My Healing Repeat Cesarean by Jennifer

July 22, 2013 in Cesarean, Guest Post, Preparation, VBAC

I was touched by Jennifer’s birth story. Things obviously didn’t go how she had wanted but I think her story shows how, when women are allowed to make their own choices– guided by the spirit– every birth situation can be beautiful and healing.  I am so glad she was willing to share.

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 March 4. My friends got together and threw a Blessingway for me. It was beautiful. Many of my friends and their children came to support me and lift up their blessings for my impending VBAC. They made a labyrinth for me to walk. It was so special. As I walked the labyrinth, I threw flower petals in my path, marking the blessings I sent out in hopes of a smooth and easy labor and a beautiful healthy baby girl.

At the end of my Blessingway, one of my friends, a chiropractor, taught me some acupressure points to help make the irregular contractions more meaningful and even. After the Blessingway, my contractions became regular and strong. I started having to poop a lot and the next morning I passed a quarter-sized mucous blog that had red streaks in it. I got really excited. I thought, “This is it!”

Not yet…

March 5th. I had been contracting pretty regularly at about 6 minutes apart but wasn’t getting any closer, so I went for a walk. One very old Russian immigrant grandmother who lives in our apartment complex, barely speaks English, and who has had a crush on my son since he was born came to give me some grandmotherly advice on laboring.

I got home and went to lie down and rest, but got woken by a particularly strong contraction accompanied by a hard kick to my lungs… When I got up, I found that my son had conked out. Shawn carried him into the bedroom now that I wasn’t taking up the whole bed… and then he came out to help me through some hard contractions that we finally found were 4 minutes apart… so Shawn called Kristina. She left the birthday party she was at and came to my rescue.

When Kristina got there, my contractions had spaced out to about 11 minutes. We timed a few and worked through a couple of hard ones, but it was clear that my work was done for the night. I was absolutely exhausted.  Kristina told me to get some rest and she went back to her party.

I lay down on the couch, disappointed… awfully disappointed that things pretty much tanked. But ecstatic that I wasn’t in the hospital where they would start hassling me about a repeat cesarean for stalled labor.

March 6th.  Kristina and I were talking, we both agreed that my body will do what it should in its own time and that trying to rush things is just going to wear me out physically and emotionally. We talked about my need to control things and my excitement over what seemed to be labor and how sometimes our bodies just ease into things. After that I prayed and got out my scriptures. I laid the scriptures spine down on the table and just let them fall open (I do that when I am just reading for inspiration or peace rather than for study) and they fell open to Exodus 31 and the first thing that my eyes fell on was verse 17

It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.


I thought that was pretty clear!

March 7th. I started having extremely consistent contractions at 8 minutes apart and lasting around 60 seconds, but not painful… they just felt like pressure, squeezing, and kind of achy like I was about to start my period and it took my breath away and my heart raced. They lasted all week.

March 13th. The contractions started coming every 5 minutes and lasting 2 minutes each. I decided to go into the hospital to make sure the baby was tolerating the long contractions. When we got there they stopped us at the door saying that Dr. L was on duty and was refusing to attend me for a VBAC, and although they can’t technically turn me away in labor, unless I signed a cesarean consent form they would not be able to do more than put me in a bed and see if I was in labor. So we left.

We headed to another hospital. They put me on the contraction and heart rate monitors, but before we even got there my contractions had slowed. On the monitors though, Lirum was doing fantastic.  BUT:

My blood pressure was really high. That concerned me. They did a vaginal exam (that was excruciating) I was barely dilated a fingertip. With my pressure being high and no dilation, we decided to do a Biophysical Profile and monitor my blood pressures for a while and then do another cervical check to see if I was indeed in labor.

Lirum BARELY got an 8/8 on the BPP, she didn’t want to move, but at the last second she arched her back and the tech called it good. The placenta… oh the placenta… 1 1/2 weeks before, my placenta looked spotty, but not really terribly calcified. That day it was completely white; there weren’t any dark spots on it at all. That is a REALLY fast degradation! The tech saw it and couldn’t help but say, “WOW! That placenta is all used up!” I knew as soon as I saw that bright white placenta that I wasn’t going to get my VBAC… especially with my blood pressure so high.

We got back to the room, and they came to check my dilation to see if I was progressing at all.  My cervix hadn’t budged. I pretty much just told everyone there that I would not be having a VBAC. I knew it. Sure enough the doctor came in and said that if I were in active labor that night, she wouldn’t have a problem with me having a VBAC, but to wait who knows how much longer for me to start active labor on my own ( since induction wasn’t an option) was just too risky.

I wasn’t even upset! I mean, sure, I was disappointed, feeling a loss of something I had worked so hard to achieve, but really, the whole point of working for a VBAC was to give my baby girl the best start in life. And now it was apparent that a VBAC wasn’t the best start I could give her. If I waited for labor to start on its own, it could be weeks, and by that time the placenta could give out entirely… It was just too risky.

IT WAS MY CHOICE. That made all the difference.

March 14th.  I called the hospital near my home to schedule my medically necessary repeat cesarean and they said that if I was not in ACTIVE labor, they would transfer me to Seattle because of my seizures. I was irate. I called the hospital I’d been at the day before and got to talk to my favorite OB from OBAC. We discussed my case and she consulted with other docs at the hospital and we decided that my case was not “emergent” meaning my and Lirum’s lives were not in immediate danger. Lirum had been doing well even through the contractions and my placenta was not detached. It was on its last legs, but it hadn’t given out yet. So, we scheduled me for Wednesday, March 17th at 2pm with a noon check in time.

