This amazing person birthed her second baby last September. Kat planned two homebirths but both of her babies decided to arrive early, thwarting their mother’s plans. Kat writes about her birth experience and how her Mama Bear instincts rocked the hospital on the Birth Without Fear blog. Now she’s spending her days rocking tandem nursing!
About a year and a half ago I helped Coffee have a HBA2C. It was such a great experience. Soon after Elia was born, Coffee and her family moved out of State for her to attend nurse anesthetist school. She graduated with a Master’s degree in nursing just 2 weeks before she gave birth to Elia. I remember the end of her pregnancy being quite stressful, but she was graceful and confident during the entire month preceding the birth. Recently, Coffee noticed I posted birth stories on my blog. I am not sure how she did not know this before, a lapse of communication on my part most likely. She asked me to share her story saying, “I spent months looking for HBA2C stories [when I was pregnant] and I would love to add mine.” So here is Coffee’s story….it’s a good one.
My birth story begins as most VBAC birth stories do, with the birth of my oldest son. I was induced at 41 weeks using everything under the sun: Pitocin, cytotec, cervadil, a foley balloon, and artificial rupture of membranes. I only got to 6 cm after 36 hours and an epidural. Failure to progress. I don’t remember there being any actual indication from baby that anything was wrong other than a few random decelerations but I didn’t know what anything meant at the time and I consented to the surgery. I was 23 at the time and a newlywed. I had some postpartum depression and anxiety that I didn’t fully identify until years later. I loved my baby but I was sad/worried and it didn’t feel right. My husband and I were happy to have a healthy baby and echoed that sentiment often.
When my oldest was nine months old, we decided to have another baby. We were on a new insurance plan and decided to find a new doctor. I had heard about VBAC and asked about it at our first prenatal appointment. The MD looked at my husband and said that if I were his wife, he would absolutely not let me do it. I could die, baby could die, the world would end- all for what? A “birth experience”? We looked at each other and the decision was made. We would have a repeat cesarean at 39 weeks. He was born 18 months after his brother and it was so easy to just show up, have a baby, and go home on pain killers. I had outrageous anxiety after the birth of my second son. I continue to deal with this new part of my life. I was, once again, so happy to have a healthy baby and beautiful little family but I felt this wrong feeling that made me feel guilty. My poor husband also had the pleasure of looking over the sheet during the cesarean and making himself sick. He said it was just so brutal.
My recovery from both of the cesareans was physically easy. I did have adhesions that I felt over the next few years. It was emotionally rough to hear about perfect vaginal births that other women experienced but I just said to myself and others “My body needs to have babies cut out and it is so much easier anyway.” I became a nurse after I had my second son. I worked on many c-sections and vaginal deliveries. I always cried with the c-sections. I thought it was the “miracle of life” affecting me until one day I realized I never cried during the vaginal births- I think it was hitting a chord that I still wasn’t fully aware of. I ended up being an ICU nurse and leaving the labor and delivery realm. In the ICU, we see the worst case scenario quite a bit and my perception of reality became somewhat skewed. During a lecture in nursing school, we had a lactation consultant come and talk to us about random birth topics. Somehow, I ended up staying after and asking about VBAC and if it was even possible after two cesareans. She directed me towards ICAN and suggested I start learning more about this topic that is not usually covered in school.
I signed up for the ICAN yahoo group and watched as other people posted…for years. I never posted anything. I was sometimes put off by what I thought was an obsession with having the perfect birth without regard for the baby. It took me a long time to process my own thoughts and feelings regarding this perception that so many people share. I guess I might still be processing it. In December of 2012, a member posted her birth story of a homebirth after two cesareans. I read it, I connected with her voice, I cried, and I kept it to myself. I started talking about another baby with my husband. I was finishing my MSN and would graduate in December of 2013. The earliest we could get pregnant would be March 2013. We went back and forth with whether we should have another. We always knew we wanted another baby, we just weren’t sure we could handle everything. Our boys are so good but they are typical boys and a bit of a handful. We decided in February after some soul searching that we were ready and excited to have another baby. I had already decided that I would be having a girl and I started doing everything in my power to make sure when we started trying that my body would be primed for XX creation. We used the Shettles method and every other wives tale on the internet.
I had a positive pregnancy test at the end of March. We scheduled an appointment with an OBGYN that I had heard was an amazing surgeon as well as open to the idea of a VBA2C. At our first appointment, he confirmed the pregnancy and we had a very quick meeting. I didn’t bring up the VBAC, I didn’t want to be shot down. At the 10 week ultrasound, he spotted a medium-sized fibroid in my uterus that I didn’t know about. I was devastated. I started crying and was convinced that I was going to have a miscarriage. I didn’t hear much after he told me about the fibroid, the baby looked healthy, would I like to go ahead and tie my tubes when we are in there doing the repeat cesarean? I just nodded and sat there, dazed, sad, overwhelmed. My husband looked at me when the doctor left the room like I was crazy. He said the fibroid wasn’t a big deal, according to the doctor, everything would be fine. Turns out the fibroid was totally not a big deal- despite what some textbooks will tell you about that type of fibroid I had/have. I was left with the issue of the repeat cesarean. No, I did not want to tie my tubes- that was presumptuous and unprofessional- and no, I don’t think I want to schedule a repeat section either.
At 14 weeks, I took my family for an elective ultrasound and found out that we were definitely having a little girl! I cried so much with happiness. If this was going to be my last pregnancy, I would get my little girl. We had decided that if this was going to be a cesarean that it would be my last pregnancy, we didn’t want to deal with the increased risk of everything bad that happens after three cesareans. Around this time, I went to my first ICAN meeting. I was obsessed with talking about rupture. There was another mother there attempting a HBA2C that I wanted so badly to help me figure out how to overcome the thought of rupture. She was so calm and confident in her body and her decision. I needed answers, I need a play-by-play for how I was going to get where she was. I wanted to be calm- dammit! She said that you have to be confident in your decision even if that decision were to lead to something undesirable. She was so sweet and helpful but the message was definitely not what I was looking for. Another mother there was also in my exact situation- we were both the same week in our pregnancy even. Her husband was not supportive of a homebirth, neither was mine, and she was trying to find an option for her VBA2C. I ended up randomly meeting her sister in my prenatal yoga class and she told me months later that she had ended up having a successful VBA2C in a hospital. It was good news.
After that meeting, I decided to push my doctor about the VBA2C and make a plan. My husband was supportive about trying for the VBA2C because of all of the research I had given him about outcomes. He encouraged me to be strong with my doctor. I went to my 16 week appointment in my scrubs because I had taught a class at my hospital earlier that day. I told my doctor that I am completely educated on the issue, I am realistic about my expectations, I want more children, I would like to try for a VBA2C with him, and I would like to go over 40 weeks if necessary. I felt like he really listened to me and took me seriously. He said he would try to talk to his partners and the hospital and see if it would be possible for me to labor there and TOLA2C. I left feeling good but I knew how these things went. He would be supportive while he was with me but then be easily talked out of it by his colleagues, insurance, and the hospital.
I started thinking about alternatives. I could get a monitrice to watch over my labor at home until 8 cm then show up at the hospital in transition and ready to push. I could hire a midwife and labor in a hotel across the street from the hospital in case I ruptured. I could labor at my friend’s house who lives blocks from the hospital. I made an appointment with a midwife that I had heard about through ICAN and brought these issues to her. My husband went with me. She listened to all of my ideas and asked about where I live. She told me that it would take just as long for them to set up the OR if I were at home and she called them in advance as it would if I were in the hospital and they decided to do the C-section emergently. She also reassured me that she would be monitoring me and watching for signs of anything bad- not just rupture and would likely catch something way before it would be emergent and catastrophic. She listened to my fears, my hopes, and my history without judgment and without interrupting. I had so much time! It was nothing like being at the OB! I told her I was planning on keeping the OB and her as my providers. She said that keeping one foot in each world would make it very tough for me, especially if I were to go past 40 weeks. The scare tactics would come at every appointment. We decided that I would break up with my OBGYN at my next appointment after the anatomical scan.
