Before and After

So as many of you know I got my HBAC like I had dreamed since the day I had my c-section with my first daughter and last night I was reflecting on how different I am now as a person, in the way I think and the way I react to other people and their birth stories.

With Elenore I was happy that she was healthy (obviously) but there was just something that lingered in my soul after her birth that just sat there and festered. The only way I can explain it is that I felt cheated of the bonding time with her, of her firsts: her first time being fed, the first person to hold her, the first person to kiss her etc. etc. I missed out on all of those. Because  of my c-section i was out of it after her  birth and didn’t even feel the desire to hold her for a good hour or so. I remember laying there, barely able to hold my eyes open watching my  mother, my mother in law and my husband hold, cuddle and bottle feed her and I felt a mixture of anger, resentment and sorrow, but couldn’t seem to open my mouth or eyes long enough to tell them that I wanted her.  It wasn’t for a long while that I finally held her and was able to do all of above and it just lingered in my soul that I didn’t get that with her.

Plus, as time went on I felt that I wasn’t really given a chance to give birth to her in the way I wanted. I was so angry and started seeking out like minded moms. I found them and through them found the information, support and understanding that I had needed since the moment I was sent off to my c-section. I knew I needed to heal and a step in that direction was to give birth to my next child on my own terms and to have the experience I was cheated.

After a miscarriage and finally having a little baby stick I started the process of finding a VBAC friendly provider. That was way harder than it should had been but I found Kelly and knew I was going to have my healing birth.

Fast forward to 6 weeks postpartum of the most healing, amazing, and empowering birth of River and I feel… whole. Its the only way I can describe it. From the moment I felt River exit my body the way God meant babies to be born I felt complete.

Peace

Peace

Pushing beautiful daughter out

Pushing beautiful daughter out

I did it!

I did it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly I am  no longer angry. I am no longer resentful of my friends who just go in and give birth in hospitals with no issues and come out like it was nothing. Or friends who get induced and the cascade of interventions don’t lead them to c-sections. Or friends who DO get a c-section and wonder why I’m so upset over mine.

I’m free of all that and I’m also empowered to change the outcomes of birth for women so that they can feel what I did.

I can now talk to people about birth and not feel resentment. I feel empathy for the women who didn’t get what they wanted. I don’t just say to them “well your baby was healthy so you should be happy” to the women who are mourning their dream birth or feel anger towards the women who think I’m silly for the way I believe a birth should happen. I just know that if they ever need a shoulder to cry on, or a sympathetic ear that I’m there for them.

This whole thing has lead me to knowing that when my girls are in school I will be becoming a birth professional of some kind. Whatever form that takes: doula, midwife etc. I will do my best to make sure that each and every woman’s birth goes the way she dreamed and if it doesn’t she knows she doesn’t have to cover up the feelings of anger. I’m there with her.

Until then I’ll continue to try and inform my friends and family on what evidence based birth is and continue to support and be a ear to talk to for all of them;  no matter what their birth outcome was and how they feel about it post birth.

Beautiful River

Beautiful River

Advertisements

River’s Birth Story

The healing and beautiful HBAC (home birth after Cesarean)  of River Lee.

I had been having some pretty intense Braxton hicks starting on Monday evening (River’s due date!) that had slowly progressed to a more painful back ache. I remember thinking that this couldn’t possibly  be it and that I couldn’t allow myself to get excited. I did however tell my birth group friends on FB. 😉 After lots of encouragement and pep talk from them I settled in for what I knew was the long haul.

Wednesday rolled around with me having not really slept deeply since Monday night and I was really looking forward to what my midwife Kelly had to say about all of it and to hear River’s heart beat. I took Elle along and she got the wonderful opportunity to listen to her sister’s heart beat with the help of Kelly. The look on Elle’s face was priceless as she concentrated and listened. Kelly told me she believed what I was experiencing was practice labor and to go ahead and head over to the Chiropractor and see if he could kick-start my labor for me. She also gave me some more moves to move River to the left side of my uterus. (a more favorable position for labor and delivery)

Sadly, I didn’t make it over to see Dr. Brooks that day, and I remember how emotional I was that evening. I mentioned it to my birth friends and they encouraged me and told me that I was definitely heading in the right direction and that they all remember being REALLY emotional the day before labor started. I tried not to let that get my hopes up.