Shawn was beside himself with joy. He was still holding out hope that we could do something to get me to go into labor naturally so we could VBAC, and now we had 3 more days to try rather than having to go in that day.

I posted our plans online, as there were several people following my progress on different sites. They all knew how important it was to me to try for a VBAC. After Alex’s birth, I swore I would VBAC.  I worked hard over the next 3 years to educate myself about birth and my own health. I learned more about VBAC and repeat cesarean than most doctors! And when some of my friends heard that I had consented to a repeat cesarean, the proverbial crap hit the fan. I got bombarded by people telling me that I was giving up… that the docs had pulled the wool over my eyes… that Lirum was fine and why was I not still working for it… etc… It really hurt. I made the decision based on all the available evidence. I was comfortable with my choice. I knew it was right. These people, knowing only bits and parts of the whole story, passed judgment on me. I started to question my choice. Was I really making the right choice, or was I just scared? I talked to Kristina and she helped me to understand that most of the people I had bashing my choice were people who were not invested in me as a whole… just in seeing me have a vaginal birth. These people were on crusades to have VBAC’s, or were so invested in seeing me have the one they couldn’t have, that nothing else mattered to them. Putting that all into perspective reassured me that I was doing the right thing.

March 15th. We headed to the chiropractor’s. She was amazing! We worked for over 2 hours using homeopathics, acupressure, and adjustments… but because of where my placenta was located, turning the baby from where she was lying on my right side to my left side to help her press on the cervix was unlikely. The contractions got stronger though and we thought if we just went home and rested, we would go into active labor… but by the next day the contractions slowed back down. I knew my body wasn’t going to do this.

March 17. Grandma, Shawn, Alex, and I got to the hospital at noon. They put me in a triage room and told me to change into the hospital gown. They checked my vitals… my blood pressure was still down! They put me on the monitor and did a cervical check. I wasn’t dilated at all, still. Deep down I knew that would happen, but I wasn’t prepared for how that would make me feel. This was the point of no return in my mind. For some reason, even though I had decided to have a cesarean, I guess I had still held a shred of hope that maybe the VBAC wasn’t gone. Shawn was as disappointed as I was.

The nurse came to put the IV in and draw some blood. Then the doctors came in to see me. They poked my belly this way and that, and determined that because of the amount of weight I gained since my last cesarean, following the existing surgical scar would be unrealistic. They decided to do a “bikini cut” cesarean. They also told me that they would have to use staples instead of sutures as I had requested because the incision would be under a skin fold. A little bit after that, someone came in and shaved my belly and the tip of my pubic hair to allow for the surgery.

About 20 minutes later, a L&D nurse named Sharon came to take me to the O.R., I was surprised to see that they asked me if I would rather WALK than be wheeled up on a bed or wheelchair! That was the first moment that I realized that this experience truly would be more dignified.

I walked to the O.R., leaving my husband on the elevator because they still weren’t sure if the anesthetist would allow him into the main O.R. I walked onto the floor and was met by surprised stares from people who hadn’t seen a patient walk onto the floor in a long time. Apparently the only cesareans that are done on that floor are extreme emergencies. I walked into the room and was met by a bustle of people cheerily talking and listening to upbeat music. I was sat on the table and strapped on the baby monitor. Someone came over and asked if I liked the music. I suddenly remembered that I had put in my cesarean plan that I wanted to be asked this question. It completely slipped my mind. They said they had Pandora.com up on the computer and asked me who my favorite artist was. I told them I really liked Norah Jones and they went and typed her name in. Immediately I heard more soothing music, I almost cried… they were seriously honoring my birth plan!

Soon the anesthetist came in. I asked him if my husband could come in during the cesarean. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Well of course!” After trying for nearly half an hour and failing each time he stuck me, and putting me in a lot of pain from each jab… he FINALLY gave up. It took him two tries to get the epidural in instead.  We made small talk for a bit and then suddenly, my blood pressure plummeted, I got nausea and sweaty and the anesthesiologist was right there… putting something into my IV… and asking me questions… I don’t recall the questions he asked, but he seemed concerned and Shawn kept asking why my pressure was low, at one point he said it was 79/46. The room kind of faded for a second, but then all of a sudden my heart was racing and the anesthesiologist said, “There we go!” The whole room breathed a sigh of relief and went back to business, and I went back to talking to my husband.

The OBs came in then, and the curtain went up and they started taping my belly up so that they could get at the right spot to do the surgery. I could still feel everything, and it was very interesting… cold prep solution and the tape and then they just waited… every few minutes they would draw something across my belly and ask if I could feel that. Eventually I couldn’t and they went to work. During the next 25 minutes, I talked with Shawn and asked questions of the anesthetist and OBs… it was nice. Nothing was ever talked about except that it directly affected me and my baby. Every 10 minutes or so, when I would start to feel my legs, the anesthetist put more medication in the epidural. Then it felt like they practically STOOD on my stomach and I felt pulling and I couldn’t breathe. I remembered that this was the way I felt just before my son was born. I got excited… apparently too excited. Shawn started telling me to calm down because I started shaking in anticipation. Seconds later I felt a release and completely lost the ability to take a breath in. The anesthetist leaned toward me and told me to breathe.