My husband was initially not on board with homebirth. After we spoke to the midwife and we did more of our own research about the success of a VBAC at home compared to the hospital, he became fully convinced and supportive of the HBA2C. He kept saying, “We are looking at the research, our options, and our current situation. We are making the safest decision for our family at every step of the way. If that decision means we go to the hospital during labor, then that is what we’ll do but we can’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet. We just have to make the safest decision for our current situation- right now, that decision is homebirth.” He was my rock. I went back and forth SO many times. What if the baby dies? What if I die? What will you guys do without me? What will I do without my baby? Will you hate me? When I asked him this last question during one of my moments of fear/doubt, he said, “You and I made this decision together and we will deal with whatever happens together. You are amazing and I have no doubt you can do this.” I cried with relief. I could do anything with his support. I just needed to have that kind of faith in myself.
My OBGYN was frustrated when I told him about my plans. He said he knew I could probably birth this baby but he had talked to his insurance provider and they would not support him if he let me labor. He suggested I contact a midwife. I told him I already had and that I would be transferring to her service. He ranted a little while about how doctors are being replaced by advanced practice nurses. He said he had no autonomy, no decision-making power, and thus- no respect. It was an interesting meeting. After that, I continued care with my midwife. I LOVED our appointments. They were so laid back and comfortable. She gave me belly massages and felt where my baby was every time. She insisted that this was not a big baby and that I had so much amniotic fluid (but not TOO much). I grew well, I stayed in shape and went to yoga three times a week. I had a very healthy diet and gained only 30 pounds in my whole pregnancy. I was feeling really good.
At week 36 I started getting serious about my pre-birth preparation. I started taking evening primrose oil orally and vaginally. I took a gentle birth tincture that gave me strong Braxton hicks contractions. I drank loads of raspberry leaf tea. I did squats, I did the stair stepper at the gym daily starting at 38 weeks. I walked MILES. I was determined to go into labor. I was so afraid my body was broken and I that I was incapable of going into labor on my own. I was due December 9 but I was afraid I wouldn’t have a baby until Christmas and that would probably be by cesarean. I WORRIED so much but also tried to stay Zen doing hypnobabies, meditating, chiropractor, acupuncture, and doing yoga. Oh and sex, of course. Everyone tells you to have sex 50 times a day.
By 40 weeks, I was feeling discouraged. I tried castor oil. Twice. I had good contractions the first time but they tapered off. The second time I just had the worst diarrhea of my life. I read more birth stories than I thought was possible. I read blogs about people being over 40 weeks- Jackie Chan’s mom went to 12 months before delivering him by cesarean. That was going to be me. I cried, I watched HBO go, I complained, I ate hot wings. I had a biophysical profile every few days starting at 40 weeks. I insisted on being checked at all of my appointments with the midwife starting at 36 weeks. I never got past 1 cm, 70% effaced, -2 station.
At 41 weeks and 4 days, I had given up on ever going into labor. My husband and I decided that we would wait until New Year’s Eve (43 w 1 d) and if nothing had happened by that morning, we would go to the hospital for a cesarean. My biophysical profiles looked really good and baby was moving around really well but we knew that 43 weeks was our limit. That day, Adam’s parents came in town. His mom is a labor and delivery nurse and we had told her about the VBAC but not about the homebirth. She was already concerned that we were going so far past our due date. We had a wonderful dinner out and took the kids to a park in the evening. The trees in the arboretum were decorated with Christmas lights and there were a few people enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. I started having my nightly contractions and even timed a few at 4-5 minutes about 45 seconds long for thirty minutes. It was a really nice night but the contractions went away as I went to bed.
The next day (41 weeks 5 days) we went to lunch and a movie with Adam’s parents and I started feeling sick to my stomach. When we got home, I threw up. I assumed I had caught the stomach bug my oldest had the previous Wednesday. His parents went to their hotel and we planned to meet them in the morning for breakfast on their way out of town. Around 9 pm I went to bed and tried to get some sleep. I woke up around 11 with awful diarrhea. Every single thing in my body came out. I tried to sip water to keep from getting dehydrated. I walked around the dark house while everyone slept from about 11 to 1 am. I was having contractions regularly that were beginning to be uncomfortable. At around 1, I woke up my husband. The contractions had turned painful and I needed him with me to talk and breathe through them. I knew I was just dehydrated and the contractions were a product of that. I knew it was false labor. It felt just like the contractions I had when I took castor oil.
I texted the midwife about the contractions at 4 am. The contractions were close together and painful. I had thrown up everything again and had no fluid in my body. I am also a hypochondriac and slightly dramatic so I was trying to remain realistic and calm. My husband and I worked through a few contractions and called the midwife at 6 am. She came over and gave me two bags of lactated ringers through an IV. I felt much better and SO tired. She checked me and I was only a 1.5 cm, 70% effaced, -2 station. She and the other midwife left so I could sleep and see if the contractions stopped. I slept for about 30 minutes between contractions that never stopped. They slowed briefly to every 7 minutes but picked right back up to every three to four minutes.
My husband and I wandered around our room for the next 12 hours laboring. My mother watched my two older sons all day while we worked. I leaned over my birthing ball and used it to put downward pressure on the top of my uterus while I used my hands to push in on my lower uterus (scar). I have NO idea what compelled me to do this. I have never seen anyone do it or heard of anyone providing counter pressure on the front but this is what made me feel better. I have read that it was unsafe but that is what my body told me to do. My husband also provided counter pressure on my back at the base of my spine. I felt every contraction so strongly in my back. I tried to stay fed and hydrated but food disgusted me. I drank emergen-C and coconut water and a few bites of dried mango.
The midwife texted us to check in around 1 pm. She said she would be by that evening to check on us. I still didn’t think I was in labor. I was in a strange denial. With every contraction, I was thinking “Is this really labor? Is anything even happening? Am I dilating?” Negative Nancy. I spent a lot of time in the bathtub, on the side of my bed, and on the ball. My poor husband and I were exhausted. We hadn’t slept in so long by the time the midwives got there that evening. I told him that if I hadn’t progressed (I was convinced I hadn’t) that I wanted to just go to the hospital and get the c-section. It was too much and I was too tired. Before they came, he looked at me and said “Even if this is it and this is all we get from ‘labor’, I have had such a great experience with you. This has been great, I am so proud of you.” So many times in my pregnancy and labor, my husband was the voice of confidence that I did not have for some reason. He is the most amazing man in the world and thinks so highly of me. I was so happy to have that day of laboring, even if it was going to end up in c-section.
As soon as the midwife got there with her assistant at 7 pm, they checked me. I was 4 cm, 90% effaced, and -1 station. Baby sounded great. I was relieved that something had changed but still worried about how long it was taking. The midwife told me to relax during a contraction and let her try to stretch my cervix during a contraction to move things along. HOLY MOLY. Pain. I couldn’t do it, I bucked and she pulled her hand out. I apologized and told her it was too much. The midwife later told me that she was also worried that I hadn’t progressed during the day. She said that long hard labor with no progression is sometimes a precursor to rupture. Eesh. I am so glad she did not have that talk with me while I was in labor. About rupture, although I had been obsessed with it for a large portion of my pregnancy, I did not think about it very much at all while in labor. I just knew everything was okay.
After that check, the midwife suggested I go for vigorous walk around my neighborhood and try to really walk through the contractions. I laughed at her. I could barely SIT during the contractions, much less walk. She said this was really the only way to get things to move along more quickly. Oh God, okay. So my husband and I went on a mile walk around our neighborhood. The houses were all decorated for Christmas and everything was so beautiful. I powered through each contraction- no stopping, just power-walking. My husband was so encouraging and impressed with my burst of energy. We were going to get this baby out! Our walk was kind of romantic and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
We got back from the walk and I started to have lots of bloody show. This was very exciting for me. I had been watching the toilet paper like a hawk for the past few weeks hoping for a clue about when I would go into labor. This felt like proof that my baby was moving towards her exit. The midwife forced me to eat some yogurt and finish my drink. I spent time on the ball and then got in the bath. This was around 10 pm. She checked me while I was in the tub. 6 cm, 100% effaced, -1 station. My water broke while she was checking me. Thin meconium but baby sounded great. I totally expected the meconium since she was 42 weeks- it didn’t worry me, her heart tones sounded perfect.
