Thursday, March 28, 2013

Natural birth with Laura

Wednesday the 13th I was 38 1/2 weeks pregnant and went into labor. I had been having contractions all day and at about 8:00pm they became very regular and strong. I labored at home until my husband, Logan, got off work at 12:30am. Once he got home we spent some time together and then headed to the hospital. His sister came over and stayed with the kids. At the hospital I progressed to a 3 and then all of the sudden my labor stopped. We went home early Thursday morning a little disappointed and very tired.

Over the next few days I tried to relax and kick start my labor as best I could. I took a pretty picture of myself and tired to enjoy the end of my pregnancy. By Monday my contractions started again but much in the same manner. They were every 10 or 15 minutes through out the day and I just tired to ignore them not wanting to get my hopes up. After dinner they became every 5 minutes but I was still able to do the dishes and clean the house. I started to watch some TV but they were getting stronger so I hoped in the shower. By 9pm they were strong enough that I could no longer ignore them and couldn't concentrate on the show I was watching.

I didn't want to have another false alarm so instead of calling Logan to come home from work I called my Mom and asked her to take me to the hospital. She was giving my Dad a hair cut when I called and said she would finish up real fast then he would hop in the shower and they would head over. About an hour later (10:30pm) she and my Daddy arrived at my house. (After I called her twice to ask them to hurry) My Dad ran inside to watch our kids and I ran out to the car. I only had about 3 or 4 contractions in the car (a 30 minute drive), which I was grateful for since sitting during them was super uncomfortable but it worried me that since they were getting far apart we wouldn't be admitted.

When we got to the hospital the maternity floor was super busy so we had to wait in the ER for about 20 minutes. Once we finally made it to the OB Triage they had to monitor fetal heart tones and contractions for 20 minutes before I could be admitted. I was checked and told I was 3. Which I had been about for 1 week! It was disappointing and I was told that if I didn't progress in the next hour I would be sent home. I was able to sit for about 10 minutes before I decided I couldn't sit any longer. The nurse and my midwife kept telling me that I needed to sit down so they could get their records but it was just not possible. Even though I had not been admitted yet I called my husband and told him I needed him to come because I knew it was happening and I needed him there. I don't remember this happening but my Mom said Laura, my midwife, checked me again and I was a 4 so they would get a room ready. I only remember telling her that even if she didn't admit it they would have to carry me out because there was no way I could walk.

From the time it took him to get off work and to the hospital I was admitted and had my IV started for my antibiotics (because I was positive for strep B). When my nurse was getting ready to start my IV she asked me to sit down, which I knew I couldn't do so I made her do it while I was standing. I later learned this was the first time she did that and she was super nervous I was going to pass out. Haha silly nurse! Logan got there at about 12:30 am and I was SOOO happy to see him. My other 2 labors my contractions had all been in my back but this time they were all in my front. I was unprepared for this and in my opionion they were worse! I begged the nurse to get the tub (because apparently waiting one more second was to long for me!) and got in it before it was even ready.

With the others I didn't like the tub because I couldn't get into the right position because of the back labor but this time it felt soooooo good. The WONDERFUL Laura repeated birthing affirmations the entire time and I was so grateful for that. I felt like a puppet and anything she told me to do I did. 

"Now relax your shoulders." Shoulder got limp. 
"Now relax your stomach." slow breath out. 
"Now relax your mind." Totally blank mind.

Her sweet soft voice was so peaceful and comforting. The warm water on my back felt amazing and having my wonderful husband and my Mother there was perfect! After what seemed like a very long time for me I told Laura (pictured below) I wanted her to check me. Since I was in the tub she couldn't see what she was doing and could only feel blindly. She felt around for a while and then said, "I can't seem to find your cervix" I thought that was REALLY strange and wondered if that was bad, but quickly after she said that she proclaimed in a very surprised voice "Oh my! Its because your a 9!" 

Music to my ears! After the next contraction I got out of the tub, asked her to break my water and was ready to push! I pushed on my hands and knees for a while, then switched to my back and used the mirror to help guide me. Baby Rutledge Logan was born at 1:14am.

After he was born and the nurse announced that his birth time was 1:14 am I burst into tears and thanked Laura for not sending me home. I had no clue that it had only been 1 hour and 45 minutes since she had said they might send me home. If I had gone home I probably would have had the baby on the freeway! 
I went from a 3 to baby in 1 hour and 45 minutes!! 
This is probably the biggest reason my husband says it was like the devil came out of me. I was very in control with my last labor, which was also all natural. I felt calm through it and was able to adjust to the pain as it came. 

This time I felt like my body was out of control and there was nothing I could do except listen to my midwife tell me to relax. I was extremely demanding with this labor and kept telling everyone what to do. I begged my midwife to not stop talking and at one point during the pushing I yelled at my husband to get me ice, which I actually feel really bad about. He said he didn't know I had a cup of ice and he thought I meant I wanted him to leave the room to go get some. Which of course I didn't, I would have been more mad if he had left, he knew that so instead he just held my hand. After I told him there was ice in my cup he handed it to me and I dumped a whole handful on my face and neck. 

It still scares me how fast it all happened and makes me worried for the next child. During the admitting process one of the questions they asked me was if I had a history of rapid progression. I said no, but now I know that next time I will have to say yes! 

The best thing about doing it natural in my opinion is the recovery. I don't even really feel like I was in labor, I just feel totally normal again! About 30 minutes after Rutledge was born he was getting weighed and examined across the room and I got up and walked over to watch. The babies nurse didn't see me get up and was shocked when she looked back and realized I was standing by her. After I watched for a few minutes (and the nursing asking me a million times if I needed to sit because she didn't want me passing out) I went to the bathroom. After that I went back to the bed to rest. When my nurse came back in the room she asked me if I wanted to get up to pee but I told her I already had. She was SHOCKED and that's when she told me I was unlike any other patient she had every had. 

"You make me do your IV standing!"
 "You go to the bathroom by yourself!"
"What am I going to do with you!"

I felt like saying to her, "Haha I'm sorry but I didn't realize that that was uncommon. I just had a baby naturally woman, I can handle anything!"Or maybe I did say it, I'm not sure.

Rutledge weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces and was 18 3/4 inches long with a head circumference of 13 inches. He was my smallest baby, but his head was the same as my daughters.

