I can’t talk about my third birth without talking about the first two. It has been one long continuous journey for me to try to birth vaginally. It has been over a decade since my first, and over that time I have watched many women nationwide start to take back control of how they birth… from passive (lay on their back and wait to be told what’s next) to deciding for themselves as active participants, to complete unassisted control over their own bodies. I have watched it all eagerly and enthusiastically. Over the last decade I have completely changed the way I view birth. As time goes on we women have not only liberated ourselves from stirrups and no husbands present as in the previous decades, but many other unnecessary interventions as well. It is truly the unnecessary ones that need more attention. . . but there is also room for improvement in the necessary! As the cesarean rate was climbing, there was a backlash of empowered birthing women taking birth back, or at the very least making it more family centered. Homebirths are also on the rise, and while that was not an option I felt was good for me considering my birth history, supporting other women in their birth choices continues to excite me. It is because of what I experienced that makes me want to help push this movement forward.
My mother had four vaginal births, one of them completely natural, and I went to the hospital in labor in 2001 expecting the same… it had never occurred to me that it might not happen. I had never thought it would be a struggle. Just like breastfeeding came with great ease for both of us, I expected birth to be the same as my mother’s births. I just trusted that somehow the baby would come out! I was in a bit of pain during the onset of labor, but was not afraid of anything in particular. My mom had also had pain relief without negative outcomes so I assumed I could do that too. So I asked for an epidural when things got hard. I thought that is just what you do and never questioned it. I was still very young and a bit trusting that it was safe. After 12 hours of labor on my back much of which I slept through, 3 hours of purple timed pushing also on my back, and 30 minutes of vacuum suction, I was hemorrhaging and needed an emergency C-section. I was 21 years old and healthy… you could almost see my sons little head, but he needed to be pushed back up and cut out. The OB tried very very hard and said he was just “stuck.” I was completely shocked, disoriented, and confused. I was terrified. Recovery was traumatizing as the epidural wore off and I started to feel the muscular pain of three hours of purple pushing on top of the incision pain from the C-section. I was hallucinating from narcotics, and my perfect 8 pound 12 ounce baby boy had a giant bruise on his head from the vacuum suction. Thanks to my mother and despite the nurses, breastfeeding went smoothly, even with a very drowsy jaundiced baby. I refused circumcision. As out of it as I was, thankfully I was a Mama tiger about that. . . nobody was going cut him with no pain relief!! My (surprisingly for being so young) doctor said he did not like doing them, and it was very traumatizing for infants not to mention unnecessary. He also informed me that the foreskin has a specific function, and taking it away might affect him later in life. What an informed doctor!! He had really done his research. Also thankfully I had very mild PPD, and I recovered well. I took very well to motherhood. . . I was not very nervous or scared about newborn care as I had five younger brothers and sisters whom I watched come into the world and helped care for. Being a mother came very natural to me and I absolutely loved it!!!
Breastfeeding Riley <3
Seven years later in 2007 And pregnant with my daughter, I felt for some reason the desire to return to the place my son was born and have a do over. I perhaps felt like I had wanted to conquer my last birthing experience by going to the same place and showing them I CAN actually do this. But in hindsight this was a mistake. I wound up with the same doctor on the same floor of the same hospital… and for my VBAC attempt I was surprised with… the same outcome!! 12 hours of labor, 3 hours of purple pushing, and an emergency C-section. I did not prepare as well as I SHOULD have except to read a Lamaze book of breathing that did absolutely nothing for me. I didn’t really seek out the natural birth community or the support I would need. I just assumed I could face it on my own. I learned later we DO need support and the right setting. I did spend a little time on a birthing ball during the labor but my OB came in and scared me. . . he was talking about my chances of dying from VBAC right in between contractions!! This doctor was all about fear. I was happy on my birthing ball until that moment he came in. It was like he brought a dark scary cloud in the room. It made me want to get in the bed, and I did. I stayed on my back. . . letting them check me and break my water. They made me feel like I was crazy for not wanting drugs. I had excruciating back pain, later figuring out she was posterior and not descending. I made it up to transition drug free… but without changing position, or the right support, I begged for an epidural at 8 cm. I pushed on my back for 3 hours to no avail. The recovery was once again a hell I had to live through as I pushed so hard without feeling it I couldn’t stand up straight for weeks. I had a beautiful 9 pound 5 ounce and very jaundiced baby girl, who also breastfed very well. . . but my hospital experience was torturous as I battled just about every nurse to leave us alone with the poking and prodding and comments. “You shouldn’t cluster feed you’ll never get her to sleep through the night” and “Cosleeping is dangerous!” and “If you don’t get the Hep B vaccine you are putting her life in danger.” The pressure to bathe the baby was intense for some reason. I had NO desire to bathe my perfect newborn or use toxic formaldehyde shampoo and I felt like I had to constantly justify wanting to protect her head smelling more like me than the hospital. I didn’t even know at the time that my instincts were correct. . . and that there is a scientific reason to wait to bathe your newborn! Thankfully they eventually backed off about the bath.