And then I heard my baby girl. The room went dead silent. I gasped and actually started to hyperventilate a little, and then the tears came, and I started talking to her… telling her I was there and that I would hold her in a minute… They took her to the NICU table and checked her briefly and then they wheeled the NICU bed over to where I could see her. Sharon told them that I wanted to keep the placenta and that I didn’t want Lirum wiped off before I could touch her. Everyone who mentioned the baby called her by her name instead of calling her “baby” or “chunker” like the last cesarean team did to my son. They had asked during the prep what her name was and everyone in the room knew it and actually remembered. I felt full of joy and peace. I touched my baby and kissed her head before she was cleaned off. I watched as they shortened the cord stump and did all their other checks and wiped her off. They said her Apgar scores were 8 and 9. Then they wrapped her up and handed her to Shawn and he came over and held her by me and I reached over and touched her and stroked her cheek and listened as Shawn talked soothing words to her… she was beautiful. She had a head full of dark hair the color of Shawn’s, chubby cheeks that just made me want to kiss her and never stop and olive complexion just like Shawn’s.

She is going to be the most beautiful woman to walk the earth.

Shawn took Lirum to the NICU for observation after I had time with her. It only took another 20 minutes to close me up and install the wound vac, during which time Sharon held my hand continuously, telling me what to expect in the days ahead and how beautiful Lirum was. And the doctor softly said to me, “Jennifer, you did everything right. You worked so hard, and you have a beautiful little girl! I am so sorry you didn’t get your VBAC.” I cried. That little act of mercy will stay with me forever.

Then they dropped the curtain and waited till I could feel my legs. Then they brought in a monstrosity of a bed that was to be my home for the next 3 days, and aired up the mattress that was already underneath me and moved me over to the bed. I was wheeled to the Post-op Recovery Area where I was watched for the next hour and a half by a nurse who literally never left my bedside. She checked my uterus every 15 minutes, gave me ice chips when I asked for them, and monitored my blood pressure, temp, and how far up the anesthesia was still effective. I felt cared for. I felt like I wasn’t forgotten. Someone was there, talking to me every minute, I wasn’t just shoved aside. The recovery nurse talked to me about the birth and how I felt and the baby and everything! I told her about how we had come to this point and all the support that I had. Things couldn’t have been better… well unless I had a VBAC… but for a cesarean it was ideal.

I can’t believe the difference education and preparation made in our experience. As well as the way the hospital and staff treated me and my baby.

I was blessed with a healing experience.

Receiving Michael

May 27, 2013 in Abortion, Adversity, Atonement, Birth Stories, Cesarean, Energy Healing, Forgiveness, hospital birth, Lani, Loss, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Pregnancy, Prenatal influences

The following story was originally published on my new website theyremember.org. “they remember” is a project I created in partnership with Sarah Hinze, author, pre-birth experience expert, spiritual giant, and my mentor. We are sharing stories of unborn spirits, particularly those who were previously aborted. Sarah has written extensively about these “castaways” and what happens to them. I, too, have had spiritual experiences centered around these special souls in need of rescue. Shari graciously gave permission for me to share her story here. I love the beautiful healing journey Shari and her son participated in as he made his way to Earth. -Lani

Receiving Michael

By Shari

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In the summer of 2003, I was sitting with a couple of women friends and we were discussing various things of a spiritual nature.  One of the women who was particularly in tune, said she perceived a man and a boy’s spirit present in the room. I felt that it was my grandfather, and the next child I was to have.  I felt him say that this was Michael, and he was very special.  He also let me know that he was with the family and was within their care.

It was not until the fall of 2005 that I actually became pregnant with Michael.  The day I found out I was pregnant I literally danced for joy!  I had known he was coming for a number of years and was so anxious to have him.  I could feel he was pleased I wanted him so much.  Yet, in the ensuing weeks, I could feel a sadness about him.  I did not understand why.  I tried to focus on him and figure out why he was not happy, but it was difficult getting in tune while dealing with morning sickness.

In the beginning of February,  I was feeling much better.   At that time, I finally received the answer I had been looking for.  I was told by a friend who could see and talk to spirits, that Michael was grateful I was going to be his mother and that he was sad because he had been aborted a few years prior by another woman.  Now he had been reassigned to me.  I was informed that he would probably be a difficult child with emotional issues, and that I would need to raise him knowing the Lord.  I was not terribly shocked, actually I was more relieved to understand why had felt the way I did, but I was concerned about having an emotionally difficult child.  I had one already that was difficult, and this being my fifth child,  I was not sure I could handle another one.  Yet with information comes understanding and possible solutions to problems.

About a month later I was pondering the situation right before going to bed.  I felt impressed to pray for Michael. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I was given the words to pray for him so that, through Christ, he could release his feelings of abandonment, rejection, trauma and fear.  I prayed that he would see his previous mother through the eyes of the Savior and feel his love for her so he could forgive her.  I felt him let go of the negative emotions and forgive.   As he did so, I could feel his spirit getting lighter as a sweet sense of relief came over him.  I also prayed he would forgive his previous father and the doctor who performed the abortion.  This was not as intense as the forgiveness of his mother, but I felt it was important.  I believe it is important to come to earth as unencumbered by grief and trauma as possible and I wanted Michael to have the healthiest and happiest start to his life with us as he could.  As the prayer continued,  I could feel the Savior’s love for Michael.  I felt him bless him with specific spiritual gifts to help him with his mission in this life.

