This is for my wife, but really goes for all you mothers out there
I admire you so much for the past 10 months. You took on the commitment to have a child, something you knew would entail so much sacrifice. You carried our unborn Parker, you quit caffeine and alcohol, watched your diet, and even left work early from a job you love and sat at a desk bored to death, all for his safety. You read, and read, and read and researched things I never even thought of. You talked to so many people to educate yourself about how to best care for this little life inside you, and eventually outside of you! I've never seen you so committed to anything, and you've accomplished some amazing things in your life. You worked with me through my ignorance and bullishness about methods that were not the "main-stream" but nonetheless best for us and P. And you did all of this while I was distracted, in school, with not a lot to give you at the end of the day.
You labored like a champ, you kept me calm even though I was stirring inside. You only muttered "we might have to go to the hospital" one time, and you didn't even complete that sentence, even though you knew there was a chance I might have to deliver Parker in the car on the way to Renee's, because you stuck to your beliefs and your wishes. Being in the birth tub with you, being there for you to float on and try to give you words of encouragement was the most important moment of my life, and I was amazed at how strong you were, how in control you seemed... even though I know you felt a bit out of control. You calmed in between those intense moments. And you did it... you delivered the most beautiful baby boy in the world.
After you accomplished that amazing feat, you immediately nursed Parker, as exhausted as you were, even though you sustained great personal injury, that most of us guys would have sat with for a week in bed expecting to be waited on hand and foot. Throughout this past week, you have mastered a hugely steep learning curve, at great personal physical and emotional sacrifice to nourish our little guy, sometimes in tears, but always with love and devotion. You are a rock, but the best kind of rock... tough and hard and multifaceted, but with a warm, loving, squishy center.
Thank you Jessie... and thank you all you moms out there. I never understood what kind of sacrifice and work this was... until it happened to us!
You're a great Mommy... but I never had a doubt!
My birth stories are varied and unique as are each of my children. I am a mother of three beautiful children and this is my story about our first birth.
Upon hearing about our first pregnancy, my husband and I were excited. Having just been married in October, I was in disbelief that I could be pregnant so soon in December. Nonetheless, we were quite pleased with ourselves and happily anticipated our first baby. I knew with my dislike for hospitals, and my need to “control” things I would not be an easy patient, let alone patient during child birth. I researched everything I could about birth. I was addicted to shows such as A Baby Story; Special Delivery; Bringing Baby Home, etc. I wanted to know all of the answers to all of my questions when it came to birth. I found a mid-wifery program based at UCLA, which I thought was a really good option for my husband and I. My husband, Mark, definitely wanted a hospital birth. I on the other hand wanted a birth center birth, but after hearing my husband’s concerns and not ever having a child before, decided a hospital birth with mid-wives seemed like a great compromise.
At about half way through my pregnancy I found Bradley Natural Childbirth, which spoke of being able to birth a child naturally. I was fascinated by this prospect and encouraged from all of the testimonials. When I voiced my desire to have a “natural child birth” I received very little support and some of my co-workers even laughed at me. Everyone I talked to said “it couldn’t be done,” or “just wait until the pain sets in, then you’ll be begging for an epidural” or my favorite from my mother who said, “Honey there are no gold medals in child birth, so take the drugs if you need them.” Yup, I heard it all and I thought I was doubting whether or not I could do a natural child birth. I convinced my husband to take a Bradley class and he went with hesitation. When we first went to the class, we were skeptical. I was skeptical as to if I would really have a natural childbirth and my husband was skeptical as to how to help me deal with the pain. Our Bradley class ended two weeks before my due date and I was quite comforted with all of the knowledge that I had learned. I was grateful to our instructor for her care, and concern and wealth of information about things that I hadn’t even thought of after the birth. I was just focused on the birth. I made a Birth Plan and gave it to my mid-wife who in turn was hesitant.
