[accordion_content title=”The Desire of a Heart…Caroline’s Story – A triumphant birth story from a dear friend. (June 2011)”]This first week with our new little blessing has flown by, but the thrill of it all will stay fresh in our minds for a long time to come! Like all special scars mamas, from the start I’d been reading, researching, and praying to make the most informed choice about a VBAC. Since my classical c-section seven years prior, I’d believed what the OB had told me after the delivery of my 26 week preemie, “You will always have to have a c-section for future pregnancies!” I actually talked myself into finding comfort in these words, thinking that I’d eliminate a lot of discomfort and stress by succumbing to surgery, however when I found myself pregnant with my sixth child, mothering hormones took over and I had the desire to do what was BEST for my baby. I knew that surgery was NOT BEST and after a little research I discovered that surgery was not only NOT BEST for me either, but was NOT my only choice afterall! A homebirth attended by our dear midwife friend, Jennifer Stewart, was my dream, but possibly not the safest route considering the slight increase of risk with my classical scar. If I were to rupture at home, my midwife would be unable to perform the necessary surgery to save mine and/or my baby’s life. I’d never ask her to put herself in that situation and being the responsible midwife she is, she’d never agree to it. When I found an OB willing to be on call for my hospital delivery and a midwife in his practice who agreed (although not so willingly) to attend my birth, I felt a plan coming together. I tried to think of everything I could do for a successful delivery: exercise, excellent diet, a natural protocol to ensure that I’d be GBS negative (and my labor would not be slowed down by antibiotics required if a positive GBS test,) taking Gentle Birth herbal formula the last 5 weeks of my pregnancy to make labor go quicker (less chance of rupture, right?) and not go over my due date with a larger baby that might be more stressful to push out. Best of all, Jennifer offered to still attend my birth as a doula, doing all she could to ensure that my hospital birth was as close to a natural homebirth as possible.
I was due Sunday, June 26th. On Saturday, the last shoe of my plans dropped. My oldest daughter was finished with her job at a summer camp for the week. I picked her up that morning so she could take part in her sister’s birth. She joked that I could go into labor just as soon as she took a nap! She got her nap and I still wasn’t dilated beyond the 3 cm that I had been for a week. My Braxton Hicks contractions seemed to have lessened even though I’d been pushing acupressure points (especially BL 32) all day. I finally took a walk around our yard and got one hard contraction to happen. I started dinner at 5:00 and seemed to be having good contractions every 30-45 minutes. I was beginning to need to breathe through them, but still only dilated to 3 cm at 10:00 pm. I just knew that I’d be in labor in the wee morning hours and exhausted from not getting any sleep, so I thought I’d lie down for awhile and perhaps the contractions would taper off and I could sleep a little? I messaged Jennifer and told her that I was going to get some rest and she probably should do the same. I anticipated making the one hour trip to the hospital in a few hours when (as the OB instructed) contractions were closer together. By the time my husband came to bed at 11:00 he noticed that I was breathing constantly and asked if we shouldn’t be thinking about going soon?
I was having bad back labor pains (still pushing BL 32 to alleviate them) and felt like I’d better get out of bed and perhaps use the toilet. Contractions were so intense that I worried I’d be stuck on the toilet. My thoughts were of a friend in that situation with EMT’s helping her off the toilet and into the ambulance, only to give birth a few miles down the road on the way to the hospital! My water conveniently broke before I made myself get back up and I checked to find that I seemed to be dilated past the point that I could easily measure! I tried sitting on the birth ball while my husband called my doula, Jennifer, to tell her that we were going to the hospital. As soon as I was somewhat in between contractions and could talk I told him to just tell her to come to the house that there was no way I was going to get in a car the way I was feeling. I asked her if it was possible for a baby to come that fast and she said that it was. She instantly turned back into my midwife and said she was on her way! [Midwife’s note: as soon as I got that call and heard the intensity in their voices, I was changing clothes while still on the phone and was out of the house in 7 minutes flat!] To relieve my back labor I knelt beside an ottoman in the living room and immediately felt like I needed to push. Hubby later told me he was scared to death at this point, but I felt like since we had no choice in the way things were going and if God allowed it to be this way, it must be going to turn out OK. I felt no pains in my upper abdomen where I’d imagined my vertical scar to be. Hubby asked my girls to get a towel to put under me and then called them over to help him catch the baby. I had her head out in a couple of pushes. Tremendous relief followed but no immediate contractions to help me push her the rest of the way out. I was waiting on another contraction to keep from tearing (I’d had episiotomies with the previous 4 natural births) but when hubby saw her breathing he encouraged me to go ahead and push. Out she came at 11:37!