She was given sugar water for her hearing test, which made us quite furious as we were not asked in advance. I had already done a bit of research on the “virgin gut” and how newborns need nothing in their digestive systems but your milk especially after birth. The nurse actually said “Oh she did great I gave her lots of sugar water, that stuff is like crack to newborns!” and she smiled at me waiting for a smile back. But I did not smile back. I felt like I was at war and I just wanted to just run down the hall and through the double doors with my baby like in the movies. . . not that I could even stand up let alone walk. Dramatic? Yes but it felt like a prison. My opinion of hospitals in general was that they must have risen up from the deepest depths of hell just to torture new moms and newborns!!! When the jaundice finally cleared and they “let us out” it felt like a jailbreak. It was the biggest relief to be rid of the hospital gown jumpsuit, the IV fluids, the blood draws, the inhumane squeezing heel pricks, the leg circulation squeezers, the morphine itching withdrawals, the post-operation Pitocin drip, the pushing on my belly, the bad food, the pressuring pediatricians, and staples in my abdomen. I was free!!!
Not even jaundice and asshole nurses that won’t let me use a billi blanket are gonna stop me from breastfeeding on demand
Pregnant with my third in 2011 I was pretty much faced with two options. Go completely passive and schedule a third C-section. Or get extremely active and go for a VBA2C.
I decided I could not handle just scheduling a surgical birth. I just could not handle that. Not when there was so much unknown. I wasn’t truly convinced my pelvis was a problem. I decided not to use an OB at all but seek out a midwife and a whole different approach. The first midwife I saw early in my pregnancy was so so sweet, but I sobbed in her office as she told me that it was not safe to labor and told me my uterus could rupture. She said I was not a good candidate for a VBA2C based on my history. She said if I still wanted to try she could refer me to somewhere else but she could not do VBACs at the local rural hospital as there was no anesthesiologist on call. She was very supportive of me having a choice though, and said she would help me find other sources if I wanted. Before I stopped seeing her to seek out another midwife, she gave me a pelvic exam. . . and said she has seen smaller pelvises birth larger babies and found nothing obviously wrong with it. This left me hopeful . . . perhaps I was not broken, I just needed to find someone willing to give me a chance to labor and push again. It was hard to find in a rural mountain region. None of the closest hospitals allow VBACS, let alone VBA2Cs and so my options were limited.
My search continued down the mountain and I found another midwife. . . she was also very sweet and nice. However yet again I sobbed and sobbed in her office like a baby as she also said I am not a good candidate for a VBAC given my history. She said that she and her practice with the OB would “let” me go into labor naturally before cutting me open though!! How gracious of them!! I don’t mean to sound snarky but what is with the “letting”? This is my body! I asked about letting the cord pulse, and they said they would for 2 minutes. Not until it stopped pulsing. They also said if I showed up at the hospital fully dilated and ready to push they would “let” me push. Again, I really love the word “let” when it comes to my body. Makes me feel so powerful! So my best option so far was to maybe. . . labor in the hospital parking lot so I could have a shot at a natural birth?? Why did I feel like I had no birthing rights?? I wasn’t comfortable doing a homebirth after having two stuck babies, but will no hospital let me at least try? I felt defeated and optionless. . . so I decided to stick with this midwife for the time being. I guess at least I had a small chance if my labor went fast enough. . . in a parking lot. I pictured myself leaning on my car the smell of motor oil wafting up my nose with each contraction. Just what I have always dreamed for birth.
