Everyone has a Birth Plan and a Birth Story. Sometimes they follow the same script and other times the birth story writes itself. My Birth Plan was set to be more of a Birth Production. I had already breastfed my son longer than most people I know would think is normal or even find appropriate. Now I wanted to blow everyone’s mind with an all-natural birth attended by midwives. This type of delivery was something I believed in and whole-heartedly supported but I knew I wouldn’t be able to convince anyone else unless I had the Birth Story to back it up. 

I had crossed the 39 week mark. I had never been this pregnant before. I had two days of good contractions, and had touched base a few times with Jessica, one of our midwives. But my contractions never lasted more than a couple hours before they would completely disappear. Finally Wednesday afternoon, they became consistent and stayed at ten minutes apart. I told my husband, who had been a nervous wreck for weeks now, and then called and talked with our other midwife, Lisa. She said to contact her again when they were about seven minutes apart.  I waited a little longer and then snuck in to the bathroom to call Lisa again. I told her that they were still ten minutes apart but I was afraid Jeff wouldn’t be okay making the hour long drive if we didn’t start making our way towards the birth center now. I felt bad telling Lisa I needed her to go back. I knew her and Nicole, the newest midwife who would help assist at my delivery, had just gotten home from another birth and were starting supper. Plus Nicole had a baby at home that also needed her. Lisa said it was no problem she would throw her supper in a Tupperware and meet us there. The midwives at the birth center truly cared for the whole family.

I called my mom and Jeff called his. They came straight to our house to be with our three year old son, Chason. We promised to call once we got to the birth center and knew better how things would progress. I kept time of my contractions on the way down I-70 and Jeff would occasionally ask if they were still 10 minutes apart. I told him yes, but this was a lie they had increased to about 4-5 minutes apart, however there was no way I would let him know that.  We arrived at the birth center a little before 8:00 p.m. Lisa, Nicole and I exchanged hellos in the parking lot and they asked where my contractions were. I said 4-5 minutes and didn’t even glance back to see Jeff’s reaction. We were here and he would be okay now. 

Both of the birth suites where open so I got my first pick, the green one. Since it was afterhours we actually had full run of the entire birth center. Lisa asked if I wanted to be checked and I did. I wasn’t very hopeful about were my dilation would be. When I rushed to the hospital at the first sign of contractions with Chason I was only at three and then my water broke shortly thereafter. If it hadn’t broken, I am sure I would have been sent home. That’s when I heard Lisa say I was at seven centimeters. Seven centimeters are you kidding me! I have this battle half beat. I looked at the clock. I had four hours to have this baby on the 12th and I was feeling very confident. 

We called our Moms and told them to head our way. It was Chason’s big brother job to tell the MawMaws how to get there. He had attended every appointment with me. He helped the midwives week after week measure my belly, check my blood pressure and turn on the doppler to hear the chugga, chugga, sound of the baby he had fondly named Duke. He knew the directions by heart: “two green lights, past the big ole truck and then turn left at the baby doctors.” 

I also messaged Ashley to tell her we had arrived at the birth center and was dilated to seven. 

My brother dates Ashley’s younger sister. I knew that she was a photographer and a young nurse. I had always thought about having someone at my birth to take photos but was also hesitant to ask. I had recognized a huge sense of strength after the birth of my son and had often wished I had recognized it sooner. I knew if I invited someone to share our experience I wanted a younger female who didn’t have children yet, but who would be able to witness the strength of women and carry it with her into her own life and future labors. Ashley ended up being the perfect choice. She wasn’t just a nurse; she was a labor and delivery RN at a busy hospital and she was very interested in witnessing a birth outside of a hospital setting. It was also reassuring to know that she could handle the sights and sounds of birth. 

Our Mothers arrived with Chason, and Ashley arrived sometime after that. Lisa and Nicole started the water in the birth tub and added the lavender and peppermint oils. The stage was set. I was ready to perform…

Jeff and Chason came in and out of the room, leaving a group of highly educated, loving women to chit-chat. Everyone including our mothers had a background in nursing (except myself, I was never interested in any of that). They traded stories of their professions and of their own experiences as mothers. It had quite the slumber party feel to it. I found comfort in their voices and let nature and instinct guide me through labor. Midnight passed so I no longer held myself to any silly time constraints. 

   

I had found Chason an amazing little book called “We Are Having a Homebirth!!” by Kelly Mochel. We read it so many times he was able to recite most of it back to me. We had been very open about the process with him. I wanted him to be at the birth with us, but I also wanted him to be prepared. Baby Duke was going to be just as much his baby as it was ours. All of our preparation had paid off. Chason transformed into quite the little birth attendant. He brought me water, encouraged me, and he even shined his flashlight so Baby Duke could see the way out. He was absolutely amazing! It seemed that he could sense when we all could use a smile. He’d come right in, swirl his hands in the water, say “Come out Baby Duke, I’ll catch you”, and then he’d be gone again. 

