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Birth Stories




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Tracy LaFountain

Right from the start, I had planned to give birth to my son at Natural Beginnings Birthing Center and I was so fortunate to have a healthy pregnancy that allowed me to look forward to delivering there. Once I arrived at 40 weeks (and one day), I felt fantastic that whole day. I actually felt beautiful and substantially less ogre-like and that night my water broke at home.

I texted the birthing center number and I was contacted by Michelle, who told me to go back to sleep (yeah right). Two hours later, my contractions had begun. I was blessed to labor at home for 9 hours until I knew it was time to go. By that time, Jessica had taken over call, and she greeted me excitedly!

Laboring in the birthing center was amazing. My wonderful team included Jessica, Nicole, Abby, and Emily, who actually caught our baby. I felt safe and special and it was just so personal. My husband, Shawn was by my side the entire time and when my eyes weren't focused on his, they were met with Jessica's--telling me everything was going perfectly, or Emily's--encouraging me to keep going.

I gave birth to my son in the water; an experience beyond words. Delivering a baby in water is so empowering and so enabling, it is the most natural feeling. Also, having the freedom to listen to my body and birth on my own terms was such a gift that I got at Natural Beginnings.

I cannot be more grateful to OBGYN North for guiding me through my first pregnancy and birth! I felt informed and supported every step of the way.

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Laura Adams

I had my last OB/Midwife appointment on April 3rd, and I was really looking forward to it because it was with my favorite midwife, Lisa. They did an ultrasound and estimated Silas to be right at 9 pounds. That, along with the fact that my blood pressure was starting to go up, I had a few high blood sugar results, and my first had shoulder dystocia, made them decide that we would move my induction up from April 15th, to Monday, April 8th. I cried in the office, I was so relieved to have an end date to my miserable pregnancy. I spent the weekend getting laundry done and cuddling with my oldest, Jude.

On Monday night, we headed into L&D to get a foley bulb placed. Dr Sebestyen placed the bulb right after 7pm, and she said it didn't have much to do because I was already at 3cms and 50% effaced. After she placed it, I just laid around, watched tv and FaceTimed with Jude before he had to go to bed. I also had to spend 2 hours with three different nurses and two anesthesiologists trying to get an iv placed for the antibiotics I would need the next day for gbs. I was supposed to only need occasional monitoring, but Silas was being a little troll and wouldn't stay on the monitors for anything. So I didn't sleep at all the whole night between the intense pressure Silas kept putting on the foley bulb and the nurses constantly needing to monitor him. Around 6 am my nurse came in and we discussed what my options were for when Dr. Schiemenz came in that morning. I found out that being on pitocin would mean I'd have to be constantly monitored for Silas' safety, and it would cause extra discomfort for me to have to lay perfectly still to keep him on the external monitors. My other option was to break my water, and put internal monitors on Silas so I could be mobile during labor. I discussed it with my husband, and decided that having my water broken was the best option, even though I had been adamant about wanting them to break naturally. At around 8 am, Dr. Schiemenz came in to take out the bulb and find out what I wanted to do. The bulb left me between 5-6 cms, and my doctor told me that we could break my water after two doses of antibiotics and she would feel comfortable waiting 4 hours for labor to start on its own before we started pumping pitocin into my body. I got a shower, ate breakfast, and got my first dose of penicillin. Then I took a nap until 12:30 when I got my second dose of penicillin and my doctor came in to break my water.Dr. Schiemenz was amazing, and took her time letting the fluid drain out, so she could guide Silas' head down because he kept reaching his hand down to try and hold her hand. She got his hand of the way and I asked her if she thought I should walk to get things going. Of course she told me yes, and that she'd be back in a few hours to see if we needed the pitocin.

I put on underwear and a pad and started basically running in circles around L&D around 2pm. My nurse had to monitor Silas for 5 minutes every half hour, but she managed to find the sweet spot, and as long as she held the monitor the whole time we could get a good strip, then I could keep walking. Around 3:30, I started getting intense contractions in my back every 5-6 minutes. I knew that meant Silas probably wasn't in a great position, so my nurse set the bed up so I could get on my hands and knees. My doctor didn't even come in, she saw my labor pattern and decided I didn't need any pitocin and that we could wait on the monitors. I labored on my hands and knees for about an hour before Silas turned over and my contractions moved out of my back. Since I was in less pain, my doctor came in to check me and put the monitors on Silas. He had moved down, and I was 7 cms, they also gave me another dose of antibiotics at this time. Since I had to baby my iv site while I was hooked up to the medicine, I laid in the bed on my side listening to my rainbow relaxation track and trying to remember how to relax while my husband put counter pressure on my hips. My contractions had slowed down, even though they were still really strong, so Dr. Schiemenz decided to give me a little bit of pitocin to get them closer together. With the pitocin on 1-2 my they got a little weaker, but were about a minute apart. I was pretty sure I was going to die at this point so I got some Stadol in my iv. It made the peaks of each contraction more manageable, and I could get through them again. I had to get some zofran at the same time because I was getting sick and it was making it really difficult to focus through the contractions. At this point, I couldn't lay down through the contractions any more, I had to sit up in the bed, with my legs bent and the bottom of my feet touching each other while I held onto the rails on the bed and groaned through each contraction. I was shaking so bad, and I kept telling my husband that I couldn't do it. I started feeling like I needed to poop during my contractions, so my doctor came in to check me. (Let me add here how amazing Dr. Schiemenz is. She checked me while I was practically sitting up because I couldn't move into another position) I really didn't want to be checked because I was so afraid I hadn't made any progress, but I was at 9 cms, so that was awesome. Right around this time, I lost my mind a little. I decided that I couldn't sit in the bed anymore and I needed to lay down, but I couldn't lay down, so I freaked out and decided I needed to get out of the bed. I got one foot on the floor, Silas dropped and I fell back onto the bed sobbing. At that exact moment, my contractions decided that they didn't want to take any breaks. The contraction monitor looked kind of like rounded stairs, I would start another contraction before the previous one was able to stop so the nurses turned off the pitocin. I was pretty much just screaming and climbing the bed rails when I told my husband and best friend they needed to get the doctor right away because I needed to push. Dr. Schiemenz came in to check me, but didn't want to do it while I was having a contraction so she sat at the foot of my bed and waited until the pitocin cleared my body enough to give me a 30 second break between the contractions. They got me laid back enough for me to get checked and I was 9.5 cms but I was involuntarily pushing at the beginning of contractions. Dr. Schiemenz told me she could hold the lip back and I could push if I wanted to, but I told her not to put anything inside of me so she sat at the foot of the bed and waited for my body to do what it was going to do. I started pushing, and one of my nurses wanted me to lay back because I was arching my hips off of the bed to push, but I couldn't stand to lay flat because of the pressure. So I pushed in this awkward half on my side, half on my back position. I think I pushed twice and felt Silas slide down to be close to crowning. I yelled about how he moved down, then screamed the f-bomb Then apologized to a room full of adults for cussing. I pushed two more times, (I wasn't being coached, so they weren't the push for 10 seconds, wait, push again kind) and his head popped out(which surprised me because I never felt the ring of fire everyone talks about) Dr. Schiemenz told me his head was out, like I was unaware, I told her to get him out, pushed one more time and he was on my stomach.

Silas had an exceptionally thick cord, so it was still pulsing after 7 minutes, and Dr. Schiemenz asked if it was ok for them to cut it because he sounded congested and they wanted to do some deep suctioning. My husband cut the cord, and they took him over to the warming table. While he was being suctioned, we started talking about how much he weighed, because all of my doctors had been placing bets, along with everyone else that knew he was supposed to be big. The nurse called out "10 pounds, 5 ounces!" And there was a collective groan/cheer/woah in the room. Then Dr. Schiemenz checked to see if I tore, because she couldn't see anything, and sure enough, there wasn't even a scratch. She tugged on the cord, and it made me involuntarily push the placenta out.

I felt like I really had to fight my entire pregnancy to get the birth I wanted. Since my first child had shoulder dystocia, and ended up with some nerve damage from a broken collar bone, the doctors and midwives wanted to take the super cautious route and do a c-section when it started to look like Silas was going to be large. I knew that my body could deliver a large baby and that the issues with my first sons birth didn't have anything to do with his size. I insisted on being allowed to labor before we did any official talking about c-sections and I'm so glad that I did. I ended up being able to have an amazing birth because Dr. Sebestyen and Dr. Schiemenz were willing to see what my body could do. I am so thankful to them for that, and I still cry sometimes when I think about how wonderful Silas' birth was.

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Erica Hudgeons

Birth story of Kalon Wilkins, born 7/12/13, 7:56pm.


Because my first son was 4 weeks early, and Kalon was due on July 11th, I kept expecting him to come early. My bag was packed 3 weeks early and I was getting emotionally prepared. By the time my due date came around, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be pregnant forever. I’d been having braxton hicks contractions for months, but on July 11th, I actually had real contractions for about 6 hours, starting at 1pm, and going into the early evening. I started to get excited and that night, kept waking, expecting to feel more contractions. But we made it through the night and into the next day without anything more happening.

That’s why, when I started having contractions again on Friday at about 1pm, I didn’t get too excited. I nursed my older son to sleep, then my doula Meredith came over to give me a massage. I’d been feeling some back pain during contractions the day before and wanted to do all I could to stop that from happening. During the massage my contractions stayed around 10 minutes apart and were pretty bearable, lasting only 30 seconds or so. The massage got rid of all the back pain so I was feeling pretty good, though still having regular contractions.

My husband Gavin was home when our older son woke from his nap and they decided to go to the swimming pool. My contractions were now about 7-10 minutes apart, getting a bit stronger, but I wasn’t excited yet. I decided to take a bath. The bath was relaxing, but didn’t stop the contractions, in fact they were getting stronger. That was when I realized this was probably the real deal. It was dinner time so I called my husband and he and our son came home.

