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Whole and Both in the Same World

Whole and Both in the Same World

Mavis was born on a Sunday. It was her due date, so naturally, we weren’t expecting her to arrive that day. On Saturday, I cleaned all day. I went and bought a new book, expecting to go overdue. I made a beautiful home cooked meal and I snuggled my oldest at nap time. I think she knew it was time before I did. We tucked her in and before going to bed, I went into her room, stood over her and watched her breathe. I brushed hair from her eyes and re-tucked her in. I didn’t know it but it was the last night she would be the baby.

At 4 a.m. I woke peacefully to some contractions. I’d been having false labour with this pregnancy since 35 weeks, so I tried to go back to sleep. But something was nagging at me. So I got up to be sure they were false and drew a bath hoping to calm things down. The light pain stayed consistent in the tub, something that hadn’t happened before. But I remained in denial that Mavis was coming.

I returned to bed, my mind whirring. I had a constant confidence this entire pregnancy. I was sure that she wouldn’t be early. I was more certain her arrival would be quick. And I was sure that she’d be big and squishy. But that confidence in the wee hours of the morning suddenly vanished. All of a sudden, I was unsure of my ability to birth this baby. Unsure I could manage the pain at home. Even more, unsure that labour would be the quick birth I had suspected.

By 6 a.m. I decided to wake up my husband. I wasn’t in a lot of pain, but contractions were still rhythmic and I told him I thought we might be in labour but I was unsure. We decided to go lay on the couch together for an hour. At 7 a.m. I was still unsure, but pain was increasing so he woke up Isla and I fed her breakfast while he called our midwife. She had an appointment that morning to attend in the south end and said she would follow up with us later to see if things were progressing. We decided to call my husband’s aunt to pick up Isla. At 8 a.m., my sister, Lindsay arrived and Isla headed out with her aunt. I could no longer sit because the contractions were painful, but I could lean against our dining room table and talk through them fine, so I didn’t suspect being anywhere close enough to birth.

Lindsay was great at making me laugh and keeping me distracted. My husband tried a few things to help set the mood, like music, while Lindsay helped me time contractions. They were 2-3 minutes apart, but occasionally 5-6 minutes. No real consistency, so I again brushed off that we were close to labour. Around 8:30 I asked Corey to draw another bath. Pain was getting intense and building in my belly. When I got in the tub, I expected the pain to dull and was surprised and a little scared how they suddenly changed and became incredibly strong. I looked at Corey, at this point crying, and told him I wanted to go to the hospital and that I didn’t think I could handle this amount of pain for another eight hours. I was scared I would only be about 3-4 centimeters and that there would be many hours left at this level of pain and that frightened me. Slowly but surely, my calm facade was diminishing. I asked him to page our midwife, Jerren, again and tell her I wanted to move to the hospital for pain relief, even though I had only been in active labour for two hours.

When Corey reached Jerren she was nearly at her appointment but when he told her what was happening she suspected I was in transition at 7-8 centimeters. At that point in labour is usually when women will ask for something for the pain. Astoundingly, I had gotten there in four hours of labour. She told us not to get in the car and that she would be there momentarily to check me. She said it was likely I was quite far along and wouldn’t make it to the hospital.

When she arrived I got into our bed, which we then realized was far too soft to labour in, and Jerren checked me. I was at an 8, with no hope of reaching the hospital or getting an epidural. We decided to stay home.

At this point, I was in astounding pain. With every contraction, my whole body tensed and I closed my legs together, clenching. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was preventing my body from relaxing enough to allow baby to enter the birth canal. Standing in the bathroom at the sink, I was crying as Corey and Jerren rubbed my back and tried to get me to relax. Jerren recommended sitting on the toilet to try and release some pressure. It was incredibly hard to sit but I remember our midwife telling me to allow my body to relax. She told me I was strong and that I could do this, I just had to feel my baby. She went to prepare some items in the bedroom and a few minutes later, I had a big contraction and I could have sworn I felt that last lip of cervix fall away. I knew we were ready without anyone checking.

The urge to push had begun, so I stood up and slowly walked to the bedroom. We couldn’t birth in bed, so I stood at the foot of the bed. Leaning into a pillow, I finally let go, giving my body a chance to do what it needed to. It was 10:15 when I began to push. I screamed into a pillow and bore down really hard. My legs were shaking and it was hard to stand but I felt an intense feeling deep in my heart. Mavis was right there and I COULD do this. I had done this before. I stopped saying I can’t do this and drummed up the last bit of perseverance I had left, and I pushed hard. I could feel my baby sliding into place. I could feel my body open up. Worst of all, I could feel the fire burning as I stretched to accommodate her. Jerren asked me to reach down and feel my daughter’s head, because she was right there. I said no, because I was scared and because I was focused.

On the next contraction, I made it my goal to get her head out. I pushed with everything I could muster and I felt my body tearing trying to get her out, but I pushed through with newfound strength, knowing it was almost over and she was nearly here. Mavis was the perfect motivation. Her head was out but my legs were giving out, so I tried to close them. Jerren and Corey gently told me to open them again so to give her room. The next contraction my husband got ready hoping to catch her, but as I pushed I heard Jerren say that she thought Mavis’ cord was around her neck. I pushed hard as Corey backed away to let Jerren catch. All it took was one good push and she fell into Jerren and Corey’s arms. The pain was instantly gone and there was only sweet, sweet relief. I cried out as I looked down to see her. A great shock of black hair and the chubbiest cheeks I had ever seen. Her eyes were blinking open and shut.

I was so happy to finally see my daughter. I felt like I knew her, which was a different experience that I hadn’t had with my first delivery. We 
waited until her cord stopped pulsing and then Corey cut it while
 my sister watched. Mavis was crying and I was talking to my newest daughter gently telling her it was okay, that she was here now. Jerren asked Corey to take off his shirt and gently handed Mavis to him for skin to skin while she cleaned me up and we delivered the placenta. It was amazing to see it and your cord together and appreciate that, like you, I had grown that organ to sustain you while you were inside. The biggest shock of the entire birth was weighing you. My first baby was a petite 5lbs 2oz. I had torn twice during that 4 hour labour. And here was my second babe, Mavis Sylvia Skye, a whopping 9lbs 2oz in two hours of active, precipitous labour, and not a single tear.

I had done battle with my body and my mind for the most intense few hours of my life and I felt like a million dollars because we came out on the other side, whole and both in the same world.

home birth, natural birth, midwife

unnamed_fotor

unnamed-1_fotor

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Submitted by Katie Burt.

Photographs taken by Lindsay Duncan.

The Births of Henry & Thea Part 1: Baby in the Parking Lot!

The Births of Henry & Thea Part 1: Baby in the Parking Lot!

Sunday, July 10th, started off as a lazy Family day. We (me, William – my husband, and almost two-year-old toddler, Oliver) woke up around eight and laid in bed relaxing and snuggling as is our custom on weekends. I was 38 weeks and four days pregnant with our di/di twins. At 8:30 I got up to pee and was surprised at how much I seemed to be going. I chalked it up to the gallon of water I had drank the previous day and went about our morning. My husband was in the kitchen making coffee and the toddler was running around the house playing. As I sat on the couch I felt a small squirt of water. “Oh great,” I thought, “this is what it’s come to. I’m now peeing myself.” I went to change after announcing to William that I was now apparently incontinent.

Ten minutes later, in my fresh clean pants, I sat with Oliver and yet again felt another leak of pee. “What the hell?!” I said in frustration. I walked to my husband and leaned in for a hug – suddenly feeling like I needed his support. “I keep peeing myself. I can’t help but wonder if it’s my water breaking. Is it ridiculous that I can’t tell whether or not it’s pee or my water breaking? Shouldn’t I know the difference?”

