I’m not Super Mom. I’m just a Mom.

In honor of Mother’s Day coming up, I thought I would talk about being a Mother. What a novel idea, right? I won’t spend too much time patting myself on the back for that one! I think a lot of people look at me and my five kids and think, “Wow, she must be Super Mom!” Well I am here to say that I am not.

I am just a Mom. Just like anyone else. Living this crazy life with these wild and crazy kids. Some Moms have one kid, others have ten. I happen to have five and I couldn’t imagine life without any of them.

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I’m a Mom. I gave birth to each of them in very different ways. I went through surgery three times (I have the scars to prove it) and twice had a natural vaginal birth. All very pivotal experiences in my life. Each birth experience shaped me into the human, woman and Mom I am today. As a Mom recovering from surgery, I had a scar that needed to heal. Weeks of pain as I learned how to nurse my newborn. Nursing was a struggle from the start, but I powered through and we made it! After five children, I think I finally got it!

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I’m just a Mom. I wear many hats. Teacher, cook, maid, nurse, friend. I’m all those things and more. Show me a career that wears more hats than I do! I can’t find one.

I’m a Mom. I wipe noses, brush away tears, listen to corny jokes (and somehow manage to laugh!), wipe bottoms and potty train (oh the horror!) I change diapers, nurse my babies (sometimes for years), read, teach, clean up messes all day long. I listen to sad sob stories (sometimes way over dramatic, but try to have sympathy) and sometimes listen to (endure) tantrums and melt downs. I break up fights and discipline (not my favorite part of the job but necessary) and mediate “heated discussions.”

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I’m just a Mom. I teach them Scriptures and take them to church, show them the love of Jesus as best I know how. I teach them how to read on their own and (begrudgingly) teach them math. I read poetry and great literature, take them to the zoo and the symphony. We play at the park and try to enjoy this crazy life together. 

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I’m a Mom. I cook three meals a day (well at least one!) and clean up after their messes. And don’t forget the snacks in between (these kids are always eating!) I do a never ending amount of laundry and sometimes get that put away. It just keeps on coming! I help brush teeth and keep up with Doctor and Dental appointments. There is always something, right? I chauffer to activities. Life is very busy.

I’m just a Mom. I endure crazy bedtime rituals and sometimes have to raise my voice a little to get them to go to sleep (shh, don’t tell.)  I shop for their clothes and make sure they always have shoes to wear. I  get them ready in the mornings and when we do actually have somewhere to go, I somehow manage to get them all out the door with shoes on. That part is tricky. Oh the shoes, they are never where they belong! (So thankful we homeschool, I would never make it to school on time!)

I’m a Mom. I nurse babies to sleep and cuddle them when they are sad. I wear them sometimes just to get things done or maybe because they just need to be held close. I put bandages on scrapes and sometimes put bandages on just because they insist on having one. I kiss booboos and foreheads and comfort when they have had a rough day.

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I’m just a Mom. I get to hear stories that sometimes really are actually funny and make me laugh! I watch my kids have amazing imaginations as they make up stories and play together. I listen to them play and sing beautiful music and watch dance recitals. I listen to their creativity and just revel in how God made each of them amazingly unique.

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I’m a Mom. I have the joy of watching each of these children grow and blossom into amazing human beings. And they grow up way too fast. Sometimes I just wish life would slow down and we could pause this time in life. But other times I can’t wait to see the teenagers and adults they will become and the amazing things they will accomplish in life. Yes, I am a Mom who gets to experience the joy of all these things. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.

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So, Super Mom, I am not. I’m just a Mom. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It Takes a Village

I recently got an email from a doula friend Maria who told me that one of her clients had her baby and specifically mentioned my name that I was instrumental in her birth because I had recommended my OB to her. I remembered the conversation with this woman and hadn’t thought much about how I could have possibly impacted her having the birth she desired (a VBAC.) Maria said, “Sometimes it really does take a village!”

I started thinking about that line. It really does take a village! I have many aspects of life where I can say that it takes a village. It takes a village to homeschool my children, which is why I am a part of a wonderful homeschool community. It takes a village to parent my children. There are so many things in my life that I could say this about. I thought back to my initial experience with pursuing my first VBA3C. It was amazing to me as I recalled the many people who led me to that path and how each one played a role in my success.