At this point we probably should have left for the hospital. My contractions were averaging 5 minutes apart, but since I could still talk (albeit only while on all 4s) during contractions, I thought there may still be some time. I decided to put clean sheets on the mattress next to my son’s bed where my husband or I’d been sleeping some nights to keep him company when needed. It took me 20 minutes to do this because I kept having to stop for contractions. This was when I decided we needed to get a move on. I called our midwife who agreed with me, and we called my brother-in-law to come stay with our son.

By the time my bro-in-law got to our house, I was having trouble talking through contractions and I was getting pretty uncomfortable. As soon as I got into the car, I started having another one and the seatbelt and I had some pretty harsh words with each other. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to mend my relationship with that seatbelt. I harbor strong resentment.

The drive from our house to the hospital where we’d chosen to deliver, usually takes about 20 minutes. Luckily there wasn’t any traffic. During the drive, Gavin remarked at one time that he wished it were more urgent because he’d always wanted to have a police escort. I said “I think this is pretty urgent”. That was about the time I went into transition.

The next few minutes were pretty unbelievable. The pain of transition is something only those who have been through it can really understand, so I’m not going to try to deeply describe it here. It is basically one long contraction - or feels that way - one long contraction, with maybe seconds to breathe and say to yourself, “well, this pretty much stinks”. I’ll just say that I was very very uncomfortable, plastered to the window of the car, stretching out that stinking seatbelt, and trying to find a position that would help, moans of pain escaping me consistently. My water broke at some point during this time. Gavin tried to say loving things to me to help, but I could barely hear him. When we got to the hospital, I tried to walk into the building, but simply couldn’t make it. I took a few steps then was on all fours in the parking lot. Luckily there was a nice family just leaving the hospital. They got a wheelchair and helped Gavin carry things into the building.

I managed to stay in the wheelchair all the way up the elevator and through the waiting room, but once we stopped inside the labor and delivery ward, I had to get onto all fours again. They kept trying to ask questions to get us admitted, and Gavin kept just asking for a room. We tried to answer questions, but things were moving pretty fast in my body, and I could feel the need to push coming on. At this moment I looked up and there, like an angel, was Lisa, my midwife, coming out of a room directly in front of me. I pointed and said something like “There she is!!!!” I think I may have heard some angelic music in my head. At that point they found me a room. (The same room my older son had been born in 2.5 years before). As I was helped into the room, I threw my sunglasses away, and started pulling off my clothes. I was very ready to have this baby. As soon as I made it onto the bed (on all fours) they checked and sure enough, I was fully dilated and ready to push. I pushed three or four times on all fours, then Lisa asked me if another position would help. She suggested I lay on my side, which did help somewhat. She was trying to get me to go a bit slower so I wouldn’t tear, but I felt like a wild warrior woman and I was determined to get the baby out. I pushed two or three more times, letting myself vocalize all of my fierceness and determination. I think I may have scared some people. Then, there he was, our new little boy, right there on my chest, tiny and perfect.

There are so many deep feelings around birth. My first birth was extremely long and I was so exhausted by the time I had to push that it was all a haze. This time around, I felt strong, determined, and ready. Each birth will remain in my memory as a very special experience and each will always fill me with pride as I think of the moments my wonderful sons entered my life as their own individual people.

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Sarah Hernandez

My husband and I chose OBGYN North because of their reputation for supporting natural birth preferences on the recommendation of a few friends who are patients. We couldn't have made a better choice! When the time came, each of our practitioners were helpful and supportive.

Labor is hard for (mostly) everyone, but my labor was particularly difficult due to Premature Rupture Of Membranes (PROM) and over 30 hours of very painful back labor. I LOVED that my practitioners encouraged me to labor at home once my water broke, and gave me 18 hours to work through it at home and wait for contractions to start. When we got to the hospital, they respected our birth plan, and as my labor became distressful, they helped inform us of options we could choose from before allowing more invasive intervention. Even though my son's birth was not at all like we hoped and expected from a natural birth standpoint, they exhausted every option before we had to choose between an epidural and a C-section. I couldn't be happier with this practice, and look forward to having them deliver my future children too. I'd love to see Birthing Center and/or Home Birth options with this practice!

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Dena Thompson

Hunter Rylan
Born 11/2/12 6:22 pm

I switched to OBGYN North in almost my third trimester after being discharged by a top OBGYN in San Antonio for not complying with her orders of being seen by a specialty physician and going on medication that was a pregnancy class C that I did not feel comfortable taking.

It took me some time to find a group that would allow for a VBAC with minimal invasive techniques. We live over an hour from the OBGYN North clinic, so it was an undertaking to make appointments and continue to work full-time as well has having two other children in a busy household. But, we felt like this practice would be our best chance of having a VBAC delivery, so we made the commitment to do so. At my first appointment the physicians were very welcoming and helped me more emotionally and spiritually than they will ever know. They talked about my options for delivery and agreed to undertake a VBAC and reviewed the risks as well as the news that I seemed like a good candidate for a vaginal delivery.

Even though I began with the practice very late in my pregnancy, I saw most everyone in the practice, and loved each of them for their caring and holistic approach to pregnancy and childbirth. They even assisted me in having acupuncture done at term to assist labor in starting naturally rather than induction (as I had done with my previous pregnancy). With three acupuncture treatments I went into labor at about nine o’clock in the morning on a Thursday. I labored comfortably at home until almost 1 am Friday morning when my contractions were coming every three to five minutes apart and were lasting three minutes consistently. I called the office, spoke with a physician, and decided to make the drive to the hospital. When we checked in I was horrified to discover I was only dilated to 2 cm! However, I was having regular contractions and my membranes had broken, so they admitted me and the process began.

Dr. Schiemenz and the labor and delivery staff worked with us to make sure our delivery plans were headed towards a VBAC. We had bumps along the way of needing Pitocin to strengthen contractions and medication for pain relief, both of which I had hoped to avoid – but with our requests they tried alternatives to an epidural and only started the Pitocin as a last effort. After thirty hours of labor I was not dilated past 3-4cm, yet Dr. Schiemenz was still working hard to try and achieve a VBAC. When we started seeing heart decelerations on the monitor we knew that it might end badly, however Dr. Schiemenz was still trying everything to work with us and try to achieve the type of delivery we wanted to have.

We set a time frame and a time to have a C-section and agreed that if by 5:00 pm I was not dilated any further and the heart decelerations with contractions continued that we would proceed with a C-section as a very last effort for safe delivery. When 5:00 came I was checked again and still no progress that would have ended up with a vaginal delivery (more than likely). The staff and the doctor worked very hard to make sure that the decisions were up to us and that we had every opportunity to deliver under the best possible circumstances. Of course I was heartbroken that I was not going to have a VBAC, however after having time to come to grips with the reality that we tried everything and it was not a “failure” but a safe way to deliver our son into the world, I realized everything would be ok.

I was completely aware during the procedure and was able to see my son as soon as they had him out and my husband even got to take a camera in and get some wonderful newborn shots of our precious baby. I had my son and husband in the recovery room within the hour and was breastfeeding our new addition.

It was far from the expected birth plan that we had, but it was a fabulous experience that I will always remember thanks to the amazing staff, particularly Dr. Schiemenz, and their efforts. We plan on trying to have another child and despite the long drive, we hope OBGYN North be a part of the next delivery as well!

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Rachel Hitchcock

I switched to OB-GYN North during my second trimester after I found out how accepting they were of natural birth, and I'm so glad I did. I wanted everything to happen with as little interference as possible with my first baby; basically, I wanted a home birth, but in the safety of a hospital setting. It was just going to be my husband and I, since neither of us are from Austin and we had no family around.

My water broke first, on a Sunday night, and I was one of the rare cases that did not go into active labor during that first day. In fact, the contractions I was having actually started getting farther apart. When we checked into the hospital on Monday, Dr. Sebestyen kindly encouraged me to start on Pitocin. Knowing how much I wanted to keep it natural, she started me on the lowest possible dose and allowed me to determine when and how much to increase the dosage. This helped me to get used to the effects gradually, rather than having the shock of sudden super-strong contractions.

At my request, nobody ever even mentioned an epidural. Dr. Shiemenz delivered the baby, and she did not "interfere" at all with the natural progression of things. I'm a chiropractor, which I never told any of the doctors or nurses, but it was important to me that the baby was not pulled or twisted or "sucked" out. With her help and that of the nurses (and some prenatal home preparation), I didn't even tear at all.

Since they patiently allowed me to call the shots, the labor was over 50 hours from the time of my water breaking to the birth of my son (about 27 hours of active labor, with four hours of pushing). My husband told me later how amusing it was to see me actually falling asleep between pushes. Apparently I was taking two-minute naps for the last eight hours! Our baby finally arrived early Wednesday at 1:32 a.m., and I was able to hold him and feed him right away. It was the most beautiful night of our lives, and it was worth every moment!

The nurses and all the staff at St. David's are wonderful, by the way. We were there from Monday to Friday, so by the end of it all, I had started to feel like they were old friends! When you have an experience as intimate as childbirth, you want to be comfortable with the people around you, and I certainly was. I wouldn't have minded staying longer!

We moved to the east coast shortly after the birth, but I wish I could fly back just to birth all of my future children with OB-GYN North! Even with a couple of unexpected turns, it could not have gone more smoothly, and I couldn't be happier with my decision to birth with them at St. David's. It was really the perfect experience, thanks to everybody involved!

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Magda

Just to give some background, my first daughter was breech at 32 weeks and never turned. I ended up having a scheduled C-section with no signs of contractions at 39 weeks. I had a rare reaction to the spinal and had to be given an anti spinal through an IV over night in the recovery room while being hooked up to the monitor to make sure my heart is still beating. I did not get to hold my daughter until 4 hours after my surgery. I am also allergic to Advil and could not take an adequate pain medicine that would really help with the pain. Overall I stayed in the hospital for 5 days and my recovery was pretty painful.

For my next pregnancy I really considered a VBAC since my body didn't seem to do well with medical interventions. I tried not to have too high of expectations but I did hire a doula just to feel like I tried everything to have a natural birth. And I am soo glad I did.

