February 8, 2018
I get to witness, photograph and experience your births… so I thought it would be fun to share my birth story (including photos, of course) with you!
My daughter’s birth story can’t be told without a brief history of my first two children……
I had a c-section in 2008 after a failed induction (for gestational hypertension) at 40 weeks.
I was diagnosed with failure to progress and was told my “big baby” (9lbs 4oz) would have been too large to deliver vaginally anyway.
The first time I saw my baby was a picture on the back of a camera. I still tear up when I think about that fact, and am always sensitive to never show a mama her baby on the back of a camera before she sees him/her in person.
I was on so many pain meds I don’t even remember his first few days of life.
When I got pregnant again in 2011 I knew I wanted a different experience for me and my baby.
I hired a doula (shoutout to Brandy Harris of Willow Birth Services), attended VBAC meetings regularly, saw a group of hospital midwives and took Bradley birth classes to prepare for my VBAC.
I delivered our second son vaginally in the hospital after 36 + hours of labor and numerous hospital interventions I tried to avoid. He was born at 42w4d and 9lbs 1oz. I was thrilled to have had a VBAC, but there were so many things during the birth itself I wish had gone differently.
When we found out we were expecting again, I made an appointment with my hospital midwife. My blood pressure was elevated at the very first appointment. It’s always normal at home, and I realized I was just anxious about being there. It all felt too familiar and I didn’t want a repeat of my previous VBAC experience.
As much as I loved my midwife, I started to wonder if the hospital was the best place for me. After lots of reading and praying, we decided we wanted to have a home birth. I needed a completely new environment for a new birth experience.
Around 16 weeks I hired my wonderful home birth midwife (Yvonne Silbernagel) and began preparing for home birth.
I exercised throughout my entire pregnancy and did hypnobirthing classes to prepare. I battled a lot of fears I had throughout the pregnancy as well.
My body never went into labor with either previous pregnancy and I wondered if it even could do it.
I read a lot of birth stories, watched a lot of birth videos and prayed and talked to God a lot about my fears. I surrounded myself with positivity as much as possible.
I had contractions everyday starting around 36/37 weeks.
They would be few and far between, but this was a new experience for me. I was so happy my body was doing things on it’s own to prepare for labor.
I reached 41 weeks and began feeling discouraged. Everything seemed a little too familiar and I was worried about the dreaded 42 weeks.
My midwife and doula were amazing, always encouraging me and speaking positivity over me and my baby.
Every night, I visualized how I wanted my labor to begin. I would imagine laying in bed and having contractions in the middle of the night. I would wake up to go to the bathroom and my water would break. I really wanted my water to break so I KNEW I was in labor. I wanted my baby to pick her birthday.
After 40 weeks, I did a lot of things to gently help my body go into labor when it was ready.
I saw a chiropractor and an acupuncturist. I took numerous herbs to keep things balanced and ready for labor.
My doula came over and worked my acupressure points. Closer to the end I started pumping and working on her positioning (she was left OP a lot of my pregnancy) and allowed my membranes to be stripped.
I was 4cm, 0 station and 75% effaced. I was encouraged my body had made so much progress on its own.
Saturday, November 23rd
I rented a hospital grade pump that day and pumped for 2 hours (10 minutes on and 5 minutes off) while bouncing on the ball and watching football. I had contractions throughout the night, like I always had. They seemed more intense and I remember waking up and moaning several times.
Sunday, November 24th
I woke up at 4:30am to go to the bathroom after lots of contractions all night.
When I stood up, I felt a trickle go down my leg.
I knew it was my water.
I sat on the toilet it gushed out of me.
I DEFINITELY knew it was my water. I was so excited. I was grinning from ear to ear.
The beginning of labor began exactly how I had visualized it for months. I was thanking God over and over. I was so thrilled to know that, no matter what happened, my daughter chose to be born and she was ready!
I texted my doula and midwife to let them know my water broke, but contractions weren’t too consistent or intense yet.
I laid in bed and tried to go back to sleep. I timed contractions until about 7am. They stayed about 5-10 minutes apart.
My husband and other 2 children woke up. We had a fun morning making breakfast and spending time together. My contractions started getting farther apart. I wasn’t in a big hurry and knew they’d pick up again. It was really icy that day, so getting my birth team here seemed to be a challenge. Another wave of ice and snow was coming in that evening, so we wanted to get them here sooner than later. I was just worried about being a “watched pot” with everyone sitting in my house waiting on me to pick things up with labor.
The contractions weren’t very close together and I knew pressure to go into active labor would just make them stall even more. I took a nap that afternoon, hoping if I relaxed contractions would be closer together and more intense like they had been the night before. I woke up from my nap and I had had some contractions, but nothing like I was hoping. I asked my birth team to go ahead and come over and we could try something different to keep contractions coming. They brought over several tea concoctions and homeopathics and herbs. I am so thankful for their patience and willingness to let my body do what it was going to do.