I got up and sat on the toilet for a while. My noises changed after my water broke. I sounded more guttural. A very few times, I lost it and went towards the “AHH! This hurts!” noise but I reigned myself back in. I appreciated so much that our midwife just stayed in the corner of my room doing her own thing unless I needed her or asked for her. Adam and I did everything on our own. It is such a special thing. I sat on the bed and the amniotic fluid leaked a little bit with each contraction. It looked darker each time. There was also blood, frank blood. Not a lot, but enough to make me question why I was bleeding so much. I got back in the tub around midnight. She checked me. 8 cm, 90% (cervical lip), -1. Baby was in the perfect position, LOA. She told me the lip needed to be pulled back so that pushing could be triggered. She would need to keep her fingers inside my cervix during a couple of contractions to try and push it between my pubic bone and the baby’s head so it could melt away like butter. I knew what this felt like from earlier. I was not excited about it. I have no idea where I got the strength to let her do it. This is the worst pain ever BUT it is such a good pain. It is working towards something.
She encouraged me to then get out of tub and walk around. I leaned on door posts and Adam pushed on my back. It was intense. I breathed huge, deep, loud breaths and journeyed through each contraction. As I stood in my bathroom entrance having a contraction I took time to thank God for this experience. I was actually in labor. I was having a baby without someone doing it for me. I was bringing her into the world in the best way for her health. It felt really good.
I went and sat on the toilet. I felt the cervical lip. (I had been doing WAY too many cervical exams on myself for the weeks leading up to the birth and was very familiar with my stubborn cervix). I decided to push the thing back myself. The second I pushed it out of the way and thought “melt like butter” I felt a deep instinct to push. Instinct is the wrong word. It felt like when you have e-coli poisoning and your body is trying to poop out your organs without your consent. I had no control over the urge to push. Also, no control over the growling noise it made me make. The midwife heard me and moved me to the bed to check me and see if we were ready to go. This was at 1:30 am.
I got on the bed with my back flat, the midwife catching the baby, my husband pushing back one of my legs and the other midwife holding my other leg. She said I was ready and could start pushing with the contractions. It felt so right to push. It felt like the last 100m of a triathlon. I was a REALLY good pusher. All of that yoga through 41 weeks of pregnancy paid off. My husband got this crazy proud excited look on his face as he watched our baby crown. It was totally worth it to watch him watch his baby girl come into the world. The midwife told me that the baby was moving her little head back and forth at one point while she was crowning, like she was trying to help. So cute! I pushed for 45 minutes and she came out at 02:16 am- exactly 42 weeks.
She came right to my belly, the placenta came out 6 minutes later. It looked amazing, also- like a 40 week placenta. We cut the cord an hour later. She nursed very quickly. She was 8lb 14 oz. My biggest baby. 20.5 inches. 13.5 head circumference. She is a very big girl but she looks so tiny. We took a very relaxing herbal bath, I ate some rice with broccoli and chicken while in the bath. Our midwife cut up my placenta so I could make smoothies out of it. I never tasted it but I definitely felt great. I am IN LOVE with this perfect little angel. Bonding had been a completely different process. We are so much closer than I was with the boys at this age. The hormones have been much gentler, also. I have not experienced any postpartum blues as I write this on my baby’s six week birthday. I just feel stable and calm. This is how it is meant to be.”
Kelli went into labor on the morning of the only icy day we had this winter….she blogged her story on her blog, Analytical Momma and also said I could share it here.
“Background: My son was a planned home birth with a wonderful and supported labor, until we had to transfer when it was discovered after hours of pushing that he was posterior brow presentation. He was born by cesarean on Christmas day, at 38 weeks 6 days, and spent 3 days in the NICU for a subgaleal hematoma. Oh, and my uterus tore downward from my incision during delivery, and I was told the next day that I could never VBAC. Read that story here.
I struggled through a lot of this pregnancy with where to birth my baby. I was lucky enough to find both an OB and a home birth midwife who supported my decision to VBAC. I wanted a home birth, but really didn’t want to have to transfer in labor again (that car ride was hell!) But in the end, I just couldn’t get my head and heart behind a hospital birth, so I planned a home birth and did everything I could to encourage baby to be in a good position and avoid the problems that caused my transfer last time.
I felt my first real contractions at 39 weeks while nursing my son. My Braxton Hicks contractions had felt like painless tightening, and my contractions with my son had felt like waves of back pain because he was posterior. These were like low achy cramps that came in waves about every 5 minutes for 30ish seconds, but they stopped when he stopped nursing. I was excited that they felt different and meant this baby might be in a better position, since she had been flipping between LOP, LOT and LOA for the past few weeks. This went on for two days, until the early morning hours of February 28, at 39 weeks 2 days.
I woke up around 4:45am with the same sort of contractions, but happening on their own and not stopping. They were mild and manageable, but I couldn’t sleep through them. This was it, I was pretty sure of it. I felt calm, but excited and went upstairs to wake my husband (Eric) up and start getting the bedroom ready. He inflated the birth pool and put on the waterproof sheets, and I called my mom to come over to watch my toddler when he woke up.
Early labor was really lovely. I chose my Mellow Rocky Laborland playlist, full of good stuff like Van Morrison, Doobie Brothers and The Band. I spent most of my time on hands and knees, rocking and swaying through contractions, ate a little bit of food, texted my doula and midwife, and worked on relaxing my pelvic floor. Within an hour, they were coming every 3 minutes, but were only lasting 30-45 seconds and still felt like early labor.
By 7am, they were feeling a little more intense, and I was getting some relief from making low moans through them. It was still manageable, but feeling more like active labor to me. This is where I apparently faked my doula and midwife out by being too calm and collected. I felt like things were moving fast and getting more intense, contractions 2.5 minutes apart, and I was really kind of wishing my team would get here. But they were the experts, and I was telling them how I felt, and they didn’t seem in a rush, so ok. I did finally, at 7:15, tell my doula (Julie) she should definitely come when she can, so she said she’d take a shower and start to pack up.
Did I mention that we had had a bad freeze overnight and half the roads were iced over and closed? No? Well, yeah.
I wanted to be in water, but was afraid to fill the birth tub too early, so I got in the bath while I waited for Julie to get here, and I also told my midwife (Christy) she needed to head this way, because she lived even further away. The water was nice, but I couldn’t really find positions I liked in the tub. Eric and my mom took turns sitting with me, and I was in good spirits between contractions.
After a little bit, they started to get more intense, and I decided I couldn’t manage them in the tub, and needed to get out and have more position options. As I got out, I was screaming “oh god, not another one!” I was starting to feel like this was really hard and I needed more breaks in between them, I didn’t want to do this anymore, I wasn’t ready for another one yet! Holy crap, I realized, this feels like transition! It sure as hell better be! This was probably not long after 8am.
I was back on the bed on my knees and elbows, making Eric really nervous with the sounds I was making. He knew too that this was moving fast and it was time for my birth team to get here NOW. But with most of the roads closed, they were having trouble finding routes to get here. I started to feel a little panicky too, but just a little, as I tried to block that out and just focus on my body and my baby.
At 8:20, he called Julie to be like “seriously, are you almost here? We need you here NOW,” and she pulled up in the driveway right then. I told him to fill up the birth tub because it was now or never. Julie got upstairs as my water was breaking, and I told her I was feeling them in my back. She asked if I wanted a heat pack for my back and I says YES, so she headed downstairs.
But on the next contraction, my body started pushing. Holy shit. Already?! I juuuuuust entered transition, right? I told Eric I was feeling pushy, and he said “what do I do?!” I yelled “Get Julie!” and he ran to call her back.
She came immediately, thinking what on Earth could be so urgent, but ok. I told her I was pushing, and Eric called the midwife, but of course, we still thought it could go on for an hour or two or more. This was probably 8:25-8:30.
In my first labor, pushing had felt like hard work, but not exactly painful per se. This time, pushing felt like I was being simultaneously ripped apart and having the life squeezed out of me. I’m pretty sure I screamed my bloody heart out through each back to back contraction. I wasn’t really capable of conscious thought, but fleeting thoughts like “what was I thinking” and “this was the worst idea ever” and “f natural childbirth” definitely popped through my mind.