Hello Thursday.  No change so I decided to head to the Chiropractor. He prepped my pelvis for labor and pushed on some pressure points to hopefully get things moving.

That evening Matt surprised me with a beautiful Valentines day dinner and gave me a new Wii Mario game to play with. I spent the next few hours playing the Wii till my contractions in my back were so painful that I couldn’t concentrate on my game any longer. I decided to head to bed and to text Kelly in the morning if they were time able.

Woke up when Matt did Friday morning around 5 am to find that they were now time able and that I should text Kelly. Got the response to get as much sleep as I could and Matt headed into work with the promise that he would keep his phone nearby and would make sure everyone knew to get him ASAP if I called.

I went back to sleep (kinda ;)) for a few hours and then got up with Elenore. Matt came home around noon (because his coworkers insisted he come home lol) and we tried to keep the day as normal as possible for all of us and just go about our day. We browsed Target, Matt cleaned the whole house, I baked muffins and River’s birthday cake with Elenore and just really tried to enjoy the last day that we for sure were just as a family of 3. It was a real blessing.

Kelly came by and checked me and found that I was a stretchy 3 and around 60% effaced. I was really happy to hear that and she said she was thinking it would be tonight or early Saturday morning. She left to go get some rest and told me to do the same.

I attempted to sleep and Matt ran off to run some last-minute errands. Got a cat nap in before Elle awoke and we spent the last section of the day just relaxing.

Put Elle down at 7 and it was like a switch flipped inside me and my contractions started to get real painful. Told Kelly we needed her to head over because I needed support around 8. She told me they were on their way.

At this point I really had to concentrate during my contractions and either had to be on my birthing ball rocking or walking and swaying to be able to get through them. Kelly and the team arrived and started to get everything all set up for River’s birth.

In between contractions they were all laughing and joking and it was such a lovely environment. I had my candles, music and husband and I felt completely safe to just let go and let my body do what it was meant to do. I knew they would all take care of me and I just let go.

Matthew was such my rock, he was there every time a contraction hit and would squeeze my hips together while Lauren or Kelly kept hot packs to my stomach and back. He made me laugh a couple of times as I yelled his name from across the room and he would sprint to my side right as the contraction hit so that he could do whatever I needed to help me get through the pain.

After a few hours I decided it was time to call my friend Megan and get her there for my birth photos. I had a feeling things were about to change. Right around than is where my contractions hit a point where I asked for my birth pool. Kelly told me it was ok and they started filling it. The feeling was SO nice once I was finally able to climb into the pool and just relax. I only vaguely remember Megan arriving since I think I dozed off for a while.

Right around when I looked up and found that it was 11:30 at night and I joked that the last time I looked it was 10:30, that was right when the contractions  became so bad that I no longer fully knew where everyone was in the room. All I know is that whenever I needed them I had someone pouring water on my back, holding my hand or doing whatever they could to get me through the contraction. Matt kept me hydrated and fed and the wonderful women kept him sane and reminded him to take care of himself as well.

  At one point I remember thinking that I was in transition but then the contractions took me again and all rational thought escaped me. Kelly checked me again and I was a stretchy 8. I couldn’t have felt more relief than I did at that point, I had stalled at a 7 with Elenore!

Midnight rolled around and Matt commented that River was missing her Valentines birthday! We all just laughed.

This was the point that everything got really fuzzy. I started to no longer be able to “control” the contractions like I did before and had to really start reminding myself to make low noises and not high ones through my contractions. Repeatedly I said silly things and then after the contraction ended would apologize to everyone around me. If someone tried to touch me during a contraction I would slap my hands around and then again at the end apologize. I felt very out of control. I started saying over and over “I just don’t know” since I couldn’t find a comfortable position to be in anymore. Every time I looked up in a daze I saw Kelly’s face or Matthew’s face and it was really comforting.