The labor started at 12:30am on Monday, October 8th when my water broke while finally lying down in bed after a couple trips to the bathroom. The next day was my due date. I woke my husband up from excitement and we decided to call the hospital at 1am. Our favorite midwife Siobhan was on call that night and told us to try to sleep through the contractions and call if they get unbearable lasting 1 minute and 5 mins apart.

I tried to sleep but within 30 mins my contractions were coming stronger every 3 mins and I just could not stay quiet through them. Our toddler was sleeping in the other room and I did not want to wake her. We called our doula Tanya by 3am that we are heading to the hospital. We were admitted to the hospital room by 3:30am and I was trying to make it through the frequent contractions thinking what happened to a gradual start of contractions that I expected? Suddenly I feel these magic hands squeezing my hips behind me to counteract the pain. My doula Tanya came and I thought to myself that I think I can actually do this! She showed my husband how to squeeze my hips from the other side while I was sitting on the bed and as the contractions came they squeezed me from both sides. Siobhan came to the room at around 5:30 am to check if I am dilated and I was 5cm already. Now she said to expect 1cm per hour and Dr Sebestyen will probably end up delivering since her shift started at 8 am. But my baby boy had other plans.

My contractions have gotten more intense and came one after another at times with no breaks in between. Tanya suggested to go empty my bladder that may help with the pain. I was soo tired to move but ok. As I sat down on the toilet I started to push! I just remember another nurse coming in and everyone telling me not to push! I went back to the bed and Tanya called for Siobhan thinking I may need to be checked again. At 7:20am I was 10cm and yep my body wanted to push already. Another doctor came since I was a VBAC and I pushed for 30 more minutes and my son was in my arms by 7:52am. He was born at 8lbs 14oz and 21.25 inches. What a great feeling! My husband got to cut the cord and I nursed Oli right away.

Throughout my labor everyone in the room was such a great team. The whole time I was there noone has asked me if I wanted any pain meds helping me concentrate on my contractions naturally.

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Katelyn Patterson

When my husband Paul and I started trying to get pregnant, I already knew I wanted to go with OB GYN North. Their pregnancy and birthing philosophy were exactly what we wanted. From our first appointment in August of 2011 until Dr. Sebestyen delivered our baby girl a week ago we were incredibly pleased with their practice. I am so grateful that there is a group for women who want to be able to think of their pregnancy and birth as a natural process while maintaining the security of being surrounded by modern medicine.

Last Sunday, March 25, my husband and I were gardening until about 7pm in the evening. We came inside, fixed, and sat down to dinner. My water broke around 8pm and contractions started around 8:30pm. I talked to Dr. Schiemenz on the phone and she told us to come in when they were about 5 minutes apart or by 8am on Monday morning. By 1:30am contractions were about 5 minutes apart so we headed to the hospital. I was pleased to see that Siobhan was there that night and she helped us all through labor until her shift was over. Next up was Dr. Sebestyen who was with us all on Monday. I was dialiated at 3cm when we first checked and about 6 hours later I was at 8cm. AT that point I decided to take some narcotics to dull the pain but still not get an epidural. After about 3 hours of pushing, we realized she was stuck in the public bone and decided on a vacuum assisted birth. After a few more serious pushes, our little girl was born that afternoon at 5:52.

I am incredibly grateful to Sebestyen and Siobhan for all of their help and advice during such a stressful and exciting time. Thank you to everyone at OB GYN North for making our pregnancy and birth such a wonderful experience.

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Suzanne Mateus

When I start to write or tell about my birthing experience (which really began when I was pregnant) I get really excited, emotional, and a part of me feels a great sense of peace. I started the journey knowing there were options out there, but had never explored which ones were right for me and quite frankly why they were right for me.

When I tell people (usually women) about how pregnancy and my view about birthing changed the way I decided to try and have a baby I share seven pivotal moments:

1) Purchasing and reading two books about birthing. In addition to reading about the options and the philosophy of birthing on the Internet.
2) Watching the documentary, The Business of Being Born by Ricky Lake
3) Taking prenatal yoga to help develop pain-coping techniques
4) Hiring a doula to assist me with pain-coping techniques and because there was a higher percentage of having a natural birth with a doula.
5) Visualizing myself having a “natural/med-free” birth by changing the way I understood “pain”.
6) Talking to several women who have had natural births.
7) Lastly, there is an element of luck, which is out of everyone’s control.

Now, I won’t go into detail about all seven, some even speak for themselves, but I will share details that stood out to me and ones I think readers may benefit from.

First of all, I definitely experienced the typical fear every pregnant woman goes through. You know, the fear of how in the world is a baby supposed to come out of my body? I kept telling myself, “Women have been having babies for centuries. It’s nothing new.” That thought led me to explore the history of birthing. I have to make it clear that I was trying to stay open minded about any possibility that may arise while in labor. I sincerely value the advances of medicine and believe they definitely have a place in labor and delivery. In addition, I also want to stress that a woman’s choice to labor and deliver in any fashion is the beauty of, not only modern medicine, but also a woman’s prerogative to choose. No women should be made to feel guilty about the choices she has made, nor for the events that may have occurred, which may have been out of her control during labor. That being said, I knew that I whole-heartedly wanted a medicine/intervention-free birth.

The second I made that decision (metaphorically-speaking because the decision to pursue this took me almost 6 months into my pregnancy) to train my body to pursue a medicine/intervention-free birth by learning pain-coping techniques I promised myself that fear was not allowed to visit my thoughts. It simply was not an option. I did not have time for it, nor the energy to waist thinking about fear because either way I was going into labor and I was going to birth a baby.

There’s one piece of advice that gave me faith and strength: there are only two people during childbirth that know what is best: that’s the mother in labor and the baby being born. The lesson I will carry with me forever as a result of experiencing a natural birth is how it really can be a spiritual journey. Part about changing my perspective of pain involved changing my view about birthing. I saw it as a journey, both my pregnancy and the labor, with my baby. This experience was happening to both of us. In addition, I learned that the body really does know what to do if we let it. There is also an element of luck to getting the birth you want, in my opinion. I did most of my laboring at home with my doula and my husband. In fact, I checked into the hospital at 3:30 AM and my baby was born at 5:59AM. I was lucky, in that, my water didn’t break until I got to the hospital and that my baby was in the right position.

I cannot stress enough that the training to see birthing in this way and then be able to live it, both physically and mentally, happened while I was pregnant. In other words, there was definitely a simple physical component to birthing and there was definitely was a complicated mental side of it. For example, I am a former long-distance runner and one of the pain-coping techniques I used to get through contractions was to see the length of each contraction as a full-on sprint. Sprinting involves a painful 30-90 second run where you are completely out of breath and your muscles hurt like hell.

A mental strategy I used was to view the experience of a natural birth as part of experiencing being alive. For instance, in a documentary about the movie Alive one of the men shares how when an avalanche completely buried him, he was freaking out and losing his breath because he knew he was dying. At one point, he acknowledges that dying is part of life, and it was at that moment that he decided to enjoy the process, and it was only then that he could enjoy the experience and eventually be able to share it. This is how I decided to view labor. I’m not advocating for a complete change of how you view life in order to possibly experience a natural birth, just find what works for you. This is what worked for me, but I had to look within myself to find this out.

As a result, experiencing a natural childbirth gave me a greater sense of empowerment in how I feel about my body. There’s a part of me that has this burning desire to participate in a triathlon, and then there is another part of me that can see myself doing anything I set my mind to.

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Lily Tsai

Over the past few days, Ryan and I had a few moments to reflect back on the labor and delivery of our baby girl Sabine. We wanted to share our birth story, so here it is.

For those that don't need all the details, here is the Reader's Digest version:

When I woke up Tuesday morning I said to my husband, "I think today is the day." Throughout the day I had easy-to-medium contractions more frequently, but still somewhat irregular. The contractions increase in frequency and intensity around 1am on August 10th. I tried many of the relaxation techniques taught in my natural birthing class (Birth By Nature with Chan McDermott), including seated circles on the yoga ball, sitting on the toilet, and even some basic bellydance moves. Eventually the contractions became so intense and continuous that even the yoga ball did not feel good and I decided to call my OB practice (OB-Gyn North) at 4am. The on-call nurse midwife Lisa Carlile suggested I try a warm bath, and while that felt good, it didn't last long. My best explanation of how I felt at that moment was that I needed to go to the bathroom really bad. We went to St. David's North Women's Centel at 5am. The midwife checked me and saw that I was fully dilated (10 cm), so we were rushed to a Labor and Delivery room. With my husband holding my hand and encouraging me and the midwife instructing me when to push, my daughter Sabine, was born at 6:06am. She weighed exactly 8 lbs and measured 20.5 inches and an APGAR of 9/9. We had a natural birth, with no drugs, not even an IV. After 2.5 hours of skin-to-skin bonding time, we were transferred to the postpartum room where we spent the next 2 days resting. On the third day we were sent home and are enjoying our little bundle of joy.


For those that want all the details, please read on:
Starting on Tuesday, August 9, 2011…

I was having more frequent contractions than previous days and some light bloody show. Over breakfast I told Ryan that I had a feeling today was the day. My water had not broken yet, but maybe it was a really SLOW drip as I felt like I had to pee many times.

We went on our morning walk as usual, had breakfast, then I took a long nap. I didn't feel like going anywhere and practiced yoga at home. Finally, Ryan and I went to Whole Foods to get some groceries for dinner around 6pm. We finished eating, and then went on our evening walk at 10pm. During our walk, for the first time, I had to stop and catch my breath because a few of the contractions were more intense than before. Ryan noticed it was different, as I actually needed to hold onto him while we walked. Again… all signs were pointing to "something" happening soon.

