Watch January, Brandon, their kids, and grandparents hunt down Birth Without Fear: The Judgement-Free Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum at the book store!
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!
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!
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!
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!
(Editor’s note: this birth experience was originally posted on August 23, 2011.)
To gain a little insight of why I had a C-section with my first born, I have it written down as a “vent” on my blog. It basically started out as one intervention cascading into a ball of interventions that led me to a transfer from a “Birth Center” birth to the hospital that ended in a non-emergency C-section for being stuck at 5cm for hours and hours. I did a lot of processing and mourned the birth and post par tum bond of my beautiful baby girl, Alana.
I did my research, got in touch with my local ICAN Chapter and soaked up as much info as I could. I also found a lovely CPM who takes VBAC’s as I knew the best chance of a successful VBAC would to be at home with the least intervention and the most support. I did all my own prenatal’s, skipped the ultrasound, listened and trusted my body to grow my baby and prepare for birth. I was on top of my nutrition and got monthly adjustments from my chiropractor and even got a wonderful massage at the end of my pregnancy.
My VBAC Baby Born at Home
Wow! Where do I begin? Ethan’s birth has so many emotions attached to it. So many hopes and dreams came true the night he was born, on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010. It’s hard for me to even write what I really want to write here. Whatever I write, it comes from a deep place in my soul.
First, I just have to give praise and honor to our Heavenly Father…for knowing the desires of my heart, for loving me through some hard challenges in my life and for allowing them to grow me. Our Creator is so good. While Ethan’s birth was hard work for me, I have no regrets. I guess I could say I “wish” things had gone differently, but really I’m grateful for how it was. This is his story.
I woke up Friday the 14th (9 days after my due date) still very pregnant and no end in sight. Then around 10am I went to the bathroom to find “bloody show”. It renewed my faith in my body that things were progressing and that I would be having this baby. I was really hoping that I would be holding my baby within 24 hours, but no. Bloody show came and went and Istill had my all day, every day braxton hicks that would always go away when I went to bed. There was no way I was willing to do anything to speed things along. I knew that in order to have the best possible chance at a VBAC, I would have to allow things to unfold completely unhindered. While it was hard and uncomfortable being so big, I was so at peace with where my body was at and what it needed to do. I continued to have bloody show all through the weekend.
Monday the 17th, I felt different. Lots more bloody show and my contractions were slightly stronger. So I did some massive “nesting” and Alana was my sidekick. It was truly a wonderful day spent with my daughter for the last time just the two of us. We made a pot roast in the crock pot, went to Trader Joe’s for some shopping, cleaned the house top to bottom and made cookies! It was such a beautiful, peaceful day. A day that I will remember forever. Matt was in and out of the house throughout the day working and it allowed Alana and I some time alone together.
Monday night, as we got ready for bed at 11:30pm, I noticed that my braxton hicks were still coming despite how late it was. Usually they had died down by now. So of course I wondered. Went to bed and as I lay there, I couldn’t sleep. Contractions were still coming. I got up to find my phone so that I could start timing them. They were coming every 3-6min. Very short though.
After an hour of this, I decided to get up to pee and I woke up Matt telling him I couldn’t sleep, that I may be in labor. I went pee and had a huge gob of bloody mucus, so I knew that this was the real deal. I told Matt I was going to shower and asked him to pump up the pool. Actually, I think I demanded him to.
I felt really calm, but part of me wanted things ready in case things went quick (wishful thinking). Took a shower and tried to check myself, but everything just felt like mush. I couldn’t tell or maybe I just couldn’t reach my cervix. Matt and I then made the bed up with a shower curtain and a sheet over it while the tub filled. I went downstairs and made some raspberry leaf and nettle tea and grabbed a water and set up my birth snacks on my dresser next to the tub. I told Matt I was happy to labor alone if he wanted to sleep downstairs on the couch. So he grabbed his pillow and a blanket and headed downstairs. To help pass time, I blow dried my hair and did my makeup in between contractions.
I did some hip swaying to give room and even did some squats during the contractions. I made sure to empty my bladder every hour. I was drinking and eating to sustain energy. At 6:30 am, I text my girlfriend, Jessica, to give her the heads up that I had been in labor since 12 am. She was my birth photographer and has an almost 2 year old and knew she was up getting ready for work, so I wanted to give her time to plan for the birth and would keep her posted.
At around 7am Matt’s alarm went off, so I went downstairs to tell him he probably shouldn’t go to work. Matt then asked if I had called the midwife to give her a heads up. That kind of annoyed me because I felt like it was too early yet. Then Alana woke up and pretty much my contractions died at that point. Matt took Alana downstairs and told me to sleep for awhile. I was really distraught because I felt like things were progressing and then the moment Matt and Alana woke, it distracted me and labor had stopped. Ugh!
So I took some Rescue Remedy to help me calm down and I layed down and slept for a couple hours. Then I woke up and took a shower to freshen up. Matt and I had an “upset” so we worked that out (I was still mad over the comment her made about calling the midwife). Nothing like getting irritated at each other when you want to be laboring. Then we ate and decided to go for a walk around 3:30 pm. While walking, I timed my contractions and there were coming every 5 min. I had to stop and lean over something for every contraction or hang on to Matt, whatever I could grab first. I’m sure I was a sight to the passing drivers.
Contractions continued to come after walking and eating dinner. I called Jessica, my mom and sisters and let them know to head on over around 8pm. Even though I had planned to labor alone for the majority of labor, I was so ready for some support. They all showed up and my sister Callie announced that she was making brownies. Grrr. I really wanted some and I never got any. I called my midwife sometime after 8 pm to give her the heads up. She listened to me while I went through a couple contractions and said they are about 3 minutes apart, but only lasting 30 sec. She was currently at another birth and I agreed to keep her posted.
