I chose to do a home birth for my second birth for several reasons. I knew that to minimize the number of interventions I wanted to labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital. I started wondering why I didn’t just plan to stay home for the actual birth if I was already planning to do almost all of my laboring at home. I knew with a home birth I could be reasonably sure that the midwife I chose would be the one attending my birth.  This was important to me because during my first birth, the midwife who happened to be on call had a significant negative impact on my birthing experience. And finally, I knew that even if I was with a great midwife practice, I would still be subjected to the non-evidence based hospital policies that I did not agree with. I also felt very secure in the knowledge that I could transfer to a hospital if needed and would be attended by a doctor I trusted.

To prepare for this birth I walked 2-3 miles almost everyday, attended Labor of Love’s Aligned and Ready class, and did the Hypnobabies Home Study.  I attended Labor of Love’s Bold Wisdom for Birth Series for my first birth and wanted to build on the knowledge and skills I gained there.  I chose to do Hypnobabies because I wanted to practice relaxation techniques I could use during labor.  I enjoyed listening to the Hynobabies tracks each day.  It forced me to set aside time each day to practice relaxing my body and focus on what I wanted and envisioned for my birth.  I found that I was looking forward to this birth and was not anxious.

I woke up around 6:30am Friday, September 4, 2015 feeling some mild cramps every few minutes.  I got up and dressed to go on my usual morning walk with my neighbors.  I remember telling Alan what was going on and that it was probably nothing.  I thought this was a good sign that labor would start in the next few days and expected the contractions/cramps to go away. I got Anna up and dressed, we had breakfast and then went on our walk around the neighborhood.  The contractions continued throughout the walk, but I never had to slow down or stop for them.  This was the Friday before Labor Day weekend so Alan had decided to work from home for the day.  He stayed with Anna while I went to the grocery store to get some last minute items (including a cake mix to make a birthday cake for the baby).  At the grocery store the woman bagging the groceries looked at me and asked if was I was going to have the baby that day.  I just laughed and said soon, my due date was the next Tuesday. After lunch I put Anna down for her nap and took a nap myself.  I thought the contractions had stopped but when I laid down I felt them again.  I decided that I was just going to embrace it and listened to my Hypnobabies “Birthing Day Affirmations” track.  You aren’t supposed to listen to this track until you are beginning labor or want labor to begin.  I was able to take a 2 hour nap. After I woke up we all walked down to the neighborhood pool around 3pm.  It was while we were at the pool that I started to pay attention to the contractions a little more and noticed they were coming about every 10 minutes.  I also had a harder time just sitting still during them, I started pacing. Around 5pm I told Alan we needed to go home.  I had a harder time walking home and I started to panic a little as I realized I might be having a baby today! I called my parents who were driving to Atlanta that day and told my Mom she needed to come straight to our house instead of my Aunt’s house because I thought I was in labor and I needed her to take care of Anna.

When we got home from the pool, I took a shower and made myself a sandwich because I knew I needed to eat quickly. My contractions were about 2-5 minutes apart as I rushed around trying to get everything ready. I called my midwife and she told me to lay down and time the contractions for an hour, they were probably so close together because of all the moving around I was doing.  I also called Teresa, my doula.  She was going out to dinner with her family and said to call her when I wanted her to come. I went upstairs to lay in bed and time contractions.  I put on my Hypnobabies Easy First Stage track and relaxed through the contractions.  The contractions were about 7-8 minutes apart.  I really enjoyed listening to the Hypnobabies during this time.  This track really helped me relax and welcome the contractions.  It told me chant “Open” during the contractions and then to smile after each one and I found myself really doing that.  I was able to really embrace labor and get excited about meeting my baby soon.  This was something I struggled with during my first birth.

After a couple hours, around 8pm, I decided to move downstairs to the basement where we were planning to do the birth.  Alan had put Anna to bed and we called Teresa and my midwife, Charlotte so they could come. They arrived by 8:45 and I remember feeling bad that I had called them too early and they would be here for a while. At this point I gave up timing the contractions and told them they could if they wanted to but I didn’t care how long or often they were so don’t tell me.  Charlotte offered to check my progress but I declined.  I was worried I wouldn’t be very far along and would be disappointed and discouraged. I was restless and couldn’t decide what position I wanted to be in. I went back and forth from my hands and knees to sitting on my birth ball to sitting on the toilet. I also stopped really listening to my Hypnobabies tracks. At some point I remarked that I felt like a zombie.  I was in my own world.  I knew people were with me, but I didn’t care to talk to them or listen to their conversations.  Teresa told me I was in Labor Land.