Around midnight, we were getting ready for bed and I suggested we sleep on the couch since I was getting up pretty frequently to go to the bathroom. Our couch is lower than our bed, so it is easier for me to get up and down during the night. We got settled at about 1am (Ryan fell asleep quickly), and just as I'm trying to go to fall asleep, I feel the contractions getting more intense… so intense that I couldn't fall asleep. I practiced the breathing from yoga and our natural birth classes (Birth By Nature with Chan McDermott). This did help some, but the strong contractions kept coming. Next I tried focusing on relaxing my body and performed some slow bellydance moves such as hip circles and figure eights (as any avid bellydance instructor would do). I really liked how this felt because my lower back was in pain. At this point the baby was really moving and squirming around a lot. More than ever before (and she's been a busy body along the way). Finally, I just couldn't stand moving back and forth between the toilet and couch, so I just ended up hanging out in the bathroom of our master suite. I even took the yoga ball into the bathroom, but I was at a point where even the yoga ball didn't feel good. I sat on the toilet and just tried to relax.

Around 4am, the contractions were not letting up and I decided to call my OB practice (OB-Gyn North) for advice. My water hadn't broken yet (from what I could tell) so I didn't know how far into labor I was, and I really didn't feel the need to go to the hospital before my water had broken. However the contractions were getting to be 5 minutes apart. After speaking with the night dispatcher, I woke Ryan up to tell him that I was waiting on a return call from the OB practice. Just at that moment the nurse midwife on-call Lisa Carlile return my call. Ryan, having been asleep since 1am, was just learning about my experiences as I spoke with the on-call midwife. He could tell something was different in my tone, but the midwife thought I sounded fairly calm. One of the statements Ryan remembers the most is when I told the midwife that I wasn't sure if I could do this without pain medication (self-doubt - an indication of the transition phase). Ryan knew something was really different now considering this was the first time I had doubted myself. The midwife suggested that I take a hot bath and call her in about 1 hour.

Ryan prepared the bath for me while I stopped in the bathroom once again. After crawling into the tub I immediately felt better (and even said so out loud). But then the contractions kicked in again and would not let up. Ryan was there holding my hand and massaging my back as he spoke softly about breathing and relaxing. Lying in the warm bath, I started to feel like I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I even had the shakes! I didn't know if it was just a bowel movement or not, but I remembered learning in the natural birth classes that you should try to go to the bathroom if necessary as it is part of the process. I also remember that this "feeling" could be the baby trying to come out. We were timing the contractions with an iPhone app and realized some of these contractions were anywhere from 5 to 3 to 1.5 minutes apart. At 4:40am, after 35 minutes in the tub and attempting to use the restroom, I asked Ryan to call the midwife. The midwife asked Ryan if I wanted to go to the hospital now and I said "YES". Ryan told her we would be at St. David's North Women's Center in about 10 minutes, and he ran out to load up the car and get it out of the garage. Luckily our hospital bags had been packed for over a month now and the car seat had been installed in the car for over two weeks now. Being 4:45am, there was no traffic and the neighborhood was quiet. Ryan drove quickly through the back roads and had us to the hospital Women's Center entrance in under 5 minutes (those race driving schools are paying off now!). Ryan pushed the security intercom and informed the security officer that his wife was in labor and needed to bring her in. The doors unlocked quickly and Ryan escorted me to the elevators. We knew the drill at this facility because we had attended the tour (twice).

We arrived at the check-in desk just before 5am and I could barely stand anymore. The nurse brought me a wheelchair and took me to a triage room while Ryan answered a few questions at the desk. Shortly after, Ryan arrived in the triage room and assisted me with getting into the hospital gown. Then our midwife arrived and asked if she could check my progress while the nurse checked my vital stats. Without hesitation, the midwife proclaimed "you are completely dilated and I can feel the hair on your baby's head." I was already in the transition phase of labor and needed to get to the Labor and Delivery room ASAP. Ryan ran (literally) downstairs to park the car and gather up our gear, while the nurses moved me to the delivery room. It was about 5:20am at this point. The nurses were still setting up the equipment when Ryan returned and joined me by my side. I was feeling confident at this time, which was good since there was no time for medications anyway. I didn't have an IV or anything hooked up. It was Go Time. Ryan held my hand as the midwife said I could begin pushing anytime. I was lying on my side at this point with the midwife holding my leg in the air. I hadn't done this before, but clearly my body knew exactly what to do. Everyone was very positive and encouraging. The midwife would tell me when to push and Ryan would remind me to "breathe and relax". She had read our birth plan quickly and saw that we wanted a natural birth. She used olive oil to help stretch the perineum. After a few minutes of pushing in this position, I asked to try another position. I wanted to try a squatting position, which is something I had pictured myself doing prior to arriving at the hospital. However, the midwife felt that squatting required more physical effort on my part and she suggested I try being on my hands and knees first. Everyone helped me roll over onto my knees and built up some pillows for me to lean on. The midwife suggested that when it was time to push I should roll back onto my heels. I was making good progress in this position, and after a short while it was suggested I roll onto my back. From this position I was able to open up my pelvis and really push. The midwife was very calm and kept instructing me on when to push. I also figured out when to push and would often tell her "ok, I'm going to push again." A few minutes later the midwife announced that she could see a full head of black hair. This was very encouraging as I knew we were getting close. This was the "ring of fire" that we had learned from our birthing class. Ryan took a peek to get an early look at our new baby, and this also helped him stay positive in motivating me to push.

My midwife looked around for the hospital nurse, who was out getting supplies. It was all happening so fast that everyone was still scrambling to get it together. When the nurse returned, the midwife said our baby would be here in the next few pushes, so we needed a nurse to help out. I was motivated and ready. Ryan could see me smiling and knew I was focused on meeting my new baby. One more push and the head was out. Another push and the midwife stated that a shoulder and arm had come out (ouch). And a third push and my sweet baby was born at 6:06am. The midwife asked Ryan if he wanted to check and announce the gender…which he of course wanted to do. After a quick look he said "It's a girl!" We were all smiling as the nurse put the baby on my belly. Everyone was very supportive of the skin-to-skin contact I wanted after the birth. Exhausted and elated, I held my baby girl. Ryan wanted to cut the cord, so the midwife got everything prepared and handed him the scissors. With little effort, my placenta was expelled and the midwife began to cleanup and monitor my health. After several minutes of skin-to-skin time, they took the baby over to the scale and announced the official weight at 8 lbs (3628 grams) even. Wow, that's a healthy girl. They brought her back over to me for another couple hours of skin-to-skin time while they cleaned up the room and processed the paperwork (yes, the labor was so short we didn't have any paperwork completed yet). Additionally, the midwife noticed some bleeding and found a slight tear from when the baby's right arm popped out with the shoulder. It was a second degree tear and the midwife stitched it up quick.

Ryan and I sat with the baby for 2.5 hours. We enjoyed just looking at her and talking about who she looked more like (Asian genes are more dominant!). After a while, the nurses did a shift change and a new nurse helped Ryan take the baby to the Nursery for a bath, some tests and the first shots (Vitamin K and HepB). Our baby's temperature was on the low side of normal, so they also wanted to stabilize her temps under the lamp for a few minutes. Ryan said he learned about bathing a newborn while taking lots of cute pictures. They were gone for a little over an hour, which gave me time to get moved to my postpartum room and rest.

Relative to most women, I had a rather quick labor. You could say that I labored at home for several hours until I just couldn't stand it any more. Luckily, we live just 5 minutes away from the hospital. Overall, Ryan and I are so happy and thankful for the entire pregnancy, labor, and birth experience. We had an easy pregnancy, quick labor, and the natural birth that we wanted. We can only hope that next time, we are blessed with the same (or even better) experience.

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Jennie Whitaker

On July 4, 2011, I was 41 weeks, 3 days pregnant, which was eerily close to 42 weeks and an impending induction. Marcus and I had planned for a natural childbirth since the moment we found out I was pregnant and I was devastated at the thought of our birth plan being altered. With the support and direction of Dr. Sebestyen, Lisa, Cathy, Liane, Sioban and Dr. Schmitz, our birth plan not only stayed intact, but it was the most beautiful unraveling of events I could have imagined. The next 48 hours were full of the most incredible, compassionate and supportive moments of my life.

I’ll be the first to admit, as much as I wanted to go through with the process of natural childbirth, I didn’t truly believe I could do it. Deep down I probably knew I could, but friends and family kept reminding me to ‘keep an open mind and be willing to accept medication”. What I really needed to hear was what one of the midwives, Cathy, told me at an appointment around 4 months. I told her I wanted to experience natural childbirth but everyone around me didn’t believe I could do it and thought I had too low of a pain tolerance to handle it. Her response was, “your body was made for this and if this is what you want, let’s prove them wrong.” From that moment on I stopped being afraid and started preparing.

At the beginning of the sixth month we started a Bradley class in preparation and at the encouragement of our fabulous instructor, I read both of Ina May Gaskin’s books on natural childbirth. Ina May was a pioneer midwife in the United States at a time when interventions began to rise in the 1970s (or that’s how she’s been described to me). These books were inspirational and the stories rang through my head throughout my 40 hours of labor. Yes, 40. And, the Bradley class was not only instrumental for me to learn about my body and the process of birthing our son, but it was absolutely a way for Marcus to connect with me during the pregnancy as well as the labor and delivery of Levi. In the end, the course taught Marcus to tune into my needs during labor and his role was stronger than any other person’s during those hours. I truly believe, with the confirmation of everyone who witnessed our son’s birth, that Marcus was the pivotal reason I made it through without ever screaming, complaining or even saying “ouch”.

The support we found from the midwives and Dr. Sebestyen at OBGYN North and the practices of the Bradley Method, made the entire experience surpass my wildest dreams. Even two weeks later, the gratitude I feel for the women at OBGYN North brings tears to my eyes. Every one of them played a role in the process and lucky for me I even saw every one of them during my labor!