Sometime around now, my birth photographer (Sabrina) showed up and I informed her that she pretty much missed my labor. Julie’s like “another set of hands!”
Meanwhile, Julie is on the phone with Christy, saying (in a super calm and soothing voice) things like “yeah, I can see some head … ok, it went back in … oh, this time it stayed,” interspersed with things like “breathe, momma,” and “you’re doing great.” She told me to roll to my side and I asked Eric to hold my leg up. He barely remembered to turn off the too-late birth tub water before the bedroom flooded and then he was there with me.
I had my hand on the baby’s head now, supporting my perineum, and could feel her crowning. Part of me was panicking that the midwife wasn’t here and I needed this to slow down, but a bigger part of me didn’t give a crap about anything but being DONE with this, because I COULD NOT TAKE IT A SECOND LONGER.
And then her head popped out and all the pain stopped! Her body just slid right out and she was placed on my chest and my brain started working properly as it flooded me with the thought “it’s over, it’s over! Thank the gods, it’s over!” It took me a minute to register my second thought: “I did it!” I did it, I got my VBAC, I pushed my baby out! And this was mostly good because it’s over and I don’t have to ride in a car or go to a hospital, it’s over, it’s over, it’s over! She was born at 8:45 after about 20 minutes of pushing.
Unbeknownst to me, Christy had told Julie that she wasn’t going to make it in time, and not to tell us that. But Eric knew more than me because he could see her face. She may have been keeping her voice calm and soothing, but I’m told her eyes were screaming.
Melek, the training midwife, got there 10 minutes after she was born and confirmed that everything was looking awesome. Christy got there 20 minutes later, and said the same. I got her to latch on and we just snuggled and nursed in bed for an hour or so. At some point, I delivered the placenta, and maybe 20-30 minutes after that, I cut her cord.
I had so many problems nursing my son. I wasn’t even allowed to try for 12 hours, and then he wouldn’t latch right. It was amazing to nurse her so effortlessly so soon after she entered the world. I don’t think I got that instant love high that some people do, but my joy and relief in nursing her was fantastic.
Dad got some time with her alone while I got sewed up. I’m not gonna lie, that sucked. It wasn’t that it was that painful, but after what I’d just gone through, I was so not in the mood for anything unpleasant. I was lucky in that it was a very small tear, and they did numb me with moderate success, but I don’t like needles, and this area of the body was about at the top of the list of places I don’t like needles to be. But I survived.
I was determined that the birth tub not be a complete waste, so everyone worked to get it heated up enough that baby and I could take our herbal bath in it. I was shaky and weak as I walked to the tub, a feeling that didn’t match my emotional state, which was strong and excited and full of energy now!
In the moments right around her birth, I distinctly remember thinking that I would never do this again, and that if we had another kid, I’d like to try out the epidural thing. But by the time I was walking to the tub, I was already recognizing that it was totally awesome to be up and moving, in my home, with my whole family, including my beautiful new baby, and I knew I’d do it the same way again.”
Alexandra birthed David at home in mid-October and she just sent her birth story to be shared on our blog. She had a very triumphant vaginal birth after cesarean!
My HBAC birth story.
Friday October 17th I was 40+3 and exhausted of being pregnant. So, I bought a nice standing rib roast for dinner and made an amazing meal as a special treat. I tried going to bed at about 9pm. I started having mild contractions by 11pm and started timing them about 1-1:30. At 3:30 I called my doula to let her know I was definitely in labor. 5am came around and my water broke. I was sitting on the toilet and then grabbed the walls and whoa. My water broke. I called to my husband and told him. He then worried he’d be delivering the baby before we even called anybody. He then called the midwives. They told him to call back when the contractions got closer together. I got in the shower which felt amazing. Things escalated quickly after that point. I had him call the doula who then called the birth photographer. We called the midwives back to come at about 6am. Everybody was at our house by 7am. I mostly labored laying on my side as that was the most comfortable position. We did the
stairs and walked around some. I used the birth ball. I tried just about everything. I had intense pressure and pain in my lower back, sacrum area. During late active labor I got into my bathtub, and the pain just melted away. The water just felt amazing. I stayed in the tub as long as I could before it got cold and stopped relieving the pain. Then when I hit transition labor I didn’t wanna do it anymore. I was ready to give up, but there was no way you’d have gotten me in a car unless it was necessary. There was no relief between contractions. I didn’t wanna do what anyone was suggesting. I just hurt. Eventually my body just started pushing. I was in the shower and I couldn’t stop my body from pushing. I tried the bath and we tries to not push through the contractions. I wasn’t quite fully dilated. Shortly though I was ready to push. I pushed hard for about an hour and at 1:43pm on October 18th, my perfect boy was born. 9lbs 4oz. 22in long. I did it! I pushed my baby out. I wound up with a necessary episiotomy and tearing externally. The internal tearing put me in the hospital for about 6hrs. I had to get a spinal block for the stitches. I got home about midnight and I’ve been enjoying snuggles with my angel ever since. There were times I just didn’t want to do it. I was ready to give up, but I did it. I had to constantly remind myself that my body isn’t broken. I’m the proud momma of two perfect boys. One born by cesarean, and one born all natural vbac at home.
Our dear client Roan recently wrote about how he has been experiencing pregnancy, especially as his belly gets bigger and bigger.
“My midwife suggested I write a post of observations about being pregnant, and I keep meaning to. Is it interesting to other people? I have no idea. I know I always was interested to hear the tiny details of everyone else’s pregnancy because I think it is such a fascinating amazing thing, but I know that is not the way everyone feels.
I have lots of little ailments, but mostly when people ask how my body is feeling I say great, because it’s really cool to be growing an actual new person. I can feel the different parts of the baby’s body now through my belly, especially when my midwives give me hints about what they are – a head, an elbow, a foot…[MORE ]”
While this includes the birth stories of the four miracles God blessed Jarad and I with, this is more about my personal journey for a natural birth.
My husband and I found out we were expecting our first child just a few months after marriage; so much for our plan to wait 5 years! I was completely uneducated about childbirth but knew I wanted an all natural birth because my mother and grandmother had natural births. I have a high pain tolerance and it is just something I had always wanted to do. I found the best OB in town. At my first appointment I met with the nurse. She started going over what I should expect during pregnancy and asked me some questions that she filed in my chart. One of the questions was if I planned on having an epidural. As she was asking me she was shaking her head yes and answering the question for me. I said to her that I wasn’t planning on having an epidural and that I wanted an all-natural birth. She tried convincing me I needed an epidural and put me down as a maybe.
As the pregnancy progressed, it was clear that I would be having a larger than average baby. It was a very hands-on pregnancy. I had a total of 5 sonograms and was checked several times from 30 weeks on. I kept being told that my baby was huge and was expected to be 11 pounds. The OB had told me I needed an epidural in case my baby was too big to fit through the birth canal and I needed an emergency c-section. She told me I just had to get the needle inserted but never had to use the medicine. I agreed. At about 32 weeks, I was already dilated to a 3 and 50% effaced. The OB told me she was going to cancel my appointment at the hospital. I had no idea at the time what she was talking about but I later learned that each patient is scheduled to check into the hospital the day before their due date and is administered a cervix softener and then induced on their due date if they don’t go into labor on their own. A few weeks went by and at every appointment I was told my baby was huge and I really needed to schedule a c-section. I was told his head would get stuck or he could have shoulder dystocia if I tried having him vaginally. I gave in and scheduled the c-section. I hated penciling in a baby on our calendar. I still hoped to go into labor on my own and just show up at the hospital and have him vaginally. But at 36 weeks, on a Friday night, I was in triage having contractions one minute apart. I was eventually sent home, as I was not making progress and the contractions were dying down.