When I first found out I was pregnant with my fourth child, I was terrified. I knew that it meant I would be having a fourth and final cesarean. I did not want to have another surgery, but I also knew that no Doctor would ever touch me after having had three cesareans. Two days after I saw that first positive test, I was nursing my son at church during VBS week and overheard one of the Moms in there talking about her wonderful OB. She said that she chose him because he would allow her to have a VBAC and just felt that he was in line with her wishes with birthing. I trusted this Mom’s opinion, so the next day in the nursing room I prayed that she would come in again at the same time. She did, and I asked her about her OB. I told her I had just found out I was pregnant again and would love to have a vaginal birth, but didn’t think any Doctors out there would allow it. She told me his name was Fred Cummings and that she thought I should definitely talk with him! She only had 1 prior cesarean, so she didn’t know what his stance was on multiple cesareans, but this was the first time I had ever heard about Fred Cummings. That night I emailed several people about my wishes to have a VBA3C. I didn’t think it was possible, but was praying that God would lead if it was His will.

My friend Robyn emailed her doula Kathy to see if she had a recommendation. My friend Marg that I met over the internet through Babyfit (love these ladies!!) asked her friend who is a childbirth educator if she knew of anyone. Robyn emailed me back with Kathy’s response, and sure enough she said that she found out through another doula named Katie, that Fred Cummings would be the one to go to. At the same time, Marg’s friend Sarah had asked on her business page for recommendations and sure enough, Fred Cumming’s name was given. That was the third time that day that I was told to call Fred Cummings. I made the call the next day.

I was so nervous to make the call, not sure if they would laugh at me over the phone. I told the receptionist that I had three prior cesareans and wondered if I could meet with Dr. Cummings for a consultation. Not only did she not laugh at me, she very quickly made an appointment for me for 2 weeks out! I was excited, and nervous at the same time. Meanwhile, I had made my first appointment with my other OB, but wasn’t able to get in with her right away. That appointment was scheduled after my appointment with Dr. Cummings, so I kept it on the calendar just in case. That weekend, I started light bleeding and feared the worst, that I was miscarrying. We were getting ready to go away on a family vacation and I wasn’t sure if I would have to go to the ER before leaving town. The bleeding never picked up, and we went away for the week.

All week, I really didn’t know what to expect. Was I really planning to try for a vaginal birth? Would Dr. Cummings even accept me as a patient? What if he looked at my operative report and said I was a bad candidate? What if I was really having a miscarriage and all this wondering is for nothing? We had a wonderful vacation and when I came home I worked on getting my operative reports.

A week later, with my reports in hand, my husband and I went to meet with the famous Dr. Cummings. I don’t think I have ever been as nervous as I was that day! We had a long wait in the waiting room, but fortunately our kids were over at their Grandparents house playing. When Dr. Cummings came in the room, he just put me immediately at ease. He was so kind and attentive. My husband made reference to the long wait, and Dr. Cummings quickly responded that yes, there would sometimes be a wait, because he gives as much time to each patient as they need. We were happy to hear that. He spent the next 30 minutes with us, attentively listening to us, and answering our questions. He looked at my report pretty quickly, and said, “So you’re going to have a VBAC then?” I asked him what he thought about where my former OB referenced my paper thin uterus. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Not impressed. Your body has an amazing ability to heal. You’ll do this! We will do this!” I wanted to cry right there. We talked about the risks and again he put my mind at ease. I really could do this. We noticed a bracelet on his hand that said something about prayer. He talked a lot about his faith and he told us that he doesn’t fear lawyers, he fears God. He told us that he truly believes that God placed him in Denton to help women who desperately need a Doctor like him. He said Denton was never his first choice, but that was clearly where God had placed him! He told us we could think it over, but that we could go ahead and schedule my first appointment right away. We shook his hand and left the room. When my husband and I walked out to the elevator to leave, we looked at each other and we were both in tears! We knew there was nothing to think over. I went back and scheduled my first appointment. Later that day, I canceled the appointment with my former OB. I had finally broken up with her!