I went to go change again and decided to do the smell test – it didn’t look like pee and it didn’t smell like pee. It smelled slightly sweet and I knew immediately that it was amniotic fluid. I sat on the toilet where a little more gushed out. It was clear, with a slight cloudy tinge. Definitely not pee. At this point I became giddy. Finally! We were going to have babies soon! I was so ready.

By then it was 9 am. I sent my midwife Kim a message describing the morning and she agreed that it did indeed sound like my water broke. She gave me a few suggestions to encourage contractions to start since I hadn’t had any yet, and I told her I’d keep her updated. At 9:12 she texted “Well, let’s have some babies today!” Having my suspicions confirmed I told my husband to get ready – they were coming! At 9:15 I then called my mom who was two hours away. While on the phone I had one mild contraction. She and my dad were going to head our way. I contacted my doula, Kelly, and our photographer, Alyson.

At this point, 9:30, my contractions started in earnest. I pulled out my contraction app, sat on my birth ball, and began breathing. William made me breakfast and we started “Nemo” for Oliver, expecting to spend the next several hours laboring at home like we did with our first labor. By 9:45, just 15 minutes after contractions started, I knew things were going faster than with Oliver. My contractions were a minute and a half apart and lasting 45 seconds each. I just didn’t think that could be right. “That’s too close together, too long for this stage of labor.” I decided to jump in the shower for mental clarity. I needed to breathe, relax, and reset. The hot shower felt amazing and I stayed in there for close to thirty minutes, breathing and contracting and preparing myself for the day ahead. When I got out – I reset my contraction timer and started getting dressed. Ten minutes later, 10:30 – barely an hour after my first contraction – I knew things were going fast. Too fast. Contractions were still consistently a minute and a half apart and lasting for 45 seconds to a minute. “Where’s my mom?!” I asked in frustration, as William called them. They could tell from his voice that they needed to step on it. I was sitting on the toilet and rocking back and forth, feeling very uncomfortable. I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement, but sitting still on the toilet was not pleasant. My body was writhing and when I stood up my contractions changed. I should have known at that point just how close we were but it didn’t dawn on me until a moment later. I said “Call Kim.” At this point, my contractions were back to back – double peaking with no breaks in between. I was feeling pressure down really low. “What do you want me to say?” He asked. “I don’t know! Tell her…tell her I don’t know!” The minute the words left my mouth I realized what was happening – transition. We were somehow already at the point of transition and moving fast towards delivery. I was completely shocked – but also completely sure. I knew my body – I was listening to it’s signs and I knew we were very close to having a baby. “We gotta leave now. Get Oliver dressed. We have to get to the birth center.” My husband, trusting me, set off in a panic. As he loaded the truck with Oliver and our birth bag, I took a few minutes to breathe. The contractions had stopped. I felt an uncanny sense of peace fall over me. “The calm before the storm” I remember thinking. At 10:45, as I was climbing into our truck, I first felt the urge to push. I held onto the door frame, threw my head back and let loose a very primal grunt with my contraction. We were so so close. I knew that if we didn’t leave right at that moment we may not make it. I told my husband to drive. We had to get to the birth center right away.

Kim called us as we careened out of our neighborhood, after receiving a text from me that simply said “I gotta push.” I was in the passenger seat on my knees, facing the back seat. As I answered, a guttural moan came out and the urge to push returned. Kim told me to breathe, to not push and get here ASAP. She told William to put on the flashers and drive as fast as possible. As another contraction hit me, I told Kim the obvious – “They are coming!” She asked if we needed to pull over and said she could come to us. She could hear it in my voice – in my moans – they were coming. I took a deep breath and knew I could hold on. “We’ll be there in ten minutes. William drive faster!” Kim told us she’d meet us downstairs and I went ahead and disconnected. Between my startled and freaked out toddler, my speeding and panicked husband, and the overall urge to push Henry onto the seat of the truck I needed to have one less distraction.

Somehow, someway, we pulled into the parking lot of the birth center about 11:10. I saw Kim running to meet us and I took a deep breath and let my body completely relax. We almost made it. As Kim opened my door another contraction hit me and I moaned low and deep and I felt Henry descend. I was stepping down out of the truck as Kim was lifting my dress up to check me. “It’s just a bowel movement – let’s try to make it upstairs!”

As she was saying that, I felt the ring of fire. William had ran around the truck to help me out and I knew he and Kim were right there to catch Henry. I grabbed the handle of the truck and shouted “he’s crowning!” It seemed like sudden chaos around me – Kim was telling William to get my panties off, and telling me to get back in the truck (which was impossible at this point). I don’t even remember pushingI don’t remember making any noise – I just remember standing on the running board of the truck, holding the handle and suddenly there he was – my beautiful Baby A – sweet Henry. William caught him and was trying to untangle him from my panties. I felt calm, happy, and shocked as I reached down to grab him. “I got him!” I said as I brought him up to my belly – which was as far as his cord could reach. Someone asked if I was sure I had him, and I was. I knew he was perfectly safe in my hands – even as I hovered a foot off the concrete under an already hot July sun. As William supported me on the running board, Kim came around to the driver’s seat to clamp and cut Henry’s cord. He was wailing that beautiful newborn cry as I brought him all the way up to my chest. His cries were mirroring Oliver’s, who at this point was still strapped into his car seat in the backseat. “Someone get Oliver!” I shouted – because somehow in that moment he was the one I was worried about. Because I’m a mom.

I felt full of joy and relief, although it all felt so very surreal. “I can’t believe we just had him in the parking lot. I can’t believe he came so fast!” Someone asked if anyone had caught the time and the reply came back: 11:11. My make-a-wish baby was born at 11:11 in the front seat of our truck less than two hours after labor started, which was a far cry from the 17 hour labor I had with Oliver. My mind was still spinning. William helped me onto solid ground and made sure I was stable before turning to get Oliver. It was in that moment that I realized just how panicked my husband was. His hands were shaking and he was dripping in sweat. I looked around and realized there was blood everywhere – including all over my him. It seemed strange to see him so upset as I was feeling so calm and collected. One of our babies was here! Easy as a breeze! I was full of oxytocin and riding my birth high.

“Let’s get upstairs before Thea comes!” Was the general consensus and as I started making my way to the back door of the birth center, I caught sight of myself in the reflection of a window. My dress was still bunched around my waist. My pink panties that were now red with blood had hastily been slipped back on. There was blood and afterbirth running down my legs, I was carrying a pink vernix covered fresh-as-could-be crying baby and grinning ear-to-ear. I’ll never forget how crazy beautiful fierce I felt in that moment.

(It is to be noted that my parents arrived at the birth center four minutes after Henry was born. By this time we were upstairs in the birthing suite, but our truck was wide open, with the keys hanging in the ignition and the ground, seat, and running board covered in blood. Birth is messy. And my parents thought the worst. They were relieved to rush into the birthing suite to find me smiling and holding our sweet Henry – though my poor mother was trembling and on the verge of hyperventilating from thinking the worst.)

twins, twin birth, birth without fear, hospital birth, car birth, birth in car

Editor’s note: Part 2 aka Thea’s birth to be posted tomorrow. 

Submitted by BreAnn Brown.

Photograph by Aly Renee Birth Photography.

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.

Riding the Waves – The Birth Story of Hailey Faith Part 2

Riding the Waves – The Birth Story of Hailey Faith Part 2

To read Part One of Hailey Faith’s birth story, click here

All of the sudden my body began pushing and I could hear myself sounding much more deep and guttural than before, almost angry. I remarked to the room that it felt like throwing up and it was the weirdest sensation ever. It’s so odd that during a contraction, it is extremely painful and violently strong yet moments later there is no pain and my head is clear and calm. At this point, the pain was unbelievable and I would have for sure demanded drugs if I’d been in the hospital. I’m so grateful that it wasn’t even an option because my body was doing great work and progressing quickly.

