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“I’m Done Now, God.” A Home Birth Experience

“I’m Done Now, God.” A Home Birth Experience

I was completely in charge of my pregnancy. Such a wonderfully intimate experience between myself and my baby, God, and our family. Although yes, it was empowering, that is not at all why I do it. I do my pregnancies, and births, and babies this way because this is the choice my husband and I confidently make for our family. This was my third pregnancy, second unassisted birth, first unassisted pregnancy. We did not know the sex of the baby or an exact “due date”.

Hurricane Matthew was pressing in on Florida and I could not have been more relaxed…considering I was full term and possibly could have the baby in the middle of it. Hubby seemed stressed about the water situation and no heat or light. I was prepped to fill the tub and birth pool, got extra drinking water, and said my prayers. The night of Thursday, October 6th, Matthew began its landfall on us. I definitely felt something in me going on but wasn’t sure what. I did enough research to know that there was some truth about the barometric pressures ‘inducing’ labor in some women. I knew this could be it but didn’t want to get my hopes up so I just stayed calm about it all. That night I woke up in the midst of the storm, trees cracking and coming down outside as the storm beat on us, and I was having some major contractions. I stayed in bed and rocked my hips. The contractions stopped after a bit but there was a strange uncomfortableness. The baby was active and turning…yes, full on turning his body around. Ow. I just laid there. I didn’t feel the need to get up and wanted to listen to my body and baby; I felt no urgency. With the storm outside, it was calming in a way. I spent a lot of that time praying for everyone, for us, but a lot for those out there that needed it. Man this hurts. The baby started to settle down. I felt so tired but just kept praying; I fell asleep praying. Then I woke up the next day (still pregnant). So, did the baby turn head down last night, or breach…

Friday morning I awoke feeling inside my head. The baby was not showing signs of coming Earth side despite my feelings of exhaustion, and the immense heavy weight in my lower belly and vagina. I texted my husband in a state of desperation. I let him know that I had recalculated my “due date” and was obviously wrong the first time. The baby wasn’t going to be coming until October 16. At first he laughed. I told him that there was no way the baby was coming now if it didn’t come in the midst of a hurricane, so it was obvious I did my math wrong. There were no signs of labor at all. I didn’t feel as if anything was happening anytime soon, and although it was just an estimation anyway I just knew, down right knew, that we had more time… or more so knew nothing was my choice and finally surrender to God any ounce of control I pretended to have. He said he understood and supported me so if next week was it then we’d be ready for next week. As soon as he said that I relaxed; just completely relaxed with no timeline in my head. I felt sooo much better.

I went on about my day as normal. Nothing stands out in my mind about the rest of the day. After dinner and the girls bedtime routine (our 4 and 2-year-old), hubby and I sat down to watch a movie. As the movie went on I started feeling my normal uncomfortableness in my belly. This was a nightly occurrence for at least the last month if not two. My pelvis was killing me at this point and I was sure the thing was just going to snap in half any day now! It was pretty routine at this point that I’d start to feel those pains almost constantly, but especially in the evening… Then I felt some gas and needed to use the restroom. I let a little bit of my bowels go. When I wiped I saw some mucus and blood on the toilet paper. I knew it was my mucus plug, but also knew that it could be lost and regenerated, or be lost over a long period of time. I had been losing bits of it the entire last trimester, so in no way was labor immanent…mind you this was the first time there was spotting with it. So I returned to the couch.

After another 10 minutes or so I had to use the restroom again and let some more bowels go. I returned to the couch feeling a slight tummy ache. Hmmm, did I eat something weird or something didn’t settle right. When I returned to the couch this time, I felt the tummy ache had a rhythm that I unconsciously was rocking to. I laid on the couch just rocking my hips with small thrusts when I felt the uncomfortableness come on. I had to use the bathroom again but was stalling because I didn’t want to keep pausing the movie. Hubby asked if I was okay….I guess he noticed the rocking. I just nodded. Then felt nauseous and said no while I got up and went to the bathroom. I let some more bowels go with more urgency and pain this time. Hubby came into the bathroom and asked if I was alright. I told him what had been happening. He asked “are we having a baby tonight!?” with so much enthusiasm in his voice.

I scoffed, “No, even if I was in labor, it could be a day before a baby comes and I don’t even think I’m in labor yet. And I still feel the baby moving around.” I thought I read that babies get quiet before labor….didn’t I…?

I wiped and went back to the living room. I started the movie again. “I just want to finish this movie.” I was thinking; it was almost over and it was intriguing. I couldn’t sit on the couch anymore though. It was obvious I was having surges at this point. I grabbed my birth ball and sat on that through some surges rocking my hips, swaying, doing the figure 8 with my hips. It helped relax me between them but when the surges came I didn’t like it. I stood and then was squatting through one. Hubby was looking at me crazy and I said “I don’t know what to do.”

Then I decided to just kneel on the floor and hang my chest over the ball and rock that way. I could feel my body needed to be opened. That image of the flower bud opening kept popping into my head. I was on my knees but with them spread apart as far as I could get them. I was feeling kind of euphoric…and yet uncomfortable. I was dizzy, but not like the dizzy when you fall over; I had goosebumps and tingles all over my body.

Dang it, I had to use the restroom again. Hubby followed me in. He then proceeded to tell me that if I thought I was having the baby then he needed to set things into motion at work and make some phone calls. I was kind of ignoring him at this point. I didn’t want to be rushed, or put on a timeline. I told him “I’m not ready to say I’m in labor yet.” He still had this kid in a candy store smile slapped across his face when I looked up at him and I burst into a giggle looking at him. Then another one came…ouch! I realized that when the surge came I was gripping the towel bar and corner of the wall. I tried to stand but was frozen on the toilet and knew I couldn’t stay there. I immediately looked at him when it passed and said, “It’s real now. I’m in labor. Go get the pool ready!” I think my subconscious knew it wasn’t going to be long.

Hubby headed off to our bedroom. I went back to the living room. I texted my sister, “I think I’m in labor. Ssshhhh.”

Then I called my friend who was coming to photograph the experience for me. She lives an hour and fifteen minutes from me and we were concerned that she might not make it in time to catch the birth. My last birth was five and a half hours and I thought I had more time during that one. So this time we agreed at the first sign I’d let her know. She answered “is it time?”

I told her yes, then a surge came, moaning and breathing, then told her “Please come now.”

She asked how long I’d been in labor. I said just a little bit and she said “I’m on my way, wait until I get there.”

All I could say was, “Okay but leave now and hurry.” Again, all these little signs that I knew it wasn’t going to be long. It was 10:20ish when I called.

I walked to our bedroom, turned some lights off, made a water and essential oil mix for a wash cloth on my head, instructed hubby on a couple of things I wanted, then went to the restroom again but nothing was there except gas. I immediately got into the pool. Finally, some peace down there.

It felt so wonderful submerging my bottom and belly. The water covered over me and just washed away so much of that intensity. I gazed up at my birth affirmations on the wall and saw dead center, one that said “God is with me.” I immediately started praying. Not a prayer of dear Lord please help me…but a conversation. From that moment on I was in full dialogue with God. Just praising Him, thanking Him, asking Him for strength. The water felt like his warm arms wrapped around me. I felt so loved, so supported. Thinking back on that time brings tears to my eyes and goosebumps knowing how close I was with Him. How loved I am by Him.

Hubby started my playlist. “Ugh, it’s too loud.” Song playing. “Ugh, I don’t like that song.”

The way I was laying in the pool I could only see my candles and birth affirmations. I have no idea where my dear hubby was or what he was doing, and yet he was always right there. I would just say what I needed and it would happen. The volume was adjusted, the song changed, a straw with water in my mouth, a soothing hand towel on my forehead, a hand to hold. As each surge came I would rock, sway, breathe, talk with God. I know I voiced out loud a few times my conversation with Him. The surges were sooooo intense. I only remember them this intense with my last during transition and yet here I was an hour and a half in and owww! At certain points the surges were pushing me to the point of pain, almost breaking me. I’d whimper and ask for help, and I’d feel God there, holding me up where I was faltering in my strength. My wonderful, amazingly supportive husband reminded me to breath, to let it pass, to let it go, to exhale. His strong low voice spoke at the exact times I needed it. How amazing God is to provide the support we need, to guide us and all those around us, when we just submit to Him and trust in Him and His process.

