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The Harshe Podcast – Episode #42: The Birth of the Birth Without Fear Book!

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #42: The Birth of the Birth Without Fear Book!

January and Brandon are back from hiatus to discuss none other than THE BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR BOOK!!!

They discuss the entire process, from the initial email January received from a book agent, to the 41 page book proposal, to their trek across New York City with their book agent to meet with six editors, to the actual writing and editing of the book!

It’s a story January and Brandon have been itching to share for a year and a half, and it’s finally here! It’s so exciting that Brandon even busts out his Moviefone voice!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on iTunes!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Google Play!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Stitcher!

Click here to download Episode #42: The Birth of the Birth Without Fear Book!

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Pre-order your copy of Birth Without Fear: The Judgement-Free Guide to Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum today! If we want to see real change in our society where pregnancy and birth are concerned, let’s use our collective voice to change the narrative by getting a copy of this book into every birthing person’s hand! Pre-order a copy for yourself, or pre-order a few copies to hand out to friends and/or family!

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

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

In her first book, Birth Without Fear: The Judgement-Free Guide to Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum (Hachette Books; March 5 2019), January Harshe, mom of six and founder of the Birth Without Fear website, delivers an inclusive, non-judgmental, and empowering guide to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum life.

Each chapter provides you with the all the necessary information, options, and tools to help you take charge of the experience of welcoming your child into the world.

Unlike other pregnancy, birth, and postpartum books, Birth Without Fear will also help partners understand what mothers are going through, as well as discuss the challenges that they, too, will face—and how they can navigate them.

Shattering long-held myths and beliefs surrounding pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum experience, Birth Without Fear is an accessible, reassuring, and ultimately inspiring guide to taking charge of your pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

The Birth Without Fear movement began as a voice for change in the standard of care in today’s birthing world, and Birth Without Fear will empower YOU to be a voice for change in your own pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Options, support, and respect should be the norm for every pregnant and birthing woman, and it can be if YOU, the Birth Without Fear community, vote for that change by pre-ordering your copy of Birth Without Fear today!

Pre-Order Now!

January Harshe knows firsthand how widely birth experiences can range. She has run the gamut from an affirming and joyful planned cesarean to a traumatic emergency cesarean, as well as a VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans) in the hospital, and two home births. One of these home births was such a dramatic departure from the confusion, uncertainty, and fear of her other births that a beautiful idea was born — she would make it her life’s mission to promote a revolutionary birth and parenting message: you can have a birth without fear, no matter how you birth.

January is the founder of the Birth Without Fear community, as well as Take Back Postpartum, Don’t Forget Dads, and Mothering Without Fear under the Birth Without Fear tent—all of which today collectively represent a social media following of over 1 million and counting.

Within each chapter of Birth Without Fear is a Partner Point of View written by Brandon Harshe. Having been by January’s side for six pregnancies, births, and postpartum experiences, Brandon has learned a lot about what it takes to support the woman he loves through the biggest changes and experiences of her life. In Birth Without Fear, he’s shared some of that knowledge to help husbands and partners be the steadfast support person that all birthing people need and deserve!

Members of the Birth Without Fear community on social media are familiar with the conversation shifting regularly to postpartum, and Birth Without Fear is no different. The focus of so many pregnancy and birth books is on, well, pregnancy and birth. But what about after the birth? You have the entire rest of your life to live, only now with a new baby!

This is where Birth Without Fear comes in. With chapters on breastfeeding, self love, self care, mental health, and sex and intimacy, no stone is left unturned for those of you wondering “what next?” after the baby has arrived.

When January Harshe created the Birth Without Fear community in 2010, she wanted options, support, and respect to be the standard of care for every pregnancy, every birth, and every postpartum experience. Individually, we all have a voice. As a united community, we can affect real change in the conversation about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in our culture. Pre-ordering Birth Without Fear is a vote for real change. Order your copy today!

Pre-Order Now!

The 1st Birth Without Fear Conference in Australia!!!

The 1st Birth Without Fear Conference in Australia!!!

Saturday May 26, 2018 was the first Birth Without Fear Conference in AUSTRALIA!!!

It was a huge success and we can’t wait to come back!!!