At 30 weeks pregnant I knew I had gestational diabetes (diet induced) and would have to go on a strict diet. Every time I went in for my appointment I was measured and was measuring larger than normal. Please keep in mind, I am above average height and so is my husband. So I wasn’t concerned about measuring large. Further, my mother had told me she measured large with me due to retaining too much liquid. So my ignorance in not having a child before paid off. I chalked it up to “genes” and I convinced myself everything was going to be fine and that I would have an average size baby around 8 lbs.
As I neared my due date, my mid-wife started to plant the seeds of doubt and wanted to talk about scheduling a C-section. My sister had a scheduled C-section and it was quite traumatic for her. I was definitely against having any kind of surgery and wanted to let my body do what it was supposed to do naturally. I did not allow for them to schedule a C-section and on the day after my due date I was scheduled to go in for a consultation about a C-section since the baby had not quite arrived. Now from doing Natural Family Planning, I knew the day we conceived our first son. According to the day of conception his due date was the 15th of August. But the mid-wife went by my last period and the ultrasound, which said the 10th of August. So on the 11th of August they wanted to do a C-section since I was “post-term” and he was already slated to be a big baby.
At 3:04 a.m. on August 11th, I woke up feeling crampy. For the past week I was feeling HUGE and found that I couldn’t move as well as I once did. I was a lot more sore than usual and irritable. I had a lot of Braxton Hicks and was excited many times to think, “is today the day?” to only have them go away and not come to any fruition. On this day however, I woke up not even thinking about today being the day. I was just sore, hadn’t slept well and felt like I needed to walk off my soreness. I walked around the house for about an hour and noticed I was having those Braxton Hicks again. This time however, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up. This time I was going to be okay with them fading away as they had for the past few weeks to my dismay. But to my surprise, they continued even when I wasn’t exerting myself. After awhile the contractions became stronger and more regular. I hesitated to tell my husband because it was his third day at his new job and I didn’t want to get his hopes up like I had in the past. At 6:45 a.m. I told him he “may” need a substitute for today and that I would let him know if anything more happened. He asked, “How far apart our your contractions,” and I told him they were between 7-8 minutes apart and lasting for a good 30-45 seconds. He shot up out of bed and rushed into work to prepare for a substitute. Still disbelieving today could be the day, I told him not to leave work until I confirmed that something “real” was happening. I got up and went to Church and prayed. I prayed that I would have the strength to labor naturally. I prayed that I would be a good mother for this precious baby boy given to me. I prayed that all would go as I had planned for so long. When I returned back to the house, my mom was up (we were living with her at the time) and she was frantic. She saw that I was having contractions (at this point I needed to stop in between contractions to gain my composure) and was paranoid. It was a scene out of a television drama series where one person is running around the house, frantically trying to get everything together to go to the hospital. I assured her I had plenty of time that my contractions were only 4-5 minutes apart and we needed to call Mark to come home. Mark arrived home around 10 a.m., and we headed down to UCLA from there. We arrived at the Labor & Delivery department around noon and they checked me shortly thereafter. I kept telling Mark that the mid-wives were going to send me home because I wasn’t in labor. I did notice on the drive down to UCLA my labor seemed to slow down, probably due to the stress of the drive and the stress of going to a hospital. At about 1 p.m. I was told that I was dilated to 6 cm, 80% effaced,–2 station, and anterior position. I asked if I could go home and they laughed and said I would be having a baby by the end of the day if not sooner. That seemed impossible to me!
