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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The Birth of River: A Guest Post

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River’s birth story

I was spending the night at my grandparents’ house on January 16th. It was about 10pm and everyone had gone to bed already. I was laying on the couch when I felt the first contractions.
I started timing them and within two hours, they were 8-10 minutes apart and a minute and a half long (I still have the timer record of it on my phone) and strong. I got excited and called my mom. She came at about 4:30am and they were 5 minutes apart.

At around 6am, the contractions were stronger and 3-4 minutes apart, so I called the birth center (at Ochsner) and let them know I needed one of their tub rooms and would be coming in soon.
The car ride was not fun, but also slowed the contractions down. By the time we arrived, they were back at about 8-10 minutes apart and weaker.
They saw me in triage and I allowed an initial cervical check (I had none throughout pregnancy), and was surprised to be at a 2, 60% effaced. I wasn’t a big fan of the midwife (medwife) who told me “well, if you stay and haven’t progressed within an hour, we’ll end up in a section”.

Needless to say, I went back home (to my grandparents’ house as it was closer). I tried to get some sleep, but the contractions were still coming steadily at 6-7 minutes apart. I had my last midwife appointment scheduled for 1:30 that afternoon, so I decided to go to it anyway.

I asked Bethanie (my midwife) if she would check my cervix as the contractions had gotten stronger. I was at a 4 and 70-80% effaced with a bulging bag.

I knew he was coming soon, but not just yet. I needed to have his car seat installed and I wanted it checked! I messaged Amy (cpst) on Facebook and asked if she would mind checking my install.

She came over and fixed my mistakes for me and we talked about labor and birth all while I breathed through contractions. It felt good to be up and around, even in the cold outside. And I am so very grateful for her advice and help.

Around 5pm, my contractions were stronger and about 4-5 minutes apart. I tried to eat something (grits), but gave up after a few bites. I decided I would bring some snacks with me in case I wanted it later.

At around 6pm, the contractions had gotten even stronger and I knew I wouldn’t want to be in the car if they got any stronger, so we got everything ready to go. I ran in the bathroom (why do we all take pictures in there??) to take one last belly picture before going in. I was 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant and about to meet my prince.

My mom, sister, aunt and I left for Ochsner. I was right about the car. This time, however, the contractions didn’t slow or lessen.

Once there, I allowed the second “initial” and LAST cervical check. I was at a 7 and 90% effaced. I was admitted and went to the room with the huge, wonderful tub. I texted Jade to let her know I was there so she could leave.

The midwife I saw was Bethanie’s student Amy. She was pregnant too. I think that’s what made her so gentle.
I let them do a 15 minute strip of River’s heart tones (he kept running from the monitor as always) and got changed into my dress. We went over my birth plan. I even updated you guys on Facebook for a while. I hooked up my phone to the room’s speakers (awesome) on pandora to listen to music and started filling the tub.
About five minutes after going over my birth plan, an anesthesiologist got lost and knocked on my door offering an epidural.

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I texted Rachael to let her know it was baby time! The contractions came in waves, and were stronger, but still a lot easier than I thought they would be. Letting them roll through me was a little trancing.

Once the tub was full, I got in and immediately was calm. The hot water felt wonderful (I will always be a bath type girl) and I loved the weightless feeling of floating.

I got in and out a few times to try and use the restroom and to keep my contractions from slowing or stalling in the water. At one point, I had to pause halfway in and halfway out of the tub, barely touching the ground for a contraction. That was the worst contraction of them all.

We listened to Norah Jones' station on pandora. I floated and breathed and drank about 4 giant cups of icy water. I had no interest in food. I got so hot in the tub by that point, I had the air down low and was freezing everyone else. I even dumped ice in the tub.

As the time inched closer and closer to midnight, we started wondering if he'd make it on the 17th at all. I had a feeling he wouldn't (I was right).

We talked and laughed and everyone waited as I breathed through contractions to continue the conversation.

Some time around midnight, I started feeling the urge to push. Two contractions after that, it was no longer an urge, but an involuntary thing. After one contraction of pushing on my side (caught me by surprise), I knew I needed to be on my knees.

My mom found a stool or a chair or something (I confess to not paying much attention at that point) and sat by the side of the tub to hold my hand and put cold rags on me (thank you mommy!). Somebody (I think my aunt) went to go find the midwife.

The midwife came in and stood by the tub. I think there was also a nurse there. The contractions were hard and fast and I was zoned in and focused. I think I may have bruised my poor mom's hand.

I vaguely remember someone coming in to ask if I minded Rachael coming into the room. I nodded and don't think I even said hi to her (sorry, Rach!) when she came in.

We were still listening to Norah Jones's station and Etta James' song "At Last" came on. I had been tuning out everything including the music until that point. I listened to it and sang along in my head, feeling excited and nervous and proud, because I could feel his head (through his sac as my water had not broken) and knew he was almost there (at last).

Just a few minutes later, his head was born and with a surprised "oh!" (The only actual word I remember saying while pushing), I turned back off my knees to reach for him.