A post shared by Kayla Rees (@kayla_rees85) on

Got to catchup today with these awesome women at the @birthwithoutfear Sydney conference!!! Thank you @januaryharshe for your total awesomeness 😘 and it was so cool seeing my Doula sisters @doulawisdom and @withloveformama you gals are the best ❤❤❤ #birthwithoutfear #birthwithconfidence #hypnobirthing #hypnobirthinginternational #sydney #doula #2lifedoula #childbirtheducation #Repost @doulawisdom ・・・ It was sooo great to spend the day in Sydney at the @birthwithoutfear conference 🙌🏼 @januaryharshe is so friendly and inspiring. She glows inside and out 😍 Thanks for the fun times @2lifedoula and @withloveformama 💕#birthwithoutfear #doulawisdom #birthwithoutfearconference #loveismyfilter #selflove❤ #doulalife #oxytocinboosting

A post shared by 2Life Doula (@2lifedoula) on

Can’t even put into words… what a journey, so many moments shared throughout the years, of words shared at exactly the right time, of rewriting of old beliefs and stories! Mama J thanks for all you do in this world, it’s so important, inspiring and uplifting. Thankyou for opening up my mind, heart & soul to a life full of love I could have only dreamed of. For shedding light on dark times, the importance of self care and not giving a shit about what anyone thinks. Thank you for opening me up to possibility and allowing me to hear the whispers of my soul and know that it’s more than ok to have a big family and it’s ok to not be “done” I am forever grateful for the impact you’ve had in my life! #youdoyouboo #birthwithoutfear #birthwithoutfearconference @birthwithoutfear @januaryharshe

A post shared by With Love, For Mama (@withloveformama) on

Today was so surreal. I have followed @birthwithoutfear for years! I think I first discovered BWF as a student midwife and being obsessed with reading women’s birth stories. I came across the blog and then Instagram and just fell in love with the love and acceptance promoted. The no agenda, we love you no matter what your birthing choices are message was such a revelation for me and it really helped shape me as a midwife and I encourage all my clients and friends to follow these accounts in the hopes they feel the same positivity towards birth and their bodies. Also personally, I have always struggled with body image/acceptance. I have been fat, skinny and fat again and that shit really messes with your relationship with yourself and your body. @januaryharshe message of self love and self care really resonated with me today, and has over my years of following her. And I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you January for helping me understand mothers perspectives better, for making me a better midwife and mostly for helping me feel at peace with myself. . . . . #birthwithoutfear #birthwithoutfearconference #birthmatters #choicematters #selflove #selfcare #midwifelife #bodypositive #mgp #blissbirth

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The Harshe Podcast – Episode #35: 5 things Your Doula Wants You To Know!

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #35: 5 things Your Doula Wants You To Know!

The Harshe Podcast welcomes its first guest! Tara Brooke from Doula Trainings International joins January to speak about the difference in parenting culture in Spain vs the US, racial disparity regarding birth in the US, the importance of making a postpartum plan, dealing with family after the birth, not being afraid to ask for help from family or your doula, and what your doula really thinks of you!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on iTunes!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Google Play!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Stitcher!

Click here to download Episode #35: 5 Things Your Doula Wants You To Know!

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Considering certification as a childbirth educator but haven’t quite found the right fit yet? Interested in creating inclusive classes where birthing people can become educated about their options and patient rights?

If you’re eagerly nodding your head along to one or all of these questions, we got ya! Become a childbirth educator with Doula Trainings International‘s Childbirth Edu Training program. 

https://www.doulatrainingsinternational.com/dtis-childbirth-edu-training-program/ 

The online platform will take you through certification requirements, tracking your participation progress for your own review of the curriculum and corresponding teaching guide, required scholarly reads and required videos.

https://www.doulatrainingsinternational.com/dtis-edu-childbirth-education-different/

This training is available for both conference attendees and those only seeking Childbirth Education Teacher Certification at DTI’s inaugural Born Into This Conference on July 12-13 in Austin, TX. What you would normally get in our 3 month online program, you will get in this 2 day in person training. You’ll walk away ready to go!

Check out WeAreDTI.com for more details!

Surprise! It’s Twins!

Surprise! It’s Twins!

Lindi shares with us the story of the birth of her twins.

Surprise! It’s twins.

With my first child I was pushed into an induction. First child; I had no idea. I’m a go-with-the-flow gal when it comes to labor. I was told my baby was very big and if I waited I might not be able to have a vaginal birth. I was induced after my OB lied on the paperwork saying I had high blood pressure; I never have. I didn’t know who I could trust and I wanted to walk out of there right then; but I ended up with a healthy baby boy at 8.1lbs. It was a fairly easy induction and I thank God everything went well. That being said, I wanted an OB who I could trust.