One of the things the midwife told me is that birth is one day out of life. . . only one day. But pregnancy and breastfeeding are much longer than one day. She reminded me that I had healthy pregnancies, extremely healthy babies, and I successfully breastfed for years. . . but my births were horrible and traumatic. She said she herself had an amazing birth, but was not able to breastfeed and that it was really hard. She said she would gladly trade her amazing birth to be able to breastfeed well. So basically what she was saying was that if I had to pick ONE thing to be not so great, it should be the birth because it was one day. While this certainly made me thankful for everything else besides birth go amazingly well with my babies. . . and it certainly made sense logically. . . I don’t think she fully understood just how traumatic my births were, and they lasted far longer than “just one day”. . . they will last my whole life. They left an imprint on my soul. I felt permanently broken. If it was 150 years ago I would have died twice over and my babies would have died too. Or maybe it was the interventions that led to my stuck babies? The ONLY way to find out for sure was to try for an intervention-free birth!!
Next came what I can only describe as divine intervention. . . I didn’t see it that way at first, but it was a huge blessing. I drove down the mountain for my appointment and one of the receptionists at the office told me my midwife was moving away!! I just stared at her with a “You have to be kidding me” face mixed with an “I am very pregnant right now and am fighting back tears and have a bit of “Jack Nichelson in Anger Management” face. The ONLY midwife that I can find that will let me labor in a parking lot is moving away!!! Then as if that wasn’t enough, at my next appointment I met with the male OB she had worked with, and when I mentioned a possible VBAC again he told me how many women DIE in childbirth, and that I could rupture and I need to just schedule a C-section. I reminded him that they had told me if I show up at the hospital fully dilated they would let me push. To which he replied “Hmmmm yea we really can’t actually do that.” The whole way back up the mountain I could barely see as I drove. . . I cried so hard until all of me just gave up. Then somewhere inside me I heard a still quiet voice while I was driving. . . not really a voice as I wasn’t going COMPLETELY crazy, but more of a “sense”. A sense it was all happening for a reason. It was a sun breaking through the clouds moment . . . no literally. . . while I was driving the sun broke through the clouds!!! I just stared at it and let out a big sigh!!! It calmed me down. I gripped the steering wheel and thought to myself “This is my body and I am in control of it!!”
My hunt for yet another midwife began. I was taking a bellydancing class and my instructor told me of a local midwife who could at least lead me in the right direction of where I could birth in a hospital. So I called her and she was SUCH a relief to talk to. I wanted to cry. She was the first person I talked to who really believed I could do this. . . who at least believed it was safe for me to TRY. She believed, and it made me believe too. She mentioned Asheville as a possible place to birth but also another place. Both would be almost 2 hour drives. . . but in mine and her opinion very worth it. I chose the one going East. . . on the way to my Mother’s house. I called them and they told me I could labor at the birthing center, and push at the nearby hospital. I was over the moon!! I was so happy I could not stop smiling all day as if I had just fallen in love!! My husband said “Look how happy you are!” and I kept smiling and smiling. I loved the midwives and my appointments. . . none of them ever said anything negative or scary and they have several VBACs per month there, so they did not bat an eyelash at me. Of COURSE I can try to give birth myself and why wouldn’t I? Of course I can try one more time!! I finally had a team that would help me. . . but I was in control of my body now so I had to do everything I could on my end to make it happen.
I did several things to prepare. . . I spent most of second and third trimester falling asleep to Hypnobabies CDs which were very powerful over my mind and body. I had no idea self-hypnosis could be so empowering and I plan to use it in some form my whole life!! It works really well for stress and other things besides birth. I also read many childbirth books including Ina May’s books and other books that explained things in such a way that gave me more than I ever knew about my own body and how it works. I read hundreds and hundreds of birth stories and watched dozens of videos, becoming quite a bit of a birth junkie. I watched homebirths, and good hospital births, and unassisted births, and births at the Farm in Tennessee. I took a local natural childbirth class the local midwife was teaching and I loved it. I put together a labor bead necklace with beads sent from near and far. I ate really well, eating mostly gluten free whole unprocessed food the entire pregnancy, and took plenty of cod liver oil. I bellydanced until I felt too uncomfortable to dance anymore, and I saw a chiropractor to give my body the best chance to birth. I ate, slept and breathed BIRTH for months as if I was preparing for The Birth Olympics!! I couldn’t have given more of myself to birth.
