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The Sun Is Shining Through: A Peaceful Home Birth

The Sun Is Shining Through: A Peaceful Home Birth

I’ve been floating on that post-birth cloud that only the miracle of new life brings. Soon enough, or perhaps it is happening already, I will slowly float back to the ground as Holden and I navigate the fourth trimester together.

The joy, pain, awe, intensity, shock, and gratitude of Holden’s birth are still so near to me. Andrew and I have been like cloud gazers pointing to the sky and marveling at the shapes and patterns displayed as we recall his birth.

The clouds are slowly drifting to make room for new stories and memories to be formed.

April 22 2017

6:30 AM
It was an ordinary Saturday that began as most do. We woke with more ease and less rush. I had already surpassed 37 weeks and 5 days which was when our first son was born so I adjusted my mindset for this pregnancy to not anxiously anticipate labor any moment until closer to 42 weeks so that I would patiently wait for this baby’s own timing.

9:23 AM
My MIL texts me: “Are you feeling anything? Contractions?”

I respond: “No contractions…he feels lower though. I could see going into labor tonight or being pregnant for weeks still haha…I have no idea anymore.”

I was 38 weeks and five days. Andrew and I took Eli, our two-year-old, to the aquarium in the morning and then out to lunch. We told Eli that we would get him ice cream on the way home, but he soon fell asleep in the car.

1:00 PM
Andrew and I stole spoonfuls of Eli’s ice cream until it was almost gone. We all laid down once we got home in the living room. Eli woke up, found his toy doctor kit, and put the stethoscope to my belly to “check baby.”

6:00 PM
I walked around our backyard as I had done many times this pregnancy. The last few weeks of this pregnancy were remarkably different than my first pregnancy with Eli. Even when I was extremely active with walking, squatting, and cleaning, I would not even get one Braxton Hicks contraction this time. I was expecting prodromal labor like I had with Eli for two weeks.

I began to feel pressure. A burst of excitement filled my heart and mind. After not feeling any signs of labor, I was overjoyed to feel my baby move lower in preparation for birth. Because of my previous experience with prodromal labor, I thought that labor would be far off.

6:30 PM
A contraction. I felt a real contraction. I told myself that I would not tell Andrew about any contractions until it became completely obvious I was having them without even exchanging words, but I was too excited. We stood in the kitchen as I leaned over the counter, and he looked at the clock to note the time-just in case we would want to remember this moment.

7:30 PM
We put Eli to bed. I rocked him in my arms as I dreamed of tonight being the night, but quickly stopped allowing myself to dream too much. I still had a lot of pressure and could feel that Holden was low, but there was no time-able pattern to the contractions that seemed to be fading away. I could still move freely and focus on everyday thoughts and tasks so I talked myself out of thinking labor could be near.

9:30 PM
Suddenly, intense contractions bringing me to my hands and knees hit me. I welcomed these 15-30 second contractions, but their short length and inconsistent nature made me think active labor was still far in the future.

I tried lying down in bed for the night to see if I could sleep. Instead of drifting off into sleep, being alone in the darkness of our room with these contractions scared me. I didn’t want to be alone anymore.

I knew in that moment that tonight actually could be the night. I got Andrew, and we decided to watch a show together. Soon enough, I told him to turn off the TV because I could not stand the noise anymore. Contractions seemed a bit more intense, but still under 30 seconds long.

9:52 PM
I texted my midwife Laura: “I’ve been having contractions for a few hours but they haven’t been consistent…and now I can’t remember when exactly I should call you?…I think they’re starting to pick up but I’m also not sure if it’s prodromal labor.”

10:17 PM
I called Laura. I debated after I texted her whether or not I should even call thinking it could just be prodromal labor. On a deep, intuitive level, I must have known that it was time. I told her what I had been experiencing including my doubts about it possibly just being prodromal labor. She told me that she could leave now to come over or I could wait to call her if I wanted more time alone with Andrew to see how things progressed. I was leaning toward waiting to call her back.

After she explained when I should call her back, Andrew said, “Yeah, I think we are already at that point.” She said that she was going to leave right away then.

10:20 PM
I sought the peaceful and familiar darkness of our bedroom. Andrew unlocked the front door to welcome Laura in once she arrived before coming to my side. It was as if unlocking the door unlocked anything holding me back from fulling going into active labor.

Contractions were suddenly much longer and more intense. I could barely talk. I felt as if everything was in fast-forward. Previously, I had imagined hours of laboring around the house, but I now knew I would not be leaving the room or maybe even the bed without our baby being born first.

11:00 PM
Laura quietly arrived and found us. I was relieved to know she was here, but could not focus on anything but the intense contractions. I did not want to make eye contact with anybody. I was in my own birthing zone. She came to my side acknowledging that labor must have gotten more intense since I had called her. She found Holden’s heart rate in between a contraction.