We moved to Virginia, and I went on to have two more scheduled inductions after 40 weeks (my choice) that went very quickly and easily, as I was already 3-4cm. I found an amazing OB who respected my birth choices and whom I loved. I had epidurals with my first three children. By the third kiddo, my labor moved so quickly that the epidural never really worked.

When I found myself pregnant with my fourth, I didn’t want any pain meds. I had the most amazing birth in the hospital with my favorite OB. What a way to end having kids, I thought.

We were done. We were blessed with four amazing kiddos—two boys and two girls. On our way home from our beach vacation, I found myself nauseous. I waited another day and the same thing. I just knew. I didn’t want to take a test. I knew. All I could think about was that I had hit rock bottom after my fourth child while suffering from PPD. I never wanted to return there. I was terrified for myself and my marriage. But I took a test, because you just have to see that line; and I most definitely did ­­– I saw a line so dark that it scared me.

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My hubby couldn’t make it to a dating ultrasound at around 11 weeks. It was then I found out we were expecting twins. I was terrified, scared, excited… you name it. I felt it all and was speechless. My husband didn’t believe me.

I struggled to accept the pregnancy for several months. We didn’t say a word to anyone. We were expecting Mono-di twins, which added in further possible complications. I knew of the birth I wanted, but knew it would be an uphill battle to get it.

My OB committed to being at my birth, which eased my worries immensely. I wanted a non-medicated, vaginal delivery, which is quite unheard of with multiples; but so doable. The only thing my OB insisted on was delivering in the OR and the baby presenting needed to be head-down, which was fine by me. I tend to tune everything out and forget where I am while laboring. My ONLY hurdle was coming to grips with a possible internal version without meds.

With monochorionic twins we didn’t want to wait too long between deliveries. So worst case, he would go in and get the other. While I prayed over my birth, my pregnancy went amazingly well. My girls were always within an ounce or two of each other and looked healthy as can be.

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I expected to carry to at least 38 weeks, as I had gone over with all my other kids. I was shocked and scared when my water broke at around 12 one night at 36.3 weeks. Contractions started fairly quickly, and we went in at about 4 a.m. I was only at about a 4. Contractions felt different. They were strong, but they were not doing the job that they usually did with one baby. I think it had to do with the positioning of the both of them in there.

I was still on the fence about meds, but my OB said to me, “You’ve known exactly what you want from the beginning. Go with it.” I had to accept that if I didn’t get an epidural and they had to do an emergency section for baby 2, I would be quickly put under anesthesia and not awake for my second girl. It wasn’t something I wanted, but I wanted my birth more.

I did everything I could to get the contractions that were helping me progress. Sadly that was not on my ball, but on the toilet. Ugh. Labor went quickly, and at around 9:30 I knew I was in transition and got up on the bed. The nurse was called, and scrubs were thrown at my husband. It was baby time. Baby was coming fast and I had to get onto the OR table while trying to keep this babe inside.

The OR table was hard as a rock and about the width of my behind… it was insane. My doc barely had time to get his gloves on before Amelia Grace was born. She had an amazing apgar, and was 6.7lbs.

Baby 2 would not descend and we both knew she needed to come out – so in went my OB, up to his elbow. It was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt. Unfortunately, while trying to turn her, my water broke and legs and arms went flying inside. The first thing he was able to grab were feet, so a breech birth it was going to be.

I have never pushed so hard in my life. I believe a baby is designed to come out head-first for a reason. Getting Estelle’s head out was very difficult. I was exhausted. I pulled all the muscles down the right side of my back from pushing. Finally she was out, and was doing well. Estelle Hope was born 4 minutes after her sister, and weighed 6.5lbs.

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I had done it. I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing and terrifying all at the same time. If I had to do it again, I would.

My girls came home with me, and we were in awe. My kids adored them and we were so grateful for these two new blessings. Unfortunately, I hemorrhaged two weeks later at midnight, called 911 and ended up with an emergency hysterectomy after bleeding out during a routine D&C. It took many months to recover.

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I am thankful for my life and have had the best infant experience out of all my children. We are ever so grateful for hospitals, emergency personnel, OBs, family and friends. It truly takes a village and I thank God every day for all He’s given me.