As I touched his head, I realized my water still had not broken. He was born in the caul, a lucky sweet boy! Another small push and he was out, my angel come to earth at 1:07am on January 18th. I pulled him up to me and Amy reached out to unwrap his cord (triple nuchal).

I pulled him to my chest and was mesmerized instantly. He was so tiny! So perfect. His head was molded and I was surprised to see he had some hair. He stared around with wide eyes and was so silent and calm.

He held my finger as I held him and fell in love. I felt all over him, wanting to memorize each inch. I looked at his tiny fingers and his sweet little eyes. His teeny bum and long legs, his ears (just like mine). I soaked him in and soaked up the rush and happiness of having him the way I wanted to.

I looked around and finally said hi to Rachael. I looked at his cord and felt it (I wish I had at least glanced at it while it was pulsing with blood) and changed out the blankets on us so he wouldn't get cold. Amy commented that his cord was thinner than she'd seen before.

About 45 minutes after he was born, my sister cut his cord (it had stopped pulsing about 10 minutes before). I birthed the placenta a few moments after that.

I let my sister carry him to be weighed and measured quickly while I got out of the tub and got checked (I had a 2nd degree tear that needed stitches). He was 7lbs and 4oz (a full pound less than I was expecting) and 20.5 inches long.
They showed me my placenta, all the veins and the membrane and cord. It was placed in a small bowl with a lid to be taken home with Jade for encapsulation (I HIGHLY recommend it).

His foot prints were done (as well as a second set in his scrap book) and he was brought back to me. Jade helped me latch him and he nursed for the first time and I melted.

Birthing my beautiful little boy was the most amazing day of my life. I am so proud of myself and so blessed to have him. He is everything right in the world and the love of my life. I birthed with love and with strength, without fear.

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Waiting For Baby…

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Waiting For Baby

So it’s your due date and you feel nothing. And by nothing, I mean, no contractions. Sigh… Will my baby ever come???!!

You may be thinking about an induction if you haven’t already scheduled one already at your 39 week appointment. After all, the baby is big enough, and developed enough, why not end your pregnancy and finally hold your baby?

Every mama pondering induction should read the articles below:

http://www.motherfriendly.org/Resources/Documents/CIMS%20Fact%20Sheet-%20Problems%20and%20Hazards%20of%20Induction%20of%20Labor.pdf

So if increased risk of fetal distress and cesarean section were not enough… There’s the effects on Breastfeeding to consider as well.

La Leche League International states in their document on birth:

A woman considering an induction before her due date needs to know that a late preterm baby (37-39 weeks) may have some of the same types of problems breastfeeding as a very early preterm baby (such as weak or uncoordinated suck, and sleepiness at the breast.)

This link provides excellent insight to the effects that the birth experience can have on Breastfeeding.

http://www.llli.org/docs/lad/ChildbirthandBreastfeeding.pdf

Listen, I’ve been there! Jack was born at 40 weeks plus 5 days! I was beginning to think I was just fat and wasn’t actually having a baby at all. I say on my sofa much of the last two weeks inhaling ice cream and watching extreme makeover: weightless edition! It was hard to wait for my baby to come. Babies come out when they are ready. Jack was definitely ready too, only 6.5 hours of labor and 9 mins of pushing was all it took.

He was only 8.2 and 20 inches long even post date. He wasn’t a huge baby and came out relatively easy.

Be patient mamas, that baby growing below your heart will soon enough be in your arms and at your breast.

You Are Doing What With Your Placenta?

While I was pregnant with Jack, I decided to look into placenta encapsulation. I cannot remember which book I came across it in first, I just remember feeling intrigued by the idea.

I was open to anything that would help my transition from pregnant to mother. I feel like it served to be extremely beneficial to me the first few weeks after delivery and the only negative thing for me was that I had a small placenta. So I only had a small amount of pills, many days I wish I had some left over when I needed a “pick me up”.

A local midwifery student and doula, Nicki Pugh, provided this excellent explanation for my blog. If you are pregnant and are interested in her services please contact her through the link at the bottom of the post.

Here’s a totally awesome picture of one of her placentas. It’s amazing, it is the life source for our babies as we grow them.

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Encapsulation:

Placenta encapsulation has really hit the mainstream in the past year or so. While there is a lack in current research regarding consuming the placenta, there does exist ample anecdotal evidence that women who encapsulate and consume have less emotional distress, have more energy and have a quicker, more pleasant postpartum recovery.

Numerous benefits including:
Improved mood and energy
Increased milk supply
Balancing of hormones
While these benefits are wonderful during the immediate postpartum weeks, the capsules can continue to be of benefit for months and years into the future for a variety of hormone-related issues.

The process includes adhering to strict sanitary guidelines during the process of preparing, drying, grinding, and encapsulating the placenta. The capsules can be placed in the freezer for long term storage. In addition to capsules, the placenta may also be used to create a tincture, which is highly shelf stable and can remain potent until menopausal years.
Ideally, the placenta is encapsulated within 48 hours after delivery. To facilitate this process, families are provided with information about how to properly store the placenta until the encapsulator arrives.

