unmedicated childbirth

Birth Story: Welcome, Baby Eva!

This birth story shows the incredible strength that a mama has when she puts her mind to something--it also shows the importance of patience and trust.  As a doula, I love seeing mamas dig down deep and find strength they never knew they had--it is amazing and an honor to watch.Holding Hands Dear Baby Eva,

When I first met your mama, I thought she was one of the most beautiful people I had ever seen—soft spoken and kind, she was poised and glowing from the inside out. We quickly began talking, and like old friends, I felt like I knew her. I understood her desires for a natural birth, especially after she had come so close during the birth of your sister.  She was determined, and had taken every measure possible to ensure her success—chosen a midwife, hired a doula, taken a childbirth education class, and taken good care of her body with healthy food and regular exercise.  She was ready to meet you, and I knew right away that she was an excellent mother.  I could tell that your Daddy worked hard to provide for all of you, and that he loved each of you very much.  He looked at your mama, with eyes full of love, hoping that she would have the birth experience that she desired.  I could tell that he was not just going through the motions, but that he really wanted to serve her.  I was so excited for your birth day to arrive. I knew that it would be spectacular.

We waited, and we waited, and we waited some more.  Your mama labored, and labored, and labored some more, but never quite enough to go into active labor.  Your due date came, and your due date went, and your mama’s sister even welcomed her baby weeks early!  I tried my best to encourage her, reminding her that you would come when you were ready…that you were worth the wait.  Of course, she agreed, and about the time she felt like she would never go into labor, her water broke. Around 9pm on the 29th of August, your mama and daddy were picking up some take-out and your mama texted me and said her water had broken. I don’t think I have ever been so excited!  Her fluid was clear, so I told her to go home and eat, shower, drink water and try to rest.  She had been contracting throughout the day, and luckily when her water broke, the contractions continued to intensify.

During the next 2 hours we continued to talk by text, and I sent her to the bathroom to shower once some company had gone home.  This helped her to focus and settle into her labor, and before long she called and said that the midwife wanted her to come into the Birthing Center.  I left my house, and actually got to the hospital first—I could not wait to see your mama and daddy meet you!

When your mama and daddy arrived, your mama was ready to get to work.  She was laboring well, transitioning into active labor, and taking her contractions one by one. She labored on her side in the bed for a bit while you were monitored, and then she went to the bathroom.  While she was in the bathroom, your daddy leaned down and asked me if there was anything else he could do to help her. “I feel like I am not helping enough, is there anything else I can do?"  Concern filled his eyes, as I assured him he was doing everything he could.

Your mama was having some issues with pressure in her bottom, so she asked if she could get in the tub—the water made her weightless and this helped ease her pain and helped her relax.  She leaned over the side of the tub while your daddy put a cold washcloth on her face and offered her water.  He rubbed her shoulders and back, held her hand and reassured her.  I offered her words of encouragement as the contractions continued to intensify, and she bravely faced each one. She labored beautifully.  The room was quiet and peaceful, as the sound of swirling water mixed with the sound of a woman laboring in expectation.  She labored in the tub for about an hour and then got out, trying a few more positions, but eventually went back to the tub—it was her safe place.  Before long, she began to labor harder, breath heavier, become less aware of the people and sounds in the room. She began to ask when it would end, and doubted she could do it, and I assured her that the end was drawing near.  As the contractions came one right after the other, the midwife asked if she could check her cervix.  She got out of the tub and came over to the bed, and was pleased to hear that she only had a rim of cervix left.  After pushing through a few contractions, she was complete and ready to deliver her baby.  This part was supposed to be the easier part—she had pushed your sister out quickly and easily and we were all expecting you to be born after just a few pushes.   She pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and pushed—I have never seen a woman work so hard during labor. At this point, your mama was exhausted, but she kept going. You were not able to watch it with your own eyes, but I hope one day your daddy will tell you about it.  I am sure one day you will face an obstacle that seems ten times your size—you will want to give up.  You will want to take the easy road.  You will want to walk away.  I hope you will remember your mama and you will dig down deep, and you will finish with grace and beauty.  After more than an hour of pushing, the midwife confirmed that you were being born in the posterior position, or “sunny side up.”  Watching your mama was amazing and inspiring—through lots of hard work, your head finally emerged and your sweet face was looking right at us.  Hello sweet Eva, welcome to the world!

You were placed on your mama’s chest, while your daddy took in every inch of you, falling in love with his second daughter.  This is why I love labor-- at some point every woman has to decide if she is going to turn back, or plow on.  If she chooses to plow on, she has to reach down deep and find something she never knew she had inside of her.  Not only does this strength birth a baby (even a stubborn one like you!) but it means the woman will never doubt herself again.  Your mama is this woman—I hope you learn from her.

Sweet Eva, I pray you always keep your sunny side up…I am so thankful you get to be loved by your wonderful family.  What a blessed little girl you are!

Jaxon's Birth Story

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The Motherhood Collective loves a good birth story! Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully stories like these will inspire you. ~TMC My husband, Don, and I prepared for many months in advance to have a natural, hypnobirth labor and delivery. We took the class, read the books, listened to the CDs, and practiced the hypnosis and affirmations. I agree with most of their model, so we thought it was a great way to prepare. Little did we know that things would be so abrupt, and most of our preparations would remain “all bagged up”.   I truly believe in natural birthing and natural pregnancies. The last thing I wanted was a cesarean section or an induction unless absolutely medically necessary. Many of you may not agree with me, but that is my preference. I believe birth is a rite of passage and that it is a beautiful experience that should be enjoyed and not fretted.  Our society, family experiences and personal experiences shape our beliefs about pregnancy and birth.  I am no different.  My past experiences as a labor and delivery nurse have greatly shaped my thinking when it comes to maternity care.

Let me begin by saying that I don’t really enjoy pregnancy so much.  I am one of those lucky people who get to have nausea and vomiting for their entire pregnancy.  I would get so sick that I would have petechial hemorrhaging around my eyes from throwing up so much.  Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to not being pregnant any longer.  As I approached 40 weeks, I was getting very excited about my impending “due date”.   The mental aspect was getting the best of me. My mind was definitely ready to go into labor, but my body and my baby had other plans. At 40 weeks, I still had not dropped, was having little to no contractions, and had not lost my mucous plug.  Apparently Jaxon was way too comfortable. I was taking Evening Primrose Oil, having sex on a more than regular basis, doing nipple stimulation, pumping with a breast pump, tried Castor Oil a few times (only induced vomiting), and walked until I had a stress fracture in my heel. Nothing was happening.

Then came 41 weeks. My Bishop score (cervical exam to check for ripening in order to strip your membranes) was a total of 3. Nothing great.  This meant that I was not ready to go into labor, and I couldn’t have my membranes stripped.  Jaxon was just enjoying himself as I continued to be sick and huge.  Oh the looks that I got as I walked around NYC and rode the subway.  We had to start at least talking about an induction. I also started getting bi-weekly NST's, BPP's and AFI's. I talked all of the details over with my midwives. All of the above testing for Jaxon was more than perfect. He was simply comfy and growing still. I continued to try all of the above remedies for cervical ripening. No contractions, though.