Finally around 10pm I decided to get in the tub.  It was relaxing, but not the “epidural like” pain relief I had read about.  Eventually my body started pushing and Charlotte checked me to make sure I was complete.  I had a little lip of cervix left so Teresa helped me breathe through several contractions before I started pushing again.  I think that was the hardest part of the whole thing. Finally the baby was crowning and Charlotte told me to ease the head out but I pushed as hard as I could and the head came out all at once.  I just couldn’t hold back. Tess Elizabeth was born at 11:12pm on Friday, September 4, 2015.

tess

June 17, 2013

Kassidy Jule Mullis

8.0lbs – 20 ½” long

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On Sunday night, June 16, Father’s Day, I started to feel the first contractions.  They were minor enough that I didn’t realize they were signs of early labor.  We timed a few and decided to give Brenda, our midwife, and Teresa, our doula, a heads up.  They both texted back and let me know to call them overnight if I needed them.  Brenda said to let her know if they got under 5 minutes apart and more than 45 seconds long.  Teresa said to go have a glass of wine and try to get some rest.  (I *love* her!)  I tried to go to sleep, but it just wasn’t working.  Contractions were increasing in strength and were 10-15 minutes apart.

Around 1am, we got up and went out into the den.  They boys had just gotten back from a movie and watched us walk out of the bedroom.  They knew something was up.  I tried sitting on the birth ball and worked through each contraction while Mike timed them.  He had downloaded a labor app.

He then poured a glass of wine for both of us.

After a little while, I knew we were going to need our rest, so we went to bed around 3am.  I was able to sleep for about 1 ½ hour.  So about 4:30am, I started timing again.  The app made it so much easier to time and track the contractions.

I decided since Teresa had just done a birth the night before and had been up until 4am that she needed as much sleep as possible.  So I waited until 7am to call her.

When we talked, I was concerned about her getting caught in Monday morning traffic.  She said she would get dressed, eat some breakfast and then head our way.  Brenda said she would stop by in between her morning and afternoon appointments, around lunch time.  (I was ready to go soon after that call, but she then called me back and said maybe it was too early.)

I talked with Teresa a little bit later and told her the contractions were still irregular, 5-7 minutes apart, but lasting 1-1 ½ minutes.  Both she and Brenda had talked to me while I was having contractions and thought I was fine. (She sounded like she was still in very early labor. She was tired from the lack of sleep but was so in control and calm, we had guessed her as in middle to early labor still.)

We all believed, with me being a first time mom, that it was going to take a while.  Brenda said she would stop by after her morning appointments around lunch time.  Throughout the morning, during contractions, Mike would rub my back and I would try to stretch out my muscles and keep moving.  We had some spaghetti for lunch.  I ate between contractions.

Then Brenda showed up.  She checked me and found that I was 8cm dilated and 95% effaced.  She told Mike to get the pool ready. (Brenda called me and I was only a few minutes away. When I heard how far dilated she was, I was delightfully shocked!)  Until that point, he had been very leisurely getting it ready.  Then he and Jesse (Her step son)  kicked it into high gear.  While they were working on the pool, Teresa showed up and started working with me through the contractions.  About the time they filled the pool with water, Jesse went into his room and I stepped into the water.  The warm water felt so good.  Shortly after getting in, it started raining outside.  We were on my mom’s screened in porch.  The rain was beautiful.  It made for a very peaceful surrounding. (The gardenias were in full bloom so we had the fresh smell of rain with the gardenias flooding our senses!)

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The contractions were getting stronger and they had me start to push.  I pushed for nearly an hour.  At some point, Brenda had me push for a count of 6, take a breath and do it again.  That helped me focus.  After doing that my water broke. After almost an hour of pushing, she began to crown.  They could see her, but I couldn’t feel her head yet.  It was the most intense pushing and effort I had ever had to do.  Funny that now, in writing this, I don’t remember the pain.  I do remember feeling like I just didn’t have it in me to push any longer or any harder.  I remember the encouragement.  They told me this is why it is called “labor”, because it is hard work.  That hit me.  I needed to up it a notch to get her out.  Not just a notch but more than I thought I had in me to give.  I also knew that I did not want to go to the hospital because I hadn’t given it everything I had.  (Every woman hits the wall of great doubt. This was when Jamie needed the most encouragement. Mike was beside her being her strength! We used my rebozo to help her get some extra push support.)

