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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.

A First Time Mom’s Hospital Birth Without Fear

A First Time Mom’s Hospital Birth Without Fear

Before we even started trying for a baby, I was reading birth stories. I’ve always been obsessed with babies and that naturally progressed into an obsession with all things birth. After reading every single birth story that Birth Without Fear had to offer, I came away feeling extremely informed and excited to see how my own birth would play out; but I also got the impression that first births rarely went to plan, so I tried to accept that it probably wouldn’t go the way I hoped – drug and intervention free.

Our blessed birth started right when we got pregnant the first month of trying – shocked! The pregnancy continued on smoothly, and I loved being pregnant. Our biggest complication came when my husband (J) was told that he would be sent on a field exercise (he’s in the Army) in our due month (March). They couldn’t tell us the exact dates, so we couldn’t exactly come up with a plan because we didn’t know when he would go or come home. Eventually, after lots of stress and waiting, and still with no solid dates, we decided that I would fly from where we were posted back to our home town where I could be supported by our family and friends, and J would join me when/if he could. This wasn’t ideal, but a plan had to be made, so at 36 +5 I flew home to Brisbane.

Shortly after I left, we got good news – they would be sending J to meet up with me in Brisbane on the 14th, 3 days before my due date! I thought ‘no problem, I’m sure baby will be late anyways’, and relaxed into waiting for J. Baby had other plans, and now we finally get to the birth story…

I had been having back pain for a few days, but it was constant so I thought it was just gas or something. I went to bed on Sunday (10th) with the back pain bad enough that I had to sit on my knees draped over the back of my bed, but it was still constant. I finally fell asleep but I woke up around 3:00am with the pain and started to notice that it was coming in waves because I was falling asleep between them. I pulled out my phone and started timing contractions around 4:00am – they were about 40 seconds long, every 2-5 minutes. I timed them for about an hour and when I realised that they were relatively consistent I thought ‘oh, shit!’ because we were still 4 days away from J arriving.

I heard my mum’s alarm go off and her get up to get ready for work, so I went to tell her I was having contractions. She also reacted with ‘it’s too early! J isn’t here yet!’. I got in the shower to see if that would stop them, but I had 3 contractions in the 15 minutes I was in the shower. I was still able to talk through them though, so we decided that mum would still go to work and I would wait and see what happened.

At 6:00am, I was still having contractions 40ish seconds long every 2 minutes, so I decided to call J and tell him. I knew it could be a false alarm, but I didn’t want to wait too long, have it turn out to be real, and have him miss it because I was too late calling. I called his Captain, who put him on the phone. I said ‘I’m having contractions every 2 minutes’, J responded with ‘are you serious? I just woke up, give me a second to figure this out’, and hung up (haha, he was a bit shocked). As soon as he hung up, I went to the bathroom and saw I was losing my plug – a good sign, but it could still be false labor. I heard back from J about an hour later and he was already on his way to the airport and would be home at 4:00 that afternoon, so now the pressure was on to make sure this was real!

I sat down and timed contractions while watching How I Met Your Mother. I also called the hospital but the midwife said my contractions needed to be more regular and be coming regardless of my position (they were stopping whenever I sat down). By 10:00am they had really spaced out and were only coming when I was standing, so I began doing laps around the block. They were around 40 seconds to 1 minute every 3-5 minutes while walking, but the second I sat down, they disappeared. I was getting so cranky and really upset that I had called J home for nothing. I continued to walk all day, and even baked muffins, but my contractions stayed the same irregular 40/5. Finally J arrived and took me for another huge walk, had some dinner and watched some TV.

Even though we all knew that these contractions were just the start, my mum, J and I decided to drive to the hospital (30 minutes away) just to establish whether or not they were doing anything. I was starting to have to close my eyes and breathe through the contractions, but the ride to the hospital wasn’t too bad.

When we arrived, around 8:00pm, we went to the admitting area, and a midwife came in to check – I was only 1cm dilated, and still pretty thick. I was disappointed, but not surprised, and I wanted to tell her that we had just come in for a status report because she was looking at me like she thought I was an idiot for coming in so early. She started to ask me when my next antenatal appointment was – next Monday – and I think she was suggesting that I might not pop before then – not happy. She asked if I wanted a panadol, and I said no. She asked what pain relief I was thinking of using in labor and when I said none, she gave me the look I knew well – the ‘oh, you’ll change your mind’ look.

I loved when people gave me that look, it gave me extra motivation. The previous Saturday night my mum and I had gone to a work dinner (I used to work with her, at the hospital I gave birth in – me, admin, her, a nurse), and one of the men had asked when my scheduled C-section was and when I laughed and responded that I wasn’t having one, he said ‘well make sure you get the epidural as soon as possible then’; when I responded with ‘the goal is to do it without drugs’ he gave me that same look – I thought about him frequently throughout my delivery! haha

Anyway, back to the story. We headed home to try and get some sleep. J went straight to sleep because he hadn’t gotten much sleep during the exercise, and I tried, but my contractions were getting more intense, so around midnight I went into the bathroom and filled the tub. The next couple of hours I labored in the tub and on the toilet (toilet contractions were INTENSE). I now had to totally focus during contractions. I pictured the baby’s head pushing down on my cervix – it helped to keep him in my thoughts and to feel like we were doing it together – I love him so much that I would have gone through anything to meet him, so thinking of him helped me stay focused.

I went back to the toilet around 2:00am, and noticed there was bright red blood – the midwife had said to come back if my water broke, the contractions were a minute apart, or there was blood, so I went to wake up J and my mum. The contractions were no more than 3 minutes apart and lasting for about a minute, but I had stopped timing them because they were clearly frequent and intense. We all loaded up and got in the car. At this point I had to vocalise through each contraction, but I tried to keep it low-toned and controlled. I sat in the back seat with my eyes closed, breathing and moaning through contractions while J held my hand from the passenger’s seat and mum drove. On the 30minute drive, I had 8 intense contractions – things were definitely different, but I was so afraid that this was still just the beginning and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it if it was going to get much worse.

I had another 2 contractions just walking from the front door to the admitting unit, and I had to lean on J and moan through both of them. They took us back to a room, and contractions were pretty much on top of each other. Mum joined us after parking the car, and then the midwife came in (a different one). She watched me have a contraction then asked if she could check. She felt around while I had another contraction and then she said ‘how dilated do you want to be?’, I pretty much cried ‘just enough that you won’t send me home again!’, and she said the greatest words ever; ‘you’re 7cm!’; I could have kissed the woman! She left to get my chart ready to go to delivery suites, and I actually did a celebratory dance! We’d made it to transition!

When she came back, she said the words I needed to hear; ‘you’re handling things beautifully, you are fully in control and I don’t see any reason why you can’t do this drug-free like you wanted’, this put me in the mindset that I could do it!

We moved to the delivery room and met our AMAZING midwife, Anne. I love Anne, even though I didn’t actually really spend any time with her because she left us to it. Besides checking baby’s heart (perfect) every once in a while, she stayed completely in the background. I spent my entire labor with my head buried in J’s chest. I tried a few different things, but the only place I felt in control and like I could handle it was with him. He listened to me breathe, reminded me to breathe in, and helped me regain control every time I began to lose it. There is no way I would have had my amazing birth without him.

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Around 5:00am I started to feel a bit pushy and got on the bed on my hands and knees. I started to push down (totally out of my control), and all of a sudden there was a huge pop, gush and release of pressure – my water had broken! So glad I was on the bed, because it would have gone EVERYWHERE had I been standing. Anne suggested I get in the shower to clean up, so I did and it was AMAZING! I had wanted a water birth originally, but the new hospital didn’t allow that, and even though I’d planned on laboring in the shower, I hadn’t had any desire to get in the water once we got to the birth suite – big mistake – it was so nice!