I called my sister-in-law who wanted to be at the birth and she flew down from Sacramento. She made it to the Labor and Delivery room by 3 pm and everyone there was having a late lunch (In-n-Out might I add). I would get up as much as possible and would move. Moving made my labor progress, kept my mind off of the pain, and gave me something to do then just sitting around. I took LOTS of hot showers, which helped my back pain that had started at 3:00 a.m. By 5:00 p.m. my contractions were about 1 minute apart and I was not joking anymore as I had been in the previous hours. I wasn’t dancing to our wedding song by this point and I was definitely my serious. I went for a walk around 5:30 p.m. and asked Mark if he could clear out the room of visitors. I needed some quiet time. At 5:45 p.m. I was bent over the bed during a contraction when I noticed that I was peeing on the ground. I was mortified. Not only could I not control my birth, I couldn’t control my own bladder! When I said this to my husband, he said, “No that isn’t pee, honey, you’re water just broke!” At that moment, I was so grossed out that I wanted to shower again to clean up. In the shower, my water burst and it sounded like a big bucket of water was poured out all over the shower stall. It was at that moment I felt “real” pain. No longer did I have the advantage of having my water sac buffer the pain of the contractions. Fortunately at this point I was near complete dilation and was in transition. I wanted to stay in the shower and birth the baby but due to hospital regulations and the safety of the mid-wives and nurses I had to return to my bed. Not caring that I was fully naked, I returned to the bed in transition to begin birthing. I knew that I didn’t want to birth on my back due to a back injury I had sustained in college. I asked my mid-wife if I could birth on my side. She agreed and we started on my right side. After a few pushes the baby still wasn’t coming down. His station was still –2 but I was fully effaced and fully dilated. They were concerned that he was too big and could be stuck. My mid-wife continued to have me push and she told me I would need to move around from side to side to get the baby through the pelvic area. Each time I moved it seemed like quite the ordeal. Imagine trying to move Shamu to one side and then another and that is how I felt (and I am sure how I looked). I was quite grateful to my husband, my sister-in-law, and the nurses for helping me position myself so that I could move side to side. After about an hour of pushing, I looked to my mid-wife and said, “I can’t do this. Please help me.” I was doubting everything and everyone. My mid-wife looked at me and said “You are doing a great job. Yes you can.” Having heard the lady next door scream for 3 hours during her birth, with an epidural I doubted if I could continue through with this natural childbirth. My husband was giving me lots of encouragement and so was my sister-in-law. I voiced that I didn’t think I could push like this for 3 hours and my mid-wife reminded me of the present and to make each contraction count.
I remember when we switched positions and I was on my back holding my husband’s hands in front of me. Imagine doing a stomach crunch with your arms stretched out in between your legs. That was how I was positioned. It was at that moment; I felt my son move into position and could feel him move down the birth canal. That feeling at that moment was the most intimate, intense, joyful, awesome feeling I have ever had. Feeling a life move within you and make its way outside of your of body is miraculous. I felt my son move down with each contraction and push. As he was starting to crown I was repositioned on my side once again. Now with every contraction I could feel him move forward, and then backward. He would start to crown with a contraction and then when the contraction was done he would go back up towards the birth canal. I was frustrated by this. It was a series of forward and backward motions until one really big contraction when he crowned and stayed. Now I faced the ring of fire burning my perineum. I kept thinking to myself, “Damn Eve!” As I kept feeling this ring of fire while my mid-wife massaged the perineum I kept telling myself, “where was this in our childbirth class” I don’t remember her going over this part?” Shortly afterwards and with one gentle push John’s head came out and I felt such relief. I thought he was completely out and wanted to move. I was quickly told I still had to get his shoulders out. So with the next contraction his shoulders came out and both my husband and I were in disbelief. I kept saying over and over again, “I can’t believe it! He is finally here!” I looked to my husband after I delivered my placenta and said, “It wasn’t that bad. I can do this again!” Everyone in the room was in shock and of course stated that we needed to wait at least 6 weeks to let my body heal. However my body really didn’t have a lot of healing to do. I had one small interior tear due to pushing when I didn’t have a contraction and the perineum was a little raw from being stretched 15+ inches. Yup, my son’s head was 15 inches in diameter and I had no tearing. He weighed 10 lbs. and 1 oz. He was born alert, awake, and fully cognizant of whom his mother and father were right from the beginning. He was able to latch on to fed within minutes afterwards and thus we began our relationship as a family, and as a mother and son.
From this experience, my husband and I are convinced that natural childbirth is the way to go! It saddens us that more people do not choose that route and are ignorant of their choices. It amazes me that people do more research and plan for more “things” then for the birth of their child. I knew that a one-day wonder course given at our local hospital wasn’t going to prepare me for the birth of our son. I wanted a course of study that I could take throughout the last trimester of my pregnancy so that I had time to reflect, ask, and analyze all of the information given to us over the course of those weeks. The relationship that I was able to foster with my Bradley instructor has been life-giving and on-going. I know that I can still call and ask for advice if needed and can count on her if I need help with finding support or resources for birthing naturally.