My girlfriend showed up right around two hours into labor. I remember faintly hearing her and hubby speaking, whispering. I opened my eyes (which are often closed while I labor) and smiled at her. We exchanged pleasantries and a couple quick questions…and then a surge started. I closed my eyes and started swaying in the water with my very low moan. Then I felt hands on my arm and shoulder. It was like my spirit was yanked back into my body, back into all that pain, I felt pulled away from that heavenly place. Then I heard hubby’s voice and the touching stopped. He took the time to explain to her that I like to pretty much be left alone and that I am vocal with anything I do need so only step in when I ask. My sweet friend, she was so understanding and respectful. My hubby knew she was trying to be helpful but also knew me and protected my space. I really was blessed with those two being present for me during this time.

I felt very uncomfortable with some surges, getting painful, painful enough that I started bargaining with God. “Uh oh, I’m done now, God. Please just get me through this birth. I don’t really want four or five children, I don’t want to do this again. I don’t want to feel this immense pain. I don’t want to be so out of control. Please, God.”

I asked hubby to put some essential oils on me. I was feeling the need to move and started trying different positions to ease some of the pain. I felt like my hips needed to be opened more. I flipped around on my knees and leaned over the pool. I had to be close and if not I needed to be because I. Was. Done. Then I tried the bed but it was awful. I knew as soon as I crawled onto it how wrong it was. I backed off and then was crouched on the floor at the foot of the bed and pool. This is getting painful. I need to go to the bathroom again.

{let’s pause for a commercial break} Since we’re sharing, let’s get personal for a moment. I have a fear. And that fear is very real for me. This fear causes me to run to the bathroom at the slightest bit of pressure down there. You know what I’m talking about. How “they” say “Lots, if not most women will pass a bowel movement on themselves while giving birth’. I know this. I’m not ashamed of this. I’ve known mommas who have done this, and I never even batted an eye at it. But apparently… I am terrified of pooping on myself. Yup. And my dear wonderful husband, bless his heart. He supported my every step in and out of that pool, in and out of the bathroom, every single time I crouch on that toilet. He stands there and holds my hand as I sit, then helps me up and walks me back. Mind you I haven’t actually passed any bowels since labor started and I was watching the movie. Since I’ve been in my bedroom and in the pool all I’ve done is gone into that cold ceramic room that echoes! to release massive amounts of gas. Such a good man that guy. So…

Off to the bathroom I go. Gas. Back to the room. I tell hubby I need him. Holding on to his arms I just start squatting. No idea why. I just decide now is a great time for a glute workout I guess. Oh the intensity. Now he’s pretty much holding me up and I’m turning into jello. I start whimpering and whining. Everything was so very intense. But it felt so intense right from the start and I just couldn’t imagine it getting harder. Back in the pool. But wait. Dang it, I have to go to the bathroom again.

As we go into the toilet closet hubby holds my hands and squats in front of me while I lower myself down. POP and GUSH!!! All over this wonderful, supportive, patient, kind man. Yup. but ohhh, excitement, my water just broke. Now I’m in a half squat just hovering over the toilet. Pain. Oh the pain. A surge and I feel it. I have to push. I need to push. My body is pushing. Oooowwww. The baby’s head is crowning. My husband comments on the presence of hair. My hand is on the head and oh my gosh. “It hurts, it hurts, he’s going to rip me.”

Hubby says “Then don’t let it, breath, pant, breath.” I’m panting. Holding on to the wall I push hard with the next surge. I’m supporting the crowning head, my perineum and clitoris all at the same time while finishing my push. Holy Jesus thank you!!!! The head is out. Whew. But ow. My legs are shaking. Hubby is grinning from ear to ear. I’m frozen. Now holding on to the walls again. A surge is coming. I start shaking and yell.

Hubby says “don’t let him drop in the toilet.”

“Well don’t let him!” and I heave-ho a push with all my might. And another one. Oh My Lord, thank you sweet Lord, my baby is out!!!!! Hubby caught the baby and lifts the little one into my arms while I sit on the toilet. Whoa! Hubby’s giggling. I’m giggling. “Thank you Jesus.”

“Wait, what is it” Hubby says.

“I don’t know, you caught him.”

I lift his leg and move my hand for hubby to see and he yells “It’s a BOY! It’s a boy!” Oh my gosh, my son! I have a son. “Sweet baby boy, thank you Jesus, my sweet baby boy. Oh, my baby boy.”

But my sweet little girls, they missed it. Hubby asked if he should go get them. “Yes, hurry!” Within minutes he brought them in to the bathroom. Rubbing their sleepy little eyes they stared with amazement and absolutely huge smiles. Hubby tells them with so much excitement that they have a little brother. We oooo-ed and awww-ed for a bit in the bathroom and then I felt the surge for the placenta. Ouch! I’ve got to get to the pool again. Everyone helps me to the pool while I hold the baby. I get in and relax. My little girls kept kissing me, rubbing my head and shoulders, giving me water. I can’t get over how unbelievably tender these two little girls were that night. We just had such a sweet time together gazing at the wonderful gift from God we just received. They looked at his adorable little toes and fingers; touched his hair and little ears; listened to his soft but oh so sweet little cries; gave me blankets and towels to cover the baby with. My heart was so full and just gushing with love in those moments.

But oh, those pains. The surges for my placenta were really strong! And after just giving birth I just felt so done. I gently explored the umbilical cord and gave it a slight pull to see if there was any give…nothing. I needed these surges to get that sucker out. I prayed for the placenta to let go and come. I gave the baby to my girlfriend while she hovered next to the pool and I did some squatting, went pee in the water, and a tiny bit of tugging while pushing (the tiniest bit, I know my body well) all while being as close to the edge of the pool as I could be because the cord was not that long. Finally it plopped out. It took an hour and forty minutes. Whew. Now I can relax.

After exploring the placenta and teaching my girls about it the baby and I got out of the pool and got all wrapped up on the bed. Nice and comfy. The girls took turns holding their brother. Hubby cleaned up a bit and joined us in bed after putting the girls back to sleep. Wow, I have a boy. I finally have a little boy. Blessed by God, such a wonderful and amazing God we have. I can’t get over how fast it all went; and how intense it was. And yet I made it through, and our little boy is now here. Zechariah Krzysztof Rogowski. Born October 8th, 2016 at 1:35 am. He was my biggest baby weighing 8 pounds and 6 ounces, and a whopping 21.5 inches long. Our family is complete.

The moment hubby caught and handed the baby to me
Our sweet baby boy, Zechariah
Our girls admiring their new brother

Birth experience submitted by Amanda Rogowski.

Pictures taken by Jennifer Last of Jennifer Last Photography.

An Unplanned, Unassisted Home VBAC

An Unplanned, Unassisted Home VBAC

My birth story begins three years ago when at 35 weeks pregnant we discovered, much to our surprise, our baby girl was in a frank breech position. Following a consult with maternal-fetal-medicine (MFM), we ultimately decided against moving forward with an external cephalic version (ECV) and instead opted to wait and see if she would turn on her own. Unfortunately, as the weeks passed, baby girl remained snug inside, head up and bottom down. Not once did the option of a vaginal breech birth present itself and I was told the protocol was to schedule a cesarean section at 39 weeks. Although I hadn’t made any specific plans for an intervention-free or non-medicated birth (my personal philosophy was a more “go-with-the-flow” approach), something deep inside me (call it a mother’s intuition) told me labor was an important part of the birth process for me and for baby, even if it ended in a surgical delivery.