I kept involuntarily pushing in the shower, so Anne asked if she could check me to make sure I actually was fully dilated. This meant getting out of the shower, but I agreed anyway and moved to the bed. There was still a lip, so she tried to hold it back while I pushed; it hurt, but it seemed to do the trick. It must have been around 5:45am by this point, and I was given the ok to start really pushing. I never planned on pushing on my back, but that’s how I ended up feeling most comfortable.

A lot of stories I read said that pushing was the best part, and while I was excited that it was almost over, for me pushing was the part where I started to lose control. It REALLY stung, and I was so afraid of tearing that I held back a bit. J was in my ear trying to keep me in control, Anne was holding my leg and reassuring me that it felt worse than it was and that he was moving down, and mum was holding my other leg, taking pictures and also cheering me on.

I kept asking if they could see his head, and being told not yet. Labor felt like it had only taken an hour (it actually wasn’t that much longer than that), but this felt like it was going forever. Finally they said they could see his head and I asked if he had hair; ‘not as much as we thought’ replied my mum. I reached down and felt his wrinkly little head – amazing. This part is all a bit blurry, but after his head came out, Anne said ‘now reach down and pull your baby up’, I love her for this because I was too overwhelmed to think about doing that in the moment but it was the most amazing thing ever, and my favorite part of the whole experience. I reached down, grabbed him, pulled him to my chest and started totally sobbing.

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He cried a little bit, but then just looked around while I continued to sob. I just held him on my skin, and after some time (who knows how long?) Anne showed me that his cord had stopped pulsing, and so J cut his cord. I continued to hold him skin to skin for the next hour/hour and a half and he latched on like a pro, while they delivered the placenta and stitched me up; I would have gotten away unscathed, but Archie decided to punch his arm out as he was crowning and I ended up with a small 2nd degree tear.

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After the torture of stitches and fundal massage (the worst part, by far) I asked the midwives to weigh Archie so J could have a hold. I knew he seemed a bit big, but when she announced that he was 8lbs 11oz, I was shocked! I started sobbing all over again because I couldn’t believe I’d given birth to such a chunky boy with no drugs!

My birth was better than I even dreamed it could be. I pictured it so many times, and the reality was actually better than anything I ever imagined. I believe that the calm birth has resulted in a calm baby. We haven’t had any problems breastfeeding, and he had surpassed his birth weight by 4 days old. I am so grateful for my experience because I know how often things don’t go to plan and women struggle with these things. I still can’t believe I got the birth I wanted the first time – it’s the greatest feeling in the world!

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An Inspired Twin Birth Without Fear

An Inspired Twin Birth Without Fear

Birth Without Fear inspired me.

When I found out in December that I was expecting two babies, I was stunned. How is it possible? My mother had twins… Doesn’t it skip a generation? (Answer: no). After reality set in, we got two infant car seats to squeeze alongside my then 9-month old’s, and traded in the sedan for an SUV. We got a triple stroller and started searching for two more of everything else since my son still regularly used his high chair and other baby necessities.

After ending up in L&D with contractions at 25 weeks (stopped with medication and sent home same day), I started to believe what so many friends, acquaintances, strangers, and doctors had told me – don’t plan to make it full term with a twin pregnancy. Don’t for a minute expect a vaginal delivery for both babies. And breastfeeding? It’s nearly impossible with twins.

As moms in my online multiples birth group would meet their babies earlier than planned through preterm labor and emergency c-sections, each week I was surprised and grateful that my twins were still in utero. But I genuinely expected to be right alongside the moms of preemies in the NICU any day. I bought preemie clothing and diapers, scaled back responsibilities at work, and did my best to finish decorating the nursery and before the babies arrived. And then I waited for the inevitable – an early labor, cesarean birth for at least one, and long NICU stay for the babies.

Then I read a story on BWF about a strong woman who had a medication free, vaginal delivery of triplets at 36 weeks and my eyes opened to a whole new world of possibilities. You mean, that can actually happen?

Birth became my new passion. I was inspired. I joined the Birthing Multiples Naturally Facebook group mentioned on the BWF blog post and began gleaning information and support from experienced moms. I promptly decided on a new obstetrician who was willing to attempt vaginal delivery for both babies. And I connected with a doula – someone who was immeasurably valuable to me throughout the pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. Additionally, I saw a chiropractor for Webster Technique adjustments to encourage Baby B to turn from transverse to a more desirable position for delivery. Things were going well. So well, in fact, that I had no preterm labor scares beyond 26 weeks and experienced no other complications at all.

We induced labor at 38 weeks 1 day. Arriving at the hospital having made it full term was the most empowering feeling I’ve experienced. I felt like I was made to carry these babies – created to be pregnant, labor in strength and grace, breastfeed with confidence, and love my children fiercely. I was ready; excited to meet these little ones who’d been the subject of so many prayers, thoughts, and dreams over the past 9 months.

We arrived at 5:15 am with a labor team consisting of me, my husband, and our doula who was prepared with a birthing ball, rebozo, essential oils, camera, snacks for my husband, and so many other items that were helpful. I was so excited; my husband remarked as we entered L&D that this was the fastest I’d walked for months. I checked in at 5:15, changed into a black Pretty Pushers gown, and received an IV while signing consent forms. There were difficulties keeping both wiggly babies on the monitors so Pitocin was not administered until 7 am. Once the drip began, contractions came promptly and close together. It did not take long before I was antsy and uncomfortable. My doula did a phenomenal job ensuring my comfort. It was almost as if she was inside my head, anticipating how I felt and which positioning changes would help even before I asked.

My OB stopped by at 8:30 for one final ultrasound to be sure both babies were still head-down. The ultrasound tech found a third head hiding near the top of my abdomen. We were stunned, but I kept reminding myself of my 16-month old’s car seat nestled between the twins’ infant carriers and assured myself we would at least be able to get three babies home. Further investigation revealed this was not indeed a third baby that had hidden itself throughout the pregnancy, but rather a reflection of Baby B’s head. Whew!

At noon the doctor broke my water. I requested an epidural and took a short nap. We hadn’t eaten since before midnight, so I encouraged my husband to get lunch around 2 pm. He was still gone during my next cervical check at 2:45, at which time I was determined to be 6 cm and 90% effaced. I texted him to speed him along and fell back asleep.

Around 3:20, I began experiencing pressure and called the nurse. She suggested we give it a few minutes before she did another cervical check. I couldn’t wait, so I asked her to see where we stood and then learned baby is coming! I did all I could to keep from pushing. The pressure was so intense that I was moaning and grunting, using all of my strength to breathe and refrain from pushing. My husband jumped into the scrubs jumpsuit, cap, mask, and booties while the nurses got together all of the cords and equipment necessary, then we were whisked off to the operating room for delivery. I was moved to another bed under these huge white lights. The room was very cold: I shivered from the cold and moaned from the pressure; I felt helpless and scared. I told my husband I was afraid and didn’t want to do this, didn’t know how to do this. He held my hand and told me to look at him. I kept looking away and closing my eyes, but he just kept bringing me back. His presence and support was very calming, yet I began spouting off panicked statements like, “Where is she?? The doctor needs to get here now!!!!” and “I’m not ready!!”