The following Monday at my doctors appointment, I was told the baby had not dropped and was starting to stress. I was sent to get an ultrasound where they told me he was pushing 11 pounds and his head was 16 inches in diameter and he couldn’t drop because his head was too big to fit in my pelvis. The OB told me I would most likely kill my baby if I tried to have him. I was sent to the hospital immediately for what I was told was an emergency c-section. Once at the hospital, I waited an hour or so before going back to the OR. My son, Hunter, was born at 36 weeks and 4 days, weighing in at 8 pounds, 4 ounces. He was 21 ¾” long and his head was 14”. I remember saying, “That’s it? I could have had him.” The OB replied that 8 pounds was big and my pelvis was small on the inside and there is no way he would have fit. Hunter was rushed to the nursery because he needed oxygen. It was 14 hours before I saw him or held him. He couldn’t keep his temperature up, he needed constant oxygen, and he had fluid on his lungs. He was given sugar water and formula in a tube and bottle in the nursery and once I finally was able to nurse him, I was engorged and he wouldn’t latch. I attended several breastfeeding groups and saw specialist at the hospital and we never could establish a good nursing relationship. After one month of stress and crying and supplementing formula, we finally gave up on nursing.
Jarad and I found out we were expecting our second child. We had moved to Austin so I saw a new doctor. I started out going to a doctor in San Marcos. She told me she didn’t understand why I had a c-section in the first place and she thought I was an excellent candidate for a VBAC. I didn’t know much about VBACs but started doing my research. My doctor informed me that the hospital wouldn’t allow VBACs because it was under construction and they didn’t have a NICU in case there was an emergency. She was unable to find a facility that would allow her to perform a VBAC so I switched doctors at 30 weeks. I made a 45 minute commute to a hospital that had a state of the art women’s center. The doctor I saw there agreed I was an excellent candidate for a VBAC and that is what we had planned. At 38 weeks, he told me my c-section was scheduled for the following week. I was shocked. I told him I was planning a VBAC. He told me that he didn’t realize how big my baby was going to be and that the hospital did not allow VBACs on babies projected to be over 6 ½ to 7 pounds. I had never been told that before and my first was over 8 pounds so I would have thought this would have been discussed. He then told me that a VBAC is more risk to the baby and a c-section is more risk to the mother and he doesn’t know any mother in her right mind who would put that risk on her baby instead of herself. Then he tapped me on the knee with my chart and walked out the door with a smile. My daughter, Hayden, was born [via c/section] at 39 weeks, weighing in at 9 pounds 1 oz. Nursing was rough again and we made it 3 months this time, again supplementing from very early on.
The same week we found out I was pregnant with our third, I got a letter in the mail that my current OB was relocating and I would need to find a new provider. I started looking for a VBAC friendly provider. I found an awesome OB who was pretty much anti c-section and was VBAC friendly but the hospital would not allow a VBA2C. The OB thought my first two c-sections were completely unnecessary but said we couldn’t change the past and we can’t find a facility that would allow a VBA2C, so we will just have to make the best out of this c-section. The pregnancy was great until 37 weeks. I developed high blood pressure. At 38 weeks, I still had it. I got tested for preeclampsia but it was negative. I had an appointment at 38 weeks and 5 days. I was sent to the lab for more testing but before that was complete, I got a phone call from my OB. She had consulted with a high-risk specialist who diagnosed me with gestational hypertension and said I needed to have my baby as soon as possible. I was scheduled to go in for a c-section that evening.
When I got to the hospital, my blood pressure was normal. I was taken back to the OR and given the spinal. Immediately my blood pressure skyrocketed and the baby’s heart rate dropped dangerously low. All I remember at this point was the OB yelling at the nurses to get wedges under me, and all kinds of other scary stuff. I was in a daze and remember hearing a lot of beeping noises. I remember thinking it was like one of those medical shows where the patient is looking around, dazed and confused, wondering if they are dying, and the doctor is yelling and machines are beeping and everyone is on high alert. I really wanted my husband but in the midst of all that was going on, they forgot to bring him in. He eventually was brought in and was by my side. We did not find out the gender ahead of time with this baby so my husband got to announce to me that we had a healthy baby girl. She weighed in at 8 pounds 1 oz. She was our smallest baby. She was whisked away to the nursery while I spent over 2 hours in the OR getting keloid scarring cut out and steroid shots injected. But for the first time ever, I got to see my baby while I was in recovery so I got to nurse her sooner than all my other babies. We were off to a pretty good start as far as nursing goes. Harper had some medical issues and we had to start supplementing around 3 weeks but we were able to nurse for about 8 months.
When I found out I was pregnant with our fourth, I called my OB only to find out that she wasn’t delivering babies anymore. I got a referral from several friends to an excellent OB in my area. I made an appointment. One night at my first MOPS meeting at our church, I met a girl named Annabell. We were sitting at a table with seven moms. Annabell was pregnant and was planning a VBAC at a birthing center. She was also a nurse. She made a comment that out of all 7 of us moms, only one had had a vaginal birth. The rest had had all c-sections. I asked her if she had had 3 c-sections, would she go for a VBA3C or was that just too risky? She said she would. She suggested I watch “More Business of Being Born” so that night, I went home and watched it on Netflix. I loved how honest the film was. I heard both sides of the VBAC argument. They talked about why hospitals didn’t allow VBACs, the insurance companies’ role, how VBACs got a bad reputation, the risks involved with VBACs and repeat c-sections, and so much more. It wasn’t filled with scare tactics, nor was it sugar coated. After watching the film, I started googling VBA3C.
I came across a blog from a midwife in Austin who had performed VBAMCs. I read the birth stories on her website and bawled the entire time. I knew I had to contact her and just inquire about a VBA3C. I met with Christy from Motherbloom Midwifery. I can’t even describe our meeting. It was just awesome. She was kind, compassionate, understanding and so much more. She thought I was a good candidate for a VBA3C and agreed to take me on as a patient. I cancelled my appointment I had scheduled with the OB because I already knew they would say no to a VBA3C. I still had to convince my husband, and to be honest, myself, that this was a good idea. I mean, not only was I going for a VBA3C, it was a homebirth too. I had never thought about a homebirth. It sounded crazy especially since I was supposedly high risk after having 3 c-sections, right? I prayed and prayed and prayed about it. I finally felt at peace about it. One thing Christy had told me, which I told my husband, was that I could change my mind at anytime. He agreed I could go for it but I knew he wasn’t on board and thought I wouldn’t really follow through with it.
Each appointment with Christy made me feel more and more comfortable with my decision. I knew I was doing the right thing for our family. I didn’t tell many people what I was doing because I knew the controversy surrounding it and I didn’t want to hear all the negativity, especially from people who were not very educated on the subject. Jarad and I didn’t talk about it either. Every time we did, it ended in an argument. If I heard him say “There’s a reason hospitals don’t allow VBA3Cs,” one more time, I was going to punch him in the face. So we just didn’t go there.
My pregnancy went well. I worked out. I also ran my first marathon at 5 months pregnant. I received chiropractic care weekly starting at 32 weeks. I did have some random things happen towards the end that ended up not being a big deal. I had some severe itching and swelling, and developed high blood pressure again. I went on bed rest at 37 weeks and it all cleared up except the itching, but even that got better. This pregnancy my stomach was huge. Christy had said I had plenty of fluid, but wasn’t concerned. We knew I was going to have a larger than average baby, meaning over 8 pounds or so, but that was to be expected as all my babies were over 8 pounds. I loved the hands off approach of this pregnancy. I had an ultrasound at 9 weeks to determine my EDD, I had another at 25 weeks, at my request, to make sure the placenta wasn’t embedded in the incision or anything crazy like that, and I was never checked vaginally. Starting around 32-34 weeks, I was having Braxton Hicks. Totally random and annoying but that was it. I had no idea if I was making any progress. I was mentally prepared to go to 42 weeks and to have a long pushing stage as this was my first vaginal birth and I had never labored. I had no birth plan. I didn’t want one because I didn’t want to think about it. I trusted Christy and her partner, Jenni, and knew they would take care of me. If they said I needed a c-section, I knew I needed one. We had a back up plan and the nearest hospital was 2 miles away so I wasn’t worried about that. I had a birthing pool that I planned on using to labor in. I didn’t know if I wanted a water birth. I figured I would just see how things went.
I had been taking a bath almost every night before bed just to help with the itching and to relax a little. Friday, April 25, I didn’t take a bath before bed. I was tired. But at 3 am Saturday morning, my two year old came in our room and woke me up. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I started watching Netfilx on the iPad. I could tell I was bothering my husband and I had started itching again so I went to take a bath and watch the movie while I was in the tub. I started having those annoying Braxton Hicks again. I got out of the tub after a while and lie back down. It was probably around 6 am and I still couldn’t sleep. Around 7 am the contractions started back and were getting closer together. I couldn’t tell if they were getting stronger and longer, but they would stop for a while and then start back again. I assumed this was the prodromal labor I had heard about where it starts and stops. I knew this could go on for days. I got back in the tub to try and relax a bit. For an hour, the contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart but then they stopped again. I then had a little bit of a bloody show. It was 8 am and I texted Christy to tell her what had been going on. I told her I was surprised how bad the contractions hurt this early on. Not that the they hurt that bad but I thought if it is this uncomfortable now, I can’t imagine how bad they will hurt when I am actually in labor. Christy told me to get some rest, stay hydrated, and go for a brisk walk. At 10:45 I texted Christy to tell her I couldn’t rest, I lost a bunch more of the mucous plug and for the past 20 minutes, contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart, and I never went for that walk. At this point, the contractions were starting to hurt some. She called to check on me and said they would head over in a couple hours. I assured her I was fine and there was no need to rush over. She called back about an hour later and said they were going to go ahead and come over. The kids had a t-ball game at noon. Jarad was loading them in car and when he came back in to tell me bye and I leaned over and grabbed the dresser during a contraction. He immediately got the kids out of the car and said he wasn’t leaving. I told him everything was fine, Christy and Jenni would be there soon, my parents were on their way, this will last a long time, just take the kids to their game. He refused to leave me. Instead, he aired up the birthing tub. Christy and Jenni arrived a little after 1 PM. She said she wanted to check me. I expected her to say I was at a 2 or something. I was prepared for this to last all day. When she said I was a 10 and ready to push, I was shocked! No wonder the contractions were hurting worse than I expected. I was in active labor. I wasn’t ready for this. The birthing tub hadn’t been filled up, the birth photographer wasn’t here, I couldn’t have this baby yet.
Christy told me to sit on the toilet for a couple contractions to see if the pressure would build in my pelvis. I had a few contractions standing up then I lay down to start pushing. It get’s a little blurry here but I remember screaming and grunting. Not really because it hurt super bad but because it was more of a way to release energy from the push. Christy told me to put all of that energy into the push. She also advised me to tuck my chin when pushing. It was then that I thought maybe I should have taken a birthing class. The baby had never dropped so I pushed him from pretty high up. My water broke during a push. As baby was coming the contractions were on top of each other and I couldn’t catch my breath. This is where it got painful. I think I was holding my breath and I thought I was going to pass out. I started saying I couldn’t do this but Christy, Jenni, and Jarad were all telling me I could. Actually I think they said I had to because the baby’s head was coming out. There was so much pressure. Then I felt an intense burning sensation and I remember thinking this must be what the ring of fire feels like. Then I started wondering how long it was supposed to last. The baby came out the next push. If I understand correctly, the entire baby pretty much came out during one push. Christy laid the baby on my chest. I have never had a messy baby laying on me. I didn’t know what to do. We checked the gender and it was boy. I was in complete awe. We had hoped for a boy. I remember just moaning and saying really weird things at this point. I’m pretty sure I was in shock. I was just trying to comprehend everything that had just happened. It had all happened so fast. I believe the entire labor was less than 3 hours. I did get a 2nd degree tear so I lay there a while getting stitched up. I think Christy was trying to slow me down so she could stretch me but I was pushing really hard and he slid out so fast, there wasn’t really much she could do.
Now for the fun part, we got to find out what the baby weighed. We all told each other our guesses but I think we were all completely shocked when Christy announced he was 11 pounds, 2 ounces. I for sure did not expect that at all. His head was 15 ¾ inches and he was 21 ¾ inches long. I asked Christy why his head wasn’t cone shaped. She said because there was plenty of room for him to come out. (Remember my first baby who was 8 pounds 4 ounces with a 14 inch head was too big to fit through the birth canal.) Christy and Jenni helped the baby and I take a herb bath. They helped with nursing which led to Hudson and I having a great nursing relationship from the beginning; something I wasn’t able to have with the other babies. They stayed until everything was cleaned up and baby and I were snuggled in bed. Additionally, Christy and Jenni called and texted me to check on me several times, and all postpartum and baby visits over the next few weeks were done at my home which was so much easier on us than having to load the baby up and go to appointments.
I am still amazed that after having three c-sections and being told I would never be able to have a vaginal birth, I pushed an 11 pound, 2 ounce baby out of my vagina, at home in my bed, all natural with no pain medications. We give all the glory to God who protected us while we brought this precious life into this world. I can’t thank Christy and Jenni enough for their belief in me. Although, my husband wasn’t really on board with all this, he was perfect during the delivery. He was supportive when I needed him to be and has reminded me several times how awesome I am for doing what I did.
I don’t regret my first three c-sections but I do wish I was educated enough to avoid a c-section in the first place. I never felt broken but I felt like there was a void. After becoming more educated I felt confident that my first three c-sections were completely unnecessary. I still had a very strong desire for a natural birth but I struggled finding support. It wasn’t an easy process to get the birth I wanted but it was well worth the journey. My HBA3C was very empowering. It was my biggest feat, both physically and emotionally. I hope my story encourages others to become more educated, think for themselves, have a voice, and be empowered. Our bodies are amazing and when given the chance, they will work just like God made them to work.
A little over a week ago, my 12 year old daughter, Laurel, went with me to her first birth! She went to watch and play with Val and Coke’s 2 year old son River while Val was is labor. Turns out, little River slept the entire labor so Laurel, with Val’s permission, was able to peep through the bathroom door where Val was sitting on the birth stool pushing her baby out. Nine pound, one ounce Olivia slid right out with a plump beautiful spiraling umbilical cord, crying and turning pink immediately. Laurel watched all of the postpartum care proceedings with avid interest and was enthralled with the placenta as well. River finally woke up when we were getting ready to tuck Val and Olivia in bed for a nice nap, about 2 hours after the birth. For a proud midwife mom, the experience could not have been more perfect and I am so thankful to Val and Coke for letting Laurel be there!
Ezra was born on October 18, 2013. Here’s the story of his birth, written by his mother, Jessie:
Before I was even pregnant, I began interviewing midwives and investigating alternatives to the routine hospital birth with an OB. My first birth experience with my daughter was in a hospital with an epidural, and it was not a road I wanted to go down again. I had several post postpartum complications that I believe were due to unnecessary interventions, including major swelling from IV fluids, pain from episiotomy sutures, and post postpartum depression. I didn’t even want to have another baby until my daughter was almost 2 years old. When my husband and I decided that we would try again, we knew we wanted a completely different experience this time. When we interviewed Christy, I immediately knew that I felt comfortable with her. She is an RN like myself, and was able to answer all my questions about home birth and midwifery care to my satisfaction. We saw eye to eye on almost everything I asked her. When I did become pregnant and emailed Christy, she told me that she would be out of town for 10 days surrounding my due date for a conference! I was so disappointed! However, she suggested joint care with another midwife and I alternated prenatal visits with her and Genevieve Schaefer throughout my pregnancy and just hoped that I would deliver before Christy left for her conference.
My pregnancy was no picnic, but better overall than my first . I followed a healthier diet and exercised almost every day, including a two mile walk the day I delivered! However, at my 38 week appointment my blood pressure spiked up to 158/110. This was a bit surprising because it had been in the 90’s /70’s throughout my pregnancy, but I had a history of elevated BP at the very end of my first pregnancy as well. As I had no other preeclampsia symptoms and my liver and kidney function labs came back normal, we decided just to keep track of my BP’s a few times a day and it stayed borderline at 130’s/90’s. As I approached 39 weeks, the numbers were creeping up into the 140’s and I became discouraged that I would risk out of a home birth and be sent to the hospital. I tried acupuncture that week to induce labor but it just gave me a night of frequent Braxton Hicks contractions. At my 39 week appointment, the day before Christy was to leave for her conference, I was 3 cm dilated and having frequent BH’s, so Genevieve advised me to take castor oil and use a breast pump to see if we could get labor going. My fear was that the longer I stayed pregnant the worse my BP might get and I would end up in the hospital.