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breech

Originally written 10/29/2010.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Healing in a C-Section

Finding Healing in a C-Section

My story really begins with my first two babies’ births. When I was about 37 weeks, we found out our first little girl was breech. We had planned a natural birth with Hypnobabies and midwives at the best hospital in our area, so to hear she was breech was crushing. We started doing everything we could to turn her around, but she did not want to turn. The chiropractor who did our Webster technique attempts was even concerned about her because she was SO chill after every appointment. After a lot of prayer, we decided that she must have a reason and felt that a C-section would be the safest way to go. When we met with the OBGYN that would be taking over our care, he was very good, but his bedside manner was awful. We brought a birth plan to discuss with him, and he completely belittled every choice we had made for her, made me feel like an idiot to the point that I didn’t even bring my birth plan when it was time.

We scheduled the C-section, after praying about when our little girl should be born, we scheduled for a Saturday at 38 weeks 5 days, and went home to get ready. The night before, I stayed awake until 2AM, so I could eat the last time before the surgery, but wasn’t hungry so only was able to eat a few crackers before going to bed. 3:30AM. I woke up to go to the bathroom and started having contractions that were lasting one minute, spaced two minutes apart, so they were coming really hard and fast, and since my mother had experienced a 15 minute labor with me, we knew we needed to hustle to the hospital.

They checked us in, got my IV, etc. then left me alone with my husband to wait. They had me signing paperwork through contractions and I was so miserable, but then they left me alone with the monitors, and all my husband did was stare at them. I felt pretty darn alone at this point, even though my husband was right there. What felt like years later, they finally came and took me back to the OR, gave me the spinal, and brought my husband in.

As they worked, the doctor completely ignored me, but did make two funny comments: “Wow, she is REALLY breech,” (apparently she had dug into my ribs as high as she could go) and second: “We’ve got a pooper!” She started pooping as soon as her butt hit the air. She didn’t cry at first, so we didn’t even know she had been born until the nurse came and asked if my husband wanted to see our baby. I got to see her for a minute before they left, then I was alone again, surrounded by people, but no one really seemed to actually remember that the body they were stitching back together was an actual person.

I didn’t get to see her for two hours after she was born. I still don’t know why, they just had me sitting in my room while I hung out with my good friend in recovery, but they ignored my requests to see her. When I did finally see her, she wasn’t interested in feeding or anything, but we were so in love.

Over the next three days, I felt ignored and manipulated by both the doctor and the hospital staff, even going so far as telling the nurses no outright and having them completely ignore me as I cried. It was a very hard recovery for me, and anytime I talked about it I felt alone, because that was how I was made to feel from the moment we found out she was breech.

Fast forward 3 1/2 years later, and we were expecting our second little girl. This time we planned a homebirth. I refused to feel that way again, and I didn’t. My midwife made me feel cared about. She came at 42 1/2 weeks (thanks to some family drama stresses). It was a long and hard labor, but my husband was there for me the whole time, supporting me. When she was crowning, my body got a huge contraction I couldn’t get control over, which shot her completely out, causing a 4th degree tear with spider web tears. It took two hours to stitch me up, and the last ten or so stitches I was no longer numb, so I felt each and every one. On top of this, my uterus refused to contract afterwards and stop bleeding, so I spent the next several hours with the midwife’s assistant on top of me, her fist ‘massaging’ my uterus. I ended up with a slow hemorrhage, which made it so I couldn’t even walk for the first week, because I was so weak. All the complications were traumatic and I decided I couldn’t do that again. Then, on top of all of that, I developed a bad blood clot two weeks after having her, so ended up in the emergency room to clear it, and needing blood thinners for any additional pregnancies from there on.

Despite being supported, I still felt extremely traumatized from my second birth.

18 months after my 2nd was born, I got my first period (yay breastfeeding). Surprisingly though, my next period didn’t show up and we found out that I was once again pregnant. The anxiety over it was crushing, and I knew that I could not handle another vaginal birth, so we began searching for a doctor to do a gentle repeat C-section.

This pregnancy was extremely hard on me. I didn’t really get morning sickness, but I struggled with debilitating dizziness and blacking out. We ended up finding out that I was struggling with a condition where my blood would pool in my legs and cause my blood pressure to drop 30 points when I was standing so I would black out, and fall. It was very hard to be the mother to two little girls through this, but my husband stepped up to help, and we were able to manage. To add to this, however, we ended up having to sell our home and move out of state a month before baby was due.