I had my next appointment at 41 weeks and 6 days. We decided to strip my membranes on this visit, despite my Bishop score. My cervix was very soft, though. At least all those remedies were doing something. That visit was on Tuesday. I did not have a single contraction all the way through Tuesday evening or Wednesday. I actually went to the mall after that appointment.  As I was walking through one of the stores, a lady asked me when I was due.  I told her “two weeks ago.”  She then proceeded to get a very concerned look on her face and follow me around as if I were going to drop my baby out at any moment.  I guess she thought she would catch.  Needless to say, I was getting a wee bit frustrated with my body at this time. I also had doubts that anything was going to go the way we planned - as if birth is ever planned!

Thursday rolled around and I had some mild cramping, but nothing that I had not already experienced and had went away. I went walking, took more primrose oil and decided to try Castor Oil one last time. I made a peanut butter, chocolate and vanilla milkshake with 2 oz of castor oil. That actually disguised the taste enough for me to get it down. Again, nothing happened though. I went for another walk, kept well hydrated, cleaned some things in the house and went about my day like normal. The cramping did not end this time though, but it also did not turn into contractions.

Around 8:30pm, I finally started feeling cramping that became more regular. I started making lasagna and put it in the oven at 8:30. I decided to call Don and tell him what was going on. I talked to him while he drove home and told him that I think I might actually go into labor.  We both were beginning to think I was having the gestation of an elephant. I called the midwife to update her, and she recommended a walk, some wine and some Benadryl to sleep. In my experience, this is typical for a first time labor. I called Don and told him that I would like to take a walk while the lasagna finished, and then try to get some sleep.

He walked in the door at 9:15pm, and my water broke at 9:20 with a huge gush of green fluid. It was the best worst feeling I have ever had.  I was in labor!!!  With my water breaking, Jaxon finally dropped and I could breathe.   I called the midwife back and updated her. My contractions had decided to start with my water breaking and were 2-3 minutes apart. She recommended that we come to the birth center because we were 45 minutes away, but we would probably have to go to the hospital for the meconium. Don and I turned off the oven, threw the lasagna in the microwave, grabbed my shoes, and rolled out of the apartment. I left wearing multiple pads, sweats, and sat on a huge towel. My fluid continued to gush, making quite the yucky mess. I had bought Depends for this very thing, but they were conveniently located in the trunk of the car behind our building.  My contractions all of a sudden were 2 min apart and were continuing to get stronger.

We drove down the West Side Highway in Manhattan, all the way to Brooklyn where the birth center was located.  This was truly an amazing moment because there were no traffic jams, no accidents, and open parking spots.  We actually made it in about 45 minutes.  Don drove while I sat in the passenger seat really regretting my clothing choice at the moment.  I was trying to get into a zen moment while we drove with the Hudson River on one side and the night skyline of NYC on the other, but my darn contractions kept screwing that up every two minutes.

We arrived to the birth center at 10:45pm. Andrea checked me, and I was 3-4 cm with a good fetal HR. My contractions remained 2 minutes apart, so we prolonged as long as possible before heading to the hospital around the block. Once we finally arrived at the hospital, I checked myself in while Don fought with NY parking. I paced in the hallway doing my hypnobirth breathing while the nurses stood looking at me. I felt a little weird in that moment. I'm pretty sure no one knew what theywere doing in triage, considering I was a direct admit.  I continued to walk up and down the hallway rehearsing birth affirmations in my head, while Don ate a dinner of rice pudding without a spoon.  Finally, a Hesidic Jewish man offered (at least I think – He spoke only Hebrew) to go to the cafeteria and get him a spoon.

I finally got a room, got hooked to the monitor and had a hep lock placed.  I had to argue with my nurse a bit as to where to place the IV, and where the best location for the fetal heart monitor was.  These are the reasons I wanted an out of hospital birth.  I knew I needed these things, but as soon as I entered the hospital, I entered “nurse mode”.  From here on out, I felt like I had to play two roles: mother and nurse.  My contractions were still 2 min apart. The midwife checked me and I was 5-6 cm and that was around midnight. Don started videotaping at this point.  My bouncing up and down on the birth ball made for some really exciting footage.  I was doing hypnobreathing, but at this point is where we really failed. My husband is a physical therapist, and had all sorts of “tools” to work with for decreasing the pressure of contractions.  We forgot about all of them.  They remained in the bag the entire time.  Big fat fail!!  The whole time, my contractions were all in my back and I had continuous pressure. Don was pushing on my hips, and Andrea was doing the hypnobirthing rhetoric. Everything seemed to be moving right along.

Then it hit, the contractions fell into this overzealous pattern of mayhem. They were less than a minute apart. The pressure intensified, and I lost all control of my body and mind. The hypnobirthing philosophy went out the window, and I just tried to maintain any respectable level of composure. I told the midwife that I felt a lot of pressure, so she checked me again. I was still 5-6 cm, but it had only been a bit since my last exam.  I thought I might go insane at this point. I was in tears because my contractions were about 45 sec apart lasting what seemed to be an eternity. My uterus was making up for the past 42 weeks! I had no time to even catch my breath in between contractions. I told Don I wanted an epidural. She and Don both asked me multiple times if that is what I really wanted. I had no idea what I wanted, but I wanted the insanity to end. Fortunately, the anesthesia team was in with another patient at the time. So I continued to breath, focus on the "opening rose", and listen to Don.  My room seemed to be filling up with curious onlookers posing as medical personnel (interns, residents, nurses, etc.) observing this crazy labor pattern that I was having.  Jaxon’s heartbeat was also starting to fluctuate too much.  I don’t know the exact rate, but I could hear it on the monitor.  That is a sound a labor and delivery nurse can always detect, a low fetal heartrate.

While all this was going on in my head, my labor continued in this crazy pattern. I told Andrea once again that I felt pressure. I was unable to hold back the urge to push. This was only 45 min from the last check she had done. She agreed to check me again because Jaxon's heartrate kept dropping. Something was going on, but no one knew what. She did check me, and I was complete and +1.  I was having a baby, like, NOW!  Just a few hours ago, I was making lasagna and pouring a glass of wine for my good night’s rest that I was going to have.

This meant I could push. The relief was coming. I forgot about the epidural and began to push my heart out. The greatest feeling of relief I had had since 9:20pm. I pushed a total of 2 times before the lovely hospital attending came in "to save the day"! She decided she would not let me push because his heartrate was too low. He was already at +2 station after only 2 pushes. She made me sit with her hands inside of me doing fetal scalp stimulation through about 5 contractions. I finally lost it and told her she needed to move along.  Between contractions, I proceeded to tell her about the current guidelines for Neonatal Resuscitation.  Finally, the MD that covers the midwives and the birth center arrived. He was the greatest doctor on the earth that night. He had the other attending leave because all she wanted to do was cut me. He told me to push.  Now we were seeing eye to eye! We got up into the bed and used the squat bar. I pushed a few times, and then we had to lay back down to get the heartrate. He told me I had 2 more pushes, and then he would use the vacuum because Jaxon's heartrate was in the 70's for quite a while. I agreed that it was the best plan. We pushed, but he wasn’t coming. He set me up for the vacuum and prepared for shoulder dystocia. Don was on one side and Andrea was on the other. The contractions came and so did the most intense burning sensation that anyone could ever imagine. The pop came, and his head was out. Only one more hurdle to over come now...the shoulders.Jaxon

Well, I had a big child so these shoulders were some work, but they came on out. He laid him on my chest, and we sat there for a couple of seconds before he had to be suctioned for the meconium. One of the greatest moments of my life came in those few seconds. Yes, the pain had ended, but I had accomplished something. I had given birth to a beautiful baby boy (that might I add was very healthy)!