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After a few more rounds of intense pushing, her head was out.  They tried to get me to see her in a mirror, but I just wanted to continue. The next contractions allowed me to push her body out.  Next thing I knew, they were putting her on my chest.  I had a baby girl in my arms!!!!

Brenda checked her and said her breathing was a bit irregular, but that if she could nurse, it would regulate.  So that’s what we did.  She started breastfeeding while we were still in the water.  They let the boys know to come out.  It took a while before I was able to get out of the water.  I still had to push out the placenta. I had no idea that I was going to have to push again.  I was so done, but they helped me through that too. (It was so cool to go and find Mike’s sons in other parts of the house- trying to give Jamie her privacy. They came out to the porch and admired their new baby sister!)

They finally helped me into my mom’s tub.  They had made a sitz bath and I got to sit and soak and they brought Kassidy to join me in the water.   Once we soaked a bit, they helped me to the bed to finish all the procedures, measurements, analysis of her and my sutures.  After all that was done, I just remember lying flat on my back, something I hadn’t been able to do for quite some time and then they brought me food, pizza, mango, etc and some coconut water.  For the first time in months, I didn’t have any reflux.

The rest of that time is a blur.  I recall lying in bed that night with her on my chest and Mike next to me.  Then we moved her to his chest and she slept peacefully on him too.

That night was filled with me waking her up every 2 hours to eat.  It was truly amazing that I had this new little life that needed me and that God had given me everything I needed to provide for her.  This little being that was created from one moment in time because of the love that Mike and I had for each other.  Just more evidence of “passion and patience” (Romans 5:3 MSG)

It was incredible being with this warrior mama. She took our BOLD classes and brought that boldness to her birth. It was also so great when as we talked in the last trimester about the type of birth she desired, she stepped out of her planned hospital birth- where her insurance was limiting her as to who she could go to- and she stepped into her heart and met with home birth midwives in the last month of her pregnancy. Home birth is what felt right to her and she trusted her heart.

(This birth narrative flows from two voices: first my voice and then that of my doula, Teresa Howard, as I have indicated in italics.)

Friday September 6th marked my 41st week of pregnancy, and it began like any other Friday before: as was routine for me, I woke up at 6am and got myself ready for work. Despite the surprised reactions from work associates in the days and weeks prior, I had no intentions of beginning my maternity leave early, as the limited days I would be able to spend with my newborn daughter were far too precious to me to consume before her arrival. That, and I was feeling perfectly fine – upbeat, chipper and very balanced. One word that was used most often throughout my pregnancy by others to describe my demeanor was “mellow,” and that’s exactly how I felt one week post-date. I was driving to the office when I decided to call my mother and let her know I was headed to work, which prompted a phone call en route because she was amazed that I was feeling well enough to go in. During our conversation, I went over what I had planned for the day: although I was going into the office, I had an 11am appointment to see the much-heralded Atlanta-based obstetrician Dr. Brad Bootstaylor at his Emory Hospital practice for a re-check on my amniotic fluid levels (I had seen Dr. Bootstaylor for the same exam the day before) since they were appearing low regardless of my own personal water intake. Now that I was post-dates, I was definitely being more closely monitored by my midwife group, especially too since my blood pressure had been elevated for the past few visits and I was deemed at risk for being preeclamptic.

Although her blood pressure seemed to have stabilized and her biophysical was 8/10 both on Thursday and Friday, her ultrasound had gone from having fluid of an AFI of 4.0cm down to 1.0cm within less than 24 hours. That was an indicator that her placenta was definitely not working as well as we had hoped. It showed some calcification on the ultrasound as well. (This was also evident after the birth in examining the placenta.) (more…)

September 7, 2013 at 8:21am

It’s become tradition to read the children’s birth story to them on their birthday, and I’d like to share it with you all, again! It dawned on me this time around how many of our friends were involved with this experience.

I’ve always heard “Ask and you shall receive,” but I now know that God truly has a sense of humor! Our son, Solomon, was due on September 6, 2003. That same day, my partner Kenyatta, Solomon’s father, was celebrating his tattoo studio’s 6 year anniversary. A party would take place that evening, full of music, many friends, family, and clientele, and lots of fun. But before the celebration, I was scheduled to get a massage from a friend of ours [Ragenia] who specializes in all types of therapy. She worked on me for almost two hours, and I believe my contractions started in the midst of the massage. Prior to making the appointment, I had a feeling a massage would “get things moving” on the day our son was due.