We found an OBGYN that would take me so late in the pregnancy, and worked on getting our new home ready to meet our newest family member. Because of the previous blood clot and being on blood thinners, I was high risk, so I had to see a high risk doctor as well as my OBGYN. During the routine appointment with the high risk doctor, we found out that my platelet count was low. This was concerning, because it meant I couldn’t have a spinal or epidural. I was concerned about how this would affect my birth, scared of the idea of being asleep and missing my baby’s birth, but after praying, we again felt that this was the safest option for me for this baby’s birth. We hoped my numbers would go up, but came to terms with the possibility that we would need general anesthesia.

The big day finally came, and we went in to the hospital, got blood drawn to check platelets one last time, IV started, paperwork signed. We all held our breath, waiting for the platelet count to come back, and to meet with the anesthesiologist to see what our birth would be. When the numbers came back, it was disheartening. They had dropped from 82 to 74, risking me out of a spinal. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to us, and started trying to figure out how to tell us that he felt the general would be safest. I cut him off and told him that if he felt that was the safest option for me, that I support his decision and do it. He was really happy to hear that; he had expected a fight.

healing1

They got me a wheel chair and wheeled my into the OR, put me on the table, and got me all prepped. Everyone was apparently in awe of me, because I was making jokes and making everyone around me laugh. I guess they expected me to be more afraid, but prayer had given me the peace I needed to know everything was going to be alright; I wasn’t scared. Finally they put the gas mask on me and I went to sleep.

healing2

When I woke up, they were wheeling me out of the OR. They were all telling me about my little guy, how he had monkey toes and a huge head. I had to be in recovery for a little while, but the nurses kept coming and updating me on his progress, how he was doing. The anesthesiologist even came by to tell me how great everything went, made me feel like I was actually cared about. Finally I was able to go back to my room to see my baby. He latched on perfectly as soon as I had him in my arms, impressing all the nurses.

healing3

The greatest blessing from the whole experience is I didn’t have a single nurse that pushed me to do anything. When I wasn’t well enough to start standing, they let me take my time. When my bleeding wasn’t slowing as quickly as they thought, they made sure to take extra precautions to make sure I wasn’t going to keep bleeding. They respected me and my choices for our care, listened to all my concerns. Most people wouldn’t feel empowered or healed with general anesthesia, but I was, despite not having my baby skin to skin in the OR, my choices were respected, my voice was heard.

One Woman’s Successful Frank Breech Vaginal Hospital Birth

One Woman’s Successful Frank Breech Vaginal Hospital Birth

Let me rewind a little bit…At 37 weeks, we found out via ultrasound that Everett was frank breech. We tried everything we could to turn him. Everything was totally unsuccessful in turning him. He was stubborn and comfortable in his breech position.

Typically, a breech baby these days means a c-section. But I was being told by my midwives that I was THE perfect candidate to attempt a vaginal breech delivery…if I could find an experienced doctor willing to do it. Immediately after that 37 week ultrasound, I started calling every OB in our city (we live in a big city). After dozens of phone calls and lots of No’s, I found someone willing to meet with me to discuss it. We met and after a thorough health history discussion and an extensive examination, we all decided I was a good candidate and we’d do a trial of labor and see how things went.

However, delivering with an OB in a hospital setting meant having to compromise on some things that I wanted. In the mean time we tried everything we could to get him to flip. I saw a chiropractor who used the Webster technique. I saw an acupuncturist for moxibustion acupuncture. I did the spinning babies protocols at home. I shined a bright flash light on my lower belly multiple times a day. I took a homeopathic supplement that’s supposed to encourage flipping. I drank 100+ ounces of water a day to up my amniotic fluid levels, hoping to give him more room to move. And last of all, we tried an EVC (External Cephalic Version).

Then about 39 weeks, the priority went from turning him to encouraging labor to come on it’s own since inductions are not allowed with a breech. My doctor was scheduled to leave the country on September 3rd, so we had a scheduled c-section for September 1st. If he wasn’t here to deliver, I’d end up with a cesarean anyway. I had a deadline for getting this baby out naturally!I had contractions on and off starting around 38.5 weeks, but nothing stuck around (much like my pregnancy with #2). On Thursday September 28th at 39 weeks 3 days, I saw my doc and he did an internal exam to check for dilation. I was 3-4cm but not very effaced. Baby was engaged in my pelvis, but we think not having the pressure of his head on my cervix probably kept me from thinning out like I normally would.

I had some crampy contractions after the internal check (which was at 4pm), but I figured my cervix was just irritated, and they’d go away. We went for a long walk after my appointment to try to get things moving. By 7pm I was still feeling them and they were definitely painful. In the back of my mind I knew they were the real thing, but I didn’t want to jump the gun. I took a long shower after the kids went to bed, did some cleaning, and a little laundry.

By 11pm they were spacing out quite a bit to just a few an hour but still pretty painful. We decided to go to bed and get some sleep. I said a prayer and asked the little boy in my belly to allow me at least a few hours of sleep. But I kind of knew that wouldn’t happen. When had he cooperated up to that point?! I maybe slept 30 minutes before a hard contraction woke me up. Then maybe another 20 minutes and another 15 before I gave up and couldn’t stand to be laying down any longer.

I grabbed my phone and sat up in bed timing them and trying to distract myself from the slight anxiety that started to creep in. Around 2am I decided I was truly in labor with contractions 7ish minutes apart and it was time to pack the last minute stuff and wake up my husband, Corey. I let him know what was going on and decided to take another shower because I was having terrible back labor and the water on my back sounded nice.

I paged my midwife at 2:15am, and she thought it would be a good idea to come to the house and do an internal exam and see where I was at. We called Corey’s mom to come over and sleep on the couch until the girls woke up. I started to get a little nervous that it was a false alarm because my labor pattern was so weird and different from anything I’d experienced before (strong contractions further apart with multiple small ones in between). By the time both of them were here, my midwife determined I was 6cm and my water was bulging. And as soon as everyone arrived, my contractions were picking up in frequency and intensity, so we decided to head to the hospital since my labors move fast. By the time we got there and got into a room, it was almost 4am.

Despite my history of quickly progressing labors and the fact that I was once again GBS positive and needed antibiotics, the L&D nurse completely ignored me. She got me in a room, asked me for a urine sample, and left. We didn’t see her again for 45 minutes (she was too busy chatting with the ladies outside). And she only came into the room at that point because my water had broken and I still didn’t have an IV line inserted, and I was definitely going through transition.

I was incredulous when she told me I had to SIT in the bed while they monitored my and baby’s vitals for 20 straight minutes to make sure he was tolerating labor well before I could go ahead with a breech delivery. HELLO!! Why didn’t she tell me that and get that going the second I got in there?!?! Now I had to sit there for TWENTY a minutes while going through TRANSITION????? I was ready to scream and bite her head off and I made sure she knew I was pissed.

She then proceeded to try to get an IV going. The first time she couldn’t get the vein. The second spot she tried my vein blew and there was blood gushing and dripping down my arm. If I had not been in terrible labor pain and distracted as a result, I’d have definitely passed out. Then she stuck me a THIRD time and was only able to get the needle in half way, but it was enough to get stuff in me so she left it. She was very vocal about how long it took to get a vein since I refused to let her stab me during a contraction (which were coming every 90ish seconds at that point). It was clear early on that this lady and I were not going to get along. I was just SO glad my midwife was there to support me, help me stay sane, and be a mediator between me and this awful nurse.

By the time she had me hooked up, she said if they didn’t get me moved to a delivery room ASAP I might end up having the baby right there. But due to the intensity and frequency of my contractions, it took me 15ish minutes to even get out of the bed and into a wheel chair for her to move me. Which she was clearly annoyed by and also very vocal about. Once I got to a delivery room they were prepped and ready to go. My doc checked me and I was 10 cm, but had a lip on my cervix still and was told I could NOT push yet. Because he was bottom first, it was very important to be fully effaced so we didn’t risk head entrapment.

I had THE worst back labor I have ever had. The level of pain I was experiencing (I assume because of his position) was in another realm from what I’d experienced with either of my girls. I wasn’t able to labor in water because I was so close, and a water birth was out of the question this time around. I started to lose my cool in a way I’ve never done before in labor. And then I was involuntarily pushing and could not stop. They checked me again but I still had a lip and wasn’t supposed to be pushing.