The first part of her I saw was her tiny little feet, a visual I’ll never forget, as I flipped over to put her on my chest. Every inch of her was beautiful-so perfect. I thought about that signed birth plan in the diaper bag. All my picky little details that I was prepared to ask for at the hospital. And now I could do whatever I wanted! I had so much energy because it wasn’t even my bedtime yet. I felt like I’d just run a quick sprint. My girls were crying tears of joy, hubby was still in shock I think, and Jennifer was just coming through the front door. I was just amazed that my little girl was there in my arms on my living room floor. I actually got a homebirth afterall! God knew what I really wanted and gave me the desires of my heart without my even asking. Caroline had a peaceful, beautiful entrance into the world. I shudder to think of what it would have been like for her if I’d given in to the fears of others and had a repeat c-section. I believe that God understood my wanting to ensure the safety of myself, my baby, and my midwife by choosing to birth in a hospital, but in his omniscience He also knew that it would be just fine for me to birth at home and unassisted at that! Thankfully, we didn’t need to go to the hospital at all, as Jennifer expertly attended to all that needed to be done afterwards. God worked it all out and used all of my prior preparations in the perfect way that only He can and I’m so grateful!
(See more pics in the gallery)
[accordion_content title=”Naomi’s Swim – I had the blessed privilege of attending Maryellen’s labor and birth in October 2010, and when she posted her story, I was quick to ask for permission to share it with my readers. It’s beautiful! Sit back and enjoy!“]This birth never started for me as a “healing” experience or rite of passage but just a young mama’s need to acknowledge that her Savior is in control and his design of birth will always be perfect. I was knitting together a soul and she had the right to be born how her creator intended her to be. I pray this story finds her years later while she’s on her walk through this world and she exclaims, “Yes! And God is still that good!”
40 weeks. Again. We’ve been here before but this time it was different. I didn’t feel rushed, my stomach was obviously very large but I wasn’t too uncomfortable and I’d known the whole time this baby would be smaller. I ate better and generally felt well the whole pregnancy and I met the 40th week with anticipation, not frustration. Family and friends called wishing me well and asking, “Where’s that baby??” I told them, “Not done yet, she’s got a little while longer.” I spent the week cleaning, playing with the girls especially hard, and planning for the birth as best I could. No contractions, no cramping, no baby.
41 weeks. This was almost new territory for me. I tried to keep my spirits up and spent the couple of days trying to feel something and waiting….rather impatiently, I admit. I started cramping on the night I turned 41 weeks but they never turned into anything time-able. I awoke on Saturday after my night of random cramps and found other unpleasant symptoms of pre-labor and immediately called my mom and sister who would be driving the 6 hours to be here when the baby was born. I told them 24 hours, I swear! They got in the car and came, but by the time they arrived that night and were settling into nearby family’s houses it had stopped and I was feeling rather discouraged. I met Sunday with nothing. This was my dark day. I knew Sarah, my sister who came just for the birth, would be leaving the next day and I was showing no signs of having a baby anytime soon. I spent much of that morning at church praying for anything to happen. I can’t remember that sermon.
Sunday evening Sarah and I loaded into the car with her 11 month old daughter and we headed down I-64 to the mall for some serious walking. I got back into the car to come home and that was the most uncomfortable car ride ever. I had a vice wrapped around my stomach and lower back and I knew I would indeed have this baby, what do you know! I got home, took a shower and settled into bed while timing a few at 8 minutes apart. I was ecstatic. But I still didn’t believe they would stay and I fell asleep. I made sure when i woke twice for my nightly rendezvous with the toilet, I stayed up long enough to have another contraction. They stayed until 5am when I awoke with Nic to tell him,”Sorry babe, you’re going to work.” He was less than thrilled.
The morning came and Sarah was out of time for staying for the birth. She’s a teacher and couldn’t take off more time and had some hefty paperwork to finish that would probably already be hard to catch up on. I dropped the girls at pre-k, and headed over to my grandparents for breakfast and to spend some time with my sisters before Sarah took off. We decided to go for a walk, at a mountainous cemetery, with a baby in a stroller and my pregnant belly. it was nothing less than hilarious and the well-meaning grave diggers we passed agreed.
I had a pre-natal later that afternoon so I went and picked up the girls and drove home to get lunch ready and wait for Sue, my midwife. This was the first time I would see her since the day before my 40 week due date. She had been driving back and forth to Kentucky for a laboring Amish woman who was having a rough time and I was anxious to see her. My mom came and got the girls so Sue and I could have a relaxing visit and while I waited for her to get there I felt a few cramps but again nothing time-able. She arrived at 1:30pm and I proudly announced,”Bloody show!!” She was just as thrilled as I was. We are a strange bunch. We went about the visit and I told her I was concerned since this baby felt like she was having a hard time dropping down completely and thus why the no labor progression. She thoughtfully considered this then matter of factly stated,” get me two rolls of toilet paper, I need to call my husband.” ………
Okay. She questioned her husband on where exactly to position these rolls and I listened. I thought she was nuts. She hung up, had me lay down on the floor directly and propped one under my right hip and the other under my left thigh. I lay there for 5 minutes, while Sarah emerged through my front door, looking rather amused. I got up and immediately felt my stomach plunge down. No way. She told me to go plank-lean on the kitchen table and she came behind me doing a pelvic press. I immediately felt a contraction. I looked at her in disbelief and we stood there and pelvic pressed a couple more out. Sue having done her job left. Waving as she drove away,”See you tonight!”