This photo was taken after I went to the bathroom and got dressed again. Feeling sooo happy that labor was over and that I was holding my baby in my arms and not in my tummy!

Right after his bath

Thank you soo much Laura! I truly believe that if it was not for you telling me to relax I would have had a mental break down. 
I am so grateful for all the midwives at VWFW!

Proud Mom: Clarissa

The Story of Addison’s Birth

Addison was due on June 3rd 2012. Her original due date was May 27th, Austin’s birthday. Even though I felt huge, and school (I am a teacher), was just over when Austin’s birthday came around, I was happy that I made it through that weekend. We packed it full of eating, and outings with friends and it was a kinda last hurrah of the life we knew as just the two of us and our then mostly childless friends. By the middle of that next week, I was bored and just plain uncomfortable. - at home alone, obsessing over the dust I seemed to be able to find everywhere. I took Cooper, our dog, to the park and watched TV, but I never was good with being unoccupied. My Mother in-law came down for a couple of nights that week. She kept me company and cleaned every nook and cranny of the house. I felt at least, when the baby did come, the house was in good shape and the laundry was caught up. Friday of that week, Pam left, and I remember telling her and Bryan (my father-in-law) before they headed back up the hill, “Well, hopefully we aren't calling you to come back down as soon as you get up there!” mostly joking. Little did we know - Addison already had a sense of humor. My Mom came over and suddenly we were running tons of errands. We were off to the second hand baby store, on a hunt for some kind of specific fern that sucks out toxins and bad voo doo out of the nursery, and finally a pedicure, even with my protesting. The nail tech was nice enough to ask me if the swelling in my feet was due to “all the extra weight” and then had the gall to ask how much I weighed. Ugh! At any rate, I would have pretty, puffy feet when I went into labor. :)
My husband, Austin made dinner that night and I was camped out on the couch. When he announced dinner was ready and I attempted to get off the couch, I got a jolt of pain. It stopped me right in my tracks. I told Austin but basically thought it was a shifting pain, and nothing more. Against my better judgement, I went ahead and ate dinner. That ended up being a mistake!
Contractions continued through that hour about 10 minutes apart and I called the midwife line. After speaking to Diane, she confirmed it sounded like I was in labor. I called my Mom and best friend, Kelli to put them on notice. Austin called his parents when it looked like it was real, I was in early labor. They had of course, just gotten home. So Austin told them to shower, pack a bag and head on back.
Contractions only stayed about 10 minutes apart for the first hour - then took a violent shove into FAST. Suddenly they were 4 minutes apart, I could hardly recover in between, and I even lost my dinner. I began to think I might just have food poisoning and that I wasn't really having a baby. :) We called Diane again to update her, let her know I was now suddenly about 4 minutes apart and that I was getting sick. She assured Austin that this was all very normal and to come on in when we felt it was “time”. I did my best to labor at home, pacing about the house and getting in and out of the hot shower. Finally, around midnight, I decided I wanted to go in and we grabbed our stuff to go to Gilbert Mercy. Sitting or holding still during contractions seemed to be an impossible feat. As I stood by the Kia passenger door I remember asking Austin, “How long does it take us to get there?” He replied - about 10 - 15 minutes. I thought,  “Dear God, I can’t do this. I am going to have to SIT through 3 or more contractions!” So - I did my best to make due, and sat in the car with my knees on for floorboard, facing the seat. I did have about 4 contractions in the car on the way there and started to feel like I was going to get sick again just as we pulled up to the hospital, so my grand entrance had me hanging my head out window like a dog. :)
We checked in via the ER and I am pretty sure I scared most of the waiting patients. I was pacing around, groaning, and woman approached me and said “ I know you are unhappy right now, but in a little while, you’re going to be SO happy”. She was more than right.
In general, I think we were both feeling that it was all happening SO FAST. Here you have 10 months to prepare and NOW its happening all too fast! :) I think we expected it to start slow, contraction here and there, stay at home for a long while and labor there. I only ended up laboring at home for 4.5 hours before I was 4 minutes or less apart and just felt like it was really time to go. Austin was a trooper, coaching me and staying totally calm (at least on the outside :)  )
Apparently I looked like I was going to have this baby any moment, because the admitting person brought me a wheelchair instead of waiting for them to come down and get me. I looked at that chair as if it were the iron maiden. I told her “I can’t sit in that”. She says “Its a long walk”. I told her “ I’ll walk, I don’t care” . Basically, walking was not an option  - so I reluctantly sat, splayed out like a starfish and away we went.
We finally got to our destination and I saw Diane, the midwife on call, sitting at communal area for doctors and nurses. I told her “I have an appointment with you on Monday that I don’t think I am going to make”. She coyly replied, “Good, I didn’t want to see you anyway” :)
I was taken into tirage to be hooked up to a monitor and asked lots of irrelevant questions. Being made to hold still for that first 20 minutes of monitoring was sheer torture. But at last, I was free. Diane checked me and I was 4.5 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I was considered to be in good active labor and was released to walk the halls until a room was ready for me.
It was a full moon, and the maternity ward was completely full. After walking my one lap around the ward, a room was almost ready for me. I went in to use the restroom and my water broke. There was no mistaking it. They changed me into dry clothes and I asked if they could get an epidural going for me as I didn’t think I could make it to my goal of 6cm. I was worried that with my water breaking that things were going to get even more intense. By this time, Kelli, Pam and Bryan had arrived to join my Mom. I felt like I was being squeezed by a giant python and was sitting on the bed, unable to move around any longer because I was getting IV fluids in preparation for my epi. Suddenly, feelings shifted and it was as if I was possessed. I started to utter guttural noises like some sort of ape, and could not open my eyes or respond to anyone with real words. The nurse asked if I felt like I needed to push and I could hardly render a response. They decided to check me again and I had progressed from 4.5 to 8 in that last hour!
The nurse asked Diane under her breath if I still wanted to epi. I could only violently shake my head. I knew I was towards the end, however, it was all happening SO FAST I could hardly adjust and I felt like I just could not make it through one more contraction and I needed some reprieve. I was however, worried about getting the epi so close to what felt like the end, as I was worried I would not be able to push well. The anesthesiologist told me he would put it in light and that I would then have a button to push to control it. The process of getting the epi was fast, but a total blur. It is clear to me now that I was in the “transition” stage of labor, the phase we were warned would be the toughest - and often when women think they can’t take it any longer. This was me! I suppose when you are that overwhelmed and in that much pain you can not rationalize to yourself to “wait it out”. At the point I felt like she was coming too fast for me to deal with.
I was sat up on the table and bent over a pillow for the epi to be placed. All I remember was grabbing for hands to hold to get me through the couple of contractions I had while the process was taking place. If someone asked me if getting the epi hurt, I couldn't tell ya. All I know is he was done pretty quickly and telling me to lay back.I could feel a wonderful tingly sensation and the medicine slowly started to take the edge off. It was such a relief!
Poor Austin, apparently in mental survival mode, hit a wall at this point. The nurses got me comfortable, and made a bed for him as well. It was nearly 2am at this point and we thought we would be having her very very soon. With things calming down, he laid down to rest for a while, and so did I.
Time goes by, I am flipped and rotated like a rotisserie chicken in order to help her head come down. Suddenly, its light out, and I am thinking - “What in the world? Things were going so FAST and now this?” I thought for sure I would have her by daylight. By 8am my contractions had begun to slow quite a bit and so they decided to put me on pitocin on order to encourage my contractions to stay strong and close together. A few hours later, I was finally at 9 cm, and Austin was sleeping like a baby. My Mom, Kelli and Pam would come here here and there to check on me or help turn me.
The epi was still working, however at times I would need to press the button again as the medicine settled and parts began to come alive again. We continued the impatient waiting game. Hours went by, but I was told by Diane and the nurse there was no point in them continuing to check me until I, myself noticed a change in pressure. I rested here and there, but also watched the clock change from 9am - noon. Diane assured me that we would simply, wait. I was fine, she was fine, and she would make her way down eventually. Finally, around 2:00pm, we were ready to push. I made sure Austin heard that and told him “OK honey, we are getting ready to push now, need you to get up” :) We were both well rested (so to speak) at that point and had maybe, adjusted to the idea that this was actually happening. Our labor and delivery nurse gave me a quick tutorial on pushing, Austin made a couple calls to put everyone on notice and just like that, away we went.
I got the hang of it and we were making good progress. The strangest part was how calm the room was. You see on the movies, lots of screaming and hand-breaking. It was not the most comfortable thing in the world, but surprisingly, calm. When we got close, Diane asked if I wanted a mirror, I declined. She then asked if I wanted to feel her head. I did - she had hair! After 9 + months of waiting, there WAS actually a baby in there! It sounds so silly but it was amazing to actually be able to touch her and not just imagine this little person. Within 45 minutes from start to finish, we went from pregnant, to parents! 