Afterwards, we arrived to the studio ready to party! A friend [Asali] that I ran into at the beginning of my pregnancy (who highly suggested that I purchase the book Birthing From Within), attended the party that evening, and also made the suggestion that I just enjoy myself and not get caught up in timing my contractions. Boy, what appropriate advice for me! I danced and danced and danced all night to good music that made me feel fine. When my contractions got stronger, I just closed my eyes and swayed back and forth to the music. At about midnight, September 7th, the contractions began to get stronger to the point that I had to sit down. Three girlfriends [ChiWanda, Amamansa and Meredith], which I called my personal doulas, lovingly cared for me; one rubbed my feet, one massaged my hands and the other placed cold cloths around my neck.

With my son’s godmother [Christy] organizing our departure by lining our car with plastic on my seat, Kenyatta and I were off to go…home. I did not realize I was in active labor, so I just wanted to go home and get some rest. Even with my contractions increasing in strength and discomfort, we, in fact, passed the hospital on the way home. Once we arrived to the house, I asked Kenyatta to run a bath with lavender for me (I was hooked on lavender’s aroma during my pregnancy!). Little did I remember from class that to slow down contractions in early labor, you take a bath. In active labor, taking a bath speeds up the process. Again, unbeknownst to me I was in active labor. So ten minutes out of the tub, after closing my eyes for only 10 seconds, I’m on the bed ready to push.

Kenyatta and I immediately performed our co-chanting, a technique we learned from our Birthing In Awareness class, by saying in unison, “OPEN!” It was time! I told Kenyatta to wake my mother and let her know her third grandson was on his way. When she arrived in the room, she said, “Um Kim, I don’t know if we should do this here.” I replied with, “Just let it flow, Mommy. Just let it flow.” My mother left to call the paramedics, but Solomon and I were in no mood to wait. From lying on my side, I instinctively got on all fours and began to push. Three or four good pushes did the trick. Kenyatta was on the phone with Solomon’s godmother and yelled, “I see the head!” Then, in Kimberly “the coordinator” fashion, I yelled, “Get the camera!” I took hold of Solomon’s head and with one final push guided him out. The paramedics arrived a few minutes later.

Now, from a chronological perspective, Kenyatta and I desired natural birth; to welcome our baby into the world without any outside manipulation. A friend of ours [Mika] informed us of a local doula’s classes [Teresa] called Birthing In Awareness (actually based on the suggested book mentioned above). I am 99.9% certain that this 6 week course prepared us for the amazing birth we were to experience. This class was greatly a reminder that if we “let our bodies give birth,” and truly listen to our intuition, we could have the natural childbirth we desired. I believe one of the class exercises specifically prepared us for this awesome birth. We had to create a living birth plan, as opposed to just a written plan for the hospital file. The living birth plan is a collage on poster board, filled with words and images of the things we desired for our birth. This way, regardless who would be on staff at the hospital, from the doctors and nurses to housekeeping personnel, anyone that walked into my room would be able to see what I did and did not want for the birth. But beyond this objective, I believe that by completing the exercise, we were making a special prayer of what our hearts truly desired. Some of the plan’s items read, “Do Not Speak/Offer Medication!” “The pain is strong, but you are STRONGER!” “Negative energy = Step Outside!” Everything we put on our living birth plan, we got…just in a different kind of way. The music, the people, even the lavender was all a part of the experience. More interesting to note is that the same picture of my grandmother, which was the focal point on the poster board, was on the dresser in the room where Solomon was born. Coincidence, I think not!

Because of my birth experience, I am seriously considering becoming a certified doula (a woman that helps another woman). I would love to encourage and assist women to be confident in giving birth and to reassure them that they have all the “internal tools” they need to have the birth they want. I would give birth at home again in a heartbeat, for what better way to guarantee the personal “comforts of home!”

From Solomon's 1st birthday!

From Solomon’s 1st birthday!

Patience was my lesson for both the pregnancy and birth of R; it was a theme that ran the entire nine months and even related to one of the positive affirmations I had affixed to our refrigerator in the weeks leading up to our planned home birth: “I welcome my coming labor and birth as the perfect one for my baby and me.”

Unlike during my pregnancy with first daughter, F. , when I felt I could have happily stayed pregnant for 10 months or more, I felt ready to bring R. into the world. I often told my husband and friends, “I know this [adding a child to the family] has to and is going to happen, so I feel like I’m just ready to get it on!” As my due date approached, my desire to hold my baby outside my body grew and my struggle with patience came to the forefront.