The following birth story is from my students Jessica and Kurt. So proud of them!
In our society today birth is portrayed as an excruciating necessary evil of bringing a child into the world that must be “managed” by doctors. Women are coached in the use of “labor safe” drugs and other routine interventions. Inductions, epidurals and cesarean sections have become the “normal” ways to give birth, instead of the exception. We have two wonderful little boys that came to us via these “normal” birth experiences. Our first son, I was unnecessarily induced and told if I didn’t have drugs I’d have a c-section. Then I was told if I didn’t have an epidural I’d end up with a c-section. After 36 hours and an unnecessary episiotomy our son was born, weighing 7 pounds 15 ounces 13 days past his due date. With our second son I was induced unnecessarily twice, being told both times that if I didn’t stay and get induced my “baby would die”. My first induction failed and I was allowed to go home. With the second induction I was induced because of “critically low fluid level” of 7 (which I have since confirmed by my current OB, midwife and ACOG is within normal limits, normal being between 3 and 12). I labored for 28 hours and diagnosed as “failure to progress” then given a c-section. After the surgery they told me that he was just “too big to be born naturally”, he weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces born 8 days past his due date.
Taking us by surprise just 10 months after our second son was born we found out we were expecting again. Fearing I’d have to have another C-section (the local hospital has banned VBACs) I wanted something to look forward to and distract me during the surgery so we decided not to find out the gender of our baby. We wanted a VBAC and found out we could have one if we traveled to a hospital an hour and half south of where we live. We really didn’t want another hospital birth we, put that in God’s hands and, prepared ourselves for a natural birth. We armed ourselves with as much information we could find: books, VBAC classes, various websites, you name it. A friend of ours mentioned the Bradley method and how helpful it was in them having a natural birth, something we wanted with our first two but didn’t get to experience. We learned so much from our wonderful teacher and came to realize that not only is birth natural and normal but, if we would have taken the Bradley method before our first birth both of them would have been natural births.
At 36 weeks my cervix was starting to soften and open – this was huge because with our first two pregnancies I never had any cervical change at all. We were excited something was happening. At 40 weeks my OB was already talking about another c-section because they “couldn’t let me go past 41 weeks”. Thankfully, God had his hand on not only this pregnancy but the birth too. A wonderful midwife came to us gave us encouragement, and the opportunity to have a natural home/out-of-hospital birth.
Sunday evening (40 weeks, 6 days) my girlfriend suggested we walk down a mountain road close to where we live and then she would massage my feet. It was raining; my husband dropped us off at the top of the mountain road. We walked down to my girlfriend’s car then she drove me home and rubbed my feet, specifically my arches, for an hour. Half way through my contractions started, it was just before 7 p.m...
After she left I relaxed and watched TV with my husband until the contractions started calling my attention away from the program. We timed them, just to see if there was a pattern. They were 10 minutes apart, but we were hesitant to get excited we didn’t want to jump the gun. I took a shower while Kurt loaded the car; they got closer together, 5 minutes apart. Kurt suggested I get some rest, so I went to bed and tried to rest. Kurt would talk me through the contractions and help me relax then he would go back to rubbing my feet or back.
At 3:00 a.m. we decided to head out, my contractions were at 4 minutes apart lasting a minute. It was raining outside when we headed out for Bakersfield, a 2 hour drive north that took us 2 ½ hours. Contractions remained at 4 minutes apart the entire drive, I focused on staying relaxed. I was so relaxed that Kurt thought I was sleeping between contractions. When a contraction started I would make a soft low “hmmmm” sound and when the contraction finished I’d take a deep cleansing breath, this helped Kurt time them. If I got distracted the contractions would catch me off guard and were more difficult to work through.