Finally, the time came to give birth.  Michael showed signs of distress, and consequently was born by C-section. Within the weeks following I prayed to understand why he was born this way.  I was given the impression that he had experienced enough trauma and was being spared a difficult birth.  I believe this healing process has altered what could have been a difficult and frustrating childhood. At the time of this writing Michael is almost 4 months old and he couldn’t be a sweeter, happier baby.  I am grateful beyond words for the Savior’s intervention and healing of my sweet son.

Update 2011: Michael has been a wonderful, sweet and easy going child.  The only effects I can see from the trauma he experienced is that he is a bit more fearful and cautious than my other children.  He is almost five.

Tender Mercies

November 26, 2012 in Birth Stories, Cesarean, Fear, hospital birth, Intuition, Lani, Obstetricians, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Traumatic Birth, VBAC

The following is a beautiful birth story that demonstrates the Lord’s goodness and kindness and His knowledge of our individual fears and worries. God is good. Enjoy! -Lani

Tender Mercies

By Heidi

A scheduled cesarean. Finally! My doctor said it would be a “boring” delivery compared to my first two birth experiences. My first little babe was an emergency c-section and was born within minutes of arriving at the hospital. With my second little one, I tried for a VBAC. After hours of pushing and not making any progress, we decided to do a repeat cesarean. Both deliveries ending up being so different than what I would have planned, so to think that I would get to schedule my cesarean and prepare for the day seemed all too perfect.

At 37 weeks I went into my doctor’s office for a scheduled appointment. They did the basic checkup and took the Strep B test. While doing the test, my doctor checked to see if I was dilated. I was shocked. He said I was dilated to a 1. I know that isn’t a big deal, but I never dilated early with my girls. They were both born within a day or two of my due date and I didn’t dilate until I was in labor, so the fact that I had 3 more weeks to go didn’t seem quite right.

After leaving the office that day, I called my husband and told him the news. We both felt like our little boy was going to come into the world earlier than our scheduled delivery date. Come on, after our two previous experiences we couldn’t have a “boring” and planned delivery, right?

A week went by with more mild contractions, and I went in for another doctor’s appointment. I was becoming more convinced that this little one was going to come early. I talked to my doctor and he told me if I felt like I was in labor to head to the hospital and whoever was there would perform my cesarean. As my eyes filled up with tears of the unexpected, he walked me through the whole process of what would happen when I arrived at the hospital. Yes, this was going to be my 3rd cesarean, but it was going to be a whole new experience compared to the previous two. I was nervous. My husband was anxious.

I left the office feeling at peace, but still unsure of what was going to come our way. You see, I was sent home from the hospital when I thought I was in labor with our first babe. I had contractions through the night and went back to the hospital in the morning. They immediately saw she was in distress and not moving so they preformed an emergency c-section. The experience was terrifying. Because of that experience, I was afraid I wouldn’t know when to go to the hospital with this new little one. I was afraid I would be sent home again. I was afraid I would arrive and there would be complications with the baby.

So, I prayed to my Heavenly Father. I prayed that if this little one decided to come early that I would know when to go to the hospital. If we weren’t going to have our scheduled, “boring” c-section, I prayed that it would be obvious when I should head to the hospital and all would be well.

As the day passed, my contractions began to get a little harder, but were still irregular so we went on with our day to day things.
The next day my contractions were much harder and deeper. We had tickets to a Diamondbacks game in the evening, and I decided to go with my family. I realized it would be one of the last outings as a family of four. My contractions, however, were getting to the point where I needed to lift up off the chair when they came and had to stop while walking. It made the game all the more exciting! I felt like my baby boy was going to come soon. Very soon.

We got home around from the game around 10 p.m. By then I was timing my contractions. They were about 9 minutes apart, but coming harder. We got ready for bed and tried to sleep, but I just ended up timing each and every contraction. They were more intense and every 6 minutes as time went on. I was so unsure of when to go the hospital. As I laid there wondering when would be the right time… gush! My water broke… or I should say burst at 12 a.m.! Time to go to the hospital! My Heavenly Father made it very clear for me. That was tender mercy number one.

As we arrived at the hospital I knew my doctor was not the one on call. I had butterflies in my stomach of not knowing what was going to happen. When checking in at the front desk of triage, my husband and I asked which doctor was on schedule that morning- it was Dr. M. My eyes filled up with tears! Dr. M was the one who preformed my last cesarean. Tender mercy number two.

All went well with the delivery, and we delivered a beautiful and healthy baby boy two weeks early! He was 8 pounds 12 ounces! Even though I didn’t get to have my “boring” scheduled delivery, everything went smoothly.

I know that our Heavenly Father knows each one of us. He knows what we struggle with and how to give us peace during those times. He answered my prayer. He made it as clear as He could as to when I needed to head to the hospital. He gave me comfort with having a familiar doctor perform my cesarean. I know He is involved in the details of our birth experiences.

Three Different Care Provider Relationships

October 24, 2012 in Breech birth, Lani, Midwives, Obstetricians, Personal Revelation, Pregnancy, Sheridan

This is a post from our archive, written by Sheridan. It’s a great resource for helping women determine the type of relationship they want to have with their maternity care providers. -Lani

There are three types of care provider relationships.

Often when a mom thinks about choosing a care provider for her birth she thinks about two things: what kind of care provider she wants and where she wants to give birth. I think it is equally important to look at the type of relationship* you have with your care provider.

Here are the three types of relationships:

Authoritative – In this relationship the Care Provider (CP) is in charge. CP tells the mom what will happen. If the mom has any questions or concerns about it, CP may not even take the time to address them. Instead, because CP is not used to being challenged, CP will try to scare her or shame her into doing what CP wants.