So far in my village: the Mom from church, Robyn, Kathy, Katie, Marg and Sarah. They all led me to Dr. Cummings. I decided to look up Katie on the internet, since she is the one that recommended him, and I learned that she also had a VBA3C with Dr. Cummings. I emailed her right away to see if I could interview her to be my doula. We met, and I absolutely loved her as I knew I would. Katie encouraged me to join ICAN, so I did. The women in ICAN quickly became part of my village as they encouraged me on the road to my VBA3C. I started a blog about my journey, and my followers quickly became part of my village. My Babyfit friends were some of my biggest supporters along the way. They cheered me on every step of the way and I always believed that I would do it. Marg’s friend Sarah who I mentioned earlier, posted one of my blog posts on her business page and encouraged her followers to cheer me on and pray for me! It was such an incredible journey. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support of these women. Through ICAN and other local VBAC groups, I met other women who had also had a VBA3C. I was so encouraged by their successes. These women also encouraged me in pursuit of having a natural birth. I had decided that in order to succeed in my VBA3C, my best shot of success would be to do it naturally. The ICAN women and Katie all helped me so much in my pursuit of this. I started going to a chiropractor regularly (which I had never heard of such a thing during pregnancy!) to help get the baby in the best position. Let’s go ahead and add my chiropractor Erin to my village.

Once it came time to actually have my baby, I felt I owed so much to my village! I had to do this for them, as much as I did for myself! I knew that they were cheering me on and I didn’t want to let me down. I imagined in my head what it would be like to post that first picture saying, “I did it!!!”

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And when I did, it was glorious! My village cheered like they have never cheered before. It was as triumphant of an experience as I ever could have expected it to be! It was more. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It really does take a village. Thank you to my village for never doubting me, not once. Love to you all!

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(My sweet doula Katie, I could not have done it without her!)

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(The amazing Dr. Cummings, there are no words to describe how thankful I am for him!)

 

 

Still a beautiful birth: Part 3

Last week I shared the first two cesarean birth stories in my three part series of stories. If you missed them, you can read Jessica and Han’s story here and Maggie’s story here. This last story is from BJ and Jason Vercontaire. I met this couple earlier this year when they took my class. I loved getting to know this couple from the very start. I loved seeing them grow in their knowledge during our classes and seeing how well Jason was supporting his wife through the process. This story shows how sometimes birth is just unpredictable. You can plan with the best intentions of your birth going exactly the way you want it to. They did everything right. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way we have planned. Here is Gracie’s birth story:

Our journey to welcome Gracie into this word was nothing like I planned or wanted, but in the end, I am grateful for the amazing love and support we received during our journey. This is our story.

Late Friday night I noticed I had filled up my panty liner. I always wore one because of some discharge, but this time it was different. It felt just like water. I got up several times that night to use the bathroom, and every time I went, I had to change my liner because it was so wet. Around 5:30 on Saturday morning, I had to change my underwear because it was soaked with whatever was coming out. I went to work that Saturday and didn’t think that much of what happened the night before, but I kept having to change my liner throughout the day. My doula happened to be at my workplace so I mentioned it to her and she told me I had to call my midwife. I didn’t want to. I knew that if I called my midwife, things would get serious. I finally called Christy, my midwife, and told her what happened. She suggested I do an amnio test to confirm that I was leaking amniotic fluid. I met Jamie, her student midwife, at their office and as soon as she saw the liquid, she confirmed that it was amniotic fluid. It couldn’t be anything else.

Because my water had ruptured, I was placed on a 48-hour clock starting from the midnight before when I first noticed the leak. I had to be in active labor within 48 hours, or I would “risk out” of a homebirth due to an increased risk of our baby getting an infection. Christy suggested we see an accupuncturist that night to try to get labor going. So at 8:30 PM on Saturday, Jason and I arrived at Pam’s house to begin the process of jumpstarting labor. Pam was super sweet and we felt so welcomed in her home. She had me sit in a chair while she worked on me. After the accupunture treatment, she also did some accupressure. It was painful, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get labor going. We left her house about two hours later and went home to rest. I knew I needed to rest so I could have energy for labor, but it was very difficult to sleep. I continued to leak fluid, but not as much as the night before.

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I had some tightening that night and was really hoping they would turn into real labor, but that didn’t happen. We went to church the next morning (Sunday), and then back to Pam’s for more accupuncture and accupressure. I sat with the needles in for about an hour and then Pam did more accupressure. Again, it was painful, but this time I experienced some contractions during the accupressure session. We were at Pam’s house for 5 hours, going from walking to accupressure, and then walking again. I had some small contractions, but nothing strong enough to call active labor.