My OB arrived after what felt like forever and we could finally begin. I was able to feel the presence of the baby’s head/body, and after 10 minutes of coordinated and efficient pushing, Baby Girl arrived and was placed on my belly. Her cord was short so she couldn’t quite reach my chest while cord clamping was delayed. We opted to have it cut and I finally got to hold my sweet baby girl. She was so beautiful and perfect, covered in vernix. She was calm and peaceful in my arms. Meanwhile, the doctor was doing an external version to guide Baby B closer to the birth canal. I felt a warm gush as the doctor broke his water. I began to feel panicked again – if ever, this was the time the c-section would surely come. Did he cooperate? Would he? Had he flipped transverse – his favorite position during pregnancy – yet again? The nurses took Baby A aside for weighing and vitals while I prepared to push. I only pushed a few times and 8 minutes after his sister, my baby boy was here! We were able to delay clamping his cord until it stopped pulsing while I held and loved on my darling little boy. I kept caressing and kissing his head while saying, “hi, sweet boy!” The nurses handed back baby girl and took pictures of us as a family. I held my babies while I delivered the placentas, which had fused together, and had a small first degree tear stitched. My husband, the proud papa, had skin to skin time with one baby at a time.  It was perfect.

After baby boy had his weight and vitals checked, we all moved back to the labor room where my doula was waiting with a twin nursing pillow. Both babies latched on quickly and nursed for an hour while I just stared at them in awe. It was such a sweet time with just my husband, our babies, and our doula assisting with nursing. After this hour, the babies went to the nursery with my husband for baths and more thorough examination. I changed into a different gown and chatted with my doula about the delivery. Several hours later, we had our son and my husband’s parents visit to meet the babies. Big brother took to them instantly and loved kissing and hugging his babies.

After a failed attempted home birth and complicated nursing experience with my son last year, I found this birth to be very healing. I was previously anxious about delivering in a hospital and surrendering my ideal birth, but we had excellent care and the best delivery I could imagine. Additionally, breastfeeding is going amazingly. We are four weeks into our nursing relationship and both babies are gaining weight well and love to breastfeed! I hope to make it to one year, and if the past few weeks are any indication of the months to come, I think we will do just fine.

Mama PG BG Twins

BG Twins 2

BG Twins

BG Twin BF

I Am Strong {Survival from an abusive relationship}

I Am Strong {Survival from an abusive relationship}

My name is Caroline, and I am strong, because at 20 I got pregnant with a man whom had physically and mentally abused me for over a year. He had hit me, kicked me and verbally abused me. The pregnancy was obviously unintended, and I didn’t find out until I was 4 months pregnant, because I kept having my period. As soon as I told the father, he responded by pushing me down the stairs and yelling at me.

I am strong because I decided to make the best of the situation, which was to keep my baby safe. I cut off all contact with my ex-boyfriend and he moved away. Even though he tried to contact me several times, begging for forgiveness, my mind was set. I am strong because I went to all scans, check-ups and tests alone or with my mom. I knew right from the start that this baby was the love of my life, and I was right.

At 16 weeks I found out I was carrying a girl – just what I had thought from the start 🙂 My mom was so supportive and she offered me to move in with her, she would even help me take care of my daughter, as if I had been in a relationship with the father.

I am strong because this pregnancy was hard for me. I gained 81 pounds, 55 of them being water. I was so swollen, my blood pressure was dangerously high, but until 41+4 weeks I got up every morning to go to university. I wanted a future for me and my child.

I am strong because the 20th of November, I visited my midwife for a check-up, because I was 41 +4 weeks pregnant. My test results showed signs of preeclampsia, and unfortunately I had to be induced. The 20th was also the birthday of my father, whom had passed away when I was 17 (he had stomach cancer).

I am strong because I got my pill at 10:30 in the morning, and when I woke up from a nap at 16:00, I heard a clicking sound, and yup- my water broke! I called the hospital, as I was told to do by my midwife, and they calmly told me, “honey, it’ll be HOURS before anything happens, come in for a check at 22:00 this evening”. So I ate dinner (which my mom made ” you need energy, trust me!”) and tried to relax as much as possible, but at 17:00, my contractions were so strong and happening every 2-3 minutes, that my mom had to call the hospital and they agreed that I should come in.

I am strong because me and my mom took a taxi and I had to hold my mom’s hand really hard during each contraction. We made it to the hospital and I was only 1-2 centimeters, so not exactly what I had hoped. I hadn’t made my mind up about epidurals at all; I wasn’t prepared for the amount of pain either.

I am strong because at 12:30 in night, I was 4 cm and they offered me an epidural. I wish I had had the courage to say no, but the pain was so unbearable that I said yes. The relief was instant. I slept for 4 hours with my mom by my side and when I woke up, I started to feel “pushy”.

I am strong because I told the midwife and she checked me; I was at 9.5 cm! I was so happy, that meant I would meet my daughter really soon! At 05:30 I began pushing actively, and unfortunately the epidural had worn off, so I could clearly feel the “ring of fire” and the pain, which was both amazing and unbearable. When her head was out, my mother and my midwife both said “woah,” because she began moving her head from side to side to get out easier. My mom held my legs and encouraged me every time I felt like giving up .

I am strong because at 05:56 my daughter was born. She was pink and so awake; simply perfect! Her Apgar score was the absolute highest. I am strong because she was placed on my chest, and she started moving her head around to start nursing, which she did, only 1 min after being born  She was 4.2 kg and 54 cm! What a big girl!

I am strong because we went home 4 hours after giving birth and today she is a happy almost 5 month old! I’m still in university doing my best to create a future and a life for me and my daughter. Here are some pictures of me and Rigmor, before she was born and up until she was 4,5 months 🙂  Love from Caroline, Rigmor and Grandma Charlotte.

R1 (2)

R2 (2)

R3

R4 (2)

R5 (2)

R6 (2)

 

 

Positive and Powerful Birth, Support Makes the Difference

Positive and Powerful Birth, Support Makes the Difference

Sailor is my 4th daughter (Harper is 6, London is 5 and Dempsey is 3) and I can honestly say it was the first pregnancy I was scared of, I used to be the one trying to calm friends fears.  This time my fear was real and it consumed me.  I’d suffered miscarriages before and a PPH with Dempsey so there were valid reasons why I felt the way I did but it scared me that I couldn’t get past it on my own.

Falling pregnant with Sailor took us by surprise and because of that I was convinced that something was going to take her away from us.  If I didn’t constantly feel her move or if I saw even a spot of blood my heart stopped and the tears flowed.  She was my little miracle and nothing could change my way of thinking… that was until I found BWF and 2 girlfriends who supported me more than I could of ever thought possible.  My husband was an amazing support but couldn’t quite understand why I felt the way I did and why I couldn’t forget about it.

One of my girlfriends became not only my pregnancy support but also our Birthing Support, maternity/birthing/newborn photographer and is soon to be Sailors god-mama.

Her birth was the most amazing, powerful, positive and emotional experience I have ever had, despite it ending up as a medically intervened hospital birth (and suffering a traumatic 4th stage resulting in being rushed to theatre) I’m still working on my birth story and hope to start a mini-blog very soon. I was strong, I was in control, and I was loved and supported. Our midwives sat on the floor with me as I labored, listened to music with us, gently smiled and told me how wonderfully I was doing throughout my long labor. I burnt oils, had crystals, positive affirmations playing, a book full of blessings from family and friends and a gorgeous framed photo of our girls all with me.

I strongly believe that without BWF and my 2 dear friends I would not have survived the fear. Why…because there is so much negativity about birthing around.  The moment someone realizes you are pregnant they are quick to tell you their horror stories instead of empowering you! It’s a sisterhood and 1 I now feel strongly about.

I honestly cannot put into words how much your page has empowered and inspired me… I am going forth from this amazing experience to “spread the word” so to speak. I am in the initial stages of following my heart into a new career involving birth doula and childbirth educating.  I dream of one day sharing the Birth Without Fear sisterhood with Australia, however that may become possible.

Fear no longer consumed me; it pushes me forward to help other mummas achieve beautiful birthing experiences – no matter how they choose to birth!