I felt my body gently pushing. “I think I’m pushing!” I said in slight disbelief. I knew that my body was pushing, but I couldn’t believe it.

11:30 PM
I moved to a smaller bed in our room that we had set up specifically for labor. I felt the welcomed release of my water breaking with the next contraction. I felt my baby move down. I felt like the pain was too intense. I felt like this couldn’t really be happening so quickly.

“I can’t do this. I’m not doing this anymore,” I said multiple times. Even in the moment, I almost laughed at myself for saying that because my body was involuntarily pushing even more strongly. I was doing this. Any words of fear were met with gentle and quiet encouragement.

11:45 PM
I did not want to leave the bed because I could not imagine walking over to the tub at the time, but with more encouragement, I got into the water. Peace and relief instantly filled my body and soul. I felt Holden moving downward with each contraction.

11:52 PM
I felt his head and with the next contractions, he was born into the water. I pulled him onto my chest in complete awe.

I looked at his face and thought, “It’s you. It’s always been you.”

There we were: in the water surrounded by Andrew and our midwives.

There we were: held in a space of love, safety, and respect.

There we were: in the same room where I had dreamed about this moment for so long.

There we were: in our first moments apart yet still connected.

We moved out of the tub and onto the bed where I soon birthed the placenta with Holden on my chest.

Holden weighed 8lbs 14oz and was 21 inches long. Just a few hours after active labor started, Andrew and I found ourselves lying in bed with our newborn baby drifting off to sleep in the bassinet next to me. There were details of the birth for which we had prayed specifically, and in God’s amazing goodness, came into being in ways we cannot fully express our gratitude.

6:10 AM
Eli woke up after sleeping through his baby brother’s birth. Andrew brought him to our room to meet Holden for the first time. Eli was amazed by every movement Holden made and even ran downstairs and back up to bring him a toy.

Just as clouds do not suddenly disappear, it’s hard to find the right ending to Holden’s birth story.

We are out of those hazy, magical hours immediately after birth. My milk has come in, the adrenaline of birth has worn off, and the clouds are slowly drifting.

The sun is shining through, and I’ve never felt more tired and alive all at once.

“There is power that comes to women when they give birth.  They don’t ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds on the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it.” -Sheryl Feldman

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Carolyn F. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

birth, pregnancy, birth in car

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

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

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

birth in car, pregnancy, birth

Submitted by Kellie Lister.

A Blood Clot, Zika, and High Risk Natural Hospital Birth

A Blood Clot, Zika, and High Risk Natural Hospital Birth

Three years ago I was traumatized during my son’s birth and it took me a long time to be ready for another baby. When we found out we were pregnant again we were excited and ready to give natural birth another shot. When I was 21 weeks pregnant we moved to Tonga (in the South Pacific) to serve as missionaries for two years. We met with a local midwife who barely spoke English and she agreed to do our home birth. But when we were offered a different ministry job when I was 29 weeks pregnant we decided to come home to Washington. As we were driving to the airport my leg began to swell and I knew that I had developed a blood clot. Over the course of our twenty-four hour trip home my husband began to feel sick and we knew that he had contracted Zika. When we finally arrived home and were able to go to the ER, they confirmed that both were true – I had a large DVT from my iliac vein to my knee and Charlie’s test came back positive for Zika. Our dream of a home birth went out the window, and it took me nearly two more months to find an OB who would take my high risk case so late in my pregnancy. I was put on a blood thinner and the doctors let us know that if my labor was quick (meaning I had taken my blood thinner within the previous twelve hours) that an epidural would not be an option.

It was Saturday morning and I was 38 weeks and 6 days into my pregnancy. It was a beautiful day and after discovering the loss of my mucus plug that morning I knew labor was going to be happening sometime that weekend. I didn’t have any signs of labor all day other than just feeling very “ready”. She had been getting lower and lower for weeks, and the previous Tuesday my doctor had confirmed that I was dilated 4cm. I was very discouraged by the time I went to bed that night around 10:30pm, I thought for sure that I would have started having at least some cramping by then.

Around 2am I woke up to some loud banging upstairs and checked to make sure everything was okay, which it was. I went back to bed but shortly after laying down felt my first real contraction. It felt like a Braxton Hicks contraction, but lower in my uterus and painful. I started having them every few minutes, they were about ten breaths long. I knew it was finally time and I was so excited! After about half an hour I got in the shower and by the time I got out I knew it was time to wake up Charlie and start packing our stuff. The contractions were short but very intense, I could not talk or move through them. Charlie was excited and giddy as he got ready, and he seemed to miss how fast things were progressing until I finally looked him in the eyes and told him we NEED to leave soon. I was struggling to walk around and finish getting ready and packing and was frustrated that I couldn’t brush my hair because I just wanted to leave! We were finally ready and left for the hospital around 4am.