The urge to push hit so quickly that I was really caught off guard. I looked at Kelly and asked if I should push. She told me to wait and checked me again. I wasn’t quite ready but was a 9. She told me to use quick breathes through the contractions to stop my pushing. I remember being VERY annoyed with her at this point. I started to ask everyone who was close at the right moment why I was doing this and they would just keep reminding me of River. I didn’t find this to be a good enough reason anymore. I really had left all rational thought behind.

Kelly asked if I wanted her to pray and I remembering nodding my head yes. She prayed over Matt and I and prayed for a quick and safe delivery. I felt such peace wrap around me than and for a few seconds I felt God’s presence before my contraction took me away again.

Suddenly I couldn’t stop my pushing anymore and Kelly checked again to find that I had a small cervical lip that was the only thing hanging me up. She asked if I wanted her to hold it out-of-the-way while I pushed and all I could think was that it was going to hurt! She told me yes it would hurt but if I really wanted to push I had to. I made her wait and am not really sure how long I argued, reasoned and tried to ask everyone why I couldn’t I just go to the hospital and get that epidural now. (yes, silly, I know lol) Kelly calmly told me it would take longer to get the epidural than it would for me just to do this now. She finally informed me that I HAD to get out of the pool and I would push past the lip because it was starting to swell and then I could get back into the pool. It took everything inside of me to stand up with the help of Lauren and Matt get out of the pool and onto the  birthing stool.  I sat on the stool and just started to sob. I really remember Kelly saying “its ok, she needs to cry” and then got in front of me to start the pushing process.

This is the point where I feel like I left all of myself behind. Kelly held the lip while I pushed and I was so past the point of making any sense and just WANTED TO BE DONE! I kept saying how much it hurt and Matt kept saying “you can do this, a little bit more” and I wanted to hit  him! At one point Kelly told me to feel my daughter’s head and feel how close she was. I reached down and felt her  head and wanted to cry when I realized she wasn’t crowning yet, but was close. Kelly asked if I wanted to get back into the pool and I refused. I didn’t want to move. During one of the last pushes I was squealing so much that Kelly told me to stop squealing and just push! It was what I needed to hear and really started to push. Than holy moly the ring of fire hit!

They really mean it when they call it the ring of fire! Kelly  made me stop and feel her head to give my body a chance to adjust to her head and I just wanted to get her out! I remember just thinking “get her out!” and did a great big push to where FINALLY her head was out! Than I realized I still had her body and I really almost lost it but did the last push to get her out.

Oh the relief! It really is a indescribable feeling when your baby is finally out and  you did it!

This point everything slowed down and I went into a kind of twilight zone as things around me really sped up. I was just watching Kelly rub down River and suction out her nose and mouth when suddenly I heard Lauren tell me to open my mouth and she gave me a dose of herbs, than the shot into my leg and then suddenly I heard Sherri tell me she was giving me another shot of Pit and I all of a sudden realized what was happening. I was bleeding and it wouldn’t stop. Kelly told me to STOP BLEEDING and I remember mumbling, “ok” and pushing out River’s placenta. That was when everyone calmed and vaguely I remember thinking “oh, I’m ok now” and they let me hold River and bring her to my breast to nurse. Matt and I just looked at her and Kelly prepped her for her cord to be cut. Matt didn’t want to cut it so Megan got to cut it (she was SO excited!) and than finally it was over.

They got me onto the bed and wrapped up with warm towels, started an IV drip and I just sat there in stunned disbelief that I had actually done it! I had pushed out my daughter! All 8 lbs and 3 oz of her!

Later I asked how long I was actually pushing because it felt like hours and got the surprising answer of only 20 minutes! Wow… That was a shock. haha

I would do it all again in a heartbeat! Even with the scary part at the end Matt agrees that it was the best experience of his life.