Our baby girl (as she was not yet named ) was placed on my chest. It was at this moment that Austin in his dazed and excited stooper, “I’m thinking about the name Addison”.  From then on our “Little Peanut” would be known as Addison Ray McLaren. Surreal - does not even begin to cover it. She was here! I really can’t even say what exact emotion I had, it was a combination or relief, excitement, and love for this new little person we were just meeting. For some time, I just held her, Austin over my shoulder, touching her and saying hello while nurses scurried around, hardly noticed, taking her APGAR score and getting me cleaned off. We stayed this way for a while, just admiring her. When I was ready, I handed her off to a nurse for a quick bath and for her stats to be taken. She was born at 3:03pm on June 2nd, 7 pounds 6 oz, 21 ¾ inches and perfect. Even at only a few minutes old, she was the spitting image of us both. Wide-eyed and taking it all in.

While she was being attended to, I got cleaned up and changed. Suddenly I was “unpregnant” and we had a baby in the room with us. Austin went out to share photos with our parents and we were moved to our recovery room. Soon after, they all came in to see us and to meet Addison. We spent that night and the next in the hospital. We came home a family of 4, (can’t forget about Cooper!) Mommy and Daddy as well as husband and wife. We had no idea how much that our little Monkey would change our lives forever. :)

Well, that’s pretty much it. In short, the story of how our little Addison Ray came into this world, and made our lives better, happier and more complete. On the days when she is a teenager, and driving us nuts - I know I will enjoy having this to look back on and remember my thoughts and feelings at this time. Our labor and birth experience was truly a defining moment in my life - as a woman, a wife, and now a Mother. I have never been more proud of myself and what my body was capable of. I think it changes your relationship as husband and wife as well, our bond was deepened that day and we both found a new respect for eachother. We made a new life together, she was and is a little piece of both of us... - and here I thought joining our phone plans was a big deal. :)

Proud Momma: Ashley

Friday, March 15, 2013

9.3 pounds! Lucy's Baby born with Belinda

The midwives at Valley Women for Women helped me have the natural birth that I wanted. 

My birth story starts 11 days after my son was due. That's when he decided he was good and ready to come out and meet the world. 

At 5am I felt a leak, so I got into the shower. Sure enough my water broke, and I thought to myself "my baby is coming today!" I was worried I wouldn't recognize contractions because I've never felt them before. I need not have worried, they started almost immediately after my water broke and it was a very distinct cramping. Even though I had planned to labor at home for hours before going to the hospital, I couldn't wait. 

I soon realized that just because your water breaks doesn't mean it is over and done with. I kept leaking. The nurses in triage at Mercy Gilbert gave me a huge pad. The contractions hurt, and I threw up into one of those convenient blue paper bags. All together I threw up three times because of the pain. My husband helped me through the pain by putting pressure on my lower back and by rocking my legs back and forth when I lay on my back in the hospital bed. 

My birth plan was simple: It was important to me that I deliver my baby naturally. When I asked Belinda to check me in the labor and delivery room she said I was 3cm. At this point I was allowed to use the birthing pool. It cut the pain WAY down. My husband wasn't able to push on my back in this position, so instead he gave me hand massages. My hands were not linked to the pain, but it provided me with emotional support. I felt very connected to him. It soothed me as he rubbed my hands through the contractions. All in all I LOVED the birthing pool and would recommend it highly!

During this first stage of labor, I would take the pain as long as I could, and then demand a position change. I went from the bed to the shower to the tub to the birthing ball then back to the bed and so on. The BEST position was when I was in the shower on all fours, and my husband sprayed warm water on my lower back during the contractions. My least favorite was the birthing ball. When position changes no longer distracted me from the pain, I would ask Belinda to come and check on me. I was 6cm during the next check. And the one after that was 9.5cm. 