The day before I went into labor I was 39 weeks pregnant. I was supposed to go to Atlanta to spend the day with friends at a coffee shop while F. was in preschool, but I felt really tired so I decided to cancel and stay home. Instead, I took a brisk walk up and down our driveway in a light rain while listening to music and taking some time to meditate on my connection to the baby inside me. Then I took a morning nap until our patio furniture delivery arrived just before lunch. I then spent two hours outside in the sunshine removing the packaging from the furniture, lifting a heavy umbrella into its hole in the table, and just setting things up. I ate lunch, took a shower, and then did a yoga nidra for pregnancy that was sent to me by my doula.

I had told my doula earlier that week that I was struggling with patience and she suggested the yoga nidra practice to me as a way to connect to this baby and this pregnancy before giving birth. I wasn’t familiar with yoga nidra and was confused about why I felt like I was sleeping during the meditation, especially when I had just woken from a nap a couple hours before. It wasn’t until later that I googled yoga nidra and learned that it is a “nap meditation” or “yoga sleep” that puts your brainwaves into a sleep-like state for meditation. I certainly felt that I entered that state during that meditative time before I picked up F.  from school.

Later that evening after dinner I began to notice what I thought were probably Braxton Hicks contractions, although they were a little more uncomfortable than they had been the last couple months. They also seemed to consistently be about five minutes apart. I told my husband, B.  how I was feeling but didn’t make too much of it; in my mind and in all likelihood they could have abated and I could have easily spent another week or two pregnant. I was afraid to guess and be wrong, but I did think we should inflate the birth tub…just in case. So that evening before bed we inflated the tub. I texted my midwife and doula to let them know how I was feeling and to let them know that we would be going to sleep soon after. The contractions did enter my dreams and mildly wake me up during the night until about 1 or 2 am, but then they stopped and I slept through until we woke up with F. at 7 the next morning.

As soon as we woke up the contractions began again. B. decided to go to work and I didn’t encourage him otherwise. I had plans for a good friend of mine to visit with her daughter (who is F.’s  age) and newborn son. I told her I was having uncomfortable Braxton Hicks that I wanted to distract myself from and that I would welcome her company. In the hour it took her to drive up to our home in rural northwest Atlanta, however, the contractions began to change. They were just a little more intense, and a little closer together. Again, I began communicating with my doula and midwife to let them know how things were going. I also gave my mom a heads up that she might have to come pick up F. that day.

My friend arrived at around 10 that morning, and soon after she arrived I was starting to have to breathe and focus through my contractions. At 10:30 I texted again with my doula and midwife to let them know the contractions were lasting about 45 seconds and were about 3.5 minutes apart, and that I was starting to have to cope through them. They began to head my way. I also called my mom to pick up F.  and texted my husband to let him know he should come home. By that point I was fairly certain we were going to have a baby that day!

B. and our wonderful midwife arrived at about 11. My friend and her children left, and soon after the midwife’s apprentice arrived and then my parents arrived and scooped up F  to spend the day with them. The midwife suggested to B. just before F. left that she felt things would probably progress quickly once F. was out of the house. She also suggested he bring the tub upstairs (we set it up in our living room) and begin to fill it. I was open to a water birth, and at least desired to labor in the tub for this birth.

Stephanie Madson birth

Just before noon my doula arrived. I was feeling just a touch “pushy” – but none of the uncontrollable urges to push I felt with F.  The contractions so far had felt intense to some degree but not overwhelming at all; I felt much more mentally present than I had at my first birth. I began to feel like I might cry, and my midwife suggested I was going through transition, but it was hard for me to believe that the mild feelings I felt could be transition. Although my first birth had felt fairly mild until the pushing phase I also felt much more “out of body” that time than I did this. At that point I requested to be checked and my midwife found my cervix to be about 9+ centimeters. A little after 1:30, I began to feel the urge to push, but it still wasn’t that uncontrollable urge I felt with F.  For about an hour and a half I worked on pushing little R. out into the world.

I pushed some in the tub, but then became hot and decided to walk around. I tried different squatting positions around the house and eventually made my way into the tub again. A couple times I felt with my hand to see if I could feel her head but it wasn’t in or really even near the birth canal at all. I began to feel really discouraged. With F., the pushing phase took 30 minutes. At one point, my doula reminded me that it was time to let go of my birth of F. and focus on this birth in all its uniqueness. I began to focus my energy and mind on the new baby inside me and on our experience. Every time my mind began to wander back to my first birth or to flare with impatience, I acknowledged the feeling but then tried to refocus it back to the present. Still, I was discouraged at times. Part of me felt like she would never come and that I just wanted to give up. I was so thankful for the encouragement and support of everyone there.