We grabbed some spicy Thai food before going home to rest. I tried not to think about the small amount of time I had left to go into active labor. Christy encouraged me to rest so that I could be ready for labor, so we slept for about 2 hours. We got up at 9:00 PM on Sunday and walked around outside, went up and down stairs, and curb walked. We did this for an hour with no result. Not even one small contraction. I was starting to lose hope but kept praying and asking God to grant me the desire of my heart – to have a safe homebirth. After an hour of walking, I sat on my exercise ball and used the breast pump while we watched an episode of The Office. I tried to relax and not think about the time clock. At 10:45, I knew it was time. Christy asked us to be at her house around midnight, and it would take an hour to get there. We began packing our hospital bag, and I got on my knees one last time to beg God for my homebirth. Jason handed me one of the affirmation cards I made. It read “His plan is PERFECT. Not my will, but His.” I didn’t like God’s plan. This is not what I had dreamed of or prepared for. I wanted to give birth without interventions in the comfort of our own home. Throughout my pregnancy, I did as much as I could to make sure my baby and I were healthy. I ate well, got adjusted regularly, read more books and articles than I can count, did my spinning babies exercises, but not of that mattered now. I had risked out of a homebirth and was headed for a hospital birth.

We met Christy at her house just past midnight. I allowed her to check me, even though vaginal checks were not part of my birth plan. She confirmed that I was barely dilated, and she said she felt the amniotic sac. This meant the leaking I had been feeling was coming from the top of the amniotic sac and baby still had lots of fluid. But at more than 48 hours past rupturing, I was no longer a good candidate for a safe homebirth.

We decided to go to a hospital in Cleburne. They are known for supporting natural birth, and I knew they were my best chance to have as close to a homebirth as I could have at this point. When we arrived at the labor and delivery floor, we were greeted warmly and taken to our room. Our nurse was super sweet and was very supportive. She told us they would do their best to make sure we could have a natural water birth. She even showed me the birth tub and I got excited at the thought of using it.

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The initial plan was to use a foley bulb to dilate my cervix. A deflated balloon is inserted into the cervix and then filled up. The purpose is for the balloon to go through the cervix to force it to dilate and jump start labor. The midwife on call inserted the balloon into my cervix (fun stuff) and I rested for a little bit. After a couple of hours, we decided to help the balloon move along, so the nurse tied a 1 liter bag of saline to the cords connecting to the balloon. So I basically had a 4cm balloon in my cervix tied to a 1 liter bag of liquid. The pressure was too much and I immediately started to go black and hear ringing in my ears, so they had to cut off the 1 liter bag. I went back to resting, and some time later, we tried a half liter bag, and that got the balloon out without me passing out. That was a weird sensation! I was glad to have it out and hoped it would start labor, but it didn’t.

Leah, my doula, arrived around 9:30 on Monday morning. I was so glad to have her there and she was able to give Christy a break. Leah massaged my back, brought me food, and encouraged me. She suggested different things to try to help labor going.

The next step was pitocin. Monica, our nurse for the day, started me on a low dose and gradually increased to the max dosage of pitocin. It didn’t do much. If I walked, I would get contractions, but they were mild and easy to get through. I spent most of the day walking with Jason and Leah and doing what I could to get things going. The pitocin wasn’t working, and I was starting to get exhausted. Three sleepless nights were beginning to wear on me.

That evening, the midwife on call suggested we go ahead and break my bag of waters completely, but she wanted to make sure Gracie was in the right position. We were pretty sure Gracie was not in the proper position which was preventing me from going into active labor. She performed a sonogram and we saw that Gracie was Occiput Posterior, meaning her back was against mine and her head tilted back. This meant her face, instead of the top of her head, was pressing into my cervix. Christy and Leah had me do a bunch of different things to get baby to turn. After a while, we did another sonogram and baby had turned! YES! The midwife on call broke my bag of waters and the contractions came immediately. These were real. They hurt, but I was just so thankful for progress.

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That night, I worked through the contractions. It felt so good to finally be doing something and moving towards our goal. Our photographer arrived and I started to get excited about meeting our baby girl. We walked the halls and I prayed I could have my water birth. Jason supported and encouraged me through each contraction. I had to really concentrate through each contraction and I felt like I was making good progress. The contractions got stronger and stronger and Christy suggested she check me to see if I was ready to get in the birth tub. I should have said no to this check. I had started feeling back pain and had a feeling baby Grace had gone back to being posterior. I told Christy in advance I didn’t want to hear a number, and she said “we still have some time before you get in the tub,” and I immediately knew I had not made much progress. I later found out I was only dilated to a 5 at this point.