As the intensity and frequency of the contractions reached a peak, I could hear God calling my name. He had given me a verse before this birth: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine,” and I’d carried it in my heart for the last several months. At this time, I could hear Him matching my volume and calling my name, urging me to keep going, to stay strong.

I made eye contact with Tracy and told her I just wanted the baby to come out now. She maintained eye contact with me and said, “I know,” in a way that was so comforting because she did know. She’s had five kids of her own and has been attending births for 10 years. In between contractions, I marveled at feeling Hailey move down. I kept reaching down to see if I could feel her head because I could tell she was so close. During one particularly strong contraction, my bag of waters popped underwater and it felt like I had burst a giant balloon! Finally, when I reached down I could feel her head and I was very excited! She went back up slightly and I tried to control my pushing a little bit so as not to tear. It was about two or three more pushes and she was out at 12:06am! I did feel myself tear slightly but couldn’t have cared less. I know in books and birth stories they always talk about the “ring of fire” as being pretty bad but honestly I didn’t care about that either because it was so brief and she was out the next second.

Tracy was right there at the tub and she helped to guide Hailey between my legs and up into my arms. Hailey came out crying and covered in vernix! I thought beforehand that I would be grossed out by the vernix but I wasn’t at all. It was more like lotion all over her skin than anything disgusting. I was able to hold her and rejoice with Jim. I did it! She’s here! She’s so little and cute. She lay on my chest and I looked at her, both of us shocked and exhausted. She was getting cold being half in and half out of the water and so we decided that I should try to deliver the placenta and move to the bed. I gave a few arbitrary pushes and Tracy guided the placenta out. I got to look at it and see the broken bag of waters and where the umbilical cord attaches.

Then, this birth took a turn. I hadn’t put much thought into the third stage of labor and was surprised when I didn’t feel calm and safe anymore. I felt panicky and detached from my baby. As I lay down on the bed, I told Tracy. She checked my uterus and it didn’t seem to be clamping down well. Due to this, I was still losing quite a bit of blood. Quickly, the room became busy and serious. Jim held Hailey as my midwives moved me to the toilet to try to get me to pee as that could have been causing my uterus to continue bleeding. As I sat down, blood gushed into the toilet and I felt woozy. We moved back to the bed and Melissa gave me a shot of Pitocin in the thigh and an IV bag of fluids. Kyla gave me doses of two different tinctures as Tracy massaged my uterus. She put in a catheter to empty my bladder and gave me misoprostol suppositories. I told Jim to pray. All of this, and my bleeding was still not stopping. As a last resort, Tracy scrubbed up and manually scraped my uterus of any partially retained placenta. The assistants checked my placenta but could not tell if a piece was missing. This process was understandably extremely painful and terrifying. As she finished, she told Kyla to call the ambulance so that I could go to Legacy Emmanuel. She couldn’t be sure if she’d gotten everything and my uterus still wouldn’t clamp down. In only moments, the EMTs helped me out on a stretcher into the ambulance; Tracy rode with me. Jim stayed with Hailey at the birth center and I was assured that she could wait to eat until either I came back or Jim brought her to the hospital.

I believe that God lead me to Tracy and Melissa. I am not exaggerating when I say that these two women acted as angels to me during this time. Tracy never left my side and continued massaging my uterus to control the bleeding. I tried not to panic and the EMT was very friendly explaining that I was doing well, not in shock and still maintaining good pulse and blood pressure. When we arrived at the hospital, they wouldn’t let me go to Labor and Delivery. They instead insisted that I go to the ER despite the fact that we’d called ahead and that my midwives have a good working relationship with the OB hospitalists. At this point, I don’t feel out of line in saying that the hospital was atrocious and negligent in my care. They were asking me every arbitrary question to admit me and they would not allow me to be seen by an OB. Rather an ER doctor came by and in my panic I started demanding to be seen by an obstetrician. These doctors and nurses must’ve been having a really bad day because instead of responding to me with medical care and attention, the doctor left saying that I was refusing to be seen. A nurse came in to give me a second IV and tell me to “stop it,” and that they could give me a transfusion if I needed more blood. At this point my pulse was around 150 bpm and I was losing my ability to hear. I pleaded with them to get me a doctor, as I could still feel myself gushing blood and I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to keep myself from full on losing my mind.

I have to say it again, Tracy and Melissa are angels. They never left my side even for a minute and Tracy massaged my uterus for an hour as we waited in the ER. Melissa put her face right above mine and talked to me calmly about her life and her ambitions to become a midwife. I knew that Jim had called my dad to pray and he’d texted my dear friends in Texas to pray as well. I was distraught because this was very similar to the scene of Amelia’s birth, only it was a botched epidural/spinal and a traumatic c section the last time. My midwives continued to listen to me and reassure me. Tracy was advocating for me and trying to get a doctor to come examine me. As I felt my panic reach its breaking point, I laid my hand across my abdomen and I said aloud “In Jesus name, bleeding stop. In Jesus name, bleeding stop. I am not afraid.” I heard Tracy agree with me. As I’m writing this, tears come to my eyes because I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and my pulse began to drop. An OB finally came in and she was attentive and concerned. Her name was Wendy Smith and she wanted to take me to the OR to do an exam and possibly a D&C because everyone was fairly sure that I had some retained placenta. Tracy and Melissa accompanied me to L&D so that I could meet the anesthesiologist and be prepped for the OR.

As I got up to L&D, I began to feel much better. My bleeding slowed and my hearing was returning. I no longer felt terrified but instead I felt calm and able to make decisions. We decided on sedation and I headed back with a really caring OB and team of L&D nurses. One of them was named Anna and I was so glad that they were all making eye contact with me. As I headed into the brightly lit OR, I wondered if I would feel terror or have a flash back of my c section but instead I felt God’s love. I felt the weight of His immense love for me and I started to blink back tears on the table because there is no way to bear even a small portion of that love without overflowing. The anesthesiologist did a great job because I spent about an hour having the most real hallucinations! I told the room afterwards that I was going to make him cookies and it reminded me of both the Lego Movie and the sci-fi movie Lucy at the same time.

In the end, the cause of my bleeding was undetermined because the OB could find nothing wrong! She stitched up two minor tears and I awoke to Tracy and Melissa. They had stayed right outside the OR waiting for me for me. Again, angels. The L&D staff said that I had lost a significant amount of blood but that as long as I felt able and my vitals looked ok, they would release me back to the birth center that morning. So, Jim packed up the little baby and drove to the hospital where I could feed her and then we could recover for the next two days at the birth center. Funnily, I left the birth center completely naked so Jim brought me some clothes but he forgot shoes! At 10am I slowly walked barefoot out of the hospital and gratefully into the arms of the postpartum midwives at the birth center where I received nothing short of excellent (even luxurious) care for the next two days enjoying my baby and husband.

birth center, midwife, midwives, birth

Overall, what can I say? Neither of my birth experiences have been “normal.” I’m assured that the third time’s a charm! Some might say that because of this birth, I regret not being in the hospital to begin with. But nothing could be further from the truth. It was always our plan to treat birth as non-emergent unless it became so. And in that sense, everything went according to plan. I feel that my midwife is highly educated and trained to respond to an emergency and that’s exactly what she did. I’m so grateful that she let me labor uninhibited and deliver my child in the way that my body knew how to do and yet she stepped in when her hands-on attention was much needed. Some people will decide that hospital birth is best for them, and I’m totally on board with that! But for me, I know that God guided me to make the right decisions about my care. I know that He was not surprised by anything that happened and He did not leave me or Hailey at any point.

Tracy thinks that I did retain part of my placenta; she said that it looked “shreddy,” when she checked it out later. Her opinion is that when she manually swept my uterus, she got the placenta out but that it took a while for the bleeding to stop. The hospital said that it was my first degree labial tear that caused so much bleeding, but truthfully that doesn’t seem plausible to me because of the way my uterus was reacting. Ultimately, I don’t know what caused the bleeding and the failure of my uterus to clamp down but I believe that God heard my prayer in the ER. I believe that God heard Jim’s prayer, and my dad’s prayer, and my friend’s prayers.

