Olivia's Gentle Birth
The Birth of Carson
I woke up just after 1:30 am on August 29, 2015, one day before my “due date”. This had become my average wake up time to use the bathroom and nurse Brendan back to sleep. I went to the restroom and when I stood up, I discovered my mucous plug in the toilet. This was my first true sign of labor starting. I had been having some warm ups the past week, but they weren’t frequent or strong. I did notice they were more frequent when I woke up; however, I went back to bed and Brendan woke up to nurse. There came a point, not too long after, where I couldn’t nurse him anymore. My waves were becoming too intense and I needed to get up. Poor Brendan was very upset about that, so he woke up for the day too. Somewhere between waking up and now I also tried to sit on my birth ball, but I honestly can’t remember when I did that. It didn’t help for too long. I continued to ride out the smaller waves and gave my doula, Amanda, a quick call. We decided to wait a little bit & that I should call her if things kept moving forward. I decided at that point to take a shower. I rode out some waves in the shower and then got out and continued to ride out waves in a hands and knees/child’s pose hybrid position. I called Amanda back to update her again, she suggested waiting 30 more minutes and seeing how things progressed. After my 36-hour labor with my first sweet boy, Brendan, we weren’t sure how fast things were really going. I asked Bradley to help me put on my TENS unit to try and relieve a little back pain and I tried to stay hydrated. The waves were starting to get pretty intense and I was having a lot of self-doubt crowding my brain. Brendan’s birth had not left the best impact on my soul and the anxiety from it was showing up. I tried to tell myself positive things and reached out to Bradley to help stay calm.
Our decision to hire a doula is where the path split – to the one less travelled by Westerners today, but more travelled by women throughout history – the path that lets your body lead and says “body – you are amazing – do your thing” instead of“oh, how I fear you.”
Our doula, Amanda, this beautiful calm presence came into our life and introduced me to hypnobirthing; a surrender to and acceptance of the natural process of birth. For me hypnobirthing was not about hypnosis, but about letting go of fear, embracing what the body is designed to do, and connecting with God and letting Jesus’ strength in my weakness be made manifest in this miracle experience.
As Amanda taught me about birth, two powerful images stuck out to me, one - that if you can relax, and remove fear, your body will produce oxytocin and help you with your pain and two – a story of a woman who gave birth while in a coma – her body knew what to do, and since she wasn’t conscious to fight it – it was free to birth, this was powerful to me. I learned about general hospital interventions, what is done, when and why, and I could see just where that train derailed … very very early – and very very easily if you aren’t aware and committed to keeping it on track. As people inevitably told me their horrible birth stories, time and time again I could see when the track was switched over, being aware was so important.
Amazingly - I went into labor on my due date, I spent the morning grocery shopping in a packed grocery store before Thanksgiving, went to the park at 3pm where my water broke (which I was convinced I had lost control of my bladder and was actually peeing myself) I called Chris at 5 to come home, took a bath, tried to track my contractions and called Amanda at around 7pm. Contractions were not clear to me, I couldn’t understand what was what, but I had a sense things were progressing.
As I laid on the bed I remember my whole body tensing rigidly, like a hard wave of rigor mortis arching my back and overtaking me – hesitantly I thought it may be time for the hospital. The drive to the hospital was pivotal – I put on my relaxation CD and this is where I began to feel how to birth. If I could relax, if I could let my hips sink down instead of rise up – I could sit through the contraction without my body tensing so hard – it was possible. Chris thought I didn’t have a single contraction while driving and that we would be sent home when we arrived, but on that drive I found how to let them roll over me, instead of through me. My mind was repeating “oxytocin, coma, Your strength Lord” over and over, it took all of my concentration, and was laborious in its own way, but was a world away from that rigid body tension I had felt before. We arrived at the hospital and I walked to the delivery ward with a pacific Amanda holding my hand while Chris parked the car. It probably took me 20 minutes to go the few floors, stopping every minute or so to let that contraction roll over me, swaying, holding on the wall and swaying some more. We arrived at triage, still swaying, with water pouring out of me, apologizing as I was convinced I was peeing all over the floor. And so I swayed, waiting and waiting for a woman with a UTI to be seen, my silent demeanor my not have been to my advantage at that point. When the nurse finally came over, to her surprise, and maybe all of ours, I was 6cm dilated; oh – to a room you go!
