Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Birth Story

I've written my birth story on Facebook, but this one may be a bit more different or what some would consider "graphic," so if you are not interested in a no holds barred pregnancy and birth story, you may not want to continues. If you choose to read on, I hope you enjoy!!!

My husband and I were married in 2011...
 Shortly after, we got pregnant with a "honeymoon baby." A week after figuring out we were, I experienced a miscarriage.

It was traumatizing, because no one really believed me at first. They thought it was all in my head and I was giving myself symptoms. But I knew. And it was confirmed during my "labor" and when I passed the fetus.

My heart broke that day. It's not as though we were trying, and we only just realized what was going on. But that loss becomes a part of you. And it took me a long time to process that.

I started wanting a baby to replace it. I realized I couldn't replace the baby I had lossed, but now I hungered for a baby in my womb. Realistically, we were not ready for a baby. And I knew that. So it was a huge internal battle.

In this time, I also realized how little I knew about babies and birth. I had known since I was 14, and a woman I babysat for had her baby in water home and told me how great it was, that I wanted to do that as well. So I started reading up on all the things to do with babies, birth, and pregnancy I knew nothing about, so that when my time came I'd be knowledgeable and ready. I discerned the different studies and articles and blogs I read, and decided where I stood in a lot of parenting subjects, many of which I am quite passionate about today.

Months later, I still missed the child I lost, but I didn't want to risk getting pregnant before we were ready. I prayed, and I asked God to take away my desire for a baby. I told Him we weren't ready, I wasn't ready, and to prepare me and help me wait til it was our time to have children.

My prayer was answered. I missed my loss, yes, but I no longer hungered for a child I couldn't have. I was satisfied with where I was in life, being newlyweds looking for a home. Little did I know, a month later I would get pregnant again.

We figure we conceived Bree a few weeks before Christmas (and I wondered why I was so tired and bloated, ha!) And in January, when my period was only two days late (totally normal for me) and Justin was freaking out, we took a test to help us feel better. Because of course, we couldn't possibly be pregnant. We were using protection. That always works, right?

But, those two pink lines appeared immediately. And Justin almost collapsed when he saw them. Again, I had an internal conflict. I remember asking God, "What gives!" I had just come to terms with not having kids for a while. But, while it took me a while to come to terms with my pregnancy, Bree has been the most wonderful curveball ever.

At the very beginning I had no symptoms and thought I'd be one of those lucky girls who never had morning sickness. A week later I was so severely sick I ended up in the hospital. I struggled with hyperemesis gravidarum until I was about 23 weeks along, when I believe God healed me of it. I had to quit my job and take meds (bleh) because it was so rough and I started losing weight (not good during pregnancy, and poor work, I was sick so often I couldn't even be a good employee). The slightest movement, smell, or taste would make me nauseous and vomit. Sometimes I wouldn't even have the feeling I needed to vomit, it would just happen. Just thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach. I was in and out of the hospital about three times with several unnecessary ultrasounds because of this, and early Braxton Hicks which had us worried then about early labor. The first trimester was no fun at all.

We learned on April 30 of 2012 that we would be having a little girl! A major shock to my husband and his family, as his little sister is the first girl in a generation or so, and everyone has boys first. But we were excited about having a little princess.

I had begun to feel her moving in me about two weeks or so before we learned her gender, and it was the most amazing feeling! It is mindblowing the feeling when you realize that little life in you really is real, and is moving about! Once the flutterings turned to kicks Justin could feel too, we had many wonderful times just laying in bed cuddling and laying hands on my belly to feel our daughter's activity.

Between the hyperemesis and exhaustion, I got to truly enjoy pregnancy without qualms for only about ten weeks in the middle. Once I got into the third trimester the exhaustion kicked in again and so did the achy EVERYTHING. I can't even describe how uncomfortable end of pregnancy is physically. Then, you're always tired but can never sleep because you can't get in a comfortable enough position to, and have to sleep with pillows between your legs because the pressue is just too much for your pubic bone and pelvis. No fun at all.

At around 37 or 38 weeks my midwife was manipulating my belly during a prenatal to feel her position and couldn't get a read. We were worried the baby was breech, so she wanted a colleague to see me and see if she could read the baby's postion. I went to see her the next day and she couldn't either, she suspected the baby was either posterior (spine to spine with me) or a rare form of breech she hadn't seen before. Basically,  it seemed the baby's spine was in my pelvis, her head and butt/legs up in my ribs. Obviously not a breech that could end in vaginal delivery unless they could change the baby's position, and I was freaked.

As I wasn't seeing an OB, my wonderful chiropractor (which I would recommend to any pregnant woman) ordered me an ultrasound for later in the week, and me and my husband, our friends, and my midwife were praying heavily for a head down baby.