I had no idea that my labor would be less than 5 hours, and be almost a precipitous delivery with a hyperstimming uterus. I had no idea that we would completely forget about the massage tools, CDs, breathing baby down and all of the other hypnobirthing stuff. I had no idea that I would only have back labor. I had no idea that he would not tolerate being abruptly brought into this world. I had no idea that I would have 3rd degree vaginal tearing that would require vaginal packing and 12 different sutures in areas that pain medication could not reach.

I Jaxon with Daddo know that I was and still am so grateful to have a healthy baby boy.  We stayed at the hospital for about 24 hours, which is a whole new story within itself.  Stories of my Hebrew speaking roommate, renting the television, my one boiled egg for breakfast, preparing for Jewish Sabboth in a Orthodox Jewish hospital, calling to get my own medical orders, walking out the door and down a few blocks at discharge, not being allowed to turn my light off all night long – oh it was an experience!

 

We left the hospital on Friday afternoon, went to Brooklyn to eat, drove across the Brooklyn Bridge with the Statue of Liberty in site, and then drove through tourist-crowded Chinatown during rush hour to take our new baby home.  I had never been so excited to sleep in my own bed!

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Gabriel's Birth Story

Gabriel Featured Image

July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you. Here is Melissa's story:

Of course, Gabriel’s story begins back in November, 2010, when we found out that we were pregnant with him! Our prayers were heard and we were blessed us with a wonderful, healthy pregnancy for both Melissa and the baby. During this time, we also began our journey in childbirth education. And oh, what a journey! Through the Anticipation and Beyond Café (resource for all things pregnancy, birth, and parenting), additional books, friendships, and much prayer, we decided to opt for a hospital birth with the desire to keep it as natural and intervention-free as possible. Melissa continued to surround herself with only positive stories on a natural birth, preparing herself for Gabriel’s birth to come. It only took our first private childbirth education class with Laurie Flower to decide we didn’t want to face this alone. We hired her to be our doula. Doula is Greek for servant-woman and English for childbirth-coach-who-has-seen-all-and-done-all-and-will-bend-over-backwards-to-keep-you-going-strong-woman. She was worth her weight in gold! We thoroughly enjoyed our 1-on-1 classes with her – they gave us new found knowledge and encouragement for a natural delivery that we hadn’t found anywhere else.

Fast forward to Saturday, August 13th (nine days prior to Gabriel’s due date). This day began like any other in the ninth month of pregnancy – dancing in our heads were visions of sweatpants, sleeping in, and enjoying the weekends together before the baby came. Instead, we began the day with major sewer problems, multiple moppings of the bathroom floor, and heading to the in-laws’ for showers. Not the end of the world, but Melissa was exhausted and still experiencing the off-and-on lower back pain she had been having the past week. Her wonderful husband stood in the water and did all of the “dirty” work, while they nervously joked – what if it was today?

Sewer mended, they prepared for an afternoon nap. Futile, because Melissa just wasn’t comfortable no matter what we tried.

And then the phone rang – our beloved doula! We had been in prayer for weeks because Laurie had come down with a terrible virus, one that had her making this phone call from the hospital. She told us that as long as Gabriel held off until Monday, she would be out of the hospital and at our birth. We smiled – we were sure he wouldn’t come tonight or tomorrow. We listened half-heartedly to her describe Barbie, a mother of eight and previous midwife assistant for years, whom Laurie said we could call if we went into labor before Monday. We shrugged. There was no way we were doing this thing without Laurie.

We were reminded to get plenty of rest, but Melissa was still feeling antsy, so we went to Kroger and bought our last (little did we know) pre-natal late-night snack and rented a movie. We met our neighbors, Nick and Molly, at the Redbox station. We laughed with them about how exhausted we were, and said, “Wouldn’t it be crazy if he came tonight?” and, “Hopefully not!”

We tried settling down to sleep again at 12:30am. Melissa crawled out of bed at 1:00am with more consistent and intense back pains. Could it be that these were contractions? She grabbed her exercise ball and bounced around the bedroom, trying not to wake her dear husband. The whole time, she denied she was in labor. The irony of it would just be too much to bear—the one day in weeks that she hadn’t taken a long afternoon nap and the two days in Laurie’s life (it seemed) that she would not be able to attend a birth.

Regardless, Melissa finally woke Andy at 2:00am, more for the distraction than anything else. They put something on to watch, and Andy made his first (of many!) runs to the microwave with the heated “rice socks.” Melissa continued to bounce around on the ball while Andy applied hot pressure to her lower back. Of course, we were still sure that Melissa wasn’t in labor (ha!), but pulled out the stop watch to time the duration of the “contractions” for practice – just like Laurie had taught us. It was strange. We began to notice that they were consistently a minute long, and they weren’t getting any easier.

We finally decided that we needed to talk about a substitute Doula. Melissa had known Barbie from the Anticipation and Beyond Café, but still…perhaps we shouldn’t call her yet since this still could be a fluke. People get false labor all the time…

Eventually, we decided that this was the real thing. Melissa did what she had prayed she could do before going to the hospital—took a shower. She didn’t want to feel all dirty and gross before all the mess of labor and delivery. The shower felt so good that she stood in there for an hour. But nausea drove her out. Right as Andy was calling Barbie at 6:00 am, Melissa had her first of many bouts of throwing up.

This wasn’t good. One of the things Andy and Melissa had been passionate about was keeping food in Melissa to give her energy throughout labor (FYI, women in labor burn 1400 calories an hour!). In fact, the previous weekend they had spent an hour perusing the grocery aisles, collecting every kind of snack that Melissa thought would be desirable during her many hours of contractions. Alas, due to the nausea and throwing up, the food was completely forgotten.

Barbie arrived at 6:30 am, was introduced to Andy, and the new birth team settled down to develop a game plan. Barbie assessed where Melissa was, talked about ways she hoped to help and began joining Andy in the runs to the microwave with rice socks. All of this was reassuring. She was going to be the perfect substitute for Laurie!

After a while, Barbie suggested a walk. Melissa had heard this really helped, so she agreed. The walk was pleasant and refreshing in the early morning. The three of them made a strange caravan to outsiders, stopping every couple minutes to perform the same ritual: Melissa would lean against Andy’s back, while Barbie pressed her hands into the small of Melissa’s back. Melissa would sway and moan, and then take a breath to cleanse herself of the contraction. Then they would continue.

Eventually, we remembered that there were other people who should know we were in labor, so we called family around 8:30 am, telling them this was the day! Barbie then suggested that we start packing for the hospital. Andy frantically began grabbing all of our plastic bags (somewhere between 8 and 12 in all) and stuffing them with labor paraphernalia. Since we kept denying this was the real deal, we hadn’t quite finished packing the bag. We filled up the trunk, got Melissa situated between contractions, and headed for the hospital. At this point, the contractions had been 1 minute long for about 4 or 5 hours.

The arrival at the hospital at 10:30 was exciting to say the least. We had forgotten to call ahead or even talk with the midwife during all this, so they didn’t know to expect us. Andy handled the registration and made a quick run to the bathroom (poor guy had been waiting a while for the chance), while Melissa leaned against the counter, doing her thing.