Partnership – In this relationship the Care Provider sees him/herself as a partner with the mom. CP may tell the mom what s/he would like to happen or what CP’s normal routines are. If mom has any questions or concerns about it, CP takes the time to listen and answer questions. S/he treats the mom with respect, and s/he is open to doing things outside of his normal routine if it is what mom wants. (CP may have restrictions within the bounds of a certain framework- for example if mom is having a hospital birth, her care provider may be bound by certain hospital rules, etc)

Mother-Led – In this relationship the Care Provider takes his/her lead from the mother. She tells CP what she would like and CP provides it. If mom has questions or concerns CP is happy to discuss them with her and will support and trust her intuition as she finds a solution. CP is a resource for mom to go to for support.

What might this look like?

Let’s look at what this may look like in a hospital setting with a mom discovering her baby is breech at 36 weeks.

Authoritative – Mom discovers baby is breech. Care Provider says, “We will have to do a cesarean.” Mom questions if there are any other options? Care Provider says, “The baby is breech and can not be born this way. Do you want your baby to die? The safest thing to do is have a cesarean.” If mom does research and finds out about External Version and brings that idea to her Care Provider, CP may get angry that she did research about it and may or may not help her try external version. If baby doesn’t turn CP will force her to have a cesarean, by using scare tactics instead of treating her respectfully. (If you think I am exaggerating about this, just go read some of the quotes from “My OB said WHAT?”)

Partnership – Mom discovers baby is breech. Care Provider says, ‘We may need to do a cesarean.” Mom questions if there are any other options. Care Provider says, “There are some different things you can try at home. We could try External Version, there are some pros and cons to that.” He then explains those and lets moms choose what she feels is best for her. If baby does not turn they have more discussions, if mom really wants to try a vaginal breech birth, the care provider may not be able to attend mom due to hospital restrictions, or lack of training. CP will be honest about the situation, “15 years ago you would have been a good candidate for vaginal breech birth, but today our hospital is not comfortable with that risk.” Mom is left with little choice and has a cesarean. She hopefully feels respected through the process and this helps her adjust to and accept her cesarean.

Mother-Led – Mom discovers baby is breech. Care Provider says, “What would you like to know about breech babies?” Mom asks her questions and does some additional research and lets her Care Provider know what she wants to do. If baby does not turn they have more discussions. If mom still wants to try a vaginal breech birth, her Care Provider will help her to do so. CP may not be able to personally attend (due to hospital restrictions, or lack of training), but will help her find a care provider that can help her have a vaginal breech birth.

What affect could this have?

Can you see how these different relationships could affect a mom’s birth experience? Will her birth be a positive experience for her, or a negative one? Will it empower her or break her down?

We read in Proverbs 12:18:

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Care providers should bring healing, starting with their words, which will greatly affect the kind of relationships they have with the women they care for.

What kind of relationship do you have?

Interestingly enough, many people assume that OBs have authoritative or partnership relationships with their patients and midwives have partnership or mother-led relationships. However, that is an incorrect assumption. You need to look at your relationship with whatever care provider you have. There are authoritative midwives out there, so don’t assume because you have a midwife you will have great support. There are also OBs out there who are mother-led.

It is important to figure out what kind of relationship you want with your Care Provider and then determine which kind you have! Ask questions and follow your intuition to determine if the relationship you have is a good fit for you. If you are not happy with it, you can change to a new Care Provider that will give you the type of caring relationship you want and deserve.

***I did not come up with this idea, however I did change the names of the three types of relationships – you can read a 21 page paper on the Technocratic, Humanistic and Holistic Paradigms of Childbirth, by Robbie Davis-Floyd or a simpler version about the Philosophical Options of Birth.

On Cows and Chickens

March 28, 2012 in Archive, Fear, Heather, Intuition

This is  a re-post of a post I wrote for the blog about two years ago this time of year. When I wrote it we had just hatched our first clutch of little chicks. It was an incredible experience and one that we have done several times since.  Spring is my favorite season because it is hard to ignore the beautiful symbolism of re-birth and life that happens this time of year.

For my doula certification I had to sit in on a childbirth education class for a few weeks. During the course of the class,the teacher shared a story that one of her first time fathers shared with her. The young man was a cattle rancher and managed a large herd owned by a man who lived out of the state. For some reason, the owner of the herd was really terrified about the cows giving birth. He was certain that things were going to go wrong and that he would loose his cows. He told this young man that he needed to bring the cows close the barn when it was time for them to give birth.

The young man refused adamantly saying, “It is gonna bug em.” But the owner insisted and so when the cows were ready to calve the young man brought them in out of the far pasture where they normally calved and into a pasture closer to the barn. They hadn’t ever had any problems with the cows calving before but that year they had to do a c-section on one of the cows who was unable to birth her baby.

That made the owner even more afraid that something was going to go wrong with the births so he insisted that the young man bring the cows in the barn when they were ready to calve. The young man refused saying, “Now that is really gonna bug em.” Yet since he didn’t want to loose his job he drove the cattle into the barn when calving time came around. That year they had to do five c-sections and numerous manual assists; it was the hardest calving season the young man had ever had in all his experience on cattle ranches.

The next year knowing that the owner was going to want the cows in the barn again during calving season the young rancher drove the entire herd up to the pasture furthest away from the barn and left them there. He purposely waited until the very end of calving season to go up and check on them. There he found that all the cows, even those who had had c-section the previous year, had all given birth safely and without assistance.