Most hospitals have policies in place to accommodate those that are planning to utilize the placenta. While your encapsulator can advise regarding local hospital, it is always best to discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to the birth, as well as include as part of a birth plan.

Placentas that have been properly frozen can be encapsulated up to 6 months or longer after delivery.
For more information about placenta encapsulation, contact Nicki Solomito Pugh via facebook at ‘Old River Doula-Nicki Solomito’ Click Here!!
Nicki Solomito Pugh, MS, student midwife at Midwives College of Utah and homeschooling mama to three girls.

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When Breast Feeding Doesn’t Fit Into Your Plans.

When Breast Feeding Doesn’t Fit Into Your Plans.

If you have been reading my blog then you know that my breast feeding experience has been anything but easy. But I want to address something else today- selfishness when it comes to giving our all to our kids.

Disclaimer: I can be, have been and certainly will in the future- be selfish. I am a human and am not perfect.

At 7 months old, Jack still nurses almost all night while sleeping. During the day time hours, he is unpredictable. Sometimes he nurses every 2-3 hours but some days, Jack will nurse every hour. This was not my plan!

My plan was that my life would mostly continue as before except for the diaper changes every 2 hours and feedings every 3 hours and progressively longer intervals as time passed. Boy was I wrong!!!!!

I want to nurse my baby, I want to keep him satisfied and healthy but I do not want to be glued to my couch with my son glued to my boob. But breast feeding was and is important to me so that’s exactly what I did and still do some days.

I do not produce tons of milk. I have struggled since he was born despite doing all the ABC’s and 123’s of nursing tips and tricks. So my son has to eat more often to grow, and to keep my supply up enough to sustain him.

This means I didn’t leave my house hardly ever for the first 3 months postpartum, that I had to be comfortable nursing in public right away and that I had to continue eating as if I was pregnant to keep my milk calorie dense- fatty.

I didn’t really want to do any of that. I wanted to return to Taekwondo and get my pre-pregnancy body back right away, I wanted to be able to sleep at least 1/2 the night and I wanted Jack to fit around my needs and schedule.

I was pretty miserable until I thought all of this through. Just as I had given in and over to the birth process, I had to give in to this becoming a mother process. What a relief! My burden had become blessing and my sacrifice a privilege!

Some babies sleep through the night and keep a decent schedule of eating and napping during the day, but mine didn’t, doesn’t and probably never will. He is the definition of a free spirit for sure. And that is actually a wonderful thing.

Be open to the process mamas. Accept your babies as they are and give them your all. One day, they will need that example of dedication to succeed in their own lives.