My contractions didn’t stop. And they stayed at 3.5 minutes apart. Slightly uncomfortable. My mom arrived back with the girls and we stood in my front yard, me contracting away while I woefully bid Sarah and my younger sisters a farewell. She said,” You’ll have that baby by midnight.” (And she was close to that!) My sisters drove away and my mom and I returned inside to time them. Contractionmaster.com was my mom’s agenda and she pushed buttons marvelously. Nic arrived around 4:30pm, his normal time to come home, and I told my mom I wanted out of the house. I didn’t want to wait anymore, I needed to walk. We drove to the next town and walked Wal-mart. I hadn’t stepped foot in one for a long time but it seemed airy enough that I could walk and not feel claustrophobic and besides that I wanted to buy the baby’s bouncy seat. Yes, I’m justifying this store. We bought some random necessities and while waiting in line, I noticed I was leaning on the buggy a little harder than needed. I bought my things and went outside to call Sue. My mom and I grabbed a pumpkin and she went back into pay for it while i put the groceries away and called Sue saying,”Heads up! I think this baby is on the way.” She said I sounded too happy and said, “Call me later.” It was 7:30pm. We drove to my nearby grandmothers house hoping the lemon meringue she was baking me was finished. It wasn’t. She fed us roast beef and pimento cheese sandwiches instead. Best sandwich ever. I was having some good pelvic pressure by this time and I started doing the naive toilet dance, thinking if I just sit here it will go away. Nope. I was starting to feel rough and we left for home. It was 8:45pm. We made it home a little after 9pm, my mom timed a few more on the computer and then at 10:30pm we headed for bed. I thought at this first I had plenty of time. Even though the contractions were hurting I thought surely my aromatherapy pillow would take away some of my discomfort. No such luck.
I laid down and promptly called Sue, telling her, “I’m pretty sure this is for real.” She thought I was still too happy. I was advised to lay down for a little while and then call her back in an hour if they picked up. I hung up but didn’t have to wait long as the next contraction shot me out of bed. I grabbed my dresser and started to panic, I knew these pains. I stumbled out the door and knocked fiercely on the van door that was parked in my drive way. My mama opened the door and one look at my face knew we weren’t gonna get any sleep tonight. She followed me inside and started timing them. 3 minutes apart. I shook Nic awoke and told him to start getting the pool filled, he stumbled around aimlessly until he had enough waking sense to call Sue back. As I was swaying in the living room all I heard was, “Yea, this baby may beat you!” He hung up the phone and started blowing the pool up.
About this time I found my “place”. I would sit reclined on the couch until I felt one coming on and then in a leaping stride grab hold of the entertainment desk and sway. I was in this position until Jennifer, my back up MW came through the front door. “Hey, that’s what we like to see!” she exclaimed and I was instantly relieved. She checked me, I was at 7! Jennifer spent the next hour or so going back and forth between rubbing my back and supervising the pool set-up. I remember once her checking baby’s heart beat during a contraction peak, it sounded great. She was a God-send. I felt so loved and taken care of anytime she was near me. In time I moved to the couch and swayed back and forth on my knees, I heard the door swing open and Sue frantically went to work, finishing up the pool set-up and doing getting everything in place. I remember twice asking if the pool was set up and was relieved when Jennifer finally said,”It is, although we’ve still got some water to heat.”
I got into the pool and knew I wasn’t coming out again until there was a baby present. My oldest sister was in charge of the water, making sure the water stayed at a warm temperature. Jennifer poured water over my stomach and back until Sue asked if I wanted to be checked again. I was a little hesitant, knowing I wasn’t done yet and I may feel discouraged if we had a while. But Jennifer assured me I was close and if I was at 10 the closer I was to being done. Sue checked me. 9 1/2. I knew I had to “blow out candles” the rest of the way until I could start pushing. I sat up on my knees and instantly knew when I reached 10. I yelled, “She’s here!” I hadn’t even started pushing yet but I knew her head was already close. I sat back so Sue and Jennifer could make sure there wasn’t a cord or strange positioning, there wasn’t so I pushed a total of 6 times until her head came out, the next push Sue yelled, “pick up your baby!” I looked down and she was literally swimming away. I grabbed her tiny body and pulled her out of the water,”You’re a girl! Of course, you are.” I pulled her to my chest and her eyes were wide open. She just stared at me completely content. Jennifer ever so often would rub her back and put a new blanket over her. I stood to deliver her placenta and then someone cut her cord and handed her to Nic while I got into bed to start recovering and nursing her. She was here! Naomi Grace R., 7 pounds 10 ounces, 19 inches long arriving at 1am exactly on the 19th of October. Welcome home, baby!
I remember somewhere in the next moments, Nic asking excitedly if he could get the girls now (they had slept through the whole thing). The girls came in a little surprised by the mob of people but so excited that the baby was out. Zetta quickly lost interest and wandered back to bed, Evelyn stayed a little longer holding her and then getting a snack before going back to her room. I had some postpartum bleeding but once again the Lord intervened and put a stop to it after some herbs, that I would violently reject and a bad shot of pitocin. Seems all I needed was the designer of birth in the first place, but some wisdom and love from some fantastic women played its part as well.
– By Maryellen Rymer