Although maternal-fetal-medicine supported us in not doing the ECV and instead awaiting spontaneous labor, my regular OB was not supportive of our wishes threatened me to either schedule a cesarean or sign a waiver (“Against Medical Advice”). I left that appointment feeling bullied, powerless and unheard. Eventually, after push-back from my end along with the support from my MFM OB, my regular OB backed off and agreed to us awaiting labor as an acceptable alternative to scheduling a cesarean at 39 weeks.

At 40 weeks and 1 day I woke around 3 o’clock in the morning to a ping in my stomach that resembled a period cramp. I told my husband I thought I might be in labor but that he could keep sleeping since it would probably be awhile until we’d need to head out for the hospital. Around 6am I decided to call the hospital when my contractions were about seven and a half minutes apart. By the time we got checked into triage at 7:05am contractions were closer and a lot more intense. It had been about four hours since my first labor pain; after a cervical check, the attending OB shouted out, “She’s an eight!” From there, I was prepped swiftly for labor and delivery and although my OB told me she didn’t have time to check me again, she said she suspected I was nine to ten centimeters dilated. My beautiful daughter was born in a belly birth with Apgar scores of nine and nine. She weighed 6 lbs., 3 oz., and measured 18.5 inches long. Surgery was respectful and straightforward; the OB explained to me what she was doing at every junction; she even told me as she sewed me up I was “the perfect candidate for a VBAC.” I knew my body could birth a baby and I was already planning my VBAC in my head.

Skipping forward nine months, I watched the movie The Business of Being Born for the first time. I was so moved by the film that it spurred me to search out more information about midwifery care and natural childbirth. The more I read and watched, the more and more I realized how little I actually knew about birth and maternity care in the United States. I was more determined than ever to attempt a vaginal birth when I fell pregnant again (which I did another ten months down the road) and I knew I had to re-educate myself if I really had a fair shot at a trial of labor and a VBAC.

When I found out we were pregnant again in March 2016 my next big step was changing providers; I switched from the OB practice I had been with while pregnant with my daughter to a midwife practice. As part of my care plan, I was required to meet with an OB from the midwives’ consulting obstetrician group. I specifically scheduled a meeting with the head OB from that group who I had heard good things about and who I was told was very VBAC-friendly. Upon reviewing my health records, the first question he asked me was, “So, why didn’t you have a vaginal breech birth the last time?” My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe he had asked me that since the topic never came up once as a possible option. I knew this time around I was with the right group of providers; a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I felt I could finally start to enjoy my pregnancy.

From that point on, my pregnancy progressed much like my first (complication-free and uneventful). Starting around 14 weeks I began doing twice-weekly prenatal yoga to ensure better body balancing in hopes of giving baby the best chance of getting into an optimal position. Around 30 weeks I started seeing a chiropractor certified in the Webster technique one to two times a week for adjustments. Baby luckily got into a head-down position around 28 weeks and we never looked back. During this time, we also hired a doula/birth photographer. In the final weeks before my baby was to be born, I felt I was as prepared as I possibly could be for a trial of labor and knew every single person on board supported me and believed in me. Although I felt deep down in my core I was going to have a VBAC, I still came to peace with the possibility of having another cesarean section (I even created an amazing cesarean birth plan if we needed it).

My “due date” of 11/24/16 came and passed along with the Thanksgiving holiday. We had family in town and everyone was excited and eager to meet our new addition to the family. I had been having increasing Braxton-Hicks contractions the couple of days surrounding the holiday, but nothing that took up a consistent pattern. Early morning on 11/27/16 I woke up around 3:30am with period-like cramps. I got up and decided to start timing to see if these were the real thing or just pre-labor. I woke my husband and told him I was going to the living room for a while to time them and I’d come wake him if it looked like they were turning into something more consistent. After timing contractions for about an hour, I texted my doula to let her know I was awake and contracting but that there was no distinct pattern. She suggested I have some water and lay down to see if they might go away. I took my doula’s advice and eventually contractions dissipated around 6am and I was able to catch a couple of hours of sleep before getting up again to officially start the day.

I woke again around 8:30am on 11/27/16 and contractions picked back up soon after, although still spaced out and not very intense. I called my doula in the morning and gave her an update. We decided since they were still infrequent and mild to keep an eye on them to see if they would turn into something more consistent. Around 1pm my husband, daughter and I headed out for afternoon brunch. At around 2pm while at brunch, the contractions started to become more uncomfortable, coming about every fifteen to twenty minutes. This is when I suspected it was the real thing. My doula called me while at brunch and I filled her in. Since contractions were still fifteen minutes apart, we decided to stay in touch about progress. She suggested I go for a walk and see how they progressed from there.

After brunch we gathered our daughter and decided to head to a nearby reservoir that also had a big play area and park. It was an absolutely picturesque fall afternoon; it was crisp and cool and the sun was shining. The multi colored leaves on the trees provided a beautiful fall back-drop to my labor. After we got parked and unloaded, we enjoyed a stroll and fed the ducks in the park. As contractions got more painful, I began to hang back a bit from my husband and daughter to work through them. From behind, I watched them playfully frolic in the afternoon sun as I labored. As we made our way for the play area in the park, the contractions began to intensify and started getting closer (about thirteen minutes apart). As we approached the playground, I told my husband I was going to follow behind them so as not to cause concern for my daughter. As they came and went, I began my deep breathing, moaning, and movement to handle the intense sensations; I was squatting on park benches and leaning on park structures while swaying my hips from side-to-side. After arriving at the play area, I continued to explore on my own; I remember watching the colorful skyline and thinking that the energy I was feeling was helping to bring my baby into this world.

Around this time, I felt as though I couldn’t be in public any longer and needed to go home. I tracked down my husband at that point and told him we needed to go soon; I asked for the key and told him I’d be waiting for him and my daughter in the car. Once in the car, I texted my doula that we were heading home and that contractions were about nine to eleven minutes apart. During the fifteen to twenty minutes I waited for my family, I had to get out of the car to work through my contractions; I squatted and held onto the car’s frame near the foot of the car and moaned deeply as they came and went.

On the way home I had several other intense contractions that required me to unbuckle my seatbelt in order to move through the surges. I knew this was the real thing and we were having a baby that day. As we approached our home, I told my husband that since my contractions were still rather far apart (about ten minutes) we still had some time and so I wanted him to take my daughter out for a car ride to see if he could get her to nap before we left her with my cousin to head to the hospital. Once we pulled into our garage, my husband told me he needed to run up quickly to use the bathroom; in the ten to fifteen minutes I waited in the car with my daughter, I had another strong contraction that required me to get out of the car. Once my husband got back to the car, I said goodbye to him and my daughter and told him I’d call him when it was time for him to come back home. As he headed out with my daughter I hurried up the stairs to get our final items together for the hospital. I also called my doula and told her contractions were about seven to eight, minutes apart by that time but were very intense. She said most likely today was going to be the day and that I should start making the necessary calls to arrange for my daughter’s care. She also said I should try to relax and use the last little bit of time before we left to reflect on my pregnancy journey. After I hung up, I plugged in our Christmas lights that hung across our living room windows; as I was about to put on some relaxing music. Then I had a monster contraction that shook me to my core; all of a sudden I felt a trickle of fluid and then a full gush; it was my water! Simultaneously, I felt a major shift inside of me – the baby was crowning and I was home…alone.

As the physical sensation overtook me, a moment of panic set in; I guided myself down to the living room floor into a side-lying position; I quickly spotted my cell phone on the couch and reached for it immediately. I dialed my doula to let her know my water had broken and the baby was coming. Sensing the panic and urgency in my voice, my doula told me she would be there in five minutes (luckily, she literally lives five minutes from me). I told her the front door to our apartment building was locked, but to ring every neighbor’s bell and that someone had to be home who could let her in. As I laid on my side, my contractions started to space out. I reached my hand down and could feel the top of my baby’s head; I could feel he had some hair and remembered that my daughter was also born with hair. There he was! Right there! I knew this VBAC was going to happen.