I firmly believe I wouldn’t have made it in a hospital. I would have given up at the first suggestion during transition. I really needed a house full of people who knew what I wanted and were willing to help me fight; even when it was me, to get the birth I wanted and needed. I thank God everyday for leading me to Kelly and her team and having all the blocks fall into place for me to have this home birth.

God really does work in mysterious ways and it all ended with a beautiful 8 lb baby girl.

Home Birth Q &A

So since yesterday’s post I have seen many of the same questions being asked over and over again and I figured I should just write them down so if you are curious, you can check it out 🙂

1. How does a midwife watch the baby’s heart rate  if she doesn’t have a fetal monitor?– Midwives bring along with them Doppler’s, and stethoscopes that are meant to listen to the baby’s heart beat externally. Since I am a VBAC they will be listening at the beginning of the contraction and at the end of the contraction to see how our little one is handling the contractions. If I was not a VBAC they would check intermittently and try to check after a set amount of time or if they feel they need to check for some unknown reason. Midwives are very educated on how to detect a baby in distress.

2. What if something goes wrong?

– Again Midwives are very educated in birth and know how to handle the majority of situations. If it’s something they can’t handle they would immediately send me to the hospital for the care that they couldn’t provide.  A very small number of their laboring women actually need to be sent to the hospital.

3. If something went wrong, how far from the hospital are you?

– We are actually in the optimal range for something like this. Less than 5 minutes from the nearest OB and NICU.

4. Doesn’t the idea of giving birth at home make you nervous?

-Actually no. I have been researching home births and water births since way before I got pregnant with our angel  baby and before we got pregnant with River. Through my research I discovered that Midwives in Birthing Centers and Home birth situations have the lowest fetal and maternal deaths and the least amount of emergency outcomes than even hospitals. I’m actually safer at home than in a hospital surrounded by nurses and doctors.  Don’t get me wrong, Obs are amazing, but there is no reason why a healthy pregnant mother needs an OB at her side during a natural birth. They are over kill for the majority of us 😉 When they are needed though, I’m very thankful we have them.

5. So what is your home birth going to look like: if all goes as planned?

-I envision my home dimly lit, Enya playing on the radio, my husband, my midwife and her assistant all there to support me through the labor and encouraging me through each contraction. I see me walking, laying in  my birthing tub, squatting and just doing what comes natural to me in the moment. I see my midwife checking the baby’s heart beat periodically and trying her best to not be intrusive and mess up the rhythm I’ve figured out. I see me telling them when I’m ready to push and giving birth to our newest princess in a perfectly calm, warm and gentle birthing tub with all of them standing by my side. I see being able to instantly bond with  my child and be the first to even touch her.

Everything about it says calm and peace to me. And that is the complete opposite of what Elenore came into the world with. If all goes as I want, River will be born into a loving environment. Just like God intended.

6. Where is Elenore in all of this?

– One of our wonderful friends has already told us that she would take our daughter when I go into labor so that I can concentrate without having to worry about my 2 year old. We have truly wonderful friends.  And if I go into labor at night I might just let Elenore sleep through it and than leave when she wakes up. All comes down to when River wants to make her debut.

If you  have anymore questions about Home birth in general, I’m very willing to answer them. Only respectful inquires please. I’m not going to debate with you, but I will have a conversation with curious minds 🙂

Much love,
Mama Berry

We’re gonna take the plunge!

I debated even writing this since I know that I’m going to have people telling me that I’m nuts, but after some thought I figured, why not? I’ve been completely open with you guys up to this point, why not now?

So here it is: after a discussion with  my OB last week,  I came out of the experience feeling discouraged, scared, and completely let down. From the moment I knew I was pregnant she had been encouraging me and telling me that she would do everything in her  power to get me my VBAC and my 100% natural birth.  I was over joyed, I had found an amazing OB who was going to support me with my birth plan! I knew this was something that was rare, and I told everyone I knew that she was amazing and that she fully supported natural birth. She had even said to me that “she trusted women’s bodies to know what to do” and that was music to my ears.