The contractions were intense but not unbearable. With Chason’s birth I took the contractions like a fist fight, with every hit I fought them back. This time I let them come over me. I knew with each wave my baby would be that much closer to entering this world. I changed positions several times in the tub; I sang my birth song and pushed when I felt the urge. My water broke around 2 a.m. and I expected my baby to come out with the next contraction…the next contraction…the next contraction…

 

My baby did not come out with the next contraction or the next one after that, or even the next several contractions. Lisa and Nicole knew that there was something holding me up. This was my second pregnancy and everything had progressed just as it should up until this point. They began checking me during my contractions and determined that the baby’s head was tilted. Lisa told me that I would need to get out of the tub and we would try some creative positioning to get the baby to move. 

 

CUT SCENE- I had not planned anything past birthing in the tub. That was my birth plan. I had planned on getting out of the tub with my baby in my arms. My best friend’s sister had told me about her wonderful tub births…I was not going to have one. I was not going to be one of the peasant women who stood up from her crop row in the field and birthed next to a tree with no commotion. I was not going to experience the bliss of birth, me and my child, being wrapped in warmth of water. Everything seemed darker; I DIDN’T WANT TO GET OUT OF THE TUB. THIS IS NOT WHAT I HAD PLANNED. 

I needed to regroup; my birth plan hadn’t been written this far and everything past this point would be impromptu. “OK, OK, I’ll get out of the tub, but can everyone but the nurse and midwives go out?” I needed the guidance of the midwives and no longer wanted my audience to witness the unknown. 

The first position Lisa suggested on the bed was facedown, booty up ♫ I was yelling timber, I should have moved, I should have danced ♫ I also sang Katie Perry’s ROAR in my mind. I was desperately searching for inspiration from anywhere and everywhere.

Lisa rubbed my lower back and pressed my hips. I no longer had any sense of time but it felt like forever. Since the baby was still tilted there was no reason to push. I was wasting my contractions. What had once been waves of pressure to get my baby out had now been replaced with waves of doubt, the doubt all modern women are conditioned to feel about their bodies and their power to birth.  This position was no longer working. They had me roll over to my back and dangle my legs and butt over the edge of the bed. Lisa supported my weight and encouraged me through the contractions. 

At some point during this new position my mother-in-law entered the room. She voiced her concern for me, and said if things didn’t change soon I would need some relief, even if that meant going to the hospital. I loved her for what she said, this was not an emotion altered by medication, I truly loved her, and I knew she loved me. Lisa could have easily said you’re right, I am exhausted, we’ve been at this all night, lets pack it up and head for the hospital. But she didn’t. She responded back from an equally loving place and said that I was not having any medical emergencies, the baby’s heart rate was consistently 140 and I was perfectly capable of delivery at the birth center. She also said that if I wanted to go to the hospital they would absolutely do that for me, that no one was keeping me at the birth center if I didn’t want to be there myself. I said I’m okay; I’m okay, over and over again. I was worried about the people in the other room who were worried about me. They couldn’t see me they could only hear my struggle and that was hard on them. The unknown I was trying to protect them from was just the thing that had them worried most. I had to do this; I was going to do this. 

It was time to change positions again, but first they wanted me to empty my bladder. They said sometimes doing this would cause the baby to change positions. I absolutely did not want my birth story to end on the toilet!!!  

After going to the bathroom they offered the birthing stool. I really wish I would have researched more past the birth tub. I sat on the birthing stool, rocking, swaying and singing my birth song but this too didn’t seem to help. I WAS EXHAUSTED!

At some point my mother had reentered the room at the suggestion of Ashley. I was unaware that Ashley had removed her photographer hat and had been helping my family. She explained to our mothers the position of the baby and even pulled up a description on her phone. She told them different ways the hospital would address this. She also helped keep Chason entertained and to give Jeff a break. She said, “If I was Gina I would want my mom with me.” 

I did want my mom and I was glad to feel her reenter the room. During my son’s birth my Mom had also been there. I did not want her to touch me or talk to me I just wanted her presence. The same was true this time. I know it hurt her feelings. I didn’t know why I felt this way until her and the nurse where both in the room at the same time. They were both just too kind. I was too weak and didn’t want anyone to be nice to me. At that moment I needed strength and rest. I was now back in bed laying on my side with several pillows between my knees.