Then everything slowed down. My contractions stopped coming as frequently. This was the stage between the first stage of labor and the pushing contractions. My body was letting me rest before the pushing started. Only I didn't see it that way. I became frustrated because it was taking so long, and that everyone was waiting for me to have a baby but here I was stalled in the process. The pain was bad. There is no escape, but I would squirm around in an attempt to free myself from bodily pain. My pain management was 100% Michael pushing down on my lower back. That helped so much. I would also tell myself to "surrender" to each contraction. I was so grateful that the pain was always followed by some relief. Pain. Relief. 

When the pushing contractions finally came, they were pathetic! I was told that I would feel the urge to push. But mine were short and weak and far apart! I could barely get a good push in before it would fizzle out. I was getting frustrated! Belinda had to help me by putting pressure on the area that I should concentrate pushing on. After a while I felt more confident in pushing. So in between contractions I would say "come on contraction, let's do this, I can do this!" I pushed as hard and for as long as I could, but it seemed like that baby was going nowhere. In the meantime they kept checking his vitals. He was a champion through all this. After agonizing minutes of slow, weak contractions and pushing with all my might... Belinda would tell me to push more and push harder. I kept upping my game but it was taking everything that I had. Plus my contractions weren't working with me. I lay on my back with my husband holding my left leg and my mom holding my right. (After everything was over I learned that I ended up injuring both of them because of the muscle strain I put them through.) And then... I looked down and saw my baby's head coming from my body. My exact words were "that is so weird". Two pushes (or so) later and out he came. Belinda had pulled out my baby boy, and words cannot express what a happy moment that was. They say his hands and his umbilical cord were gathered up by his neck when he came out. Belinda thinks this is why my pushing contractions were so atypical. My body needed to go slow to keep the baby's heart rate from going too low. 

They put him on my chest but he was wheezing pretty bad. So they cut the cord and whisked him away and got rid of the wheeze. My husband told me he loved me and gave me a kiss. He told me he was going to go with our son to be weighed and he would be right back. The weighed him at 9 pounds 3 ounces, 21.5 inches long. When he was cleaned up they gave him back to me and I couldn't believe what was happening. This little baby started to root to my nipple. He practically crawled up my chest and he was lifting up his head and everything! 

I am so proud of myself for doing this without any drugs. Not even an IV! It took 14 hours of labor, but I did it! I look back on this with pride and I feel like I can do anything now! In hindsight the pain is impossible to remember. It was so worth the pain! Along with the good feelings there were some struggles. Some women have an easy time breast feeding, but I struggled as soon as I left the hospital. Also, I was told that I would experience a moment of a euphoric feeling of pure love for my baby. When it didn't come in the hospital, and then in the weeks after, I felt that there was something wrong with me! I realized that for some women, the love happens over time. I love my son so much that it doesn't matter how I fell in love with him. I learned so much from this experience. And almost everyday I think about Belinda and how she helped me bring my beloved son into this world. She is also the hero of my story, because she kept us calm and focused. Even after I got home she helped me get better when I would call in with questions. Thank you Belinda, and all the midwives that helped me along the way!

Shared by Lucy

Twins: Weston and Isaac's Birth Story

Part One:
After many months of preparing and learning (using mainly the Bradley Method), we were able to achieve the natural, unmediated childbirth that we had hoped for. We had a beautiful, peaceful labor and a delivery that can only be described as "dramatic" but one which God's hand of protection was completely involved in every step of the way. We also have to thank our incredible team of nurse-midwifes who took such wonderful care of us during the pregnancy and allowed us to let the twins come when they were ready (which happened to be 6 days past their estimated due date) and encouraged us to still go for a natural birth, even though Isaac was breech until around 38 weeks (when he turned on his own). Truly, I can not say enough positive things about midwife care - personal, encouraging, sensitive, relaxed and fun. I've honestly missed those ladies since we've had the twins - something I would never say about any other health care provider I've ever had. 

Now, without further ado, here is part one of Weston and Isaac's birth story: 

Friday night October 14th, after trying for ten straight days to induce labor naturally at home, I was pretty desperate. Desperate enough to make this video, and crazy enough to actually post my shenanigans on the Internet. Pregnancy does strange things to people. 

Saturday morning around 10:00 a.m. I started having mild, but consistent Braxton Hicks contractions, about 30 minutes apart. By that afternoon, I was having stronger, but still mild, contractions about 10 minutes apart. Devin was ready to rush to the hospital, but I wanted to wait. I didn't feel they were strong enough yet. Around 9:00 p.m. we called our midwife and doula to let them know what was going on and decided to try and get some rest as we assumed we'd be heading to the hospital later that night. 

Well. After timing contractions all night long, we were no better rested and no further along in labor. By 1:00 p.m. on Sunday I was very discouraged and very tired. I called the midwife on-call (Diane) to give her an update and beg her for some tips to get labor going stronger. Her recommendation was to "Stop timing contractions for heaven sakes and relax! Ignore the contractions until you can't anymore." She also may have prescribed "sex and a shot of whiskey"... which we may or may not have tried... 

Afterwards... I was able to sleep for a couple of hours and woke up to much stronger contractions about five-to-ten minutes apart. This is when I would say my labor actually started in earnest. I had to move around to manage the contractions - I sat on a yoga ball, did a lot of swaying and dipped into plié squats. As the contractions increased in intensity, I found it most comfortable to lean forward against the wall or door jam, do some pliés and have Devin press against my lower back. We turned the lights down, lit some candles and listened to praise and worship music. So while the contractions were intense, I was very peaceful and relaxed laboring at home. Devin was such an amazing coach - softly speaking words of encouragement to me during contractions and making sure I drank plenty of water and ate a little something in-between contractions. He was my hero the whole night. 

In labor and ready to go to the hospital
Around 6:30 p.m. we had our doula, Jacqueline, come over and I labored a little in bed with Devin rubbing my back and Jacqueline rubbing my legs/feet. Around 8:00 p.m. contractions were still very strong and about four minutes apart. I decided it was time to go to the hospital because I didn't think I could handle more than four or five of these contractions in the car (it was about a fifteen minute drive). 