I can’t help but wonder how different women’s birth outcomes and experiences would be if they were allowed to just simply give birth—without all the commotion, without all the machines,  without all the checking, poking, prodding, and control that goes on in many birth rooms. What if women were sent out to their “farthest pasture,” a place beautiful, full of good food, surrounded by loved ones who had faith in them, and were allowed to let the natural process of work like God designed it to.  How different would our perspective of birth be then?

I’ve also had another experience this week that has turned my thoughts towards birth. My hen, who had been sitting on seven eggs for the last three weeks, just hatched four little beautiful babies. It was such a beautiful thing and the doula inside of me was having a hard time between knowing I should step back and let the natural process unfold and wanting to see the whole thing happen. The doula in me won and left the hen alone as much as I could.

In the end I only got to see one of the chicks hatch from its shell, and it took a really long time.  I’ll admit that a part of me wanted to reach down and pull away part of the shell from him so he could come free. Yet, I knew from high school biology class that the motions a chick goes through pecking and wiggling out of it’s shell is vital to it’s development and therefore survival. If it isn’t allowed to do it by itself, then it won’t thrive and often dies. So, as much as I wanted to help the chick I just let things unfold and eventually that little chick did it just fine.

As I watched this little chick fluff out its feathers and run around the brooder box I couldn’t help but wonder why we seem to have so much more faith in a chicken’s ability to be born than we do a human baby. Humans are the greatest of all God’s creations. Unlike any other creatures on this earth, we are created in the image of God. We alone have the ability to reason and to make choices just as the Gods do. We are Gods and Goddesses in training and have so much divine potential. Why is it then that we mistrust women’s bodies so much? Why do we have more confidence in a cow’s ability to give birth than we do a potential Goddess’s?

I have a great testimony of women’s innate divine power, physical and spiritual. I know that if we tap into this power and if we have faith in God’s natural plan, birth gives us an incredible opportunity to reclaim and rediscover the powerful connection between our bodies and our spirits.

Hilary’s Footling Breech Cesarean Birth

March 12, 2012 in Birth Stories, Breastfeeding, Breech birth, Cesarean, Felice, hospital birth, Prayer

Tuesday, December 27, I had my 39 week appointment with my midwife.  We chatted for a minute, then I laid down so she could find the heartbeat.  It was taking a lot longer than normal.  I wasn’t worried, since I’d felt the baby moving five minutes earlier, but I didn’t like that look on her face.  I may not have been worried, but she definitely was.Finally, after what felt like forever, but was probably a minute or less, she found the baby’s heartbeat.  Apparently in a place she did not want to find it.  She asked if he’d been moving a lot lately, and at first I said nothing big, that he moved all the time but I hadn’t felt any major movement.  Then I thought back to Christmas Eve or Christmas night, I can’t remember which, when I made Greg lie next to me in bed with his hand on my stomach for a good half hour ’cause of the tumbling act Owen was putting on.

My midwife didn’t flat out say he was breech, but she scheduled me for an ultrasound at the OB’s office, in less than an hour.  So, I ran home, got Greg (my mom came over to watch my kids) and we headed in. The whole time I was thinking, “He can’t be breech, he can’t be breech, he can’t be breech . . . ”  They started the ultrasound, and immediately a very recognizable little butt showed up on screen.  He was breech.

The next several days were filled with me doing weird inversion exercises, going to the chiropractor, getting acupuncture, and praying like I’ve never prayed before.  We were never option-less, but my options in this situation were limited, and I wasn’t liking anything other than ‘he magically flips himself back into position and labor starts spontaneously.’  But that was looking less and less likely.

The decision was made that I would come to the hospital on Friday, December 30th, where they would attempt an ‘external version’ (flipping the baby from the outside).  If he flipped, they wanted to induce labor immediately (basically ‘lock him into position’ while they could).  While not ideal, it was the preferable option to me versus the alternative—a C-section.

The being cut open thing was a little freaky, but it wasn’t the worst part by any means. It was the idea of recovery.  The no picking things up over ten pounds, no stairs, no driving. None of this seemed very conducive to my life at home with a 17-month-old, two other children, and three stories of house.  However, throughout the week, an ever-growing sense of peace inched its way into my heart. I thought it was because the version would work, and I’d be able to go on to have the birth I’d planned on.  At least for the most part.  Turns out, once again, this kid had different plans.

A mere six hours before we were supposed to leave for the hospital, my water broke.  It was 1:00 the morning. I jumped up, woke up Greg, and told him to call my parents. Once my water had broken, it was ‘game over’ for a vaginal birth in our case. They couldn’t try flipping the baby at that point, so I knew what we were going to the hospital for.  And oddly, I felt really good about it.  My water breaking was an answer to prayers I didn’t even realize I’d been asking for. It was confirmation to me that my baby, my body had picked the time for birth.

I hadn’t forced anything by doing a version or getting an induction, both choices I was fine with making, of course. It was just reassuring to me when my water broke and left us with one, clear answer.  I wasn’t nervous anymore (still freaked out about the recovery, but the surgery itself, I was really pretty chill with), and it no longer seemed like the undesirable choice.  It was just the way this baby needed to come into the world, and who was I to argue with that or stress or worry about it.  It was right, and I knew it.