I loved my midwives’ hands off approach. They were encouraging and always present, but for the most part just allowed the labor and birth process to unfold. But at this point it felt like being in the tub wasn’t working anymore; I felt I needed another suggestion to help bring the baby down, and I asked the midwife for something I could try. She suggested taking some time to push while sitting on the toilet, as that’s often a place that a woman’s body can help a baby come down since we are all so accustomed to opening up and pushing on a toilet already. I went with B.  into the bathroom and the midwives and doula were close by. I pushed through several contractions there and while she still wasn’t in the birth canal I could sense that things were changing. I think I wanted to make sure she wasn’t born on the toilet, so I told B. I wanted to do one more contraction there and then move. As soon as the next contraction ended, I decided I wanted to kneel on the floor at the foot of our bed. Our doula followed us in there, and as my pushing sounds began to change my midwife quickly joined her; she knew the baby was coming soon.

Pushing, once again, was the hardest part of labor for me, this time both because of my lesson with patience and also because it’s such an intense feeling for me. Some women describe pushing as a relief and the best part of labor for them; I am in the opposite camp. As she entered the birth canal I could again feel so vividly that feeling that I can only describe as something akin to bone against bone; although her head is designed to mold its way through the birth canal the intensity of it is almost unbelievable to me. I screamed that she was coming, and I began to scream, “Help.” I’m not sure what I thought anyone could do! In fact, B (who was my constant, loving supporter and companion through this entire process) asked me how he could help and I think I shrieked back, “I don’t know! Just touch me!” So he pressed his hand against me as she came down through me, and then he positioned his hands below my body and prepared to catch his baby girl as she came into the world.

“Her head is RIGHT here, sweetie!” he said. Those words were so encouraging to me. “I have her head!”

Another push, two, and she was out, into his hands, covered in vernix. Her cord was looped loosely around her shoulders, which probably had something to do with her slow descent. Everyone helped me sit down so I was sitting back against Bill’s legs and I pulled her up against my chest. A towel was laid over us. Little R. started rooting and sucking on her hand right away, so I nursed her even before the placenta was delivered. After the placenta came out, the midwife helped us into a beautiful “celebration bath” full of flowers. She and B took pictures as I sat floating the baby atop the warm water. Then B held the baby while I showered, and we all crawled into bed.

Stephanie Madson birth2

The midwives did a thorough exam on me and on the baby. She was 7 pounds, 10 ounces, 19.5 inches long, and perfectly healthy. A couple hours after she was born, the midwives left us to settle in with our new daughter. They came back for another exam the next day, did a phone check-up three days later, and another exam at one week postpartum. We weren’t without the postpartum support we needed, and our daughter’s birth was treated as the safe, joyous event that it was.

B and I marveled at how calm we felt about our home birth. I was considered a very low risk patient and we were aware of the risks of both hospital and home birth. For us, choosing a home birth was what we believed was the safest option for us and our baby, and now we see what a low-anxiety, spiritual, joyous experience it can truly be. I would never suggest home birth for every woman, but for many women it is a safe option for birth. For us, it was the option that made the most sense and is one we would choose again. Regardless of the location – hospital for F or home for R – I believe my soul mate and I enter the birth experience as if it is a spiritual practice we share with each other, and I believe that’s an experience you can achieve no matter where your story unfolds, if you seek it.

It is amazing how much women will learn from their first birth. Often they will work hard to make that birth not be repeated. This mom did that very thing!

 

In preparation for the birth of our second baby I attended a weekend class titled, “Fear to Freedom” {now called BOLD}. Eight other pregnant women attended.  We bonded as we talked about labor, fears, strengths, and visions for our upcoming births.  We also meditated; role played, and wrote birth mantras.  My mantra for this baby’s birth was:

 

I will work hard.

I will listen to my body and feel what it is telling me.

I will embrace the moment and the journey of the birth of my baby.

I own my birth.

          In addition to the “Fear to Freedom” class, Stan and I took a class on breast-feeding and sought out a doula and midwife practice that would be conducive to a normal labor and birth. Teresa led the weekend workshop and the breastfeeding class that we took. She helped me feel supported and empowered to make the birth and breastfeeding experience I envisioned a reality.  We found Intown Midwifery in Atlanta, a practice that prides themselves on treating women and birth with respect and helping them through the process.  After interviewing several doulas, we decided to hire Colleen.  She would be a gentle, guiding force throughout the preparation, labor, and birth of our baby.