They were taken to their room and met their nurse, Ashley. Ashley apologized, but could Melissa lay on the bed for half an hour to get monitored? Yuck. Contractions were not meant for horizontal positions. Melissa apologized, but asked if Ashley would set up the Aquadoula (a giant inflatable tub) in the room. This was not the nurses’ favorite task, and Melissa knew it. But she also knew it was one of the major pluses to laboring in the hospital. She also knew it took a good hour to set up. Ashley reminded her of this, but Melissa and Andy insisted anyway.

Thankfully, Ashley ended up being very lenient with our hospital privileges. She measured Melissa at 6 cm then took orders from Barbie. She ran down the halls grabbing every unused washcloth, buckets of ice, an inflatable labor ball, and extra nurses to set up the giant tub. Meanwhile, Andy called family to let them know we were at the hospital.Laboring

Finally, the tub was ready! It was like a dream come true gliding into the warm water up to her neck. Melissa had heard about how amazing water births were, and how they had even begun adopting the practice in some hospitals. But water births weren’t allowed at this hospital, so while she was in the water, Melissa began to plot a way in which she could keep the nurse and midwife from knowing when she was ready to push the baby out. Maybe she could have him in the water, and pretend it had been an accident. To put it bluntly, she didn’t ever want to come out of that tub.

Barbie gets props for the best comfort measure (second only to the Aquadoula). She brought our crock pot along, filled it was water and washcloths, and turned it on high. These warm washcloths replaced the rice socks (which lost heat quickly and took some time to reheat) on Melissa’s abdomen and back. She also suggested an ice cold washcloth on Melissa’s face and neck. The two extremes of hot and cold pressure, while alternating positions in the tub, kept Melissa sane, and she even felt she was enjoying herself a bit. Everything was so new, and her senses were so alive and focused on what was happening. Sometimes she liked rocking on all fours, other times she threw herself over a pillow on the edge of the tub (come to find out, the pillows weren’t really supposed to get wet). The sun was streaming in through the window, and Melissa, Andy and Barbie alternated between praying during the contractions, reading Scripture, and best of all, singing. Melissa found that deep, soulful hymns helped her sway and connect with the inner primitive self—something she had been told was essential to handling the pains. She alternated between “Amazing Grace”, “Down to the River to Pray,” and “I Love You Lord.” In an odd way, the combination of these things made everything peaceful for her. When one contraction was harder than another, her groans would get deeper and louder. Andy would notice and look into her eyes, and tell her that Gabriel said “thank you.” It felt good to be reminded she was getting a baby at the end of all this!

The midwife on duty that day was Christina. Melissa’s last prenatal appointment just three days earlier had been with her, and she had very bluntly said: “Most first time Moms go late, so don’t expect him any time soon.” Melissa secretly laughed when she saw her walk in to the hospital room—eight days before the due date. Each time Christina walked into the room, she merely seated herself in the chair and watched the three of them do their thing. She didn’t ask questions or bother us with how things were going. And when the nurse, Ashley, had to go get something approved, she came with the news that Christina wasn’t worried about their progress. She even allowed Melissa to stay in the pool for five hours, when they usually only allowed one.

So things continued on their merry way until about 2:30 pm. Then, Melissa reached transition. She was told she couldn’t be in the pool anymore, and Barbie agreed that she needed to keep moving around. Melissa “groaned” around the room—first walking, then bouncing on the ball, then leaning against Andy, then sitting on the toilet (this had previously felt great). Still, nothing felt good. It was at this point that Melissa said something Andy will never forget: “This isn’t fun anymore.” (As if the rest of labor had just been a pool party!)

After a while, Melissa was starting to feel “pushy,” so Christina wanted to check her one more time. Melissa was a nine! That was encouraging. Melissa was glad it was almost over, but terrified that she was so close to the dreaded part. Melissa had no idea what it would be like to push out a baby. Christina and Barbie both recommended that they break her water, since it was still holding on for dear life, and the pressure of her water kept building. They told her the pressure would be lessened, and so Melissa consented.

It was around 4:30 pm that Melissa climbed onto the bed. The head of the bed was elevated, and Melissa got down on her hands and knees, and rested her head at the top of the bed. She slowly began pushing during the peak of her contractions, whenever she felt the onset of the urge to push. The strangest part about this time was that her contractions were still just as long and strong, but had extended to six minutes apart! Her body must have known she needed the rest after no sleep in the last 34 hours, and no food in the last 18 hours. So she slept between contractions. It felt surreal that her body could do this, but she was literally woken each time with the urge to push, and would fade back out at the end of it.

Extra nurses arrived to begin setting up tables of equipment, and Christina stood at the foot of the bed watching Melissa’s progress. At one point, Barbie asked Melissa if she wanted to feel Gabriel’s head near the opening. Melissa was surprised to know that he was that close! She reached down and received all the encouragement she needed. She could do this, and she wanted to do this! She wanted to hold her baby! He was almost here!

Right at the end, Christina told Melissa to lay on her side to prevent further tearing. Melissa slid down, and a few pushes later, he was out! Melissa couldn’t believe it. On the last “push,” they’d even told her to just breathe through it, and out he came. It was such a beautiful sensation—not painful or something that made her want to scream out. And before she could process anything, he was there, in her arms, eyes roving about. As soon as Melissa started speaking, his eyes locked with hers. The bond that Melissa felt, the surge of love that expanded her heart to make room for another person, was overwhelming—something she will never forget. According to Barbie, Melissa kept saying, “My baby…this is my baby. My baby! My baby…my baby.” Not exactly waxing eloquent, but full of wonder. Then Andy was there, speaking to Gabriel. And he turned and looked his father in the eyes, knowing Andy’s voice as well as his mother’s.

The next hour was a blur. Nurses were suctioning Gabriel, giving him oxygen, and doing his APGAR scores. As desired, he was able to stay on Mommy almost the whole time! During this hour, Barbie also helped Gabriel nurse for the first time. This was such a sweet moment of intimacy to see the comfort he received from his mother and the tenderness she was able to express so naturally.On the scale

As far as Melissa’s postpartum goes…she experienced the worst part of labor and delivery—the midwife putting all her strength into compressing Melissa’s uterus. This was the part in the whole process that she wanted to scream, curse, and chop off someone’s head with an axe. No one had told her they would do this to her. She received the wonderful news that a nurse would be stopping by every 15 minutes to perform the same action. The midwife also began stitching Melissa (who had unfortunately suffered two second-degree tears). Come to find out, the bright overhead lights that are used for this were out…so the midwife had to take her time, and kept calling out for the nurses to go fetch other lights, finally settling with a flashlight that she kept in her glove box. This was, needless to say, a very apprehensive time for Melissa. You don’t usually want to hear your medical professional complaining of vision problems while performing such a delicate task on a very sensitive area.

One of the highlights of this time for Melissa was the food that Andy fed her while all this was going on. The Little Debbie’s Banana Nut muffin that she ate was, by far, the best tasting and most rewarding thing she had ever eaten in her life. Gabriel was happily enjoying his mother’s milk for the first time, and Melissa felt like she was tasting food for the first time, too!

Eventually, Melissa was able to get out of bed and use the restroom. Thankfully, she had kept enough fluids in her to be able to go to the bathroom. She put on a robe and got situated in the wheelchair. Gabriel was placed in the cart, and they were wheeled to the postpartum room!