We called my sister, Star, who after being out of town for the last two births in our family, was finally here to be a part of the birth. She met us at the hospital, and the next several hours were ridiculously fun.  Star, Greg, the nurse, the midwife and I had such a good time laughing and joking.  At first I don’t think the nurse knew what to think of us, laughing so hard it kept messing up the monitors they had on the baby.  The midwife had been up for over twenty-four hours though, so she was already slap happy. The nurse warmed up to us though and was totally getting a kick out of our witty repertoire.  (Or, at least it seemed witty at 3:00 in the morning).

It took over two hours for them to get an ultrasound to confirm the baby was breech.  Finally, someone from the ER brought up their ultrasound machine, we got to see Owen flaunt his butt one last time, and then it was go time.  Which could not have come soon enough for me.  I was in labor now.  Not hard labor (it felt much like Isaac’s did last time), but I was contracting pretty regularly.

At just after 4:00 in the morning, Owen was born.  But not without scaring us first.  It had never dawned on me that the dangers associated with delivering a breech baby vaginally also are an issue delivering the baby through an incision.  He was still coming out feet first.  Which was the first problem we ran in to.  Turns out he wasn’t just frank breech (butt first), but at some point had gotten one foot down below himself and one foot up above. He was in the splits. It took them a minute to wrestle his feet out.  I remember them saying, “Where is that other leg?” but since I couldn’t see anything, this was all very weird and trippy to me.  Soon, they were excited they got his legs out.  Then his head was stuck, his chin firmly anchoring him inside me.  It took another minute before he was out.  This whole time I kept thinking, ‘This is taking so long!  Why haven’t they picked him up to show him to me?’

They were working on him, things weren’t going well, Greg asked why he wasn’t moving.  My brain could not compute what was happening.  Finally, he moved, and breathed, and they rushed him straight over to the warmer and started working on him there.  I’d still never had anyone hold him up, but I could see him now if I turned my head to the side.  I watched his little tight fists and arms suddenly go limp, and a few seconds later he tightened up again and finally started to cry.  I think Greg was a lot more scared than I was, since he was able to take it all in. By the time I could even compute what had happened, he was fine.

His initial apgar score of a 4 was already up to a 9 by 5 minutes, and he’s done fine ever since.  It was a full twenty-two minutes before anyone picked up my baby and showed him to me.  Greg brought him over at that point, lowered him down by my head and I kissed him, and then because Owen was screaming about the awkward angle he was being held at, I just told Greg to take him and cuddle him to his chest, and I would need to wait to see him again when we were done.

The previous twenty-two minutes of surgery had gone by quickly, as I’d been engrossed in trying to figure out what was going on with my baby.  The last ten to fifteen minutes were excruciatingly long. I hated the pulling and tugging feelings, and I just had to close my eyes and go to my ‘happy place.’

When they said they were done, moved me to the rolling bed, and handed me my baby, I was in heaven.  I just cuddled with him the entire time we walked back to the room. As soon as we got there, he latched on and we started nursing.  He’s a pro and hasn’t had any problems with nursing at all, which I am so grateful for, as cesarean-related nursing issues was one of my concerns.

I can’t get over how different Isaac and Owen’s births were—from delivering one spontaneously and picking him up within seconds of birth, to not holding the other for well over half an hour after birth.  And yet, I don’t feel any different about them or their births.  Both were right for the situation we were in.  Would I have preferred to have another natural birth vs. a C-section?  Yep, but I knew in the long run it wouldn’t matter.  What surprised me was how much it didn’t even matter in the short run.

Devon’s Birth – Traumatic and Miraculous

December 14, 2011 in Birth Stories, Sheridan

Bedrest for a Reason

 

I was so excited to be pregnant with our first baby.  I had always wanted to be a Mom and I loved being pregnant and seeing my belly grow, feeling the baby move and just the whole thing.  I was taking Bradley Classes and preparing for natural childbirth.  I was planning on switching to a midwife after the New Year when our insurance changed.

 

Then I was put on bedrest for preterm labor when I was 25 weeks pregnant.  I was in and out of the hospital over 6 times and got to the point where I just wanted to make it to 34 weeks.  That was “safe” for a preemie and it just resonated with me.

 

I also distinctly remembering an impression I had on a drive home from one of my hospital visits.  That I was on bedrest for an important reason, a life or death type of reason.  I told Rob that maybe it was that I would have died in a car crash on the way to work, or something like that, but it was big and maybe bigger than just keeping the baby in.

 

Blessing Reassures Me

 

I woke up on the 2nd of January and went downstairs, ate a breakfast burrito, drank some juice and was watching the Newlywed Show (you can tell how bored I was after 9 weeks of bedrest!)

 

Suddenly I realized I hadn’t felt “Hootie” move that morning. Because I was on bedrest I was very familiar with his movement. I called the Dr, they said drink more juice and call back in an hour if he hasn’t moved. I already knew something was wrong. I still wish I had told the Doctor I wouldn’t wait another hour, because I just KNEW.  But I obediently waited the hour, crying for most of it. I really thought we had already lost the baby.

 

I woke Rob up (he was taking the morning off). I told him to get up, because we were going to the hospital again. I called the Dr. back and they set up an apt. at the outpatient center for 1:30. Rob gave me a blessing before we left. He blessed that “Hootie” would be ok and he would come when he was ready. As soon as he said he would be ok, I felt a large weight come off of my shoulders, I KNEW that the baby was going to be ok.