When we got to the hospital, I had to concentrate very hard on my labor and try to drown out anything else that was going on around me in the waiting room. I hate hospitals and the last thing I wanted was to get distracted or stressed and slow down my labor. Finally, I got checked-in and Diane was right there to meet us in triage. She checked my progress and was delighted to announce that I was already at 6cm and 90% effaced. I was so excited that I'd progressed that much on my own at home in such a relaxed atmosphere. 

Laboring in the tub - so grateful that our midwives
pushed for the hospital to get one of these 
We moved into the labor room and because I wasn't hooked up to an IV, epidual or any monitors, I was able to sit in a labor tub which was beyond amazing. I'm not even kidding when I say being in that warm water cut the pain in half. It also made it easier for me to move around and maintain a low squat while relaxing on the side of the tub. We had the lights low, the room quite and worship music on softly. Devin was constantly by my side offering love and encouragement and pressing my back through each contraction. Jacqueline was there to assist Devin and she quoted uplifting scripture verses often. Diane sat back and let me run things, only checking the babies' heart rates every-once-in-a-while, but otherwise staying hands-off an allowing Devin and I (with Jacqueline's assistance) to do what we needed to do. Diane kept the "hospital feel" of the labor down to a bare minimum and I was so grateful. While it was certainly difficult physically, I felt at peace and was in complete control of my labor. 

I started transition around 2:00 a.m. (maybe??) and the contractions were very intense and one right on top on another. If I wasn't in the tub, I was shaking like crazy and in horrible discomfort. It was incredibly hard, but I knew transition meant it would be time to push soon and meet my babies. I was so focused on the labor that I had to come out of a comma-like haze anytime someone asked me a question or gave me something to drink.

Then, I'm not sure what happened (neither were our doula or midwife), I just seemed to stall. I was still in transition with horribly intense, constant contractions, but I just stayed in that phase for hours. I think maybe my body was just worn-out because even though contractions were only minutes apart, I was falling asleep in-between them. It was an exhausting few hours, but I knew my body was doing what it needed to do and I was thankful to have a birth team that wasn't rushing me or telling me I had "failure to progress." 

Sometime between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. I started trying to push while in the tub. Then I moved to the bed and pushed a few times on my hands and knees and then used the squat bar. It was so helpful to be able to move around like I needed to. It helped me feel calm and in-control, which helped me to be able to manage the labor better. 

By 6:30 a.m. Diane announced it was time to move into delivery. Unfortunately, with twins, the hospital policies forced us to delivery in the O.R. "just in case". As they wheeled me into the O.R. I had to fight really hard to stay focused and calm - the peaceful atmosphere of the labor room was replaced by movement, bright lights and lots of people I'd never seen before. Just as we reached the O.R. our other midwife Belinda joined us. She had been in Las Vegas all weekend and had joked with me that she and I had a "date" on Monday to deliver my babies. Sure enough, she had stayed abreast of our labor via texts from Diane and had made it back in time to catch our little ones. Which ended up being such an answer to prayer because while Diane's calming, hands-off presence gave us a beautiful labor, we were going to need Belinda's spunk and determination to get us through what was waiting for us in the O.R. 

Part Two:
I decided to break the twins' birth story into two parts because there was such a night-and-day difference between the labor and delivery. 

While my labor was calm and peaceful, with me being completely in-tune with my body and in-control of what was happening to me, the delivery was chaotic and stressful, with me being so distracted that I couldn't even tell when contractions were happening. I felt out-of-control to the point of panic at times. It was not at all what I had envisioned when I pictured the delivery of my sons, however I believe it would have been far worse had our midwife Belinda not stepped in to fight for us amidst the chaos of doctors and hospital politics. (I should mention here that the OB practice we went with offered something called "collaborative care" with twins. We were to be cared for and delivered by midwives, but a doctor would be available should an emergency arise.)

Chronologically, I can piece together very little of the twins' delivery besides the fact that Weston was born first and Isaac second. Things were so crazy in the O.R. that it's hard to remember what happened when, but I'll do my best. 

When I was wheeled into the O.R., I was trying so hard to stay focused and retain the calm that I had experienced in the labor room. However, the mood in the O.R. was full of nerves from the start and it was hard not to let that affect me. From what I can remember, there were somewhere around thirteen people in the room and they seemed to all be talking at once. The lights were fully up, and even though I asked (as did my midwives) that they be dimmed, the doctor (who suddenly felt she was in charge) refused. She also refused to let us video the birth, which was a part of our birth plan that her boss had signed off on. 

As I mentioned, this doctor started taking over immediately, without even introducing herself to us, without any respect towards us or our birth plan, and without any kind of emergency at hand. She poked and prodded me and made me feel like a lifeless specimen that just happened to be in the way of her and the babies. She broke my water too soon and without my permission. Oh, and did I mention that at one point she was sitting by my... ahem... while talking on her cell phone (loudly) about another patient? Um? Seriously? At that point I still wasn't sure who this woman was (again - she never introduced herself) and was just about to yell at her to get out. 

The difference between the doctor's "care" and that of the midwives was jarring and caused me great anxiety. There was a panic-inducing moment for me where I could not even see our midwives as they had basically been pushed to the back of the room. I asked Devin, "Where are Belinda and Diane??" and he made eye contact with Belinda with a gesture of "What on earth is going on?" She gave him a wink and literally elbowed her way back into position to catch the first baby.

I had a difficult time pushing Weston out. Partly due to the stress I was suddenly under and partly because, well, I've never pushed a human out of my body before and not only was it difficult, I wasn't sure how hard I actually had to push. Very hard it turns out. 

After a little over an hour of pushing, at 7:46 a.m. on October 17th, Weston Scot was born. He was pink, crying and perfect. Belinda put him on my chest immediately and I started nursing him. He was warm and gooey and wonderfully wide-eyed. Devin was right there by my side and we couldn't seem to grasp the fact that we were suddenly parents. I wish I could remember what we said to each other in that moment, but it is all so blurry.

Too soon, this sweet moment ended as it was time to get baby number two out. Weston was taken from us and examined just a few feet away. It was difficult at first to pull my attention away from him and the nurses surrounding him in order to focus on delivering his brother, but it quickly became apparent that getting "Baby B" out would take not only an incredible amount of focus on my part, but a major battle against a nervous doctor with a scalpel that she was itching to use.  