Reflecting on the 16 ½ hours of labor, Melissa would have to say that everything she experienced was fully worth those moments of looking into her son’s eyes, knowing that she had done everything in her power to give him a beautiful and safe entry into this world. Perhaps she was lucky—she did not consider her labor to be “painful” or something that threatened to send her into screaming hysterics, as some describe their labors. Unpleasant? Yes. Throbbing, uncomfortable pressure that she couldn’t talk through? Most definitely. But in the grander scheme of things, a lovely, pure process created for women entering motherhood. In talking with Melissa about the birth, Laurie Flowers made the comment that she’s always interested in what keeps women going through with a natural delivery. There’s quite a bit of conviction that must occur to keep refusing an epidural that’s so easily within arm’s reach! On the practical side of things, Melissa would most definitely agree that she wanted to keep the delivery natural for optimal health of the baby. Emotionally and spiritually, Melissa wanted to experience this rite Mama and Babyof passage, to know at the purest level what it means to bring a child into this world, to make this first motherly sacrifice of love.

In summary, we are so thankful what we desired most of all: a natural, safe delivery of a healthy baby weighing in at 6 lbs., 11 oz., and 21 inches long! Although a few things that we had taken for granted didn’t go “according to plan,” we were blessed to see the Lord’s grace in every way.

From the moment Gabriel Joshua Kan was placed in our arms, we have been so full of gratitude to have this boy. We truly behold His glory in the son that we behold on a daily basis.

 

If you have a birth story you'd like to share with our readers, please submit it here.

 

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Olivia's Birth Story

IMG_0010

July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you.

It was a typical Monday morning. I’d woken up, gone to the barn to take care of the animals, showered, dressed, and had breakfast. The house was in semi-order, thanks to my mother’s helpfulness over the previous weeks after moving into the new house. Whose idea was it to move at 38 weeks pregnant? At least it was just across the road. As I finished my morning routine and was about to leave the house, I looked in front of the television where our hospital bag lay. Aside from some discomfort on Saturday at the Farmer’s Market, I felt fine. Everyone had guessed Sunday would be the big day. Sunday had come and gone without a hint of excitement. I left the bag on the floor, telling myself that if I took them, I surely wouldn’t need them; if I left them there was a chance that I might.

Unlike a lot of women, I wasn’t at that extreme discomfort stage where most women are ready to relieve their bodies of the extra weight. I was curious about the life inside my abdomen and ready to meet that little person and begin a new, intimate relationship. Only in that manner was I ready for my body to undergo some drastic changes. I smiled and left for work, hospital bag still on the floor. Besides, I had the really important bag (with the items I wanted with me during labor) in my car. The rest could come later if needed.

Work started without excitement. At my midwife appointment the week before (at 39 weeks) I was found to be 4cm dilated and 80% effaced, at which time my co-workers were incredulous that I was up and moving. One of the veterinarians I worked with suggested I walk around with a net between my legs, just in case. Another vet asked that I not go into labor during surgery. Active labor is generally considered to begin at 4cm, but I felt nothing unusual, just the occasional tightness that had become customary though the pregnancy. I had noticed a little extra “wetness” and vaginal discharge over the past few days. By 10am Monday morning I had soaked through multiple pantliners when I decided to ask a co-worker what she knew about membrane rupture. In our childbirth class we had learned that the bag of waters doesn’t always gush when it breaks, and that it could trickle out slowly. One of my co-workers had that experience and said it felt as if she had peed in her pants. After talking with another technician, I decided to call the midwife’s office and speak with a nurse. Could it just be urine? The nurse told me to head to labor and delivery where Erin, the midwife on duty, would check me over.

I began to get a little excited and a little nervous as I called my husband, HB, to give him an update. It was 11am. I agreed to meet HB at the hospital and went to let my co-workers know what was going on. It was a surreal moment, full of well wishes and hugs from co-workers. I laughingly said there was a chance this was nothing and I’d be back in an hour or so.

I got in the car and made my way across Link Road, HB called along the way asking where I was. While I lingered at the veterinary hospital, informing coworkers about various cases, and telling the office manager what was going on, he had jumped in the car and rushed to the hospital. I told him not to worry, I was almost there. Checking in at the hospital was uneventful. We made our way up to labor & delivery, where we were shown into a triage room.

A nurse came in and I settled on the bed to review the scenario. Eventually I was given a gown and asked to change so that Erin, the midwife, could come in to check me. I changed and settled in to wait. The nurse put monitors on me to follow the baby’s heart rate and to monitor for contractions. HB watched the screens, trying to figure out what the numbers and waves meant. This is the same man, who, at our first ultrasound asked the ultrasound tech if she could view the CL. Oh yes, he is well-versed in the physiology of gestation, parturition, and lactation thanks to his background in dairy science.

Erin arrived in the room and after some small talk, she knelt down for an exam. We all had a laugh after she inserted the speculum and took a look, and then announced that the bag of waters was intact and in fact, she could see the baby’s hair floating in it! At that point she declared me to be around 5cm dilated. The lithmus paper test was negative for amniotic fluid, but Erin also took a sample on a microscope slide. Apparently, amniotic fluid has a “fern-like” appearance when it dries on the slide and is a better indicator. Erin left the room to check the slide under a microscope. Soon she returned; and as she approached the cracked door I could hear her and the nurse reviewing my allergies and GBS+ status – I knew at that point, we were staying.

Sure enough, as Erin entered the room she declared that we were staying. Normally she might have let a mother go at that point, but since I was GBS+, I needed antibiotics prior to delivery. Blood work was drawn, and I was moved across the hall to a real labor and delivery room. About that time Carolyn, our doula, arrived and we settled into the room. A nurse came in to place a catheter and start the antibiotics. HB went down to the cafeteria to get some lunch, and I had him sneak a sandwich back for me. Erin had told us in triage that I could eat; the nurse had said I couldn’t. I refused to go without eating! It was lunch time after all, and I wasn’t experiencing any sort of contractions!

After eating a sandwich and finishing the first dose of antibiotics, Carolyn and I began to walk while HB ran to the store to purchase a few necessities. Every so often I had to return to our room to be monitored. Everything was going smoothly, but I wasn’t having consistent contractions; Erin called it “uterine irritability.” I was told to keep moving.

Carolyn and I walked and walked. I began to feel silly, being at the hospital, without actually being in labor. This wasn’t my plan. I was supposed to labor at home for as long as I could and then come to the hospital. This little amniotic leak and GBS+ status was starting to derail my idea of MY delivery process. As we walked, Carolyn and I talked about my feelings, and I was trying to remain calm and go with the flow, hoping my body would do the right thing.

As we walked, we listened to other rooms as we passed. In one room, we heard intense moaning as we walked by. A few laps later we heard newborn baby wails coming from the same room. HB returned and walked with us. Erin checked in with us to check my progress, which was minimal. Because of my GBS+ status, vaginal checks were not performed, but we discussed how I was feeling and what I felt like was happening. We discussed rupturing the membranes after the second dose of antibiotics if there was no progression of labor. Part of that decision, Erin informed us, depending on the other labor she was attending in the next room – if that mother wasn’t complete at that time, she would rupture my membranes. If that mother was complete and ready to push, she would wait to rupture the membranes. We continued walking.

Near 5 pm, I returned to the room for my next monitoring session with the nurse. At that point they started the second round of antibiotics. Not knowing how long labor would take or how quickly it might progress, I opted to stay in the room and try to rest while the antibiotics dripped through the IV line. About that time, my father arrived and I was grateful to see him. My mother was on her way from Chapel Hill, having waited for her doctor’s appointment to finish before heading our way.