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It was late on Monday night/early Tuesday morning and everyone was exhausted. Christy went home to rest, and Jamie (her student midwife) came to relieve everyone. I accepted some Stadol to help me sleep, but it didn’t really work. I still woke up with every contraction and the pain was all on the left side of my back. Sometime early Tuesday morning, I told Jamie I was ready for the epidural and more pitocin. Since my body was contracting all night, the pitocin would really work this time.

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I felt defeated as I slumped over for the epidural. I simply had no fight left in me. I had been working for 3 days on no sleep to get this baby out and was beyond exhausted both physically and emotionally. I didn’t want the epidural, but without it, I would have had to deal with intense contractions on no rest and I wouldn’t have any energy left to push. I was finally able to sleep. It wasn’t long before the epidural wore off, and someone came in to give me more. Around 10:30 (I think) on Tuesday morning, Dr. Farzam came in to talk to Leah and Jason. They left the room to talk and I knew they were talking C-section. I was in the room with just my photographer and I felt the longest and strongest contraction, and then immediately felt the urge to push. The nurse came in and I told her I was ready to push. She said she had to check me and when she did she said, “You’re completely dilated! You’re going to get your vaginal birth!”

With the next contraction, I got into a squatting position and began to push. The urge to push was so strong and it felt good to push. There was a lot of commotion as more nurses and the midwife on call filed in. I wasn’t making much progress in the squatting position, so the midwife suggested I get on my hands and knees. I pushed on my hands and knees for a while, and could feel my baby moving. I was so tired but so thankful to be pushing. I had to dig deep for every push, and could feel Gracie move down. I remembered one of the verses I wrote down on my affirmation cards: “ ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” I truly believe God granted me strength to push despite my exhaustion.

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I ended up sitting on the edge of the bed with my knees pulled up. I hated this position, but I could feel myself making a lot of progress. At some point Christy walked in and I was thankful to have her there, but I didn’t even have the strength to smile at her. I wanted to quit, but I also wanted to get my baby out! I finally felt her near my opening and heard Jason say “Oh wow!” I was so relieved.

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But then I heard everyone talking about what they had seen. I heard them mention it may have been fingers, vaginal tissue, my cervix, or my bladder. I was told to stop pushing so they could empty my bladder. They put a catheter in me and the nurses left to find Dr. Farzam. The next contractions were awful. I wasn’t allowed to push, but instead breathe through several contractions. Fighting the urge to push while having strong contractions, and having a catheter inside me 21was more than I could handle. I wish I could say I handled everything with grace, but I didn’t. I whined and complained and begged Christy to take the catheter out. I asked why it was taking so long, and told Jason to go find whoever it was they were looking for. Just then, Dr Farzam walked in and checked me to see what Gracie was doing. He said, “I feel eyes, nose, and mouth.” Gracie was coming out face presentation. Christy leaned over to me and said “You’re going to have a C-section.” At this point, I didn’t care. I just wanted my baby out, and I wanted it all to be over. The risk of injuring my baby was too great. Her head was bent all the way back, with her lips and nose coming out first. I didn’t want my baby to enter this world with any injuries. Dr. Farzam warned us that our baby would be severely bruised since she passed through my pelvic area face first.

They rushed me to the operation room and everyone there was so kind as they prepped me. They lifted a curtain in front of me and Jason came to sit by me. Right before the operation, Dr. Farzam asked Jason to say a prayer. That meant so much to us. I felt at peace with the situation as Jason prayed over the procedure and everyone involved. Jason stood up to watch the operation and I watched his face the whole time. I was told later that Gracie was so far down the birth canal, a nurse had to reach in and push her back towards my uterus, and when she did, Gracie latched on to her finger! I felt tugging and some pressure for a while, and then I felt a weight lifted off my belly. I knew she was here, and she let us know about it with a loud cry! They put her right by my face immediately as her cord pulsed. I loved feeling the warmth of her face as she cried and cried. My baby was here and she was safe.