The birth I envisioned was intervention free and done on my terms. Our first baby was born after several interventions including Pitocin, a doctor breaking my water, an epidural, and several long uncomfortable hours unable to eat or drink in the hospital.  That was not going to happen to my baby and me again!  It was important to me to be alert and aware to breast-feed my baby from the moment s/he was born.  I did not want this baby taken away from me for any reason at all.

Saturday morning, 11/17/2012, we went for a family walk along the Chattahoochee River, my favorite place to walk or run. Later that afternoon the very early stages of labor started while Stan and I were at the movie theater seeing Lincoln.  Lucky was at his best friend Presley’s house.  I got up every 30-40 minutes during the movie to go to the restroom.  I felt restless. I felt like something may be happening.  I was in a good mood. After the movie and a nice dinner at Marlow’s Tavern, we went to pick Lucky up. As we were leaving Presley’s house with Lucky he said, “See you tomorrow!”  Cary, Dawn, Stan and I all laughed about how funny it would be if we had to bring Lucky back to their house the next day, if I was in labor.

That evening I started to have very light contractions.  They felt like light period cramps wrapping from my back around my hips. That night I went to bed and woke up around midnight to Frankie, our dog, whimpering to go out. I prodded Stan to get up and let her out but he was too out of it (Stan is a deep sleeper).  Frustrated, I got out of bed and let her out. I went to the restroom and saw a welcome sign, my mucus plug started to come out. This was exciting and I continued to have light contractions. I texted Colleen, the doula that was going to help us with the labor and birth of this baby. I also understood that even though my mucous plug came out, it could still be several days before the baby would be born. I took a shower around midnight and laid on the couch to try and get some sleep.

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12/23/2012

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I started having contractions around 9:00 in the morning on December 10, 2012.  The contractions were stronger than the usual Braxton-hicks I’d been having, and they were more frequent.  They were as consistent as my contractions usually get, and over the course of the morning they were getting closer together at times.  However, with my two previous birth experiences my contractions didn’t get consistent and/or regular until the very end of the labors; so with this being my third, I didn’t know what to expect or how quickly it would go.

I decided to call Teresa, our doula, after we ate lunch at about 12:30 pm.  At this point I was exactly 37 weeks pregnant, so it was early which made me question whether or not this was the real thing.  I talked to Teresa about all this, and she suggested I call Intown Midwifery and see about going in for a labor check.  We called Intown on our drive down, and I went in to get checked while my husband continued to drive around with our two sleeping kids in the car.  I got checked about 2:30 pm, and I was 4 cm dilated, about 40% effaced, and -1 station.  Emile suggested hanging around the area to see if my contractions would get closer together, because at this point it would be hard to say if I was actually in labor or not.  She told me that it is possible to sustain a pregnancy on 4 cms dilation, so it was still too early to make that determination.  I went back downstairs and outside to call my husband to come back and pick me up, and then I made a couple more phone calls to make arrangements for my kids.  I called Teresa to discuss what was going on, and I let her know that while I had been standing outside for the past 30 minutes walking and talking on the phone, the contractions seemed to be coming more quickly, at about every 2 minutes.  I asked her to come on down and that we were going to go over to the hospital. (more…)

(Teresa’s comments are following the bullets and Lauren’s story inserts are italics. Lauren and Matt took the Wisdom for Birth Classes we offer.)

  •  Lauren stated contracting around 8 pm the night before. The contractions were mild and irregular.

I had decided to take this week off of work to start my maternity leave. This was one week before Aiden’s due date. Three days went by of being off work and I wasn’t feeling any different from weeks prior. I was able to relax and get some things done around the house in preparation of the birth. On Wednesday night Sep 12’th around 8pm I started feeling very gentle contractions about 30 minutes apart. I wasn’t sure if they were real contractions due to them being so mild. At first I was under the impression they were Braxton hicks contractions which I had been experiencing in weeks prior. When I noticed the contractions were consistently 30 minutes apart I began to come to the conclusion that my labor had in fact began.

  • She slept from 9 pm to midnight.

I went to bed around 9-9:30 and slept for a few hours and woke up from the contractions becoming slightly more aggressive. This made me feel very excited to know that the day had come. I called my fiancé Matt and asked him to come home from a friend’s house. Upon Matt’s arrival (about 1am) I asked him to take a walk with me. We walked around the block once and the contractions began to be consistently 15-20 minutes-ish apart.