Just before 5:30, Erin entered the room and we decided to proceed with rupturing the membranes. I was nervous, fearing it wouldn’t cause labor to progress, necessitating more medical interventions down the line. Erin was confident that it would allow more pressure to be applied to my cervix, helping speed the dilation process. After a few awkward moments, my father left the room, and Erin proceeded with rupturing the membranes.

The breaking of the bag of waters is an unusual sensation. It is such a rush of warm fluid, it’s almost as if you’re urinating Niagra Falls, as silly as that sounds. Erin told a joke as she ruptured the membranes, and in response to my laughing, the fluid gushed and squirted, soaking Erin in the process. As she stuffed more towels to absorb the fluid, I couldn’t stop giggling which made the fluid continue to squirt. Everyone in the room was laughing. We asked for the birthing pool to be set up in the room for use later on.

The antibiotics were still dripping, so I stayed in the bed to await their finish. Within 10 minutes I started to get uncomfortable as contractions started. I was ready to begin walking, and the nurse sped up the final few milliliters of antibiotics so that we could start. With my trio of support (my father, HB, and Carolyn) we hit the floor walking, walking, walking. HB started timing contractions; I paid no attention to their spacing. I focused on getting through them. Initially, they weren’t bad and I could continue to talk and walk through them. I noticed them, but wasn’t bothered by them.

As time progressed, the contractions became more noticeable. They never stopped me in my tracks, but I definitely slowed my walking. I started dissociating from the support trio, focusing more inward as labor progressed. I credit this ability to years of riding sensitive horses, where I had to focus so much on myself and my balance as I did my horse and the surroundings. Over the years, I’ve gotten really good at zoning things out and focusing on certain things.

Just before 7pm I returned to my room for the next monitoring session. I was starting to get uncomfortable, and asked to use a birthing ball. After bouncing for a few minutes, I asked if we could have the birthing pool filled. I progressed deeper into my own world as the contractions became more intense. At the same time so many things were happening. My mother arrived, as did HB’s parents (with the rest of my hospital bags!). The hospital maintenance man came in to begin filling the birthing pool. I’m sure he wasn’t actually making a lot of noise, but in my mind it was tremendous. He was clanking around with hoses and attachments, chatting with the nurse about his family. Meanwhile HB’s mother was catching up with my mother. It was TOO MUCH NOISE! I moaned for the talking to cease (probably not that politely!).

The men left, leaving both mothers (both nurses), Carolyn, HB, and myself in the room. As the contractions continued I found myself unable to get comfortable. My mother-in-law applied counter pressure to my lower back as I bounced on the ball. My mother kept me supplied in cool wash clothes for my face.

The birthing pool was filling, far too slowly for my liking. When I got to the point where I just couldn’t relax on the birthing ball, I asked if the tub was full enough. By that point, I was bouncing, hard, on the ball, unable to stop and relax. The tub was just over half full – full enough, we decided without referring the question to a nurse. HB changed into his swim trunks and I changed into a t-shirt and we entered the pool. The pool was one thing: marvelous. It allowed me some comfort and I was actually able to relax between the contractions, which were growing stronger. As a contraction ended, I would lean back against HB and close my eyes and get a little bit of marvelous rest. The nurse entered, surprised to see me already in the pool. She had wanted one more monitoring session before I got in. Oh well, I was comfortable, I didn’t care! She tried to do some monitoring in the pool. Repeatedly, she asked me to turn on my side for a better reading. I would get so nauseous on my side that I would turn back to being belly-up or belly-down. Eventually she brought me some anti-nausea medication. There were a few times I regretted having that sandwich earlier in the afternoon; and I kept wondering if the sandwich would reappear in the pool water! And then, what the nurse would say when she knew I had eaten!

The contractions became more intense, and I got more uncomfortable. I remember thinking, “I can see why some women want drugs!”, but I knew I was too far along in labor to consider using medication, and felt like the end was near and it would all be over soon. And I knew I didn’t want to use them anyway. Carolyn was there to help me refocus when I would start to slip and lose concentration. She redirected my efforts and was so helpful as I labored in the water. A few contractions had me nearly in tears and I remember moaning about the pain, and then apologizing for whining! Quiet, calming, reassuring words from Carolyn helped me so much, as did the physical support from HB.

Then, I let loose a deep, guttural moan.

I was told that at that moment the nurse snapped to attention. She asked me if I felt like I needed to push. I replied that I wasn’t sure, but felt as if I needed to use the bathroom. I was helped out of the pool and into dry robes and ushered to the toilet. I sat there and then noted, almost in tears, that I didn’t need to pee. At that moment I was struck with such a strong contraction and urge to push it was unbelievable. The nurse told me not to push, but it was such a strong urge that I couldn’t resist! I tried to obey, but it was impossible! The nurse said “You’re not having this baby on the toilet” and I clearly remember thinking “Why not? Plenty of women have!” followed by “If Erin was in here, she would let me!” Either way, the nurse had me move to the bed.

She checked me and found me nearly fully dilated and effaced. The contractions and urge to push were incredibly strong, and it was the hardest thing I’ve done – trying to breathe through those urges while we waited for Erin to come in. At that moment, the woman next door was pushing, Erin was tied up. The nurses tried to get the OB on call to come, but he was busy too. With no one around, I was forced to lay in the bed and breathe through contractions. Everyone was coaching me along, the nurses rushing around to set up for the delivery. My nurse called in an assistant and I vaguely remember them rushing around.

After what seemed like forever, the nurse checked me again and let me begin pushing. The nurses still weren’t sure if Erin or the OB would deliver me. I remember thinking, amidst all the blur in my head that I better not have to pay for an OB to deliver me! Pushing was hard work! Soon, Erin entered – fresh from delivering the baby next door. I think she was shocked how far along I was! Her first comment was “Wow, I think we’re going to have a baby now!” Erin gowned up and started coaching me to push.

I don’t remember much from pushing. Everyone was supporting me – my mother would hold my hand and replenish the cool washcloth on my forehead, my mother-in-law (yes, she stayed too) would help support me, as did HB and Carolyn. My mother-in-law was next to my head and would whisper encouraging words into my ear as I pushed. I kept my eyes shut nearly the entire time. I would open them occasionally, but there were too many people and too much going on. I had taken off my glasses and the world was blurry. I would shut them again. The nurse and midwife asked if I wanted a mirror and I shook my head; I just wanted to keep my eyes shut and focus on the job at hand.

I would push, and the baby would progress. Then I would relax and the baby would retreat. This went on for a while. Eventually Erin didn’t let me rest and had me keep pushing. It was hard!! As your head appeared I reached down and touched the crown of your head. There was so much hair! The pushing continued, Erin had the nurse rub another contraction, forcing me to keep pushing. It was so intense, even a year later I can’t find the words to properly express the feeling. Finally the head was out and after a few more pushes, out came the body! As her little body presented to the world, my little baby immediately started doing her own thing. After her head emerged, her entire body did a full rotation before the rest of the body emerged. Even now, 14 months later, I can still hear Erin and the nurses exclaim over that maneuver. The feeling of her entire body exiting was such an unreal sensation. Indescribable, but suddenly, there she was. It was 9:35pm and Olivia Grace had arrived!