I also met up with the most incredible doula and mother. . . we met a few times during my pregnancy and I just fell head over heels for her and her kids. She was SO supportive and encouraging and amazing. She really helped my confidence and quell my fears even waaay before my labor!!!
Bellydancing helped me relax during pregnancy and stay in shape.
The pregnancy did have a few bumps in the road however. At one point the baby was breech but we got her to turn. . . then she was transverse (which is extremely uncomfortable by the way) but we got her to turn again. . . then she did a full spin and thankfully she engaged head down by week 40. . . which was a week my body decided would be a really fun time. . . to get sinusitis!!! I was miserably sick. It was the worst possible timing. I was trying so hard not to be discouraged. I woke one night barely able to breathe in a panic. I had a waterfall in my sinuses and my chest hurt so much. I HAD to get better before labor began. I could not let a head cold ruin my chances, make me exhausted, and just rain on everything I had already done!! My husband was worried about driving 2 hours away especially in winter, so we decided since I was 3cm dilated and 90% effaced and overdue, that we should just bite the bullet and go down near the birthing center and get a hotel. And so we did. . . even though leaving home was not my idea of a cozy way to spend my last days pregnant. If it were up to me I would stay in my bed and birth there!! If I could have gone back in time I would have planned a water birth or homebirth with my first. But this was what it was and I felt I had to get near a hospital, especially being so sick.
So we checked into the hotel. . . I brought all my supplements and tissues and parked myself in bed to rest and get better. We had two children and our giant dog with us in the room. . . and I guess you could call that “cozy” . . . or “claustrophobic”. . . I’ll let you decide!! I’m not sure whether it was the sickness or just not feeling comfortable because I wasn’t at home. . . but my body “knew” not to go into labor. It is exactly what I had read about so often. If a woman (much like animals when they are birthing) is not comfortable with her surroundings, she can’t really open and birth. A “watched pot” never boils as they say. . . and there was a lot of “Have you had that baby yet?” People are well meaning, but the days crawled by. . . a week overdue came and went. Then I was almost two weeks overdue and STILL in the hotel. We were all going a little batty. I was contracting strongly, I was practicing my hypnosis, and trying to be patient as I knew when I was feeling better and felt comfortable. . . I would go into labor.
Sure enough, as my cold faded and my energy returned, my contractions started picking up!! I had a week of prodromal labor under my belt too and thought surely it was doing something. On Thursday evening February 9th the kids and dog were sound asleep. My Mother in Law had flown up that day to watch them if need be, so I didn’t have that worry. I always feel the most comfortable when everyone is asleep. . . I was just about to go to sleep myself when I felt something “POP” during a strong contraction. It wasn’t my water breaking but it scared me a lot as it felt like the baby’s shoulder popped or something! It was inside the womb, and to this day I still don’t know what that was. . . but it alarmed me enough to get out of bed. Contractions started picking up to 10 or less minutes apart and strong and I told my husband to call my doula and midwife. . . it was time!!!
We were a bit confused on what to do, as the midwife was not answering the phone. . . we called my doula and decided to wait a bit. Then we heard back from the doula again who called the Birthing Center and she let us know the midwives were already there!! Another baby was being born so everyone was there. Perfect, as we could just drive over. Contractions in the car were painful. . . but I didn’t have to have many, as it was 5 minutes away. I walked in the door and saw my midwife. . . and heard the sound of a crying newborn baby!!! I thought to myself I could not wait to hear that sound myself. I also found myself wishing so badly I could stay there and have a water birth. But I was at least happy I could labor there. We went in a room and she checked me and amazingly I was at 6 centimeters!!! What a great way to start labor!! It was so encouraging. . . with my other labors it took SO SO long to dilate to ten probably because I was never this comfortable before. I only had a little bit to go! I remember laughing and joking between intense contractions. I felt great. I was SO happy.