  • 9/13 She called me at 3 am with some concerns but I told her what she was seeing was normal.

Since the walk the contractions stayed the same intensity and distance apart, I chose to call Teresa to inquire about the brown discharge I had noticed when I went to the restroom. I knew a bloody show would be normal… However, I wasn’t sure if the brown was normal. Teresa assured me that the brown color was nothing to be alarmed about. Teresa also explained to me that I could be in labor for another 30+ hours and to try to get some more sleep. Teresa suggested  to take a warm bath and drink a glass of wine to relax my body and maybe slow the contractions to allow my body to sleep some more in order to gain strength for the remainder of the birth. I did as she instructed, and was able to relax enough to get about 3 more hours of sleep.

This is the birth story of my third child.  My first son Wyatt was born after my water broke at 38 wks and not knowing what I know now, I went on in to the hospital and allowed them to start me on pitocin after only 4 hours of not contracting.  I ended up with a posterior baby, pain medication, an epidural plus three hours of pushing.  Needless to say, when the time came for my second son Sawyer, I was determined to do things differently.  I switched providers and hospitals, planned a waterbirth, and hired a doula.  Mission accomplished.  I had an unmedicated waterbirth that was fast and furious.  I was a “park and push”…showed up to the hospital at 9 cm and had a baby within 30 minutes. It was empowering and overwhelming, yet scary because everything happened so fast.  It scared my husband Shane too.  He felt like we “barely made it there.”

When I found out I was pregnant with our third baby, I knew I was going all natural waterbirth again. As I entered the third trimester, I started to become anxious over the position of the baby.  I think I just knew that this one was going to give me some trouble for some reason. Every time I had my midwife palpate my tummy, the baby was anything but head down. But I stayed calm and listened to them about how it’s not an issue and babies almost always turn head down.  BUT, even if the baby was breech, it was okay too because I could have a vaginal breech birth.  And I would do it because that’s just how I roll. 😉

But as the weeks passed, Baby Lloyd v3.0 decided that transverse (sideways) was the most comfy position to lie. And I knew something for certain…babies couldn’t come out sideways!  I did it all to try to turn the baby…chiropractor for Webster technique, moxibustion (basically burning some stinky incense that sticks off of your pinky toe), forward leaning inversions off the couch, and lots of reading on the Spinning Babies website about how to encourage optimal fetal positioning.  I talked to the baby, I begged the baby, and I cried some. Then at 36 weeks, I had an ultrasound to confirm, and yes, baby was still transverse.  I discussed and external cephalic version (ECV) with my backup OB/Perinatologist and while he didn’t think it was 100% necessary (he remained steadfast that labor will often turn a baby into a birthable position), he agreed to do it when I was almost 37 weeks. We had the room at the hospital booked and everything.  (more…)

Quick back story: 3 weeks before I gave birth, my father passed away unexpectedly. Our relationship was very complicated. About 5 years ago he came to live with my husband and I because he could no longer take care of himself, so for most of my adult life our roles have been reversed in terms of a traditional parent/child relationship, but he was still my dad and it was earth shattering when he passed away. He was looking forward to becoming a grandfather for the first time, so the timing of everything made it especially heartbreaking. I had spent so much of my pregnancy mentally preparing for birth, and losing my father suddenly set everything into chaos for me mentally and emotionally.

My official due date was February 27th, but I was certain I was going to be late. First babies are always late, right? So when good friends set their wedding date for the 25th, we didn’t hesitate rsvping yes. At this point I was huge and only one dress fit, but I knew this would probably be the last event we’d attend before baby came and we were looking forward to celebrating after how heavy the last few weeks had been for both us after losing my father. When we got to the country club for the reception I began to experience what I would describe as pressure in my lower back. I didn’t think anything of it because even women who experienced back labor felt contractions in their stomach and I was feeling absolutely nothing in my stomach, so I thought this could possibly be the back pain some women complain about later in pregnancy or I had to go the bathroom. So for the next 3 hours the pressure remained and I probably visited the ladies room 30 times thinking my body was telling me I needed to use the restroom. I didn’t mention it to my husband because I didn’t think anything of it and he didn’t notice my frequent bathroom trips b/c I’ve been peeing every 30 minutes for the last 9 months. As we got closer to the sparkler departure, I began to question whether this could possibly be labor because this “pressure” began to turn into waves of pressure and even though I was only experiencing everything in my back – I knew the wave sensation could be an indication of contractions.

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