Immediately, the baby was placed on my abdomen. The umbilical cord was shorter than average, so she lay on my belly while I curled up to meet this little person I knew so intimately, so instinctively. I distinctly remember my first words, said just after she excited my body: “Hi Baby! Hi Olivia!” Erin asked if I still wanted to wait for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating, with the cord so short I couldn’t hold Olivia to my chest until the last remnant of our physical connection was severed. I said no, and continued to curl up so I could hold this marvelous being. Once the cord was cut, Erin set about suturing up my second-degree tear, but I was pretty much oblivious. I was enchanted. In my childbirth class we had watched videos of the “breast crawl” and the scientist in me wanted to see my baby perform it. The nurses, the grandmothers, and the midwife wanted Olivia on my chest pronto. Olivia was moved up to my chest, covered in a blanket and snuggled. The nurse helped with our first breastfeeding session, and she took to my breast like a champ (and hasn’t looked back!).

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I first wrote the majority of this birth story in the first few months following the experience of a lifetime. I then lost my birth story (and almost cried over that fact), and rejoiced when it was discovered. Without having a chance to read it in the past 12 months, I loved “rediscovering” my birth story and those little forgotten details. Ultimately, I had the birth experience I craved, and I am so grateful for that blessing. In the months following Olivia’s birth, I learned who the woman in the in delivery room beside me was, and we’ve kept in touch. Our daughters, both with the middle name “Grace” amongst other similarities, were born 15 minutes apart by the same midwife – we kept her hopping that night! Over the past 14 months I’ve had time to reflect on bits and pieces of my birth. Certainly, there are things I would change or do differently -- but that’s what baby number 2 is for, right?

  -- If you have a birth story you'd like to share with our readers, please submit it here.

 

The Motherhood Collective is on Facebook. Like us, then comment on our giveaway post for a chance to win a family photo shoot from Adam Barnes Fine Art Photography. Our contest ends when we hit 500 Likes!

Beatrice's Birth Story

Lauren & Bea

July is birth story month at the Motherhood Collective. Reading the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL experiences of other mothers gives us a real appreciation for the strength we have in childbirth. Hopefully these stories will inspire you. The Events Preceding the Birth of Beatrice Elise   I began contracting shortly after we went to bed, but this was common for the evenings, and since I had been cleaning so vigorously I was not surprised. Throughout the night as I rose to use the restroom (too many times to count at that point) I noticed they still hadn't stopped, but again, no big deal. At 6am Sunday morning I woke Adam and asked if he would massage my lower back, again, cleaning must have made me sore.

It was a beautiful fall day and I enjoyed layering up in a sweater and boots! We got our Starbucks and met up with friends who were visiting our church. On the way to church Adam asked me to at least text Laurie, my Doula and dear friend, with an update. I obeyed.

I chatted with friends after church, all the while "plie-ing" and moving. Once we were back in the car, Adam insisted I call Leslie, the Midwife, Laurie, and Barbie, friend and Assistant Midwife. I felt ridiculous, again, I just KNEW I wasn't in labor. I left messages with all three and went and joined dear friends over a delicious lunch! I asked Adam for seconds, thinking that if for some strange reason "this was real" I should eat as much as I could.

Leslie called back and suggested I head home after this lunch and nap. Either I was up for another night of contractions, or active labor was on the horizon. She asked me to stay hydrated, and she was glad I was eating such a large lunch.

I chatted with my dear friend Julie, and at Adam's prompting, finally headed out around 2:30pm.

Instead of going straight home, Adam asked if I would instead enjoy a rainy day drive with the heated seats. We had a few errands to run for the nursery, and I couldn't see why not! We drove to T.J.Maxx and I began to time my contractions on the way. Adam had previously downloaded this nifty Contraction Timing App for his iPhone, and it was nice to just tap "start" and "stop", and let it do all the recording.

We drove to Joe Beans (where I got a decaf caramel spice latte) then to Lowes where I sat in the parking lot timing contractions and Adam ran inside. At this point I was noticing that these silly contractions were all roughly 50 - 60 seconds long. Through our excellent childbirth classes I knew that contractions of this length were worth noticing. This frustrated me slightly, and I began to think I was timing them incorrectly. I called Laurie, who was also our childbirth instructor, and left another message.

Once we finally reached the house at 6:00 pm Adam and I both spoke to Laurie who told me I was indeed timing correctly and she thought active labor was beginning. WHAT?! She urged me to rest in a completely dark room for an hour and to have Adam call her at 7:00 pm with a status report.

 

The Birth of Beatrice Elise  I don't talk much about my birth choices... but before I tell the rest of the story of Beatrice's birth I must inform you of my decisions. And they are simply that, my decisions. This is not a decision I feel is right for every woman. But it was right for me. My decision is not better than the decisions of other mothers. It was best for me. I do not judge the decisions made by any other mother, I ask that you do the same for me.

We chose to plan a home birth with Certified Professional Midwife, Leslie Payne and Doula, Laurie Flower.

Here is a link to an excellent, albeit a little "new-agey", film, I agree with their final statement. "Accept your responsibility. Find YOUR truth." This is ALL I believe. We as mothers are responsible for seeking out our truth.

OK, I'm off of my soap box. Now onto the story of this precious girl's arrival…

At the end of the last post it was 6:00 pm and we had just checked in with our dear friend and Doula, Laurie. I tried my hardest to rest, but quite frankly I had missed my window for resting while I was gallivanting around T.J.Maxx! I attempted to lie down, but found it was more comfortable to pile all six of our pillows into a tower on our bed and rest my head while sitting up.

Adam went downstairs around 6:45pm to make himself a bowl of grits and relax, apparently thinking things were about to slow down. Poor guy. At 7:00pm, right as Extreme Home Makeover was beginning, I believe I experienced my first Active Labor contraction. Sitting was no longer an option, and neither was ignoring these signals from my body. It was time to get to work. I jumped up and let my body move through the intensity, then called downstairs to Adam.

He came bounding up the stairs and I informed him it was time to call Laurie, Barbie, our dear friend and Assistant, and Mauresa. Things had changed and I needed my support.

Laurie said she was on her way, Barbie had just gotten off work and she would be over with a few of my food requests, and Mauresa would be there as soon as possible with the dinner we were to have eaten together in her home at 8:00 pm.

I believe at this point Adam brought me one of my birth CD's, (which I had just made a few days prior), filled with quiet music. I changed into my "birth outfit", consisting of my bikini top, a pink jersey dress and a pink headband, (inspired by my friend, Erica).

I must tell you that even though I could acknowledge that things had changed, I truly did not believe I was in Active Labor. I kept thinking that everything would end, that I was making a fool of myself by calling everyone over, and that I would just be changing out of my birth outfit later that evening.

After changing I continued to try and rest in between contractions. I will tell you that I began crying tears of joy. My “bringer of joy” was on her way.

Laurie arrived at 7:30 pm, I remember her holding me and crying with me. What a miracle. My little girl was coming. Then it started - I entered "labor land". The following times have only been relayed to me by those in attendance. I literally felt like I was in a land of my own. And what a wonderful place it was!

Laurie worked through a few contractions with me upstairs, but as soon as Mauresa arrived with food, she insisted I head downstairs to eat! I ate Mauresa's delicious soup in the den on my birthing ball, while Laurie kept asking for "carbs" for me.

After eating some soup and bread, I starting working with the stairs - climbing up and down sideways while holding on to the banister, with deep squats on every step. After doing a few sets of singles we switched to two at a time working with the contractions. Laurie suggested we labor in Beatrice's nursery for a little while, using her glider to alleviate some lower back pressure. What a joy it was to be in my soft lit nursery bringing my little girl into the world. Barbie arrived and quickly prepared some wonderful warm compresses for me. I was able to rest my head and arms on the glider and rock back and forth on my knees while Barbie and Laurie applied the compresses.