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It’s been difficult to process what happened. I am thankful for our journey, but I also feel disappointed, jealous, guilty, confused, broken, embarrassed, and sorrowful. The midwives and nurses have all told me I did everything I could and worked hard for my baby, but there’s still a part of me that wonders what more I could have done or what I did wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t have slumped in the car so much so she would be in the proper position. Maybe I should have done just one more inversion. I still daydream of the birth I wanted. But I see beauty in our story now. Despite having my water ruptured for so long, the staff at the hospital allowed me to go through the motions of labor. I was able to push and almost had my baby out! Our birth team did what they could to try to give me the birth I wanted, but also made sure Gracie and I were safe. I am so proud of our daughter. Throughout the whole ordeal, she remained strong, her heartbeat never going out of the normal range.

I know the healing process will take a while, but seeing my baby girl makes it all worth it. I am so glad she is safe and that she wasn’t injured during the process. Jason’s love for me has never been so obvious as it was during labor and during this recovery. He is a perfect example of Christ loving the church. It’s not the birth I wanted, but it was beautiful because of the love and support given to Gracie and I by Jason, our midwives, our doula, and the amazing staff at the hospital.

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Watch their sweet video “Meeting Gracie” here:

 

 

 

The 2VBA3C birth of Cayden Daniel

This is the birth story of my second VBA3C. It was a long hard pregnancy. I’m not going to lie. With my first VBA3C, I talked about it daily. I blogged about my journey, and included everyone in it. With this pregnancy, I was pretty quiet. Not because I wasn’t excited about being, pregnant again (I was!!) It was just a different pregnancy this time. Even though I was doing all the right things (going to the chiropractor regularly, doing my pelvic tilts and sitting on my birth ball) I still had unbelievable back pain. My belly was huge almost from the moment of conception, so I was carrying around a lot of weight for a very long time. Halfway through the pregnancy, I got very sick and was sick for almost a month. It even landed me in the ER with panic attacks related to the illness. It was awful and I never quite recovered.

This is also the first time that we didn’t name the baby until the birth. I know that was hard on my husband as he always liked to have the name nailed down early on. We struggled between several names for a very long time, and I just knew I couldn’t decide until he was born. There was this disconnect that I have a hard time explaining. I wished I could have an amazing water birth at home or in a birth center but had chosen to stay with my supportive Doctor in the hospital. I was at peace with this decision but still wished I could have that Midwife birth I so longed for.

I learned at 37 weeks that I was Group B Strep positive again. This meant that I would have to try and make it to the hospital early in my labor to receive antibiotics before the baby was born. This happened the last time, so I was prepared for this. Since my last labor went super quick from the time my water had broken, I was prepared to head to the hospital soon after my water broke this time around. I just knew that I would end up delivering a baby on the side of the road otherwise.

Starting at about 38.5 weeks, I started what is called “prodromal labor.” For those of you who have not experienced this, it’s not fun. Stop and start contractions that can last anywhere from a day to several weeks before you actually give birth. Each time the contractions would start up, I would think something was happening, and then later on it would die down. I think I wore out my cell phone texting my doula that I was so tired of this stop and start pattern. At my 39 week appointment with Dr. C, I decided to let him check my cervix. I knew I was risking a mind game, but I really wanted to know if these contractions were doing anything. I was 3 cm, 50% effaced and -1 station! I knew I could stay this way awhile, but I was encouraged.

My due date was Easter Sunday, also one day after my birthday. The day before my birthday, I thought for sure labor was starting. I had strong contractions all evening, and then it suddenly stopped again. I sat on my floor and just cried. I knew that I could very well be pregnant two more weeks and was willing to go that far, but really couldn’t imagine two more weeks of this. I cried on the phone to my doula, Katie, and she encouraged me to get my mind off things. The next day I enjoyed my birthday with my family and friends. I didn’t have contractions all day. I just enjoyed my day. I went to bed that night thinking I was in for the long haul. I woke up around 1 am to contractions. They weren’t super strong, but they were enough to wake me up. I walked around a bit because I couldn’t get back to sleep. Around 2 am I was standing in my living room and felt a gush of water down my leg and saw a puddle on the floor below me. Was my water really breaking 2 hours past my due date? I walked around some more and then around 2:30, another big gush of water. So I called my doula. Typically, I wouldn’t suggest rushing once your water breaks, but I had in the back of my mind what happened the last time and I was concerned about getting the antibiotics in time. The contractions were picking up, so I decided to head to the hospital around 4 am. I called my photographer and another Birth Boot Camp instructor who was planning on observing my birth. Everyone was on the way to meet me there. My nurse’s name was April and she was fabulous. Caryn She checked my cervix and told me I was still only 3 cm and head had moved back to -2 station. Not only that, I tested negative for amniotic fluid. I felt so defeated. April called the on call Doctor, Dr. B and said she wanted me to walk the halls for an hour and then come back to be checked.