 

We got to the outpatient center early, but they were still at lunch. When they finally got back from lunch, they hooked us up on the monitor. When we saw his heartbeat, we figured, everything was ok. They used a little noisy vibrator on my belly to try and wake him up. Hootie kept on sleeping, but it made me have contractions. After 3 tries, this mean nurse came in and said, “It looks like you are going to have your baby today.” and then she tried to wake him up with the noise maker again. Rob and I were wondering who this strange nurse was and we didn’t believe her at all. I thought she was in the wrong room or something.

 

Then the nice nurse came in and explained much more nicely. The baby was under stress and we needed to go straight to Labor and Delivery, they would probably perform a c-section. The baby’s heart rate was not changing, except it did drop during contractions. They would be better able to help the baby outside of me than if he stayed inside. Rob and I were shocked. But we dutifully headed over to Labor and Delivery. Rob asked if I wanted another blessing.  I said no. I felt really calm. I knew that the baby would be ok.

 

Surprise Cesarean

 

We got to Labor and Delivery and there was a room full of doctors and nurses waiting for us. I still didn’t believe it was real, until when I got undressed and on the bed, the nurse started shaving me. I got an IV in my right arm, but it didn’t go in right and got all swollen, so they switched arms. I got a fast ultrasound. Rob watched, but I was busy listening to the Anesthesiologist explain about the spinal. He asked if I had any allergies.  I replied, “Just to cats.” 🙂

 

I think we got to L&D at 2:30 and into surgery around 2:40 or 2:45. I remember being pretty out of it. Rob came in and was holding my hand during the c-section. Everything seemed so surreal. My nurse was really nice. She asked if we knew what we were having. I said a boy. She asked if we had a name. I said not yet, but we called him Hootie in utero. At 3:05 he was born, I felt them pulling and then the nurse asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?” “It’s a boy” She said, “Hi Hootie”

 

I didn’t hear him cry at first. But then I heard a mewing sound and that was the baby crying. He weighed 4lbs 3 oz and was 18 inches long. They let me hold him, but it was hard while I was lying down and then the nurse came over and said, “He is still pink” that freaked me out, so I told Rob I was tired and I didn’t want to hold him anymore. So Rob and the Neonatologist went to the NICU with the baby.

After the Birth (aka pain killer days)

I couldn’t believe I had the baby already. I was feeling a lot of pain and I didn’t really care about the baby at that point. It just was so unbelievable that we had him already. The nurse told me when I got up to the maternity floor they would give me a morphine pump. I was just focusing on surviving until I could get those drugs.

 

It was funny, they finally brought me up to my room and I called my mom to tell her what happened. I told her we had the baby and he weighs…. and then the nurse came. I thought she was bringing my drugs, so I told my mom, “I have to go, they are bringing me my drugs.” and I hung up the phone. Boy was I disappointed when the nurse didn’t have my drugs.

 

To be honest the next few days are quite blurry. I was in a LOT of pain. I was taking some good drugs to help with the pain. This caused me to be living in a cloud for a week or so. We finally picked a name for Hootie three days after he was born. We chose Devon Scott R. It seemed to fit him and it was nice to see them cross off Baby Boy R and put Devon Scott R. It seemed more official.

 

I don’t think I realized the seriousness of what had happened until a Dr. who was checking me asked how he was doing. I said pretty good but he was going to have to stay in the NICU for awhile. She said we were lucky he was here at all.   That it was good that I noticed that he wasn’t moving and called.

 

I know now that is why I was on bedrest. I have had so many people say they wouldn’t have noticed their baby wasn’t moving. We are all told to do kick counts, but most people think they don’t have time. The best advice I got was to pay attention after you eat, make sure you feel the baby move 3 times within 30 minutes after you eat, if you don’t then lie down and count. Being aware of his movements saved his life!!!

 

My mom came out to help us right away, which was so wonderful. She drove me to the hospital once or twice a day to visit with Devon. She cooked for us and cleaned like I’ve never seen her clean before. We would be exhausted by the end of the day. I was still recovering from surgery and walking through the hospital and being up and about so much just wore me out.

 

I longed for Devon to come home. . When I would visit him in the NICU, it was like visiting A baby, not MY baby. I was pumping every 3 or 4 hours and bringing in my Breastmilk for Devon to drink. He was having trouble eating and digesting his food, so that is what kept him from coming home. His lungs were great, I kept thanking my Dr. for giving me the steroids.

 

Then on the 14th of January the nurse surprised us by saying he was going to go home that day. I was thrilled, he would be home just in time for his Daddy’s birthday. My mom was really nervous because he was still so little. He weighed 4lbs 5 oz when we brought him home. I didn’t care how big he was, I was just so excited because he was finally MINE.

 

More Miracles

 

I was nervous about breastfeeding, that it would be hard for him to adjust to the breast. I had only breastfed him 2 or 3 times before he came home.  But Rob had given him a blessing in the NICU  “That he will be able to learn to eat well – breastfeeding will go well too.”

We were so blessed because he adjusted just fine. I supplemented with Expressed Breast Milk for a day or so, then my Pediatrician told me to try a week with out supplemental bottles. He did great and when we weighed him a week later he had gained a pound.

Devon is almost 14 years old now.  He is a great kid, so smart and curious about the world.  He did have some developmental delays, but he is doing great now!  He is very active in scouting and hopes to earn his Eagle Scout in the next few months (he already did his project.)   He is quite a miracle.

Though his birth was traumatic for me AND him, we are healing.  I thought when he turned 10 that I had gotten over it, but with therapy I realized I still had things to move past.  I will be blogging about that on my Enjoy Birth blog in January of next year.