Monday, August 11, 2014

I Had a Natural Birth and I Did it on Purpose

Disclaimer: This is gonna be a long one, but hang in there with me! 

It seems to me that every mom and mom-to-be loves a good birth story, all the details included (ok, maybe not every single one), and so I thought it might be of value to share one of my birth stories.

I say only one of the birth stories for a reason.  Both of my children's births were remarkable quite simply because at the end I had my healthy, perfect baby.  But one experience far exceeded the other and you might be surprised why - it was a completely natural childbirth.

There is so much fear for women surrounding the birth of our children and I believe it just does not have to be that way.  I also feel that every woman in this world is entitled to the birth experience they desire, whatever and however that might be.  Sometimes its just a matter of having the right knowledge and support in order to produce that experience.

My first child entered this world 27 hours after my first contraction arrived.  Needless to say and to summarize, I was exhausted by the end and resorted to the one thing I had hoped to avoid- an epidural.  He arrived slowly and surely though and we were in love from first sight.  This birth was in a hospital with the on-call OB/GYN - I saw the doctor for literally about 15 minutes - most of the labor was monitored by the nurses who could have done the whole job in my opinion.  She was there for the last few pushes, stitched me up, and on she went. I didn't even have a chance to get a picture with her and my baby.

When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, I knew I wanted this experience to be different.  I also knew that my first birth was not the total birth experience I wanted - mainly because I did not have the knowledge and the tools to create the birth I longed for.

I did some research and found an amazing OB/GYN office - which also staffed three midwives - and happened to be right down the road from my house.  I promptly made an appointment with a midwife to confirm the pregnancy.  After my first visit, I was overwhelmed. I knew this was exactly what I wanted but I was also scared...

These amazing midwives also did something unique called Family Circle.  For the duration of of pregnancy, instead of monthly office visits, we met with couples due the same month as us and discussed topics, shared stories and gained incredible knowledge related to birth and babies.  (Don't worry- there was also time during the monthly meetings for private medical visits with a midwife.)  But really the main takeaway for me was leaving this experience with that knowledge and those tools that I was craving.  Namely, how to make it through the labor and delivery without drugs.

Now, I will preface this all by saying that probably one of the main reasons my drug-free experience went so well was because my little baby arrived in record time.  Granted, she arrived 9 days late, but that's another story for another day.  And, definitely not a sunshine and roses story. If you have been overdue, you know what I'm talking about!

The final detail was to assemble the birth team I knew I needed to get me through this.  I had the midwife selected.  Next in line was husband and being absolutely convinced that he knew his role.  Just to make sure he knew my expectations, I turned on my Type "A" personality, typed up a list of all the things I wanted/didn't want during the labor and delivery process and beat him senseless with it. Finally, there was my mom- who not only is a nurse but had three of her own natural deliveries (one a home birth - My mom is way ahead of her time it seems and also my inspiration for doing life naturally).

I'll skip the gory details and give you a recap of what matters.

I had contractions - but none that lasted or were very severe - for several hours and then they stopped around 2 am.  I went to bed exhausted but also disappointed.  Let's remember, I was 9 days overdue at this point. I just wanted that baby OUT.

Next thing I know I woke at about 4:30 am with extremely strong contractions averaging 2-5 minutes apart.  With my first birth, I don't think I felt one contraction before the epidural as strong as these were coming.  In hindsight, that should have been a sign to all of us this was moving faster than we anticipated.  Somehow I got myself into that "zone" everyone talks about.  Husband called the midwife, she said get to the hospital and we started to get dressed.

Well, that took what seemed like an hour.  Actually, I think it was an hour.  When you have to stop every minute for a two-minute contraction, it kinda slows the process down.  All I really remember is my husband trying to make me move faster and my mom telling him to shush because I was in so much pain and could barely move.

So, off to the hospital we go (the car ride likely deserves its own post).  My mom, being the strong-willed, don't-take-no-for-an-answer woman she is, refused to take a "no" from the ER staff that I needed to stay for the filling out of the paperwork and literally pushed me in a wheelchair up to labor and delivery.  I was also able to skip the triage thanks to my amazing midwife Janice who somehow knew we didn't have much time to waste.

We get into the room and its a blur from there.  I remember being so excited to get into the tub they were filling up for me.  Little did I know but that baby would be out before the tub was even full (Side note: it might be a good idea for the hospital to consider a quicker way to fill a tub than a hose from the bathroom sink.)  At this point, it was just about 7 am and I was 6 cm dilated.  They had to hook me up to monitors for 20 minutes to check the baby's vitals.

Unfortunately, laying flat in bed was not an option at this point so I was on all fours working through the contractions.  I focused solely on my husband's and my mom's voices and nothing else.  They told me what to do and I did it.  Breathe, relax your shoulders, breathe, loosen your grip, breathe...

At some point, what felt like hours later, but was only about 30 minutes, I clearly remember thinking: wow, the pain in my stomach is gone.  That feels amazing.  Meanwhile, there was a stronger, more intense pain down lower.  But it was different and in a way, better, although my husband wouldn't agree with this from the other noises I was making. What I did not know was what that meant nor could I verbalize this (or anything else for that matter- I was communicating in grunts).