The Birth of Cyan Lovetro: Guest Post

Cyan’s Birth Story

Our final 16 hours – Cyan’s birth story. By kathropologie

As I sit here in the very same place that my water broke, I remember our last 16 hours together in that form. March 29th – I awoke in the early morning 3am-ish as usual to empty my bladder and get a little snack, things seemed pretty normal. We had scheduled your induction and you were coming on Wednesday 3/30/11. My mind was cleared of all the tales of how to induce labor (I had tried damn near all of them).Mid morning daddy and I got up and started our day making egg in a bread (basket) for breakfast, how fitting.. I was sitting on the sofa same place as always and started having really annoying menstrual like cramps. The day before at my 41 week checkup I had my membranes stripped in hopes that you’d come on your own before Wednesday, never did I imagine that it was finally happening! 10am – I got up to use the restroom and felt a very different puddle of sorts that most definitely wasn’t urine. High-tailing to the bathroom daddy came check on me. We weren’t quite sure but we assumed it was your water bag. I had been planning since the beginning to welcome you into this world without unnecessary medical interventions and any form of pain medication; just as naturally as you were created. We had consulted with a doula (labor assistant/coach) to help us get through it. We contacted Rene’ and let her know what was going on. After about an hour we had narrowed it down.. Labor had definitely started, you were ready to see the world and you did it on your own!!Noon – contractions had definitely patterned themselves and we began timing them. I knew it was the “real deal” when daddy could tell me when I would have one and about how long and at what intensity to expect it. They were steadily coming at about 5-7 mins apart and were 2 x 30 second ones and following was one big 50-60 second one alternating.. Active labor was approaching. My water was continuing to break and we were beginning to notice a yellowish greenish tint.. Meconium. You had “pooped” in your bag. This made mommy a little nervous.. So we called my mom, your “Lily” and she was on her way to meet us at home. She arrived at about 2pm. 3pm-ish – Active labor was alive and well! Contractions were about 4 mins apart lasting a minute or so, give or take a few. We were on our way quickly to the hospital. Not long after, we arrived at the hospital, checked in, and went through the nightmare that was triage, we had safely made it to our delivery suite. This is where you’d be born. Where we would finally see your tiny self. 4:00 pm – I had already labored for about 7 hours and this phase continued on for about another 5. Active labor can be really long I arrived at the hospital dilated about 4 1/2 cm which I had been since at least the day before. My first exam was at about 7pm and I had progressed greatly to 6-7cm. For all that active labor at least it was effective! We alternated positions throughout this time, birth ball, warm shower, ice packs, and lots of swaying. I never thought I’d be one to vocalize during labor but there was something very rhythmic and soothing about a low hum during the brunt of contractions. It was as if I was singing a song, my own labor song. 10, 10:30 pm – Transition was finally starting!! Mommy was getting tired.. My contractions were strong with the urge to bear down, moving you through the pelvis and into the birth canal. It was beginning to be intense no doubt. At this point daddy and lily alerted the waiting room crowd that soon I’d start pushing. I was again examined and I was 10 cm!!! Exciting news! Not so exciting was that the dr felt a slight anterior lip still on my cervix that we’d have to get rid of.. Position change no. 50! Mommy kept you moving for sure. 11:00 pm – An hour had passed and we had made very little progress.. Dr. Chauvin came in again and checked for your position. They feared you’re position was OP (occiput posterior aka sunny side up). Scary thought for me considering those babies are quite a challenge to deliver in general much less with no anesthesia… 3/30/11 12AM – Mommy was EXHAUSTED and her body was out of fuel, and her contractions had slowed and plateaued. She had began getting concerned that she couldn’t do it, that she couldn’t get you out.. I spotted the clock, lost all focus of my contractions and let my mind take over spiraling me into a negative mind set. I rested for about 10 mins, funny how you can sleep in the transitional part of labor, the body really is in charge. It was time for a slight dose of pitocin to get it all back on track. They started me at 2 milliunits, the lowest dose. In 30 minutes they moved it to 4 and by 1am I was at 6. Once the pitocin started to work everything picked up right where it left off, nice and intense! You were finally advancing past the ischial spines into the + stations. Yay!! We were back on track. 1:00 am – It was time to start serious pushing, we had gotten you straightened out in mommy and it was time we meet! Needless to say, you’re quite a big boy and we continued on for 31 more minutes amidst the most incredibly different, fiery, sensations I’ve ever felt. I’m not gonna use hurt, because hurt is for sissys.. Haha In no way shape or form was this a cakewalk, mommy is a fighter. 1:31AM – Outside was the most spectacular light show.. Rain, thunder booms, and lightening, it was the most empowering of skies. One last push and you were here!!! Cyan Brooks Lovetro 8lb 5oz 20 1/2in born3/30/11 you are a magical little boy! My Cosmic Love. They placed you in my arms and instantly I fell in love with you, my baby boy. You were the epitome of perfect to me, a longing that had been fulfilled! We nestled together before they took you to clean you, weigh you and bundle you up. The first few moments are supposedly the most critical in bonding a newborn to his mother and now, I know why. Our hearts steadied together, our breathing reflected each others.. You are forever a part of me. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive team to get me though the most rewarding thing humanly possible. Daddy, Lily, Rene’, Courtney and the best medical team I could have prayed for at woman’s hospital.. We did it!

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The Birth of Josie Birchman: A Guest Post

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The Journey Begins

I never thought a home birth would be for me. Only crazy people did that, right? My best friend had a home birth, that was my first real exposure to it. Then I joined a natural birth community in Louisiana when I was pregnant with Evelyn and it opened my eyes a bit more. But it still seemed too “fringe” for me. Then I had Evelyn, via unnecessarean, and home birth didn’t sound so crazy to me. Several months later I got pregnant with Lucy. Home birth actually came up in my mind as a viable option. In one of my first visits with my current HCP I asked if he supported home birth. That’s quite a change in less than 2 short years. But I learned of the importance of quality care and discovered this kind of care is really best achieved at home with a midwife. I must admit, some of my wanting a home birth was to prove that home birth is safe and natural. I learned however that to HBAC in Louisiana is extremely difficult. It wasn’t a fight I was willing to fight. I also had doubts in my body being able to go through all of labor and birth, after all it didn’t “work” the first time around with Evelyn. So I agreed to do a VBAC in the hospital with baby #2 and home birth should we be blessed with baby # 3. After 22 hours of natural labor, I had my successful VBAC. I was now a prime candidate for a home birth. I’ve been envisioning how everything will play out in my mind for months. Do I want to labor upstairs or down? Do I want the girls around? Do I want a doula in addition to my fabulous midwife? Will I like the idea of not having food delivered to me whenever I call for it, even if it is less than edible food?