Sailor 2 Sailor 1

Sailor 3 Sailor 4

{Pictures are courtesy of http://www.evokeartphotography.com.au/  https://www.facebook.com/evokeartphotography?ref=ts&fref=ts}

{You can view my birth slide show at: http://evokeartphotography.com.au/blog/index.php/pregnancy/perth-newborn-baby-photographer-the-birth-of-sailor-lucia-rose/}

A Story Of Three Births {A Hospital Induction, A Homebirth, And A Birth Centre Waterbirth}

A Story Of Three Births {A Hospital Induction, A Homebirth, And A Birth Centre Waterbirth}

Thank you Suzi, for sharing your three birth stories with us. Your journey is inspirational! – BWF Team

Birth #1

I’m ashamed to admit this, but when I started having babies back when I was in my early 20’s, I was completely out of touch with my body. I wasn’t planning to have a baby, I was still young and dumb, full of wild energy and free to do whatever I chose. I hadn’t been on my own very long, and truly I wasn’t alone. My now husband of 16 years was at my side, full of that same wild energy.

We knew from the moment that first child was conceived that we were gonna do this and do it better than anyone thought we could. Childbirth scared the bejesus outta me. I knew I would survive, but horror stories of friends and family had me going straight to the OBGYN to plan a pain-free, epidural-aden birth. At this time, I really had never heard the cons of a drug-assisted birth.

Approaching my due date (July 4th) I was informed by my Doctor that he would be on a holiday with his family that day and if I wanted him to deliver my child I was to schedule induction on June 30th. I naively agreed and showed up that day to birth my first child.

To start, I received Pitocin and he ruptured my membrane for induction. As uncomfortable as this was, it didn’t compare to the embarrassment I had ahead. The doctor sent me walking to the other side of the Labor and Delivery wing with a janitor behind mopping my fluids as they drained down my legs.

Finally, I was there, the room where I was to birth our first child. The room looked nice enough, I was fine with the events that were about to transpire. When the anesthesiologist arrived to deliver my epidural, I was thankful for that needle and couldn’t wait for its relieving affects. They first administered the Staedol in my IV. Everything should have gotten better, but this particular drug made me cross eyed. Literally, everything I saw was in 2’s & 4’s. So though there were only 3 or 4 people at any one time in the room, it looked like 12! This made me very irritable on top of the contractions that were coming at a rapid pace.

After the Staedol had time to take effect and destroy my vision, the doctor tried at least 4 times to insert that epidural needle, but to no avail. We would later find out I had an acute case of spina bifida and my space where the epidural goes was not there. After four attempts, I yelled some obscenities and made him leave. I’d rather do this on my own. And I did.

Crossed-eyed and full of fear, running on my own endorphins and whatever was running through that IV, I birthed a healthy 8lb baby girl face up with her cord wrapped around her neck. During the birth, the OB gave me an episiotomy, and after he vocalizes that he added his signature touch, he called it the Daddy stitch. An extra unnecessary stitch beyond the episiotomy site that “my husband will appreciate.” Did he just say that?!? I was too consumed in the moment to argue with something he already took the liberty with my body to do.

Exhausted, I was just thankful I had a healthy baby and I was alive. Once they cleaned her up, I didn’t let her out of my sight. I refused them putting her in the nursery while I rested. I didn’t trust I’d get my baby back, I sensed she needed to be with me, and we could rest together. We spent 2 days there together, alternating her sleeping with me and in her bassinet.

I did it, embarrassed, elated, angered, in pain, confused… And in love with her. Finally it was over and I had my first child, who is quickly now approaching her 16th birthday and outgrew me over 5 years ago. Looking back, I would have done things so differently had I only been informed.

I now know the dangers of a drug assisted birth and outside of the numerous side effects on mother, it was the possibility of what it could have done to my child had I received one. Namely, fetal distress, drowsiness, decreased maternal/infant bonding, lack of alertness, poor sucking reflex & more. Though I wasn’t planning a second child, I now knew if I ever became pregnant again, I would at the very least deliver natural, without assistance of any drugs. I also knew that the treatment I received from the OBGYN was mortifying and I would have rather done it ANY other way than that.

Fact is though, had I not gone through this experience, I may have never taken the child birthing path I chose in the future. The best thing I received that day was my little mini me, who not so mini me anymore. But I love her more than chocolate covered rainbows.

Birth #2

It was just a couple months shy of my only littles 4th birthday. Mentally, I was preparing to head back to school when she started Kindergarten. In my head, her starting Kindergarten meant I only had one more year and then I could finish what I started in college years ago.

What I didn’t realize is, inside my belly, was another child. I realized it pretty quick, that familiar feeling that something was different. I had become way more in touch with my body by this time. A slight fear built inside me that I was going to go through another pregnancy. After my last birth, fear of birth filled me. But this time, I knew that at whatever cost, this birth  would be done on my terms.

Fortunately, I was blessed to have met a dear friend months prior who was my neighbor and she was pregnant with her second child. She lived next door and she was using a midwife for her obstetric care. I was so excited because my friend allowed me to sit in on a home visit one day and new childbirth door was opened to me.

That day, I met my future midwife Mollie. I asked her all kinds questions, which is to be expected after my experience with the OB/GYN. She was a very smart lady and about my age. Her soul was wise and tender, exactly what I needed this time. This was actually my friends second time to use Mollie as her midwife. I knew I could trust her, whether my friends and family believed it was a good decision or not. And trust me, everyone had their opinion. But I chose to stick to my guns. By the time I became her client she had caught well over 100 healthy babies, she was a pro.

I feel so blessed that here was a new opportunity to do this, and that the typical OBGYN wasnt the only way. I learned that midwives can provide the same care an OB can for a normal, healthy pregnancy. She came each visit with her bag of goodies to measure my belly, listen on her stethoscope and her heartbeat monitor. She did the necessary blood work and I even was able to obtain a sonogram from a local facility to find out the sex of this baby…  Another little girl.

She predicted my due date with her chart as December 12 and we proceeded on my new pregnancy journey, with Mollie as head coach. The experience I had and the wealth of knowledge she shared with me, as my 2nd daughter grew in my belly, changed my views of the world.

She informed me why immunizations can be harmful, alternative natural remedies, what wasn’t necessary at my last birth and what to expect when she arrived on the babies birthday. We prepared our home birth kit, buying all necessary supplies in advance, to have as sanitary a delivery as possible.

On the evening of December 11th, I sat down to eat a bowl of ice cream and when finished, I knew something was happening. They weren’t exactly labor pains, but I didn’t feel normal. My husband went off to bed and I told him, “We might be having a baby tonight.” I don’t recall if he replied. As he drifted off to dream land, I called my midwife to tell her I may need her that eve but I wasn’t sure.

You see, my first birth, I was induced. Up to this moment my water hadn’t broke and I wasn’t sure if this was the real deal. She told me at what point I should call her back, and she would be on her way. The pain wasn’t a normal pregnancy pain I remembered, I felt sick. Like the ice cream I ate wasn’t settling well. Turns out, not only was I beginning to labor, I apparently had kidney stones. During labor?!? How unfair was this? I’ve been told by many people that kidney stones are the closest thing a man will ever feel to childbirth. No one told me that it was possible to pass stone and deliver a child, simultaneously. I spent many hours laboring, constantly using the restroom and asking God why these kidney stones had to hurt so bad. My midwife recommended a bath as she said it either will speed up a real labor or relax a false labor. After my bath I knew, this was real. I was fixing to pass kidney stones AND deliver a baby. I passed at least 2 stones during my early labor stage. Once I was able to distinguish between the pain of labor and the pain of kidney stones, I realized it was time to have Mollie head my way.

This entire labor, I let my husband sleep. The quiet in the house was what I needed. There was no talking, no little kid asking questions. We had planned ahead to have my eldest stay with a friend when I was delivering, but here it was, 2 a.m. and she was peacefully sleeping in her bed. Everyone slept, while I paced the floor. Mollie taught me walking brings the baby into the birth canal and progresses the labor faster than the traditional hospital method of laying there. It was somewhere in the 4 o’clock hour of the morning when Mollie arrived. I was so thankful to have my coach there. Also, my best friend was headed there too and she comforted me for the time she could stay. Mollie checked me to make sure it was time to have a baby.

It’s official: we are having a baby and it was happening now! It’s time to wake the husband up! I tried to be nice, simply rubbing his back saying, “Hey Babe, time to get up, it’s time to have a baby, got to let Mollie prep the bed.” He just grumbled. He wasn’t believing me until I yelled, “Hey, get up its time to have this baby NOW!” He leaped from our bed and our midwife proceeded to prep the bedroom for our birth.

This birth, my husband told me would be in the room for support, but wasn’t watching. He just held my hand and looked out window as he told me, “Your doing a great job Babe.” As our second little was making her entrance to the world, my midwife told my husband, “Look Dad”. Well, was he in for a shock when what he saw looking up at him was the again face up head of our baby girl. Not the image he wanted, but I’m glad she tricked him into seeing this. He needed to comprehend my pain, and I think he did. This kid came out in the same position as the first, face up and cord around her neck. Minutes later we had our new little bundle, a new 8lb 8oz baby girl.

While Mollie handled the dirty work of cleaning up Mom,  my baby laid directly on my tummy. We didn’t cut the cord right away as she told me the wealth of blood and nutrients in the cord needed to make its way into my child. But when it was time, I cut my own cord.

Just moments later, the shuffle of little feet came through the house as my eldest was headed to the bathroom from her long nights rest. She had no idea what her mommy had done. Her Daddy called her in the room, and the light in her eyes when she saw her baby sister was… priceless. Once Mollie cleaned me and the rest of the room up from delivery, she made me a grilled cheese sandwich. Not only is she a good midwife, but she was a great friend to have by my side. How many doctors do you know will fix you lunch after their work is done?

Healthy babies are born everyday, and we just did it at home. No drugs, no crossed eyed, no creepy doctors or uncomfortable situations. Just me, my husband, my midwife and a brief visit from my best friend. My husband was making phone calls at 6am to tell all our family we did it, our newest little had arrived and to all our families shock, we were ok. They didn’t have confidence that I could do this, but I had the best coach a girl could ask for and this birth was on my terms, my way.

Icing on the cake, she was born on the exact day she was predicted to be born, right on time. I knew that morning after all was said and done that if I were to ever have another child, this was the only way I would ever do it again. People like Mollie are a blessing, I wish there were more people like her in this world.

I learned that healthy mommies have been delivering healthy babies since the dawn of time. Before doctors, IV’s or epidurals. Our body was designed for birth. If you listen to what your body & your midwife tell you, you can be perfectly safe delivering in any manner you feel comfortable.

Birth #3

I knew the moment that I gave birth to my second child that there would be a third. I didn’t know exactly when it was going to happen, and several years passed before I found out.Though my children were not planned by me, they were apparently planned by God as that’s why I love each of my gifts God gave me.

Before I found out I was pregnant with my third child, I had the opportunity to help my friend deliver her third child. With the assistance of our fabulous midwife Mollie, I held her legs as she pushed her child into this world. I have to say though, being on the other end of the birth is still very emotional. I cried for her and cheered her on as if I were birthing my own child.

A few months later I found out that I was pregnant. I knew right away, that I would use Mollie as my midwife. At that time, she was working in a birthing center in Cleburne. It was like the prettiest doctors office/ hotel you’ve ever seen. Set up in an old Victorian style house, complete with birthing rooms upstairs that looked like a bed and breakfast, and a big bathtub designed for birthing in the bathroom. I took one look at that bathtub and  knew that’s where I was delivering my third child. I’ve always been curious about water births. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to mark something off my bucket list.

I wasn’t scared this go round. I was certainly frustrated though because my clock didn’t think #3 was coming for a couple more years. But the facts are, it had been 6 years since my last birth and apparently it needed to happen sooner than I thought. So here I am, mother of a beautiful step daughter of 11 years, my eldest not so little daughter who was just turning 10 & my sweet red headed monkey child who was almost 7. And in my belly, #3 was growing strong. Each pregnancy, I was better to my body and handled each respective birth in wiser ways. I gained almost the exact amount of recommended weight and was avoiding all the things I had learned in previous pregnancies.

By this time, our friends and family thought it was funny to ask when they saw my pregnant belly, “Hey, you know what causes that right?”. To which my husband and I would both reply, “Yep, no cable!” because ironically at least 2 were conceived when the cable was out! My family didn’t think a 3rd child was a great decision, but I knew this was part of the plan between me and God and he would help me figure it out.

It became clear pretty quick that there was not room in our house for the occupant in my belly, which by this time we knew from the sonogram that this was also a girl. So we had to find space in a new home. Moving while pregnant was to say the least… Not fun. In fact, it was quite stressful because we weren’t able to move til I was 9 months pregnant. So pregnant that I went into labor just as we brought the last shipment of boxes to our new home.

Yet again, my water had not broken, but this was definitely labor. Why did my water never break you may ask? Well, I apparently had a leak in the amniotic sac for 2 of 3 babies and by the time birthdays came, there just wasn’t that gushing signal there to inform me it was time. But the pain radiating from my belly was intense and it could only mean one thing. It was time to deliver my last   baby.

We headed to the birthing center in Cleburne when we felt it was close enough time to not risk having the baby in the car. This was my first go round of being transported while in labor, which was a very uncomfortable ride, but we made it. Miss Mollie was already drawing a bath for me in the beautiful LED lit birthing tub. You could pick the color of the lights and for me, purple and blue was very relaxing.

It felt so comforting to slip into that tub, but I knew that this comfort would soon be taken over by intense pain. There’s a little phrase I used through the last births that was running through my mind, “IT ONLY HURTS TIL IT QUITS!” and this little phrase is what got me through. I knew as soon as I pushed this last one out, the pain would be overridden by joy, elation, love and all the feel good hormones like oxytocin.

I was progressing fast and just minutes before I changed positions to push, my dear friend arrived to cheer me on. That same friend, whom introduced me to Mollie, and who I sat in on her birth. Along with my friend was my eldest daughter, my husband, Mollie and I think an assistant. I felt the urge to push once I got up on my knees in the tub. I gripped the tubs edge and when my body told me, I pushed. While pushing, my life briefly flashed in my face and it was as if God told me, “This is it, once this baby comes out, you can’t do this anymore. You are birthing your final child.”

I wholeheartedly agree and swore if God guided me through this, she would be my last child. I found the strength to push, and what I didn’t know is this little one was much smaller than her previous sisters. It only took two more good pushes and the help of the water to bring our newest little to this very special party in her honor. I did it! I’m alive! She’s alive! I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked God he helped me persevere.

For the third time, and I guess I should have expected this, she arrived face up with her cord wrapped around her neck. She weighed in at a modest 6lbs 13oz.

[Moments after birth]

newborn waterbirth at birth centre

We decided that this time we were going to honor the woman who helped us bring our babies into the world by naming our youngest little after her. We named her Mollie Mae. According the our midwife Mollie, it was the first time anyone had named their child after her. Well, I think she deserves 20 little Mollie’s named after her, but all I can do is name one.

[Mollie and Mollie]

midwife and baby

Once I was cleaned up and I was able to nurse her briefly, we prepared to dress our Mollie and take her home. My middle child was sleeping in another room and once our family was complete, we headed our way back home. We left the birthing center at 2:45 a.m. We were drifting off to dreamland by 3:30 a.m. In our own beds.