I wanted to start working with my body again. We went out into the hall and this would be the point when my ballet background kicked in; I thought it might, and hoped it would, but I didn't know to what extent. I used a section of wall and did deep grande-plies in second, breathing deeply and working with each contraction. I loved this so much that they suggested I continue what I was doing, but in our shower. We have a wonderful shower with two shower heads, and the lower one can be aimed right on your back.

I entered the shower around 9:00 pm and adored it! They brought my music in, lit candles and kept refilling my water bottle again and again. I was never alone, yet I was granted the utmost privacy. I always had a supporter right outside of the shower, they rotated, Laurie, Barbie, Adam, Laurie, Barbie, Adam. They read scripture over me, prayed for me and Beatrice, brought me frozen peppermint compresses (heaven!) and surprised me with a book full of prayers and notes from friends. In between contractions I was able to talk and laugh, and during I was fully engaged in the work of my body. I believe it was at this point that I began to talk to my body and to Beatrice. Don't laugh, but in this deep guttural voice I started saying things such as "down", "open", "good girl, Beatrice", "come on little girl", and so much more. I began using my entire body, not just my legs, but my arms and hands to stretch and almost dance. It helped immensely to keep my body loose and to keep me from tightening anything. I also found my animal moan at this point. I loved hearing it echo on the shower tile, I loved how it reverberated inside me. It felt so wonderful. It reminded me of vocal/acting relaxation exercises.

Leslie, my spectacular midwife was called at some point and arrived around 10:30 pm while I was still in the shower. Apparently I was in the shower for a whole 2 hours. I depleted the house of its hot water supply, and still remained in the shower. I vomited up all of my extra large lunch from that afternoon, (again, it felt so wonderful), and still I remained in the shower, I absolutely loved it! Leslie, didn't mind my singing or my shower dancing or my other-worldly birth chants, she just watched me carefully and asked to hear Bea's heartbeat every once and a while. Oh, the heartbeat! Every time she would put the doptone up to my belly and I could hear my little one's strong heartbeat it was as if I was filled with a brand new dose of energy.

Around 11:00pm, they informed me that the den and the birthing tub were ready. They had Adam climb in the shower with me to share a couple of moments with me before we transitioned to the next phase. It was like a dream. He massaged me and told me what a magnificent job I was doing. What a gift.

I remember getting out of the shower and someone wrapping me in a towel. I remember Adam trying to help me down the stairs, but I must have been in the middle of a contraction, because I wanted no assistance.

Then it happened. I walked into my dream come true. For months I had dreamed of this moment, and it was here. I had written a "wish list" for my birth during my fabulous Childbirth Education Classes but never did I imagine it could look so beautiful. There were candles everywhere, the windows were down and the sound of pouring rain and a cold soothing breeze were slipping in, there was a roaring fire in the fireplace (my one request everyone thought was crazy, but it was PERFECT for this cool night), my carefully chosen music filled the air, and surrounding the huge birthing tub were the best support team anyone could ask for. I burst into tears. I couldn't believe this was the night for the birth of my child.

I climbed into the tub, and after an hour in a cold shower, it felt incredible! I felt so light and buoyant. Everything I had heard about laboring in the water was accurate. I loved it. It did change the feel of labor completely, but with coaching and encouragement I was able to feel the transition and change with it. I continued to move, moan, dance and speak in my low birthing voice. Not once did I feel ridiculous or silly. Everything felt so right. I could feel my body working to deliver my baby, and I wanted to help as much as I could.

At around 1:30 am they suggested I get out of the tub and try to use the restroom. I complied, but as I was climbing out a contraction came on, and I had to MOVE! I apparently took off around the house circling and circling the main floor; shaking out my limbs and marching to keep anything from tightening. I must have seen the blinds were all open, and I was appalled! Barbie scrambled to close all of the curtains and out of the corner of my eye I saw her fly across the dining room. I later found out she had tripped over Laurie's suitcase! What dear friends I have. After the contraction came to an end I attempted to use the restroom, but to no avail. Adam told me that they needed me to rest and relax at this point (apparently I was working too hard). They tried to have me lie down, but I despised that position, instead we moved to the den doorway, and while I hung on the door frame, Laurie and Barbie swung my hips from side to side as I moaned, "surrender". (I wish everyone could hear my husband's impression of me at this point.) The doorway failed to let me do what my body wanted, so I grabbed Adam and hung from his neck while continuing the same rocking. This felt so great, and truly helped relieve my lower back pressure.

I climbed back into the tub, and again, things changed. After throwing up again, (my poor helpers - I vaguely remember them scrambling to find something for me to vomit into), there was a moment where I lost my confidence. But with one look into the eyes of my amazing support, and one request that they assure me I could do this, I was back on track. I began chanting my new mantra, of, "I can do this. My body can do this." Adam climbed into the tub with me and in between contractions they had me recline into his arms to rest. Again, it couldn't have been more beautiful.

At 2:40 am I had a contraction different than all the ones before and at the end I felt my body pushing. What?! You must remember I had thought earlier that I was only fooling myself, and somehow I still couldn't believe it was true. It felt like only minutes had passed. In astonishment I told Leslie I felt like I needed to push. I knew she was going to tell me I was crazy, so I asked if she needed to check me or something. She told me that there was no need. I had known what my body needed till now, and that Bea's heartbeat was wonderful, so I needed to do what I needed to do.

Pushing naturally isn't really pushing. It's more like falling. There is nothing you can do to stop it. Your body just does it. I hate to compare it to this, but it's truly like vomiting. Your body has such power that you can't resist it. It is impossible to fight against it, and you simply need to relinquish your control and let your body do what it needs to. With every contraction I had three or four rushes of pushing. I could literally feel her descending. It was magnificent. The pressure was insane and the stretching sensation unlike any other, but all together amazing.

One or two contractions into pushing I felt my water break. What a feeling. It was as if a giant balloon had just burst inside of me. After five or six contractions I asked Leslie to help me understand where she was in the descent. She described how she was working her way underneath the pubic bone. It felt so right. After five or six more contractions it was truly time.

With my husband holding and supporting me from behind they coached me into a position where I could use my whole body. With the next contraction she began to crown. The next contraction brought her a little farther, the next contraction even farther. Leslie told me to feel the top of her head and I couldn't believe it. It was such a small portion, what a miracle the overlapping of an infant's skull is. Over the next few contractions the rest of her head began to emerge until I could put my entire hand over the top of her head. AMAZING!! I think that so many talk about this point feeling like a "ring of fire", and a burning sensation. But I truly could only call it stretching, crazy stretching.

Then, at 3:38 am, Monday, the 27th of September, a day before her due date, there in the birthing tub, it happened. With the next contraction and the four rushes that accompanied it I pushed, pushed, pushed and then SHE BURST FORTH!!! All of her! It was if she exploded into this world! No head, and then waiting for the next contraction for her body, no, my precious little one came flying into Leslie's arms.

I couldn't believe it. Here was the child that grew in my womb, that was bringing joy into such darkness. I couldn't believe it.

She was immediately placed in my arms and when I looked up, every eye was full of tears. My husband, her father, was sobbing tears of joy as he held us both. Here she was. I swear I could hear the angels singing, and my mother, now in heaven, joining in the chorus! She was so beautiful. My daughter. My Beatrice Elise.

 

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