Than it was like she flipped  a switch last week and wasn’t the same doctor. I went into the appointment anticipating to have the my birth plan discussed, have my questions answered and to come out feeling OK with my hospital birth. (Since the hospital birth has been a compromise with my husband from day one) Everything was going great until I started asking for specific percentages, and her specific ideas as to how my birth journey was going to go. It was like I was seeing a completely different OB. She suddenly wasn’t optimistic about my birth plan anymore and kept referring to her experience that was women who had previous c-sections couldn’t give  birth vaginally. When I asked her how many VBACs she had even seen she said only 3 and “only 1 made it, but she had had a vaginal birth before so….” I was shocked.  She didn’t even believe that I could make it and she was supposed to be a “VBAC supportive provider”?  That’s when she really started throwing wrenches into my birth plan:  I couldn’t walk past 6 cm or 5 cm if  my water had already broken, I was required to than lay down and have an internal monitor put on for the duration of my labor, (I.E break my water and screw a device into my child’s head), I couldn’t at that point use the labor tub or the shower, I was required to have an IV placed, (no option for Hep lock) and if “I didn’t progress” she was rushing me to c-section. No waiting, no chance to stand up and attempt to kick start my labor again, nothing.  I was to be prepped for surgery and that was it.

At this point she was really getting annoyed that I didn’t look as optimistic and that I was continuing to ask questions. That woman couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. I was utterly stunned. What happened to the OB that I had  been having great conversations with for the last 27 weeks of my pregnancy?!

I went home and just cried. It felt like she had pulled the rug out from under my feet. Matt wasn’t as stunned, apparently he had guessed she wasn’t what I thought she was and was just letting me figure it out on my own. I would have appreciated an heads up! haha He just held me and said we would figure something out.

That began the most frustrating, head ache inducing, intense round of deep conversations we have had in a long time. I felt like we were talking circles around each other: he wanted to stick with the Hospital birth and just go in ready to fight for what we wanted and to wait as long as possible at home so that I had a chance to labor naturally for as long as possible before they put the monitors on me and made me lay down. Sounds reasonable enough, but I had completely given up on the idea of having any kind of natural labor and delivery if we went to the hospital and had our OB calling the shots. I poured out all my fears, sorrows, disappointments and just lack of faith in the hospital. I didn’t trust the OB anymore and I really didn’t trust the nursing staff to let me do what I needed to do without a fight and a hostile environment unfolding in my hospital room.  Matt was just as dumbfounded. We were at a cross roads: we both knew what the other wanted and were both not willing to fold.

We slept on it Thursday night, brought it up again Friday night, got no where, slept on it again, mildly brought it up Saturday night, got a tiny bit of progress and than we made it to Sunday night and we decided to just sit down and talk till we had a solution. This talking in circles was getting exhausting.

I had been talking to other VBAC women, my mother and my Child birthing instructor and  had come to the conclusion that our only option was to get a midwife and have the home birth that I had been wanting from day one. I didn’t see any other solution that would not guarantee me a c-section at the end of a frustrating labor experience. I could tell I hadn’t shocked him, he had guessed that is where my thoughts had been going. His only concern was cost,  Midwives are not cheap. He informed me that he would have been perfectly fine with a home birth if our insurance had even covered a tiny bit of the cost. I didn’t think this was something he was willing to bend on and I was getting really hopeless. He than surprised me and told me he would look at our finances and see if it was even a possibility. I couldn’t believe it. He was at least looking!

After a long, agonizing 30 minutes on my part, I threw the idea of not eating out anymore and using that money for payments towards the midwife. That got me a reaction: he was all for it! Suddenly it was like he had a huge burden off his shoulders and we both could breathe.

We went to bed that night excited for the birth of River Lee, calm and utterly content in our decisions. We were doing it! We were going to have an all natural water/home birth with a midwife at our side.

I couldn’t be more a peace with our decision and for the first time since I talked to our OB last week I feel the fear, and tension leaving my body. I am getting what I wanted in the first place: a calm, 100% natural water birth in the comfort of our own home.

Yes, I do believe we have made the jump into the true realm of “hippie”. haha