I labored all through the night. Everyone found places to sleep and in the early hours, I want to say around 2am, things were intense. I think I was pretty tired and my contractions were getting painful. I was in the birth tub for quite a while at this point, but I had been in and out and changing positions every hour. I called the midwife around 3:30 am and was ready for her to come. She and her assistant headed over. I remember about this time feeling intense energy and it was quite overwhelming. I was getting very vocal and loud.
When my midwife came in, she prayed over me and told me where to release the energy in an effective way by vocalizing in a low/deep tone. What a difference that made. I really wanted to scream the pain away, but with the direction from my midwife I was able to welcome the pain and release the intense energy in an effective way. That is what gets me through the rest of my labor.
I ended up moving to my bed to lay down and rest. Contractions spaced out to allow me to doze and get some sleep. I held on to my mom’s hand and squeezed for every contraction. After an hour or so, I was up and ready to get back to business. I labored all over my room and in the tub. Mom made me some breakfast-eggs and hash browns. I layed down again and was able to get a good sleep. I decided to not vocalize and just relax during my contractions. That was hard, but I needed the sleep.
Around 9am, I got up and decided I was ready for a check. I NEEDED to know at this point what progress had been made. My midwife said that I was about 7cm. Yay! To me, that was a good thing. I had only progressed to 6 cm with Alana, so I was happy to be past that hurdle. It was just what I needed to hear to keep me going. My midwife needed to head out for a little while and so did my mom, sisters and Jessica. It allowed me to focus on getting busy with labor.
My mom and sister Kimberly came back around 1 pm and started timing my contractions. I was in the tub, on my knees, hanging over the side and contractions started getting closer, longer and more intense. I held on to my mom for every contraction. My almost 4 year old daughter pretty much stayed in my room. She was amazing. I rubbed my knees raw from staying in this position for so long. There was lots of pressure in my bottom and at the peak of my contractions, I wanted to push. It was so intense, its all I could do. We called the midwife and she was on her way.
About this time, it started to storm outside. It was really cool. I walked the hall, did some laboring on the toilet and would hang from mom’s neck. Midwife got there and I asked her to check me and she said I still have a rim of cervix (9cm) and that I would need to relax through contractions to melt it. “Yeah right!” is what I thought. She said another option was she could hold the cervix while I push the baby past it. I told her I would try “relaxing” to melt the cervix.
Well, an hour later, I hit my wall. I started having thoughts of going to the hospital. I just couldn’t go on. I was exhausted and there needed to be progress. So I yelled down the stairs to my midwife that I would like her to hold it back. She came upstairs and got prepped. She warned me that it would hurt. I didn’t care. What could hurt worse than those contractions? I got propped up in my bed with Callie and Jessica holding each of my legs, while my midwife massaged cervix in between contractions and held it up while I pushed during contractions. It was so hard finding the right place to push. Thank goodness I even had the urge to push. I pushed 4 times per contraction and pushed hard and at one point the assistant told me to hold my breath while pushing. I tried it once and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath in time for the next push so decided that wouldn’t work and I needed to blow air out while pushing.
During this time, I was fed yogurt and drinking Recharge and Emegen-C to keep me fueled. I think I even apologized for any toots I couldn’t hold in. LOL. Finally, the cervix was gone and his head was low enough that I was able to get into a different position.
I head straight for the toilet. It’s amazing how intense the urge to push is. Our bodies our amazing in that it just takes over and you don’t have a choice. While sitting on the toilet, I was hugging the assistant and my mom and reaching for my midwife’s hand. I think I was reaching for help, for someone to just take the intensity away. For whatever reason, it made sense at the time. I really used some muscles in my body as I was hugging on them hard. I remember saying out loud “I can’t” and the assistant saying back to me, “but you are”. That was powerful and gave me the push to keep going (not like I had a choice, but I was able to rationalize it in my head to keep going).
Some of this is really hazy and I don’t remember much detail, but at this point I was sooo hot and sweaty. I asked for cool rags so the ladies started putting cold rags on me. Then I got in the tub in a reclining position and was still cooking so they brought in a fan and aimed it right at me. I pushed and pushed, then got onto my knees to hang over the side of the tub. I had Callie put counter pressure on my lower back and that was AMAZING relief. I could feel the head come down low during pushing and then suck back up in between contractions.
Midwives suggested moving into different pushing positions since its like trying to cork screw the baby out. So I said I wanted out of the water, but when it came time to move, I didn’t want to. The ladies said “lets go” and so I finally just did it. I really didn’t want to move in fear another contraction came while moving. I squatted on the floor at the foot of my bed and wrapped my arms over my mom and sister’s necks for support. There was a mirror on the floor so that I could see the progress. That was cool and kept me going! Then I decided I wanted to push in a reclining position on my bed. I really wanted to see the progress and my legs were tired so it was time to move.
Propped in reclining position and hanging on to my mom for dear life, I pushed and pushed. There is no pain like the ring of fire. I seriously dislike those ladies who’s babies come flying out and don’t feel the ring of fire. It’s so intense. I watched in the mirror the whole time and reached down and touched his head. It was incredible! I’m so thankful it was slow so that I could process the whole experience. I didn’t want to miss a moment. I just wanted to soak the experience in…the experience that I had longed for and what I missed with my daughter’s c-section. So even though it was painful, God knew that it needed to happen slowly. It was needed for my healing. I will never forget, I was the first one to touch my baby. I was in the moment and feeling totally connected to my unborn baby.
My midwife suggested I grunt, to not push him out too fast and I did that to get his head out. Part of me just wanted to push hard and to get it done and over with. But I chose to ignore that thought since I really didn’t want to tear. Once his head was out (sweet relief!!), I reached down and started touching his face. I got a good minute of touching him and it was surreal. Then my last contraction came and out he came with some maneuvering by the midwives since there was a loose cord around his neck and wrapped around his body and then I reached down and pulled him up to my chest.
He was born on Wednesday, May 19th, at 8:01pm. My sister Callie then saw his parts and announced “its a boy!” and we all squealed in delight! His apgars were 8 and 9 and he squawked when he was born and then it took him another 45 seconds or so to get out a good cry.
The “love cocktail” is real and I got to experience it with my beautiful son. I was instantly in love with him and I smelled, touched and kissed him within minutes of him being born. My daughter got to experience and watch the whole thing. She was right at my side within a minute of baby’s birth, talking and touching him. He knew who is sister was. When she talked, he looked for her and it was soothing to him. She has been so loving with him and I know that her being there for the birth, instantly bonded them. My husband had to walk out of the room because of the intensity, but I know that his heart was full and that he was happy with the outcome. And that he was a BOY!
I had two small tears, one on each labia. I took the stitches in hopes of a quicker recovery. Baby boy weighed in at 9 lbs 10 oz (major shock), 22in long and a 14.5in head! Big, happy and healthy boy milked his time in mama. He came at exactly 42 weeks with no pressure from anyone to have him before then. He chose his birthday! And it took us a little over a week to choose his name, Ethan Matthew Wright. He is simply amazing!
I am forever grateful for my “hands off” midwife who became “hands on” when I needed a little bit of help at the end to get that pesky lip of cervix to move and for her patience and trust in my ability to birth my baby!!!
I also have a picture video here.
Birth experience and photographs submitted by Melissa.
“Come on baby, eviction notice has been posted!”
At 42 weeks pregnant, I feared induction or possibly a C-section. I only wanted to give birth naturally, knowing Pitocin’s negative effects on the body and the instantaneous increase in likelihood of a C-section. I didn’t want to be near a hospital. I did everything to get the little one out, thinking I knew a better time than my body did. I pumped, hiked, bounced, sexed it up, danced…I even downed some castor oil, followed by hot showers, and running. But Baby was comfy and he was staying in. I had some Braxton Hicks that got my hopes up a couple of times, but nothing happened.
Then something lovely happened. My body said, “I have a better plan.”
At 5am, I halfway woke up from the pangs of contractions. “Sleep body sleep,” I meditated, and I drifted back to sleep. I woke up at 8, preparing for my 42 week midwife appointment. I showered, put on some make up, and dressed up with contractions happening every 10 minutes or so. I waddled to my husband in the living room and kissed his face, and said, “I’ve been contracting since 5.” My sweet man turned to look at me and said, “I’m sorry for not jumping for joy, since we seem to have been having false alarms the past couple days.”
“Oh, but love, these are different.” I smiled and he turned back to his computer. I wrapped my arms around him and said, “We are having a baby today.”
Driving though Glenwood Canyon, my contractions were taking my attention. I felt my body tense up in an attempt to run away from the sensation. I took a deep breath and sank into the contraction as one would a stretch, and the sensation was instantly turned into a satisfying effort. It’s hard to explain, but when you work with your body in anything, you feel strong and empowered. The same goes with contractions. I turned to my man and said, “Remind me when it gets stronger to sink into it and breathe and let it happen.” He nodded his head.
We arrived at my midwife’s office, laughing and talking. Finally, I lay down to check and see if there has been any progress.
“Oh honey, you’re 8cm dilated! We need to get back to your house.”
I shrieked with joy; I was right! This was good. I could feel my heart pounding with excitement. We all scampered to our cars, as my midwife called my doula and Nathan called my mom to say we are on our way back home.
My mother exclaimed, “How perfect! I just finished cleaning the house. I’ll make lunch.”
Nathan, my husband, shot through the canyon in eight minutes, where it should’ve taken 30 to get through. When we got into the house, my one year old was waiting for us, happy and smiley. I immediately hopped on the exercise ball and bounced, while giggling about the impeccable timing this little one had. My contractions started getting heavier. I could feel my back and down by my crotch working together. I moaned through it, allowing the deep noise to fill my rib cage and belly. It felt fulfilling and strengthening, like I was getting amped up to climb Mount Everest.
I moved to the bathroom to use the tub, but found I was getting nauseous. I told my midwife I felt like throwing up, but I wasn’t going to. They laughed at me, and with me, and said I was allowed to. Then, as I transitioned, I felt like my hips were trying to abandon my body. I had my doula press them together, giving me strength and a foundation to contract from.
And I saw it. It presented itself like a dinner special: the desire to run away, the desire to quit, the desire to disconnect, and hold back. And I said no. I said I will be present, I will experience every contraction, and I will enjoy it. I will work for my baby.
I started speaking out loud:
“Stay here, Meghann.”
“You are strong, you are powerful.”
“Lord, give me strength.”
“Praise you God, praise you.”
“Thank you for the work God.”
The conversations with God started flowing out easily – prayers and thoughts and desires and encouragement, all from my own mouth. My team sat back in awe, as I motivated myself, often times parroting back what I had said. My doula kept the pressure on my hips and my mom massaged my lower back. I smiled during contractions and laughed after each one. I sang through the strongest contractions.
We moved to the bedroom, where I sat on the birthing stool. How releasing it felt to be spread open, ready to bring this baby into the world.
I started to lose steam. The intensity was exhausting and the work was hard, but good. As I pushed and pushed, my sweet husband stood by making eye contact with me with a strong, steady, reassuring look. He fed me honey water and petted my hair and kissed my neck. Then my water broke and I was instantly filled with encouragement and excitement all over again.
I was pumped and ready to continue and push this little one out. I leaned into every push, only working as hard as my body demanded. And then, as he started to come out, my midwife asked me to hold him there! Oh, that was hard! I took high-pitched breaths to tighten back up, as she rubbed oils and warm water on me.
“We need to take care of your tissue, babe,” she explained, and I was thankful. “Now release.”
And I did, and baby’s sweet, little head came out. The next push he came out in total. My midwife flipped him around three times, unwinding the cord around his neck, which I was thankful she didn’t mention earlier as I might have panicked and tore myself in attempt to get him out faster. I noticed he was a boy as she laid him in my arms, and rubbed him and did all the procedure to get him breathing. He took his first breath, cried for a moment, and then made eye contact with me. It was serenity. He merely whimpered with occasional cries.
We sat together, both high on the cocktail of oxytocin and endorphins.
“I worked so hard for you, my love,” I told my sweet Michael. While waiting for the placenta, Michael latched and we were breastfeeding instantly. The placenta came out and they put it in a plastic bag while it was still attached to Michael. I was propped on the bed with my little one as he breastfeed for an hour. He worked as hard as I did. The high and love that I felt isn’t justified in words or even photos, only the experience can speak for it. It was dinner time by the time the infant exam was done and we all ate together and said goodbye to the midwife and doula.
The timing was perfect. We were rested and fed, and the photos were pretty great considering I had a face of makeup on.
Some of the photography was done by photographer Ken Moehn.
On Friday, April 18th, your daddy, sister, and I were leaving the house for dinner. I had just stepped outside when I felt a small gush. I joked with your dad that maybe my water was leaking. We went about our evening and had a lovely dinner and then went for a short walk. As we got home that evening, I felt another small gush of fluid. I decided I’d sit down for a while and then stand up and “bounce” a little to see if I leaked more. Sure enough, I did!
I quickly called my midwife and asked her what to do. She told me there was an amino-swab in the birth kit and to test the fluid with it and to call her back with the results. I used the swab and it confirmed that, yes indeed, my water was leaking. I started to feel anxious and excited, and I was worried about now being put on a time limit. I had been Group B positive for most of my pregnancy, and the longer I went without going into labor, the higher the risk that you might be exposed.
I called my midwife, Sunshine, and she told me that she felt comfortable with waiting a while to see how things progressed. A week prior to my water leaking I was given antibiotics for an infected tooth (coincidentally, the same pregnancy safe antibiotics they would use in labor for Group B at the hospital). She told me to rest and that we would meet each other in the morning to start me on labor inducing herbs and check on you, but that maybe we would see each other sooner than that.
Meanwhile, your sister was buzzing with excitement about your arrival. She ran around the house yelling, “Mama’s water broke! The baby is coming!” I went to bed that evening, my mind racing with anticipation, and kept telling myself I would wake to labor at some point that evening.
I woke that morning as the sunlight flooded the bedroom. I was having no time-able or painful contractions. I made myself some breakfast and watched TV until Daddy and Cecilia woke up. Once it was a reasonable hour, I decided to try to find an acupuncturist that could see me that day. It was Saturday, so most acupuncturists were not available. I finally got a hold of a woman from the Birth Point Acupuncture group that was able to see me that afternoon. We met Sunshine before heading to the appointment. She checked on you and you sounded great! She then gave me black and blue cohosh and castor oil. We shared our concerns about waiting with ruptured membranes and I told her I was worried about being transferred to the hospital. She told me that she was OK with waiting a while longer and trying to get things started with the herbs, castor oil, and some acupressure techniques that an acupuncturist had taught your dad the day before.
We went to drop off your sister with Grandma Donna so that we could spend some time that evening focusing on helping you drop lower. We headed to the acupuncture appointment and I had a very intense session. The acupuncture was bringing on some contractions, but once the needles where out they stopped. The women told us to go home and rest for a while, then head back at 4pm for a second round if I wasn’t in labor yet. We went home and Daddy and I cuddled and took a nap.
We woke to find Grandma had brought us a breast pump we could use to try to stimulate labor. We headed back to the acupuncture for another session and once again contractions stopped once the needles were taken out. We headed to pick your sister up from Grandma Donna’s house and headed home. Once I was home, I texted Sunshine to let her know I was still not in labor and we made a plan to meet around noon on Easter Sunday at my fathers house to check on you. Daddy, Cecilia and myself went about enjoying what we thought might be our last evening together as a family of three. We watched a movie as I pumped and Daddy got the herbs and castor oil ready for me. I cuddled your sister a while then she was off to bed. Daddy and I stayed up for several more hours working at the acupressure, herbs, and castor oil. As I laid down to sleep that night, I envisioned laboring with you, the contractions coming strong, feeling you drop lower, and finally you being born into the water into your father’s hands. I envisioned this over and over again until I drifted off to sleep.
I woke once again as sunlight began to fill the bedroom. I laid still for some time and felt the sun against my face praying you would decided to be born that day. I finally got up, got myself some fruit and found a comfy spot to sit and pump and watch TV until everyone else was up. The contractions were coming while I pumped, but once I took the pump off my breasts the contractions faded like they had the day before. I waited for Daddy and Ceci to wake up so we could get the day started. The morning went quick once everyone was up. We made a light breakfast, sister enjoyed all her new gifts, and dad and I went about doing the herbs, acupressure, and pumping. Soon it was time to go to my fathers for Easter lunch. I was looking forward to this meal because that evening I would be taking the castor oil for the second time.
Once we got there we talked with the family, enjoyed the sun, and ate probably one of the best meals my dad has ever made! Cecilia hunted for her eggs, and daddy did more acupressure on my hands and feet. Sunshine came over right after we had finished eating, she checked your heartbeat which was perfect, then we talked about taking a bigger dose of castor oil and meeting that evening to do a membrane sweep. I texted my acupuncturist early that morning to see if there would be anyway for me to see her today and she responded at lunch saying she could meet at 3:30. We enjoyed a little more time with the family and decided Cecilia would go to grandma’s to swim while we went to the appointment.
The acupuncture appointment went well. I talked to you while the needles where in and told you not to be afraid, that we could do this, that you would be born at home but I needed you to decide to come soon and that we where all very ready to meet you. The contractions started to have some discomfort, but they faded again once the appointment was over. Daddy and I decided to take a walk on the cliffs above the ocean before picking your sister up. We walked hand in hand enjoying one another talking about who you would be and what you would look like.
The waves were massive that afternoon and so strong when they hit the cliffs it misted salty sea water all over us. I rested my hand gently upon your home and told you to come as strong as the waves. We walked back to the car and went to grandma’s. We visited with Cecilia for awhile, I cuddled her on Grandma’s bed, and we decided it would be best for her to stay with grandma that night to give daddy and I some more time getting you to come. After saying our goodbyes to Cecilia we made our way home, stopping along the way to get a few last things for the birth.
Once we were home, I started pumping and waited for Sunshine to get there to do the membrane sweep. She arrived around 7 that evening and we talked about everything. Daddy was starting to feel nervous about the chance of infection the longer my water had been broken. Sunshine also started to feel a little outside her comfort zone. I told them both that I knew you were OK, I knew I was OK, and I knew that you would be born at home. Sunshine was willing to let me go until tomorrow afternoon to see if labor would begin. I did not want to be in the hospital giving birth and I was very confident that you were perfectly fine, and that you would come before then. Sunshine did the sweep and told me I was 3cm but my cervix was mush. Sunshine left and daddy and I spent some much needed time cuddling and being close.
We drifted off to sleep for the night, but I woke in the middle of the night to some contractions and decided to spend some time pumping. They started to fade, so I went back to sleep. I woke again right before the sunrise. I spent some time envisioning your birth, the contractions coming strong, your head pressing against my cervix, you coming lower and lower until you where born into the water then into your fathers hands. I was having no contractions when I woke up and went back to pumping.
I woke daddy up at 6:30 and asked him to make me breakfast and spend some time with me. I was beginning to feel defeated. I started to fear that I wouldn’t be able to bring you earthside the way I so badly wanted and needed to. By 7:30am I called Sunshine and told we needed to do something more to get things going, so I asked her to come over and sweep my membranes or break my waters completely. She agreed and said she would come at 9AM. That hour and half felt like forever! I laid in bed and cuddled our kitty Luna. She had not been very interested in me or my belly this pregnancy, but that hour she felt like cuddling right on top of you. I think she knew it was almost time to meet you.
Daddy sat next to me on the bed playing guitar. 9AM came and Sunshine arrived. She checked on your heartbeat and told you that today would be your birthday. She proceeded to break my water, starting by stretching my cervix. I went from 3cm to 4cm and once she had broken the waters I was at a 5cm. We talked a little more about waiting longer and we decided that if I was not in labor by the next morning we would transfer. Sunshine left and I went back to pumping. Contractions started to come strong and they started to have some discomfort to them. After about 20 minutes of pumping I realized they where not stopping! So I told daddy to start reaching out to the family & childcare, and to start getting things ready. Before we had made any calls, Grandma Donna called us saying Cecilia wanted to come see me. Once daddy was off the phone and they were on the way I got my birth playlist going, put on my labor gown and sent Sunshine a quick text saying that the contractions where coming more frequently. I began working through the contractions by sitting at the edge of my bed and bouncing on my birthing ball. I was having a hard time finding a comfortable place during to labor, and soon went to the floor and sat in the doorway of my bedroom. I began to make noise as they passed and rocked my hips back and forth.
I heard Cecilia and grandma arrive so I rolled my ball into the living room and visited them. I was still able to talk and move when I was not contracting but needed to focus on them to cope with the discomfort. I started to feel like I needed a quiet place, so I went to the bathroom leaned against the counter, rocking my hips back and forth. Daddy came in to check on me, and I asked him to draw a bath and bring me a drink. The water felt amazing, but the bath was just to small for me to get into a comfortable position. Soon I was out of the bath and heading to my bedroom. Bouncing on the ball was not helping anymore, so I went to all fours and leaned over a pillow tower on my bed. I was starting to really need to work through the contractions and knew it was time for Sunshine to come back. I quickly called her to check in and then put my focus entirely into working through the contractions. Cecilia and Grandma Donna were still home, and daddy and I had made plans for our friend Tona to come by and take your’ sister out to play at the park until I knew you were ready to come. Tona arrived right away, giving me a hug and taking Ceci quickly out to play. Grandma went to rest in Cecilia’s bedroom and daddy began filling the birth tub.
By the time everyone had left I was on all fours in the living room. At quarter till noon Sunshine and Angela had arrived. I remember saying, “Thank goodness, you are here” as they walked through the door. Angela helped your Dad with a few things around the house and set out all the midwife supplies while Sunshine tracked my contractions and offered encouraging words. I was really having to vocalize through my contractions and began making a low Om noise. As soon as the tub was filled I asked if I could get into it. The water felt amazing. I was able to be on my hands and knee without gravity weighing me down. I was having back labor so Angela massaged with black pepper oil for pain relief on her hands Angela applied counter pressure to my sacrum. Daddy got into the water as soon as I was positioned comfortable. He stood behind me, rubbing my back between contractions. I tucked my feet under his shins and leaned over the tub. The pressure he applied wasn’t helping much with my back pains and I remember yelling, “Do whatever Angela was doing!”. Angela showed Daddy how she applied the pressure and I went back to focusing on the contractions. Angela needed to check your heart rate, and it took a lot for me to move into a position she could hear you at. I was contracting while she listened to you with the Doppler and needed her to stop more than once so I could moan and breathe through my contractions.
Soon the contractions were coming so strong and fast that my whole body was shaking. I kept the low Om noises going but they began to grow louder and louder, and I was no longer in control my body. It had taken over and I was now in Laborland. I began to feel doubtful and told Sunshine I didn’t think I could do this anymore. She told me with a smile and a nod that I was doing it, and I leaned over the tub and began to tell my say, ” I am doing it, I am doing it!”. Daddy says I was smiling as I repeated those words. I think this is when the change happened for me. Not only was I feeling intense pain, but I was also feeling pleasure. When the contractions started to release it felt good! I started to make low pitched “Oh” noises and smiled as I felt myself coming down from the peaks of the contractions.
I remember looking up at my birth flag and being drawn to the word “Flow” someone from my blessing-way had drawn for me. I started to vision you flowing from my body, and that is when I think I hit transition. Bob Marley was playing in the background and Sunshine sang the words to the song under her breath. I remember shouting out that if what I was feeling wasn’t transition than I was ready to go to the hospital. All I got back was a quiet and knowing “mhmm” from Sunshine. That was her cue to check me. She came over to the pool and asked me to float my butt to the top of the water (which was not a easy task). Once I had gotten into position she checked me and told me I was 10cm! She asked if I was feeling pushy and I said no, but then my whole body started to feel like it was splitting in two and I so badly wanted to close my legs but couldn’t. A contraction came after that that had two peaks and that is when I felt you move under my pelvis. I remember saying, “Come baby boy, come.”
The desire to push began to take over and I told them my body was starting to push on its own, I then leaned back into your father’s lap and he whispered sweet words to me. He told me that I was strong and that no one would ever be able to tell me that I was and that if they did I wouldn’t have to believe them, and began to cry. I started to feel the “ring of fire”. Sunshine asked if we were ready to meet our baby and daddy and I reached our hands down to feel your soft mushy head starting to be born. We were the first people to ever touch you, and it’s something that I will never forget. Soon your head was born and Sunshine called out “Oh! There’s an ear!” After what felt like eternity your shoulders emerged. Sunshine slipped her hands under your arms and I quickly slipped my hands under hers and we pulled you up together. You where born at 12:40pm from water right to my chest. I remember saying “oh my goodness” a few times then peeking to see if we had a son or another daughter. I leaned back into daddy and softly told him you were a boy! The excitement from him and midwives filled the room.
About 10 minutes after you were born I birthed the placenta and made my way out of the tub. I was having a hard time standing so Angela made me a spot on the living room floor and you where handed to me there. Your sister and our birth photographer, Paige, got to the house at the same. Your sister came quickly over to check you out. We gave each other love and then I told her you were a boy. Oh, what love was in her eyes when she met you for the first time! Once I was able to get up I made my way to the bathroom to get into a night gown and you, Daddy and Ceci went to the bed for some skin to skin time. Once we were all settled in we nursed for the first time. You took right to it!
We were waiting until your’ grandparents got there so we could all share in the burning of your umbilical cord. We wanted everyone that cared for us during this sacred time to share in process of detaching you from what nourished you all those months. Grandpa Steve and Grandma Donna arrived first and Grandpa Steve was so very excited to learn you were boy that he gave Daddy a big high-five! Then Grandpa Mike arrived and we started the cord burning. It took about 15 minutes to burn the cord and each of your’ grandparents, Ceci, our midwifes, and Daddy and I all got to be a part of the process. Grandpa Steve and Daddy finished off the burning together. Soon the grandparents were leaving and the midwives were finishing your’ exam. Tona took Cecilia out for a little while so we could get some rest. Sunshine and Angela left shortly after and Daddy, you and I settled into our first evening together.
From the time Sunshine broke my water until the time you were born was just 3 hours. You listened to me. You came as strong and fast as the ocean waves and you where born with love and in bliss at home.
Thank you, my beautiful son, for taking me on a journey like no other. Thank you for showing me patience. Thank you for teaching me to trust myself and for showing me the most blissful side of birth. Welcome to this beautiful, wacky family. May you forever feel the love we have for you.
“At 38 weeks pregnant I hired independent midwives to help me have a physiological breech birth at home because the NHS were not supportive of my choices and wanted me to opt for a caesarean. Four weeks and 3 days later my beautiful baby daughter was born at home in record fast timing and it was the most natural and rewarding experience of my life. I have Natal Hypnotherapy and Maya midwives to thank for that. Natal Hypnotherapy gave me the confidence to trust my body and believe in my ability to give birth naturally and Maya midwives supported me, allowing me to trust my instincts and listen to my body before and during the birth. Here is my story.” -Ruth
I had always planned a home birth for my second baby but when I found out she was breech, I was told by the hospital this would be impossible and after an unsuccessful attempt at turning her (ECV) I was given no other option but to have a caesarean. I was distraught, I knew I could deliver this baby normally but was shocked that the hospital were so keen on c-section. They wouldn’t let me leave without consenting to this even though I told them I wanted to explore my options. I was 38 weeks pregnant at this stage and if they had their way I would have had a c-section one week later but I knew baby wasn’t ready and after careful thought and research I told them I wanted to wait and to cancel the caesarean. The majority of staff were not supportive of my choice so I began a quest to find an independent midwife.
Several phone calls later I came across the wonderful Maya midwives, who happened to be experienced in vaginal breech birth and very keen to support me. I was overjoyed and it meant there was a greater chance I could have the home birth I so desperately wanted for my baby. I withdrew from NHS care and had regular visits from the midwives to check baby’s heart rate etc. and then it was just a waiting game. I began listening to my Natal Hypnotherapy prepare for home birth CD again every day, sometimes two or three times a day and I made a poster for my bedroom wall with affirmations and other positive thoughts about the birth.
My due date (20th September) came and went and then a week later there were still no labour signs. The midwives advised that I didn’t do anything to augment the labour, such as acupuncture or reflexology because breech babies must come when they are ready if they are going to come at all. So I waited and waited. Natal Hypnotherapy helped me to remain calm, relaxed and focused at this stressful time when friends and family were growing increasingly concerned. When I reached 42 weeks I decided to go to hospital for a scan and CTG monitoring to make sure everything was ok. The doctors said baby was doing really well and couldn’t find anything at all wrong but would be happier if I’d have a c-section the next day. My instincts told me to wait a little longer and so I agreed to come back two days later for more CTG monitoring. In the meantime I began to prepare myself for the caesarean (by listening to the Natal Hypnotherapy CD) as it was becoming increasingly likely that I might have to give in at some point. Again the CTG monitoring showed that everything was fine but I agreed to go in the next day for my bloods to be taken in case the caesarean was necessary. Although I was more prepared for it, I couldn’t understand how my body could grow this baby, keep her nourished for 9 months and then just abandon her and me when it was time to be born.
That very night I woke at 4am with contractions that felt ‘different’ to the Braxton hicks I’d been having for weeks so I called the midwife, Andy, and she arrived an hour later. I wasn’t in any pain at all but had been preparing for this for months using Natal Hypnotherapy so didn’t really expect to be. There was about an hour where the contractions were really intense but at no time painful and our daughter was born two and a half hours later (bum first) at 7:30. Andy said it was the quickest birth she’d ever seen, so quick that Viv, the second midwife missed it! I was glad I called Andy when I did. I used only a TENS machine and Natal Hypnotherapy techniques and our beautiful breech baby daughter, Amália Rose, was born calmly and peacefully in our bedroom. Her birthday is 7th October 2012, 17 days past the due date. I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome, I am so glad that I trusted my instincts and my baby and that I had the support of such wonderful midwives. I will treasure that moment forever.
[Moments after birth with my wonderful midwife, Andy Parker]
[ Amalia and I in front of affirmations poster I made]
[Big sister Ania meets Amalia]
My little Rainbow baby is finally here and, between the chaos of the first few weeks and our soon-to-be relocation to Florida, things have been a whirlwind around here. No less a whirlwind than his birth though! From the beginning I decided to make this my most natural birth to date. I decided on no epidural, Pitocin, induction, or anything medical in order to tamper or alter my birthing experience. Bummies Birth (#3) was a hard one because I did get induced and I did get an epidural, which didn’t work. It only numbed my right thigh for three days, which would have been great had I given birth through my leg, but sadly that’s not how it works. So, due to that and the terrible afterbirth feeling, I knew that I had to take as much control over my birthing experience as possible.
I was initially nervous that my natural experience wouldn’t happen because I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes halfway through my pregnancy. This was the first time this had happened to me; go figure it would happen during my fourth pregnancy, right? I was able to control it with diet, and honestly, not even that; my blood sugar numbers were always so low or where they were supposed to be during the pregnancy that it almost felt like I was misdiagnosed or the initial test was a bit of a fluke. It did force me to eat healthier, but it also caused a lot of stress the first few weeks of figuring out my diet and blood sugar levels, etc.
Because of all the information I read online, I was concerned with issues preventing me from birthing naturally from needing a c-section to getting induced due to the “size” of the baby. I am grateful it all worked out and on October 20th, at 12:22am, my little 4.0 was born! Leading up to the birth, because I had heard a lot about “Birth Preps” (which are a various concoctions of herbs to help the body get ready for birth) and I decided to take some in order to “prep my body” for the birth. After lots and lots of reading, I finally settled on 5W by Natures Sunshine. The instructions say to begin taking the last five weeks of pregnancy, but I was worried it would cause preterm labor, so I didn’t begin taking it until I was 36 1/2 weeks pregnant. I noticed my Braxton Hicks did get a little more “thrilling” and obviously were doing something because I was dilating about a centimeter each week after my 37th.
The pills do not bring enough for the five weeks, so once they were done I stopped taking them, which was about half way through my 38th week. I thought about buying more but decided to start walking more and using my exercise ball to help put the pumpkin into position. On October 19th (39 weeks 6 days pregnant) I had felt “funky” all day and had been running errands all day with my family. We went for a long walk around Target, ate some spicy Mexican food, and even went to the grocery store where I picked up some pineapples which are supposed to help induce labor. I figured it was an old wives tale, but the pineapples looked so yummy and were on sale, so I figured why not?
Of course I was only able to eat half of one because my kids kept asking me for some, so I think that theory got thrown out the window. Hubby and I had a nice BBQ dinner with my parents and after watching some episodes of our favorite show (Warehouse 13) I decided to call it a night by around 10:00pm. I still had this funky feeling I can’t explain where it *almost* felt like contractions but more discomfort than anything else. After saying my night time prayers and finishing my novena to St. Gerard (who happens to be the Patron Saint of Pregnant Women for Catholics) to intercede on my behalf and help me have a safe and easy labor, I “fell asleep”; literally zonked out.
What must have been about 15 minutes later I woke up feeling stronger contractions, enough where I got a little “concerned.” So I yelled over to my hubby and let him know something was up. He of course said let’s go to the hospital and I’m like, “No… just wait a little more until I can figure out what these contractions are timing out at.” As soon as I said that I felt a gush of water and hopped out of bed faster than a cheetah! Yelling, “Oh Carp! My water just broke!” Of course he starts freaking out, telling me to get dressed, and I actually stayed pretty calm and asked him to go get my parents downstairs. This was about 11:07pm.
I got dressed in a blur, threw in the last few things into my bag while stopping every few minutes because of contractions. I managed to give my three sleeping pumpkins a kiss and a blessing before swooping out the door and into the car. I popped on my earphones and began listening to my iPod in order to “zone out” the contractions. At this point the contractions were coming about 3-4 minutes apart and even though the hospital is only 15 minutes away my hubby started getting nervous. I was in quite a bit of pain but I have to say it wasn’t as bad as in the past where I had been given Pitocin. We arrived at the hospital at 11:38pm where I was swooped off in a wheelchair while hub parked the car. I was dressed and thrown on the bed in minutes.
The nurse came in to check me and said I was dilated to 6 centimeters and that my water had not broken completely but I was definitely in labor. They strapped me up to the monitors (which I hate!) and all of sudden they came in to do blood work and put an IV needle in “just in case.” I tried arguing with them not to do it because I wasn’t getting Pitocin or anything else, but they insisted it was “just in case.” Now this is when you need a strong advocate, because I was in so much pain and my husband was so wrapped up in other things that I didn’t even bother arguing. I asked to go to the bathroom; not that I had to go, but I just wanted to get away from all the chaos in the room. I later called the bathroom my “Happy Place” because I placed my ipod in one of the pockets of my gown and labored for a little while in there. It felt like 10 hours but only ended up being about 30 minutes. Which I guess feels like an eternity when in labor.
All of a sudden I saw the doctor walk by with an adorable little ultrasound machine and I was “asked” to go out so that he could check the baby’s position. Silly man, little did he know what was going to happen next. As I reached the bed I had the mother of all contractions and had the sudden urge to go “#2” – and said so very loudly! Well, the nurse looked down only to realize the little guy’s head was already coming out. So as quickly as we got there I was thrown on the bed. Poor doctor wasn’t even dressed to attend birth. He somehow threw on his hat, gloves, and sterile equipment in order to catch little 4.0 within minutes and after a couple of pushes our 4th little blessing was born at 12:22 am on October 20th, 2012 – his due date!
After three horrendous inductions that took three days apiece, I decided that this time it was going to be different, that my son (after five girls and 20 years of trying), as my last child, HAD to have a gentle birth and I NEEDED a positive birth experience. I got researching, spending hours and hours trawling the internet, reading chapters and chapters of books, speaking to everyone I knew who had a “birthy connection”. My pregnancy progressed well with no complications other than pelvic girdle pain for which I had physio, and strangely bothered me less and less as the weeks went by. I had planned a home/hypno/water birth.
I got to 40 weeks and went “over”…The pressure was on. The midwives were calling every other day to ask did I want to “go in”. HELL NO!!!!! 41 weeks, 42, 43, the pressure was really mounting. We were monitoring his heartbeat every other day, doing doppler scans, position scans, and I was having worst case scenarios thrown at me all the time. “I KNOW THE RISKS” I wanted to shout over and over. Finally at 43 weeks and six days I went for a doppler and had a meeting with the big boss midwife who assured me that she trusted me, and that they would “back off”.
After making appointments for Monday, Wednesday and Friday the following week, I went home, secure in the knowledge that somehow I wouldn’t need them. After weeks and weeks of prodromal labour and “is this finally it?” moments, I awoke with a surge at 5:45 a.m., Monday April 9th. I decided not to wake Rob at this point. I secretly thought if I kept it to myself for a while, this might finally be it! About an hour later our youngest woke up and, as my surges were eight minutes apart, I told Rob. But after taking the girls to school I realised they had petered out a little and I just KNEW I had to go home and rest.
The surges were sporadic throughout the day, so whilst Rob did the school run I “selfswept”. It worked like a charm: eight minutes apart again. I watched some T.V. whilst bouncing on my birthing ball, I danced to one of the cds Rob had made for me, I felt fantastic and couldn’t keep the smile off my face. This was it! I was finally going to meet my son. I kept talking to him, reassuring him that this was all good, that it felt strange but that it meant we would see each other soon. I would give him the biggest cuddle and he would get some boobie juice!
The girls went to bed at eight and nine and it had become painful to stay on the ball during a surge. I had to move around. At about 10 pm I felt I needed to be in water but as the surges were still no more than eight minutes apart, I decided the bath was best for now. At 11 pm I sent Rob out for Chinese takeaway. I thought it would be hours yet, but in the 20 minutes he was out, my surges went from eight minutes apart to five minutes. Just after he got back they went to three minutes and he started to fill the birthing pool, going back and forth between the bedroom and bathroom. I was still breathing through the surges but having to concentrate on them a little more.
Sometime around midnight Rob told me the pool was ready and asked if I wanted to get in yet. I had been feeling all of the baby’s twists and turns to position himself and at that moment felt a huge surge as Kristopher moved down the birth canal and he rotated. I said, “Nope, it’s happening here.” The surges came thick and fast, almost on top of each other. My water still hadn’t broken and I could feel the bag bulging. I said to Rob, “I wanna midwife here now with gas and…” We both said, “transition!” and we knew it wouldn’t be long before we held our son for the first time.
All this time Rob talked me through every surge, giving me positive affirmations, telling me how important we are to him and how much he loves us. Then my body took over. I felt like I was dreaming. I was breathing Kristopher down, lying on my side with my head on the side of the bath, holding Rob’s hand, and all of a sudden I knew I had to get onto my knees and told Rob, “This is it, he’s coming now.” Rob jumped in behind me and I said, “He’ll crown this time,” and as I breathed deeply he did crown. I panted as his head was born and said, “Are you ready, daddy? Here he comes!” Rob assured me he was and as my water broke our son slithered into his daddy’s loving arms.
Rob passed him between my legs and I fell instantly in love with my boy. 20 years, 44 weeks and three days of waiting, and here he is – the precious bundle I know I would die for, whom I trusted to choose his own birthing time and place. He still had fluid in his lungs as he was born in the caul. I felt totally at peace as I helped him breathe and clear the fluid and Rob went to call the midwife, “Just in case.”
About 15 minutes later we were still in the bath, gazing intently into each other’s eyes as I birthed the placenta. My little man was born at 1:30 a.m., May 10th, weighing 10 lbs. 5oz, and 22″ long – perfectly, quietly, drug free. PERFECT, just as it should be.