We checked into the room at 9:20pm –Chris held my hand as I laid on my side, eyes closed, in my black splendid stretchy dress I bought at a BlueBee sale years before, never knowing it would be a cozy partner on this special day. Again my mind repeated “oxytocin, coma, Lord Your strength” until I was overwhelmed with the urge to push – and I thought this was wrong – I thought I had let a contraction come over me like on the bed at home and that I could no longer relax and resist it, but Amanda said it was OK, and with minutes to spare the doctor was called in. Once I had the OK to push, I pushed with all my might, and in 4 or 5 pushes – a little Favor Anne made her way on out, at 10:20pm, 1 hour after being admitted. Thank you Lord, and hello little squishy baby-like being. Chris and I were shocked, it was so fast – and then there were three.
I never experienced the ring of fire, or got close to ever wanting medication, when I was pushing I felt the ripping and kept saying “oww, owww, owww” but that was the worst of it, and then getting stitched back up – I felt all of that. Immediately after she was born the nurse asked if I wanted Pitocin to birth the placenta, but with my insistence she let me try on my own, which took only a few minutes – I think. I’m not really sure – it was a bit of crazy shock – the moment that your family changes forever and you meet this little person who will be such a huge part of your life – who knows what else is happening. We just laughed, it was so fast, and here I had birthed what appeared to be our baby J She laid on my chest, all white and squishy, welcome to our family little one - let’s just stare at each other for awhile.
I had become convinced early on that I wanted to try to go natural because I thought that the birth would be more painful, but the recovery would be easier. After my education in birthing and my experience, I am convinced both were easier. I believe my God made the body and made it to make and birth other bodies, capable of amazing things. 2 Tim 1:7, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power.
Shane & Ashley's Story
When I found out I was pregnant with my fourth and last child, I knew I wanted this labor and delivery to be different than my previous 3. I felt drawn to a natural birth, and, surprisingly, chatted with many friends who had a natural birth and told me they would do it all over again. That made me curious. Something in me told me I could do this. I found my doula, Amanda. I knew I wanted her to be my doula. She seemed very relaxed and calming and had such a soothing voice. My husband was very hesitant about all this. He was supportive, but didn't like the idea of some lady in our delivery room that we didn't know. We took her hypnobirthing classes, and I practiced telling myself my body was made for this. I used the relaxation cd often. When I went into labor, I was thrilled. I didn’t realize I had 25 hours of contractions ahead of me. They were manageable to deal with, but after about 20+ hours of contracting, and no progressing past a 4, I left the hospital frustrated because I knew I was in labor, but the hospital told me I wasn’t. I called Amanda and she said “I think I know what’s going on. Can I come over?” She came to my house with some oils to diffuse to help me relax, and had me get into some different and unusual positions. After she was done helping me, she encouraged me to go lie down and try to get some rest, since I didn’t get any sleep the night before. As soon as I got comfortable in my bed, the contracting REALLY picked up. What she did WORKED! She originally told me that those positions would help encourage the baby into the right position, and it certainly did. I thought maybe I was feeling the contracting more intense because I was lying down, but I started moaning and started noticing I felt shaky, feeling like I had a fever(didn’t realize in the moment that I was in transition). My husband came up and told me we are going back to the hospital again. He didn’t think I should be moaning and contracting without any progression. I knew something was up because I really needed to moan through each contraction and it was pretty intense to where I had to stop for each contraction, couldn’t talk through them, and just needed to moan. We rushed to the hospital, and at this point I planned on getting an epidural because I was tired of feeling the contracting. I knew I could do it, but I didn’t get any sleep the night before because I was contracting, and I hadn’t been eating much because I wasn’t hungry. I was exhausted and I thought they were going to tell me I was still at a 4. Shane called Amanda and told her we were headed to the hospital. We arrived and they checked me and I was dilated to an 8 with a bulging bag. I was shocked. I knew he was coming now! And I knew I had no time for the epidural, which was a good thing because I really wanted to do it naturally, but in the moment I wanted the epidural. Amanda rushed to the hospital to meet us there and she was on the phone with my husband encouraging him on how to help me. As soon as they put me in my