[Mollie, a few days old]

waterbirth newborn 6 days old

 

[Mollie, my dolly, 5 years old]

waterbirth baby

I am so thankful to my midwife Mollie for opening this new childbirth door to me. I will forever be in her debt for the knowledge she bestowed upon me. I pray one day she has the opportunity to do exactly what she helped me accomplish. I pray more mommies realize that we were made for this. You wouldn’t drug yourself to run a marathon, births are a lot like marathons. It takes endurance, stamina, strength, courage, and fight to win both battles. I’m proud to say I have birthed 3 healthy babies and never one epidural. I’m also proud to say I chose to go against the grain and used the best midwife a girl could ask for. Thank you Mollie from the bottom of my heart for guiding me to birth my babies on my terms.

Hospital Water Birth with a {Supportive} OB

Hospital Water Birth with a {Supportive} OB

I’d like to share a story that includes a birth story.

I want to share with you the way that the right doctor can have influence. I will start by saying I didn’t have an OB, I didn’t have a midwife, I choose to use my family medicine general practitioner as my doctor. He was my grandma’s doctor, he is my mom’s doctor, and he is the doctor for me and my siblings and about half of our relatives. He knows my whole family. Since he has known me since before I was born, I choose not to have to find someone else.

So almost immediately after that test said positive I was in his office. Here is the first effect he had on this pregnancy. He thought something was wrong and sent us immediately for an ultrasound. While it was nothing, him sending us for that ultrasound netted my child her first nickname, Speck. Because at only 4.5 weeks pregnant that is all my baby was, that speck there on the screen. And to this day you will only find her online referred to as Speck, and half my friends call her Speck on a regular basis.

I went to my doctor for all my appointments. He encouraged me not to take any medicines while pregnant, even if it meant 35 weeks of throwing up. He got his water birth credentials, even though I am probably the only patient he will ever have used them on, since we are pretty sure he will be retiring here in the next year or two. He listened to exactly what I wanted the whole time. Even though he thought I was kind of weird for wanting what I did and questioned why I made the choices I made. I felt comfortable and cared about at each visit and you might ask why I did even though he questioned me, but his questions made me think and ask myself why. If I couldn’t answer him why I wanted that…did I really want it?

He also provided me with the closest thing to the birth I wanted that I could probably have gotten. I went into labor at a convention. I was 40 weeks and 5 days along and walking around. Looking back, walking around with all that excitement is probably why I went into labor. I can honestly say I thought it was fake. I labored 6 hours in the oddest way possible; I made beaded hair sticks, watched movies, I played cards, and walked around the hotel, before the blood on the toilet paper finally made me ask, blood means not fake right? {my poor husband}

I spent another hour laboring at home in my bathtub upon advice from the hospital and my mom. I declared it was time to go to the hospital when each contraction brought on the dry heaving/throwing up that I had already suffered through for 35 weeks, I just wanted to go long enough for them to make the throwing up stop, then I wanted to come home and go to bed.

I got to the hospital and walked in, albeit very slowly. The security guard decided that a wheelchair was beyond necessary. And much to my dismay, the nurses’ station stated that they needed paperwork filled out because while I had been there earlier in the day for the non-stress test it was now past midnight and a new day hence time for me to fill out the same stinking forms again. After getting to the room and getting in the gown and all hooked up, I declared that just 10 hours ago I was only dilated to a 1 and I just wanted the throwing up to stop and to go home. I let them check me, and was already at a 6, at which point they said I would not be going home tonight. The went out to call my doctor and get me a few things, came back and I was near a 7!!!

So they went and prepared the water birth suite. I walked over there myself, only stopping once. They got me on the bed just as my doctor arrived. And arrive he did complete in his bright red swimsuit! They checked again and I was complete {only 2 hours after walking in at a 6}! Speck was still at a station 0 though. So they decided to break my water. At this point my tailbone was killing me, and I was still getting 2 contractions a big and a little. I asked for IV drugs. {Which only took 3 IV’s to finally get in}

After they broke my water it was determined that it was filled with meconium. But I was still allowed to get in the water birth tub, which apparently was debated. In the tub I felt wonderful. I was told I could start pushing at this point. So push I did. It was so odd, I floated along, pushing away. Speck made it down a bit, but after 1.5 hours of pushing, I still didn’t have a baby. At which point…I was told I had to get out of the tub. That was the worst!!! I was SOOOOO COLD! I was shaking and shaking. I tried another position on the bed. I pushed like that for a bit. They decided that wasn’t working either, and I was getting SOOOO tired. They had me try the squat bar. I didn’t like it, but they said it was helping, so I kept at it.

This whole time my doctor and nurses kept going just out of sight and whispering. I began to fear that I was never getting her out and I wondered how long they would let me keep going, I was sure they were over there talking about how to take me back for a C-section because I just wasn’t getting her anywhere.

They came back and started me on pitocin and sugar water because I had pushed for 2 hours and was exhausted. I got a 4th needle stick then. I was at that point sure I couldn’t do it. I cried, I wanted a nap, I told them I can’t do this anymore. My awesome husband told me I could, the nurse was there telling me I could.

So I got in the traditional position and pushed some more. Finally they said she was crowning, but she was getting hung up on skin. They told me an episiotomy would reduce my pushing a half hour. I said yes instantly. The next contraction they told me to push hard. So I did, I pushed with everything I had left {not much at that point} and out her head came, and her shoulders, and the rest of her too; 3 hours of pushing! They flopped her up on me instantly, and she was crying. Oh the joy!!!!

Apparently I was told to stop pushing, well I didn’t hear them, and it was all just one push to get her out. Turns out she was posterior the entire time, hence all the pushing and the odd big little pattern on my contractions. It also explains my level 4 tear! Yep, they cut me and then she tore me the rest of the way. After they called a specialist in, an hour of stitching, and more drugs than labor had netted me, I was again one whole person with a 7lb 8oz 20.5″ long picture prefect little girl.

Now you might say, well, your doctor didn’t sound helpful at all. He showed up in a swimsuit and thinking about it looking down I remember seeing flip flops on his feet. Pretty sure my birth suit was his idea of a beach! But no one noticed that she was posterior so it’s not his fault that no one tried to turn her. It was entirely his doing, though, that I was allowed to continue to push until Speck came out. The nurses were behind that curtain, telling him that too much time had passed, that I was too tired; that the Pitocin wasn’t doing enough, that a C-section was the only way that baby was going to come out. And he stood his ground for me, and said, “no… she’s a tough lady she’ll get her out.”

Without my doctor instead of a scar below I would have tummy scar. And while recovery for that might have gone quicker. I know that I wouldn’t have been anywhere near as happy with the birth of my first child. So I want to encourage everyone to find the doctor that will stand there and tell the nurses… no she’s a strong lady. Because, heck, we are all strong ladies.

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Me and my Speck, 8 hours after she was born. The first time we BOTH got some sleep.

Baby Born Outside the Hospital ER Door {Rainbow Baby}

Baby Born Outside the Hospital ER Door {Rainbow Baby}

My birth story.

Hi Girls….the dust has settled, I’m out of the newborn fog and am so excited to share my birth story with you all.

Miss Elliette Mae dramatically entered the world at 10:37PM on 1/3/13. She weighed 8pounds, 8.5 ounces and was 20 inches long.

The morning of the 3rd I woke up and had an intense urge to reorganize my bathroom. Good thing I was in the bathroom, because by 11:00AM, I had been to the potty 4 times (in hindsight, two very strong indicators that labor had started; nesting and multiple potty visits) The rest of the day was spent running errands. I went to the post office, Target, gas station, grocery store, vacuum repair shop and frankly felt quite productive. I was 38+2 and had been pretty uncomfortable the past three days.