I took the castor oil and pumped 3 times that afternoon, and the contractions increased in strength and frequency, but they were very short, about 20-30 seconds, and fizzled out after I stopped pumping. My husband Geoff came home from work at 6 after my last pumping session, and we had a date night planned, so we set out but my contractions made the car ride very uncomfortable. We ended up taking our food to go because I was unable to sit down. I think everyone in the restaurant was relieved when we left! My contractions were about 3-5 minutes apart then, but only 30-40 seconds long. By the time we got home, I thought I should call Christy and give her a heads up; it was 6:48 (per my phone’s records). They became very strong and painful after that and increased in frequency, but remained short. Geoff started running around, trying to fill the birth pool, time my contractions, and manage our 3 year old at the same time. I started yelling during the contractions and we decided that Geoff should take our daughter to a neighbor’s house. By then, it seemed like the contractions were right on top of each other, with only a few seconds in between the peak of each one. I believe I went through transition during that time because I screamed for the entire 5 minutes he was gone. When he got back I was on the toilet (castor oil effects!) and screaming in agony, and he called Christy at 7:27 and she said she was on her way. Moments later, I felt the baby’s head coming out! I told Geoff I could feel the head but he didn’t want to believe me, and was trying to get me into the birth tub in the bedroom (which had about 2 inches of water in it by then)! There was no way I could walk across the room to that tub, and I refused to budge. My water broke all over the toilet, and I stood up (thank God!) and reached down. I don’t remember pushing. I felt my baby’s head come out with my hand, followed by his body as I caught him under his back and pulled him up to my chest. I asked my poor shocked husband to get me a towel and I held him close. The baby looked like he was sleeping and didn’t make a sound. Geoff called Christy again at 7:33 and told her that the baby came out. He put her on speakerphone and she was asking him about my condition. The nurse in me wanted to hear my baby make a sound to know he was breathing, so I asked Geoff to find me a bulb syringe. I suctioned the baby’s mouth out and he made a little whimper and that was it. I knew he was ok then, and just held him close to keep him warm. Christy was instructing Geoff to get me to lay down, even though I didn’t want to because the placenta was still inside me and I was very uncomfortable. I finally got down on the bathroom floor and lay there holding Ezra until Christy arrived at about 7:45. She was very calm, briefly checked Ezra and I, then delivered the placenta and helped me into bed where I immediately began to nurse Ezra. Genevieve and Paula arrived a bit later, and they examined Ezra while Christy attended to me. He was six lbs, nine oz and had a head full of bushy blond hair! Our daughter had a head full of black hair and looks Hispanic like Geoff, so we were very surprised to see our son’s hair was blond like mine! Amazingly, I did not need sutures for any tears after such a rapid birth, and felt relatively great for just delivering my own baby unexpectedly. It was so nice to be able to get up and walk to the bathroom after the birth, not be stuck in bed with a catheter like after my first birth.
Ezra and I were even able to take a bath together, and Geoff and I bonded with our beautiful baby boy during that precious time. He never cried, just slept peacefully the whole time.
At about 10 PM, the midwives began packing up and advised us to get some sleep while Ezra was sleeping. Of course Ezra slept all night but neither Geoff nor I could because of all the adrenaline we had.
Ezra has been a great baby ever since: he eats well, is easy to soothe and is usually content. I’m so glad I didn’t have to go to the hospital. Geoff and I are still slightly shell shocked by the whole event, since all our home birth preparations and labor coping techniques we learned weren’t used at all! We had envisioned our birth in our lowly lit bedroom in the birthing tub with soft music playing and Geoff coaching me through the process, not screaming on the toilet in the bathroom! But we are grateful that everything turned out well, Ezra is healthy and so am I and nothing terrible happened. We were also glad that Christy was able to attend our birth (well, after our birth!) as we had hoped. Although this birth experience was not at all what we were prepared for, it was still so much better to be at home with our baby instead of in the hospital. My recovery was much quicker and I bonded with my baby immediately, all things I had hoped for out of this experience. The whole thing happened so fast, with a labor of about an hour and a half and I guess just one push, although I don’t remember consciously pushing. It feels like it was a dream, but it makes for a great story!
Born June 18, 2013
7lbs 4oz, 19 inches
I am a planner. I make to-do lists and keep all of my receipts. When I became pregnant a year ago, my husband and I were confident in our baby’s estimated arrival date of July 12, because I’d kept close track of the dates of my menstrual periods for more than eight months.
My first trimester was dominated by near constant nausea, but the remainder of my pregnancy was relatively easy, and while being nine months pregnant in Texas in July is not ideal, it’s better than being nine months pregnant in August. My job as a construction project manager required that I work outdoors everyday. When June rolled around and it became unbearably hot, my feet and calves started to swell. But I felt strong enough, puffy ankles and all, to work outside on the construction site right up until I went into labor.
On the evening of Monday, June 17th, at our second-to-last birthing class, my husband and I reviewed some pain-coping techniques and learned about what to expect during active labor and delivery. During class, I casually mentioned that while I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions throughout my pregnancy, they’d become more frequent during the past few days. Was that normal? We decided it wasn’t uncommon, but I’d ask Christy about it when I saw her at our appointment the next day.
I went to bed at about 10 p.m., only to be awakened an hour later by a contraction that didn’t feel quite like the ones I’d been experiencing up to that point. After two more came about 15 minutes apart, I ventured into the living room where my husband was watching television. We spent the next couple of hours, in between contractions, scouring the internet for advice on how to distinguish false labor from real labor. My contractions weren’t coming at consistent intervals, and they seemed to vary in duration. And besides, Cooper’s due date was still almost four weeks away – surely I couldn’t already be in labor! We’d only ordered our birth kit the day before! We hadn’t set up the crib yet, or determined if we had the proper clothes for his arrival! We weren’t ready!
The contractions persisted all night, not unbearable but strong enough to keep me awake, about 10-15 minutes apart. At about 6 a.m. I got out of bed and sat on my large exercise ball in the living room, which significantly eased the discomfort. At 8 a.m. I called Christy and explained that I was experiencing what I assumed were very intense Braxton-Hicks contractions. She suggested that I get into a warm bath and drink half a glass of wine. Good idea! They would probably subside, and she could check on me at our scheduled home visit at noon.
The bath seemed to help, and my husband and I felt relieved that this had indeed been false labor – until the contractions came back with a vengeance less than an hour later. I tried lying in bed, but I started to feel sick. My husband helped me to the toilet, and once on my knees at the bowl I didn’t think I could get back to the bed. The exercise ball was brought into our tiny bathroom, and I leaned on it, rocking back and forth, in the itty-bitty space between the toilet and the sink.
When Christy and Paula arrived at noon I was in the same spot, and the contractions were so fierce I didn’t want to move. All of the pain-coping techniques that I’d learned in class went right out the window. The deep relaxation that I was sure I’d be able to achieve became a fantasy – every muscle in my body was clenched tight. I’d always imagined that, laboring at home, I would enjoy the opportunity to walk around and, at the very least, change positions. Now that I was in the middle of it, the idea of moving terrified me. I’d found that spot in the bathroom where I felt like I probably wouldn’t die, and I wasn’t about to leave it. At one point, Christy appeared at the bathroom doorway, and after briefly surveying the situation, quietly announced that she had to pee. I didn’t respond. She inched a little closer to the toilet. I didn’t move. She gave in, and with a word of warning to my husband (I was in the doorway, so there would be no privacy), managed to use the toilet without moving me, her knees pushed up against my shoulder. Few other women can claim the special bond that she and I now share.
A little while later they were able to coax me back to the bed. Christy felt my tummy and watched me through several more contractions. There was some discussion about my due date. I had not quite entered active labor yet. What?! It was possible things would slow back down and this baby could bake just a little bit more. Christy and Paula left to attend to a home visit with another client, and encouraged me to get back into the bathtub and try to relax a bit.