It was at that point that I did something I never thought I’d do, I asked for an epidural. I got THE rudest most disapproving glare and shake of the head from that awful nurse. I was ready to bite her head off! I was in so much pain that I was actually starting to go crazy and I knew the only way I’d be able to not push was to not feel the contractions. I was feeling guilty, but my midwife assured me that it was TOTALLY reasonable to want an epidural this time around and at least I had made it almost the whole way without. She said I likely would not have the drugs in my system long enough for them to cross the placenta and affect the baby. It’s not standard practice to give a woman an epidural at 10 cm, but this was a special case.

There was a chance of needing an episiotomy to make room for baby’s head as well as the possibility that the doc would need to stick his hand up there to flex baby’s head or use forceps for the same reason if baby wasn’t flexing his head on his own. And I didn’t want to feel all that going on. They had an anesthesiologist on standby in the room in case I wanted it for these exact reasons, so as soon as I said the word, they got to work. He was pretty quick, but it was still agonizing to try and sit still through those contractions while he placed the catheter.

Let me just say, one of my biggest motivating factors for natural drug-free childbirth (outside from the whole idea of it’s better for baby to not be doped up) was my fear of needles and the idea of getting one put in my SPINE. Well…it wasn’t bad. AT ALL. I don’t even know why I was so scared (of course, in the moment, all I wanted was that needle in there to start the drugs flowing). And within 5-10 minutes of that being put in, I started to smile and sat back and said “so THIS is why people get these things!!” Hahahaha! It was SUCH a relief. They gave me a low enough dose to still feel the contractions a bit so I knew when to push, but enough to be totally numb in my lady regions. And because I was able to finally relax a little and take some deep breaths, that lip on my cervix was gone in minutes.

It was time to push.Throughout my laboring at the hospital, I’d had several nurses and doctors ask my permission to witness the birth (since a breech delivery is pretty rare). And I said ok to everyone who asked. I figured, it was a learning experience for all, and if it resulted in more women being able to do a vaginal breech delivery, than I was happy to pave the way and be the guinea pig. Corey was really tempted to take full-room selfie but wasn’t sure everyone would appreciate it (particularly that evil L&D nurse). I think it would’ve been pretty funny though!

So with an audience of four doctors, three midwives, and another four or five nurses plus my own midwife and husband, I pushed with all my might! It was pretty weird to feel/watch him coming out bottom first. Once his bottom and legs were out I kept pushing to his shoulder blade. He was just kind of sitting almost cross-legged on the bed waiting for his head to come out, moving a bit but not frantic or anything. Kind of strange and really cool all at the same time.

I think it was at that point that the doc gave me a very small episiotomy, but I can’t remember for sure. It might have been earlier. All I remember is that I was pushing this baby out like my life depended on it. Because his did. Once he was out to his head, I had 3 minutes to push his head out before he’d run out of oxygen since he cord was compressed. I remember the doctor telling someone to watch the clock and said out loud to me “ok Amber, we’ve got 3 minutes. Plenty of time. You’re doing great. Let’s just finish up the job.” He then used forceps to flex his head as he was not flexing on his own, and about 30 seconds later, he was out! I think I pushed a total of 5-10 minutes from start to finish. He had zero breathing problems and apgar scores of a 9 and 10. He was immediately placed on my chest while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up.

Everett 1-2

I’m not a crier. It was the only time I’ve ever cried at one of my childrens’ births. Not because I’m not emotional or ridiculously happy, I just don’t express my feelings with tears usually. But this time I was just SO relieved and happy that he was here safe and sound that I couldn’t help it.He was born at 6:25am. He was gorgeous. It was weird not seeing a cone-shaped head on him. He nursed almost immediately like a pro.We were somewhat like celebrities among the hospital staff during our stay but in a good way. “Oh!! YOU are the breech delivery????!! Congrats and way to go!!!” Recovery has been tougher with the episiotomy. I had one with my first baby, but I wasn’t chasing two toddlers around while trying to heal. But I wouldn’t trade the vaginal delivery for anything. Sooo glad we did it and so thankful we found a doc willing to do it!!I want my experience to help empower other ladies to have breech deliveries if they’re the right candidate for it!

by Amber Hansen

My Breech Twin Vaginal Birth After Three Miscarriages

My Breech Twin Vaginal Birth After Three Miscarriages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

twins

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

Maternity Shoot

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

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

Gown

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

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

labor

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

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

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

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

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

Arijana

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

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

Isabella

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

Snuggle

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

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

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