My husband arrived home early from work. I began to prepare dinner, had a contraction, and wondered if I should watch the clock, but quickly got wrapped up in dinner and didn’t notice any other contractions. After cleaning up dinner, my DH and I watched some TV. At 8PM, I looked at DH and said, “Something is different. I have a feeling she’ll be here sometime in the next 24 hours.” The feeling that things were different would not go away….at 9 my DH suggested we go to bed. He instantly fell asleep and I laid there trying to get comfortable. Suddenly I had a strong urge to go to the bathroom, but when I sat on the pot, I couldn’t go. I headed back to bed feeling like I was going to wet myself, so I again headed to the toilet, but still couldn’t go.

I went back to bed, lay down, and had a contraction that took my breath away. I thought, “Wow, better watch the clock.” I did and exactly seven minutes later, I had another strong contraction. I got up, headed back to the bathroom where I pushed to finally relieve my bladder. When I wiped, I was spotting. I immediately woke up my husband saying, “I’m in labor. We need to go.”

Well, DH asked how many contractions I had had. I told him two. He then proceeded to turn on the shower. He was convinced that the baby wouldn’t be here until at least the next day, so he thought he could take his sweet time. It was 9:37 and I called my doula. “I’m pretty sure we’re having a baby.” She said she’d be to our house within ten minutes. She made it in eight minutes and at 9:45ish walked in while I was having a string contraction. She took one look at me and said, “I think you’re in transition.”

At this point my DH was out of the shower, bags were in the car and my contractions were roughly 2-3 minutes apart and very intense. Our doula offered steady encouragement during four contractions before she said we needed to get in the car NOW. She told my DH to put towels down since my water would likely break in the car.

My contractions were coming one on top of the other and it was frankly the scariest car ride of my life. I vaguely remember crying, praying to God to slow it down, gripping the hand rail, and seeing the speedometer at 90mph only to tell DH to go faster. UCSD is roughly 25 minutes away from our house, and in hindsight, way too far away.

We exited the freeway, my water broke, DH took a wrong turn, and our baby was coming….after stopping to tell our doula that he was lost, she headed in the right direction and the hospital was in sight. DH asked where he should go and I said to pull in to the ER. He pulled in behind the paramedics, I stepped out of the car and DH ran in to get a wheelchair. When he made it back outside, he said get in…I said she is coming NOW. I lifted up my skirt and reveled her head, as she was crowning.

I remember keeping my hand on her head and thinking, “I am not going to drop my baby on the concrete.” The rest is blurry, but there were lots of people standing around; random ER patients, homeless folk, passer-bys, and hospital staff. I remember hearing someone say, “Lay down.” And then another voice said, “I’m going to catch your baby.” The next thing I remember hearing was, “I’ve got a shoulder…baby’s out.”

And there she was; just like that; born on the concrete in the driveway of the ER on her terms. My husband had the thought to snap one picture, and that’s all we have to commemorate what is likely one of the fastest labors in history.

Needless to say, I did some damage to my lady parts. But I’d do it all again and again if need be. My rainbow girl is perfect in every way, and my heart is full.

My doula gifted Elliette with her birth story, and in it she wrote, “to be a rainbow baby does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears in the sky, it does not mean that the storm never happened, or that the family is not still dealing with its sadness aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds…..and that light is you. Storm clouds may still hover but a “rainbow baby” provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and hope.

What a journey this has been. Love and light to all, Jen.

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Fast HypnoBabies Birth {Drug-Free, Pain-Free}

Fast HypnoBabies Birth {Drug-Free, Pain-Free}

“When I was pregnant with Siriana, I was like most of American society and saying, “I’m getting an epidural! I don’t want to feel anything!”.

There’s this girl, Chelsey, that was 4 months ahead of me in her pregnancy and was planning an all natural childbirth; I loved reading her blog. It was so inspirational to me. The day finally came and she had her baby. Her birth story was beautiful and it sounded so amazing. I would cry every time I read it. I wanted to experience something like that, but I didn’t know if I was prepared enough. When my water broke with Siriana, I said I would see how long I could make it without an epidural. My contractions started 3 hours after my water broke. They were manageable at first, but being in a hospital, I was stuck to a bed, hooked up to IV’s, and laying on my back, so they could do all this monitoring.

It started to become too much for me to handle. No matter how many times I said no to the epidural, I kept getting pressured into getting it or some kind of other pain relief. The nurse caught me at a vulnerable moment and said, “Quit trying to be a hero and just get the epidural!”. I totally caved and through tears said, “Fine. Give it to me.” Siriana’s heart rate started dropping after a couple of hours. Once it came time to push, my whole left side was complete mush! Michael had to hold my leg up for me. After 10 minutes of not really knowing if I was pushing right or not, the doctor scared me into letting her vacuum suction Siriana out. Despite the unnecesary interventions, my baby girl is here, she’s beautiful, and she’s healthy. It was one of the best days of my life! But I knew that when I gave birth again, things would be different.

Fast forward to being pregnant with baby #2. I was at home and my best friend, Nancy come over. We came across a documentary on Netflix called “The Business of Being Born” and we decided to watch it just to see what it was. WOW! So happy I watched it! My whole vision of the way that birth should be completely transformed. I realized just how cheated I was while in labor and birth with Siriana. I went back and read Chelsey’s birth story about her son, Elliot, and I decided right then and there that I was going to birth this child all natural and out of the typical hospital set up.” – Kashema

Last night (3/19), I told Michael, “When the time finally comes, I feel like I’m going to give birth to Jaxson early in the morning.” Little did I know, Jax agreed with me!

I had been having false labor for a week and I was so over it! I had a woe is me moment (again!) and cried while asking God to bring my baby to me, IF he was healthy and ready to come out. I laid in bed earlier than I usually do (around 8:30pm) and cuddled with Siriana until we both fell asleep. I think my body was trying to tell me something and I’m glad I listened. Sure enough, I woke up to some consistent contractions at 2AM this morning (3/20).

They were very strong and back to back almost instantly. I was in denial for a little while, so I didn’t bother Michael. He woke up on his own though because he heard me moaning into the pillow through each contraction. He asked what was up and I said, “I think I’m really in labor this time.” The contractions were 45 seconds to a minute long and coming every 2 to 3 minutes. Sometimes shorter durations. I quickly started to remember what contractions with Siriana felt like and I laughed at myself for thinking I was in labor a week before. After 45 minutes, I was certain that THIS was it. I decided to call the birth center and Michael got up to get our stuff ready. I told the operator that I was pretty sure I was in labor and she said the on call midwife would call me back. I called my mom and told her to be on stand-by because my best friend, Nancy (who lives only 5 minutes from me) was SUPPOSED to come get Siriana, but she didn’t answer her phone (go figure). After about 5 minutes, Jasmine called me. I had to put the phone down while a breathed through a long contraction. Once it was over, she told us to come in as soon as we could because it sounded like I was already in active labor.

I called my mom back and told her she had to get to our place ASAP because this baby was coming fast! Another contraction hit after I got off the phone and I had Michael to get behind me and squeeze my hips together. He humped my butt and it made me laugh while I was in the middle of a hard contraction. That man, LOL! I appreciated the good laugh. After 20 or 25 minutes, my mom arrived at our place. Siriana woke up from all the noise, so I took her out of her crib. I held my baby girl during a few contractions while swaying my hips and it actually took my mind off of the intensity that was starting to build up. She was hugging me and rubbing my back. So sweet. I love that girl! I walked her to my mom’s car, told her I love her, kissed her bye-bye and told her I’d see her later that day. I went back inside and grabbed my iPod, so I could listen to my HypnoBabies scripts on the way there.