It all began on the fourth of July. In an attempt to avoid an induction, Dr. Sebestyen suggested they strip my membranes on Monday. If that didn’t work they’d insert a foley bulb on Thursday. Both of these interventions were free of medication and seemed like a great alternative to pitocin. Besides I was 10 days passed my due date and unless I began labor on my own they were going to have to do it for me 4 days later. So Marcus and I took our first venture to the Women’s Center of Texas at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center that day. We met Dr. Schmitz at 5p.m. and had her do a vaginal exam and strip my membranes after the non-stress test and triage visit. She indicated that I was still only 2.5cm dilated and that the stripping of my membranes would give me a 50% chance of starting labor in the next 24 hours. We left the hospital about 6:30p.m. and about 10:45p.m. I started feeling a bit different. My contractions were a bit more intense than before and I felt like I might be in the early stages of labor.

Once we figured out that we might be meeting our son soon, Marcus encouraged me to get some rest. I had a hard time sleeping that night and woke up during many of my contractions. About 6a.m. it was too difficult to stay asleep so I woke up and got ready for the day. We went for a walk, had breakfast and I asked Marcus to stay home from work. We had the most perfect day together. We went for a walk, played Canasta, watched the food channel, set up a little putt putt hole in the house and ate little snacks together. Around 11a.m. the contractions were about 10 minutes apart and I realized we were truly in labor. At 2p.m. I had a bloody show and throughout the day I lost more and more of my mucous plug. Marcus timed every contraction, how long it lasted and how far apart it was from the last. We labored at home all day, packed the car, arranged for friends to pick up our dog and talked about last minute techniques for labor to prepare for the process.

At 11p.m. my contractions were 4.5 minutes apart. This was already 24 hours into labor, so we knew we weren’t far from meeting Levi. We didn’t want to avoid the advice of others to “head to the hospital when contractions are 3-5 minutes apart and about 1 minute long,” but I didn’t think I was very far into the process. I’m glad we went when we did because the car ride wasn’t unbearable and I wasn’t scared about leaving home during transition.

When we got to the hospital, Cathy met us in the hallway outside of the labor and delivery doors. I was so glad to see her. She was like a fairy godmother, the perfect personality to labor with. I couldn’t have asked for better support. She checked me in triage and I was 4cm dilated, so they admitted us.

We arrived in labor and delivery room two. It was dimly lit and perfect. We set up our speakers to play a nice Pandora station on our iPhone and unpacked our stuff as labor continued. Once we got situated, we decided to walk the halls to keep things moving. We spent a the next 12 hours progressing from 4cm to 10cm. We walked the halls as I leaned on Marcus during the contractions, kneeled next the bed with a pillow under my knees in a praying position, stood in the shower with hot water on my lower back, sat on the toilet and attempted to lay down for two contractions (those were the most uncomfortable ones of my entire labor so we got up quickly!). The most helpful part of all was having Marcus by my side. He was there to brace me when we walked, dance with me when I swayed, rub my back (continuously) with avocado oil, change the station when the music was annoying, grab me ice water when I was thirsty and a quick snack when I was hungry and cheer me on when I looked to him for reassurance. He was the stronghold of the entire operation and everyone acknowledged his ability to focus on my every need. I truly believe anyone can get through natural childbirth if they have the right support from their spouse and midwife.

Throughout the night Cathy came in to check on me and offer silent support. She didn’t interfere with what Marcus and I were doing, but anytime we had a question she’d provide the most perfect amount of comfort. Her presence was known and appreciated, but never overwhelming. Cathy was totally in tune with the way we were laboring and was an amazing support to us. In the morning, at shift change, we said our goodbyes and thank you’s and welcome Siobhan into the room. She was the next perfect fit in the puzzle. She was more than accommodating, bringing Marcus breakfast, taking turns rubbing my lower back and cheering me on throughout transition before we began to push.

At 8a.m. I was 8cm dilated and we were in the more intense part of labor. I don’t remember any of it being unbearable and Marcus said I never complained, never said ouch and never screamed. It was really just an exercise of incredible focus on what my body already knew what to do. It was a lot of work, a lot of breathing and a lot of adrenaline. I was surprised about how my body reacted, in all of the literature I read I don’t remember reading about the “shakes”. From about the time we arrived at the hospital until Levi arrived, I shook uncontrollably between many of my contractions. It was like I was freezing to death, but I wasn’t the slightest bit cold. I later learned it was my body’s “fight or flight” response and that it was a totally normal.

At noon it was finally time. The contractions had dilated my cervix to 10cm and I felt an enormous urge to push. Although I must admit, the urge to push was more like the feeling of a bowel movement and less like we were about to hold a baby. Even after 37 hours of labor, my water still hadn’t broken. So, I sat on the toilet to push and finally heard the pop and gush of water. From there we tried nearly every position imaginable to get Levi out. It was the hardest work of my life and I couldn’t have made it without Siobhan and Marcus’ encouragement.

We started pushing on the toilet, then tried marching around with high knees before doing lunges off the couch. I squatted a bit and then they moved me to the bed. First I pushed in a seated squat with my knees up, then on my side, then with my feet up, then in hands and knees. After about 2 hours and 45 minutes we all agreed squatting made the most sense. So, they brought over the squat bar and we pushed and pushed and pushed. I have to admit, pushing we the hardest part for me and the scariest. It was the only time I doubted my bodies ability to birth Levi, but every time I looked up, Siobhan and Marcus kept saying, “You're doing it!”. They kept me posted on the progress and reassured me that even though it was taking a long time, he was doing just fine. He was not only strong, but he was doing fantastic. Lucky for us, Dr. Sebestyen was also present in the room, observing Siobhan in her new role of hospital births (she previously did home births) and her encouragement was greatly appreciated too. And, to my surprise Lisa and Liane stopped by while I was pushing too, which made the process extra special. It was so nice to see every one of my caregivers over the course of our 40 hour labor.

At 3p.m. on Wednesday, July 6th Levi Cohen Whitaker was born. He was 6 pounds, 11 ounces and 21 inches long. The final few pushes were surreal. I didn’t believe he was “almost here”. And, I was truly exhausted. I was looking a little weak to everyone in the room, so they gave me a bit of oxygen between pushes at the very end and it was really helpful. Oh, and to my surprise, I was thirsty the entire time and accepted water between every pushing contraction. The very last push surprised me. I thought he’d crown and then we’d push out the head and then his shoulders would come out. I never thought he’d arrive in one big push, so when the jello-like feeling emerged and I laid back to take a breath, I was amazed that they were placing my son on my chest. In fact, my first words were, “that’s my baby, that’s my baby”. The next moments were indescribable and wonderful. I made it, Marcus made it and most importantly Levi made it. Our family was complete (until next time!) and I felt amazing. I learned what our body is capable of and how good the bond of a family feels when you work as a team.

Looking back, I couldn’t be happier with the process, our birth plan, the respect of the nurses, midwives and doctors, and the way God allowed us to meet our first born son. Even now I’m excited about birthing Levi’s siblings, knowing that the process shouldn’t be terrifying (like I originally thought) and that childbirth is one of the most beautiful things a woman can experience with her spouse (and the midwives and doctor she loves).

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Andrea

Carter Graham
Born May 27, 2011

While I thought I would certainly have Carter early or on time, he had other plans. After weeks of prelabor contractions and so many signs of possibly going into labor, he decided to take his time. At 10 days overdue I scheduled an induction and because I was only dilated 1.5 cm at my 41 week appointment, they scheduled me for a foley blub catheter induction on Thursday night, the night before our induction. I was able to have it inserted at my drs office and come home with it and wait for it to dilate me to a 3. I was anxious to see how well it would work and thrilled it was a natural alternative.

It was inserted at 3pm and while a bit uncomfortable, not painful at all. They did a non-stress test after it was inserted and by the time I left the office I was having light contractions. I knew it could cause contractions since it was manually helping to dilate me to a 3, but told it rarely puts people into full blown labor. I hoped that because I was already having light contractions off and on for weeks, this would be the help I needed to push me into real labor.

By 9pm the bulb had fallen out. So after 6 hours of having it in, I assumed I was dilated to a 3. We went to bed around 11pm to try to get some sleep before the 5am induction. I was having contractions, but was able to get some sleep. I had a few more painful contractions early in the morning, but we got up around 4am anyways to head to the hospital.

We loaded the car up with our bag, Carter’s bag, birth ball and pillows and made the drive to the hospital. I wasn’t nervous, just ready to meet him and excited that I was finally having painful contractions on my own. We got to the hospital and had to wait in the empty waiting room to check in and be escorted to our delivery room. We got settled in around 5:45am and the nurse came in to start my IV and check vitals. I was still having contractions and they were getting strong enough to have to stop my conversation during each one. The dr on call came in around 6:45am, right before the shift change to check me and see where I was. To my surprise I was already at 6.5 cm and my cervix was about 85% effaced. He was still high up at a -2 and would continue to stay high the entire labor.

My contractions continued to get more painful and stayed about 2-3 minutes apart. I surprisingly didn’t have as much back labor this time and it was strange to feel all of the contractions low in my uterus. I still had a lot of pain and pressure in my hips and Scott did a great job pushing down on my hips during each contraction. It was also much nicer to not have to be hooked up to the IVs as I did with Natalie. They did intermittent monitoring every 30 minutes to check on Carter. So I had to be in the bed for them to get a read of his heartbeat. It seemed far more manageable then my labor with Natalie. I think having a natural labor vs. a pitocin induced labor also made it much more natural feeling. Less synthetic.

At about 9am, Lisa came in and we discussed what the plan of action was going to be. She saw that I was contracting on my own and said that we wouldn’t need to start any pitocin. We discussed possibly breaking my water to move things along but she decided to check me first and saw I was already at 8 cm. At this rate she said we wouldn’t have to do anything and that we should just let labor progress on its own. I was so excited to be making progress on my own and was hopeful I wouldn’t be in labor all day and night.

Scott and I walked the halls many times at a slow pace stopping with each contraction. We had down a good rhythm of rocking and Scott pushing on my hips. I walked each lap practically with my eyes close to save energy and just remain focused on getting through the pain of each contraction. Scott was a great support again throughout this labor and was constantly encouraging me to try different positions and would be sure to help me relax after every contraction. The hours passed and the contractions remained steady. I spent some time on the birth ball with Scott behind me rubbing my back and pushing on my hips, but I actually spent the majority of the labor on my side in the bed. It helped to have the leverage of the sides of the bed to grab on to during every contraction. I’m surprised I didn’t rip off the side bars as I pulled down on them during each contraction. I certainly used every muscle in my upper body as I was sore the entire next day from my back, neck to even my jaw.