During my pregnancy with Chason I had read that Tom Cruise thought babies should be born in complete silence so that nothing would be permanently imprinted on their psyche. Well, Tom Cruise is a freaking idiot and has never birthed a child. My internal sound track shuffled to En Vogue ♫ free your mind and the rest will follow ♫ and I began shouting any and all doubts that came to mind just to clear them out of my head.

I’M F’ING PISSED OFF 

I JUST FEEL SO STUPID 

WHY DID I THINK I HAD TO BE SO TOUGH

I COULD HAVE JUST GONE TO THE HOSPITAL

I COULD HAVE DONE THIS AN EASIER WAY

I COULD HAVE DONE THIS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE

I CAN’T DO THIS

However every doubt I shouted out was just as quickly responded to with encouraging words and love from everyone present. 

I prayed to God and I cussed God, I visualized grabbing the apple from Eve’s hand but I also visualized shoving it further down her throat. I alternated between trying to gently coax my baby out with kind words to screaming “get this baby out of me.” I glanced around the once calming and tranquil green room and wished the walls were padded, I was losing it…

During all of this I was surrounded by strong, loving women, some of whom I had invited and other’s whose life calling was to be there. At Chason’s birth I only felt true love from someone else (outside of my family) once, when the nurse knelt in front of the toilet with the peri bottle and showed me how to use it. I was in a very vulnerable place and she showed me love and compassion. It was different here, love never left the room. Physically and emotionally I was surrounded by these strong, loving women, but mentally, mentally I was walking up the snowy exit ramp soaking wet, barefoot and bottomless to the hospital. I had to ask out loud what would happen if I went to the hospital, to get that last big doubt out of my head. Lisa sat next to me in bed, rubbing my back and began to answer. I heard the love in her voice, but I didn’t listen to her words. I already knew the answer to my question. If I decided to go to the hospital there wouldn’t be any immediate relief. I would have the same contractions between here and there. My family would have to check me in. The doctors and nurses who I had never met would hook me up to the monitors, they would check me and determine that the baby’s head was tilted. They would then decide if they would allow me to have an epidural or decide if it was too late. They would decide if I needed a C-section or they would tell me the baby was already too low to pull back up and out. Chason wouldn’t be welcome, and I would have to stay there for at least two days. At the hospital they would decide all of these things for me, but at the birth center I made all the decisions, at that moment I decided I could do it! I WAS NOT HAVING A MEDICAL EMERGENCY; THIS WAS ONLY DISCOMFORT AND EXHAUSTION. I COULD CONQUER ALL OF THIS BY DELIVERING MY BABY.

Lisa told me to give her three good contractions and then we could make whatever further decisions that needed to be made. I was repositioned on my back. Natalie took my left leg and Nicole took the right. Lisa stood between my legs and my mom was behind her. This was not a normal birth center position, this was a hospital position, it was however a familiar position, a position I had conquered before.

I gave the first contraction to Lisa, and immediately felt progress. I had delivered the head! I rejoiced ♫ head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes ♫ I knew the shoulders would be next and then my baby would be here. 

As I began to give the second contraction to Lisa I believed two lies to be true. As I began to push with all my strength, I don’t know what actually popped out further and faster, my eyes or my baby’s head. “HOLY SH*T!” I yelled aloud. Lie number one, I had not delivered the head with the first push, that had only been the feeling of the cervix coming all the way around. Lie number two the medications at my Chason’s birth had not completely worn off. Panic, panic, I still had to deliver the shoulders, I still had to deliver the shoulders, ♫ head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes ♫ “ARGHHHH!” I saw two faces enter the room at the exact same moment, Jessica’s and my baby’s. 

My baby was instantly laid on my chest, I caught a glimpse of what I thought might be little lady parts, but wasn’t for sure. A little girl? I lost my breath and thought I have a best friend. My family began to re-enter the room. The midwives finished checking over me and determined I didn’t require any stitches from delivery! Then I peeked down at my baby again. It was a girl! “It’s a girl! It’s a girl! I love her! I love her! I love her!” I said between tears. I had spent the last nine months scared of this outcome. Little girls absolutely terrified me, and to be honest I really didn’t think I wanted one. I had three little brothers; little girls were completely foreign to me. I had never even changed a little girl’s diaper. All of that was gone now, I had a daughter, I had a best friend! As this brand new little being laid on my chest and sucked in her first breaths of air, I realized that she had the same power within her that I had within me. That all women have within themselves, and one day, I would witness her strength in full bloom as she brought her own babies into the world. This brand new, helpless, little creature had the strength of a million women within her and she was mine. 

