, almost 18 with an amazingly beautiful little girl that’s almost 2. I dropped out of high school and got my GED. I became a state registered nursing assistant. My Mom helped me out for about a year and then of course will help me out whenever I need it.  My little girl’s dad has not helped a single bit and only came to see her once.

I am strong because I’ve made it this far being a single mother and I’m doing a great job. She’s my only pregnancy and it will stay that way for a while. I’m strong because even through having fibromyalgia I’m the best mom I can be.

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– Emily M

I Am Strong – Enduring 30-Plus Hours of Full Blown Labor

I Am Strong – Enduring 30-Plus Hours of Full Blown Labor

I am strong because when I was in labor, I was in back labor for nine hours and wasn’t progressing so I had to go home.

I am strong because after laboring another 10 hours at home I went to the doctor to get checked and was in full blown labor but only dilated to 3 cm.

I am strong because I did not want an epidural, but more than that, I didn’t want a c-section so I got the epidural to help my body relax and dilate better.

I am strong because I had been up over 24 hours in labor and got the epidural, but because everything was going wrong and they were checking on me every 30 minutes, I never slept.

I am strong because after laboring a full day I wasn’t past 6 cm and had to receive pitocin, which was not in my birth plan.

I am strong because when my temperature spiked, I was given on a nonrebreather face mask to help with my babies decelerations and managed to stay calm.

I am strong because my epidural stopped working when it became time to push at 30+ plus hours, and I had all back labor with the baby posterior.

I am strong because I pushed for three hours to avoid putting my baby through a c-section.

I am strong because I still have sad feelings about getting an epidural and pitocin but look at my healthy baby I know it was all for her.

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I Thank God Every Day!

I Thank God Every Day!

On December 26th, 2014 I went to the hospital to be induced with my third daughter. I was 39 weeks and 2 days. The induction was planned by me as I was in so much pain I was in constant tears. I arrived at the hospital at 7:45am and was 4 cm dilated. At 11:30 that morning, the doctor came in and broke my water. It was my goal to allow my body to do what it could do naturally with as little intervention as possible.

A few hours went by and there were no contractions. The nurse and I thought it would be best to start me on pitocin to get my labor moving along, and it worked. Almost immediately, contractions started coming, but they were not bad. Not only was I able to breathe through them but I was also able to keep myself occupied by playing games on my tablet. My nurse came in a couple more times to bump up the amount of pitocin I was receiving in my IV and of course the contractions started getting closer together and stronger. Very painful and little I could do to keep my mind off of the pain.

At around 4:30 pm, my nurse came in to check me and I was dilated to 6 cm. At this point the contractions were so intense and so close together that I was having troubles breathing through them or catching my breath between them. I opted to get an epidural to help relax my mind and my body. By the time the epidural was placed, I had dilated to 8 cm. I was very glad to have received the epidural when I did.

An hour after that it was time to start pushing since I was fully dilated. It seemed to be going great! I had the father of my daughter on one side holding one leg and the godmother holding my other leg. However, things changed when two nurses pushed each of them out of the way, leaned the bed back as far as it would go, and I had another nurse on top of me pushing on my abdomen. My daughter has gotten stuck. She was losing oxygen and it was a very intense few moments.

When she did finally arrive, she was not breathing and she was a dark blue. It took what seemed like forever before she took her first breath and began crying. I had broken down because not only was I scared that I could have lost her, but also because I was relieved to hear her cry and know she was okay. I have delivered two other daughters: one by c-section and one by VBAC, and neither of those were scary. I am not a religious person, but from that moment, all I can do when I look into her beautiful face is thank God that He didn’t let anything happen to my baby girl!

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{I Am Strong} Making Peace with the Epidural

{I Am Strong} Making Peace with the Epidural

I wanted to share with you, the story of the birth of my second daughter, which was at 3:43 am on January 10th.

Let’s go back three years, when I gave birth to my first: induced by cervadil, 14 and a half hour labor, and an epidural at 5-6 centimeters where I had lost control and couldn’t gain my focus back. She weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces and was a week early! I pushed for well over an hour, and ended up having to have super pubic pressure performed by the nurses to finish birthing my baby. I swore I’d never “lose it” again and I’d never use another epidural.

Let’s jump forward, to Friday morning. I woke up at 3:30 am with mild contractions (hitting 41 weeks pregnant). After arriving at L&D triage, I was told I would be sent home due to lack of cervical change.

Apparently, baby had other thoughts because she became non-reactive and they immediately admitted me and started pitocin (something I was deathly scared of, due to the fact I was striving for an ALL natural birth).

The first stage was fantastic. I labored in different positions, walked, got on all fours. After they broke my water at 4cm, everything spiraled. I requested IV drugs to “take the edge off” but little did I know  the “edge” was nothing compared to pitocin-induced contractions. Still, I powered through because “Hey, my body was made for this, right?!”

Not even an hour later, I made my second request: nitrous gas to further “take that edge off.” I remember losing it, feeling like I wasn’t even in my own body, and that something else had taken over. Pain and fear (LOTS of fear!). The nitrous did nothing, but made me feel lost and even more unpresent in the birth of my daughter

My mother was in the room with me, and she was able to get me to find myself in her eyes (something I am beyond grateful for). I figured it would only be a matter of time before it was over, until I was checked and informed that I was “still barely a seven” and I lost it even more.

I was terrified of the pain, and it had completely taken me over. The LAST thing I wanted was an epidural, yet, not to much surprise, “Epidural!” was my next request.

My requests were becoming much more like demands, and I recall apologizing in between attacks on my support team and nurses. I felt horrible that I could not control myself. The epidural took centuries to start working (only 10 minutes) and I finally had peace… I was back!

My boyfriend and I (BLESS his heart) decided we’d take a short nap to rest up for the next few hours of labor, only to be awakened 15 minutes later by a nurse to set my catheter. In doing so, she discovered I was 10 centimeters!! I gave a light push and she felt baby come down! So at 3:30am exactly, I began pushing.

I felt relief, I felt empowerment, I did NOT feel pain! Thirteen minutes and just three pushes later, my 7 lb 6 oz baby was born, with zero complications.

Kaitlyn Medford

My story is long, but it is empowering to me. Yes, I got an epidural. Yes, I went against what I said I wanted the entire pregnancy. But with the point I was at, it was what both my baby and I needed! We needed a quick breath and a power nap so we could work together.

I faced my biggest fear, which wasn’t a natural child birth, but a drug induced child birth and the use of an epidural.

So for that, I am proud. I am strong.

{Submitted by Kaitlyn Medford}

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