Once we got in the car I began timing contractions and they were about 3-4 minutes apart and 1-2 minutes long the entire 40 minute drive. At one point we had to pull over so I could throw up on the side of the highway. I was feeling very scared about what lay ahead of us and I was regretting my choice to have a natural birth. I knew that if these contractions were already this painful that transition and delivery were going to be hell. I kept telling Charlie how I didn’t want to do this.

Emma, our doula, greeted us in the parking lot and was very helpful in confirming for me that “Yah, this part sucks balls.” Which made me feel better. We somehow managed to get the worst nurse in the entire hospital who asked me during a contraction, “So, what brings you in?” When she checked my cervix I was 6cm, 90% effaced and my bag of waters was “bulging”. I wanted an epidural so bad at this point but she confirmed for me that they couldn’t, because I had taken my blood thinner seven hours earlier. I was so pissed and did not want to be labouring naturally anymore. They transferred us to a delivery room and during my next contraction I must have muttered the word “pressure” because she checked me again and I was 9cm. Apparently I went through transition in the wheel chair 😉

I was really happy to hear that my doctor was on call that night. I had a crazy time trying to find an OB in my last trimester and was so relieved when I started seeing him, but I knew that my odds of getting him for delivery were slim. He brought some familiarity and comfort to the situation. He let me know that everything was ready to go and I could either continue to labor and wait for my water to break, or he could break it right now and she would most likely be born immediately. I didn’t know what to do and was frustrated that no one would tell me what the better choice was. On the one hand my contractions were incredibly painful, but they were actually spaced out pretty far apart. But on the other hand I was terrified of pushing her out and couldn’t bring myself to jump into that next phase. So I continued to lay on my side in the bed for about another hour as my contractions got more painful and I could feel her moving lower and lower.

Emma and Charlie suggested I roll to my right side so I did, and during my next contraction I felt my body do a huge involuntary push and my bag of waters exploded all over the bed. “Breaking” is not the correct term for what happened, it was honestly the biggest gush and it terrified the crap out of me (I don’t know why). I immediately began panicking and screaming and soon my doctor and nurses had returned to the room. This part is more of a blur than the rest because it happened so fast and I was completely freaking out the whole time. I grabbed Charlie and wrapped my arms around his neck and began pushing her out. This was very different than I imagined it because it wasn’t controlled pushing during contractions punctuated with breaks, but more like one long push with pauses, while I screamed bloody murder. I remember feeling her crown briefly and then they told me her head was out. I don’t think Ive ever been so happy in my life! I gave another hard push and the rest of her was born. I was so glad it was over and couldn’t believe it all happened so quickly. After a few minutes Charlie cut the cord and I was able to lay her on my chest. She was born at 7:08am, about five hours after my first contraction.

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

hospital birth, labor, zika, blood clot

It was such a beautiful celebration and the atmosphere in the room alone made all the pain worth it. It was amazing just being able to take unlimited time together as a family without anyone stressing over us. Eventually we moved into our recovery room and ordered breakfast and called our families. Everyone was able to meet her within a few hours!

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

hospital birth, zika, blood clot

Submitted by Sara Montes. 

Photographs by Have Heart Photography

Blissful, Nearly Unattended Home Birth

Blissful, Nearly Unattended Home Birth

I had been having false starts for about a week. Light contractions every night that went away when I slept, and didn’t start up again until the next night. Saturday I was 40 weeks 1 day. My midwife stripped my membranes after checking me to find I was 2 cm, long and thick, but somehow at a PLUS 2 station (yes, I double checked). The rest of that day I felt nothing but the random Braxton-Hicks and had no spotting or bloody show, and never saw my mucus plug. Around 8pm that night I started timing them and they were about 30 seconds long and I was having about eight an hour. They stayed like that all night.

I slept pretty well, but kept coming up to near-consciousness to count the length of a contraction, then went back to sleep. They were about 40 secs long. My midwife told me that when they were over a minute, we’d be in business. I still wasn’t excited. Finally at 6:30 am I decided to get up. The first contraction I had after standing up lasted 1:08, so I thought, “Hey now! This might be something!” They continued regularly and got stronger if I walked through them, so I did that for a while before texting the midwife. She said to keep her posted.

Fast forward two hours. I spent that time doing last-minute chores around the house and sending our daughter off to my mom’s. Around 8:30 the contractions were getting stronger and I felt like I had to stop, sway, moan, etc., so I laid down with a Hypnobabies track in. The track lasted 45 minutes. I seriously only felt about four contractions during that time, but now I think I was in hypnosis because I kept thinking I was having “false alarms,” or contractions that started but then went away.