The tension in the room between Belinda and the doctor grew as Belinda tried to fight for the natural delivery she was confident we could achieve. But amidst her confidence and ours, was the doctor's constant flow of negative, stressful commentary.

"Baby B is getting tired!"  "She doesn't have an epidural?! Then we'll have to knock her out if she doesn't deliver him soon!" "Prepare for a c-section."

This of course caused me incredible stress, which in turn caused the baby to dip in and out of "distress", which caused the doctor to panic more, which caused me to panic more, etc. She said again and again, "Baby B is getting tired," and I asked her, "What do I need to do?" Her response was, "Nothing." It became clear to me then that this doctor was not interested in anything but a cesarean and wouldn't be helpful in achieving a vaginal delivery for the second baby. In a panic - I looked at Belinda, who again, gave us a confident wink and, again, elbowed her way back into the catching position. 

Belinda told the doctor, "You need to give her a chance to labor him down. He's in position, you just need to give her body a little time."

To which the doctor responded with something like, "He's too high for me to use forceps." 

At that point, Belinda made eye-contact with me and said, "Jen I need you to push as hard as you can." Though Belinda had to tell me when to push (as mentioned before, I was so stressed I couldn't feel the contractions), I pushed hard and brought the baby down. Belinda threw a saucy look towards the doctor as if to say, "You think you need forceps, huh?"

From that point on, the delivery consisted of Belinda fighting off the doctor while trying to get me to push as hard and as often as possible. We were in a battle against time and knew that if I didn't push this baby out soon, I would be knocked out and cut open. I honestly believe that if I had allowed an epidural to be placed (which Diane did not require of me even though her boss had recommended it "just in case"), I would have ended up with a cesarean for Baby B. As it was, I didn't have an epidural placed and therefore it wasn't as convenient for the doctor to default to cesarean because she knew she'd have to completely knock me out. This, and Belinda's determination, saved us from something that was not needed or wanted.

Belinda did everything she possibly could, including asking permission to give me a small episiotomy. I allowed it, as she and I both knew that because of the pressure from the doctor my choices were a small cut there or a giant cut across the belly. That cut was the only pain I remember from the birth - it was piercing and I know I screamed from the pain. The doctor remarked, "That's not an episiotomy - it's too small." To which Belinda retorted, "It's all she needs."

Things were incredibly tense and dramatic in that room and during this part of the birth was the only time Devin cried as we both prayed over and over again, "Lord please help us." We both felt so confident that this baby could be delivered vaginally and were so fearful that we would be given an "unnecesarean" because of a nervous doctor who didn't understand or believe in the process of natural birth. It had been clear from the moment we arrived in the O.R. that a cesarean was this doctor's assumed outcome for our delivery - she seemed to be looking for an opportunity the entire time.  

For about 30 minutes or so, I pushed intensely (I knew how hard I needed to push now) while the entire room screamed at me to "PUSH!!" While it was so frustrating to have so many people yelling at me, the baby was coming down and making progress naturally. Still, the doctor was on-edge (or perhaps just angry at this point that Belinda had been right). She put me on oxygen and I could still sense her pressuring Belinda. But God bless her, Belinda stood her ground (and ours) and at 8:41a.m., Isaac Knight was born. He was bright-eyed, crying robustly and latched on like a champ. (Belinda told me later, "When he came out like that, I thought, 'Ha! That baby's not in distress!'") He was perfect and healthy and we had achieved our natural birth safely, despite the many obstacles. Pulling down Devin's surgical mask, I gave him a big, grateful kiss on the lips. I then looked a Belinda and mouthed, "Thank you!" and in response, she winked.  

* * * 
Admiring Weston shortly after his birth 
Our new family of four
My husband, my coach, my encouragement, my hero

* * * 
(L) Belinda with Isaac
(R) Jacqueline with the boys 
Devin and I can not express enough our thankfulness for the thoughtful care we received from our midwives throughout the pregnancy and during the birth. Thank you ladies for believing in us and in the natural design of pregnancy and birth. 

We are also grateful for the sweet, calming presence of our doula, Jacqueline.

Additional thanks to our Bradley instructors Crystal and Paul for all the great knowledge about the natural birth process. 

There were so many answered prayers throughout this pregnancy and all the way through the birth - to those of you who spent so much time in prayer on our behalf - thank you, we were amazing at how God answered so specifically.

We are so grateful for the incredible support-team God provided us through each of you. 

And certainly, we must express our praise to God for His incredible design, for a safe pregnancy and for allowing us to take part in experiencing the miracle of birth. Praise You above all.

Shared with permission from: Nothings and Notions Blog Thank you Jennifer!

Monday, March 4, 2013

My VBAC: Lincoln’s Birth Story

WARNING: Graphic language and photos

So, I may have mentioned that I’m not a very patient person. This is especially true at the end of pregnancy and even more so at the end of this pregnancy.

I’m pretty lucky when it comes to pregnancy I guess. I get very little morning sickness. I don’t ever have to get up at night to pee. I don’t swell or get acne or gain weight in any place but my belly. And, most importantly, I don’t turn into a hormonal mess. But, for whatever reason, this baby decided to make me a crazy person right before he made his arrival which made waiting for him all the more difficult.

I can honestly say that the last few days of my pregnancy were the hardest I’ve ever had with either of my kids. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was uncontrollably sobbing anytime my mind wasn’t completely occupied by something else. And, I was hardly sleeping at all. I went into labor with Cooper naturally at 38 weeks 5 days. I think my psyche took a toll on my body when I past this point in my pregnancy with Lincoln without so much as a hint that he was coming anytime soon. I think VBAC mom’s have an extra pressure as well. Induction increases risk of c-section so you want to avoid that at all costs and going “overdue” lowers the VBAC success rate slightly. So, the closer I got to my due date, the more I lost my mind.