We arrived at the hotel, where we were to give birth, at 5:30 a.m. We set up the room, dressed the bed with plastic sheets, washed out the huge whirlpool tub, brought in our pillows and just made the room comfy. At 7:00 a.m. our midwife arrived and checked me, I was at 4 cm but she could stretch me to 5 cms. This was good news. I remember the advice my Bradley teacher gave us, she said: “I always thought to myself that I just wasn’t that far along”. So I assumed I’d barely be dilated.
When our midwife arrived my labor had slowed down and my contractions were 7 minutes apart. My hips and back were killing me from the long drive, so our midwife suggested that I take a bath to help me relax. She left to let us labor alone for awhile, Kurt took a nap while I relaxed in the tub. When I emerged from the bath an hour later my contractions were 15-20 minutes apart. I remember thinking: Had I been in a hospital (being unable to augment my labor with pitocin because I am a VBAC) I would have been given a c-section. We called the midwife and told her things had really slowed down, she suggested walking but it was pouring rain outside so she said a shower might help. After 45 minutes in the shower my contractions were coming every 3 minutes and lasting 2 minutes. It was nice having time alone to labor. It was so intimate, just my husband and I, working together one contraction at a time. We called our midwife again with our update and she said she was on her way. When she checked me I was at 7-8 cms – hello transition. Things were really getting intense, I threw up (not my favorite thing to do) but I felt better afterward. I moved into the tub and stayed there for 2 hours. At one point I would just start shaking my head back and forth and saying “no, no, no” every time a contraction peaked. It felt like they were unending and I rolled from one to another. My husband realized that we were almost done because I was have the self doubt sign post and really encouraged me as much as he could. I kept saying “I can’t” and “I want it to stop, just for minute – let me catch by breath”, he kept saying “that means you’re almost done”, “you are doing so good”, “we get to meet our baby very very soon now”. The water helped me cope, and while I wouldn’t describe it as pain it was definitely intense. I threw up again and decided I didn’t want to be in the tub anymore. I went and sat on the toilet and rubbed my thighs through the peak of the contractions, I’m not sure why but it felt really good.
My wonderful husband never left my side and reminded me about a million times to relax my jaw and breathe deep belly breaths. As long as he was touching me I felt anchored. He would try to rub me or provide some other comfort measure and I would only have to look at him and he knew I just needed his touch. He let our friend, who is also a doula, provide comfort measures like light touch massage.
I tried to find a position to help me be a little more comfortable I tried laying on the bed – nope, I tried all fours on the bed – nope, I knelt by the bed – nope, I dangled from my husband – nope, I stood over the bed and put my hands out to support me – nope. I thought I was going to vomit again and fell down on all fours over a trash can – nope…I had to move my bowels, I ran to the bathroom. Then my contractions changed and with each one I had an unstoppable urge to move my bowels and bear down. I said “I think I’m pushing” the midwife assured me that it was okay and not to worry she wouldn’t let me have the baby over the toilet. I pushed with each contraction (but not with all my might – I was nervous the baby would fall out), it’s an unreal feeling to feel your baby moving down the birth canal. Then my water broke with a POP!
I moved to the bed and tried a semi sitting position which didn’t feel comfortable, so I got on all fours at the edge of the bed and during a contraction would lean on my husband. I was “pushing” through each contraction but not efficiently because I was nervous about tearing through my old episiotomy incision. Then my midwife said “your baby is right there but you’re not really pushing, if you try the semi-sitting position again and give real pushes you could have your baby in your arms already” that was what I needed to hear. I did exactly what she said, and it took 4 pushes. Push one and the baby was crowning, I felt the top of the baby’s head which really motivated me. Push two and I was experiencing “the ring of fire” – yikes! Push three and the head was out as well as her hand. Push four and we had a little girl! She weighed 8 lbs 14 oz born 7 days past her due date.
I was hesitant to push the placenta out after just having put a baby through there but my doula friend jokingly said “don’t worry this one doesn’t have bones”. After the placenta was delivered and the cord was done pulsating my husband clamped and cut the cord. 27 hours and it was over, the time flew by and we were holding our little girl. We named her Faith because our faith brought her to us through this beautiful experience.