I remember getting all set up in “The Blue Room” which was very peaceful. . . an all blue room with a big cozy bed. I got on a birthing ball, faced the bed and laid on a bunch of pillows with my hypnosis on my phone. It was SO EASY. I was so comfortable so I just did not feel much pain at all. I was contracting SO strongly and intense but it just felt like pressure. . . like hugs. I never imagined labor could be so pain free. . . my husband and doula and the midwives at the center were just hanging out in the Blue Room lounging as if we were just casually waiting for a baby. It was not intense and sterile like a hospital it was cozy. I felt like I was at home and we were all just chilling out telling jokes. We played with a contraction timer app on my husband’s iPhone. . . I even forgot I was having contractions in between them as we all talked about random things. Was I supposed to be in pain? Was this supposed to be difficult? The hypnosis went on and on in one ear telling me everything was great, and I got to look at all these smiling faces acting like birth was casual, and NORMAL. Which it certainly is. There was nobody scurrying around no machines beeping, no bright lights. I was so happy and content. I had amazing people around me. They believed in me. They had great energy.
I changed from the birthing ball to the big cozy bed for awhile just to mix things up. . . I was there for awhile, and then my midwife decided to check me. I was at 10 centimeters!!! NO WAY I thought. No possible way. I was not in that much pain!!! Did I really just hit transition? Somebody pinch me because as I recall during my last birth that part was excruciating. I could not even talk barely then. But here I was at 10 centimeters and feeling great
In fact, it was time to go over to the hospital down the road and I was completely fine getting up to walk to the car!!! I simply held on to people when a contraction came and then kept walking. I was so so excited. I kept looking around me at everyone in disbelief. This was really going to happen!! I was going to have a natural birth!!!
I walked to my husband’s truck. There was no way I wanted to sit down I wanted to be upright since I was fully dilated. So he put the passenger seat reclining a bit and I faced the back of it on my knees all the way to the hospital. No seatbelt. . . oh yes. . . living on the EDGE! Haha. I remember looking over at him driving me. He looked nervous and excited. I could tell he just wanted to get to the hospital. . . especially when we pulled up to and I said to him smiling “I am feeling PUSHY now!!!” I was so excited. Did I mention I was excited? I was over the moon. I walked through the hospital doors. . . not screaming like you see women do in the movies but calm and focused. . . my midwife held me as I stood having contractions. She was SO amazing. I remember thinking just how badass this woman was when the receptionist said I needed to get in a wheelchair to be taken upstairs. My midwife said “She doesn’t need a wheelchair.” The receptionist said “Yes she needs to get in a wheelchair.” My midwife responded “I am her midwife and she does not need a wheelchair.”
THAT is support. That is the support every woman needs. My legs, after all were not broken. I was in labor. . . it was not an emergency! I then proceeded. . . right in the main part of the hospital by the receptionist’s desk and right in front of all these people in the waiting room. . . to spread my legs apart and PUSH while standing up
I also proceeded to SQUAT right by the receptionist’s desk and push as hard as I could making a very loud loud “UUUUNNNNNNNGGGGHH!!!” sound. And then I smiled. Did I mention I was excited? I just kept pushing with every contraction. Right there by the desk as she was quickly trying to get us registered. Oh did I mention we never registered at the hospital ahead of time? Oops. Must have slipped our minds. They were wanting us to fill out all this paperwork since we were not in their system. . . and yet I was loudly pushing and squatting next to her desk, so the receptionist just decided it might be best for me to go ahead upstairs now and fill things out later. Gee. Ya think?? Hehe.
I went on walking upstairs. . . pushing . . . and smiling and talking in between. NO wheelchair. Not much pain. Just walking at 10 centimeters down the hallway stopping every once in awhile to open my legs and push really hard over a hard floor!! I was lucky enough to be between two amazing women. . . one was an OB and one was a midwife. . . who let me lean on them and gave me massage and support during contractions. They were not panicking. They were not worried. They were not some distant OB coming in to check on me when he had time. They were smiling and laughing and calm and I was a VBA2C Mama standing and pushing in a hallway with no monitors walking to my birthing room. I felt in charge. They helped me feel in charge of my own body rather than a passive participant. Did I mention I was excited?
