The Birth of Jackson Lynn

leaf ranchctI remember looking over my fertility chart feeling queasy as I wondered… Could I really be pregnant again? It was the first time we had tried to conceive after the last miscarriage just a few months before. I was only 10 days past ovulation, there was no way I could be feeling sick already. I thought, its all in my head, its just not logical to have symptoms this early. But alas I could not wait, a few minutes later I watched a faint pink line stretch across the window, confirming what I had hoped for all along. I was pregnant! Suddenly a pang of terror ran through me. Would this child live? Two others had succumbed to the darkness of my body, denied the breath of life. There was no reason that this one should live either, sadness and woe filled my heart. I clung to the little hope I had left in my heart and I prayed that God would have mercy on me.

Sunday, October 14th, 2012 – 5 days past my estimated due date…

I awakened at what had become my usual time due to the incessant need to urinate and annoying back pain at 4:30 am. I waddled to the bathroom and then returned to bed hoping to sleep for a while before beginning my day. I lay there restless and hungry when I realized I needed to go to the bathroom again. I grumbled to my slumbering husband, “this is ridiculous, I just went pee! I cant believe I have to go again already!” I went to the bathroom again and upon returning to the bedroom, I felt a stirring in my abdomen. It wasn’t the normal violent attack that I had grown accustomed to from my extremely active and seemingly limber son, it was a flurrying of sort. Something inside told me “its time, your baby is coming today”. My first official labor pain was at 5:05 am. Brad, my husband, started tracking them on his phone to measure the duration and elapsed time. I decided to call my long time friend Hannah who had come to town to assist me in labor. I told her that I wasn’t sure if something was happening or not but I wanted to give her a heads up and that I would call her back later. Sure enough my contractions persisted and grew more intense. Hannah arrived sometime around 7:00 am to help me. I breathed deep and waded through my contractions like I was riding stormy ocean waves. They swept down harder and harder but I kept my focus on my baby. Hannah and I talked and laughed between pains and I got in and out of the bath tub a few times. Suddenly I felt overwhelmed and could not rationalize thought… all reason had left my mind. I remembered the great midwife Ina May Gaskin saying in her book “your brains have gone to your bottom” and so they had. My loving husband called the midwife and doula, then relayed to me their advice to rest and stay calm because I probably had a lot longer labor ahead of me being a first time mother. I could not accept what he was saying, I could understand the meaning of the words leaving his mouth but they held no relevance for me. I told Hannah, Brad and Eric (our friend and driver), “NO! This baby is coming soon! You do not understand, I am not doing this 12 HOURS!… We need to go to the birth center now!”

We made the hour long car drive to Lafayette from Baton Rouge where our birth team was waiting for us. They had the birth tub full of hot water and I could not have been more anxious to dive in. The warm water felt strange and almost foreign as every nerve in my body ignited with each rolling wave. I felt light and suspended, as if I could float away.

As my pain grew, I became acutely aware that my sons arrival was approaching. I made my way to the toilet where I regained some control over the pain and myself. At once, a shadow of fear fell over me. I went from total confidence in my body to sheer disbelief. I told my doula, “I don’t know about all this” she asked me what I meant in which I replied, “I’m just not sure, maybe I should be in the hospital.” She looked at me tenderly and said exactly what I needed to hear, “everything you need is right here, everything you wanted to happen is happening right now and your baby is coming soon.” In that moment I realized that unlike those other babies lost, I would soon be holding my very own son in my arms. Not a minute later I felt him push down hard inside me. This was it, no turning back, no room for doubt. This baby was coming out.

I stumbled across the room from the toilet to the bed and asked for the midwife to come in. She came in and asked if I was feeling pushy and with a nod I lowered myself to the bed for her to check me. Laying across that mattress became my personal hell for what seemed like ages as another violent wave crashed down on me. I felt as if my body might dismember itself right then and there. She assured me I was complete and asked if I was ready to push my baby out. “Yes” I cried out. I stood and felt him push down with such force that I felt he would fall out and on to the floor below. I felt a warm gush of liquid flow down my legs and splash at my feet. My bag of amniotic fluid had finally ruptured.