The car ride wasn’t too bad. Only took 10 minutes to get there. About 2 minutes before we pulled up though, I wanted OUT! It was 4AM at this point. We had to go through the emergency entrance since it was after hours. The front desk lady immediately pointed to the emergency room door, until she looked down and saw my belly. She said, “OH! Birth center or labor and delivery floor?” I quickly answered, “Birth Center.” I was beyond answering any other questions at this point and my headphone was in one ear, so she spoke to Michael. He ran outside to park the car. I stood there for a few minutes with my head down on the counter, moaning, swaying my hips, and saying “peeeeeeace.” Michael ran through the door with all of our stuff and we made our way to the elevators. It felt like enternity waiting for those elevator doors to open!

We were greeted by the midwife (Jasmine) once we got to the 4th floor. She started to ask me a question, but stopped as soon as another contraction hit. Once again, Michael squeezed my hips together and I leaned into our midwife while saying, “peeeeeeace.” It was SO nice and quiet. I was the only woman in labor. After the contraction was over, Jasmine showed us to our birthing suite. I absolutely loved how calm and peaceful the atmosphere was. Everyone spoke in really low voices. Our room was perfect; very big and beautiful bed, huge amount of space to roam around, relaxing, and the lights were dim. The nurse (Stephanie) checked me and I was dilated to 6cm already! Saweeeet!

I asked if I could use the tub to labor in it, so they started to fill it up. I sat on the birth ball during a few contractions while we waited… ehhhh I didn’t care for that position, so I stood in a squating position and leaned into the side of the bed. I yanked my headphones out of my ears because there was no way I could pay attention to what was being said in the HypnoBabies scripts anymore. I had on a comfy dress that I really like and Stephanie knew it was going to be ruined soon, so she said, ” You should prooobably take that dress off.”, so I took it off and walked around with just my bra on. I told Stephanie, “Uhhhh, I need to go to the bathroom..” But, she told me, “No, it’s just pressure from the baby’s head.” (She was right) But, I still thought differently, so I went in the bathroom, sat on the toilet, and that was seriously heaven! Just sitting there relieved so much pressure during each contraction. Michael and Stephanie were both in the bathroom with me because I DID NOT want to move from that comfortable spot. I didn’t want Michael to leave my side, but at the same time, I didn’t want him in the bathroom because I was still convinced that I had to go to the bathroom. He kept laughing at me. I eventually got to an ‘I don’t care’ frame of mind because if it was going to happen, it was going to happen, and Michael was going to be in there with me. Stephanie left us alone and we just talked and laughed in between a few contractions while I sat my happy self on that heavenly toilet.

All of a sudden, the urge to push completely took over my body. Pushing felt so good and pushing through contractions while sitting on that toilet was a-maz-ing! (I always read that some women loved the pushing phase and other hated it. I loved it!) I told Michael to, “Tell Stephanie I’m pushing! I can’t help it!” Before he could turn to leave, she stuck her head in the bathroom and said, “I’m here. I heard you grunting.”

Michael was standing behind the toilet. I wrapped my hands around the back of his neck for support and hovered over the toilet while my body pushed down. I still didn’t want to move back to the bed, so Stephanie came in the bathroom, sat on the floor, and flashed a light up my hoo-ha whenever my body would push during a contraction. The baby was descending more with every contraction. She stood up and said, “Yeaaa, you’re not going to make it into the tub. I’m going to go get Jasmine.” My doula, Marissa showed up but everything was happening so fast, that she didn’t have much to do. I came out of the bathroom and made my way back to the bed. It was 5:08AM at this point. I had one leg up to get on the bed, but had to stop and squat down while holding on to the top of the bed post. I could feel him moving lower and lower. I didn’t want anything on my skin now, so I snatched my bra off and tossed it on the chair. I felt completely free. I finally made it onto the bed and leaned into a mountain of pillows while pushing down and moaning through the contractions. All of a sudden, my water bag broke and amniotic fluid gushed down my legs. Michael got on the bed from the other side. I leaned back in between his legs and started pushing more. I moved where ever I felt my body telling me to go.

Jasmine wanted to check me to make sure I was completely 10cm dilated. I laid down and she checked me really quick. In her sweet voice, she told me, “There’s only a little lip of cervix left around the baby’s head. Could you TRY not to push during the next contractions?” The thought of trying not to push made me want to cry. I said, “You’re crazy. There’s NO WAY that’s going to happen!” She laughed and said, “It’s ok, there’s only a little bit of cervix left, so you can keep pushing.” Well good, because I couldn’t stop my body from pushing even if I tried! I was trying to get up and lean into the mountain of pillows, but I only made it to Michael’s lap before I was in another hard contraction and pushing again.

Michael was so wonderful to me! He kept kissing my forehead and telling me how much he loves me and how amazing I was doing. He kept reminding me that it was only pressure (HypnoBabies script), not pain. Here’s where it got really exciting and SUPER intense! The baby’s head was starting to make its way out. I was on my side, laying on Michael’s lap while moaning so loud (apparently, I wasn’t as loud as I thought I was in my head. They said they’re used to women screaming.). I lifted my left leg up and started to “Ahhhhhhhh” the baby out. I wasn’t in pain at all, but the pressure of feeling him go lower and lower was so freaking nuuuuuuuuuts! (Thank you, hypnobabies! Pain free!).

Once Jaxson’s head was starting to crown, Jasmine looked me in my eyes and said, “Ok, Kashema. You’re going to want to push really hard, but you need to find your center and let your body slowly ease his head out, so you don’t tear.” It took everything in me to not want to push with all of my strength and just get him out, but I listened, found my center, and went completely limp as if I was sleeping. I would have a contraction, my body would push, and I could feel his head come out more. Once the contraction was over, I would hold his head there with my muscles, until the next contraction (that was intense!) and then slowly push it out a little bit more. Jasmine said, “Put your hand down there and feel his head!” (Sweet, sweet Jesus, it’s almost out!) I loved all the excitement I could feel in the room and as I reached down, I said, “Oh my God, Am I about to hold my baby?!” I didn’t feel the ‘ring of fire’, but I felt my vag streeeeeetch and then there was some super intense pressure. I seriously thought my butt was going to explode. Then his head popped out. Oooooh my GOODNESS, it felt SO good! I thought his whole body came out! The rest of his body was a piece of cake. They had me turn around though so my midwife could move his hand from being by his face. She told me I only had one more big push!

He slid out, I turned back around and leaned back in between Michael’s legs and they laid Jaxson on my chest (5:49AM)! NO STITCHES NEEDED! Hooray! I burst into tears and just kept saying, “I did it! I did it! Hi baby!”.

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They waited for his cord to stop pulsing, so they could clamp it. Michael cut the cord. I pushed out the placenta. They cleaned us up. Jaxson nursed (like a champ!) and laid on my chest for an hour before they took him to get measurements.

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The emotions you feel after you push a baby out with no drugs, is overwhelming (in a great way) and so amazing! You instantly forget about any “pain” you felt prior to that and you’re stuck in this euphoric moment. I didn’t want it to end.

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I went into this birthing process, super confident and knowing God was on my side, and that there was no way this wasn’t going to happen naturally. I never had that moment of feeling like I was dying or wanting to beg for epidural. I don’t even remember when I hit transition. I was VERY vocal. Crazy primal sounds were just coming out of me (it helped me relax my body and to not tense up), and it probably sounded like I was in an immense amount of pain, but I wasn’t. Thank you, God! And once again, thank you HypnoBabies! Jasmine, Stephanie, my doula, and Michael kept telling me how beautiful our son’s birth was and how amazing I did. It was truly amazing. I did make it over the biggest wall I’ve ever had to climb and I would totally do it all over again. Ahhhhhhhhh, Jaxson Grey is HERE! Our family is complete now.

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Estimated Due Date: March 31, 2013 | Born: March 20, 2013
Weight: 7lbs. 7oz | Height: 19 1/2 in
3 hours and 49 minutes from start to finish!

 

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