Within a minute of this change, my midwife Janice wanted to check me and when she moved my gown, she was greeted with a surprise - the top of a baby's head!  So, that explains that new and different feeling.  It was a head emerging. One more contraction and that little baby girl (It's a girl!) was out.  RELIEF.  The relief from the pain was completely instant.  And, it was 7:44 am.

It took me a while to catch my breath and open my eyes.  Meanwhile, the baby was latched, I was cleaned up, and we finally took in all that had happened in what felt like record time.

I am so grateful for my quick, yet incredibly intense, labor and birth.  It was, without a doubt the most amazing, raw, and empowering experience of my life. I also know how incredibly lucky I am that I was able to have this experience, because as we all know, when it comes to birthing a baby there are a lot of things that can go wrong.

My mid-wife used the analogy of a freight train and I wouldn't disagree.  But, I DID IT.  It still brings tears to my eyes to think about that magical moment.  One I wish I could repeat (yes, I said repeat) if only to capture and remember every little detail of my girl coming into this world, even the painful parts.

There she is!

Here's what I have learned:
1.  I can do ANYTHING. I am strong, I can endure, and I can overcome pain (and I am a wuss when it comes to pain).  Nothing before or since has made me feel so empowered.  When faced with any challenges since this moment, I literally think to myself: well, if I could get through that, then I can make it through this.

2.  Our bodies can do anything.  I know it sounds cliché but it is entirely possible.  I don't know who to blame but "they" have conditioned us as women to believe that we cannot endure this pain of childbirth.  Women have been birthing children for centuries without drugs. This is largely what connects us as women. Knowledge is power and with that women have the power to make their own decisions regarding the kind of child birth they desire, whatever it is.

3.  Doing it natural is easier.  Yes, for real, and in my own personal experience, of course.  With my first birth, I had an epidural for about 9 hours.  That's a whole lot of extra fluid to deal with at the end, not to mention having anesthesia in your body which takes days to completely vacate. After this birth, I felt amazing, I wasn't tired or sluggish, and I had energy I hadn't experienced in months!  I am sure there is a chemical/hormonal thing going on here to make me feel this way, but in the end: my recovery was by far quicker and easier than my first birth.   

Proud Momma: Tracy M. at 

Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful birth story!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Natural Birth Story - VBAC with Belinda

Everything was ready and set for a month and I really thought that I was going to have the baby a week before it had been happening. I had had a c section with my first son so I had done extra planning to get this one right. I guess I need to step back and explain that the reason for that was because he was sunny side up meaning his head was facing up instead of down where he could be easily pushed out. The good thing is that I was able to push him to a certain point and that my body had dilated fully the last time. Anyhow, I learned from that experience how important it is to just let the baby come naturally by relaxation. My plan was to have a hypnobabies birth to help ease if not get rid of the discomfort (that's what we call pain in hypnobabies) of giving birth. I began listening at night to the CDs for 7 months. This really helped ease my pregnancy discomforts and in fact I really didn't even know I was in labor until a couple of hours before. So I had been having contractions or as we call them pressure waves for about a week. 

I really didn't want to go to the hospital early from that because I know that all they do in hospitals is monitor your every move, and I only wanted that for when it was necessary. Anyhow so I kept listening to cds that helped me visualize my natural birth and relax deeply through the easy first stage and actually were inducing labor the natural way. That night, I kept trying to make plans for the next day so that I wouldn't get too overly anxious for the arrival of my new little baby. I called my dad and told him we would like to come visit him the next day.  I kept feeling pressure waves 10 minutes apart and then 5 minutes apart at the early morning hours. Also, I have a doula named Moriah who is really awesome. My plan was to have her come and labor with me at home before I went into active labor at the hospital. So I had called her in the middle of the night when my contractions started getting closer together and she would come and wait quietly and in fact the night before we were actually talking about the dreams I was having of us going on a road trip together when my contractions started to slow down again. I also got to practice my squatting with her by picking out some lettuce from my garden that needed thinning. Back to the birth story, now that you have all the background information. 