Once in the room we knew it was hospital policy to have me on a monitor. . . and get an IV hookup in case I needed one. I really felt so powerful though, that this time I didn’t let these things affect the mood I brought over from the Birthing Center. It was late at night so the hospital itself was calm and seemingly empty. I was still in charge. The baby was doing fine, and I kept pushing. I was probably pretty loud but not from pain just sheer exertion!! Someone did come in with paperwork for me to sign (ugh, really? Could this not wait?) but I understood and tried to sign in between contractions. This was the only mental interference I noticed during pushing. I pushed in every position I wanted for the next 2-3 hours. On the birthing ball, squatting next to the bed, facing the back of the bed. It was amazing with no epidural and really not that painful!! Mostly just. . . exhausting! Like being at the gym. My hypnosis was going and also a music mix I made. I had my labor necklace in front of me and it reminded me how many people supported my birth choice and believed in me. It helped me push myself harder. I pushed so hard my husband said my face didn’t even look the same. After the birth, he said “You could not pay me $100,000 to do what you did.” He said he did not look at me the same anymore. . . that he did not know I had that in me. I pushed THAT hard, and for that long. Even after hours I was going strong. The OB was such an amazing woman and much like a football coach!! She was yelling “YEAH!!!” and “THAT WAS GREAT!!!” every time I pushed!! She made me feel like I was at a fun game, playing a fun sport and that I was doing a great job!! She seemed so tough and sensitive at the same time. . . at one point my labor beads fell on the floor and the necklace broke. It felt like a bad omen. . . until my incredible OB started picking it up and putting it back together for me!! How many OBs would do that? Perhaps it was a sign. It felt like one. Like something was going to go wrong but this was the woman who was going to put it back together for me. . . the woman who would put me back together if I fell apart.
I was in a zone. . . and was rather oblivious to what was going on around me. My doula came near me, blocking my view of the door to the room. Bless her heart. She didn’t want me to see my husband and midwife leave to go in the hallway for a moment. She didn’t want me to notice so I could stay focused and calm. That was support. Real support. My midwife said to my husband that she didn’t think this was going to happen. The baby’s head was moulding but not descending. She said that the baby was fine though and not in any distress. . . so I could push as long as I wanted. For hours more if we wanted!! But my husband. . . knowing me well. . . knew that if it wasn’t going to happen anyway, it would be an easier recovery to not exhaust myself and my muscles anymore. So he told them to just go ahead and tell me. . . we both really trusted our care providers this time. I think having a partner that prepared right along with me was so crucial. He knew exactly what to tell them because he knew exactly what I wanted. He knew me well enough to know not to let me go on and suffer just to prove something to myself. At this point it was simply how to tell Annie. He felt really crushed for me.
I was still in a zone pushing. I wound up on my side on the bed being quite tired of hours of position changes. Side lying to me was at least not on my back, and I knew it opened my pelvis more. They were still cheering me on but I felt a change in mood in the room. I pushed even HARDER and made the loudest sound ever and with one big push broke my water!!! It exploded everywhere and everyone was applauding me like I just won the Superbowl!!! It almost seemed like it created renewed hope that it might happen. My husband kept telling me how amazing I was . . . I had never broken my OWN water before, someone else had always done it. It felt like such an incredible accomplishment, especially since I was told my babies have very thick and strong amniotic sacs. I just felt so incredibly strong and powerful. . . not passive like a patient, but like a strong animal trying desperately to birth her child. The urge to push was so strong and my body was trying with all its power to push this baby down. It was overwhelming and something I will never forget. . . something amazing that drugs mask but that I would never ever want to not experience. I felt connected to birthing women of the past, intensely in touch with my body, and I felt like I was part of something so much bigger than myself.
Then. . . I will also never forget my OB’s face as looked at me right in my eyes and she said “This is not going to happen.” I blinked for a moment. . . soaking in what I had just heard and I said back “Are you serious?”
My husband came around and put his hand on me. . .