So we walked, and walked, and walked some more.

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I had my entourage of women following me, while my dear husband took a nap on the hospital bed! He said I was too calm to be in real labor… Steve sleeping

When I was re-checked, she said I was 4 cm, but still had a bulging bag of waters. So Dr. B. sent me home. She said despite my GBS status, I had a better chance of VBAC if I went home.

 

NurseSo home I went! We took a nap for a few hours while our kids were at Easter services with our friends. Then we had lunch with our kids and friends. My labor was stalled. Contractions were sporadic and didn’t hurt much. I was so frustrated! By evening, I was so discouraged that I called Katie for advice. She said it was best for me to lie down and get some rest, since a tired uterus is not a productive uterus. This was the best advice! I lied down around 8 pm and the contractions started picking up within 15 minutes! By 9 pm, the contractions were so strong and close together, I was pacing around the house for fear that the baby was going to be born on the way to the hospital! Our friend arrived around 9:30 to stay with the kids who were already in bed, and by 9:40 we were on our way back to the hospital.

Katie was already there waiting for us when we arrived around 10:15 to get checked back in. We were in the same room as the last time, and since it had been more than 12 hours since we left, April was back on shift and was our nurse again! She was the charge nurse this time and said that she had carefully read my birth plan and hand selected the most natural minded nurse for my delivery! April checked me again, and I was 5 cm. Not exactly where I wanted to be still, but I knew this time it was the real deal and there was no way I was leaving! Caryn2 She asked me to walk the halls again. This time, Steve did not get a free pass! He had to walk with us.

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This time, there wasn’t much talking on our walk. A lot of stopping through contractions, deep breathing and belly lifts to get baby’s head to engage. Around midnight I was checked again, and I was 6 cm. Finally, they officially agreed to check me in! Looking back, I am so thankful they took so long to “check me in” officially. Otherwise, I would have been on a time clock and who knows what would have happened. Since I was GBS positive, she immediately put in my IV and administered the antibiotics.

Once that was done, things started to get serious real fast. Contractions were strong and close together. I labored on all fours over the birth ball.

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I was so exhausted from being up all day, I really just wanted to sleep. We got out my essential oils and put Valor on my neck to help calm me.

 

OilsWithin minutes, I was asleep! I slept for about 20 minutes through some pretty hard contractions! I needed that power nap, because I was almost ready to push! We had music playing to help calm me and peppermint on hand for any nausea.

 

Playlist

I wish I hadn’t been checked so often, but again I asked the nurse to check my cervix. I was so certain that it was the end. 7 cm.  Judging from my last labor, I knew that it could happen at any moment. Last labor, I went from 8 cm to 10 cm in 5 minutes. The nurses left the room to call the Doctor to be prepared. Katie took me to the bathroom to have me sit on the toilet. Within seconds I was screaming to stand back up. I could feel the baby moving down and felt like he was ready to come out! I was so sure that the baby was going to come out right then and there. Katie and Jayde, the delivery nurse, quickly got me back to the bed. By this point my body was already telling me to bear down and push. Jayde checked me and said I was just about complete. I sat up in the bed and just began to push. No one in the room told me when to push.  They simply let me do my thing. I never heard any counting during my pushes.  Jayde was wonderful. She stayed out of the way, but was there the whole time. Dr. B. was still nowhere to be seen, but that didn’t matter. I kept pushing when I felt the urge and rested if I needed to. Then the head came out and I heard my baby cry. His body wasn’t quite out yet, but I never panicked. Jayde was calm and helped guide the shoulders out on the next push. I heard one of the nurses say that Dr. B. was in the parking lot.  I was so determined to have that body out, I yelled, “Come on baby, come out now!!” He must have listened to me, because he was out on the last push!

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They immediately put him on me skin to skin, and I said, “Hello Cayden!” I knew in that moment that his name was Cayden. We had gone back and forth on names for so long, but it just felt right in the moment.

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He was born exactly at 2 am, 24 hours after I had felt my first gush of water at home. He was huge as far as I could see! He had cute little rolls in his legs and neck. He was just perfect in every way.  A minute or two later, Dr. B. was standing there beaming at me, saying “Great job Mama!” She was so sweet and patient. She waited for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it.