To help, I reached out to the ICAN group (Godsend), Kimberly called me (not happy that she had to read about my state of mind on facebook) and encouraged me to try to relax and keep my mind busy, and, at my 39 week appointment I vented to Belinda. Belinda suggested that I was possibly holding myself back from going into labor subconsciously. I didn’t feel like I was. I felt totally prepared for the road I was heading down. I made peace with the idea of a repeat c-section in the event that I needed one. I knew I was going to be proud of myself for birthing my way regardless of the outcome. I knew I had a good team behind, I trusted my instincts, and all my ducks were in a row. The only thing that could fail me was my body and I was mentally prepared for that outcome. But, I wasn’t about to rule anything out and I was willing to do just about anything to get my labor started. So, the minute I got of my appointment, I texted Kimberly, let her know what Belinda said, and asked her if we could do a fear release. She agreed to come over the very next night.

January 9, 2013:
My sister came by in the morning with a “waiting for labor” care package for me. It included candy, puzzles, bath salts, aromatherapy, and cozy pj’s. She knows me so well. As soon as she left I ate the candy (obviously). When Quinn got home I locked myself in the bathroom. I ran a bubble bath, lit the aromatherapy oils, and soaked in the salts. It was amazing. When I got out, I put on my new, cozy, pj’s and felt totally rejuvenated for my fear release.


Kimberly came by a little later that night. We talked at length, she did some acupressure, and then I laid on the bed while she walked me through a fear release. This being my first fear release I was unsure of what to expect. It was a lot like my hypnobirthing relaxation scripts. I immediately got calm and relaxed and started visualizing. Because I couldn’t specifically identify anything that I was afraid of, Kimberly just walked me through a general one. She guided me through my past birth experience. In my visualization I got to rip out any pages of that book that I didn’t want anymore and only hold on to the good memories from that experience. (I threw out a lot of pages!) Then I got to visualize the upcoming birth. The images my mind conjured up almost bought me to tears. When it was over, I was feeling a ton better. I knew that it was going to be enough to sustain me and keep me sane at least until my due date (January 14th).

January 10, 2013:
I woke up around 3:00AM with a pretty strong contraction. It felt different from the ones that I had been having previously. The best way to describe it is to say that it was a little more intense. As if it was doing more work. I got secretly excited and went back to sleep. I had a few more contractions like that but, just when I went to start timing them, they’d stop. Anyway, I got up that morning around 7, went to the bathroom, and saw “show!” I literally yelled, “yes!” I knew it was for real now. I was definitely in labor. My contractions weren’t consistent yet but I figured that was around the corner. I texted my sister to let her know that I couldn’t go out with her that morning and, around 8:30, I texted Kimberly.
My text read: Hi. Don’t laugh but I think I’m in labor J I’ve been having contractions since around 3am. They’re not consistent really but they’re pretty painful and I’m having show when I go to the bathroom. I don’t need anything right now but I wanted to give you a heads up.

She was excited to hear that, asked me about my contractions, and told me to rest. I let her know that resting was the plan along with taking a walk later to hopefully get my contractions more consistent. Which is exactly what I did. Quinn was home that day, partially to help me because I had become insane in the last few days and partially because he wanted to use all 2 weeks of his paternity leave. (Long story but, regardless of when I had the baby, Quinn was going to have to be back to work to start a new position on the 24th). So anyway, it was nice to have him around helping with Cooper and let me rest. We also took a long family walk later in the day. It did NOTHING to regulate my contractions. I figured that it was just going to go on like this for another day or 2. I wasn’t discouraged though because, for the first time, I really felt like progress toward labor was being made and I wasn’t going to go over due.

At around 4:30pm Kimberly texted to check in. I told her it was more of the same and that I’d let her know if anything changed. She said that a lot of times labor really kicks in in the middle of the night so she was prepared for that. She’d keep her phone on and her car was packed and ready to go. She called around 8 to check in again. I told her that I had nothing to report but I was heading to bed soon to get some rest in case things started in the middle of the night. Once Cooper was put down for the night, around 8:30pm, Quinn and I decided to go to bed.  As we were laying there scrolling through the Netflix, trying to find something to watch, I had a hard contraction. At its peak, I heard a POP and felt an intense pain that can only be described as being kicked in the cervix during a contraction. It was horrendous and I was scared. I had no idea what just happened to me. After I got over the initial shock, I took a couple of deep breaths and realized that the sharp pain went away when the contraction subsided. This eased my fears a bit because I knew then that it wasn’t a uterine rupture. However, I still had no idea what had happened. I yelled for Quinn to Google what the help just happened to me. While he was doing that, I looked at my clock- it was just about 9pm. Google told us that it was most likely my water breaking. I didn’t notice any leaking and there definitely wasn’t a big gush, so I wasn’t sure what to think. I called Kimberly.

I explained what had happened and she told me to lay on my side, then get up and see if I noticed any leaking. While I was laying on my side I had a contraction. She listened as I breathed through it and said that they weren’t yet a minute long so I still had some time. When I got up I did leak a little. It was official, my water broke. No turning back now, labor was here! I told Kimberly that we were ok for now but we’d call her when we needed her.

I knew then that I wasn’t going to go back to sleep and my contractions weren’t going stop coming at this point, so I decided to take a bath. While I was in the bath my contractions finally became consistent! Quinn began to time them and they were 4 min apart and about a minute long. At this point I was doing great. I used my hypobirthing techniques to breathe through them. I found myself breathing in visualizing filling my uterus then, as I exhaled, I visualized pushing Lincoln down and exhaling the pain. It was working amazingly well. I didn’t feel like it was anything I couldn’t handle. I just found myself wishing that I was in the birthing tub instead of my bath tub. Around 9:30, I had Quinn call Kimberly. My contractions were only 2 min apart at this point and they were getting longer. I had decided to stop timing them because I knew I was in labor and my contractions were coming, who cared about anything else? Kimberly hopped in her car and headed our way.

From this point on, things are a bit fuzzy. My contractions seemed to be right on top of each other. I was still breathing and working through them but I wasn’t getting any break. Kimberly showed up at some point. I found out later that Quinn answered the door and told Kimberly I was laboring in the bath tub and making grunting noises. She was pretty surprised to hear that. She came in, listed to the baby through a contraction, listened to me through a contraction, and broke me some bad news. There was going to be no time to set up the birth tub. Things were moving VERY fast. I breathed through a couple more contractions in the tub but I was losing my comfort. I decided to try to switch positions and something told me to be on my hands and knees. Once I switched positions, my labor completely changed. My contractions got harder to breathe through and I lost focus. I recall Kimberly telling me some noises to make while I was having them. Something like a low tone “ughhhhhh” or at least that’s what I did anyway. Once I started laboring on my hands and knees, I told Kimberly that I thought it was time to go to the hospital. My exact words were, “If we don’t leave now, I don’t think I’ll want to go.” Turns out, as we were getting ready to go I stopped wanting to go.