I then called my husband. Twice. But he didn’t pick up. So then I called my cousin who was supposed to watch our daughter when we went to the hospital. She answered, and I immediately blurted out, “the baby’s coming!” I also told her the baby was crowning and that I couldn’t get a hold of my husband; she told me she was on the way before I hung up and tried calling my husband again (to no avail). In that moment, I realized I needed to calm down and pull myself together. I told myself someone would be there soon, but that it was likely I was going to have to deliver my baby on my own. I knew I needed to be focused for my baby and remember telling myself to breath, that I needed to be there for him. Then, I remembered the breathing exercises I had learned in my prenatal yoga classes. I found my calm and tried to take some good, deep, cleansing breaths.

During this time, my cousin called me back and stayed on the phone with me as my body began to push. I remember my cousin trying to help me with words of encouragement while I started pushing, but she was understandably at a loss for words and just continued to listen from the other end of the phone. Then, all of a sudden, I heard a pounding on the door – it was my doula. The college-age girls that live across the hallway from us had let her in our building, but I had forgotten the door to our apartment was locked as well and my doula didn’t have a key! She shouted that the door was locked and that she needed me to let her in, but, at that point, there was no way I could physically stand up to let her in; the baby coming then and there and my body was pushing all on its own. Locked out on the other side of the door, my doula continued to talk to me. When she realized I was bearing down, she told my neighbors to call 911 for an ambulance. At a certain point, I stopped registering the words she was speaking and completely focused in on the task at hand. It wasn’t more than another push and my son’s head came out. Almost simultaneously the rest of his slippery little body followed. Incredibly, in that moment I don’t remember feeling any pain but rather relief. As he slipped out and softly landed on the carpeted living room floor, he began to immediately cry; I remember being so incredibly amazed that he came out of me so quickly and easily; the second I saw him land softly on the carpet, I scooped him up and shouted to him, “I got you! I got you!” I brought him immediately to my chest, hugging him tightly since I didn’t want to drop him (he was so wet and slippery!).

Then, it was as if my mind transported back from whatever far- off planet it had traveled to during the delivery, and I heard my doula ask me, whenever I could manage, to get up to unlock the door to let her in. After drying my feet, I quickly headed for the front door. In almost the same motion, I unlocked the door and headed back to the living room floor to lay down with my baby boy. My doula came in with the happiest glow on her face; she quickly helped guide me back down to the carpet and grabbed me two pillows from the sofa to help prop my head up. She also grabbed the throw blanket off the sofa and thoughtfully covered me up while doing a very quick check down below to make sure I wasn’t showing signs of excessive postpartum bleeding. After a quick glance over, she told me we both looked great and that the paramedics were on the way. She kept telling me how awesome I was, how proud she was of me, and what a rock star I was. She also assisted me with our first breastfeeding session, and the energy in the room was incredibly peaceful and serene. I felt an immense sense of calm and accomplishment that we both felt as we waited there for the paramedics.

As we waited, my doula warned me that when the paramedics got there it could be a little crazy; luckily, though, when the paramedics arrived (about ten minutes after the birth of my son) they were incredibly calm and professional (because both my doula and I were calm and everything was stable). The three older men looked me over to make sure I wasn’t showing any signs of hemorrhaging; luckily, other than the blood from the delivery, I wasn’t bleeding. They also looked at the baby and saw he was breathing great and was pink in color. One of them even commented that you never see babies look that good after birth. When it came time to cut my son’s cord (all of his cord blood had transferred by that point), I asked the paramedic if my doula could cut the cord instead; he had no problem with letting her cut the cord, and she happily accepted the honor.

After a few more moments, my husband arrived with my daughter in tow and my cousin arrived just a few minutes later. As I glanced up at my husband, I could see my daughter, fast asleep on his shoulder. Within a minute or two, my daughter awoke in a sort of fog; she was quiet but curious about the strangers in our home but did not appear scared or frightened. It was at that moment I especially appreciated the calm and professional demeanor of the first responders. Then, I could hear my husband ask my daughter if she wanted to see her brother; without hesitation, said, “Yeah!” She gave him a look over as the paramedics got my son buckled into his car seat and got me strapped onto the gurney. As we arrived at the hospital, I was greeted with the same professionalism and calm from the ER team. After a quick look-over, my son was returned to my arms; I was congratulated and told he was beautiful and perfect before they took me to my labor and delivery room to deliver the placenta. Once in my room, the team began to transfer me to a bed from the gurney when, all of a sudden, I felt a dull but intense cramp that pushed out my placenta. Finally, the sense of relief was immense and I realized not only did I birth my son without drugs, but my placenta too!

Although I had not planned for an unassisted home VBAC, I felt I was as prepared mentally, emotionally, and physically as anyone could be for this kind of experience. I am in absolute awe of the female body and am certain all women have the same instinct and ability to birth their babies unhindered just as I did. The love and respectful care I received from the first responders, medical team, doula and my family was priceless and I wish that for all birthing women, everywhere, under all circumstances. I have never felt more, powerful, capable, womanly, transformed and healed as I have as a result of this birth. I hope, if anything, my experience shows other moms who are on their VBAC journey that their bodies are not broken and that we all have the intuition and strength to birth naturally.

Birth story submitted by Erin D.

Photographs by Jessica Thomas of Under My Heart Birth Services.

Selah’s Birth Story

Selah’s Birth Story

Autumn shares with us the birth story of her fifth child.

“Honey, we are pregnant!”

And just like that, baby number five was on the way. Actually, it had taken over a year of trying after number four, but once that test showed positive, I was ecstatic. I’m sort of a pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding junkie, and we always wanted a big family (but perhaps at some point I should get a new hobby or become a midwife – someday!).

All of my births were incredible journeys of learning, experiencing the power within myself, discovering strength I didn’t know I had, and wonder at meeting a new human. My first birth was a planned unmedicated hospital birth; but I was young, uneducated and I ended up falling prey to their cascade of interventions. So for number two I educated myself, hired a doula and had a textbook wonderful, unmedicated hospital birth.

For number three, I decided I wanted a home birth. At 32 weeks, I started having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions and went into labor at 36 weeks and two days. It was a beautiful, empowering and life-changing experience. At that moment, I decided I always wanted to birth my babies at home; but rarely does life go as planned. I went into preterm labor with number four at 32 weeks, and was admitted to the hospital. They were able to stop me from progressing with medication, but the contractions themselves wouldn’t stop. I was released from the hospital on medication and instructed to be on modified bed rest (Ha! I was a mother to three other children…but I did my best.) From 32 weeks until my water broke at 38 weeks I literally contracted every five minutes – even on medication. I think my body was exhausted.

My water broke spontaneously at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning with no contractions. My husband was only comfortable waiting for labor to begin for 24 hours. So when it didn’t, we headed to the hospital, got some Pitocin, and two hours later without any other medication, I was holding baby number four in my arms. I then proceeded to hemorrhage, and things got a little crazy. Number four’s birth was a little traumatic and went nothing like the plan, but it was still oh so worth it. So when I found out I was pregnant with number five (which is supposed to be our last), I was set on another home birth. I envisioned a perfect birth with a midwife and a photographer capturing all the intimate moments so I could treasure them for a lifetime. And this was my last shot at it!

First on my agenda was to locate a midwife, and then hire a birth photographer. Since we are a military family, all my babies have been born in different states; so I’ve never had the opportunity to have the same midwife with any of my babies. So I located a midwife and began seeing her. Through a misunderstanding on my part at thirty weeks, I realized that I needed a CNM for my insurance to help cover the home birth. So I contacted a different midwife, and she was willing to take me so late in my pregnancy. I loved her. I had never really “clicked” with my first midwife, but after the first time talking with our new midwife I loved her. She felt like the perfect match for our family. The only drawback in my mind was that she lived over an hour away; and we live in the Washington, DC area, so traffic can turn any drive into a much longer adventure.