room she came rushing in! She said she had never made that drive as quickly as she did that day! I was moaning for the epidural, but it was just my way of expressing how tired I was. I didn’t really want it and my husband and Amanda knew that. They just encouraged me through each contraction because I originally told them that I would just need lots of encouraging through it all. They did it perfectly. Amanda was massaging me and helping to encourage me into comfortable positions. She was there to help me with whatever I needed. She was like the perfect angel. The wonderful thing about it was that my husband didn’t have to worry about massaging me or being helpless about what to do because she was there doing that for him because that’s what he needed as well. He was there to just hold my hand and talk me through it and encourage me. He didn’t feel the stress of being alone with me and not knowing what to do. Finally, my water burst! It was crazy, like nothing I had ever experienced. I knew he was coming. There was intense pressure. I got on my knees, on the bed, and rested my upper body on the bed(it was at an incline). I finished laboring , most comfortably, in that position. I didn’t even want to think about lying down on the bed. He started to come and Amanda and my husband just encouraged me through it all. They were angels. I couldn’t have asked for better support. Our 8 lb. 15 oz. baby boy came out, they placed him on the bed under me so that I could reach down and bring him to my chest on my own. It took a moment for me to come back into myself and realize he was out. In those last moments of labor you are totally outside yourself. I don’t even know how to describe it. You are so consumed with your body and what you are feeling that you hardly notice anything that’s going on around you. You can hear what’s going on around you, but it’s like being in a dream. It’s a totally interesting feeling. So, when I finally came back into myself, and held him skin to skin, it was amazing. My pain was instantly gone. I was sitting and changing positions instantly. I wasn’t restricted by IV’s or numb legs. It was a completely new feeling, something I didn’t feel with my previous deliveries. I couldn’t believe I did it! THAT was an amazing feeling! I DID IT!! I was on cloud 9. I didn’t tear, and I attribute that to the position I was in when I birthed him. And I was starving. J I got up an hour later and washed myself off, went to the bathroom and as soon as I came out the hospital had food for me, and that wasn’t enough, so Amanda went and got my husband and I some subway. My husband was soooooooo grateful Amanda was there. SO grateful. He was sooooo hesitant in the beginning, but now would encourage any man to have a doula. It takes a lot of pressure off the man in the labor and delivery room. J And he was so worried she would judge his lack of help in the labor and delivery room, but it was nothing like that. She was a team member. He never once felt uncomfortable or had feelings of inadequacy. It was surprising to see his gratitude for her after all of it, considering how he felt about having a doula at the beginning. It took me a few days to process the whole experience. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. It was incredibly spiritual, and empowering. I would do it again with my next one, but there won’t be another, which is why I am so grateful we did it this way with our last one. It was a bonding experience for my husband and I. Everyone will take something different away from the hypnobirthing classes. The main thing I took from it was the information that my body was made for this, and that I could DO IT. I also gained helpful knowledge about hospitals and what I have the right to do in hospitals that hospitals wont usually tell you about. I gained that knowledge and used it. AND the breathing techniques helped me. That was my focus through the contracting. Plus, it was a great bonding experience for my husband and I, and it was a wonderful support system being able to chat with people who are doing what you are doing because not everyone you talk to will be supportive of your decision, but that’s only because they don’t have the knowledge to understand it. I would encourage any woman to try a natural birth and to hire a doula. It’s totally doable. You were made for it.
Houghton's Birth Story
My contractions started at 3 am on December 17th, two days before my due date (and coincidentally, the day I was convinced he'd come due to the full moon). I woke up and lay there for about 10 minutes trying to determine if this was actually it. Once I was pretty sure it was, I woke Mike up. We moved to the living room to start timing them and see what would happen. The contractions were two minutes apart and about one minute in duration from the very beginning. After about two hours my Mom (who'd arrived just three days prior) woke up and joined us. I rode out the first part of my labor mostly in the living room in front of the Christmas tree to the soundtrack we'd made, using the birthing ball and the help and motivation of Mike and my mom.