Quinn called my sister come over and watch Cooper and called the midwives to let them know we were on our way. On our way was a bit of an overstatement. Getting me out of the tub, dressed, and into the car was proving to be a challenge. Every single contraction I had (and they were around 30 sec apart) sent me back down to my hands and knees. Standing up during one was not an option. At one point, I yelled out, “I really need a break!” And that’s exactly how I felt. I was happy my labor was going fast because that meant that this awful transition portion would be over with soon and I’d have my break before pushing. I knew I was going to need that to gather the strength to push.

So I made it out of the tub and onto my bedroom floor when my sister showed up. She describes seeing my on the floor, naked, having one, continuous, contraction. She thought there was no way we were going to make it to the hospital. And, even if we were, she thought the idea of getting me into a car was ludicrous. Meanwhile, everyone else is scrambling around trying to find me pants and shoes. The pants I wanted to wear were in the wash because, silly us, we thought we had time. I thought the idea of pants and shoes made no sense. I certainly didn’t care if I was naked and I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. It’s funny how modesty just goes out the window while in the throws of labor.

Finally pants were located along with soft, leopard print, slippers for my feet. Getting me out of the house was another story. Since I fell to my hands and knees with every contraction, we weren’t going anywhere quickly. Quinn finally helped me out the door but I proceeded to have a contraction right in the driveway. Once again, on my hands and knees. Quinn tried to help me up but me saying “no” and staying on the ground was my way of explaining to him that this was what my body wanted to do and I was going to let it. Fighting it just hurt worse.

The car ride was a nightmare as expected but thankfully we didn’t have far to go. Kimberly sat in the back with me. I was on all fours (surprise, surprise) and she was putting counter pressure on my back. She swears I only had 2 contractions in the car, I swear it hurt the whole way.

Once we got to the hospital they brought out a wheelchair for me. I looked at it like, “What am I supposed to do with this? I can’t sit.” Instead I used it as a walker and headed into triage. I had to go in through the Emergency room so I’m pretty sure I was quite a sight. I was in a fog of contractions trying my best to answer the nurse’s questions. Thankfully, he let me off easy and didn’t even wait for L&D to come down to collect me. He brought me up himself. But again, I was faced with a wheelchair I couldn’t use. The problem this time was that L&D was a long walk so that wasn’t an option either. The triage nurse told me to get on the wheelchair however I could. So that’s what I did…



Attractive right? Well it got me where I needed to go.

Once I got to my labor and delivery room Belinda’s sweet voice was there to meet me. I smiled feeling my grandmothers presence in her sweet British accent. Then I had another contraction and immediately forgot anything zen. I got up on my delivery bed, they de-pants me, and Belinda checked my progress. 10cm +2. At this point, that was good and bad news to me. Good for obvious reason, bad because I had decided that I ABSOLUTELY wanted an epidural right that minute! Anytime I could catch my breath I said I needed a break. Belinda told me to try pushing. I said, “No way!” It hurt WAY too much. I said, “I want something for the pain. I just need a break. I can do this if I just have a break.” They said, “No.” I came back with, “I know we never discussed this but I’m dead serious now. I’m not fucking around. Give me something, anything, so I can have a break!” Kimberly responded by telling me that I was going to meet my baby soon. I told her I didn’t care about that. Belinda responded to that by telling me to try to push again. I wanted to kill her. I hadn’t expected to feel this way. First, I thought I would be happy to push, not dreading it. I had always heard that it felt good to push. Lies. All lies. Second, I thought that, because I wasn’t getting any time between contractions, I wasn’t having enough time to get my point across. It wasn’t so much that I thought I couldn’t do it but being on my hands and knees all that time was taking its toll on me. I was exhausted and there really was no break in my contractions. My mother-in-law said it best when I was telling her about it the next day. She said, “Oh, I remember that. You just needed a minute to get your shit together.” EXACTLY! But, I wasn’t going to get it. At that point I would have allowed someone to knock me over the head with a frying pan for some rest but apparently that was off the table as well. After literally banging my fist on my pillow and fighting furiously through two contractions, I realized something. This was the wall. I had read about it in many birth stories during my prep but I never fully understood it until then. There was no way out of this situation then giving in to it. Giving in to the pain, the fear, the exhaustion.

So I started to push and I hated every second of it. With my first push I screamed, “Oh fuck!” and Belinda came back with, “Oh fuck is right!” I laughed even then.



I pushed a few more times, each with an expletive or two. Belinda, Kimberly, and Quinn kept telling me that I was doing great. I felt like an animal and I really just wanted it to be over with as soon as possible. With one push Belinda said, “That’s great Natalie you’re almost there.” I asked her, “How close am I?” She said, “He’ll be here soon.” I informed her, “I’m going to need an ETA.” She must have thought I was insane. But she humored me and said, “I don’t know… 15 minutes.” I took that to mean an hour and tried to wrap my mind around pushing for the next hour. I decided that I could do it and proceeded to go back to work. 2 contractions later, he was out.


Lincoln Alexander Johnson came into this world, caught by the hands of his father, at 11:33pm on January 10, 2013. He was immediately put on my chest and the first person he looked at was me.









I still can’t believe it sometimes. I had my VBAC and, aside from laboring in the tub, it happened just like I wanted it to. More quickly than I expected, but perfect none the less. It’s true what they say about natural birth too, it makes you feel like you can accomplish anything because nothing will ever be that hard again. I have truly redefined what I’m capable of.

Also, as a side note, I want to be clear that I wouldn’t change anything about my birth. After we came home from the hospital I found myself reading something online about labor positions. Apparently hands and knees is the body’s way of turning a posterior baby. Knowing that solidified everything for me and validated every decision I made. I listened to my body and did exactly what it told me to. I trusted my instincts and they didn’t disappoint. Had I gone to the hospital earlier, I would have asked for the epidural earlier which would have forced me to push lying down. There’s no way to be sure but, I believe that laboring and pushing on all fours kept Lincoln in the right position and was the reason I was able to have my VABC. 

Shared with permission from: