Reflections on Motherhood and Life as a Doula

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Mother Blessing (Blessingway) - What is it? And should you have one?

We live in a day where baby showers are the rage.  Lots of women gather together to bring an expecting mother and baby gifts.  Mostly unnecessary, expensive gifts...and most of the gifts are for the baby...with really lame "baby" games (that no one wants to play, but they all want to take home a prize)...horror stories of labor and births...and of course the joking around about how the soon to be mom will never know a good night's sleep again.  Hmmm, sounds like fun.  Sign me up.  Not.

I guess you could say I'm a little bitter over baby showers.  I had to sit through two different showers (one for each side of the family because our families are so big) and I hate to offend anyone, but it was horrible.  Nothing during my entire pregnancy made me want to drink more.  I'll be honest with you, the only things that were useful for either or both of my children were, onesies, receiving blankets (both kids were insane spit-uppers), cloth diapers and the port-a-crib (for those nights I just needed some space and wanted to sleep alone).  Cribs, changing tables, swings, feeding supplies, bedding...all took up a lot of space for a long time and eventually either were sold at a garage sale, used to build the chicken coop, or went in the garbage.  The more children I have, the more things I get rid of, and the easier it is to be a mother. 

So what is a Mother Blessing, you ask? 

A Mother Blessing is when a group of women (ones that the expecting mom CHOOSES to be with her) gather together to celebrate, pamper, and bless the mother-to-be.  Sometimes gifts are involved, sometimes not.  And if gifts are brought, they are usually just the bare necesseties.

Different rituals can occur at different Blessing Ways.  It all depends on the personality of the mother and who she surrounds herself with.  A common ritual is for each guest to bring a bead.  The beads are blessed and then placed on a necklace for the mother to wear while she is in labor.  Others distribute candles to all the guests for them to light when the mother goes into labor.  Some mothers-to-be get foot baths and rubs.  Others get their nails painted, hair done and fancy make-up put on. 

This last Mother Blessing that I was at, we had all the guests write a nice letter to the mother-to-be and we wrote down a lot of birth affirmations.  These were all put into a binder for her to look at.  We also did a belly cast of her belly (that we will hopefully get painted soon), and I did my first belly henna on her.

Mother Blessings are full of supportive women and mothers telling positive and empowering birth stories.  They do everything to remove the fear from childbirth and celebrate pregnancy and childbirth as an intense, amazing, joyous event.  A Mother Blessing is women loving women, women supporting women, women helping women,...It is Women Celebrating Women!

My wish is that every mother-to-be can get to experience the love and power that a Mother Blessing brings.  I think it is an absolute necessity.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Enjoying Birth Guest Blogger: Jackie

I love this birth story.  Not just because Jackie is my dearest friend, but because it is so real.  She is so real and honest.  I remember talking to her shortly after the birth of her daughter (she had K approx. 10 days after I had Delaney), and when asking her what she thought about it, she said, "It was INTENSE and AWESOME!!!"  I felt the same way. 
Jackie is due with her second child, a son, in a few weeks.  She has a different midwife this time (and I'm her doula!) and I can't wait for her to go through this experience surrounded by family and friends again and a positive, trusting birth support team!  I love you, Jackie!  Thank you for letting me share your story.  Her story can also be found here.
So this journey began a few weeks before our sixth wedding anniversary. I was in the kitchen cooking while Thorsten watched laughing. I became irritated and asked him what was so damn funny.

“You’re pregnant.”

Yeah that helped my mood. Of course I wasn’t. I couldn’t be. Sure as hell didn’t want to be. But the curiosity stayed with me for the next few weeks. I was never on time with my cycle-endometriosis tends to do that. Besides, the doctors told us we couldn’t have kids. His remark kept nagging at me. I went to the drugstore and bought a test to prove him wrong. It was December 9, 2009, the day before our anniversary.

I couldn’t wait to go home and take the test, so that afternoon I went into the bathroom at the bus garage and peed on that little white stick. I stood there in that run-down, dump hole of a bathroom watching the purple move up the stick…leaving two solid purple lines in its wake. But where were the directions? What did these two lines mean? I was shaking as I ran to my truck and grabbed the directions. I was so shaken up I did not even realize I was reading the Spanish side. But I knew.

I was pregnant.

This could not be happening. I went to the bar with my friends from work with the test tucked into my coat. I ordered a tall LeBatt before I pulled the test out and threw it on the table.

“What the fuck does this mean?”

It meant I would have to go home and tell my husband. I drank my last beer for a while and left the bar with a heavy heart. I went home and put the test on the back of the toilet as I could not tell Thorsten to his face. I was scared and embarrassed. I sat on the couch and waited for him to come home.

When he came home he knew something was not ok. I told him to go look in the bathroom. When he walked down the hall I started to cry. I could not believe I had done this to us. I was so heartbroken. I loved this man so much and I had no idea how we were going to get through this. I wondered if a year from now (our seven year anniversary) if we would still be together.

We went back and forth over the next few days about what to do. We had lost our health insurance a few months prior. The economy was in the dumper and we were trying not to lose our home. We finally decided we could not go the rest of our marriage looking at each other every morning if we made “the appointment”. We would have a baby.

After two appointments at a local OB/GYN office I knew there would be no way we could afford this. I felt even more sickened than when I had first found out we were pregnant. I couldn’t understand how this country could have gotten things so turned around. How in the world did it make more sense to support and encourage low-life, immature, uneducated single mothers have lots of children in their teens? On the low end we were looking at $15,000. On the high end the sky was the limit. I thought again about making “the appointment”.

I cannot even remember how it was I even began searching the internet for other birth options. I found a group called The Home Birth Option of Cleveland; a group of mothers and midwives that met at a local library once a month. The next meeting was January 25th…my birthday. Thorsten and I went. We left knowing for the first time what we would do.

The next few months were filled with Birthworks classes, prenatal appointments with our midwife and getting the house ready. We had to put our beloved dog, Abby down in April. Thorsten went back to school. Our house was gutted down to the studs and he worked every night and weekend putting it back together.

  I read every piece of literature I could find on anything related to birth. We watched just about every documentary and YouTube video on homebirth. I asked questions. Lots and lots of questions. My three co-workers and best friends threw me the most amazing baby shower. We gathered all the supplies needed for our birth; towels, extra sheets, tarps, gauze, diapers and pads and two very large bottles of hydrogen peroxide. We picked up the birthing pool from the midwife the third week of July.

Thorsten kept telling everyone the baby would come earlier than our August 18th due date. No one believed him, the midwife included. Seeing that this was my first baby she suggested we would not see a baby until early September. I had started having Braxton Hicks contractions sometime in late June or July. They were almost unnoticeable.

I was getting more and more anxious not about the birth but how a baby would change our relationship. I was so worried it would break us. We never wanted this. Our relationship was so great for 6 beautiful years before I got pregnant. Thorsten was my best friend and I was so scared to lose him. I worried day and night that I had brought this on us. I also worried how could I love someone else as much as him? How would my heart ever have enough room for two people. Would I love him any less? Would I resent this baby?

Sunday August 1st my mother came over early and helped me prepare and blanch a couple batches of green and wax beans. She left around noon to go visit her friend who was sick with cancer. Thorsten was working in the barn so I went into the office to sit in front of the computer and try and stay cool. I was laughing at a story about all the reasons why I am glad that George Bush was no longer president when I felt a tremendous gush of fluid. I ran to the bathroom and took off everything from the waist down and cleaned up the floor. I went to the back door and yelled to Thorsten with a tremble in my voice “My water just broke!”

He quickly finished what he was doing outside and came in the house. I put a call in to the midwife but she was not home. I left a message at my parent’s house. Everyone had me convinced that first time labors are long-sometimes as long as 24-36 hours. We were in no rush. I even went on Facebook to distract myself. I sent Thorsten to town to get some juice as that was one of the things my midwife required us to have on hand for my labor. As he left I got into the shower. There were no contractions. It was 2 pm.

I stood in the shower and cried. What was I going to do with a baby? I didn’t even like babies and I liked children even less. I had a good long cry, then I washed my hair and let soap bubbles fall onto my toes. I had not been able to reach my feet for what seemed like eternity. I resolved to deal with those emotions later. I put on my game face and got out of the shower.

When I got out I did my usual ritual of putting a bathrobe and crawling into bed. I had been unable to dry my humongous body all summer and the damp felt good on my skin. I gathered up my makeup as I was going to get camera ready for my big day. I got mascara on one eye when the first contraction hit me like a truck. It had been almost an hour since my water broke.

Where was Thorsten? I looked at my phone to check the time and just then it rang. He was calling to see how I was doing. I told him to hurry. I needed someone here as I didn’t want to be alone. I could hear the worry in his voice when I told him we still had not heard from my parents or the midwife.

I never did finish putting on my make-up. The next contraction came just as I hung up the phone. I started timing them. They were about 6 minutes apart. It was 3 pm on Sunday.

The birthing pool had been set up in the baby’s room. When Thorsten got home he got prepared to fill it with water. From my bedroom I heard the sound of a screw gun just as a contraction hit. I remember vividly thinking I might just kill him. I yelled “What the fuck are you doing in there?” and “Nothing.” Came the response. Apparently he was nesting and felt the need to install a ceiling light in the baby’s room while he was filling the pool.

He went outside to call his parents and tell them labor had started. They tried to convince him to take me to the hospital as they thought this whole homebirth idea was crazy from the start. He politely told them we were fine and were going to wait for the midwife and we would call after the baby was born. I knew Thorsten was getting worried. I resolved I WOULD NOT let my fear show. Where was my mother? Where was the damn midwife?

At this point I was having contractions every 4 minutes. I got into the pool with some great expectations that it would relieve the pain. It did no such thing. In fact I think it made things worse as the realization it brought to me…this was going to royally suck! These contractions were so much worse than I had anticipated-they went from my front and into my lower back. I let out a yell or a scream with each one. I wanted to choke the broad who said “Breathe” through each one…yeah right!

Thorsten was so quiet I almost didn’t know he was there. At some point he asked me in a very anxious voice if he should call someone. I yelled “Call Vickie!” It was 4 pm.

By 4:20 pm people had started to gather at my house. My younger sister Jennifer had been called because she was an EMT. My friend Vickie called Leah, our other girlfriend who owns a medical supply company. Vickie’s friend Mary, a nurse, showed up. We had met only one time before and talked for 2 hours about sheep and Food Inc. in Vic’s barn. Now she was kneeling next to me as I threw up in a bucket. I was in this ridiculous pool inside my house, wearing nothing but a bright pink bikini top, surrounded by a bunch of people who didn’t really know me or my intimate parts…and still no midwife or my mother.

I could hear the chatter in the background. I knew people were getting very concerned. At some point someone asked me what Plan B was. I yelled “There is no Plan B! There is only Plan A!”

At this point I was starting to get overwhelmed. I was trying to concentrate on my labor and I was fearful. The pain was almost more than I could bear. I kept telling myself “Don’t let Thorsten down. You said you could do this. You are going to do this!” but I was scared…where the Hell was the midwife?

My mother and father showed up just then. My mom knelt next to me and tried to call me down. She really took charge as she and I were the only two who had attended my Birthworks classes. She suggested I get out of the pool and try to labor on the toilet. Getting out of the pool was a good thing as I was now shivering, my teeth chattering. I hated that bikini top. I only made it a foot away from the pool and curled up on the ground. I tried to make the whole thing go away. Those contractions were so bad. It felt as if my whole body was being ripped apart. I hated my mom for trying to make me get up. I wanted to go to the hospital. I had enough of this homebirth bullshit! I yelled “I want drugs NOW!” My mother God bless her said in a calm sweet voice “No honey, we decided we weren’t going to do that. Now how about you get up and go sit on the toilet.” I hated her. My contractions were 2 minutes apart and I had been in labor for 2 to 3 hours. It was around 5:30 pm Sunday.

I went into the bathroom and the light felt like spotlights on my naked body. I felt a million eyeballs on me. This was a terrible. I screamed and stomped my feet as the next contraction hit. Thorsten came into the bathroom with me and we stood there-my arms around his neck, his hands on my lower back. I felt embarrassed for him having to stand there and hold my mostly naked, humongous body with what seemed like the whole neighborhood watching. He was silent and strong. He never flinched.

I tried sitting on the toilet and laboring. That felt good. I don’t know why, but it felt better than any other position. After a while though my mother wanted me to try laboring in my room on all fours. Thorsten went in there and put towels on the bed. He brought the box fan in there. I got mentally prepared to move into the bedroom. Once I got there I immediately wanted to go back to the bathroom. My big ass was in the air and everyone was standing there looking at me. I tried to concentrate but things were not working. When the nurse Mary suggested I lay on my back like they do in the hospital, I did. Against my better judgment I did. I am embarrassed to admit I only did it so my ass was not in everyone’s face. I knew it would only prolong labor and it did.

I went back and forth to the bathroom. It felt so good to be in there. My girlfriend Erin showed up. She held my juice cup for me and placed the straw in my mouth after each contraction. I loved her. I loved that juice. Erin never made me move, she never tried to calm me down. She only knelt silently next to me and gave me juice. I love you Erin, and I loved that juice.

After hundreds of phone calls the midwife finally called around 11 pm. I heard the conversation and I was steaming. Thorsten snapped at her that the baby was almost here and he didn’t know if she would make it in time. He asked me if she should still come. I felt for the nurse Mary. This woman who barely knew me was going to try and deliver my baby. I did not want to put her in that position. I told him to tell the midwife yes-please come. I hated her. She was the last person I wanted to see. But I needed her, and I knew it.

The midwife arrived around 11:45 pm. She came onto my bed where I was laying on my back. She listened to the baby’s heartbeat and told me we needed to move to the edge of the bed and squat. Thorsten moved the towels to the floor and he sat on the edge of the bed. I squatted in between his legs and he held me up. Everyone was crammed into my little room and they were spilling into the hallway. Kim the midwife used a flashlight and told me I needed to push. I was screaming at this point. I was certain I was going to rip in two. The fire I felt in my vagina was indescribable. I yelled at her I couldn’t push. It hurt too badly. She said “You must.” I needed her to say that. I pushed so hard. The pain felt white hot. The baby’s head was out. I heard everyone gasp. I could not see and neither could Thorsten. The midwife wanted me to reach down and touch the baby’s head. I couldn’t. I was so scared. This all felt so surreal I was worried if I reached down and felt its head I wouldn’t be able to push the rest of her out. With the next contraction I pushed again and the baby slid out. The midwife caught her. Instantly the white hot pain left. There was a tremendous gush of blood and fluid from my uterus. In an instant the baby was placed on my chest. I could feel the cord pulsating in my vagina. It was 12:10 am Monday August 2nd 2010.

I sank to the floor I remember looking up at Thorsten. I apologized for throwing him into that fire years before. I know I was in shock. Someone asked me if I was ok. I felt my eyes rolling back into my head and I said yes because I did not want to alarm anybody. I don’t remember much about the baby. I do know it felt alien to be holding her. She was all covered in vernix and some blood. I looked up and standing in the doorway was Dan Peck. He was holding a bottle of Bud Light. He was just standing there with a weird half smile on his face. I will have that picture in my head forever.

I think we were wrapped in a towel and we sat at the base of the bed for maybe 20 minutes. The midwife called for Thorsten and he cut the cord. I was told I had to push the placenta out. I wanted to cry. I couldn’t believe I had to push again. The placenta was placed in a bucket for the midwife to examine later. I think my mom held the baby while I was put into a diaper with giant medical grade maxi-pads and helped onto my bed. The lights were dimmed and the midwife measured and weighed the baby. She asked us what we were going to name her. Thorsten and I agreed on Kailey Rosemarie Greulich.

Kailey was brought to me and I nursed her. Everyone came and quietly said good bye. Thorsten brought the dogs into the room to see the baby and to make sure I was ok. Thorsten climbed into bed and we went to sleep with Kailey in between us. It was sometime after 2 am.

Kailey weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz. There were 12 people present for her birth. She was born at 12:10 am Monday August 2, 2010 after 10 hours of labor. There was not a single picture taken, but I am certain that those people who witnessed her birth will remember it forever. I know Thorsten and I will. I cannot measure the amount of pride I feel for birthing our daughter at home. Others doubted me. At times I doubted myself. But I did it and I am so grateful I did. I hope to be able to do it again sometime in the near future. For now though we are busy enjoying our miracle baby who almost wasn’t. This past December we celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. When I asked Thorsten who he loved more…me or Kailey? He answered Kailey and I smiled. Right answer-me too : )

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Enjoying Birth Guest Blogger: Christina - Part 2 "Welcome Jacob Scott"

And here is part two of Christina's story!  I admire her faith and her strength.  What a truly uplifting story!  I am so thankful for these amazing stories being shared - it is so important to spread the word that even though pregnancy and birth can be difficult, it can be (and should be) incredibly empowering and satisfying!  Enjoy!

The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3
On Saturday, two days after my membranes were stripped, nine days after my due date, one day before my next scheduled midwife appointment, and two days before my deadline to have a homebirth, I started having contractions. They were real contractions this time. Only I didn’t know it – didn’t believe it – didn’t want to get excited in case they were *just* Braxton-Hicks….again. There had been periods in the past few weeks where the contractions had been fairly regular – just never progressed. And each time, I would wonder, ‘is this it’? Only – it never was.
This day, however, I started contracting early on. I remember waking up wondering – ‘is this it’ and thought maybe I should take it easy today, just in case. I think I even took a late morning nap – just in case . The contractions were no more intense or regular than they had been. I guess the only difference is that they kept coming – all day long.
As evening commenced, I asked Scott to go for a walk with me. I think we managed 3 laps in 30 minutes. We came home and my Mom gave me a reflexology massage on my feet. When it was time for Rebecca to go to bed, I layed down with her and thought – ‘hmmm, these are coming a bit more regularly and a bit stronger, hmmmm’ . When I came back downstairs, I thought maybe I should keep record to see what’s really happening. This was about 9:30pm and by 10:30pm, they were anywhere between 3 – 5 minutes apart. But still – I refused to believe it was really happening. They weren’t very intense, I was managing just fine by myself, breathing easily. I called Jo and Faith to let them know it may happen and then texted Emma. Just in case.
I took a shower and tried to sleep. I couldn’t sleep. Everyone else was sleeping.
So I got up, got out the birthing ball, sat myself down and watched TV. I remembered that Emma had left her TENS machine with me, so I found it and attached it to my back. That actually helped relieve some of the pain. At 1:00am, instinct kicked in and I must have realized that this was real. I woke up my Mom, told her we needed to call Emma. Apparently – I was past the point of doing it myself – Mom took one look at me and realized we also needed to call Jo and Faith. She woke Scott up, who woke up Rebecca and a mad dash ensued. We had to pack the car and get over to Faith’s house. Thankfully she lives 5 minutes away. During this whole time, I sat motionless on the birthing ball – focusing on the contractions that were suddenly intense and very real. I remember Scott telling me it was okay to moan or groan through them and realizing that was very comforting and helpful. He says when he called Jo at this point, the contractions were about 2 minutes apart.
All of a sudden, the car was packed with homebirth essentials like towels, sheets, shower curtains (for waterproofing), cameras, baby essentials, labor necklace and book, etc. Mom and Rebecca were also in the car waiting. Scott was running through the house making sure he got everything and then when he was done, he came over to me while I was in the middle of a contraction and said, “Okay, that’s enough! We have got to go!” I could not believe he said that to me – I was furious. Later- he would say he meant that was enough stuff to pack and take with us – where I thought he meant that was enough of me sitting through contractions.
Faith met us at the door – I felt so bad waking her and Todd up – but she was happy and so excited. I promptly found my spot on the birthing ball in the living room. Everyone else was flitting around, unpacking, getting settled – I was only focused on the increasingly intense contractions. Shortly after we got there, Emma and then Jo arrived. I was relieved to see Emma. As it was, I was unable to listen to anyone else who tried to help me through each contraction. She was able to come to me, get close and talk quietly and gently, reminding me to breathe through each contraction. I was nauseous, so she took some peppermint oil, put some drops on a napkin, and left it under the straps of my shirt. I remember that helping some – and being thankful for it.
The next couple hours are all a blur – Jo arrived and only intervened when I was unable to relax. She was the stronger voice telling me to get a grip when I was forgetting to breathe and relax. However – on a sidenote – for me, at that point, it was impossible to relax! I remember bits and pieces of happenings: Rebecca coming in to check on me, leaving as I was having a contraction, Faith’s perfect presence and prayers relaxing me during the height of a contraction, Scott trying to have a normal conversation on the couch with Faith, and me telling him to ‘shut up’. I didn’t mean it maliciously, but it was all I could muster at the moment. At the time, all of my senses were so heightened, that I couldn’t handle anything extra coming into my presence. While still pregnant, I remember talking to Emma, my mom, Faith, and Scott about what I would like during labor: music, massages, etc. – but what happened was I needed silence, no touching me at all (Emma was able to help me from time to time by helping me relax my shoulders) and darkness – I could barely manage to open my eyes. I wasn’t hungry at all and barely wanted anything to drink. Anything extra in the room I was in was too much for me to handle. Scott carrying on a normal conversation – as if he was oblivious to my pain – while I was in the middle of labor – most likely transition – was unbearable.
Where I sat - in one hand is the TENS Machine, the other is my Zune - which was never attached to my ears.

During all this time – everyone was attempting to get the birthing pool ready. Jo had brought it in and it was blown up – but a liner had to be put in it and it had to be filled. My mom, Scott, Todd, Rebecca, and maybe at times, Jo and Faith – all helped put it together. Originally, there was an issue with finding the proper liner and how to put it on. And then, it was an issue filling it up. There was not a dual hot/water nozzle that fit the hose – so they had to use the separate hot and cold water from the laundry room sink. So – the water was at first too hot, then too cold, then too full, then they ended up removing some water with buckets and reheating water on the stove to make it warm again. I kept asking Jo when I could get in the pool and she said it wasn’t ready or it was too cold. I told her at one point that I was okay if it was cold, b/c at the time, I was awfully hot and thought the cool water would soothe me. She replied that it wasn’t safe for the baby and would be too much of a shock for him if he was birthed into cool water. I understood, but I was frustrated.
Helping set up the pool

About this time, I had all these internal thoughts going on…I was really frustrated I couldn’t get in the birthing pool, I was very frustrated and angry about how intense and immensely painful the contractions were. I had read in a lot of books that some women were surprised at how painful and intense labor was, and I guess I was surprised, too. I had been living with a certain level of pain all day – and it was completely manageable. I had contractions with Rebecca and didn’t even realize it. Also – I had an epidural with Rebecca at about 6 or so cm – so I these transition contractions were all very new to me.
At any rate, I remember thinking, ‘oh my – how much worse can this get? I am so glad I am not in a hospital b/c I would be asking for an epidural right about now. How much longer is this going to take?’ The more the contractions came, the more frustrated and angrier I got. There was nothing that was helping- I was only comfortable on the birthing ball – sitting still. I could not rock, or get on all fours – I was just uncomfortable anywhere else. Emma tried though – thinking it would help me – I did for one contraction, lean over the couch – but that was worse. And I did try rocking/swaying on the ball, but that didn’t help either.
They kept asking me where my pain was – which I thought was a funny question – in my uterus, of course! The pain was constant in my lower abdomen – thankfully, I had no back labor-whatsoever- the entire labor. This was another prayer God answered. I had thought all along I could handle anything except back labor – I had that with Rebecca and remembered it so well. This time, I didn’t have a single back contraction. I was so grateful for that. Still am, actually.
All this time, the TENS Machine was still hooked up to my back. I guess it was helping – after a while, I forgot it was there. If anything, in the beginning, it helped mask the pain and kept my focus off of the contraction and more on the electrical pulses on my lower back. It came with a nifty button so that when a contraction started, I would press the button and the electricity would go from a flowing current to a more pulsating current. Generally – it feels like ants crawling around on my back – but I could alter the amount and make it stronger, which helped move my focus some.
Every once in a while, I would have fairly long breaks between contractions – perhaps 5 minutes or more – and these were such a nice respite for me. I would sit quietly, eyes closed, and just breathe deeply – reconnecting with my body and baby and wondering when they would start up again.
Around 3:30am – I felt like I had to pee. I had last peed when we got to Faith’s house, which was around 2:00am. Emma encouraged me to try since I kept complaining and also b/c she said it may help with the pressure I was feeling. So – I mustered to get up and went into the toilet. While I sat there – waiting while nothing happened – all of a sudden my body spontaneously pushed. I was like, ‘whoa!’ And promptly got up and went back into the living room where I told Emma and Jo that I was pushing while on the toilet. Jo didn’t seem surprised – but I was b/c I wasn’t feeling this unbearable pushy feeling I had read so much about.
Jo asked if she could examine me so she could make sure I was past 5 cm and ready to get in the pool. (Uh – hello! I was pushing while on the toilet!) This meant having to lie down on the floor – which I was totally adamant against, at the time, b/c as I said – the only comfortable position I could get in was on the ball. But I relented and got down on the floor – but as I did and as my back touched the ground, the pressure on the TENS pads started to shoot insanely intense electrical pulses into my back. I freaked and had them take them off of me! Once they were removed and I was laying down, the contractions started coming one after the other and were extremely hardcore. I was also uncomfortable and frustrated being in this position b/c it reminded me of being in the hospital bed with Rebecca. I couldn’t lay still and kept rolling over to try to alleviate the pain. It was during this time that I lost control – and Emma and Jo had a hard time reeling me back in – but eventually I was able to gain composure and Jo palpitated my stomach and then examined me. While she did this, my water broke – I had completely forgotten that it hadn’t yet broke – and the cervix was gone and Jo could feel the baby’s head come down. I was really glad my water had not broken yet – thinking that the contractions would’ve been more intense if my waters had already gone – but at the same time, was nervous wondering if there was any meconium present. Jo was unsure and quickly took the pad the water had broken on and left to examine it under the bright kitchen lights. She came back and said that yes, there was some present, but it was too late to call for an ambulance or to try to transport to the hospital. I remember being vaguely concerned – as there was quite a bit of thick meconium present with Rebecca – but I couldn’t dwell on that just yet. I had just been given the ‘okay’ to get into the birthing pool.
Once up on my feet – I made it to the dining room where the pool was set up. I climbed in and immediately fell to my knees. I leaned over one edge and held onto Emma’s and Scott’s hands. And then I took a breath. The water was cool, but it did feel good. And as soon as I got into position, it was as if the contractions stopped and I was at peace. I didn’t feel any more pain here on out. I started pushing – not necessarily b/c I felt this strong urge, but simply because I could and because I knew there was a baby on the other end. For one brief moment, I became fearful about not being able to do this part – b/c I wasn’t able to do it with Rebecca and forceps were used – but that moment passed and I carried on with the business at hand.
Only a few minutes left...

While pushing, I all of a sudden realized that I had not been given Gas and Air – In England, an alternative pain measure, that is allowed for homebirthing, is 50% nitrus and 50% oxygen. And so, b/c I had been told I could have it, I asked for it! Jo laughed and said it was too late, I was already pushing! At the time, I realize it was funny – and I didn’t need it anyway – but I felt duped b/c I did need it just a little while ago. I wish someone had reminded me that I could’ve tried it out during the most painful and hard contractions.
Another funny – while I was pushing Jacob out – I think his head was out, or mostly out, I asked Jo why she wasn’t pulling him out. Again, this was b/c of my experience with Rebecca and having a hospital/medicated birth. Jo laughed again and reminded me we weren’t in a hospital, she wasn’t going to pull him out, I had to push him out. Alrighty then – back to business.
The whole time it took to push Jacob into this world – which was all of 10 minutes – it was perfectly serene in there. The lights were dim, it was very quiet, I could feel everything and loved it. Jo, Rebecca, my Mom, and Faith were all behind me watching Jacob being born. Scott and Emma were in front of me being my support system. Emma would later say she was glad of Scott being there b/c I was pulling so hard on her alone that she was afraid she was going to end up in the pool with me. With Scott there – he helped balance out my pulling while I was pushing to keep her and him on the outside!
Jacob’s head emerged and I could hear them say so – I could feel that part – but it was nice hearing them comment on his nose and eyes and then his mouth. Then they exclaimed about how quickly he turned – and then it was time for his shoulders to emerge as well as the rest of his body. All of a sudden Jo was saying, “Pick up your baby, Christina! Pick up your baby!” And I was shocked that it was over – I leaned back while Jo pushed him forward and grabbed him to my chest. Beautiful.
I remember this - it was as if Jacob was reaching for me.
Beautiful baby boy
Rebecca greeting Jacob
Fresh baby face

Those first few moments are some I hope to never forget. So sweet. He was awake and alert and quiet – we all were quiet. There was a ton of vernex still on him which I thought lovely. We were able to gaze at each others eyes. And it was amazing. Bliss.
A few minutes later, Jo asked if we were ready to cut the cord. She said it had run clear – so we said yes. Rebecca wanted to do this – so Scott and her participated together in this special moment. I loved that Rebecca was there for the whole thing – that she was able to witness what a natural, unmedicated, healthy birth is like, that she is old enough to remember it all, and that she was able to be an active participant in it all. Lately, she has asked me to tell her this story – and at times, I have heard her tell Jacob his own story. This makes my heart smile.
I absolutely love this picture.

Jo took Jacob for a moment to give him a quick once over and then helped me out of the pool. I was moved to a reclining chair and given Jacob back – he latched on perfectly – and stayed that way for a good long while. I had opted for a shot of something like pitocin to birth my placenta. It was a good thing – as I started to gush blood. At first, Jo didn’t seem too concerned, but then it gushed again. And ultimately, she gave me another shot to help stop the bleeding. The placenta birthed and she took it to examine it. She assured me it was fine, all there, with a bit of tears in it – nothing to worry about. When she returned, she mentioned I did tear some, and could use stitches, but she would be quite happy to let it heal on its own – which I agreed with. Later that week, after I mentioned how wore out and tired I was, she would remind me how much blood I lost – and if it continued, I could go to the hospital to see if it warranted a blood transfusion. Interestingly enough, I began to immediately feel better.
Father and Son
Grandmother and Grandson
Sister and Brother
Jacob was born Sunday morning at 4:13am on November 14, 2010 and weighed in at 9lbs 11.5 oz and 22 inches long. Originally – we thought he was 23 inches – but we were wrong. The English don’t do length measurements, so we were left to our own devices…A week ago – at one month of age, he weighed 12 lbs 5 oz. Amazing. He scored a 9/10/10 on his Apgar – a striking difference in comparison to Rebeccca.
So – my fears of revisiting a similar birth like I had with Rebecca were washed away. I was fearful of meconium – hers was thick and very present, his was barely there. I was fearful of the cord being wrapped around his neck – it wasn’t. I was afraid I couldn’t push him out – I did. I was concerned about bleeding heavily and tearing immensely – the bleeding was a lot, but under control, the tear wasn’t an issue. Lastly – I was fearful of the GBS presenting. So far – he appeared a very healthy baby. Jo didn’t seem concerned at all. Regardless – she wanted us to hang out at Faith’s house until around noon – so she could come back, give us another once over and then send us on our merry way home.
During this time, I showered and tried to nap. Tried to get Rebecca to nap. That lasted for 30 minutes. Then we got up and I ate some groaning cake muffins that I had prepared earlier. They were so good!! I resumed my position on the reclining chair and continued to nurse Jacob – it seemed it was all he wanted to do! Scott napped on the couch – Faith’s girls woke up and entertained Rebecca. They were smitten with Jacob and amazed I had him in their dining room while they slept. Sweet.
At least somebody got some sleep.
A baby's first food...

Jo returned as was expected – and Jacob and I were both doing well. No fevers, normal pulse and BPs. My blood pressures – coincidentally – were normal the entire pregnancy except for my last OB visit at the NHS hospital. Even then it was only 130/80 – but besides that, it never got more than 120/78. Seems I just might have a touch of ‘white coat syndrome’. At this point Jo released’ us to go home. We packed up and shipped out – a mere 12 hours since I woke my Mom up and said it was time to go.
Life is good.
Jo came to visit us each day that week – on Day 1 (Monday) she noticed he had a touch of Jaundice and said we should take him in right away. Jaundice isn’t necessarily a dangerous thing – but when it happens before day 3 of a newborns life, it can indicate a medical jaundice which is a bit more serious. Usually – this occurs with an O+ mother whose blood has cross-contaminated with her babies. And as it happened – this was our case.
We did take Jacob in to the hospital that day – I was unable to get him an appointment with the pediatrician because it was a down day at our base hospital. Our only option was to take him into the ER there – so we did. But because he wasn’t born on base, he hadn’t been input into their ‘system’ so they couldn’t see him. Not for lack of trying though – they tried to put him in the ‘system’ but couldn’t get past a certain point. So – not wanting my 1 day old son hanging out in the ER, we left and said we’d try again tomorrow when the rest of the hospital was open. Which we did – and Jacob had a series of bloods done, one being a bilirubin check – his numbers were high so they called for a DAT test, which indicated that my blood had cross-contaminated with his and that my antibodies were attacking his. Sounds awful. I felt horrible – as if it were all my fault. When I asked the pediatrician why and how this happened, he indicated that it was because I was 0+ and Jacob was not and that it probably happened through some tears in the placenta. Hmmm….Jo had mentioned tears in the placenta.
Regardless, on day 2 of Jacob’s life – we received a call at 7:30pm from the on-call Pediatrician saying Jacob needed to be admitted into the hospital for bilirubin light therapy. I was frightened – really scared about leaving Rebecca – wondering how long he would need to be there and how long it would take to determine if it was working. As it turned out – the hospital staff, nurses and Pediatrician were amazing. They allowed all of us to stay the night with Jacob. All of us. My mom, Scott, me, Rebecca – all of us. Rebecca and I shared the twin bed, Scott sat in the chair all night long, and my Mom stayed in the break room. Soon – my fears eased – and by morning when his bloods were drawn again his bilirubin had decreased by 4 points, the Doctor was releasing us at noon after a few more hours of therapy.
On a side note – the Pediatrician was a bit alarmed when he learned that Rebecca was a GBS+ baby and I hadn’t received routine antibiotics during labor for Jacob. On his own, he had extra blood tests done and was happy to tell me that Jacob didn’t have GBS. I knew that already – but it was still nice to see it on paper.
So – for 15 hours, we all crashed at the hospital. It was actually kinda nice and relaxing. Jacob was perfect the whole time and slept beautifully. The rest of the week we would go back and forth for routine bili checks – he continued to improve and at the end of the week the jaundice was no longer a concern. Praise God!!
As I write this – Jacob is now 5 weeks and 1 day old and he sleeps soundly attached to me in a Moby Wrap. His legs are now too long for him to sit in the fetal position – so they are hanging out. Sweet – but wow, he’s growing so fast!! My Mom left to go back home last week and we are all mourning her departure…it’s sad to think about Rebecca and Jacob growing and living without her and the rest of our family nearby. We all enjoy the daily activity of having extended family close in proximity and in our hearts.
I feel more complete now – having two children – and have been blessed beyond my imagination to be able to achieve the birth I had desired with Jacob. From the very beginning I poured out to God the desires of my heart – and our story is God’s most merciful and loving answer to my prayers.

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…” (Psalm 37:5-7a, NIV).

Enjoying Birth Guest Blogger: Christina - Part 1 "How we got to *home*"

I had planned to get this posted yesterday in celebration of Jacob's First Birthday, but I did not succeed.  Here is part one of Christina's amazing birth story leading up to the birth of Jacob.  You can also find these stories here.  Happy Birthday, Jacob!

I would be remiss in telling Jacob’s story without mentioning Rebecca’s.
Jacob’s birth could not have happened without Rebecca’s – the intensity of the story, the divine interventions, the miracle of it all – would not have been possible if Rebecca had not been born. Jacob’s birth story has as much to do about him, as it does about her.

Rebecca mere hours after birth – before I even had a chance to meet her.

While pregnant with Rebecca – I knew in my heart that I wanted a natural birth. I also knew that would be hard to come by in a hospital setting – but I was naive enough to believe it was possible. And indeed – a natural birth is possible in a hospital – but just not for me. I read all the right books – fell in love with Ina May Gaskin and her book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and really thought that I could do it.
Have my baby unmedicated, naturally, in a hospital – I believed I could do that.
What happened though, in reality, was not at all what I had dreamt. Things started to go downhill the last week or so of my pregnancy with Rebecca. I was led to believe that my blood pressure was high – and indeed – it was high for me but I didn’t have pre-eclampsia. I didn’t have anything as a matter of fact, except a need to have a baby.
Regardless – at 40w5d I was scheduled for an induction. Miraculously, I went into labor on my own the night prior – my water broke at 11:30pm. Unfortunately, it was full of thick meconium. And thus began our trials….
Upon entering the hospital, our natural birth plan that we had gone over with our *midwife* was figuratively thrown out the window. I was placed in a bed, strapped to an external fetal monitor that was later exchanged for an internal fetal monitor, had an amniotic infusion, IV (b/c it was hospital policy – whether it was needed or not) asked repeatedly if I wanted an epidural, and then given Pitocin without my consent.
Rebecca was born 9 1/2 hours later – I was unable to push her out since I was lying on my back, numb from an epidural, and her unfavorable OP position. She was taken by forceps and when she finally arrived, we saw the cord was wrapped around her neck twice – tightly. Her initial apgar was 0/1, they nearly intubated her – thankfully, it was unsuccessful, b/c an intubated baby would be transferred to the nearest NICU which was an hour away. She did go through a bunch of blood tests, which we would find out 36 hours later, she was GBS+
This resulted in a 10 day treatment of IV antibiotics.
The next week and a half of our lives was the most difficult and trying time Scott and I have ever lived through. Only by the grace of God did we survive it…only then, we didn’t know it.
I couldn’t fathom leaving the hospital without her. It was excruciating.
On day 5 we were forced to leave her under nursery care for 24 hours – at that point, God intervened and we were allowed to room-in with Rebecca the rest of her days in the hospital.
It was at this point I started to breathe again.
And now – nearly 6 years later – the memories are fading as are the IV scars on Rebecca’s hands, feet, and head…God has worked hard on me to bring me to a place of healing and I believe I reached it last year, on her fifth birthday, when I wrote this.
This is why we did things differently with Jacob. I believed with my whole heart that birth could be different. That it could be safe and gratifying. That it could be done unmedicated and naturally and produce a healthy baby.
When we found out I was pregnant early this year – Scott and I were both concerned about how it would all end up, would the baby be healthy, would we be home with it before it was 10 days old, where would I give birth?
The answer started in January of this year before I was pregnant….I met Jo, my midwife, at TLF on base – she and I were both saying good-bye to a dear friend. Jo was also her midwife and we were introduced and I was able to question her about midwifery in England and what it was like for us living on base that desired a homebirth. At this point, I was just curious about it all as I had become very aware of what it was like back home. I had no intentions of actually needing this information.
However, it was then I learned that Tricare (our insurance through the military) will pay for 100% of midwifery care and a homebirth, while they won’t in the states. I also learned that we are not allowed to birth at home if we live on the military installation.
Which we do.
(I asked ‘why’ once to an OB Nurse, and she about flipped out when she realized I was planning a homebirth even though I live on base. She said I couldn’t do that!! I assured her I wasn’t – we had made alternative plans, but regardless, I wanted to know why. To which she replied that the Commander wouldn’t agree, it was very dangerous, and that ACOG doesn’t support homebirths. I think she would’ve continued, but I quickly excused myself.)
We hadn’t always lived on base, but had felt led to move on base and it was a good decision for us. Until now – until I became pregnant and knew that a homebirth was our best bet at having a healthy baby and gratifying delivery for all involved.
But Jo mentioned something that I had never thought of – just because we lived on base, I could still have a homebirth – I would just have to go to a friends’ house. At the time, it sounded insane to me. All of it…not being allowed to birth on base at our home, and then if I wanted it bad enough, I would have to find a friend willing to open their home to me at a moments notice.
At the time, it didn’t pose that much of an issue. I wasn’t pregnant.
But I was a month later.
And when I contacted Jo to find out what my options were, if she could take me on, she was very encouraging about me having a hospital birth at the NHS hospital since she wasn’t taking any women on during the last few months of the year – and I was due November 4th. While I was disappointed, I didn’t think all that much about it b/c Scott and I were still nervous about having a homebirth – as it was, I didn’t have a place to have a homebirth, anyway. So we planned on a waterbith at the local NHS hospital. I would still receive midwifery care – and be able to go home 6 hours after the birth. It would work – it had to…our other option was having the baby at the base hospital. And we had been there, done that, and didn’t want to do it again.
Actually, I remember saying that God closed the homebirth door to us…and I was fine with that. He knew what He was doing…and for whatever reason, He desired a hospital birth for us.
So – I signed on with the NHS, had my initial appointment in our home with our midwife at the end of my 1st trimester, and was thrilled that I didn’t have to see her again until I was 28 weeks along. Time passed – everything was going well – my 1st trimester passed along quickly and beautifully. I was exhausted, but was also while pregnant with Rebecca so I didn’t think much of it. But I didn’t have all that much morning sickness…which I did with Rebecca, even though I never vomited, I was often nauseous. This worried me at times, b/c I knew that morning sickness indicated there was good pregnancy hormone levels, and a lack of could lead to a miscarriage. But one day, I heard God say to me to just accept this blessing of His for me to have a healthy pregnancy without nausea. So I did – as long as I could.
It didn’t last too long.
In May, I was just entering my 2nd trimester, and flew home to be with my family in New Hampshire. At that point, I was getting a lot of motion sickness – in cars – which I always had. But this particular day I participated in a 3 1/2 hour bus ride to the airport, a 9 hour flight, and then another 1 1/2 hour ride to my Aunt’s house. Oh, we were so close to home….so close…and then, unbeknownst to everyone, including me, I projectile vomited all from the back seat into the front seat!! All over everyone – myself, my daughter, my cousin, my grandmother – all over.
And thus the 2nd trimester sickness ensued. The lack of morning sickness I felt in the 1st trimester was made up in the 2nd trimester.
The entire 2nd trimester. Fun stuff.
At 20 weeks pregnant, the NHS requires an anomaly scan of the baby – we also could find out the sex at this point. So – we gladly went. Scott and I kind of had a feeling what it would be. Rebecca was praying for and holding out for a baby sister. And when we were told it was a boy – “see his little willy there on the screen” the only one surprised was Rebecca – she nearly cried – and I nearly cried for her. I can only imagine how badly she wanted a sister sibling…another little girl to chat with, to dress up with and play dolls with, have tea and scones with.
To help her embrace having a boy sibling, we promptly took her shopping for big sister clothes and baby brother outfits. She smiled.
At 28 weeks, we started having routine midwifery appointments at the local clinic. We didn’t have home visits anymore b/c the midwife found it too cumbersome to visit us on base, even though she was an ID card holder. I didn’t think too much of it. Regardless, what we ultimately wanted was a healthy baby and safe delivery. And we believed we could get it the NHS hospital. The appointments were quick and to the point. I was measured, listened to the heartbeat, BP taken, and urine tested. Our midwife would let Rebecca help with the measurements and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Rebecca loved that.
A few weeks into my 3rd trimester, however, I was told that I would have to see an English OB b/c of my previous delivery with Rebecca, specifically, b/c of the tear I received as a result of the forceps. Why was never really explained to me – I also was told I would need to take a Glucose Tolerance Test. I was not in agreement with doing a GTT b/c I had one with Rebecca, and it was so negative, that my last glucose level 47. Obviously, I didn’t feel well at the end of that test. Neither did my baby – I am sure.
So I tried discussing it with the Midwife and the OB at why I didn’t want to take it. They didn’t seem to hear me. Instead, I recorded my food intake and my blood glucose levels for one week before my next MW appointment (my GTT wasn’t scheduled for another few weeks). As far as I could tell, my blood levels were right on. However, my MW, when shown the records, acted as if I was insane for doing this. She even refused to look at my records. She kept asking my ‘why would you do this’ and I tried explaining that this was a better indicator of whether or not I had gestational diabetes, that if I did have it, I would have to do this anyway – she just didn’t get it though and actually told me that all I was thinking about was myself and not my unborn baby. Wow.
At this same appointment, I asked her if she thought it would be possible for me to have a homebirth. She indicated that she didn’t think so b/c that would be too much to ask of their midwives, especially having to get on base if they weren’t ID card holders. They could be signed on to base, but she thought that would be too much for them to have to go through for me to have a homebirth. So then I asked if Rebecca would be allowed to be a part of my labor and delivery. My mom would be here and would keep an eye on her, but Rebecca really wanted to be a part of it and Scott and I thought that was appropriate. We don’t hide much from her – she knew where the baby was coming from – and obviously, she would be removed if things went array. However, the midwife said most definitely not – hospital policies – birth could be very scary for a little girl – why did I want her there anyway, again indicating that I was only thinking of myself and not my child.
(Just a sidenote – when my Doula came to visit after Jacob was born, Rebecca said, “Hey Mom, remember when I used to watch those baby shows while you were in the shower when we lived in Florida? Well they really paid off, because they really prepared me for watching you….with Jacob, because I wasn’t scared one bit.”)
I felt my options were very limited now – I felt the NHS system was just as medical as our own healthcare system – and I was at a crossroads. Scott and I felt very jaded, and both of us contemplated going back to the base to have our baby thinking it may just be better there. Perhaps we should give them another chance.
All along – I had been praying. God and I had been doing a lot of talking and I really felt his hand on us, and on this pregnancy. I just had to stay open to hearing Him. I also had to use discernment, which I was not all that good at.
God spoke to me through these verses during this time:
Matthew 6:34
Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Philippians 4:6-9
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

So – for the time being, my plan was to be a good pregnant patient, do what I was told, not ask questions, and just go with the flow.
Then one day everything changed.
I knew Jo advertised on Lakenheath Yard Sales and so I thought to check on there for a Doula. I knew that having a Doula would increase my chances for a safe, healthy delivery – especially at a hospital. So – as God would have it – a Doula had advertised on there. I contacted her and while she was still in training, she would be willing to take me on, if I would be willing to have her as my Doula. Immediately I knew I did. We met at my home when I was 35+ weeks pregnant. We discussed a bit of history, a bit of what I wanted from her, my expectations, etc. And then Emma described what it would be like for me to give birth at the NHS hospital. While they are very natural and women friendly, they are not at all family friendly. There are no waiting areas, there is no way Rebecca would be able to be with me during labor, only Emma and Scott would be allowed with me until the baby was born. And then – and then – if I had the baby after visiting hours, no one – NO ONE – would be able to stay with me and the baby. Mom and Rebecca wouldn’t even be allowed to see us for a moment. Oh – and I’d be put in a room with 4 other women and their newborns.
This was not what I had signed up for.
I had mentioned to Emma that I had contacted Jo, the local Independent Midwife, but that she wasn’t taking any women on. To which Emma replied that things had changed and that, ‘why yes- she is still seeing women at the moment’.
When Emma left, I was sick stomached – according to the Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative, there are 10 steps for a hospital, birth centre, or home birth service to take to become Mother Friendly. The first listed? Unrestricted access to the birth companions of her choice – husband, family, children, friends, etc.
I immediately emailed Jo – told her my situation – and asked if she would be willing to take me on so late in the game.
I was flipping out internally – emotionally – I was a wreck. I prayed and waited…prayed and waited. What was God’s answer going to be? How was I going to handle a hospital birth without my family but encouraged to give birth naturally? How was I going to handle a hospital birth with my family present but encouraged to take an epidural and pitocin? What about a homebirth? Where could that take place?
I remembered that about a month prior a friend had offered her home to me. I had blown her off – thinking a homebirth was impossible at that point. But now – I was reaching, grasping for anything. I emailed her too – and waited.
The weekend passed and I had some answers. My friend said ‘of course’ and Jo said we needed to meet and discuss some things. So – we met, at home, on a Wednesday, and Jo looked over my history, heard my concerns, and agreed that a homebirth was most definitely possible. Some things with Rebecca – like my elevated blood pressure, my GBS status, my PPH, all made me delivering at home a bit more risky – but worth trying. And Jo wasn’t too concerned about anything – except maybe the GBS, and requested a urine test to see what my status was at that point. (It was negative – of course) and I opted to use the Hibiclens protocol instead of antibiotics to stop any GBS transmission that might occur.
The only thing, Jo said, was that she had a full November month as it was, and if someone else was delivering when I went into labor, she would have to go with them, since I signed on last. Fair enough, I thought.
We were all relieved and very excited. All of us – Scott, Rebecca, my Mom, me….
God was shining on us. God had heard the desires of my heart and was answering my prayers.
The next few weeks flew by – I had weekly visits at home with Jo – she did her best to prepare me and educate me for what would happen, what it would be like, birthing in a pool (which I desired)
At about 38 weeks – things changed again. I heard God calling on me to switch homes where I was going to birth at. And He was pointing me to Faith – the friend who had thrown my Blessingway.
Faith had initially offered me her home early on in the pregnancy – probably about the same time she offered to give me my blessingway. But I had disregarded her offer too quickly I guess. First – I never thought I would be comfortable enough to give birth at someone else’s house . Second – Scott and I weren’t completely sold on a homebirth. Third – I had already signed up for a hospital birth with the NHS. Fourth – I didn’t want to bother her or her beautiful family. So – I never really thought about it again. Until now, months later, when God was nudging me.
So I called Faith and humbly asked her if the offer still stood. She would have to check with her husband first – but didn’t think it would be an issue. However – they were moving on November 15th, onto base housing, so I would have to have the baby by then, or else. No problem – I thought. Of course I would have the baby by then!! I was due on the 4th as it was anyway.
38 weeks pregnant and things were all lined up.
Midwife – check.
Doula – check.
Home – check.
For two weeks, things were smooth. I had started having Braxton-Hicks pretty regularly, had started having pelvic floor pain, and the baby had seemed to drop (something Rebecca never did) I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and ready (also something I never felt with Rebecca) Everyone just knew I was going to have this baby soon. I knew it was going to take some extra time. I never anticipated having the baby before my due date – always anticipated having him late….just not so late.
These next two verses were key to me staying focused and to stop listening to the lies/the tapes being played in my head about the ‘reality’ of the situation. Like – who was I to have a homebirth? I couldn’t handle it anyway – my baby was going to be born sick, I was going to have to be subjected to a miserable hospital birth, this was all for naught. But God persevered:
Romans 8:31
31What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]

And then I was led to Psalm 27:1-3
1THE LORD is my Light and my Salvation–whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?2When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
3Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, [even then] in this will I be confident.

40 weeks came and went. I continued living life as normal. But inside I was dying…the looks I would get from people who thought I should’ve had the baby by then, the comments on facebook – was just too much to handle. Eventually at 41 weeks, I turned off from the world. I stopped getting on facebook and stopped taking phone calls. I tried as hard as I could to relax.
God was encouraging me to stay strong, to stay hopeful in Him – to allow him to finish what he had started, to fulfill his promises. The more I worried, the more I was saying to Him that I didn’t believe he would do this for us. I needed to step aside and allow him to do his good work.

Isaiah 40:31

31But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.
And then I just love what my commentary has to say about this:
Hoping in the Lord is expecting that his promise of strength will help us to rise above life’s distractions and difficulties. It also means trusting in God. Trusting helps us to be prepared when he speaks to us. Then we will be patient when he asks us to wait and expect him to fulfill his promises found in the Word.

Hebrews 12

1THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,
2Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.(A)
3Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.
Jo was beginning to get nervous. She had to tell me the chances I was taking having a baby after due date – the risks involved. At 41 weeks, I agreed to stripping my membranes – but was so nervous because that was done with Rebecca – and was concerned about the increased risk of GBS with more interventions. When Jo checked me and stripped my membranes, the good news was that my cervix was low, I was somewhat dilated, but the bad news was I wasn’t effaced at all. Jo seemed discouraged and didn’t think that birth was imminent. That was a sad MW appointment – my doula had also showed and we were all pretty down.
Because, ultimately, I was on a pretty tight timeline now. First – I had to have the baby by Monday, or else I was without a home to deliver at. Secondly – if I was going to have an induction, I would need to choose hospitals. We had chosen our local base hospital – but they weren’t in agreement with me using them as my back-up hospital b/c we had already opted out of their healthcare. If I was going to have the baby there, I would have to re-enroll with them, so to speak. Third – the later I went, the more chance that I would overlap with another laboring Mom in Jo’s schedule. There was so much….life was so overwhelming…I was not handling anything well at all.
And thenI received this message in my inbox from the Tammy Trent newsletter – spoke directly to me and what I was going through. Divine intervention.
“May you take heart in knowing that God is preparing you for what He has already prepared for you! There is a new season that is already waiting for you. As you allow yourself to take on the fullness of God’s processing in your life, He is doing a work in you already, even if you can’t see it, so that you will be ready for the day when God opens up all the doors and allows you to walk into that new place. Maybe it’s time to “clean house” so you can be fully ready for it. Don’t let anything or any person hold you back from God’s perfect will in your life right now.
I don’t believe God gives us impossible dreams or unreachable desires. He gently takes us through life step by step so that when we face each new opportunity or challenge, we are ready in faith to choose to keep moving forward, always towards truth.
Your challenge right now is not to ask God why things around you are changing, in transition or falling apart, but rather perhaps to ask, “What’s next? What can I learn from this?” There’s a reason and purpose in our struggles or time of difficulties. The thing is, we have to find out what that is and begin to see our difficult time in perspective and how God is using it to prepare us. Search my friend. Search. The answers aren’t all that far away. Some times we just like to keep circling the questions hoping we’ll land on the “right answer” WE were hoping for. Trust God in this moment, that HE is STILL in control of your next season.
As true believers, we must never forget that God does not send “bad things” but He certainly uses them. And wow, do I sure understand and know that for my own life.
I did everything I knew to do to encourage labor: reflexology, rose and clary sage oil, evening primrose oil, accupressure points, walking, sex (seems everyone knows that one b/c everyone told us to do it!), membrane stripping…
I was really grappling with all the potentials that was happening. I was trying to wrap my head around either having a baby to hold at home in a few days, or scheduling an induction. I knew that going into a hospital was not going to end up the way I wanted it to – but I also knew that I was running out of options. My membranes were stripped on Thursday – Jo was due to come back Sunday to do it again – and then on Monday, my time was up as Faith was moving. I was talking to God constantly – praying for God to give me the desires of my heart, but for His will to be done ultimately. I wondered why He would bring me this far just to take it all away. I wondered why I couldn’t have had Jo from the very beginning, instead of having to wait until I was 36 weeks. Why would that door close early on just to be opened late in the game, and then closed again at the very end? Whatever was going to happen, I knew that I would continue to love Him. Regardless.
I didn’t want a hospital birth. I didn’t want a sick baby that would need IV treatment. And I really didn’t think that God would give that to me for a second time – but as it was – I didn’t know what was in store for us. I didn’t really know what God was saying.
For the longest time, I had heard God tell me to just wait, to just ‘tary on the Lord’ and wait. Be patient. Be hopeful and faithful. But then, as time got closer and my world became hectic and my mind was chaotic, God began speaking very directly to me – as I need Him to. I have often prayed for Him to be very direct and clear, as I said earlier, the gift of discernment I have not.
On Wednesday, the day before my membranes were stripped, Rebecca and I were at church helping prepare for Bible Study. Usually, when the Praise and Worship takes place, I listen in the narthex, instead of going into the sanctuary so that I can still greet women as they come in. However, this day, Rebecca was urging me to go into the sanctuary and participate with her. I had a friend helping out at the welcome table, so I felt comfortable leaving my station – I went in with Rebecca. Lo and behold, God had words to speak to me – and I was moved to tears as I heard Him through this song.
And then – the morning I had my membranes stripped, I awoke to God saying this to me loud and clear:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God will be with you!” Joshua 1:9
Two days later, I went into labor.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Enjoying Birth Guest Blogger: Mike - "Bethany Kay's Big Day!"

This is a FABULOUS birth story!  This story is written by Katie's husband, Mike, and I think it catches the joy and excitement and awesomeness of birth.

Katie woke up on Friday morning at 4:20, having to go to the bathroom, which is standard procedure for the 40th week of pregnancy. When she took a little while to return to bed, I groggily asked her if she was okay. She said, “I think I wet my pants.” Waking up a little more, I asked, “Did your water break?” “I don’t think so,” was the reply. “Okay,” I said, believing her, and rolled over to go back to sleep. After a couple minutes, Katie said to me, “These contractions are getting stronger.” Contractions? She didn’t tell me she was contracting! I hopped out of bed and hurried to the bathroom to put my contacts in so I could see what was going on. “We gotta go!” I told her. So we began trying to get dressed, find phone numbers, and round up essentials all at the same time.

I called Pastor Tony and his wife, Jan since we had planned for Jan to come over and stay with the kids should we have to head for the hospital in the middle of the night. A sleepy Tony answered the phone and I asked for Jan. “She’s in the loo,” he replied. That’s odd, I thought. It’s 4:30 in the morning and she’s up getting ready for work already? We came to find out that as soon as the phone rang, Jan shot like a rocket out of bed to get ready exclaiming, “It’s Katie, it’s Katie! I’ve gotta go!” Since Jan had to leave for work at 7:30, we also called Carrie to come and relieve her, not knowing how long we would be at the hospital.

So after I was dressed, the car was loaded, and the calls were made, I went back to see how Katie was doing. I found her bent over the edge of the bed in a contraction, still not dressed yet. So I tried to help her as she fought me off until the contraction let up. So, finally we were ready to go, but Jan had not arrived yet. I took Katie out to the car to get her in, and James, our neighbor, came jogging across the road. Katie must have called him! Thank goodness, I thought. We gotta go!! So I put Katie in the front seat of the car and James went in to watch the kids as we zoomed off to the hospital. I didn’t put Katie in the back seat, because of course we weren’t going to deliver a baby in my new car. That only happens in movies.

I thought it wise to take the A-roads instead of the back roads. I didn’t think that bumpy roads, stop and go, and frequent turns were going to help our situation at all. As we set out, Katie called the Labor & Delivery ward to let them know that we were on our way and that we were about a half hour out. “My contractions are about two minutes apart,” she told them. It might just have been the rush of getting ready in a hurry, but I’m sure they were more like 45 seconds to a minute apart. I’m driving as fast as I dare, without paying for an ambulance ride in speeding tickets. Katie is praying, mostly in tongues but I caught a “Please, Jesus, calm these contractions down a little!” here and there.

As we were coming up on five ways roundabout (over halfway there), Katie’s water must have broke. I heard, “Oh, Jesus!” and Katie later told me that she thought that is when Bethany crowned. I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time, because I wouldn’t have known what to do. The next thing I knew, Katie said, “She’s here…” and I asked her if she wanted me to pull over. I looked at the shoulder, which was about a foot wide on the side of a 70mph highway. No, it was too dangerous to pull over here. I looked up and saw a sign for the rest area at five ways roundabout. I guess we could stop there to have a baby. But when Katie didn’t answer me, I looked over, and she already had a baby in her lap! I glanced at the clock in my car: 5:12am – that made labor only about 30 – 45 minutes. I turned on my hazard lights and sped up a little as Katie scrambled to pull a newborn out of her pants! I heard Bethany crying as Katie cranked up the heat in the car and snuggled her up to her chest. Good, she was crying, and that meant she was breathing, so there was no sense in stopping. Off to the hospital!

We dug our IDs out so we would not have to negotiate with the gate guard once we got to Lakenheath. I pulled up to the gate and handed the gate guard our IDs. “Alright,” was the reply, she handed back our IDs, and we were on our way. That’s odd, we thought. She didn’t even notice Katie had a newborn on her lap. Oh, well. Off to the hospital!

I pulled up to the door of the hospital, and left the car running as I ran inside. I ran up the stairs to the Labor & Delivery ward, thinking that they’d be ready since we called ahead. “We had her in the car,” I said. There was an awkward silence. They must have thought I said “I have her in the car,” referring to Katie, because we just stood there looking at each other. “Is she coming up?” one of them asked. “We had the baby in the car!” I clarified. All of a sudden, the three of them began scurrying about, grabbing gloves and towels and such, and they ran off ahead of me down to the car. They told me to get a wheelchair from the ER.

I went in to the ER and asked if I could borrow a wheelchair, and briefly explained what had happened. The captain working in the ER asked me if I helped Katie deliver the baby. I replied that I was driving and couldn’t have helped without pulling over. He then asked if I at least held her hand. No…I was driving. He then proceeded to give me a hard time for leaving my poor wife to deliver a baby by herself. Then the ER tech came out with a wheelchair and we were off to get Katie. Poor Katie then came out of the toasty warm car into the chilly spring morning air. She sat down in the wheelchair, and the towels weren’t going to keep her warm. Fortunately, I had brought her blankie (heart quilt made by Sarah) with us, and I wrapped her up as best I could in that. So the hospital crew took her up to a delivery room as I parked the car and hurried up behind them.

We obviously threw the L&D staff out of their normal routine, and chaos ensued. A nurse tried urgently to get Katie to birth the placenta as one of the techs attempted to get an IV in her arm. Katie probably didn’t need either one of those things to happen immediately, but I guess they thought that we were a big emergency, and that they had to hurry up and do everything they could. Katie finally convinced them to leave her alone and let the contractions continue. The second attempt got the IV in, which they used to give her pitocin, which she didn’t want in the first place, but there wasn’t any communication about that. And when the on-call doctor arrived, Katie was able to birth the placenta. The doctor cleaned her up, and did not need to do any stitching! Meanwhile, another tech was taking care of Bethany, cleaning her up and helping her breathe better. When things settled down a bit, they brought Bethany over to Katie to let her nurse.

By this time it was just about 7am, and Katie wanted me to go and get Sarah and Cory. When I got home, the kids were still sleeping. I thanked Carrie for coming to watch them, and she and Will left for home. I decided to let the kids sleep a little longer, and I went to post messages on Facebook. Of course, I couldn’t just post a couple posts and be done, and I ended up chatting with my cousin, Sarah for a little while, telling the story of our exciting morning. Katie called and said that they were going to wait to give Bethany a bath until I got back with Sarah and Cory. Since they were not awake yet, I got them up. Cory got up willingly, but Sarah pulled her blanket over her head, wanting to keep sleeping. But when I told her that Bethany wasn’t in mama’s tummy anymore and asked her if she wanted to go see her, Sarah went from sleepy to excited instantly. She was bouncing on her bed and chattering up a storm. So I got them dressed, fed, and back to the hospital we went.

When we got to the hospital room, Katie was showered, dressed, and not hooked up to any medical equipment anymore. She was walking around, and Bethany was asleep in her bassinet. Both kids wanted to hold Bethany, so we let them take turns until the staff came in to give Bethany a bath. Sarah was very excited to help with the bath. After visiting for awhile, I took the kids back home for a nap. When I got home, Katie called and said that she would be ready to be discharged at 6pm – after only 12 hours in the hospital! So, after naptime, I took the kids to collect the rest of my family from the hospital, and we came home at the end of a very exciting day.