Tom & Katie's Birth
Joseph’s estimated due date was January 6, so we were very surprised when my water broke at 2:15am on Saturday, December 14th. I was 36 weeks, 5 days pregnant. First thing I did was wake up my husband, Tom, to let him know that maybe my water had released, just maybe. We both weren’t convinced it was my water breaking because it seemed too early! I wasn’t having any surges yet but I sent a text to my doula, Amanda, who suggested we try to get some rest and call our birth center in the morning. I had a few surges that night and a few the next morning, but still no pattern. I was able to sleep until 730 that morning and felt very rested. This surprised me because I thought once my water broke, I’d be anxious, excited, nervous, etc. but instead I was in denial that it was time and continued through my usual morning routine.
I enjoyed breakfast- egg omelet and toast. I still wasn’t convinced it was the big day but figured a good breakfast was in order just in case. I contacted Kyoko, our translator, who called Yui (the birthing center) for us to see if they wanted me to come in since I wasn’t quite 37 weeks yet. She called and explained what I was feeling, and no surprise they wanted me to come in to check if my water had actually released. We packed our bags (very slowly, still skeptical) and left for the clinic around 9:30am.
We waited for a few minutes to see the doctor, but it didn’t take her long at all to confirm my water had released and sent us upstairs to our room to get settled. Since my water had released around 2am, Dr. Fumi suggested I may need antibiotics around 2pm if my labor hadn’t started. My initial reaction was no thank you, unless I had signs of an infection. I wanted to be able to move around during labor and didn’t want anything to prevent that. She didn’t push the subject and said we could discuss again at 2pm.
Our bags were still in the car but we headed upstairs to see our room. This would be the room we would call home for the next few days as we got to know our little guy. A midwife wanted to check on the baby so we headed to the birthing room where I laid down as they monitored Joseph for about 20 minutes. I had a few surges at this point and being on my back was the last place I wanted to be. I was excited to get things moving so we walked around the neighborhood for about an hour until noon, when they served us a yummy Japanese meal. I wanted to indulge more than I had but I had gestational diabetes and was worried about my sugar level and also did not want to labor on a full stomach. Now the surges were 10-20 minutes apart but not consistent yet.
After lunch we left for another walk. The midwife monitored Joseph again before we headed out and seem a bit surprised that I wanted to leave again. To kill some time between lunch and being monitored, we played cards and texted the family. We decided then it was time to let the family back in the states know what was going on since it seemed like things were picking up. Of course everyone was super excited and we were so happy to share the news. By now (around 1pm) surges were becoming more regular (5-8 minutes apart). We walked for about 30 minutes before I decided it was time to go back to the clinic. The surges were getting stronger and I felt more comfortable inside. We moved things to the birthing room at this point. The midwife brought up the antibiotics again since it had been 12 hours but since I things were steadily progressing they didn’t push the subject. Also, Tom and Amanda kept in contact all day and Amanda joined us around 3pm. Kyoko had arrived just before then. Now everyone was there, let the party begin!
Ross & Stacey's Birth Story.....
During our second trimester your poppa had to leave for about six weeks on an exercise to the Philippines, so it was just you, me and the dogs hanging out at home. After poppa returned, you and I made your first trip across the ocean to go back to Texas to visit friends and family. It was while I was home that we received some really bad news that your poppa had been assigned to a special unit that would be a back up for deployment to Afghanistan. Part of the training would take place in California right during the time we were expecting you to be born. We were so sad that he might miss your arrival.
Erin & Caleb's Story
This was the toughest but most important part of my journey to a childbirth experience free of fear. I knew that fear itself was not from God. The Bible says that “God has not give us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). My best friend Anna sent me that verse and it spoke so loudly to me that I claimed it as my personal promise from God. I did not want to be delirious or frantic during labor. I wanted to think, make decisions and to remember my experience with a clear mind.