In many ways, this birth has been healing because I went through the fire and yet wasn’t burned. I birthed my baby on my own without surgery or drugs and God held me through the complications. He replaced my disempowerment and fear with strength and peace!

Hailey is perfect and lovely in every way. She has a peaceful and accommodating nature. Amelia loves her and gives her kisses all the time. I am grateful, for my daughters, my midwives, my husband, the L&D team, all the people who prayed, all the people who supported our family, and the plan God had for our lives at this time.

hailey

Submitted by Anna Ryan. 

Riding the Waves – The Birth Story of Hailey Faith Part 1

Riding the Waves – The Birth Story of Hailey Faith Part 1

*It will be helpful to know that Amelia was born via unplanned c-section 22 months before I had Hailey. Amelia’s birth was traumatic to me for many reasons including copious unnecessary medical interventions and complications with anesthesia during my surgery. Hailey’s birth was a planned VBAC, vaginal birth after c-section.

I woke up at 3:30am, nine days past my due date. I’d been dreaming about waves in the ocean and I was having fun surfing. In fact, I was literally riding waves as my labor contractions had begun! I wasn’t thinking that it was definitely labor because I’d become used to routine practice contractions but these were coming about every ten minutes and they were stronger than before. I tried to go back to sleep but the contractions were keeping me awake, not from pain necessarily but they just took my attention.

I ended up taking a shower just to have something to do and decided to ask Jim to stay home in case it was baby day. His alarm went off at 6:30am and he decided to sleep in since he wasn’t going in to the office. Amelia got up and we did normal waking up and breakfast routines. Contractions were still coming regularly but not painful so I tried to just act like it was not a big deal.

I called my midwife Tracy around 8am because I had an ultrasound and appointment scheduled that morning since I was past my due date. She said to go anyways so Jim, Amelia, and I made our way to the birth center around 9. The ultrasound looked great and on we went. Tracy said we’d likely be back that evening in active labor. We stopped at Shari’s on the way home to get some breakfast and then headed home.

Jim and Amelia napped but again, I couldn’t sleep. So, I rested and watched Jimmy Fallon, all the while willing my contractions to get stronger and closer together. I was so ready to finally have the baby and I didn’t want this early labor to drag on for days. I was beginning to get discouraged and so I prayed that active labor would begin soon and decided that we needed to get out of the house. Around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, we packed up Amelia’s overnight bag and went to a big kid’s consignment sale to kill some time.

I wondered if people could tell; there I was in my labor shirt (I’d decorated a T-shirt with verses to encourage me) and stretchy pants, belly literally hanging out and trying to look normal as contractions became 3-4 minutes apart and much stronger. Jim and I laughed as I concentrated really hard on displays of baby socks and crib mattresses every few minutes surrounded by other mothers and children. We got out of there with a little pile of kid’s stuff; thank God it all was the right size and style because I really wasn’t paying very good attention! I felt excited and consumed by the process that was unfolding. Contractions were painful but in the way that a good run is painful or a deep stretch. We dropped Amelia off at my cousin’s house to play with their little girls for the night. I wasn’t worried about her or feeling nervous about our separation even though this would be our first night away ever. Lo and behold, that’s when active labor began!

Jim and I went back to the house to regroup and enjoy our alone time. Contractions were every 2-4 minutes now but still very manageable so I had Jim pack up all our stuff in the car and make me a snack. I called Tracy but she wasn’t available and so I talked to Carman, another one of my midwives, and she suggested that I get in the bath. She said things would either pick up very quickly or slow down in the water. Initially things felt much slower in the bath and I got a nice break to eat my toast and chat with Jim. I felt that I needed to get out and keep moving so we put on some Eddie Murphy stand up and I bounced on my yoga ball. I’m so glad that we were watching comedy because although my contractions were strong, I was still laughing and excited.

Eventually, I couldn’t sit on the ball anymore and shortly thereafter I couldn’t understand the jokes because I was “vocalizing” through my contractions. I was nervous beforehand that I wouldn’t feel comfortable vocalizing because I’m not really a yelling kind of person but it came second nature and was hugely helpful in managing my pain. I didn’t understand before that it’s not really yelling, it’s more like singing. At least to me anyways! I decided to give Tracy a call at that point and she said that we could meet at the birth center in an hour if I felt ready. I wasn’t sure but I said yes. For some reason, I still wasn’t thinking that I was really in labor or that I was very close to actually having a baby. The pain was real but I didn’t feel out of control or like I needed help. Honestly, I was nervous that it would all stop!

I wasn’t looking forward to being confined in the car but we made our way to the birth center (again!) at 8pm. The ride was fine and my labor slowed down in the car and upon our arrival at the birth center.

I really understand now why Ina May Gaskin and other midwives talk so much about the mental state of a mother and her level of safety and comfort affecting the progress of her labor. It took a few minutes but I began to feel comfortable to labor in the birth center. We were the only ones there aside from Tracy and my two birth assistants, Melissa and Kyla. We walked up and down the hall and then upstairs. I had Jim grab the stereo and put on Latin pop. It must have been a funny sight to see us walking in circles and dancing to Pitbull in between contractions! I remember the song Fireball was playing as we marched hand-in-hand. This is actually one of my favorite memories because it was such a sweet and happy time with my husband. I was still making jokes and enjoying our time together. Tracy came in every 20 minutes or so to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and everything was going great! Around 10:30pm, I was feeling pretty tired and the pain was beginning to be enough that I wasn’t laughing anymore. I still had no idea how far I’d come or how far I had to go.

I decided that I’d like to get in the tub to see if I could catch a break. Tracy asked if I’d like to be checked before I got in. I hesistated because I didn’t want to have her check me and then be discouraged. I thought I’d be something like 4 cm dilated. With Amelia’s birth, I’d only ever dilated to a 5 so I didn’t know what to expect. Tracy said I was a loose 7! I couldn’t believe it! Not only had I gone into labor on my own (and believe me that waiting nine days past my due date was extremely challenging), but I’d dilated all the way to 7 without even realizing it! I felt very encouraged and know that I’d be heading into transition which I’d heard was typically the most challenging part for mothers.

I had Jim change our music to Jesus Culture and I got into the water. It was very helpful to be there in the water with my music and candles burning. Still, it was so peaceful with just Jim and me in the room when Tracy left. I leaned against the side of the tub and sang a little bit with the music, “To You our hearts are open, nothing here is hidden, You are our one desire. You alone are holy, only You are worthy, God let Your fire fall down.” I felt God there with me and I began to feel weepy and shaky. I recognized these as signs of transition but I was also feeling a profound sense of God’s love and His faithfulness.

As the contractions continued to come, I could no longer sing. The intensity was through the roof! I have no words to describe that kind of pain other than to say it is at once excruciating, tiring, and fascinating. I told Jesus that although I could no longer praise Him through my words, I was praising Him through my vocalization.

Jim asked me what he could do to help and I said “You can have the baby for a minute.” But in all honesty, just having him there with me was the best thing. He couldn’t take away the pain at all but his support was what I needed. He said, “What are you thinking?” And I said, “I can do it.” He replied, “Ya, you can.” At that point, I feel like it was just me and Jesus in that tub working to get the baby out. I don’t think I’ve ever felt His presence so tangibly or heard His voice so audibly. I felt that He was right there beside me encouraging me and giving me strength.

The next time Tracy came in, I asked her if pushing was better or worse than this. I appreciated her honest answer. She said that, “Some people think it’s better, I think it’s worse. Do you feel like pushing?” Tracy and the birth assistants were so great. They were calm and realistic, silently supporting me and my body’s ability to have our baby.