Well, baby #3 is here. I thought the main obstacle would be cost. Our insurance is great and so a birth for us in a hospital setting is affordable, possibly even cheaper than a home birth. Perhaps cost shouldn’t be a major factor, but it is. I recently learned that I will encounter more obstacles than just determining how much I want to spend. I “proved” my pelvis, whatever the hell that means. Because it was broken before? Give me a flippin break! I have to get permission from the Louisiana Medical Board. I have a hunch how that will go: we have the highest cesarean rate in the country, March of Dimes rated Louisiana F in all areas of maternal and infant care, and the president of LACOG is a complete moron and wasn’t afraid to hide it infront of the Health and Welfare Committee on May 2. We are also in a time in our country in which female reproductive choices aren’t left up to the women, that would just be silly, but men. Not her husband kind of man, but of just random men who don’t know me from Adam, err Eve! Before when I thought cost was my only obstacle I was ok with that, because I was the obstacle. Now there is an arbitrary obstacle. Now I’m pissed. Now I want to cry. Now I wish I had the where with all when I was in labor with Evelyn to say “NO” to that damned c-section. Or at least ask for more time. But no, it happened. Not because Evelyn and I were in distress, but come to find out my doctor felt sorry for me because she thought I was tired! TIRED?!?!??!!! This recent development makes me want to fight for a home birth all the more. So what I’m hoping this will be is a journey for my home birth, and if not that then helping another mom in this “Great” state to achieve her goal of a home birth!

Politics of birth in Louisiana:

This afternoon I had my first prenatal visit with my wonderfully supportive OB. I will leave his name out because birth can be so political. He is a diamond in the rough and if I can prevent further criticism or scrutiny I will. While pregnant with Lucy he and I discussed home birth, I mentioned this in my previous post. I brought it up several other times, most recently a few weeks ago when I went in for a routine check-up. As usual, when he entered the room, he greeted me with a warm smile, hug, and of course a “Congratulations!” I didn’t even have a chance to mention anything about home birth when he said, “Are you still wanting a homebirth?” Uhh…yes! Without even asking, he offered his support. I was shocked, never did I imagine it would be THAT easy! Thank you Lord! He assured me that it was a safe decision. He was impressed with how I managed my pain during the birth with Lucy. He also said we have a great relationship. If he were in front of the courts he would not be so outwardly supportive and would likely discuss the risks. But again said, but you know that so much of this decision is relational. He went on, “ If my group finds out and they don’t’ support it, that’s fine. “ I explained that eventhough my pelvis has been “proven” I would still likely have to go in front of the medical board and I would need in writing that he is my back-up. He replied, “That’s fine, I’ll put it in writing!” I nearly cried, I couldn’t believe it.

It’s not all a done deal. I now have to determine the next steps: mainly the Louisiana Medical Board. But just like that, I have a supportive OB! After his offer to support me I wanted to convey that I did not at all want to put him in a difficult situation. He is a diamond in the rough for moms wanting VBAC and I didn’t want to jeopardize care for moms in the future, or even cause strife in his marriage. If he came up on the chopping block, a whole host of moms would be by his side to support him. While he appreciated the concern he assured me that he felt very comfortable with this decision.

Encouraging a supportive mate:

Initially, Taylor was nervous about the idea of a homebirth, understandably so. He wasn’t shocked at the idea because we began talking about the possibility of a homebirth during Lucy’s pregnancy. But he didn’t spend the hours upon hours that I did researching the risks and benefits of homebirths. For several weeks in a row, after prenatal visits with our OB and midwife I asked if he was sure about a homebirth. I think midway through the pregnancy something in him clicked. After a visit with our midwife he said, “It just makes sense. Why wouldn’t we have a homebirth with Sherri? She has so much experience.” Through the rest of the pregnancy he would continue to make comments about this. My mind had been made up months prior, but if he was truly not comfortable with the situation then I was open to a birth at the hospital with our OB. Eventually, his main concern became being sure the window in our carport was covered. (things went too quickly for that to ever happen). One night in bed to we talked about who would catch the baby. He was resolved to be the one. I was surprised. With Evelyn’s birth I don’t think he had much desire to see the actual birth and the thought of cutting the cord was a bit much for him. Then with Lucy, he watched the birth and eagerly cut the cord. And now he wanted to be the one who caught our baby girl. I find it interesting that in our own way both Taylor and I evolved from one pregnancy to the next. Thankfully, we evolved in the same direction, with the same common goal.

Prenatal Visits:

My midwife attended Lucy’s birth as my montrice and already had a working relationship with my OB. As labor support teams go, they were dynamic and very supportive. They also have a great deal of respect for each other. As an HBAC, with a proven pelvis, there were certain guidelines I had to follow with regard to prenatal visits: how many times I had to see the OB, labs, tests, etc. As evidence of their great relationship my midwife said, “do whatever tests and however many visits the doc wants you to,” and my doctor said, “what does She want you to do?” I never received care or information that contradicted each other, in many ways they were merely an extension of the other person.

Given that my midwife is the director of the midwifery program in Lafayette, prenatal visits went differently than most homebirth prenatals. In the beginning, the girls and I drove out to SLCC and did our visit in a small classroom with my midwife and about a dozen student midwives. I loved it, the girls did too. I love talking birth and so to be in a room with that many women who view birth the same way you do and you are the main topic of conversation, what’s not to love? I had no problem letting 13 sets of hands feel the positioning of the baby, ask questions, and then return to feel again. Goodness knows we need more midwives and I had no problem being the mom they could practice their skills with.

In the 3rd trimester we began having prenatal visits in our home. The girls loved when she came over. She let them each use a measuring tape and even borrow her stethoscope. It became commonplace at our house after visits that Evie would take my blood pressure and Lucy would try to measure me. They spoke very affectionately about her and when they discovered that they missed out on a prenatal visit they were not all that pleased with me.