The night before my ultrasound that baby was moving a ridiculous amount, to the point it hurt. Not usual for a "term" baby. Justin told work he would be in late and we went to the hospital to learn that she was, in fact, head down! I really believe because of our prayer she moved back to where she should be. That would explain all the movement! She flipped back to where she was supposed to be.

39 weeks passed, then 40, and my husband took vacation time from work in expectation of our little one's arrival. And then that week went by. I was 41 weeks and he had to go back to work. His first day back, Justin began having some health issues and the doctor wanted to do a procedure within a few weeks. We didn't want that interfering with our birth, so we decided to try castor oil, something I'm not to keen on, but at the time we were desperate. (PS, don't do it.)

I had the expected stomach cramps and runny stool, but no contractions. Later on in the evening however, I began having more intense contractions than the Braxton Hicks I've had the whole pregnancy, so I called Justin home from school, and my doulas (Britney and Angela) came over for company.

They began getting more intense and the big one hit. It was the most painful thing I've ever experienced, and while they lessened in between, the pain flowed right into the next one and next one. Finally it stopped and my midwife (on the phone with Justin) suggested a bath. I usually hate baths, but the water felt so good on my back and pelvis (yay for me choosing a water birth). We decided to go to Justin's parent's house (where we are planning to birth) and while I had mild contractions, the intensity stopped and eventually the rushes did too. I was pretty bummed.

Some have told me I didn't have contractions, it was just side effects from the castor oil, but it had been so long since I took it, I really believe I had started labor and it stalled. It happens. Maybe it was the relaxation of the water, or the stress/excitement of going to the in laws and the pressure from myself and others to have the baby. Who knows.

I also feel the reason it stopped, and the reason I went so far past my "due date" was because I was fearful of not being respected as a parent, something I still struggle with. Emotions have a big part in labor and birth, and negative feelings can absolutely stall labor. I had received so much flack for my choice in homebirth, that I worried if that would continue in my parenting choices, so that kept me from entering labor. (So stick to your guns and beliefs, and don't let worry affect you!)

I turned 42 weeks on September 30, 2012, and my midwife thought it was time we could try some natural induction techniques, black and blue cohosh, stripping my membranes, and breast pumping. Apparently the herbs should work in a decent amount of time, and we used them at nine am that morning, but they didn't work. I was pretty upset, wondering to myself if I'd ever meet my baby. I was too tense to allow my midwife to check if I was dilated for the membrane strip. My husband, cousin, and I went with a friend to a harvest festival a bit of a drive away and a did plenty of walking and standing around, and it did a good job of cheering me up.

We went home that evening to visit my in laws who expressed their concern about not wanting me to go too late, concerns of a big baby for my small frame, which I can understand from their end, but also felt unnecessarily scared. I've known women to go to 43-44 weeks. On the way home Justin shared his worries as well, and decided that if she didn't come within a couple days I'd go to the hospital ( I was in tears praying I'd go into labor asap).

We called our midwife to let her know our decision, and knowing my feelings towards hospitals she offered to come over that same evening again to try stripping my membranes again and administering the herbs again if needed. We had "alone" time to try to kickstart things as well.

Our midwife arrived at about nine thirty that evening and checked me to see if she could strip my membranes but my cervix was closed, so that was a no go. Very soft, but not open. So I took the black and blue cohosh again. Angie (my midwife) decided to stay to see if it worked, and slept on our futon. She wanted me to rest in the event I went into labor, so I put on some relaxing music and layed in my dark bedroom with my husband, dozing on and off. I kept waking feeling the occasional tightening, and around midnight I couldn't stay in bed any longer. Sitting on the toilet helped, and rocking in my rocking chair, Justin by my side timing my contractions and Angie talking with me (a good distraction).

Around two or two thirty that morning my water broke, and I was ecstatic! I had been for that glorious sign of labor for weeks. FINALLY a sign I was really in labor, it was happening! I had been sitting in my rocking chair, experiencing a contraction and I jumped, thinking I peed myself, but when I stood up fluid began steadily coming down my legs. I just remember being so happy about it.

It felt like I wasn't in early labor very long. Shortly after my water breaking the contractions starting getting much more steady and stronger. I tried getting in the bathtub for a while but it didn't help, so we decided to head to the in laws, where I was birthing (our third floor walk-up wasn't well suited for a birth).

We drove in Angie's van, where I am pretty certain I stuck my head out the window like a dog, the cool night air on face helped me cope with the pressure. We pulled into the driveway maybe around five (time seems to fly by and yet take forever), where the front door was open, my doulas were waiting, and the smell of coffee floated out. Too bad I couldn't have any!