At 32 weeks again, my Braxton Hicks contractions started in fierce. Given my history, we monitored them closely and I rested as much as possible. I tried all sorts of different strategies to try to keep the contractions down to a minimum. I absolutely did not want to go into preterm labor. I desperately wanted to make it to at least 36 weeks, if not longer; so I was willing to try anything that would help. My mom decided to come when I was 34 weeks to help with the other children and around the house. I homeschool my older kids, so “resting” during the day isn’t very easy. Once we made it to 36 weeks, my mother-in-law decided to go ahead and fly in so she could be at the birth as well.

Two days before my 37-week visit with the midwife, my contractions picked up in intensity and frequency. As the day progressed, they got closer and stronger. I tucked all my little ones in bed around 7 p.m. and then went to take a bath. By about 9 p.m. that night, my contractions were about three minutes apart and a little longer than a minute in duration, and I even a little bit of bloody show; so I called the midwife. In my mind I thought, “This is it!” (I should know what labor is, right? This is baby, number five after all).

My midwife checked back in about an hour later and the contractions were still going strong. She decided to go ahead and come over. Her assistant arrived first and started taking my vitals and helping me through the contractions. Shortly after the midwife arrived, the photographer arrived as well. The contractions were strong enough that it was difficult to talk through them. Then, about three hours after everyone arrived, they just stopped. We waited all night and nothing happened. So the next morning everyone left, thinking that my labor would probably start later that night again.

But nothing happened. My contractions just went back to their regular pattern. About a week later, this happened again. My 38-week appointment rolled around and everything looked great. Physically and emotionally, I was tired due to all the contractions, but baby was doing great. Then 39 weeks came and went as well. By this point, I was so ready to have this baby. I wasn’t sleeping well due to all the contractions, my hips were so sore, and I was tired of wondering, “Is this it?” My best friend had flown in for this week because we were sure baby would be here. But alas, my friend had to get back home to her family while there was still no baby.

At 40 weeks, my midwife arrived at my house for another weekly check. I had all my supplies ready, baby was doing well, and the grandmas were still at our house waiting for baby to arrive. At this point I was not feeling confident in my ability to be able to “know” when I was truly in labor. We had had several “this is it” calls, only to be disappointed… This was baby number five and I still couldn’t figure this out!

My midwife ad I had talked many times about what I envisioned the birth to be, what I wanted, and so forth. My biggest fear for the birth was that my midwife wouldn’t make it in time. I did not want to birth my baby without my midwife there. Especially since I had hemorrhaged after my fourth. We talked extensively about what to do if I had the baby before she got there. I felt so relieved; and for the first time, I felt at peace with the possibility of doing it without the midwife there. I still didn’t want it to happen that way, but I felt prepared in the event that it did. We parted ways with a hug, and a 41-week visit scheduled.

Before bed that night, my contractions had moved a little closer together, but I was not concerned since this had happened many times before. I honestly didn’t even give it a second thought. At 4:30 a.m. on March 23, 2016, I woke up to a contraction. I also needed to go pee, so I decided to get out of bed. While going to the bathroom, I noticed a little bit of bloody show. But again, this had all happened before in the few weeks prior. So I decided to lie back down. I lay down for about 20 minutes and had a couple more contractions, but I just couldn’t get comfortable due to my hips hurting. They had been bothering me so much over the course of the last few weeks of pregnancy.

Most mornings, I had been getting up at around 5 a.m. because it hurt too much to lie in bed any longer. So I slipped out of bed without waking my husband up, and decided to go downstairs and eat something. I made myself some eggs; and while doing that, I had a few more contractions. These contractions maybe felt a little stronger than my normal everyday Braxton Hicks contractions, but were nothing close to being painful. I went upstairs and decided to read. After about 30 minutes I decided to give the midwife a call; it was about 5:30 a.m., since the contractions were coming about every 5 minutes now. They still were not painful or unbearable, but I was still having a little bloody show. I figured we would have the baby sometime that day, perhaps around noonish.

I unlocked the front door and made my way upstairs to get in the bath to see if that would slow the contractions down. Before I got in, I thought I should wake my husband up, just to let him know what was going on. He immediately sat up and was ready to go. I reassured him he should just get more sleep as I didn’t need anything at this point, and told him I just wanted to let him know the front door was open and that the midwife would be there in about an hour. He insisted he wanted to get up, and I finally agreed.

Before I had gone downstairs to eat, I had set up the video camera just in case this was it. This was my last baby, and I did not want to miss getting it on camera. It was about 6 a.m. now and my tub was full of warm water. I put my sports bra on and got in to relax. A few minutes after I got in the tub, I had a contraction and I felt my water break. I immediately knew this was REAL labor and that this baby was coming fast. As soon as my water broke, I felt like I needed to push and I knew she was really close to being born. Mind you, less than five minutes before this I was reassuring my husband he could stay in bed because I didn’t even know if I was really in labor.

As soon as my water broke, I felt intense pressure. I screamed for my husband to get back in the bathroom, call the midwife, and press record on the camera. In my mind I knew the midwife wasn’t going to make it, but I was hoping she had somehow miraculously covered a large distance and was about ready to turn onto our street. But that wasn’t the case. She was still a little over thirty minutes away. We decided she would stay on the phone with us. As we were waiting for another contraction, she asked if I had called the photographer. SHOOT! Given the fact that I wasn’t sure this was it and then now the craziness, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. I texted the photographer to tell her that I was in labor and that she should get there fast. She texted back saying she was on her way.

I had another contraction, and it was all I could do to keep from pushing. The contractions were so strong and powerful all of a sudden. My husband was a nervous wreck. He kept pacing; and all I wanted was for him to hold my hand. I did not want to have this baby by myself. The midwife wanted him to go get a few things ready, but I did not want him to leave me. At around this time, another powerful contraction began. The midwife was talking me through it, but about halfway through I could no longer hold off on pushing. My body just took over; and my daughter’s head was born. The midwife continued calmly talking with us, and I just patiently waited in the water for the next contraction. Even over the phone, our midwife was calm, collected, confident, and reassuring and a source of comfort for me. Her confidence and reassurance translated to a level of peace and confidence in my heart and mind.

The next contraction came at 6:15 a.m. and our fifth baby – our second daughter – joined us earth side just 15 minutes after my water had broken and I realized I really was in labor. She slid into my arms, and I immediately brought her to my chest. It was the most surreal moment. She snuggled in, and within a few moments let out her first cry. What a relief. I had done it. Selah Grace was here, and we were now a family of seven. Just my husband and I were at her birth. My mom, his mom, and our four older children had no idea the baby had been born.

Since the midwife was still about 30 minutes away, we decided to go get my husband’s mom to come assess my bleeding since she was a labor and delivery nurse. She told us she was in shock when he came back downstairs and told him the baby was here. She made her way up the stairs and monitored the situation until the midwife arrived. While we waited for the midwife I tried to get my new little one to nurse, but she was happy to just stare at me and listen to me talk to her.

The midwife arrived, the placenta was born, and everyone finally made it in our room to meet the new addition to the family. The photographer had also arrived so she was able to at least capture these moments. It was so beautiful to have all my children in bed with me marveling at our newest baby. She finally decided it was time to eat and she was a champ from the get go at breastfeeding. It was magical. Everyone enjoyed the next few hours of skin-to-skin, weighing baby, looking her over, and taking her in for the first time.

Her birth happened so quickly that it took me several weeks – maybe even a few months – to come to terms with it. In some ways, I felt like I couldn’t even process it because it had felt like such a whirlwind. It was peaceful and awe-inspiring, but it was just difficult to wrap my mind around. Now, eight months later, I feel empowered. It was a magical moment being the only ones there, and I realize there was no way for me to guess that it would have happened that quickly.

Photographs by Alhalia Photography.

The Freebirth of Poppy

The Freebirth of Poppy

Kerry shares with us the incredible story of her daughter’s freebirth at home. 