The Birth

My EDD was January 16. the midwife expected that I would go about a week late. I went late with Lucy and she also found that first time home birth moms tended to go late. This very likely probability made it easy to make a surprise visit up to Ohio at week 37-38 of the pregnancy. Being that far along made my family a little uneasy but I assured them that this baby was coming late, so I had WEEKS to go. I was back in Baton Rouge on January 5. The next day I attended a beautiful shower thrown by two wonderful girlfriends for Melissa and I. January 13 Josie was born. Everyone was shocked. Good thing I didn’t extend my trip to Ohio!

Friday, January 11

The week leading up to Josie’s birth I was a nesting machine and thankfully Taylor was on his regularly scheduled 7 days off. Here’s a laundry list of what I accomplished:

*grocery shopping to prepare for the apocalypse (snacks, produce, towels for the homebirth, diapers, breast pads, etc)

*2 batches each of jambalaya and red beans and rice

*homemade honey sticks and laborade for myself and 2 girlfriends

* finished Josie’s quilt and attempted to finish her afghan (carpal tunnel got in the way)

*put away 6 baskets of laundry, washed another 10 loads

*organized two closets, cleaned out the toy room, cleaned our upstairs living room, cleaned our bedroom

*somewhat cleaned out the van and wrote out directions for my friend who would keep the girls when I went into labor

*solidified arrangements for my MIL to come into town MLK weekend to help even if there was no baby

And of course the regular day to day mother/housewife type stuff. We even managed to go to the library, attend MOPS, go to a birthday party, clean up a friend’s son’s vomit, and best of all have a wonderful date night with my husband to celebrate our belated 5 year anniversary. Needless to say we packed a lot in!

So, back to Friday. Friday afternoon my husband returned to work for his weekend of nights. That evening I began feeling quite a bit of pressure on my cervix and what I thought might be contractions. I refused to post anything on facebook about this progress because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. After all, my midwife and I were expecting that I go 1 week late, not one week early. So while I didn’t post anything on my own page I had a moment of weakness and posted in the mother to mother ICAN group. They were all supportive telling me things like: enjoy your last few days as a family of 4, rest, etc. All through the pregnancy I told myself that the baby would come around Jan 24, not the 16, so when it came close to my due date I wouldn’t be making “impatient” facebook posts. Yet here I was doing just that. So while I slipped in this one area, I wasn’t letting myself do any sort of “do it yourself” induction methods. There was no intentional eating of spicy foods, no pressure points, no pineapple, and I really didn’t even give much thought to whether I was taking my EPO. I really was comfortable with the baby coming whenever. But of course if she wanted to come early that would be fine. Late that night I thought, “maybe she isn’t coming because I haven’t given Kate directions for the girls.” So I sent her an email with our routines. She would be borrowing our van and I knew I clean it out, but 11PM was a bit too late for that. No baby.

Saturday, January 12

Saturday morning, after spending another evening kind of sleeping on the couch, I awoke to discover I had lost my mucous plug. I was pleasantly surprised. But remembered it didn’t necessarily mean all that much. I could go into labor hours later or not for 2 more weeks. But, it was progress and it was a sign that I wouldn’t stay pregnant forever.

The girls and I went over to a friend’s house for a birthday party. I continued to notice discharge when I went to the bathroom and I still had some contractions, but not like the night before. I took it somewhat easy and didn’t feel totally bad letting my friends keep an eye on my girls. At one point a friend’s boy threw-up. She wasn’t in a position to clean it up so I helped. It took sometime for people to realize what I was doing and my friend Bethany said, “I just realized you’re cleaning the floor. Why are YOU cleaning the floor?!” I jokingly yelled back, “I want to have this baby, leave me alone!” When I got home Taylor put the girls down for naps. I dealt with the homebirth linens: sheets in brown bags, folded 6 towels, 6 washcloths and 6 blankets. I gathered the outfits I would want the baby in first. I organized the birth basket: honey sticks, peri bottles, lidocaine, chapstick, etc. Lastly, I did a half-ass job of cleaning out the van. Upon completing that I thought, “now the baby can come.”

That evening I remember spending a little bit more time with Evie than usual when I put her to bed. The thought crossed my mind, “what if this is the last time I put her to sleep before the new baby?” Weird how I had these little inklings.