At around 11am, my water broke. Another thing I never really experienced with Natalie as I must have had a small leak early in my labor because I never had the large gush of water. I continued to leak a lot of fluid throughout the labor. From 11am to noon my contractions were starting to slow down. It was nice to get the break in between contractions but I knew this wasn’t going to help progress my labor. Lisa came in to check me and I was still at an 8 and he was still at a -2. It was frustrating to hear I hadn't progressed in a few hours and she suggested starting a little bit of pitocin to get things moving. I agreed that I would rather move things along then potentially be stuck at an 8 for hours longer. At 1pm they started pitocin and it would be increased every 30 minutes.

After it was started the contractions picked back up and then got insanely more painful. I must have had a second bag of waters break, because I had another huge gush of fluid. The contractions were now each lasting 1.5 minutes and coming every 2 minutes. They didn’t have a natural peak, but rather an over arching line that made the pain last much longer through each contraction. Again the difficulty of more synthetic contractions vs. natural ones became very apparent. I had the urge to push around 1:30, but found out I was only at a 9 and he was still at a -2. I was getting so close, but the contractions were so much more painful then with Natalie that I really wasn’t sure if I would make it to the end. I felt like this had to be transition with the urge to push and the insanely intense contractions, but he was still so high and I was only at a 9 that I was confused at where I was in my labor. I think a bit of fear was setting in at this point because I felt like I could barely breath and make it through each contraction. I just didn’t know how to focus through these long contractions. Like with Natalie, the moaning/humming was getting me through each contraction, but at 1.5 minutes long I could barely get through with enough breath. His heart rate was also dipping a little during each contraction, so they were reminding me to breathe during each contraction to help him get enough oxygen. Trying to take deep breathes, relax and cope through a 1.5 minute long contraction is not an easy feat. I was pushing at the end of each contraction because it was such a relief and I was working so hard to try to push him down a bit to at least get him to a 0 station.

At a little after 2pm, Lisa came in and saw that I was grunting through the end of the contractions and appeared to want to start pushing. At about 2:15 she checked me and told me I only had a small lip of cervix left and that I could probably push past it. She held my leg up as I was on my side and told me to push and see what type of progress I could make. So the pushing began and it was so much more intense and painful than with Natalie.

When I got to a 10 with Natalie, I all of a sudden was ready to push and the contractions were not painful, but just overwhelming intense to help push the baby out. I felt like I was just along for the ride, as the contractions were doing most of the work. With Carter, the contractions were still very painful and while the pushing felt better, it was a mix of pain and pressure. With Natalie, I felt like I was more in control of my body and would push when I wanted to and made good but slower progress to gently push my baby out. With Carter, I felt less in control and certainly was much more vocal about the pain and discomfort.

While there was so much more pain in the pushing process, I also was much more focused despite my inability to quietly work through the contractions and managed to push him out in about 15 minutes as he was born at 2:31pm. It was so intense I spent the last few pushes, pushing beyond each contraction just to get him out. It was at that time I found out he was well over 10 lbs, which probably had something to do with the extra pain and intensity of the final pushing stage.

Like with Natalie, Lisa told me to reach down and pull up my baby and it was that magical moment that made all of the pain of labor and pushing completely disappear. He was beautiful and perfectly amazing. I was amazed that he had been residing within my body for all these months and was really finally here. My healthy and perfect little boy. His body laid against mine and was warm and soft and I could finally touch his little face, fingers and toes. He let out a cry and just stayed on my chest while Scott and I stared in amazement at his little body. He stayed skin to skin for awhile and was then taken to be weighed and measured.

He weighed in at 10 lbs 6 oz and was 22 inches. I delivered the healthy looking placenta despite being 1.5 weeks overdue and surprisingly only needed a single stitch. We spent the next hour calling family and staring at our little boy.

It was certainly a long journey and the pregnancy was not without anxiety and stress. After enduring a late miscarriage, I had so many doubts and worries throughout the pregnancy that I feared I would never get that happy ending. The one where my healthy little boy emerges and is placed on my chest. Placed in my arms to be loved and cherished forever. A day filled with happiness and tears of joy in the arrival of a healthy baby. This dream was dreamt every day getting me through the anxiety felt over 9 months and to my amazement it finally came true. A little boy was born, more perfect then I could have ever imagined. He was mine and here to be loved. I got my happy ending and that was all that matters.

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Laura Adams

Not every story can be perfect, and mine was far from it, but in the end I got a perfect and (mostly) healthy baby boy.

On July 6th (at a week and a half overdue), I went in for my last dr's appointment, where we were going to discuss induction, and got an ultrasound. The fluids were reading dangerously low, so Lisa sent me straight over to the hospital to start being induced. We got to the hospital at around 2pm, and basically just sat around and got all checked in/poked up with an IV until around 6pm when Kathy came in to put the bulb catheter in my cervix to help encourage ripening and dilation. My friend Chris, DH (Kevin) and his mother sat around with me, joking around and all that. At about 10pm they gave me an Ambien to help me sleep, which didn't work, cause I was WAY too keyed up, but I did end up going to sleep at about 1am on the 7th. At 2:30 am I got up to pee, and the bulb catheter fell right out of me, but I didn't want to wake anyone up , so I just left it on the counter and decided to tell my nurse about it in the morning. I woke up every hour after that, just cause I couldn't seem to get comfortable.
At 5am my nurse came in and told me to eat something and take a shower since they were going to start the pitocin at 6am, so I ate and showered, and they started the pitocin and checked me, but I was only 2cms and 80% effaced and he was at -3. I fell back to sleep around 7:30-8 am, and slept till almost noon, when I woke up because of the contractions, which were 2.5 mins apart, and lasted about 45 seconds. I worked through contractions like that for about 2 hours with the help of Chris, who ended up being an AMAZING coach (I don't think I could've made it that long without him) until they were so intense that I was crying, so I finally asked for the Epidural. Let me just say here, that Epidurals were invented by Greek Gods, and they are uh-maz-ing.
After the epidural was in place, Dr. Campaigne came in and checked me and broke my water, I was at 3cms, still 80% effaced, but he had moved to -1. I knew I was going to need my rest, and I was exhausted anyway so I went to sleep again. My concept of time got kind of screwed up at this point, but I think I woke up around 5pm because I had some visitors. My epidural was still working well and all that jazz, so we just sat around and joked. At about 7pm, I was starting to feel some pressure, was really nauseous, and I could feel my contractions a little. We (and I literally mean we as it was a group effort) somehow managed to talk my nurse into getting the doctor to let her check me, and I was only 5 cms, and still 80% effaced. The nurse gave me something to help keep me from throwing up everywhere, and I went back to sleep. I woke up again around 10 or 11pm cause my epidural had almost completely worn off on my left side, since I had somehow managed to get completely on my right side while I was sleeping and I was feeling searing pain in my left hip/stomach. I got the shivers, and I was on the verge of vomiting, but I had also gotten a new nurse while I was sleeping and didn't know it, so she checked me without asking the doctor for permission (thank goodness, or dr. Campaigne wouldn't have let her, since she didn't want to risk infection) and I was at 8.5 cms and I would go to 9cm everytime I had a contraction. I got back on my back, and got the epidural mostly evened out again, and the nurse gave me Phenegren for my nausea, so I almost instantly fell asleep since that stuff makes you SUPER tired.
I don't know exactly what happened while I was sleeping, but I woke up at around 3am to the nurse forcing oxygen on my face, and making me lay differently, while she was holding the fetal heart monitor to my stomach. I was still really drowsy, and going in and out of it, but she told me that Jude's heart rate was too high, averaging at 190-200 bpm and I heard her say something to the charge nurse (who she had call dr. C to basically FORCE her to come to the hospital to check on me) about me bleeding too much or something.
The nurse told me that I needed to know who I was going to keep in the room with me when I was pushing, just in case the doctor decided it was time. Dr. C got there about 5 minutes later, checked me and said that she wanted to "try pushing", I instantly woke up and told Chris and Kevin to stay in the room. I have never seen two grown men look so terrified in my life. While they were putting my legs in the stirrups (cause for some reason my right hip and thigh were completely numb, but I could feel everything else) dr c told me that I needed to see the finish line and push like I was trying to get him out and all that jazz. She gave me the impression that she didn't think was going to be able to do it (especially since I heard her tell the nurse not to get some stuff ready cause she was expecting a c section).
For some reason, I looked at Chris' watch right before I started pushing and it was 4:04 am. After my second set of pushes, dr. C suddenly got very positive and was telling me that she could see his head a little when I would push. She was stretching my perineum with olive oil (which was also helping me remember where to push, since I wasn't so confident in my ability to do it right without the pressure of her fingers there to guide me) about two sets of pushes later, she went and got all of her gear ready, and had the nurse help me push through two more sets. At about this point, the contractions were lasting longer than they wanted me to push cause Judes heart rate was starting to drop, and I was struggling with the pressure, since my epidural had somehow almost completely worn off, except for in my right leg. Something about Kevin's voice kept making me annoyed, so I kept telling him to shut up, even though he was apparently telling me the same things that Chris was (I could hear Chris talking, but for some reason, I just wasn't processing what he was saying.)
When he started crowing both Chris and Kevin decided to check out what was going on down there, and then suddenly both of them, dr c, and the nurse were cheering me on through my pushes, and they were letting me get in more pushes (probably cause I couldn't keep myself from doing it).
My last set of pushes were completely self guided, although Kevin and Chris were both counting to 10, and by the 5th push, I felt slight relief from the pressure, and heard/felt a whole bunch of popping in my hips and back, then Jude was on my chest. The neonatal nurse starting wiping him off on my chest, but he wasn't crying, and we could hear him choking on something, so she took him to the warming table in the room to suction his lungs out better. While Jude was being weighed, and Kevin and Chris were taking pictures, dr campaigne delivered the placenta (which literally consisted of her pushing on my stomach twice then saying "oh, here it comes" and the placenta falling right out of me)
The nurse called out his weight, and dr campaigne looked at me and said something to the effect of "seriously?" then she told me that I had a first degree tear, and that I would only need about one stitch. She told me that I just pushed out a 10 lb baby in one hour with an epidural, and that I was just somehow  "made for having babies"
Jude ended up with group b strep (although I tested negative at 36 weeks), meconium aspiration, and erbs palsy from a clavicle break, the entire experience was amazing and terrifying. There are definitely a few things I'd like to change about it, but I don't think my son would be the same amazing baby he is today if he hadn't been given such a tough beginning.