This was my first unassisted pregnancy and planned unassisted birth, after two beautiful midwife- assisted home births. At around 37 weeks I began experiencing intense exhaustion; I couldn’t rest enough. All I wanted to do was sleep, and I felt extremely fatigued. Fast-forward to 38 weeks, and my energy level took a 180. I couldn’t sit still, dragging my poor husband and children out for walks even though it was mid-December and raining in Washington. This continued for a few days. On Sunday, December 13 (38 weeks 5 days pregnant), I stayed home from church, not having slept well the night before. We were in the process of selling our house and packing for a cross-country move, so things were pretty hectic.

1

That Sunday evening, I experienced lots of mild toning contractions; but that was very typical for me.They didn’t increase in intensity, and even though it was typical for my body to do this, I sensed that my body would soon be in labor. I went to bed at around 10:30 p.m. and finally fell asleep at around 12:30 or 1 a.m. A toning contraction woke me at around 1:30; so I emptied my bladder and went back to bed. A strong contraction woke me at 3 a.m.; I went pee, and tried to go back to sleep. Another wave came a few minutes after I’d gotten back in bed, and it was uncomfortable enough that it required me to get on all fours in bed until it passed. I tried to sleep again. This repeated every five minutes or so for half an hour before I decided I wasn’t getting any sleep and it probably was labor – excitement! Yay!

2

I planned to labor quietly on my own until things picked up in intensity before waking Forrest, my husband. This resolve lasted for about 15 minutes before I knew I had to wake him to start filling the pool (my other labors were only four hours long). At 3:45 I sat down next to my sleeping husband and gently shook him, “I’d like the house straightened… Can you help me?” “Right now??” “Yes, right now!” Looking back, I now understand the crazy look he gave me. He tried to go back to sleep, and that’s when I told him that I thought I was in labor. He got up, and began the task of dealing with the pool and hose while I decided it was a good time to sweep the house and change the sheets, having to stop every few minutes to lean against the wall and sway through a contraction.

3

My youngest, 3-year-old Phoebe, had woken up at this point and was meandering about, helping me with the bed and asking why I couldn’t talk and why I had my eyes closed when I leaned against the wall. The waves were picking up in intensity; I got in the shower and let the water run down my back through a few contractions, but wanted to conserve hot water for the pool so I got out quickly. It was around 5 a.m. when the pool started getting filled, and I jumped in as soon as there was a few inches of water in it. Phoebe was still awake and wanting to help, so she got her big cup from the bathtub and brought it to the living room and would take turns with me pouring water over my back or belly when a wave would hit. Forrest continued to fill the tub, having to boil water on the stove since we ran out of hot water pretty quickly. I was able to comfortably labor sitting down while pouring water on my belly till around 6:15 a.m. or so.

4

I was leaning over the side of the tub as Forrest poured water over my back when a double wave hit, and lasted about two minutes or more. The tightening of the previous contractions changed as I felt my body begin to bear down. I was no longer comfortable in one position or sitting still, and became extremely active in the pool, attempting to get into any position to get some relief, vocalizing through each wave. This was the first unmedicated birth Forrest had seen, and also my most vocal; he asked if I was alright and if this was “normal;” “Yes, dear,” I replied, smiling; “It’s normal.” He may have ended up with a bruised calf with how tightly I was holding onto him through some of the waves!

5

I put my hand down expecting to feel a wedge of baby’s head, but there was nothing. Another strong wave passed over me. I felt a bulging bag of water right inside, but the head was still a few inches up behind my cervix. Fetal ejection reflex took over and I had a contraction with my body bearing down as hard as possible. I like to feel my baby continually throughout this stage, so I kept my fingers near baby’s head. Baby’s head didn’t budge, but the bag of water continued to grow/descend. I knew I needed to break the bag to bring baby down, so I pinched it and it emptied into the pool.

6

Another wave hit, and I roared as I felt the baby fully descend into the birth canal and out into my hands in that one wave. It was 6:30 a.m. The tentative plan had been for Forrest to catch, but the baby descended so quickly that I wasn’t able to verbalize what was going on. I sat back and began to pull the baby out of the water; the cord was wrapped once around the neck, so I unwrapped it and brought the baby to my chest. This all happened in a matter of a minute; and Forrest kept saying, “I can’t believe there’s a baby! Just like that!” The baby felt so tiny in my arms! Levi, our oldest at 6 years old, had woken up about 15 minutes before, so two of the kids were standing in the doorway and got to see their baby sibling being born. (And they’ll tell you alllllll about it!) Sadly, we didn’t get any pictures or videos of the birth itself, but we got the gender reveal on video, which I’m grateful for. We were both certain this little one was a boy, but turns out… she was a girl – our third daughter!

7

Baby and I cuddled in the pool for a while, just soaking in this amazing new person in my arms. I finally got out and onto a stool to try to expel the placenta; even though she was nursing, contractions had halted. The stool wasn’t very comfortable so we moved to the toilet and nursed and hung out there for a bit until the placenta delivered. At about 9 a.m. or so we cut the cord, weighed and measured her (she was my smallest baby by quite a bit… no wonder she felt so little!) and spent the rest of the day cuddling in bed. Two days later she finally had a name – Penelope (Poppy) Eileen – after her great grandmother. This pregnancy and birth were such an incredible journey. Trusting my body, learning to listen and be in tune with my baby, and experience the undisturbed wonder of this process that God created so perfectly and that brought our daughter into the world.

8

Penelope Eileen//12-14-15//6:30am//7lbs5oz//19.5″

 

Unexpected Home Delivery

Unexpected Home Delivery

Maria tells the touching story of her daughter’s birth. 

On June 1st at around 7:30 a.m., the day my daughter was born I woke up with cramps and the need to use the bathroom a lot (I thought the spicy chips from the night before had something to do with it since I couldn’t tolerate anything spicy throughout the pregnancy). The cramps kept getting closer together but remained tolerable, and I found that it was better sitting down than laying down.

So I decided to take a shower hoping maybe it would stop, since I had heard baths and showers stop the cramping if it’s fake labor, and speed it up if it’s the real deal. While I was showering, it kept on getting worse and I couldn’t stay calm; I was screaming and wanting to calm down, but I just couldn’t.

I got out of the shower, went to lie down, and texted my husband to tell him that I was having bad cramps but that my stomach wasn’t hard like the contractions everyone describes. The pain wasn’t letting up, so I went to the bathroom to sit, screaming all the while; my husband called and I don’t remember what he asked, but I told him to come home.

All of a sudden I felt the need to bear down, and I texted my husband to call an ambulance for me because baby was coming and there was no stopping her. At 12:19 p.m., I delivered her. She came out looking around; I put her on my chest for skin-to-skin time, she let out a little cry after that, and about five minutes later I delivered the placenta.


Paramedics came five minutes after that so I had to open the door because my husband wasn’t here yet! He actually got home just in time to cut the cord! This all happened within 30 minutes of getting out of the shower—and just four minutes of pushing. At the hospital they checked me and saw that I had a tiny tear that didn’t need stitches; they checked the baby as well, and she was perfectly fine.

It is so amazing what our bodies do! I hope this story empowers more moms in knowing that they can do it!

From Panic to Joy – Unassisted Birth in the Car!

From Panic to Joy – Unassisted Birth in the Car!

Let me start by saying I have planned an all natural childbirth (no pain medications) from the beginning, and lied to anyone who asked if I was planning all natural. We hired a doula around 16 weeks pregnant and sat in several hours of childbirth classes. We felt prepared.

On Thursday, June 9th, we (David and I) went to the Albertville Farmers Market from 3-6 to sell pork and eggs. Afterwards we ate at Maters with my sister, Anna and her kids. The first contraction came while they were paying the bill. We had to go by Anna’s when we left and then to CVS to buy pads because my mucus plug had started coming out that morning. While David was in CVS the contractions got a little stronger, I started timing them. Five minutes apart lasting one minute each, which is when my doctor said to come to the hospital. They were manageable though. When David got back in the car I told him we needed to get home fast.

I text my doula, Courtney, she asked me to time contractions for five minutes and let her know how they were. After three minutes I text her describing them and how often they were coming, she replied that she was going to go ahead and make her way to our house. That’s the moment I realized this was the real deal and started to cry, I could tell my husband got very nervous, too, but was trying to be strong for me. Courtney lives within 15 minutes of the hospital, so I joked that we should just meet her at the hospital instead of her driving an hour north to see us just to turn around and go back.

Contractions continued to get a little stronger. She arrived at the house at 9:15. At 10:00pm she mentioned that I might want to go to the hospital because contractions were getting worse, and quickly. David wanted me to labor at home a little while longer but I felt like it was time to go. David knew once we got to the hospital if I didn’t progress as fast as they wanted then interventions would start. He wanted to avoid that.

We were in the car by 10:20 heading to the hospital an hour away from our house. Right when we got out of town I told David she was coming. He of course didn’t believe me. By this time contractions were bad, actually horrible. I kept yelling at David to get me to the hospital and asked a million times how much longer, he would reply “Not much longer, you’re doing great.” I had emailed him birth affirmations that week and asked him to read them with each contraction. I’m so glad I did; each one he said helped me so much. Courtney was following us to the hospital and had suggested I ride in the backseat so I could squat on the floor… thank goodness she did! I started praying that God would help me because I knew we weren’t going to make it to the hospital. David was driving almost 100 MPH, but when we finally passed by a shopping mall and I knew we were no where close to the hospital.

That’s when I let go and let my body take over. I yelled at David again that she was coming and he needed to pull over. He wouldn’t. I finally had the courage to reach down and feel if she was crowning or not. I felt the water sac, it felt like a water ballon hanging between my legs. With the next contraction it broke and my daughter came out in my hands. I guided her out and in to my pants. It was 11pm, it was so dark I couldn’t see anything, I was terrified to lift her up onto my chest not knowing what I was grabbing or if I would somehow hurt her if I didn’t pick her up correctly.

David immediately pulled over and called 911, Courtney followed. I opened the door and yelled for Courtney, she grabbed our daughter up out of my pants and realize the cord was wrapped around her neck twice and tight. Courtney took over and tried desperately to remove the cord. After what seemed like several minutes she was finally able to remove it. I held our blue, what looked like lifeless daughter, talking to her, putting her to my breast, rubbing her, trying anything to get her to breath. Courtney took her from me and tried some things she has seen a midwife do, which included breathing into our daughter’s mouth.

She immediately took in Courtney’s breath and started turning pink. I got our daughter back and she let out a loud beautiful cry.

Without the support of my husband and the natural childbirth class we had taken I never would have been prepared for our daughter’s birth.

birth in car, unassisted birth

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breech

Originally written 10/29/2010.

With my first child, I knew I wanted a natural birth. I chose the local birth center and hired the team of midwives. I attended my regular appointments and the birth classes they offered. Starting around 30 weeks I questioned the position of my baby. I asked three of the midwives at three different appointments if they could tell if my baby was head down. I was overweight at the time and did not think palpation was enough to determine her position. On midwife #3, I requested that we check it out and she agreed.

At my ultrasound appointment and 36 weeks pregnant, I was not shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Yep, she is breech.” I was not surprised, but I was devastated. This was not something I was educated about or prepared for. Looking back, I was just along for the ride. Big mistake. My doula told me there was still time for her to turn, but not being educated about this, I wasn’t sure.

I started asking my midwives, chiropractors and friends about breech vaginal birth. All I received were mixed answers and usually, “Yes, it can be done, but if something goes wrong it will happen fast. Why take the risk?!” I did a few things, like hanging upside down frequently and handstands in the pool. My chiropractor did the Webster technique, as it has a high success rate in giving babies more room to turn head down. At 39 weeks I had an inversion done. Let me tell you that is painful and unnatural. Wouldn’t do it again.

Finally at 39 weeks I met with a good OB. My husband and I decided to have a c-section because we knew the OB was there to do it (he was in a practice with 16 docs). It was a very emotional ride and left me wondering why there wasn’t more information or support of breech birth.

If you are trying to educate yourself more or are finding yourself in this situation, you might be asking, “What can I do differently? I need more information!” I am here to provide just that for you. Educate yourself, pray about it (or meditate) and make the best choice for you and your baby. Be strong and get the right support.

So, you find out that your baby is breech. What now?

Don’t panic! It’s going to be OK. Your baby is breech for a reason. (S)he may or may not turn and can do so even right before birth. So, be patient.

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breechWhich breech presentation is your baby favoring? There are three common types.

  • Frank Breech, which tends to be the most favorable. This is when baby’s bottom presents first and feet are by the head.
  • Footling Breech is when baby has one or both feet presenting first.
  • Complete Breech is when your baby is comfy sitting cross legged.

There are things you can do to help baby turn if that is what baby wants. Remember, your baby knows best what position to be in for his/her birth. Look into the following options:

Even when you decide to have faith in your body and your baby, you still want to be prepared and know how to help him/her gently enter this world. Here are some things to consider and research.

  • Know and be firm in your knowledge that a breech baby does not automatically mean c-section.
  • Make sure your OB or midwife is 100% on board and does not fear breech birth.
  • Always listen to YOUR intuition. If you have a fear, process it. If someone else does, don’t waiver in your faith. Trust your gut!
  • When birthing, get in a favorable position like standing, squatting, or even hand and knees (unless your body is telling you different).
  • Read a lot of great breech birth stories! Here is one with awesome pictures.
  • Do NOT let anyone (your midwife, spouse, doula, OB, etc.) pull on baby!
  • Something to educate yourself on further is making sure baby’s head is birthed before they start breathing. The book Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White was helpful for me.
  • Have a back up plan. There is nothing wrong with having one.  Don’t focus on it, but know it’s there. Continue to have faith that your vaginal birth will be wonderful and successful.
  • If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: even if you have a c-section, WAIT. Wait for baby to start labor. I say this for two reasons. First, you will know for sure that your baby is ready to be earthside. Second, is that you have given your baby every chance to turn head down. In hindsight, my first baby was born at least 3 weeks early as all my other babies have been born between 42-44 weeks!

A baby that is breech is not an automatic dangerous situation or cesarean. Breech babies have different risk factors and those should be discussed with your care provider, so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your baby and birth, with their support.

Unassisted Home Birth

Unassisted Home Birth

I had a very eventful, and luckily smooth, second birth and thought I could share a little picture of it. I’ve never felt as empowered as I did in this moment. My second little love decided to come a week early and fast! We had decided to do a home birth, since our previous hospital experience with our first son was not so hot.

This was my ocean baby – always doing yoga in my belly, never pushy. The three hour precipitous labor a week early came as quite a surprise, given his personality. My midwife missed the show and my husband almost did, too! My toddler was my doula, holding my head at the end of my contractions, telling me I’m ok until I moved to the bathroom on instinct and started pushing.

Daddy caught my sweets, unwrapped a bit of cord around his neck, and handed him over to me as I moved from all fours to grasp him. I felt like a 6lb 8oz freight train had just run through my body! The midwife couldn’t believe her ears when my husband told her the baby was born and healthy. I pushed out the placenta, and Daddy cut and clamped the cord with our kitchen scissors and home birth kit materials. Amazing!

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Accidental Unassisted Birth, Down Syndrome, Mom Catches Baby Born En Caul

Accidental Unassisted Birth, Down Syndrome, Mom Catches Baby Born En Caul

My pregnancy with Blake was discovered in October 2014; I had noticed clothes not fitting well for a while and was having to pull my t-shirts down when wearing Tyler on my back. I didn’t think much of it until one day I posted in a tandem nursing Facebook group, complaining profusely about how painful it was to feed the kids at that time.

I hadn’t had a period since forever, so it didn’t occur to me that anything might be going on until another dear tandem nursing mama friend ordered me gently to go and ‘pee on a stick’. Which I did out of curiosity. Poor hubby got told via text message as I was quite stunned & speechless at a positive result. Very delighted – absolutely – but just unexpected!

It explained my chaotic thinking that seems to occur early in my pregnancies, and my stress and anxiety type of symptoms. A bit of magnesium had helped with that, and that was all I had thought of it. I’m thankful that my naturopath had put me onto folinic acid which I had been taking (mostly haphazardly as I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant until I at least had a period) – that small amount of planning was very valuable.

There was a few things happening. I got sick with a sinus infection that I couldn’t shake, and we had a homeschooling camping trip that we went to before going to a GP in November to organize an ultrasound to figure out how far along things were.

So we went for the scan, to be introduced to the student radiographer who would be doing our dating scan. The poor girl just about fell over upon having a look, as instead of seeing the little jelly bean she expected, she saw a 17 week old baby. Oops!

It seems I’d bypassed ‘morning sickness’ somehow (something to be thankful for), but I felt like I’d missed a big chunk of the pregnancy by being so symptom free. Or in denial of the symptoms I was noticing perhaps.

So with that scan started our roller coaster. The senior radiographer came in & did a bunch of measurements, more so than what I understood. We went home happy to now have an ETA for bub, but this was interrupted by being contacted by the GP fairly immediately to go in to ‘discuss’ the scan.

My memory is hazy of this appointment; I mostly remember the horror of ‘chromosomal abnormality’ and ‘termination’ being mentioned in the same sentence, multiple times. Thankfully my husband had been able to come with me to the appointment.

My 2yo had fallen asleep in my arms nursing during the conversation. I carried him out while we were escorted out the back exit; I handed him to my husband at the car & fell into a heap. My first & only thought was “what have I done to my baby?” There was no question for us about continuing the pregnancy. This was our child, no matter what.

So we then had multiple appointments at King Edward Memorial Hospital. Whilst they were respectful & knowledgeable, they were puzzled by our lack of desire to confirm any diagnosis, and also by my desire to birth at home.

The first scan was organized quickly, about a week later. It wasn’t until we were there talking with the obstetrician afterwards about it, that I realized it was so they could still offer termination (which they did, a number of times), as they will do it up to 20 weeks. This discovery just broke my heart to learn. However, the appointment where I was told bub had a heart defect was the hardest, as it meant that our plans needed to change for the safety of the baby. However, I told them we would wait until the next heart scan before making any decisions.

I could see the pity in their eyes, with a knowing that I would be disappointed look about them.

Thankfully, during this time, I engaged the services of my gorgeous independent midwife who rescued me from feeling sucked into the medical world, where I truly don’t fit. I don’t think like they do, yet somehow I was ending up with multiple scans despite only having had one at 20 weeks for my previous two pregnancies and having to justify myself constantly. To them & in my own head.

This pregnancy was difficult & I had to work hard to protect myself in my bubble. I was offered the hybobirthing course by a doula-in-training friend, and it was amazing! Among the anxieties of the pregnancy and the busyness of 2 other little ones, it gave me a small amount of time each day to just enjoy bubby and to relax & block out the negativity that we are all so very susceptible to while pregnant.

So the second cardiology scan was basically, “Oh, that’s not what I thought it was. Baby’s heart is fine and perfectly safe to be born at home if you want. Just have it checked out when you’re ready.” Such relief! It was amazing and infuriating at the same time. And still the obstetrician wanted one last scan about a week later.

So, by the time I was done with the scans and follow ups, etc., I got a few weeks of just enjoying pregnancy as it should be and as it is intended.

My beautiful Blessingway was organized by some amazing friends for when I was about 36 weeks. It was a gorgeous day and I feel so very lucky to have been as super spoiled as I was. It really wasn’t until I had some hindsight & had birthed & felt a bit more normal emotionally that I experienced full appreciation of how truly blessed I am with my friends. This special photo was taken by Capturing Adventures.

CapturingAdventures

On Thursday 2nd April (at about 36w4d) we went to playgroup as usual. I was on my butt a lot. As usual. I was getting a lot of tightening, but nothing out of the ordinary. I was getting Braxton Hicks anytime the kids had a feed. I complained at one stage, had another mama put her hand on my tummy to comment that there was still plenty more room. Maybe there was.

So that night, hubby went out for a few drinks, which he rarely does. He didn’t get home late, so played with the kids for a while before they went to bed. But oh my gosh, I laughed and laughed and laughed at them. I’m surprised my waters didn’t break on the spot just from sheer pressure.

That night I was messaging a lovely friend who listened to me and supported me so much through the pregnancy. I was telling her how I had googled something about Braxton Hicks being more intense at night for some reason (I actually forget why now! Hormones perhaps?) and that I was glad to have discovered the reason for my nightly discomfort. I had my hypnobirthing track on to go to sleep to – it was after dozing through 3 or 4 changes of tracks that I thought I’d have a shower just to try to settle them down.

It was about 2am and I messaged my midwife to let her know. She replied with something to the effect of “have a good sleep” which just confirmed my idea that the discomfort would ease. The shower felt amazing but when I hopped out, I just wanted to walk around a bit. I let hubby know I was up and he went back to sleep. My 2yo woke so I hopped into bed to feed him. As soon as I could, I got back up as breastfeeding was NOT helping me relax!!

I wandered around the house and found myself swaying against our crazy-never-ever-tidy bookcase. All good. I was chatting to bub, reminding them to wait at least until Sunday so I’d be 37w and we could avoid any hassle. I was looking forward to going back to sleep.

Little 2yo person woke up again, wandering out to find me. Hubby got up with him. I sat on the lounge to feed him this time; quickly demanding hubby sit next to me while I squeezed the shit out of his hand through two contractions. And I call them contractions with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. There was still no acknowledgement in my mind that a baby was probably joining us that night.

I had to peel my 2yo off me and hand him to hubby. I just couldn’t do it, I needed to get into the shower. I was so torn by his sadness, but needed to go. Hubby picked up our little boy and walked and cuddled him to help him sleep.

I managed to send a text to my midwife as I was adjusting the water temperature of the shower “I think I need you here” at 3:30am. I vaguely recalled the same panicky feeling from my previous birth, and remembered how pushing helped relieve the pain, so as soon as I got in, I braced on the shower shelf and pushed.

It worked! It felt so good to push! But did anything happen?

I had a bit of a feel, totally clueless and only really just checking for a head which I was disappointed not to feel. Then the next wave came over me. I instinctively knelt on one knee, put my hands down… and caught my baby en caul! No wonder my waters hadn’t broken. (I was waiting for that as a sign of truly being in labor, just as I was waiting for morning sickness to start ha!) It was an amazingly brief acknowledgment as I wiped the membranes away immediately because I was very aware of being alone and needing bub to breathe.

I sat cross legged on the floor of the shower with him. I think I turned the water off somewhere along the way and called hubby, who it seems nearly ignored me as he almost had little guy to sleep. So they both came in to meet our newest gorgeous family member and cover us with towels. It was 3.33am.

blake baby 1

We got the big sister up who had just woken anyway and eventually called our midwife to come join us.

From there we had a few hours at home adoring our beautiful baby, before being ordered/ threatened/ whatever into KEMH by the pediatrician there, because bub displayed features of Down Syndrome. So we spent about 5-6 hours there while multiple staff examined him, x-rayed him, took blood, tried to vaccinate him, tried to admit us …all for no apparent reason than “people prefer to be in hospital if their baby has Down Syndrome.” Um, no thanks.

We eventually left and finally got our family home together late in the evening. We were so, so fortunate to have a beautiful friend waiting patiently to bring us dinner, heat it and serve it to us. I’m sure we were just in a total daze and exhausted by the energy exerted to protect our perfect baby. I still feel a loss from that time in hospital when we should have all been snuggled up together, discovering each other, but so absolutely grateful for the support around us and that I didn’t have to leave him at any time.

blake baby 2

So, little Blakey is the youngest of three. He has two adoring, loving siblings. We are all so lucky to have each other & I so look forward to watching them all grow together <3

blake baby 3

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