Sunday, January 13

I spent another evening sleeping on the couch. I woke up around 5:30 or so and had to use the restroom. I returned to “bed” and had a feeling something may happen today. But I still wasn’t convincned. Statistically natural birthing moms go into labor at night, so I thought at the very least I had 12-14 more hours before labor of anything started. 6AM: Laying on the couch, watching HGTV, I felt a small “pop.” As someone who has had a cesarean, the first thing that came to my mind was, “oh great, hope that wasn’t my uterus.” I stayed still and didn’t really feel anything else. Then I had the urge to go pee. As soon as I sat up I felt a gush, it stopped me in my tracks. “Oh crap!” Not only had my water broken but I only had on a panty liner and I did not want amniotic fluid on my couch! Walking as quickly and awkwardly as possible, so as to not leak everywhere, I made my way to the bathroom. Sure enough, once I sat more fluids came and my underwear was soaked. “Oh crap!” I turned on the shower, my hair was in desperate need of a washing. Almost immediately I began crying. Evelyn’s birth started with broken bags of water and ended in a very unnecessary cesarean. I began to tearfully pray: “Lord, you are over this birth. You will do what is best. Please, Lord. Please, Lord.” I began thinking, “I had my VBAC, maybe God’s will was only 1.” I finished my shower and let that be the end of those thoughts. And I slipped into a pair of depends.

6:15 AM: I called my midwife. I know she was surprised to hear from me, I was only 39w4d. “My water just broke.” I proceeded to tell her about the contractions Friday and the mucous plug Saturday. I was presently not really having any contractions or at least none that I would pay attention to if my water had not just broken. She told me to go back to bed and see if a pattern developed. She planned to come over later in the morning to see how things were progressing. She assured me that we had about 12-18 hours before we needed things to get going. That brought me some relief. However, I knew returning to bed would not be an option. I began making myself breakfast: egg and sausage sandwich. While waiting for the food to cook I French braided my hair, something I’ve wanted done during the other births but never managed to make it happen.

6:30 AM: Contractions started and so I downloaded the contraction APP on my phone. This was MUCH easier than using a stop watch and writing it all down, like I did for Lucy for 2 straight hours. It didn’t take very long for me to have to stop what I was doing each time I had a contraction. I started breakfast for the girls and began packing their suitcase for their stay with Jon and Kate. Around 7AM or so Evie woke up. I began to prep her for what would happen that day: mama was going to have the baby today, she was going to play with Haven and sleep at her house. She was very excited about everything. Contractions were still going strong: 5 minutes apart and approximately 30 seconds long. I debated whether I wanted to have the girls infront of a video and then realized the contractions weren’t getting any weaker, so I got over any mom guilt. Eventually Lucy woke up and she eagerly joined Evie at the table for breakfast and Pocoyo.

8:19AM: I called Kate to let her know my water had broken but I had no idea how long things would go. I wanted to be mindful of the fact that the first service at church started at 9 and being the pastor’s wife I was sure what all she needed to do. I asked her to come get the girls, but there was no rush. Even if it would take hours for labor to get started I knew I didn’t want to have them hanging around, especially since I was letting Taylor sleep as long as possible after working nights. She got someone to cover announcements for church and was waiting on our friend Amber to come with her so she could pick up our van.

9:11AM: I called my midwife and let her know I definitely had a consistent labor pattern: 5 minutes apart 30 seconds each. She told me she was on her way. Meanwhile the girls were still strapped into their chairs eating breakfast and watching Pocoyo. Everytime Lucy saw me have a contraction she’d say: “Fussy?” “Sleeping?” Around this time Melissa sent me a text, apparently someone at church told her I was in labor. We texted periodically until about 10:30. People are always confusing us at church, and one of my last texts from her was: “some old lady at church asked me if my water broke!” The next time I received a text from her it read: “You’ll have a baby by dinner time for sure.” What she didn’t know was the baby was already born!

9:40AM: The girls were still settled into their chairs eating and watching Pocoyo. The contractions were starting to change a bit, I was feeling them more in my pelvis. I decided it would probably be wise to wake-up Taylor. I slowly walked up the stairs and quietly woke him. Our conversation went like this: “Taylor, my water broke and I’m having contractions.” Taylor: “What? Really?” I continued: “My water broke at 6, contractions started around 6:30, they are 5 minutes apart and 30 seconds long. Kate should be here any minute to get the girls and Sherri is on her way.” At this point though I didn’t really need him to help me with the contractions, but I had a feeling things were changing and progressing quickly. As I walked out our bedroom door I heard Kate and Amber enter the house to get the girls. We chatted a bit and the I had to grab the chair for a contraction. And then I directed them to all the stuff to load into the van. Five minutes later I had another contraction. But this contraction was a little shorter but I was feeling it in my pelvis. A few minutes later, less than 5, I had another contraction, probably not as long as 30 seconds. I had stopped timing my contractions once both the girls were up. It was evident that I was indeed in labor and trying to keep track of them with the girls around was useless. Before leaving Kate said, “Once you start groaning you know it’s gonna be coming soon.” Within 5 minutes of them leaving I had 3 contractions. She and Amber prayed over me, which I greatly appreciated. I kissed Evie and Lucy goodbye in the van. Evie was SO excited that the baby was going to be coming soon. Taylor came down with enough time to also say goodbye to the girls.