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Katie & Luis

Following months of Bradley classes, careful nutrition, and excited prepratations for our baby's arrival, my water broke on Friday evening around 8pm (at 39 weeks and 4 days) just after a healthy serving of my sister’s homemade macaroni & cheese and brussel sprouts in brown butter and sage. We all credited the labor kick-off to the brussel sprouts! I hadn’t had any contractions stronger than Braxton-Hicks, but we were definitely nervous because there was meconium in the water. Our midwife directed us to the hospital for a check-up and contractions started shortly thereafter. They were 3-4 minutes apart and never spaced out further than that.


Once the nurse determined that the baby was not in distress, we settled into our Labor & Delivery room for what we expected to be a long night. I don’t have a great sense of time around the events that night, but our labor progressed quickly and I was at 6cm within what seemed to be a few hours. As I labored, I had nausea and terrible back pain that moved inward, outward, up and down with every contraction and had a strong suspicion that Paloma was in the posterior position. Luis applied counter pressure during every single contraction for 8 hours. His arms were like jello during the last 2 hours but I know that I couldn’t have made it through the back labor without pain meds or an epidural without him. Paloma Sofia arrived Saturday, January 8th at 5:40 am and we were smitten at first sight.

We learned later that Paloma was indeed posterior and are so grateful for the info we learned in our Bradley classes. I would have felt helpless without it. (Our Bradley instructor was Christina Barkley). We’ll definitely keep those counter pressure tennis balls with Paloma’s baby book!


I used relaxation, deep breathing and vocalization with every contraction to manage through the pain. Although the nausea prevented me from laboring in more positions, I was grateful to be able to move around and use the birthing ball throughout. I paused at first when asked whether I would pursue a natural birth the next time around, but now I'm confident that I would. Our midwife, Lisa, and the hospital staff were fantastically supportive of our natural birth plan and assured me that the second one is more likely to be "somewhat" easier (and even faster!) than the first.


We’ve had a lot of fun reminiscing (my sister and Mom were in the delivery room with us) and loving on our little girl. She’s eating and sleeping well and we couldn’t be more proud. I never understood how sleep deprived new parents could honestly say the first few days are fun, but we’ve loved every second of it!

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Rachel Atkinson

I started getting lower back pain on Thursday night when I went to bed. I didn’t want to get too excited over nothing, but I had always heard that lower back pain might be a sign of labor coming and I thought something might be happening! I kept having that pain overnight, and also starting contracting on and off. All day Friday I’d have maybe an hour or so of what I thought were painful contractions (turns out I had no clue!), but then they’d fizzle out.

Friday night things started getting a little more regular. They were coming about 3 or 4 minutes apart for maybe 45 seconds so we decided to give Liane a call and she had me come in to get checked. We spent about 4 hours in triage (with my 1 year old – great times), before they sent us home around 1:30am. I hadn’t made any “progress” since my appointment on Tuesday at which I was 1cm dilated and 50% effaced with the baby at -2 station. I decided to take some Tylenol PM and try to get some rest.

I woke up around 6am to contractions that were at a whole new level. I couldn’t distract myself from them anymore and they were still coming about 3-4 minutes apart. We called Dr. Schmitz and she said it sounded like I was still in early labor, but I could come in and get settled at the hospital if I wanted. Because we had to drop my son off at our friend’s house before going over to the hospital I decided I’d rather not wait.

We got to the hospital around 9am. I had progressed to 2cm 60% effaced with the baby still at -2, and they admitted me to a room. My doula arrived, and I started to really have to work hard through the contractions. A lot of the rest of the time is a blur to me. The contractions were getting more and more intense, and seemed to settle in at about 1 ½ minutes apart for hours. My whole team - Dr. Schmitz, my doula, and my nurse, and of course my husband were extremely supportive - helping me find new positions to labor in and encouraging me when I felt like I couldn't do anymore. At some point I was checked again and was 3.5 cm with no other changes. I was starting to feel like I might be ready for an epidural, but I really wanted to be further progressed before that because I was worried about stalling out my labor and needing another c-section.

Around 3:00 Dr. Schmitz suggested that I try walking the halls again, so my husband and my doula started helping me out of the room. Unfortunately, at that very moment the woman in the room next to me happened to be pushing. I was already kind of emotional, and hearing her just sent me over the edge. I turned to my husband, said “I’m done. I want an epidural now,” burst into tears, and hobbled back into my room! About an hour later they got it put in and I felt wonderful. It was great because I stopped feeling any pain from the contractions, but still felt pressure/tightening and knew when I was having one. I was checked again and was at 5 cm, 90% effaced, but baby was still at -2 station. Dr. Schmitz recommended breaking my water and I agreed. Then I took a much needed nap.

I woke up two hours later to incredible pressure. A nurse came in and checked me and I had already progressed to 9cm, was fully effaced, and the baby had moved down to 0 station! She called the doctor and by the time she arrived I was at 10 cm and feeling very ready to push. They got everything set up and my nurse joked that I had better push fast because her shift ended in 20 min and she wanted to meet the baby! With that motivation of course I had no choice but to push my heart out, and only 30 minutes later Charlie was born! He was 7lbs 8oz and 20.5 in long. They put him right on my chest – it was the most amazing feeling in the world.

This birth was exactly what I had been hoping for and I wouldn't change a thing!

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Erica Hudgeons

My birth story.

My son Shale's birth was early and unexpected, terrifying and wonderful.

Our baby wasn't due for another month. It was a Sunday and we had tickets to a concert that night. The night before I'd felt a little extra fluid in my underwear and had been feeling a slow trickle all day, so I called into OBGYN North just to be on the safe side. Liane decided I'd better come in and get checked out. I got dressed for the concert, told my husband I'd be home in an hour or two and headed to the hospital.

Liane was very friendly, calm, and clear with me about the protocol. She took a sample of the fluid and tested it to see if it was amniotic fluid. If it was, she said we'd have to start the process to get the baby out. If not, I'd head home as planned. I sat in the hospital waiting, sure it would be negative for amniotic fluid and I'd be on my way.

A few minutes later Liane poked her head around the door. No concert for me, it was amniotic fluid. Our baby was coming! Even though I still couldn't really wrap my head around it, I called my husband and gave him a list (we didn't have a bag packed yet) and told him it was time to come.

Liane wanted to start me on Pitocin right away. Even though my water had broken I wasn't having any contractions, and she explained that we needed to get working to get our baby out to stave off infection. I asked her to wait until my husband arrived. I was terrified of Pitocin. I had a lovely image of giving birth completely naturally and joyfully and an opposite image of Pitocin throwing me into a hard fast labor that I couldn't handle without an epidural. Liane was very understanding and explained that they'd start slowly and only raise the dose when absolutely necessary.

Once my husband Gavin arrived we called our doula Brianna and filled her in. She arrived that evening and we discussed my options. By then I was having contractions according to the monitor but I wasn't feeling them. We decided to get started on the Pitocin.

I didn't need to worry about things happening too fast. All night I got Pitocin in gradually increasing amounts. I was also getting antibiotics in case of infection. Things stayed pretty mellow. Brianna went home and Gavin and I tried to get some sleep. By the next day it looked like we'd need to try something else.

Liane had gone home, and Kathy was our midwife for today. She suggested we try a Foley bulb to get my cervix to start opening. Upon inspection she discovered that my cervix was still completely closed, and the Foley bulb seemed like a better option than prepping me for surgery. I fully agreed. The first attempt to insert the Foley bulb caused a lot of bleeding and there was some concern of low-lying placenta so they gave me an ultrasound. Luckily all was fine.

At this point, probably any other doctor would have decided to go with a c-section, but Kathy knew from my birth plan how much I wanted a vaginal birth, so after consulting with Dr. Campaigne, she decided to try the Foley bulb again. It was afternoon by this time. Brianna was back. Gavin and I felt like we were now living at the hospital. I told Brianna she may as well go home again and that we'd call when something really started to happen.

Finally by 11pm on Monday night, it did. Our baby must have been feeling bored by the lack of movement too because he started really kicking. I'd recently started feeling contractions, and with one of my contractions, our baby gave a solid kick and broke the water bag completely. Now we were really in action. I felt like celebrating with the first strong contractions.

We’d read books and taken classes, and I had a vision of lots of walking around during contractions, but other than frequent trips to the bathroom, I just wanted to lie on my side in the bed. During each contraction, Gavin read to me from the same passage over and over. I'm sure he must have gotten tired of those words, but the words and his voice were soothing and I was very insistent. This period of time is hazy in my memory. The contractions got stronger and closer together and I went into a sort of alternate universe. During a contraction, I could only ride the pain and listen to Gavin's voice. After the reading stopped helping, Brianna gave Gavin an alternate breathing pattern to guide me through. I remember opening my eyes at one point and telling him fiercely that that wouldn't help, that nothing would help. Then I tried it and it helped. Vocalization also helped. I must have sounded like a foghorn. In between contractions I was in a dreamlike state. I had waking dreams of walking down the street and talking to people I knew, and specifically of conversations with my Mom who died when I was a teenager.