In only a few minutes, they could hear that something in my voice had changed and the baby was coming soon. The three of them silently came into the room and sat on the sofa by the tub awaiting Hailey’s arrival.

home birth, jesus culture, birthing tub, birthing pool

Part Two will be posted tomorrow.

Submitted by Anna Ryan. 

Pushing Past Pubis Symphysis for a Natural Hospital Birth

Pushing Past Pubis Symphysis for a Natural Hospital Birth

I was dreaming that my water broke, with this odd sensation of fluid flowing from me, then I woke and it took me a second to realize I wasn’t dreaming at all, my water had actually broke!

It was 4:30am January 21, 2016, exactly one week before baby’s due date. I was very thankful I had placed a soaker pad under the sheets a few days before! I woke hubs and told him the news, he jumped out of bed and I reminded him we weren’t in a rush and to get back in. The first call I made was to my mom, she answered the phone screaming, and was so excited to hear things were happening. The next call was to the midwife. She was very calming and reassuring, and suggested hubs and I go back to sleep in preparation for little one’s arrival. We both laid in bed and nodded on and off, but we were so excited we couldn’t sleep. We got up and went about our day. I was full of energy, we cleaned the whole house, I made cookies!

Contractions had started around 6:30am but they were not painful and disorganized, My midwife would later tell me this was typical of early labor and that I wasn’t in true labor yet. Throughout the day I kept active, doing the stairs in hopes of getting things going. Around 4:30pm I was getting discouraged, the contractions were getting farther apart, though they seemed a little stronger. My midwife happened to call and check in at this time, I told her how I was feeling and she decided to come over and see how we were doing. She checked me and I was 3cm, did a membrane sweep and was able to stretch me to 5cm, and decided I was officially in active labour at around 5pm. She left and encouraged me to call her when things started getting more intense. Hubs and I decided to go relax and watch some movies, and the contractions slowed waaaay down, some even stretching to 30 minutes apart. This was extremely discouraging, I even cried a bit in fear that I would have to go to the hospital and get induced. I decided to try and sleep a bit and closed my eyes and then all of a sudden I was struck with the strongest, longest contraction yet, I had to moan through it and even swore a bit because it caught me so off guard.

That’s when things really started happening, the contractions all of a sudden picked up to 3-5 minutes apart and within 30 minutes I knew things were happening. I called my midwife around midnight and she decided to head over. When she arrived she checked me and said I was 7cm, transition had arrived! Although I didn’t have that breakdown that most women experience in transition, I felt energized! I was excited to know that our little boy would be arriving soon! Hubs filled the birth pool and I jumped in, and it was the greatest thing ever! Contractions picked up to about two minutes apart, we chatted, watched friends and laughed. It was all so relaxed and peaceful! Around 3:00 the contractions started feeling overwhelming and I decided to try and push, what a relief! I told the midwife and she was excited. I pushed for a little while in the tub, then she decided to get me out and check me because I wasn’t making as much progress as she would like. She found I wasn’t yet completely dilated and helped me along. I got back into the tub and pushed some more. About an hour into pushing I started experiencing excruciating pelvic pain, my midwife explained this was my pelvic bones (pubis symphysis) separating to allow baby through. This was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life! I tried to push through it, but it was so, so painful. The midwife saw I still wasn’t making much progress so she got me back out of the tub to try some different positions. It seemed like forever. We tried every position you could think of; squatting, hands and knees, on my back, on my sides. Nothing seemed to make any difference.

At about 5 am, I was exhausted. I had been awake for basically 24 hours, save for a few short naps. My contractions slowed to 8 minutes apart and I was literally passing out from exhaustion between contractions. Every contraction was a nightmare and I cried through pushing. The midwives suggested we try one more push then if nothing changed we transfer to the hospital to try a vacuum and give me some gas for pain relief. I was so over pushing so I said screw one more push, let’s go now! We quickly packed everything up, I managed to walk myself up the stairs, to the door and out to car, pausing for a few contractions along the way.

The car ride was awful. The longest 10 minutes of my life.

I had three contractions in the car and something felt different but I was too tired to tell what. When we got to the hospital and were on our way to the labour ward, the midwives heard me pushing and knew something was different too! When we got to the room, I tried to pee but couldn’t, and just ended up pushing on the toilet! They got me into the bed, and I pushed again and there was little to no pelvic pain, and they found that the baby was crowning! Something had shifted in all of the movement between the house and the hospital and he managed to get past my pelvic bone! They encouraged me that we were almost there, and after another ½ hour of very careful pushing, he was here! He cried immediately (before he was even completely out!) and it was the most profound sense of relief I have ever felt. I remember the moment so vividly. Nugget crying and being placed on my chest, and all I could say was “I did it! I can’t believe I did it!” He was a perfect 8lbs 1oz, 21 ¼” with the cutest little brown birth mark on his left arm. He nursed right away and we cuddled for 2 hours! Everything went perfectly, no complications for me or our little man, and we were at home in our own beds, off to sleep three hours after he was born!

I truly, strongly, 100% believe that being able to get up, move, and walk up those stairs and out to the car is what saved me. That amount of movement, plus pushing in odd positions was the key to get baby past my pubic bone and into this world. I am so thankful I chose to attempt a home birth and go as natural as I could because it saved me so many potential interventions!

hospital birth, birth, labor, labour

Submitted by Kirsten Carruthers.

From Niggling Pains to Quick Water Birth at the Hospital!

From Niggling Pains to Quick Water Birth at the Hospital!

I’ve always wanted a water birth, so I arranged to speak to my midwife about my birthing plan. The day I had my midwife appointment I started contracting (niggling pains) at 6am. I was really worried that I wouldn’t get my perfect delivery. After a couple of hours thinking about if I should go or not, I managed to get to my midwife appointment at 11am and told her what I really wanted. At this point my contractions were coming quick, but I wasn’t in that much pain.

After my appointment, my friend dropped me off at my mother’s. She told me to ring the ward because of how fast the contractions were coming, although I still wasn’t in that much pain. By 1:30pm, I decided I’m going to go to the hospital, because I was getting a lot of pressure and was worried that I was going to have my baby at home. My sister got me to the hospital, but I was scared that they were going say I was about 3cm dilated and send me home. The midwife checked me over and I was actually 6cm dilated!

That’s when the pain started to come. I asked about my birthing plan and luckily there was a birthing pool available! I was really happy to the point I wanted to cry. I got in to the pool, the midwife dimmed the lights, and I felt so relaxed. At 4:06pm my little girl arrived (she came so quickly).

birthing tub, water birth, hospital birth

A water birth was the most amazing experience of my life and the whole labour was so easy. Couldn’t ask for a more perfect labour and delivery. Amazing!

hospital birth, water birth, birthing tub

Submitted by Hannah Novak

Birth with Shoulder Dystocia

Birth with Shoulder Dystocia

“We ‘broke up’ with our OB at 31 weeks and found our midwife. As soon as we met her, we knew she’d be the one delivering our son. I was in labor for 24 hours and pushed for four. When he was born, he had fluid in his lungs and was having trouble getting a good cry. His daddy and I talked to him while the paramedics arrived, and by the time they got there he was fine. After his cord was cut, my midwife helped me in the shower (I lost quite a bit of blood) and Arlo had skin-to-skin with his daddy. My husband knew how important skin to skin was, and he stepped up while I was getting taken care of. My little boy is almost five months now! Time flies!” – Natasha

On Sunday, September 30th around 11pm, I started having some cramps in my lower abdomen. Our midwife had said to look out for them because it could be early signs of labor. I was already four days “late” by this point, so I didn’t think anything of it and I sure didn’t think that they were contractions. For the whole week before, I had a terrible bladder infection that was giving me lower cramps so I thought maybe they were related. Rusty and I went to bed, and the cramps woke me up every so often. By 5am, I was so uncomfortable that I moved to the living room couch. It has a slant in the cushions, so it propped my belly up and the cramps didn’t hurt as bad. Rusty slept in the floor beside the couch (what a sweetie. Seriously). I slept on and off for about two hours – and by 7am, I was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t lay down anymore. I texted our midwife telling her that the cramping was constant, but every little bit they would get really intense. My belly wasn’t getting hard all over like I had been told it would for a “real” contraction, so I didn’t really think anything of them.