Contractions were coming more frequently and with greater intensity. In between each contraction I gave him orders of last minute things: clearing a space in the living room for the birth tub, put a sheet on the bed in the toy room, lay the tarp down on the floor, etc. I had several contractions holding onto the wall by the stairs. But then I realized that the counter in the kitchen may provide better support, plus I had a hankering for an apple. In between contractions I sliced the apple and nibbled when I could. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed him to be present during the contractions. I didn’t necessarily need him to do anything, but I didn’t want to feel alone. After a contraction I would send him back to a task and a few minutes later I’d yell and he would come running. I could tell I was not managing them well and I was starting to feel a lot of pressure. I didn’t vocalize it but I felt like I could start pushing. I wanted to sway and I wanted to do light squats but it was more pressure than I could handle. In between contractions I swayed and that helped a bit but for some reason when a contraction came it was very difficult for me to move. I knew the baby was going to come soon and I did not want to do it without my midwife

10:39AM: I told Taylor to call the midwife and let her know that I felt like I needed to push. I was still laboring at the kitchen counter. I was moaning and praying: “Oh, Lord. Please Lord.”

11:00AM: midwife arrived. It didn’t take long for her to realize that our baby girl was coming quick. I got bits and pieces of a conversation between she and Taylor…essentially they were both surprised how quickly things progressed. Her first thought was to fix the tub and then I said, “She’s coming.” She responded: “Ok, where do you want to birth her.” I replied, “I don’t care. She’s coming.” Taylor helped me to start walking toward the toy room and stopped in my tracks right outside the door. I started to push and yelled, “She’s coming.” I think I had two contractions there. My butt was aching. She urged me to at least make it to the bed and get off my feet because it would make it better for my butt. It was nearly impossible to walk, it was such a strange feeling. Every step was painful. I finally made it to the bed in what seemed to take an eternity. I hastily grabbed what pillows I could and leaned over the bed. The pushing continued. My pushing with Lucy was quite calm and quiet. This experience was quite different. I knew it would be counterproductive to yell but there was no way in hell I could push quietly. So somewhere between a yell and a groan the words that got me through were “Oh lord Jesus. Please Lord. Come out. Please.” In desperation I inquired, “Is she coming?” Sherri assured me that she was. I felt so desperate, I didn’t want to push for hours like I did for Lucy. I groaned: “It’s burning.” I knew that was a good sign, but it didn’t help me at all. I felt her head crown and then before I knew it I felt pressure and her going back up. I cried out, “No! Don’t go back up!” And then in my mind it felt like everything stopped. I guess that’s the break in contractions that they talk about during the pushing stage. Before I knew it I had another contraction I started pushing her little head out again. But things were different this time. Her head was crowning but was moving all around and simultaneously I was feeling that same pressure that occurred when she went back up inside. I felt like my midwife was pushing her back up inside and man was I pissed, but I didn’t say a thing. She could tell I was frustrated and she explained that her head was out but she (the baby) was turning it around to get the right positioning. I asked again, “Is she coming? Can you see her?” She laughed and said, “she’s here, she’s coming.” This gave me great hope.

11:21AM: I bared down and pushed again and could feel her body squirm out of me. Before I knew it she was in my arms and I was crying and laughing! My little girl was born, in my house! Holy crap! I was done! 5 hours and 21 minutes and my baby was born! Apparently when all goes well my body is meant to birth quickly.

After the birth it was great to sit relaxed in my own bed, in my own home. There was no hustle and bustle. No one scrubbing on the baby, no measuring tape, no whisking her off to get measurements and weight that would remain the same several hours later. I sat reclined on the bed waiting to birth the placenta. About 20-30 minutes later the student midwife arrive, and she helped with the placenta. My midwife said it was very healthy and given its size and the minimal blood loss it appeared as though I almost had a vegetarian like diet! Apparently, I was one healthy pregnant mom. Once the placenta was out and the cord was cut Taylor and I were left alone. The midwife and student MW were charting, cleaning up from the birth, cleaning linens, and even folding laundry from the day before. The only time they really came into the room was when I needed to use the bathroom. Periodically one of them would come in to check my blood pressure, but it was very peaceful and not at all the big charade it is in the hospital.

Throughout the remainder of the day I would laugh and say, “I’m SO glad I’m not still in labor.” “She’s here, can you believe she’s here already.” And, “If this were Lucy, I’d be laboring for 12 more hours!”

Several hours post partum my midwife, the student, Taylor and I began talking about the events of the morning and how we all had these little inklings to do things slightly different. We all knew something was going to happen, only God knew that our little Josie would be born. A friend of mine sent me a message after hearing of her birth that said, “Congratulations, I knew there was a reason you were on my mind all morning.” This was the sense that we all had. I then started thinking what would have happened if I instead planned a hospital birth. Josie would have been born in the parking lot, if we even made it that far. I had no way of knowing how quickly things would progress and given Lucy’s birth it took hours and hours to progress to the pushing stage. And once I got to that point it was still several more hours before she was born. Then if I did make it into the hospital before she was born it would have been an absolute zoo. I could imagine how frantic the nurses would have been trying to hook me up to this, that and the other. And that would not have been a very peaceful birthing environment. Sherri mentioned that a small part of the placenta had calcified and looked as though early on in the pregnancy, 4 or 5 weeks, I almost miscarried. But that placenta kept on growing and so did my little Josie. God knew and it was all in His hands.

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