Giving birth naturally is a high that can not be explained. It makes me so sad that so many women sign up for “the drugs” as soon as they find out they are pregnant. Labor is what you expect it to be, if you expect pain you will experience pain. I experienced very intense feelings and sensations but never an ounce of pain. And, although we plan to wait a few years before expanding our family again, I really can’t wait to experience giving birth again!
They are now expecting their fourth child and taking classes again from me.
A story written by one of my students
I thought I should probably get this "on paper" before I forget the details...which should be interesting considering I completely lost all concept of time in the last few hours. Robin and Mom, feel free to correct me. :)
Here goes....Contractions started around 2am Sunday morning (May 29th)...they just felt like cramps so I didn't really notice until they'd been keeping me semi-awake for about an hour, and then I decided to time them for a while to see if they were consistant. They came every 10 minutes and lasted about a minute for an hour so I woke up Alex. We called Robin and she said to let her know when they got to 5-7 mins apart (I think... :)) and to go back to bed to try and rest. I did sleep a little and by the time the sun came up and Dan woke up, nothing had changed really. We didn't go to church and finally decided to go to Costco to get Costco hotdogs and peanut M&Ms (random, I know, but it WAS my birthday the next day and I guess you could say I was craving Costco hotdogs and M&Ms...lol). I could still walk and talk during contractions and we got home from Costco, put Dan down for a nap, made lunch, and started watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice. :) I was definitely getting more uncomfortable but I wouldn't label it "pain". Joanna came to pick up Dan after he woke up and we headed upstairs to get the last minute things ready. Contractions started getting closer together and more intense (still not painful) so we called Robin and Mom. I think Robin and Ali got here around 4pm. By that time, things were definitely picking up and I was mostly either sitting on the side of the bed or the exercise ball, leaning on Alex in front of me...laying down wasn't comfortable at all. That's when I lost track of all time and "got in the zone" I guess you could say, so things will probably be a little jumbled from here...
I soon found that standing/squatting/hanging around Alex's neck (poor man) was the most comfortable position for me. We tried the tub for about an hour but it just wasn't helping (even filled up all the way, the water just wasn't deep enough to help. And besides, I can't kneel that long when I'm NOT in labor...lol) So we nixed the tub (oh, I did start needing to push there though, so perhaps it did its job :))...I have no idea what time that was. More standing/hanging and pushing and then we tried the birthing stool for another hour. I remember those contractions being so intense with a break in between of absolutely no pain, that it almost made me frustrated...like "Oh just forget the time to rest and let's get this over with!" I tried to relax as much as possible between but it was hard knowing it would get worse at any minute. Tried hands and knees once after the birthing stool, but that was bad, so we made our way to the bathroom, stopping maybe 5-6 times for contractions/pushing. We made it to the middle of the bathroom and I wasn't going any further...I pushed maybe 3 more times and, with some help from Ali, she was here! May 30, 12:24am...about 22 hours total from very start to finish. Turns out my water had broken earlier but her head was so low the water all stayed in behind her and gushed out when she was born (sorry if that's tmi...but I figure if you're reading a birthing story, you probably don't mind...?). Apparently I went completely white (which was funny to hear later because I felt just fine!) so they laid me down on the ground, handed Darcy to me (we didn't know she was a girl for a good 2 minutes at least), and waited for the placenta to come before I got to get cleaned up and in bed. They had to suction a bunch of mucous from her nose/mouth but she was doing great! I ended up tearing pretty badly (again, you clicked on it and made it this far.....) but nothing compared to being cut open for a c-section, that's for sure! And not being in the hospital or being whoozy from pain meds is SO NICE!
So, while giving birth has definitely made the top of the list for "most painful thing ever endured" - we survived! And I take no credit for it at all - it was all God's doing and I am so incredibly thankful for Him giving us the most completely natural, uncomplicated, VBAC homebirth we ever hoped/prayed for! He is good - all the time :)