I was trying to remain strong but felt myself mentally falling like Alice in Wonderland. . . down down down into the rabbit hole. It was dark and scary and twisting and turning. The defeat was crushing. I could hear myself screaming “Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!” in my head. This can’t be happening. No. No. No. But out loud I think I said something like “Okay go ahead with the epidural then.” I knew the drill. Then as soon as I said that my threshold for pain went to the floor. With fear, so comes pain. Excruciating pain. It was actually incredible that I had a pretty much pain free labor and pushing until I was told it was time for pain relief. How is that for irony? Twisted sickening irony. The other irony was that I kept on pushing. . . all the way to the operating room. I had to. The urge to push was more powerful than the knowledge it would do nothing for me.
I just kept pushing and pushing while they prepped everyone for the OR.
So there I was. Bent over sitting on the side of the bed on wheels now screaming in pain, the worst and most horrifyingly painful contraction yet as I held on to a staff person at the hospital pushing my heart out, waiting for it to just end so they could put the big needle in my back. Then the pain was gone. . . and with it my spirit and hopes and dreams. The animal was subdued. Like I was running through the woods screaming and pushing one moment and then hit with a tranquilizer dart the next. With what always seems like an old “Heave Ho!!!” a few people grabbed each end of my lifeless from the waist down body and transferred it onto the operating table. It was back to the familiar. . . back to what birth just was for me each time. I felt the intense pressure. . . I felt my husband’s hand on my forehead. . . I felt like throwing up. . . and I did. I had trouble doing so and needed assistance. I was no longer in control.
I was passive. . . but I was in good hands. The best hands yet, actually. The silver lining appeared and it was glowing!! What was that they were doing? Oh! Were they really?? Is this? Could it be!!!???
She is on my CHEST!!!
She is!!! They just put my baby on my chest!!! Like after a vaginal birth!!! First time ever after birth on my chest!!! This is so new! This is different!! OMGOODNESS I get to hold her FIRST!! ME! I DO!!!!
I get to hold my baby right after birth and have her at my breast!! No whisking her away to get her weight? No craning my neck to try to see? She is up in my FACE looking at ME in all her messy new glory instead of a stranger!!! What a reward!!! Did they really do this for me? For HER? She gets to look at her Mama?? Did the staff really allow my midwife to do this?
And my doula is capturing this? I can barely breathe and my stomach is cut wide open and she is on my chest!!! I can’t breathe but I don’t care!!! She is so beautiful. . . and SO HUGE!!! Look at those cheeks. *sigh*
I held her for a long time. . . and then she went with her Daddy.
While I was in recovery. . . my incredible midwife had Abby do Kangaroo care on my husband’s chest instead of going to a warmer. Human warmth over a machine. . . bonding over protocol.
It is very very important to choose your hospital wisely if you are having a hospital birth. . . this being a different hospital than with my first two, it was a great choice, not only for my birthing rights but also for my AFTER birthing rights. I was, without questioning me allowed to refuse ANY newborn treatments I wanted to refuse. The staff did not hassle me about wanting an intervention free newborn. They were respectful and hands off. They were compassionate and helpful. The nurses were absolutely wonderful.
Did they really do all that??
Yes, they did.
They did all that. . . for us. For our family. Maybe because they knew how badly we wanted it. Maybe they want to change things. Something that I wish for every C-section Mama that wants it. That we deserve. At the very least. They did that and I will never forget it. Ever. It healed my disappointed soul. I didn’t get my “VBA2C” but all said it was the most beautiful natural C-section birth they had ever seen. It was the first time the hospital had done this. My midwife and OB and doula and chiropractor and childbirth class and bellydancing class and friends and hypnosis and husband and the staff at the hospital and my own self-determination came together and did everything we could to save not only my life for a third time. . . but heal my heart.
No, I did NOT rupture. Even after pushing so hard it broke my own water. Yes, the outcome is always most important. . . but sometimes the journey leaves scars. Not just physical scars, but ones that are only healed by the love and support around you to follow your heart’s desire to as far as you can take it. My birth was a success because of that love and support. It was empowering because all the choices were my own. It was gentle because every hand that touched her was gentle.
It was peaceful because a drape was lowered for peace. It was relaxing because rules were relaxed. It was beautiful because there was trust and faith. . . from all involved. . . and instead of fear, love.
To see more pictures of Annie’s beautiful labor and delivery, click here.