That evening we decided to try a tens unit to stimulate the labor induction points on my legs and feet. This seemed to work pretty quickly and brought contractions about 5 minutes apart. It was getting late and I wanted to lay down and rest. I slept pretty well that night (considering) and I would wake up every 10 minutes or so moaning through a contraction and then fall back to sleep. My midwife was monitoring my temperature and baby’s heart rate throughout the night. Both looked perfect. My contractions starting spacing out again as the morning came.
Monday, November 25th 2013
I started to get worried we would be transferring to the hospital soon because it had been so long.
We got up and had breakfast with my birth team who spent the night in my living room (did I mention they were amazing?!).
We decided to try pumping again, because that had worked so well for me before.
Pumping was bringing contractions on pretty good and strong.
I would pump for a while and contractions would hang on for an hour or so, then start spacing out again.
I started to feel discouraged and wondered if my body would ever kick in without any help.
I let my midwife check me, hoping for good news. I was 7-8 cm.
I was encouraged that even though my labor wasn’t progressing like I thought it “should” or going exactly as I imaged in would… my body was working on getting my baby out and making progress. I spent more time pumping and doing lunges. The lunges seemed to work pretty well too.
I needed my husband nearby with each and every contraction. He was so amazing throughout my entire labor. He never left my side and never stopped encouraging me.
Then, we started filling up the birth pool and I labored in the pool for a while. I was really focused on keeping my bottom loose and my jaw loose with each contraction. I could literally feel my cervix opening and pulling with each contraction. It was really pretty cool. I never felt out of control during this part of labor and I welcomed each contraction as a step closer to meeting my baby.
With the next contraction I felt myself push a little and make a grunting noise. I have attended enough births to know that my birth team must have been giving each other “the look” that I was getting really close. I felt tension sort of rise in the room and my photographer and videographer came in. The next few contractions I lost the urge to push. They all left the room to give me some space. Husband and I spent some time talking and I told him my fears and concerns. I told him I felt like they all thought I should be ready to push and I really just wasn’t yet. I wanted to get out of the pool and try something different. I laid on the bed on my side for a while.
I started to get worried because I could see the sun was starting to get lower and lower (it was probably around 4:30pm at this point). I was still convinced we were going to have to transfer to the hospital. My doula came in and I told her my concerns and fears. She said my baby was really, really close and I could push on the bed with the next contraction or I could get back into the pool. I was scared of the feeling of pushing and that entire experience which I had never felt without pain meds before. Everything up to this point I had experienced with my previous VBAC. I decided to get back into the pool. I asked my husband to please pray. I needed Jesus’ comfort and wisdom because I was starting to feel out of control. Within a couple of minutes the grunting started again and I felt myself pushing a little with each contraction.
Pushing was a whole new ball game. I could no longer focus on keeping my bottom and jaw loose. I tried to “breathe down” my baby and keep control. There was no keeping control. I started to say, “I can’t do this anymore. I just want to be done. Please make it stop.” I knew as the words were coming out I was getting close. This was transition and this was a normal way to feel… but I really truly felt out of control. I know it was really hard for my husband to hear and watch. After a few more contractions I realized I just needed to bear down and push as hard and as long as I could. I could feel her moving with every push. It felt like my hips and pelvis were spreading apart and moving out of the way for her. For a long while it felt like I was pushing and she would just suck back up in there. It was really discouraging (even though I knew it was normal). I just wanted her out and to be done and see her face. I lunged forward during a push and bit my husband. They handed me a towel to bite on after that!
I kept saying “Please help me Jesus. Help me Jesus please.” He did help me. I gave it one final push as hard as I possibly could and I could feel how close her head was. I kept pushing and my midwife told me to hold her there for a moment to allow my tissues to stretch so I wouldn’t tear. I did NOT care about tearing at that point, I wanted her OUT (however thanks for that because I ended up not tearing a bit)! I held her there for a moment but then just pushed again with all my might. I felt her head come completely out. I sighed with so much relief. I never felt the “ring of fire” everyone always talks about. My midwife told me to feel her head, which I did, and push one more time. The rest of her body came out and I reached around to pick her up. I was screaming and crying and smiling.
I couldn’t believe I seriously just did that and I was finally holding her.
It was one of the best moments of my life. I was the first person to hold my baby. She picked her birthday. My little birthy dreams came true. Her daddy and I were smitten with her from that moment on. Our daughter was born November 25th 2013 at 5:28pm weighing 7lbs 6oz and 19.5” long.
God taught me so much from my pregnancy with her and her birth experience. I learned to completely give up whatever control I thought I had and give all my fears over to Him. He will carry me… and He did carry me. This quote and verse was on my fridge early in pregnancy and I looked at it and said it to myself so many times in the end…
Worry is really just a smaller way to say we don’t know if God will come through.
“Do I bring the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. -Isaiah 66:9
“Let me birth in the place this baby was created. Let me labor on the floors I paced in anticipation, let me labor in the rooms of the house where I mused on sleepless nights what this moment would be like. Let me birth with the smells of the kitchen and the faint giggles of the boy who will be this child’s buddy. Let me birth with music playing, with my grandfather’s prayer books looking down on me, with my hair flowing, my inhibitions gone, the doors of my home flung wide open as if to say: I am open to this process, World. I was made to birth this baby!” -Mayim Bialik