 

Cord

She let the placenta come out without tugging impatiently on it.

I really didn’t think that this birth could possibly have topped my last VBA3C, but I have to say it did. Amazingly, Dr. C. was not even at this birth. I was so worried about whether or not he would be at my birth, but learned that it didn’t even matter. He has done such an amazing job training the other Doctors and nurses at that hospital.  They truly respected my wishes in every way imaginable. In the end, I even got that Midwife birth I was hoping for! I learned after the fact, that Jayde had recently moved to the U.S. from Australia where she was a Midwife!

 

Jayde

She was the perfect person to be there to help me bring my little Cayden Daniel into the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth team.

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Cayden weighed in at 9 lbs 4 oz (my biggest baby yet!) and 20 inches. Within 40 minutes, he was latched on and nursing!

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We did it! Again! Hard work, determination and an amazing team. We did it!

Why natural birth?

I was on a Facebook page the other day and a woman remarked, “I just don’t understand why any woman would choose natural childbirth anyway.” Of course it bothered me that she would make such a statement, but I realized that at one time, I was that woman. I’m sure many of my friends are wondering what is up with my sudden interest in natural childbirth. We hear these statements all the time from people who just don’t understand why anyone would want to go through pain if they don’t have to. With advancement in medicine these days, it may seem “old fashioned” or “outdated” to attempt a natural birth. Of course there is my all time favorite statement, “You know, you don’t get a medal for having a natural birth.” And yes, I said that once or twice back in the day. No, maybe you don’t. But a medal is not the benefit I get from natural birth.

When I first started having babies, I was the one who made those statements. I didn’t get why anyone would choose pain over the greatest invention ever, the epidural. Many women choose this route every day, and sometimes it works out just fine for them. Often, it does not. I walked into my first birth blindly. I truly was not educated on childbirth, I didn’t know anything about hospital interventions. I didn’t take the time to carefully choose the right provider. I didn’t even consider a Midwife or an out of hospital birth. I just moved on auto pilot and did exactly what I thought everyone else was doing. Unfortunately, I ended up with three very unnecessary cesareans. I was your typical induction which led to a cascade of other interventions which ultimately led to a cesarean on my first birth. My second birth was a “failed VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean.)” I choose to put that in quotes because I was never really given the opportunity to VBAC because again, I was not with the right provider. My third birth was a repeat scheduled c-section because I was told I no longer had a choice in the matter.

After my third surgery and various complications from the surgery, I began to educate myself on birth. A friend of mine had just had a VBAC herself and had delivered without any medication. I was intrigued by her experience and began to learn what it really takes to have a VBAC. In my mind I knew I was not done having children, but was afraid to even consider getting pregnant again because of the three surgeries behind me. When I found out I was pregnant,  I was terrified! A fourth surgery just did not seem like the right option for me. I began to ask around “birth circles” and found that the same name kept coming back to me: I needed to go see Dr. C. Long story short, I met the amazing pro-VBAC Doctor who is quite famous not only in our area but elsewhere as well. Women have driven 6 hours across state lines just to have their VBAC with Dr. C! He is that good. Dr. C. told me that I did have a choice this time. I could have a vaginal birth, and he would do everything he could to help me achieve that. After educating myself and taking all of the necessary steps to achieve my VBAC (of course it wasn’t a sure thing, but I wasn’t going to get to the end and regret not trying everything!) I ended up with the most amazing natural vaginal birth of my daughter Shelby. You can read the whole story here.

If I could bottle up the amazing feeling you get after a natural birth and sell it, I would be a millionaire. I wish all women could experience this! Some women who have had a natural birth have said that it was completely pain free. Others (myself included) say it was painful but so worth the pain. Natural birth is different for every woman, but one thing remains the same: it was worth it. No, I didn’t receive a medal. But I gave birth to my daughter the way I had desired for so many years. Cesareans are necessary for some women. But it is not necessary for 1 out of every 3 women. This high rate is alarming and doesn’t seem to be dropping any time soon. I am not against cesareans that are life-saving. That is what they are meant for! Unfortunately, they are not always used for that reason.

This is why I chose to become a natural childbirth educator. I have a passion to help other women make informed decisions with their first birth. My first class starts in January and I am so excited to begin!