I rushed the 4 feet from the bedside to the birthing tub. I knew that if I didn’t get into the water right then, my dreams of a water birth would not come to fruition. The next and almost final wave brought my sons head down through the canal, the pressure was unbelievably strong. And then I felt it… a searing hot fire leaving my body and I remembered Hannah telling me “when you feel the ring of fire, that’s when the baby’s head is coming out.” Suddenly someone shouted “slow down, pant like a dog!” But I could not pant, I could not even remember what it would be to pant. After all, my brains were in my bottom just like Ina May had said. Yes, something primal took over me, that searing hot fire urged me to dig deeper, push harder and then, he left my body. Almost totally in one fluid motion he passed from womb, to water, to earth. Jackson Lynn Iverson took his first breath and then I heard his first cry. Instead of pain washing over me it was a wave of relief. Total relief and utter bliss flooded my soul. I turned over in the tub and took my living, breathing son in my arms. “Oh my God, I have a baby” I gasped. Surreal is the only appropriate way to describe the moment… He is my rainbow. My beauty & light after the flood of sorrow that could no longer hold a place in my life.

Jackson Lynn Iverson
Total labor 6.5hours
50 mins at birth center prior to birth
9 mins of pushing
8.2lbs and 20.5 inches long

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Natural Birth Resources in Louisiana

Louisiana natural birth link

Most women think that they do not have many options when it comes to the birth experience but even more commonly than that, women do not even give it a thought at all.

The standard practice in the US is that a woman gets pregnant, schedules an appointment with an obstetrician, goes through a series of vaginal exams, ultrasounds and if she’s lucky escapes with a medicated vaginal birth. I say lucky because 1/3 of the women in the US will give birth via cesarean section. Which is necessary in some few cases. This has become the “normal” birth. But what is/ should be “normal” birth?
That is something that every mother must ask herself.

Do your research, know your options and decide for yourself what you want, are comfortable with and how you will feel about each choice. The only wrong choice is not choosing at all but relinquishing your body to a medical provider that many times does not practice informed consent.

Below is a list of natural birth educators, doulas, midwives and written resources. Most of these women will talk with you free of charge and help you discover what it is that you truly need and want for your birth experience.

Midwives

Emmy Trammell 985-974-2724

Alina Gardner Brmidwife@gmail.com

Sally Acosta 985-259-3557

Sherri Daigle 225-293-5836

Lynette Robinson at Gentle Choices birthing center 337-501-2916

Anne Lastrapes 337-278-4354

Doula/educational services

Lacey Hebert http://tolbirth.com/index.php/about

Nicki Pugh 225-819-7977 or visit her on Facebook at Old River Doula

Nola Nesting 504-655-1819 or visit them online by clicking here.

Jenny Dickerson 985-320-0016

Kira Smith 337-366-0303 http://www.motherbirthla.com/#2755

Rene Johnson Birth Help http://www.birthhelp.com/

My recommended reading list:

Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth
Active Birth by Janet Balaskas
Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent
Pushed by Jennifer Block
Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

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All Breasts Are Not Created Equal: A Guest Post

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When I was 25, after years of trying to conceive, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Other than fertility issues, I never really thought about how that diagnosis would affect me in other ways. After only two rounds of Clomid, I finally got pregnant for the first time! A co-worker had also just found out that she was pregnant with her first, and through our pregnancies, we developed a deep bond that quickly developed into an amazing friendship. When she first asked if I was going to breastfeed, I immediately said no way! I had never in my life known anyone who breastfed, and neither did my husband. I was completely ignorant on the subject. She continued talking to me about it and finally convinced me that I should at least try. After a male co-worker of my husband, whose wife was also pregnant, had a conversation with him about how awesome breastfeeding was, he came home to tell me that I should breastfeed too. So, I made up my mind that I would try. When my breasts never grew or hurt throughout my pregnancy, I never gave it a second thought other than being a bit upset that I hadn’t gotten that perk of pregnancy–big boobs! My daughter was born at 38 weeks via cesarean section after nearly 24 hours of labor and my body doing nothing. I felt like a failure for the second time. Not only could I not get pregnant on my own, now I couldn’t give birth on my own either. This drove me to be more determined than ever to breastfeed my beautiful Cecilia, even though I had virtually no support from my family. Well, she latched immediately and nursed for what seemed like hours. Things seemed to be going well, but in reality, they weren’t. She wasn’t pooping much, became severely jaundiced, and my nipples had become a cracked, bloody mess. However, I pressed on through the pain. After 5 days in the hospital (3 of which were spent with her under the bili lights for the majority of the time), we went home. I continued breastfeeding. A couple days later, we took her in for her 1-week checkup, and she had lost a full pound. I was devastated. At the suggestion of my doctor, I continued nursing, pumping immediately after (even though I got NOTHING out), and supplemented with formula. With no real support and very little education about breastfeeding, our nursing relationship ended at 8 weeks. I had no explanation. No answers. I was crushed.