We went downstairs to the basement (finished basement, living room and bathroom included, as well as my brother in law's bedroom) and they began setting up the tub as I loudly vocalized my way through contractions. I finally got to sink in for a while, and it was the BEST feeling in the world. It didn't take away the inner pain, but definitely relieved back and belly pressure, and the warmth was calming. Sooo relaxing.

A lot of the night is a blur now, but at one point I did fall asleep and my head bobbed into the pool, and I woke up snorting water, no fun, but humorous to think back on! I also got overheated and almost passed out at one point and had to stay out for a while. But this was my fault, it felt so good I just didn't want to get out! You can only refuse for so long when your midwife will intervene on your behalf.

Contractions on the toilet (claustrophobia in the tiny bathroom didn't help those, I imagine in a normal sized bathroom it would have been better), on the birth ball, and on my brother in law's mattress as well. This is basically what my labor consisted of, back and forth all morning. My contractions were all over the place, also totally normal (but something they don't tend to be fond of in hospitals). I had 10-20 minutes breaks in between (I fell asleep between contractions, so easily, that I thought they were one on top of the other), never steady, just all of the places differences. Normal.

{during labor}
Angie decided to check me, and lo and behold I was 9 1/2 dialated! Yay! She wanted me to labor on land a bit more before going back in the pool, she didn't want me relaxing too much and stalling labor more. I bellowed my way through more contractions, bearing my legs down against my doulas (I feel bad for their ribs now that I remember), and begged Angie to check me. When she did, I was dialted but with a slight lip, so I had to push as she pushed it back. It was hard, but not bad like I was expecting. I was so relieved that I would be able to start pushing soon!

I pushed some in the water but wasn't making a lot of progress, we needed to get the baby under my pubic bone. So Justin and my doulas pulled me up out of the pool (weak third trimester legs and a deep pool equals needing help) and I layed down on the mattress we pulled out of my brother-in-law's room.  Pushing was a definite challenge, especially on my back. I was on my knees for a bit, swaying my hips, and that helped so much, but I was so enthused when she told me I could get back into the pool.

My doulas tell me I pushed for around forty minutes. It honestly didn't feel that long. I pushed and pushed with each contraction. We tried to aim for two pushes per contraction, but sometimes it felt better to push more, depending on how long they lasted. That's the thing with birth, you do the work, and have to be able to trust your insticnts. Trust your birth team too, but know when you have to do something different.

Pushing was difficult, being something I've never done before, but felt so great at the same time. When a contraction started it just felt right to push and took away from my belly pressure.

When the baby started crowning and I touched her head it was so surreal. Her head started coming out and I felt the burn of myself stretching, but again, it was relieving, because I knew she was on her way to me. I don't even remember her head coming fully out, I just remember the burning stopped.

That's when Angie asked everyone to start praying. She seemed anxious asking me to push harder, which I did, and she started pulling a bit. My pushing wasn't doing it, so I turned over onto my knees, holding onto Justin, who was outside of the pool.  (This is commonly known as the Gaskin Maneuver, the only obstetric maneuver named after a home birth midwife). I was later told the baby's shoulder had been stuck under my pubic bone. But she popped out! And then I remember Angie yelling "pick up your baby!" (As my midwife told me later on, I have the lowest pubic bone she has ever seen. If I had birthed in a hospital, I would have been sectioned for sure.)

I looked down and saw this big baby in the water! I picked her up and held her against me, but she was a bit blue and not breathing. We used what is called "placental resuscitation," you stand with your uterus higher than the baby and push, sending oxygen-filled blood from the placenta to the baby. And it worked!

Though there was a bit of stress at the end of my labor, I never panicked. I remember having total peace and intuitively knowing that everything would be okay with my baby, and it was. It was wonderful. I followed my instincts, and they were right.

My baby Bree was nine pounds and 20 3/4 inches long, and the sweetest thing I've ever seen. I loved my homebirth, and can't imagine doing it in a hospital hooked up to IVs and having doctors and nurses around telling my body what to do. My body knew what to do all on its own, and it did so wonderfully. Home birth may not be for everybody, but it is definitely for me.

{In the birthing pool, one of my doulas lending support.}

{Justin, the moment Bree was born.}

{First family photo.}

{Skin to skin}
{Our first picture together post-labor}

{Bree at 4 months old}

Our Bree today!
{Smiling at Daddy & Mommy at dinner}

{Cuddling with Daddy}


  1. *Sniff Sniff* Such a great story!

  2. Oh wow! :')

    The picture of your husband at the moment of Bree's birth brought tears to my eyes! Such obvious overwhelming joy! I love "Dad" pictures. I remember the look on my husband's face when our second boy was born, I wish I had a picture of it!

    Wonderful birth story. She was such a big baby for your first, too! Well done, Mama! :)