Around 8am, Rusty suggested we time the intense parts anyway – and surprise! They were coming consistently about every 6 minutes and lasting for 45-50 seconds. I texted our midwife at 9am telling her, and she said she’d be over around 10am. When she got here, she checked me and I was already dilated to a four and completely effaced. I was completely surprised. I didn’t even know I was having real contractions yet! I kept telling myself that “I would know” when they got “real”, but I had absolutely no idea. Our midwife said she was going to go run some errands while she could because we were definitely having this baby today. I couldn’t believe things were finally happening and we would finally meet this little boy that we had hoped for for so long. Our midwife was back around 1pm, and we (or they, rather) started moving furniture around in the living room and setting up the birthing pool. Seeing the birthing pool get set up was so surreal. I really wanted to have a water birth, so having it sitting there in our living room was insane and made it all seem so real. By 4pm, my contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting about 55 seconds (I don’t remember any of the specific times after this part. Ha!). They were still really down low in my abdomen, and I was having zero back labor.  Our midwife checked me shortly after, and I was dilated to a six – which meant I could now get in the birth pool! If you get in the water before you’re at a certain point, labor will stall.

The water was amazing. Even though my contractions weren’t painful, the water was really soothing and it helped with the intense points. Rusty sat beside me the entire time. I stayed in for a while, then would get out and walk around some. The contractions started getting a bit more intense at this point, so our midwife kept suggesting to lean forward with the contraction. She said most women with front labor feel better with leaning forward. It felt very strange to me and it was like my body was telling me not to do it, so I stuck with leaning backwards. I got back in the pool for a bit, and the contractions kept getting a bit more intense but not any closer together or any longer.

homebirth support

I was waiting for transition to occur, so I was on edge waiting for them to get unbearable. A little bit later, our midwife said the sounds I was making told her I was closer to pushing than she thought – so she checked me and sure enough, I was dilated to a 9. I got back in the pool for a while longer, and our midwife told me to breathe through the contractions and not push through them. She said my body could move Arlo down the birth canal better than I could pushing, and she didn’t want me to tire myself out yet. I was on my hands and knees in the water at this point, and trying to not push was more painful than the contraction itself. I wasn’t sure if my water had broken or not at this point, so I got out of the water again and our midwife checked. She put down some water proof pads on the floor, and told me to stay there because my water was going to break any second. She laid a shower curtain and more water proof pads on our bed and told me to lay back down. I still couldn’t believe I was in labor yet and that I would finally be meeting Arlo – so my water breaking was a total brain flip. It made it seem so much closer and tangible.

Around 9pm, I was actively pushing. My blood sugar was really low, so in between contractions Rusty was giving me candy and fruit snacks trying to get it back up again.

I had a lip on my cervix, and it was stuck on Arlo’s head – so with each push, he’d move a tiny bit forward.. and then backwards again after I stopped pushing. I was basically pushing into a wall. Our midwife tried holding the lip up as I pushed (painful. oh, painful!) but I still couldn’t push his head under the lip (Rusty tells me that my phrase of choice for this part was “balls balls balls!”). After an hour of pushing and hardly any progress, we decided to try another position, which is where the toilet comes in. I know it sounds crazy, but the toilet was the most comfortable place to push, and it makes sense, right? Anyway. I was so exhausted and my blood sugar was so low that our midwife gave me a shot of B12 for some energy. This shot turned me into a super hero. This was the only thing in my system – no pain medication, no IVs, no pitocin, nothing. Just good ole’ B12.

Our midwife was standing in front of me and I had my hands on her shoulders. With each contraction, she would ram into me like a bull and I would push against her. After an hour of pushing like this, I had pushed Arlo’s noggin through the lip on the cervix and the relief I felt was immense… until he got stuck under my pubic bone, which is way worse. My memory on this bit is so foggy. I remember the pain being absolutely unbearable. I had my eyes shut the entire time.

homebirth pushing

Our midwife was sitting on the floor in front of me, and she was holding up part of my pubic bone. I had my feet on her thighs, and she kept telling me to breathe through the contractions instead of pushing. My body was working on it’s own, but not pushing was pure agony. I wanted to give up. I was ready to call it quits, hop in our car, and go to the hospital. I was full-blown bawling and with each contraction and not pushing, I felt like I was going to die. I kept saying I couldn’t do it, but our midwife kept saying “you ARE”.

I couldn’t think straight really, but getting my brain back into the mindset of why we were having a homebirth in the first place and what damage the drugs I would be getting in a hospital would do to Arlo was finally the only thing that gave me enough of the strength I needed. I kept telling myself if I just pushed through each contraction, he would be born and the pain would be over instantly. Our midwife said we were almost through the pubic bone, and she told me to feel his head. That was the craziest thing I had ever experienced at that point – being able to feel him so close and knowing I had already brought him this far. Our midwife moved my feet up to her shoulders, and I pushed through each contraction even though she told me to try not to. Every time I tried to not to push, my body did it anyway. It was like I could feel something wasn’t right, and each second I wasted by not pushing was putting him in danger. Our midwife was telling me how close he was and how great the pushes were and I could feel him coming forward.

Every one talks about the “ring of fire” when the baby crowns – holy crap! The phrase does not lie. Our midwife had me stand up and squat, and she kept telling me not to scream. She had me get on my hands and knees, and I could feel her tugging on Arlo – I can’t remember the pain, really, but I do know it was the most painful thing of the entire birth – then all of a sudden, it was over and Rusty was putting Arlo in my arms.

Before our midwife even said anything, I knew something wasn’t right. She was telling us to talk to him and we were both telling him how much we loved him and how excited we were that he was finally here. His eyes kept rolling into the back of his head, and he was trying to cry but he had so much fluid in his lungs that he was having a lot of trouble. Our midwife had Brit, our photographer, call 911, and told us we could always turn them away if we didn’t need them by the time they got there. We were just being safe. Arlo’s blood sugar was really low, and so we had to give him honey to get his sugars up (edit: our midwife usually gives molasses, but honey was all we had. He is 100% fine after ingesting honey, thank you!). Our midwife gave him a few breaths, and we kept sucking the fluid out of his mouth. His eyes were focusing now, and he finally had a “big” cry that helped clear his lungs a bit.

homebirth By the time the paramedics were standing over us in the bathroom, he was breathing fine and was alert. He had still been connected to me by the umbilical cord this entire time, so he was still getting oxygen from me. As soon as he started breathing great on his own, the cord lost its pulse. The paramedics did an APGAR test on him and determined he was absolutely fine. I’ve been asked a few times if I’m still glad we had him at home after the complications we had – and I am. It was a beautiful experience. homebirth newborn newborn father bonding

For more pictures, go to: the northern sea

Photopgraphy by Oh! Baby Photography in Amarillo, Texas

Natural Hospital Birth {Support is Essential}

Natural Hospital Birth {Support is Essential}

OK, I have to be honest.  Writing this is hard for me.  For some reason, I don’t want to write it.  Like I’m dreading it?  I think there are just too many things about it to write down so I know it’ll take me forever…?  I have no idea.  But here’s my attempt.  I definitely want it documented. I have to thank a few people before I begin:

Joe.  He has been such a support this whole pregnancy, in what I have been wanting to do.  During Labor, he was right there, helping me over such a huge mountain.

My Midwives. I have grown to love hese women.  They truly care about me, my body and my baby.  They are completely supportive of what is best for us.  They also were there during the labor and helped me get through it. (Once my care was transferred to the hospital & Dr. Wells, they were no longer able to be in charge.  They then became my doula’s in helping me ease my labor.)

Karlye. Man, I am so fortunate to know this girl.  One of my best friends.  We have too many things in common and I love that.  I can talk to her about anything.  And I can also invite her to my birth and take pictures for me.  That’s how comfortable and grateful I am for our friendship.  She was the talent in documenting my labor.  I am so grateful to have these pictures!!  I can forever look back at them and remember exact feelings that were happening.

Dr. Wells.  It was no accident that Dr. Wells was the one in the office when I went to do my Non-Stress test the day before Jake’s birth.  He took interest in my case and worked flawlessly with my Midwives to make my birth plan happen.  I also liked that he is also LDS which meant he knew my values and I him.  There was like a secret, non-spoken, pact with him because of it. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.  But he understood my faith, which is a huge part of my life. The added Spirit he brought to the table probably helped too!

And let’s not forget Joe’s Mom.  She came in on the 27th and was there until Nov. 10th. Such a long trip!  I was grateful she came into town to help with the kids before and after the baby came.  I was so big and in pain those last few weeks. It was nice she could take and pick up kids for me, and more important, clean my house!

Alright, those were the main characters in my Birth Story. Anyways, here we go.

When I hit my last month of pregnancy, my body kind of shut down.  Everything seemed to start to fall apart.  Things started aching and hurting.  Going walking was even starting to become a chore.  And I would be so SORE that night.  I feel that the smoke that filled the air most of Sept. probably had something to do with it.

I also was becoming really really big.  Like seriously.  For months, people had asked me if I was due “any day?” for how big I was.  So when Oct came, I just kept getting bigger.  I started to think my due date was off because I was becoming gigantic.  It was really annoying.  I was so hopeful that this baby would come before my due date. But he never did.  My mother-in-law even came in on the 27th, hoping I would come early because I was so big…but I didn’t.

As I approached my due date, my midwives noticed the large state of my stomach and also the fluid that my body was retaining, inside and outside the uterus.  They started talking about if there were too much fluid in the womb, that they probably would have to transfer my care to a doctor and induce.  I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case but I didn’t worry too much about it since we still had a few weeks.

So my Due Date came and went.  It was Thursday, Nov. 1st.  The Midwives weren’t too worried about the baby not coming yet and frankly, nether was I.  There was only one thing that they kept an eye on and it was the size of my uterus and the fluid retention my body was experiencing. By then, I was SUPER swollen.  My legs and Belly.  So they kept an eye of that, to avoid problems like Prolapsed Cord. They then talked about if I was still pregnant by 41 weeks, then they would schedule both a Non-Stress Test & an Ultrasound to measure the fluid and baby.

Let me just say that everything my body was doing was ripe for labor.  The only thing that wasn’t aligned was the baby’s head.  It was not down where it should have been.  Since there was a lot of fluid in there, it had room to float.  There was nothing forcing his head down, which then cause me to not go into labor.  So we were hopeful that it wasn’t too serious and that his head would drop.

But we hung in there, I was determined to let things happen naturally.  As I’ve stated before, I wanted to experience labor how it’s naturally supposed to.  My 3 previous pregnancies were all induced before going into labor.  I kind of felt like my body was broken because it had never gone into labor alone.  So I wanted to test my body and see if it would if I gave it a chance.  Sounds lame but that’s just how I felt. They did strip my membranes on my 39th week appt. to help things along.  I was also doing things at the home front to move things along, like walking, dancing on the Wii, and other things….So some nights, there were some serious contractions.  But I would fall asleep.  I would wake up the next morning, frustrated and a little bit discouraged.  But I just kept it up.  They also checked me and I was at a 2. That was good to know that something was going on down there but it also didn’t mean I would go into labor anytime soon.

I went into the midwives again the following Monday and I was at a 3 and effacing pretty well.  They stripped my membranes again and hoped for the best. They scheduled the Non-Stress Test for Thursday, at the Hospital clinic which would be 41 weeks for me.  From there, they wanted to see the results to then schedule the ultrasound.  We were all hoping it wouldn’t go to that point…

Thursday, Nov. 8th (41 weeks) had come.  I went into the Clinic to do the Non-Stress Test.  The majority of the time, this little guy was asleep!  He wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing and moving around!  So of course Dr. Wells was concerned that he wasn’t moving as much as he should.    Luckily Jake started moving the last 10 minutes so he passed.  But the Dr was concerned at the size of my belly.  So he recommended the ultrasound and tried to schedule one that day.  But there were no openings.  So they scheduled one for the next day, Friday Nov. 9th at 10:30 am.

So Friday morning, I went to my ultrasound.  It was interesting to see this guy so big on screen.  She did all the measurements, for the fluid and the baby. She even played with the 3D camera for fun.  Afterwards, she went upstairs to show Dr. Wells the results.  So I waited to see what happened next. The Ultrasound lady came back and told me that Dr. Wells was discussing my case with Laurie, my midwife about the result and what option should we take that would be the safest one for me and the baby.  So I waited some more.  She came back and had me follow her into her office, where Laurie was on the phone, on hold.  She wanted to talk to me first and tell  me what they found out.

So I get on the phone and after asking how I’m doing and feeling, she tells me that the Sonographer measured my fluid.  A normal measurement is usually around 15-25.  My measurement was 34.  That was super duper high. Because it was so high, there was a great chance of water rupture & cord prolapse.  I could no longer have my birth at the birthing center.  I was now a High Risk patient and would have to be at the hospital.  Both her and Dr. Wells felt that the best route would be to check into the hospital and from there, prick my bag of waters to slowly leak and control the water so that the umbilical cord could not come out in front of the baby’s head.  They recommended doing that sooner than later to avoid my water breaking somewhere outside of the hospital.   At that point, with the new information and what my options were, I was ready and willing to get this baby out.  So we both agreed that this was my best option and to move forward.  After talking to her on the phone, I went up to talk to Dr. Wells.  We again talked about my condition and possible risks that were involved.  I told him my conversation with Laurie and so we then talked about when.  I told him, the sooner the better.  He asked, “Today?”  I said, sure.  By that time, it was around noon.  He was then talking about immediately heading over but then changed the time to 3 pm.  That would be fine, I told him.  That gave me time to call Joe.

“Hello?” -Joe “You ready to have this baby today?!” “What?!” I then went on to tell him what happened and that he should probably cancel the rest of his appointments that day and get home! I was also able to go home, pack a revised bag, take a shower, call Karlye so she would be ready to take pictures etc.  (There are definite benefits to planning a labor time!)

BWF1

So we arrived at the hospital at 3 pm.  Checking in was a breeze.  It seemed like there was no one in the hospital and that I was the only patient.  Once I got into  my room, we met my nurse and got changed into those ugly hospital ponchos and waited.  They came in and tried to insert a needle to draw blood on my arms.  I say tried since I got poked about 6 times.  They kept getting an empty vessel.  3 nurses came in to try and finally one succeeded.  It was the worse thing ever.  That has always been worse than getting an epidural!

As I laid there, my midwives came for support and help & Karlye arrived too, ready to document.  Apparently, the doctor told me to come a tad early since he didn’t even come into my room until around 6 pm.  But the weird thing was, as I was sitting there, I started having major contractions pretty close together. Wouldn’t you know it, I was going into active labor ON MY OWN!  By the time Dr.
Wells came in to prick my bag, I was measuring 4-5 cm.  I warned them that as soon as they broke my water, my body kicks into high gear.

BWF2

So as discussed before, they nicked my bag so that it was slowly leaking.  They didn’t want a huge gush of water to push the umbilical cord out since his head had still not dropped into place.  My contractions started to get a little big stronger but it was still bearable.  There was just so much fluid in there! Finally at around 9:30 pm, Dr. Wells broke a larger hole and started draining my uterus.  While it was draining, we had the nurse pushing my belly down to keep baby’s head in position (down and dropped) and Dr. Wells coming from my birth canal, holding the baby’s head up so the water could come out.  It was a tad uncomfortable  to say the least.  We did that for 10 minutes.  There was so much fluid!  Again, explains the large belly I had!  At that point, I was dilated to a 7-8.  Sweet.

Something that happened though as they drained out the water was that Jake turned to the other side of the uterus.  I heard them say that but it didn’t click in my head what that really meant…that he would be facing UP going through the birth canal.  I didn’t really understand that until later….

BWF3

Once they drained a TON of fluid, the contractions started coming hard.  I was able to get up so I sat on the big ball.  I bounced on that for a while.  The nurse, Melissa, and my midwifes started implementing soothing treatments for my contractions, like squeezing my hips together and pushing on my lower back simultaneously.  That did the trick.  Next, I started antsy so I walked the halls.  I had a trail of people following me so they could do the squeezing and pushing on me when I got a contraction.  They also didn’t want me going too far away from the room since I was getting close.  The told me if I started feeling lots of pressure down there & hurting really bad, to haul belly back to the room.  I wasn’t out in the hall for that long…

BWF4

As I came back in, I bent over the bed during contractions while they squeezed & pushed.  Laurie, my midwife, suggested I kneel up on the backside of the bed so I could rest on it between contractions.  So I “hopped’ up there, kneeling, & facing the back of the bed, which was reclined up.  This is when things started getting pretty serious for me.  These contractions weren’t messing around anymore.  To help Jake descend, I would rock my hips back and forth.

BWF6

All the while, the crew would squeeze and push on me as I went through each contraction.  Karlye not only was taking pictures during this whole time but she put it down to help me during this phase with cold compresses, giving me water and pulling my hair out of my face!  This was the hardest part.  It’s hard to describe how I felt during this time.  There was be no pain in between contractions.  And then BAM, I could feel it build and mentally tell my body to RELAX and BREATHE.  I had to really FOCUS on relaxing.  That’s one of the key things I learned from the Bradley Method classes.  Relaxation and breathing are key to avoid unnecessary pain during labor. That went on for who knows how long…It felt like forever but probably only 15-20 minutes.  I could feel the baby too, which was pretty cool.  And then things started getting really really REALLY painful and HARD.  And I remember thinking, this better be transition because otherwise, I won’t be able to make it.  I remember during those contractions, I would be battling thoughts in my head “Keep going Lyssa” “You can do it!”  VS. “Holy Hell, this hurts SO BAD” “I can’t do it!”  Back and forth, as I struggled through each contraction.  I was also just Praying to Heavenly Father for strength and energy to get through this!  And looking back, I know He did.  How else could I have done what I did?!   I remember those last few, I was literally whimpering from the pain.  And then, like a switch, I started feeling the urge to push.  And around that same time, the nurse said, “if you feel the urge to push, do it!”  With that, I told her YES I DO!

BWF7

So Dr. Wells had to stick his hand in me and turn Jake around.  Ok, that part hurt freaking bad too.  haaa haa.  I know I said a few complaints but they reassured me that things will run much smoother if he is in the right position. After that ordeal, Jake’s big head came into view.  Things kind of slowed down at that point.  Dr. Wells did a great job at stretching the “hole” to avoid tearing.  When a contraction came, I was pushing as hard as I could to get that head out because it was BURNING.  lol I got the full dose of “ring of fire”. And then in between them, his head would sit there as everything burned. Another PAINFUL part of the process in my experience.  But oh the joy when that head finally broke through!  But we had to proceed slowly with Jake’s shoulders too to avoid any dislocation since he was so BIG.  At 11:47 pm, once those shoulders came out, Dr. Wells pulled him out and I couldn’t believe this baby just came out of me! Jake Ryan Zimmerman was finally born!  lol   We were hoping to have him on the 9th, an exact month before my birthday.

BWF8

There is something so raw and real in that instant when you are aware and free from any medications.  My senses were definitely overstimulated at that point. I was wide-eyed and in shock.  They gave him to me so I could hold him and have some skin on skin contact.  There was no cries, just grunting, ha haa.  I did a little breastfeeding too and he seemed to know what he was doing (I would hope so seeing how he was the size of a 2 month old!)

I know most people say during this time, you are so high on the natural emotions and endorphins your body makes that you don’t notice the last phase of the placenta birthing and stitching…Well for me, that wasn’t the case.  I was definitely aware of what was going on down there.  And any sort of pushing on my stomach REALLY hurt.  And because of Jake’s size, I couldn’t avoid tearing so I got a 3rd degree laceration.  So I was also aware of the prodding and stitching. Again, Another painful part of this process.

But during that, they took Jake, cleaned and made sure he was “crying”.  They weighed him at 11 lbs 1 oz.  We were all shocked and laughing at the fact that I just gave birth naturally to an 11 lbs baby!  When I really think about it, I can’t believe it. Another reason I know I was given endurance and strength from God to do this. I think He knew how bad I wanted to do it and have this experience that He pathed the way for me to do it.

BWF9

Also I might add that both the midwives & Dr. Wells suspected that I developed Gestational Diabetes the last month of pregnancy.  I took my test when I was supposed too and passed.  But for some reason, I got it later.  Which makes everything that happened make sense.  I got huge.  The baby got huge.  I did eat like crap. Darn Halloween.  So in hindsight, its scary to think what could have happened having that.  Lots of thing could have gone wrong.  Any small complications that could have happened would have sent me straight to the OR to have a C-Section.  yikes…  So another experience that humbles me and makes me truly grateful for what did happen.

Clean up and all that aftermath took some time.  Jake was sent to the nursery to get cleaned up and made sure all was good.  By the time i got to my recover room, it was well past 1 AM.  I. was. exhausted.  I had never felt that tired my whole life.  And I knew what to expect during the night at the hospital.  So I tried to get as much sleep as I could.  I had wonderful nurses during my stay. They even watched Jake during the night for a long stretch so I could sleep since they knew what I had just gone through.  Apparently I and one other person was in the maternity ward that day and word quickly spread about my 11 lbs baby. I had nurses not assigned to me come and see him or come see me and congratulate me.  haa haa, I felt famous for the day.

I was excited for the kids to finally meet him on Saturday with Joe and his mom. They adored him and the free popcicles my lovely nurse had given them.  After a bit, we all started getting restless so I said goodbye to them and went back to sleeping throughout the day.  One of the perks of staying at the hospital is the room service.  I loved being able to call any time of the day to order whatever
food I wanted.  It was so nice!

Jake and I were discharged Sunday night.  Joe picked us up.  It was freezing cold and raining.  The drive home was foggy in my mind.  I was under medication and was definitely feeling the side effects.  But it was so surreal, having a new baby in the backseat.  We talked about the labor and all the things we weren’t aware of at that time and how things could have gone terribly wrong.  We both felt that God had watched over me and Jake during the pregnancy and labor. We were so thankful that there were no serious complications.

This experience has been life changing for me.  It definitely testifies to me that there is a Heavenly Father who loves me and my family.  He watches over me, knows my righteous desires, and gives me tender mercies endlessly.  As a mother, I feel more confident, capable and I trust myself more.  This experience also shows me that my body was made to do this!  God blessed women to bear children.

It is not a burden but a blessing in my mind.  When  you are aware and understand the process and what it can be, it’s a beautiful thing.  I am just grateful that I was able to experience that.  ( and by no means do I look down or judge other moms who do not give birth this way.  Each to his own!  Every woman is different!  I know that.  More power to you!  This is just what I have learned for myself.  What matters is the end result: Healthy Mom & Baby!)

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