Fast-forward two and a half years to my third pregnancy (2nd live birth). I was determined to make breastfeeding work this time. Again, the fact that my breasts did not grow didn’t really cause me much concern. William was born in April of 2012, latched immediately, and nursed beautifully. I saw a lactation nurse several times while in the hospital. Other than mentioning that many women with PCOS struggle with breastfeeding, she didn’t have anything negative to say. His latch was perfect, and he seemed to be pooping and wetting fine, even though he continued to lose weight. Again, at the first checkup, my baby had lost nearly a pound. By the next week, he had continued to lose. We started supplementing, but I was determined to make it longer this time with breastfeeding. A friend added me to a local breastfeeding group. That was both the best and worst thing that could’ve happened to me. I was made to feel like a terrible mother for feeding my child formula, aka poison. I wasn’t trying hard enough, needed to pump more, nurse more, drink more water, take this pill or that one. I was told that “my body was made for this” and that I just needed to work harder. I was devastated and spiraled quickly into severe postpartum depression.

Finally, a mom in the group asked me some questions about my breasts. (The good thing that came out of my joining the breastfeeding group!) I had always hated them! They were super tiny (even though I have always been plus-sized), and they are very oddly-shaped, as well as widely spaced. They are triangular-shaped, point downward, and my nipples turn inward. They are also very uneven. Although I didn’t know it (and had never even heard of it), I had all the classic signs of IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue), also often referred to as breast hypoplasia. My breasts are deformed. Yes, it is a medical deformity! I joined an IGT support group on Facebook. Finally, I was connected with women just like me! Their stories were my story! Their breasts looked just like mine! They got it. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The black cloud of depression was lifted! I didn’t cry anymore. It wasn’t my fault! I really was doing all that I could! Through this group, I learned that giving my baby formula was not wrong! It did not make me a bad mother. In fact, it made me an amazing mother for realizing there was a problem and doing what was necessary for my child to thrive!

Although IGT is considered rare, it is so much more common than many believe it to be. There hasn’t been a real study done in over a decade. In that decade plus, there have been many advancements in the medical world, specifically in fertility treatments. Many women who suffer from fertility issues, such as PCOS, have been given the chance to bear children with all of these new advancements. PCOS and IGT often go hand-in-hand. Because we women are now bearing children (where it was impossible before), we are also wanting to and trying to breastfeed our babies, only to realize that we struggle in this area as well. IGT is real, and it is more common than we think. Doctors are becoming more aware of it, and women are being diagnosed more often and earlier on.

One of the best things I learned along the way is that breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing. With the help of formula as a supplement, I was able to breastfeed my son until he weaned at 8 months. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was downright hard! I pumped an ungodly amount, even though the fruits of my labor were minuscule. I took a plethora of herbal supplements that are known to help increase milk supply (also called galactogogues), including fenugreek, blessed thistle, green superfood capsules, Dairy Queen*, and Shatavari. I consumed unrealistic amounts of green smoothies, lactation cookies, and oatmeal. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, and I wouldn’t change any of it!

I’ve learned so much along the way, but the most important lesson I learned was not to judge. We are all mothers just trying to do the best for our children. We don’t know each others’ personal situations. Choose your words wisely. One comment can be the breaking point for a mother, especially a struggling mother who is reaching out for help. Don’t assume anything. And, most of all, never make a mom feel guilty about her choices!

It has become my mission to educate the breastfeeding community about IGT. Even if I can connect with one struggling mom and let her know that it’s not her fault, then I feel like my job is done!

~Michelle
Mother to Cecilia 4.5 and William 1

Other great links and resources:

http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/insufficient-glandular-tissue/

http://www.facebook.com/groups/IGTmamas/

*http://www.euphoricbirth.com/product/dairy-queen-2/

http://diaryofalactationfailure.blogspot.com/

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