 

As the sun began to burn off all the doubts of the night and I was left to lie in bed, staring at my new little lady. I knew I would do it all over again, a hundred times for this outcome. It was not the birth that I had originally planned but it was a birth I was absolutely proud of. I had accomplished the birth that I wanted: an all-natural birth, with midwives, surrounded by people I loved. The bloody imprint of her little fingernail on her palm, matched my own, and was proof that my little Etta DeAnne had worked just as hard to meet me as I had to meet her.  If anything had been permanently stamped on her psyche it was that women are strong and she will always be surrounded by love.

 

To the Midwives that helped us out:

Jessica ~ Midwife

"ATTENDING BIRTHS IS LIKE GROWING ROSES. YOU HAVE TO MARVEL AT THE ONES THAT JUST OPEN UP AND BLOOM AT THE FIRST KISS OF THE SUN BUT YOU WOULDN'T DREAM OF PULLING OPEN THE PETALS OF THE TIGHTLY CLOSED BUDS AND FORCING THEM TO BLOSSOM TO YOUR TIME LINE." GLORIA LEMAY

Jessica entered the room when I was in full bloom. In a split second I felt relief and thought “Jessica’s here” then went right back to where my mind should be focused. Looking back I wonder how distracting this entrance would have been at the hospital, had the doctors been switching shifts or if a new unfamiliar nurse had just come on duty. One of the many plus sides of choosing to deliver at the birth center is that I was able to build relationships with all of these women throughout my pregnancy and at the time of my delivery they all seemed like old friends. 

Nicole ~ Midwife

“WOMEN ARE STRONG, STRONG, TERRIBLY STRONG. WE DON’T KNOW HOW STRONG UNTIL WE’RE PUSHING OUT OUR BABIES.” - LOUISE ERDRICH

I had just met Nicole two days before my delivery. She already knew a lot about birth, but had come to the birth center to learn more. She needed to assist in ten births before she could attend births by herself and asked permission to be at mine. I agreed for her to be there without hesitation. She had already heard all about Chason and Dukey Duke. Her youngest babies are close to my children’s age and we immediately connected. It was an absolute blessing to have the care of an additional midwife during my delivery. I couldn’t imagine my birth story without her. 

Lisa ~ Midwife

“A MIDWIFE SHOULD HAVE THE HANDS OF A LADY, THE EYES OF A HAWK, AND THE HEART OF A LION.” – ARISTOTLE

At some point I remember hearing Lisa say she didn’t like becoming “that midwife” I don’t know what midwife she was referring to but whatever midwife she didn’t want to be was exactly the midwife I needed. She was strong, calm and reassuring, all of the things I needed to be I was able to pull from her. 

Natalie ~ Nurse 

“SPEAK TENDERLY TO THEM. LET THERE BE KINDNESS IN YOUR FACE, IN YOUR EYES, IN YOUR SMILE, IN THE WARMTH OF OUR GREETING. ALWAYS HAVE A CHEERFUL SMILE. DON’T ONLY GIVE YOUR CARE, BUT GIVE YOUR HEART AS WELL.” - MOTHER TERESA

I was so happy Natalie came back to stay with us that afternoon. I had been getting dizzy when I would stand and we determined it was dehydration. While waiting for my IV bag to empty, I was able to gobble up all of the kindness she had to offer. I did not appreciate the kindness, like I should have; during labor but at this moment I wanted it all. She talked shop with my husband about all of the birth center’s remodeling work and the flooring. She also explained to us how Etta had been positioned and how it would be like trying to pull a t-shirt on while your head was slanted to the side. All of this made perfect sense to us now and we could easily digest all of the information since we were hours past the situation. She explained that they did transfer 18% of their patients to the hospital for various reasons and of those, half received C-sections. The birth center only had a 9% C-section rate!!! An article I recently read said hospitals have a C-section rate around 30%. After our visit and the fluids I felt much better. Several hours after delivering Etta, we loaded up our truck. We would be able to spend our first night as an expanded family together at home. 

Marci ~ receptionist

Marci was just as much a part of our birth team as the women who were actually present during delivery. I had known her since day one and we both agreed it seemed like I had been pregnant forever! She was always very welcoming. She and Chason formed quite the friendship discussing his love of monster trucks. I thought it was kind of funny when she stood outside the door to ask permission before coming in to meet Etta, of course she could come in she was practically family by now.   

Each woman brought their own strengths to our birth and each one was greatly appreciated. If I am ever blessed with another child I know exactly where I will be welcoming that baby in to the world!  


A special thank you to Ashley, 

who was invited to be our photographer 

but became so much more! 

Simply {YOU} Photography by Ashley

 

 

 

 

“We Are Having a Homebirth!!”

by Kelly Mochel 

can be found at

http://www.homebirthchildrensbook.com/