While they were gone, I labored on the bed, in the bathtub, and on the bed again. Christy and Paula returned later in the afternoon, this time with their assistant, who had stopped by Walgreens to pick up a few essential items that would have been in our birth kit. After checking me and discovering that I was 7cm dilated, they suggested that I move from the bed to the toilet to see if we could get the baby to descend a bit more. Everyone agreed that our little one would probably arrive that night. I wrapped my arms around my husband’s neck and held onto him as I slowly, and reluctantly, waddled to the toilet. Rather than experiencing any sensation of release or relaxation, I found sitting on the toilet to be excruciatingly painful. After a little while we got up to walk a bit. I did a few tortured laps around the sofa, and Paula helped me do some lunges in the hope that my water might break.
Sometime between 6 and 7 p.m. I moved back to the bed. Christy checked me and we decided that it was time to push. The sun was starting to set and the lights were dim. I was offered sips of water and juice. This stage of my labor seemed oddly surreal – my contractions were farther apart and the time in between provided opportunities for rest. I wasn’t aware of how much time was passing, only that nothing really seemed to be happening. Everyone kept telling me to push. When I would push, they would tell me to push harder. But I am pushing harder! I’M PUSHING AS HARD AS I CAN! I recall thinking that I wouldn’t be able to do it, and wailing in frustration. I recall my water bag finally breaking, and everyone exclaiming that they’d never seen one so thick. I recall the moment when they said Cooper’s head was crowning. I recall when I was finally able to push his head out, and I recall my surprise when he was placed on my belly and my husband announced that the baby I had been so sure would be a girl was in fact a beautiful healthy boy. I felt, simultaneously, tremendous joy, satisfaction, and relief. Cooper’s arrival sits in my mind as a perfectly wonderful experience.
Here in her own words, Jessica tells the story of her labor and birth. Though we went to the hospital for more help, my hope is that she felt fully supported throughout the process. She is a strong, strong mama….
The day before I went into labor I started losing some of my mucous plug and texted my midwife, Christy, with what I thought were contractions at 9-10 minutes apart. She said that sounded great and I knew this was something that could last days so wasn’t expecting to be woken up at at around 1 am on Wednesday, June 26th . I thought this might be the real deal so figured I should try to get some sleep.
Then, at around 3 am a stronger contraction woke me up. I tried to go back to sleep but this time it was a lot stronger and they kept coming so I decided to time them. They were 5 minutes apart. I managed to get a little sleep in 5 minute intervals, each contraction waking me up. I was pretty sure I was in labor and got excited.
At around 6 am I got up to finish some work. I sent emails to let my Team Leader and coworkers know where I had left off the day before and took care of any urgent issues, all while stopping every 5 minutes to take a contraction.
At 8 I woke up my partner, C, to let him know I was in labor. He tried to get a little more sleep, then got up and started getting some things around the house cleaned up. I finally texted Christy to give her a heads and she asked if I could still make my prenatal visit at 1 that afternoon. I told her I’d try depending on how contractions were by then. I was really hoping labor would progress rapidly…and it kind of did for a while.
When I showed up at my midwife’s they said I looked okay, everything sounded ok and I could be at this stage for a while. I was really hoping they would check me so when she said she could if I wanted, I said yes for my own peace of mind. Glad I did because much to everyone’s surprise I was already 4-5 cm dilated and 90% effaced! Don’t think we were expecting that, but I was secretly hoping I’d be there. I was halfway there and thought to myself it hasn’t been “that bad”. The contractions were painful and I did have to stop and focus when I got them but I was still talking between them.
When I got home I put some music on and started dancing/walking around because contractions felt much better that way. They were seriously almost not noticeable that I feared I may be in false labor at some points. Then, I’d sit down and I’d feel them 8x stronger. I couldn’t imagine being in a hospital bed and glad I had the freedom to walk around. For some reason Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” was comforting and I danced around while C went to the grocery store to get labor snacks and food. Remy, my dog, kept following me around and would try to jump up to my face for each contraction.
I was keeping in touch with my awesome doula, M, and around 5 I asked her if she could start making her way here. I knew I wasn’t handling the contractions well anymore when I went back to my labor prep class for pain coping techniques and told C that “this just breathing shit doesn’t work for me”. Thank God for my doula, though because once she got there not only did I feel calmer but she gave me a few techniques that really helped me cope. The biggest help for me was constant reminders to relax, loosen my jaw, etc. It was hard for me to remember on my own but anytime M or a midwife reminded me I’d instantly go into a calm, relaxed state.
Soon, my midwives and their apprentice showed up and we just chatted between contractions while my labor progressed. Around 7 or 8 pm the apprentice, P, joked if I was going to just talk this baby out because she said I was talking, laughing and really calm. M said I was still saying please and thank you as well unlike a woman in labor. My water still had not broken so part of me worried I hadn’t progressed but I let that go and trusted that my body knew what it was doing. Either way my midwife said we should check me to see where I was at. Again, much to everyone’s surprise I was at 8cm and still 90% effaced. The baby was still up a bit high above the bag of waters. She said once my water broke the baby would probably come pretty fast.
Once midnight passed I was beginning to feel a bit tired and frustrated my water hadn’t broke. P suggested I try to break my own water or ask my midwife because I would need my energy for the pushing phase. At 1 I finally broke down and asked my midwife to break my water even though I don’t think that’s something she would normally do. It was a bit uncomfortable and I got worried for a while when my midwife said there was meconium.
I went to sit on the toilet to take contractions and help things move along and my midwife came to check the baby’s heart tones. I asked her if we should be concerned about the meconium and she said no as long as baby’s heart tones were ok. I immediately felt calm and was no longer worried. I trusted her 100% and that was such a great feeling to be able to trust your care provider like that. I don’t think I would have felt the same in a different setting.
A little while later I got into my bathtub to help with the stronger contractions. But after a couple of hours with no change my midwife suggested I walk around to see if that would help move him over the pelvic bone and down into the birth canal. Thus began the series of unbelievable painful things tried during contractions to see of that would help him move. At each suggestion I’d say, “no way I can do that” but M and a midwife would say I could and be so encouraging that I believed them. And they were right! I tried lunges on the stairs during contractions, squatting during contractions, having a rebozo used to pull up on my belly during contractions and finally having two midwives lift my belly to try to reposition the baby during a contraction.
After none of those worked I spent some time in bed with my partner C trying to get some rest because at that point I was exhausted. Contractions were coming every 2 minutes but I was so exhausted I was able to fall asleep in between each one (and snore!).
At around 9 that morning I started having a mental breakdown and started saying I couldn’t do it anymore. There were mentions of options, mainly going to the hospital but baby’s heart tones were still good though so I could wait until another midwife they called to assist got there to see if she could help.
She had some magic oils she rubbed on my belly and back that immediately intensified the contractions. She thought I needed to have stronger contractions to get him to move down. Once those contractions started though it was hard to manage. At that point the pelvic bone was sore so even between contractions I had lingering pain and I felt he was just hitting that bone and not moving down. I said I wanted to go to the hospital and they agreed it was time. They said I could get an epidural, rest (at this point I’d been up for over 24 hours), and then some pitocin to bring on stronger contractions.
Once I got to the hospital things moved pretty quickly. Once I got the epidural the nurse told everyone I needed to rest and now would be a good time to eat or do anything else. The doctor had checked me and agreed to let me labor longer. Everyone went to get food, but M stayed and I’m glad she did. The doctor came a bit after everyone left to check me and said the baby needed out now. I had developed chorioamnionitis, basically a placenta infection, so my fever was spiking and the baby was in distress. I broke down crying but M helped calm me and contacted everyone. C got there right on time and soon I heard Elliott crying and nurses saying how long his eyelashes were. I couldn’t believe how fast they did it. It was probably like 10 minutes from when the doctor said I needed the cesarean.
Elliott weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long. Unfortunately, because of the infection they had to take him to the NICU for antibiotics as a precaution so I wasn’t able to hold and feed him until 10 pm that night. After that they let him room in with me and we went home 3 days later. Even though I ended up with a cesarean the best part of his birth was laboring at home with my midwives and doula and feeling like I was able to make decisions for myself and not pressured into anything or being told what I needed to do.