I woke up at 3:30am that morning on March 23rd. I wanted to go to the living room so I could do different birthing time positions and I could barely walk this time. When I rolled out of bed, I tried to quickly grab my hypnobabies cd player and dropped it but I struggled to pick it up as I wobbled to the living room just a few feet away. I got my deepening relaxation cd out after I tried to relax on my own. I also decided to text my doula to let her know that they were getting really strong and about 5 min apart which was when I was supposed to go to the hospital if they were strong enough. Since I had been having them all week, we didn't know if it were time yet. She texted me back let me know if they continue like this and in half an hour she would head over to help monitor me. About 10 min later, I decided to call my emergency midwife line to let them know that I was indeed having heavier pressure waves. She seemed to be anticipating my call but she told me to hold on for half an hour too and call her back when I was headed to the hospital because she would be there at the same time. The goal was to wait at home as long as possible so that I could do this birth completely natural as planned. So I woke my husband, Matt again to let him know for about the 3rd night in a row that this was probably it in case he wanted to get dressed and just be ready to go. I said if he wanted, he could go to sleep. About 10 min later, I texted my doula Moriah and told her to come now. Then I told Matt after a few more really intense pressure waves that it was time. Then I called back 20 minutes later to my midwife hotline, it was Belinda, to tell her that I was on my way. Matt came out and asked if he could go back to bed and wait some more and I started shaking in an attempt to answer him, then he realized that it was time. Matt got our son, Adrian, loaded in the car. He said that when he got there, he opened his eyes and was so excited to see the stars that he said, "Twinkle twinkle little star."  I was barely able to text my doula in the car to tell her that I was already headed out to the hospital. Luckily my birthing bag was already there.  When I got there Adrian was concerned that he didn't have water and I was worried that he was going to break my concentration from my relaxation CD. Now this whole time, I was listening to my hypnobabies cds to calm me down. It was making the discomfort manageable except when I had to keep walking or talking or transitioning to a new environment. That was the hard part, transitioning. 

On the way there, Matt kept asking me questions. Should we go drop off Adrian at my sisters, who should I call. I should have practiced answering questions more but I was so late in my birthing time at this point that it was very difficult anyhow. What I mean is there is a part of hypnobabies where you can practicing walking and talking and being in the deepest state of hypnosis but for the past 2 weeks, I had only practiced that to a small degree. When we arrived at the hospital, my husband had to go to the counter, while my amazing 2 year old son stuck by me. He was not wandering around the hospital but watching me intently as I laid there horizontally on a barely cushioned hospital bench. Then my amazing sister in law, Sarah came and he was happy to go with her. As soon as she got there, I was put in triage. They started asking me the same questions I had already filled out in preregistration and I could barely answer. After about the third question, my awesome midwife showed up and told them that it was not medically necessary to answer those questions right now because I needed to be really focused on my cds. My midwive's name is Belinda and she is from Valley Women for Women. When she then checked me, I was already dilated to a 9 and she said, "Let's get her to a room so she can start pushing." Here was another transition that was difficult but much better then walking. They rolled me into a room, and after a few pressure waves, I turned around and tightly gripped the bed and felt that as I pushed it would relieve some of the pressure. So I did and amazingly, I pushed the water out. I was so excited. This whole time from being in triage to being in the new room, my midwife, my doula, my mother in law, and my husband were all massaging me. My midwife was helping me relax by telling me to relax my shoulders and someone was massaging my shoulders to help with that. Then someone was holding my leg up. When I really felt it was almost time to start pushing, I had my midwife set up the 'Pushing Baby Out' cd with powerful opening hypnosis. She hooked it to my big speakers and I could visualize myself pushing the baby out as gentle as possible. After finishing the CD, I could feel the discomfort of not having it being played out loud and I asked to replay it. As I was listening to these CDs, Belinda, my midwife, was coaching me into different positions that were helping me get the baby closer to coming out. On the second runthrough of the CD, I was becoming increasingly impatient and started to want to push the baby out even if I tore. The baby's head was right there and I reached down and felt it. I could hear the CD saying down and out like a slide and helping me visualize already holding my baby. With one breath, I told my husband to say a prayer that this would be the last push, and I did. Then I pushed with all my might and the next second, the baby plopped right down on the bed. They picked the baby up and put him on my chest. Within an hour, the baby was breastfeeding. He had found my breast perfectly. This of course helped with the postpartum and even helped me to push out the placenta without any drugs. 

The amazing part is that this whole birth happened without drugs. I had arrived at the hospital at about 5 a.m. on March 23rd to have my precious baby boy at 6:35 a.m. He was 7 lbs and .78 ounces of perfection.  It had happened all as I had visualized. In the time frame that I had visualized it. I call it one of those miracles that happen only a few times in one's life. I know these types of blessings come when we exercise our faith and do our part to prepare. I feel so blessed to have had everything happen the way I planned. I even had a midwife read and study the birth preference sheet. I knew she did, because they were getting ready to give me oxytocin to help me birth the placenta and she asked them to wait. Then it happened, I just did it through nursing. After everything was over, I told her that I really was hoping that she would be the midwife at my birth and she told me that she was hoping that she could make it to my birth too. I was so blessed that I had her to keep me calm the whole time and a whole team of people united in a common cause of bringing a baby into the world in a peaceful manner. When asked if I would have another one right after, I was able to say, "Maybe one or two more." I kept saying afterwards how happy I was not just to get off to a good start with this baby but for the way the baby came into the world. My doula Moriah commented that this is how all the natural births happen out of the country, because she went to the phillipines and was a midwife there. My mother in law said that it was a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Also, I see a difference in how this baby, seems so much calmer. He is very patient for his food and he can sleep in his own bassinet for a time. I am probably the happiest mom right now and feeling really blessed!

Proud Momma: Josefina