I got up to pee, and felt good. I got back to bed and put the earphones back on, but only made it about 3/4 the way through that track before I felt like I had to pee again. There was a lot of pressure with each contraction. I walked to the toilet, sat down, and had a contraction that sent me through the roof. I couldn’t make contact with the seat, I was totally unprepared and clawing at the wall. My husband heard me and came running (I’d been totally silent up until that point). The pressure when I was standing was unbearable! I told him I wasn’t standing up again until the midwife arrived, because I felt like if I did, the baby would fall out!

And that’s when things got crazy. There was no way the earphones were going in again. I think I was already in transition at this point but didn’t know it. I moaned loudly through contractions, turning each “Ohhhh” into “Ooooopen,” and “I want my baby…baby, baby… come on baby….” Once or twice I said, “I don’t want to do this.” It wasn’t that I felt like I couldn’t do it, or that I was asking for meds or to transfer, it was just a statement of fact. I didn’t want to. But then I’d say out loud, “I want to meet my baby. This is what I want,” and kept going.

These contractions were really hard. I kept saying to my husband, “They’re so intense. They’re not supposed to be so strong! Why are they so strong?” I also asked him to call the midwife and tell her to come. She lives about two hours away. I stayed side-lying on the bed the entire time. My husband was trying to fill up the tub but every time he’d leave to go check the temperature I’d call him back right away because I couldn’t be alone through a contraction.

An hour and a half later my midwife showed up, and I was so happy to see her that I cried. I told her I needed her help. She put her hand on my back and it was so amazingly warm; seriously, I don’t know how she did it. She just instantly applied soothing heat and peace to my body, started stroking me, and telling me that everything was perfect and that the contractions would not overpower me. I loved her so much at that moment. She went through three contractions with me and then I asked her to check me for the first time. I was praying fervently that I’d be at least to a 5. And then she said the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.

“You’re so complete I can’t find your cervix. Your bag of waters is bulging and baby’s head is right there.”

I cried and started kissing my husband’s face and telling him how happy I was and how much I loved him. Two contractions later my body started pushing involuntarily. That was a crazy feeling. My husband said he could see my muscles contracting and my body crunching down even as I said, “I’m not doing that!” With the first good wave of involuntary pushing I had a massive bowel movement that honest-to-god felt soooo good because it relieved a ton of pressure. Ladies, don’t fear the poo! It’s a good thing!

The second wave brought baby’s head down to where it felt like I had a small, perfectly round cannon ball in my butt. I yelled, “Oh my god, my butt!!” and the midwife took my hand and showed me that baby’s head was RIGHT THERE. I could feel it her hair. With the next contraction I bore down and felt crowning, then her head birthed. The midwife showed it to me with a mirror. Immediately the next wave came, I pushed once more, and out she came, riding a giant wave of amniotic fluid. My membranes were intact until that point. She was almost born in the caul. I looked down and saw her bottom and yelled, “It’s a girl! Oh my god, it’s a girl!” and grabbed my husband’s face and kissed him hard. They put a towel around her and handed her to me, and I didn’t feel one instant of pain from that moment on. Birthing the placenta was a non-event, and about 10 minutes later our oldest daughter was there, meeting her new sister. An hour later I had showered in my own shower, bathed our little one in our own bath (the one that had been prepared for me but I never got into), and was snuggled into my own bed, the same one I was in when she was conceived.

home birth, midwife, birth tub

In total we decided I was in labor from when I got out of bed at 6:30am to 12:07 pm. The first two hours were not really active labor because I was able to walk around and do chores (even bake a birthday cake) during that time. About an hour and a half I spent in hypnosis, and only felt about 6 contractions during that period. And the rest of the time I was riding a freight train to baby-ville. It was crazy! I had two involuntary pushes and two driven-by-me pushes and there she was! Little one was born exactly 35 minutes after the midwife walked in the door. I have no doubt that if we’d waited a little longer to call her I would have had an unattended home birth. Craziness.

home birth, water birth, midwife

It took us about eight hours to name her. We chose Amelia Bliss. Bliss is a family name on my husband’s side. She’s gorgeous and perfect, with fat cheeks, little bow-tie lips, and a perfectly round little head with almost zero molding. She’s just beautiful and I’m so so so so so so so happy we chose to birth at home.

home birth, midwife, birthing tub

Submitted by Hillary Windrem

A Moment of Clarity – Lucie’s Birth

A Moment of Clarity – Lucie’s Birth

I still had three weeks until my estimated due date but I was ready, I was so ready. However, in spite of the fact that I had been waiting and hoping for labor, it took me a really long time to believe I was actually in it when it finally started. And by a “really long time,” I mean 3 hours, because my entire labor lasted all of 4 hours and 49 minutes.

I went to sleep that Tuesday night feeling some ugly little cramps, which I wrote off to be Braxton-Hicks or even nothing at all. The tail end of pregnancy is rife with so many different twinges, pains, cramps and other physical symptoms that I learned to ignore most of them and write it off as normal third-trimester stuff. But, at five o’clock Wednesday morning, I felt my first real contraction, strong enough to wake me out of a dead sleep- but I didn’t believe it was a contraction at all. I got out of bed, and went into the restroom where I felt a strange pop and felt a little bit of water trickle out. Inside I got really excited hoping that my water had just broken; but it was such a small amount of fluid that I didn’t think it was real. I mean, women have false labor symptoms all of the time, I figured I was no different. So because I didn’t believe I was in labor, I decided to wait awhile before I would say anything to Jon, he was asleep and I didn’t want to wake him up for nothing. But there was no way I could go back to sleep myself after that.

A mere 45 minutes later, I began to believe that the “cramps” I was feeling were actually contractions and decided I needed to tell Jon. We’d been told all along that early labor can last an extremely long time (even days!) so I didn’t think I needed to call the midwife or the doula right away but Jon convinced me otherwise. The midwife sleepily told me to take my time, eat some breakfast and then go ahead and come to the hospital that morning for monitoring. She didn’t seem alarmed or excited and I still wasn’t convinced I was actually in labor so I told Jon to go ahead and go to work as usual and I’d call him later if I needed him. Then, I took my time, got in the bath and shaved my legs; just in case. But by the time I got out of the bath, which wasn’t long, my contractions were intense to the point that I could no longer talk through them. I decided that moving slowly simply wasn’t going to work for me and that Jon was definitely needed. I didn’t let him pack a bag and I didn’t pack one myself, I just knew we needed to leave NOW.

The drive to the hospital took roughly 30 minutes, and we checked in right around 7:30 in the morning. The nurses weren’t really in a hurry to get to me after I had told them that I had felt my first contraction only two and a half hours before I got there. Plus, for some reason, when they hooked me up to the monitors, my contractions were barely registering. So imagine everyone’s surprise, including my own, when they checked my cervix and I had already dilated 5 cm. The nurse said “it looks like you’re going to have a baby today” and my heart basically jumped out of my chest. Jon and I started alerting our families as well as our doula while the nurses started preparing a room in labor and delivery for me.

Right about 8:30 we made the trek to labor and delivery, while I moaned and groaned the entire way there. In that moment, I felt like Frodo trying to get to Mount Doom, it was probably a pretty pathetic sight to see. Every contraction was stronger than the last, they were coming less than 2 minutes apart; I was in pain and completely unabashed about showing it.

I made it to the L&D room and got in the bed so the nurse and midwife could do their stuff but I was even more miserable there. I was squirmy and kept telling Jon that I needed to get up, I needed to move; like he could help me somehow. Finally (I say “finally” like it had taken hours, but it really only took a few minutes), that damn nurse was finished and I could get up. I immediately got on the birthing ball and tried to find some relief. I not-so-graciously let the midwife check my cervix again and in the one hour since my first check, I had dilated 3 more centimeters to an 8 and was fully effaced.I looked at Jon with wide eyes and flatly said “transition.” Transition, we had learned, was the hardest, most intense phase of labor and only three and a half hours since my very first contraction, I was in it. As I tried to wrap my head around this and the fact that my mom as well as my mother in law were likely to miss the entire thing, the nurses told me the tub was ready. All of my sentimental “missing my mommy” thoughts instantly vanished because, in my mind, the tub meant relief. All along I’d been told that the tub was “the midwives epidural” and I wanted IN.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I was really concerned with what I’d wear during delivery. Being the modest, self-conscious woman that I am, I had a hard time with the idea of being fully naked in front of everyone. My friends assured me that in the heat of the moment I wouldn’t care; but I knew I’d be different. I have dignity, dammit. However, when I waddled into the bathroom and saw that beautiful birthing tub full of wonderful warm water, I threw my clothes off and hopped in without a second thought. But I digress…

Our doula, midwife, and nurse all tried to help me find a comfortable position in the tub but I was really beginning to struggle. The contractions were coming on like a freight train at that point and I was beginning to question my decision to have this natural, drug-free delivery. I mean, seriously, what sane person would ever do this to herself on purpose?

At approximately 9:00 am, the midwife checked me one last time time and I was fully dilated and ready to push. In that one moment, all of my preparations, all of my yoga, meditation, natural pain management classes, and breathing exercises went straight out the window because I straight up panicked. It felt like my contractions were coming right on top of each other and I couldn’t relax and I couldn’t focus on my breathing. I gave one maybe two feeble attempts at pushing while lying in the tub, but the midwife and I realized quickly that it wasn’t going to work. So they had me, in all of my naked glory, get out of the tub to squat and hover over the floor using Jon’s legs for support. I tried to find peace in that position too but I couldn’t. I stood up, feeling like a feral cat, and started to look at everyone dead in the eye and plead for mercy. I cried like a baby and told them that “a c-section has never looked so good.” I just kept crying and pleading “somebody please help me!” They calmly told me that my baby was almost here and I just needed to focus, breathe and push her out. I had to help myself, no one could do it for me.They were encouraging and calm in my moment of sheer terror, to which I will be forever grateful. My poor sweet husband just stood in the corner behind me not making a sound. I’m pretty sure he was traumatized- and with good reason. Even with all of our preparation (and trust me, no one was as prepared as we were) neither of us could have imagined the scene that took place on that bathroom floor.

I tried to push from the squatting position again, but it really wasn’t working for me so I went back to the bed. The nurse brought out the mirror so that I could see what was going on “down there”. I never thought I’d want to use that mirror because I didn’t think I’d want to see what was happening down there at all, but it turned out to be a great idea. Having that mirror in place, I had a moment of clarity. For some reason, a switch flipped in my head and for the first time I was able to stop focusing on my own pain and panic and started truly focusing on pushing my baby out. I got extremely quiet then and so did everyone else; you probably could have heard a pin drop in the room. The midwife let me guide my own pushing. During each contraction, I’d push about three times and then get really quiet again and wait for the next one. Pushing was such an amazing relief from all of the pain I had been feeling; plus with each push I could see my baby’s head coming further and further out. I focused all of my energy on that little head with all of her black hair and I found my rhythm. I pushed for maybe 20 minutes and then……

At 9:49am, Wednesday, January 12, 2011 Lucie Jane Bryan was born. My baby Lucie. 6 lbs, 11 oz, 17 inches long and absolutely perfect.

newborn, baby

photo 2

Submitted by Landrie Bryan of Still Thinking….

Pressure-Free Home Birth After 2 Weeks of Braxton Hicks Contractions

Pressure-Free Home Birth After 2 Weeks of Braxton Hicks Contractions

My first birth was fast. After three hours of non-timable contractions my water broke. An hour later I arrived at the hospital at 5cm, and an hour after that I was holding my son. He had to be delivered by a wandering pediatrician because no one thought a first time mom could push out her baby in under 15 minutes after less than five hours of labour.

I read a lot of Ina May books after that birth and decided my next birth would be at home. There was no way I was dealing with getting to the hospital when my labour time might be cut in half. I found fantastic midwives that attend a lot of home births in my area.

My pregnancy was fairly uneventful, but full of contractions. I had been put on pelvic rest with my first son to keep from going into labour and needed it again this time. At 23 weeks I was on “as needed” bed rest and full pelvic rest. At 34 weeks we were given the green light but DH (Jonathan) and I waited another three as I wanted to make sure I got my home birth and 37 weeks is required for that.

After two weeks of Braxton Hicks and prodromal labor and being dilated to 3cm my midwife finally swept my membranes at 38w 6d. I had contractions until that afternoon but they stopped. I had a few sporadic ones throughout the day but nothing stuck.

That night (June 22) I woke up at 2:49am with a very painful contraction. I started timing and had a few more. After about 5 that were pretty regular I called the midwife (3:30am). She called the student midwife and they quickly headed ontheir way.

I spent contractions on my birthing ball and in between making the bed and giving Jonathan orders. They got to our place around 4:00 and madly set up. They checked me and I was at 6cm and very thin. They called the other midwife and told her to hurry and continued to set up while I labored on the bed, clutching whatever I could through contractions. Shortly after I started having small urges to push and knew my water was about to break. They got an extra pad under me and two contractions later my water exploded across the room (4:35am). The student managed to dodge it but boy was she surprised!

I enjoyed the feeling of not having the pressure for a little while as the contractions slowed for the pushing stage. The midwife was called again and told to run the red lights. A few contractions later and I was starting to push again(4:40am). The main midwife made it by then and was ready to help instruct Jonathan on how to push on my opening as Levi’s head quickly crowned. I started panting to slow down the process as I knew I would tear if I didn’t.

The worst pain was in my urethra. It felt like someone was shoving their finger up it and I was yelling at them to stop. As soon as the head was free though that pain was gone. Levi got his arm free and tried to swim and claw the rest of the way out. It was 4:46am. It only took 1 contraction to get him out. Levi had a good cry for about 10 minutes and then we got him to nurse. He was a pro!

He weighed 7.13lbs, 21.5″ long!

pregnancy, contractions

pregnancy, birth, childbirth, home birth

Brothers meeting for the first just an hour after birth.

brothers, baby, babies, birth, toddler

Submitted by Barbie R. 

Birth Of Elsie {Homebirth Story With Siblings}

Birth Of Elsie {Homebirth Story With Siblings}

We were just waiting for the Braxton Hicks contractions to turn into the real deal so we could get our daughter here.  Sunday morning was spent with the church family and then the afternoon was spent with Greg’s family celebrating his mom’s 55th birthday.

I was feeling pretty good and honestly didn’t feel like I’d see my daughter anytime in the next few days.  I was nervous that when it was finally time that Greg would be late getting home and I’d labor alone, that the midwife would barely get there in time, and that everything would happen so fast, I wouldn’t hardly remember the experience!  Needless to say, that was not what occurred.

Greg decided to go ahead and get the pool set up and ready. That way if I did start my labor before he got home, I could easily start filling the pool up on my own.  We all nestled into bed pretty early and I was sleeping pretty sound until 1:43 AM.

I was awakened by an uncomfortable contraction and spent the next hour and a half pacing about trying to be sure if I was really in pain before I bothered waking up Greg.  I got out a journal and start writing down times and lengths of contractions, and finally decided about 3:30 to wake him up and call in the midwife and my parents.

Everyone arrived about five that morning. Danette and Caroline, her sweet apprentice, began monitoring Elsie’s heartbeat and my blood pressure.  My BP was slightly raised, so after a homeopathic dose of calcium and magnesium, I returned to my left side to relax through some more contractions.  That all worked, as my blood pressure lowered, and the more relaxed I stayed, the more intense the contractions were.

My mom got to work fixing some biscuits and gravy from scratch, and my husband quickly decided we needed to do this more often if it meant eating my mom’s cooking for breakfast!  I got to enjoy the fruits of her labor and spent most of the morning just nestled into my room breathing through contractions.

(Remember me talking about The Sphincter Law before? I honestly wasn’t worried this would effect me in the privacy of my own home.  I pretty much figured I have enough control over my mind and body that once labor started, I would get in the zone and be good to go.  Well, that was not the case.)

By the afternoon, with contractions still 10 minutes apart, and losing intensity at times, we thought a walk around the neighborhood would help. It did not help at all.  In fact, I felt as though everything was being put on hold.  I stayed out in the kitchen chatting with everyone and went almost 30 minutes without anything happening.

So, with Danette’s encouragement I went back to my room with my headphones in, music up, and only the company of my husband, and at times Emma.  As long as no one else was around my body would allow contractions to come up to eight minutes apart and last over a minute.  However, oddly enough, even if my sweet mama would come into the room, everything would stop.  I really got to experience how little control I had over my body’s birthing plan.

Jamie Buckland 1-2

 So, with the afternoon turning into the evening, my body slowly worked on getting Elsie lined up for her big debut.  For years Greg and I had told Emma that if/when we ever had another baby, the new little one would be in between us instead of her, and she would have to be prepared for that.  So, with the last few hours of her being the baby dwindling away, she nestled in between us to make the most of it.  We chatted about what Elsie would look like as she drew pictures, and then Greg would hold her really still as I would hum through my contractions.

Jamie Buckland 2-2

Everyone was pretty tuckered out after an eventful, yet still uneventful day.  The kids camped out in the living room with my parents and Danette and Caroline made themselves at home in the kids’ beds.  And that is how it was, still and quiet, until around 12:30am on Tuesday morning.

Finally, the contractions were coming on nice and strong!  Hooray!  I was up pacing back and forth, and then every eight minutes or so, I would bend over the bed to hum through what was now what I would consider active labor.  I woke Greg up and Danette heard us stirring around.

It was time to start boiling water for the cooled off pool and a wardrobe change as I got ready to get in the water.  Danette had told me we would hold off on getting into the pool until I couldn’t get comfortable any other way. I was at that point.  I crawled into the birth pool around 1:15am Tuesday morning and prepared myself to crawl out of it when no longer pregnant.

As soon as I got in the water, a contraction came on super strong. Then about two minutes later, another one, and that was the pace for the next two hours. My body was so relaxed in the water that I was completely out of control and the human ejection process had begun!

The water definitely helped me handle the intensity of the pain, so I just hummed away as my mind kept repeating things like, ‘and this too shall pass’, over and over.  The last 30 minutes were totally overwhelming.  I felt completely out of control during the contractions and proclaimed I felt like I was suffocating and couldn’t catch my breath.  Danette reminded me to relax and not let my contractions get ahead of me, so back to the humming and focusing.

This entire 25 hours of labor, Danette did not “check me”.  We did not know how dilated I was at any point in time.  My body was completely in control of the process, and although I felt helpless for those last few minutes, the empowerment I felt when it was all over was totally worth it!

I threw up my yummy snacks from the long day of labor as I transitioned through those last few centimeters, and started shaking as my body prepared to deliver my beautiful little girl into her daddy’s awaiting hands.  Danette gave me some ginger candy to help with the nausea, and I was really thankful, even asking for another piece to get me through the end.

Danette had a pitcher and would pour water over my back through my contractions while my husband was sitting on a stool in front of me holding my hands, and I was bent over the edge of the pool on my knees.  My mom and Caroline were patiently awaiting the progression, and my dad and kids were still fast asleep.

I remember looking over my shoulder once and finding my mother shedding big tears as she tried to deal with her baby girl being in so much pain, but the midwife was quick to comfort her and assure her all was well.

With all the controversy surrounding our decision to birth at home, I want to make it clear that I never once had any worry about my health, or the well being of my baby through the entire process.  My mind never once wandered into those dark thoughts, and I praise the good Lord for bathing the entire ordeal with His wonderful grace.

About 10 minutes before Elsie found her way to daddy’s hands, Danette told me I could check to see if I felt her head.  My water still hadn’t ruptured, and it was obvious I was feeling her sac cushioning her head in it’s descent.  With the next contraction I exclaimed that I felt like I could push.  So, I did.

On the second push, I felt my water break. Seconds later ,I announced her head was out.  Greg was scurrying around from being in front of me to getting behind me and Danette was getting the flashlight on so they could indeed see if she was on her way out!  Her head had been delivered, and with ease her little body followed just in time for Greg to reach down and lift her up out of the water.

They carefully helped me roll over onto my bottom where I stayed for the next hour.  Greg laid my sweet Elsie right onto my chest as I expressed my sheer delight that my baby girl and I had worked so hard together, and now here she was!  She immediately began to root and kick, lifting her head and bobbing around to begin suckling.  My sweet girl latched right on and has been an expert nurser from the beginning.

The after pains were pretty harsh. We waited 45 minutes for the cord to finish its beautifully engineered job, and then Danette clamped it for Greg to cut it.  Then miss Elsie got to go cuddle with her papa as they helped me get out of the pool and into my robe so I could get in the bed to rest.

Jamie Buckland 3-2

Moments later, it happened. As Emma looked on from her daddy’s chest, little Elsie took her place in between mommy and daddy.  And like that, the process I had anticipated for so long was over. My little babe who I’d dreamt about for years was finally lying here in her home, in my bed, in the blankets I had washed just weeks before.  We were complete.

And now Emma seemed so much older and much more mature.

 Jamie Buckland 4-2

The Big “E” seemed much bigger as he nestled the new little “E”.

Jamie Buckland 5-2

Elsie will be a few weeks old in just a few hours, and I’ve gotten to share our experience with some of our close friends and family. Some have been curious about how I felt afterwards.  I can honestly say it was a much easier recovery than with Ethan or Emma.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how good I have felt.  I did have a small tear, but never had any discomfort from it whatsoever.  Danette had made me a brew up of some comfrey root, which worked wonderfully.

Some have asked now that it is all over, will we be trying to conceive again, and if so, will I birth at home again? The answers are yes, and yes. We plan on trying for #4 when Elsie is a little over a year old, and yes, I plan on inviting my new favorite midwife, Danette, back into my home to attend the birth of our next child.  Looking back, I am so thankful everything went just as it was.  Even with labor lasting just over a day, I feel so blessed Greg and I got to spend that time together as we waited for her arrival.

A big thanks to all of you who have supported us through this journey! And of course a huge thank you to BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR for all the information and stories that helped me along this journey.  If you want to read more about why we chose a home birth, you can read about my first two pregnancies and why I felt so passionate about sharing this experience.

{By Jamie Buckland}

A Surprisingly Quick Natural Birth

A Surprisingly Quick Natural Birth

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!


A Simple Hospital Birth {Baby Waits for Daddy}

A Simple Hospital Birth {Baby Waits for Daddy}

baby breastfeeding infant

On October 17th around midnight, I began having what I thought were mild braxton hicks type contractions. I was able to sleep through them. Hours later as I waited for his father to return home from his family visit (not without complications of course), my contractions came and went as though they weren’t real.

Daddy got on his plane at 5:00 pm Monday evening to return to us. Thirty minutes later after his take off, my contractions suddenly changed. They didn’t get closer together, but they started to hurt. His dad landed an hour after take off, and I let him know about the change in pain.

During this time, I went to the bathroom and had my bloody show. We went to the hospital after that as we just knew we needed to go. Hours of being in the hospital, in a gruesome amount of pain and getting in and out of the shower, I requested to get into the bath. After 45 minutes in the tub, I delivered my son 100% natural!

We delayed cord clamping as discussed by the BWF community. I was able to nurse him following delivery as well. Our son weighed 5 lbs. 12 oz. and was 19 in. long. Had I not followed the BWF blog, I don’t think I would have had such a beautiful labor and delivery. I was very lucky to have this labor compared to last two births! Thank you all a ton! ~Ariel

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