By 2:30 that morning the pain became too much for me. I'd been expecting the Foley bulb to fall out - it was supposed to fall out when I reached 3 centimeters, and my contractions were now so intense and close together that I knew if I was not even dilated 3 centimeters, I couldn't withstand the intensity for much longer. We learned later that I'd been in transition at that point, but not knowing that, I cried out for help with the pain. They gave me the narcotic Stadol, which didn't really dull the pain, but made my waking dreams more interesting. I decided I was going to need an epidural.

At this point Kathy decided to see how dilated I was. Much to all of our surprise, and my immense relief, I was fully dilated and our baby's head was showing. The Foley bulb had gotten trapped between his head and the uterine wall. Kathy removed the Foley bulb, which really eased the pain, and I prepared to push.

This period of time is both sharp and vibrant, and hazy in my memory. Time had no meaning. I learned later that I pushed for over 2 hours, but it didn’t seem that way. Exhaustion was overwhelming me to such an extent that I couldn't feel my contractions with my conscious mind any more. I know I must have felt them subconsciously because with each one, I pushed with all of my strength, and between them I drifted in and out of sleep. I remember voices and faces drifting in and out of view; Gavin, Brianna, the wonderful hospital nurse, and in the center, Kathy, each telling me various words of encouragement. They floated in and out of my consciousness keeping me going. I felt our baby's head with my hand. At one point, when I really just wanted to sleep, Kathy woke me and put my hand on his head, and I felt the tops of his little ears. My eyes popped open, and I breathed in deep, prepared to work until the end of time if necessary, to get that little person out. I really felt like I may actually be stuck pushing until the end of time. Then, a few pushes later, I decided that I wasn't waiting that long. I wanted to see my baby. I woke myself up and pushed harder than I'd ever pushed before. A few more of those and there he was, our baby boy.

That moment was pure gold. The entire universe glowed, and in the center was this perfect little person, all arms and legs and squirming humanness, and mine. There is no pain I wouldn't endure for that tiny little person. Gavin and I gazed at our little boy, for a timeless moment, and all was right in the world.

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Val S

Written and allowed to be shared by Val's doulas at the Get Babied Doula Collective http://www.getbabied.com

The Graceful C-Section

40 weeks came and went for Valerie. Then 41. 1 day shy of 42 weeks was her scheduled induction date. I joined Valerie and Brendan a few hours after they checked in to find Valerie comfortable on a low-dose of pitocin. Valerie is the perfect doula student – she had read every hippy trippy birth book out there (which we love). She watched all of the required documentaries (The Business of Being Born, Orgasmic birth). She took all of the classes we offer at Get Babied and was as educated about her choices in birth as any mom could be. So Valerie knew the pros and cons of medical inductions, epidural anesthesia etc. She hoped that a little pitocin would get her to a place where her baby would be low enough for an artificial rupture, and the AROM would stimulate her own oxytocin where she could turn the pitocin off. This was the plan, and the plan worked beautifully. By mid afternoon Valerie was off of the pitocin, off of the IV, and off of the continuous monitoring, free to walk the halls and labor as she pleased. She was about 6cm and contracting regularly. Things looked beautiful for Valerie and the spiritual birth experience she was hoping for.

Val liked three positions for laboring – sitting on the toilet, walking the halls and taking contractions leaning against the wall, and doing a hands and knees position on the hospital bed using a ball at her head and Brendan and I at her hips for counter pressure. She would labor in a position for a good 15 minutes, and then as soon as she needed a distraction, she would choose a new position. Her positions were all different and used gravity to her advantage to get her cervix open and her baby down. Her hospital room was also set up so peacefully. She chose to have the lights turned low. She had yoga-meditation music on her ipod dock. Lavender aromatherapy lingered in the air.

Valerie entered transitional labor in a calm, peaceful, inwardly reflected, deep breathing state. When a contraction (we called them rushes in honor of Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery, which was preferred reading material in early labor) started she would breath deeply, close her eyes, and choose a mantra with the words open or relax or similar in her head. When the rush reached it peak she would use her voice in a very low grounded bovine (again thanks for the reference Ina) moan. She moved progressively to a cervical exam that put her at 9.5 centimeters. 9.5 is my pet peeve of the week it seems (Val is the third mama of ours this week with an issue of incomplete dilation). As a doula I knew that anterior lips and cervical swelling without pushing are often an indication of occipital posterior (OP) position of the baby – “sunny side up”. Immediately we employed positioning that would take any pressure off of the cervix (like squats and such) and moved to positions that created the most room for baby to rotate – hands and knees, lunges, and side lying. Valerie took each position in stride.

Brendan was a wonderful birth partner. He would hug and kiss Valerie to help maintain intimacy throughout her labor. When Valerie was having a difficult rush he would give her relief by doing a double hip squeeze, and when it was my turn to take over double hip squeezing he would be at her head scratching her scalp and playing with her hair, something she found soothing and relaxing. When the peaks of the rushes were intense, he would moan along with Valerie and remind her to take deep breaths, and to keep her voice low and body relaxed.

For most people transition labor (8-10 cm) can be between 30-90 minutes. Intense, but brief in relation to the journey of labor. For Valerie it was over 4 hours. Not once did she feel she couldn’t manage her pain. Not once did she ask for pain relief. She didn’t look at the clock. She just stayed in her zone and hoped that time would be on her side to get her baby turned rotated and engaged in her pelvis. After 4 hours Lisa Carlisle the midwife (of OBGYN North) actually recommended the epidural. Valerie continued on past this recommendation for an hour or so, but ultimately decided that it was time to change plans. The midwife was hoping the epidural would give Valerie a rest – she had been working hard for 15 hours and a rest might help her body relax. She also recommended turning the pitocin back on – while resting this would turn her contractions up a notch, and might also help in finishing that dilation. With a quick cat nap under her belt and within the hour, Valerie was feeling the uncontrollable urge to push. Her epidural was perfect – took the pain of the peak of her contractions away, kept the pushing pressure sustained, and she had full feeling and mobility of her legs.

Valerie pushed for about 45 minutes in alternating positions. She pushed on hands and knees and side lying – two positions that were comfortable for her, but also kept maximum pelvic room to keep the baby rotating. 45 minutes of pushing brought no progress. The midwife recommended another hour break, where Valerie could rest and the pitocin/epidural combo could keep working for her to labor baby down without Valerie getting exhausted. After another hour, Valerie needed to push again. This time we tried even more positioning; hands and knees, side lying, lying on back and pulling against a rebozo, and pulling out the squat bar to squat “Indian style” while pushing. 45 minute more of strong effective pushing still did not bring baby in to the pelvis. Val’s cervix was swollen even more, and the top of baby’s head was starting to swell.

Valerie knew she was essentially out of options at this point, but I have to respect the nurses and midwives at NAMC – not once did any medical staff member even mention the word ‘C-section’. After the 23rd hour (literally) of labor the midwife told Valerie she could keep resting, and keep pushing – baby on the monitor was tolerating everything very well. If Valerie had the energy, she could continue as long as she wanted. But she was also a realist with Valerie – she said Valerie had tried everything she possibly could to get this baby out – and all of the things she had implemented one would think that this baby would be dropping out by now, and that more of the same might not make any difference.

It’s a beautiful thing when a C-section isn’t an emergency, and isn’t an ultimatum (“you can push for 2 hours and then it’s a C” – I seem to hear that attitude or tone from other doctors). Valerie had all of her options on the table, and it was her choice to elect to have a C-section. Many of us consider a C-section the end of the world. But to Valerie it was an empowered decision she chose. Valerie went in for the surgery around 5:30 in the morning, and baby Lilah Mae was born at 5:57, about 24 hours after Val had checked in. The C-section did confirm our suspicions – Lilah was OP and was not engaged in the pelvis. She was 8 lb 9 oz, pink, chubby cheeks, calm, peaceful (just like Valerie’s labor had been).

I met Valerie in recovery to talk about her experience. She felt that from beginning to end she had a spiritual and empowering experience. She had full freedom to labor the way that she wanted to. She discovered things about herself she didn’t know – how she had it within her to labor with intense pain and manage it on her own. She rediscovered a beautiful intimate connection with her husband whose hands were on her the entire time in a loving and supportive way through the end of her c-section. She felt a connection to her baby throughout labor and delivery and had time to get skin to skin contact with her right after her c-section delivery, and for a full hour of successful breastfeeding within a few minutes of arriving in recovery. I am so grateful to have had this learning experience, and to be reminded that a C-section can be a graceful, empowered and spiritual experience.

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Jenniclair Schramm

Bodie was a long awaited baby! It took us almost 2 years to conceive this little guy and we were really anticipating his arrival. As our pregnancy progressed things went very well and I really thought that he would come early and quickly since he is our 5th child. As things went he ended up being late! I had been walking, squatting and doing tailor sitting for weeks! And while I was effacing I was not dilating and he was not coming down into my pelvis. Finally in the early morning hours on Sat. the 25th of September my contractions were coming close and hard and not going away so Lisa told us to go ahead and come in.
We arrived at the hospital and got admitted because I was at a 3 and had a good labor pattern going! Well...that did not last! My contractions started spreading out and became less uncomfortable.
Since this was a VBAC we had to be very careful in the interventions we used. Dr. Sebestyen came in and we decided that AROM would be our best option at this time. After that I dilated to 5 and stalled for a while. At this point it had been over 12 hours and I was getting anxious. We then decided to add a little pitocin to get me into a good labor pattern and it worked. The contractions came back, closer together and stronger and in a good pattern. All the while Bodie was doing great and tolerating all the squeezing!
As the contractions kept coming I became increasingly tired and my pain threshold dropped and I asked for my epidural...it had been almost 22 hours of labor. With my epidural came relief, sleep and a release of anxiety and I dilated quickly after that.
I started pushing and I wasn't being very effective so after almost two hours we decided a little help and guidance was necessary. Dr. Sebestyen used the vacuum to help get our little man out, and as a result I was able to have a successful VBAC with Dr. Sebestyen's and Lisa's help!
Bodie Jonathan arrived 4:58 AM Sunday Sept 26, 2010 and is a much adored baby brother!

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