More Networking

Happy Monday all!!

First and foremost, I want to thank all my regular readers for coming back each time I post! This journey is going to be loooong and having the support through the ups and downs to come will be priceless to me. Seriously, you’re awesome. And on that note I would love to meet more awesome people! My hope is that maybe there are others out there in a similar situation that we can bond over. It is a well known fact that the best way to get through breastfeeding woes is to have an incredible support system. I believe that to be true when it comes to nursing school and whatever happens after that. Obviously midwifery is the goal, I just have no idea what that looks like right now.

So, in growing this blog and my network I have done a few things:

Harvesting Kale is making blog buttons for FREE right now and I have entered a giveaway with The Wiegands, an amazing mama blog written by Casey who is currently on hospital bed rest to keep her little Apple safe and warm for a few more weeks. Both would allow me to a) get a real-deal Midwife101 blog button which you could pretty-please share on your site and b) some awesome ad space on a blog called The Naptime Review by Julie which has grown so fast it’s kind of unreal.

Again, I appreciate all you awesome FB and twitter followers and anyone else who just happens upon this blogging project of mine. Please take a quick second to “like” my facebook page and follow me on twitter, both links to your right.

Have a great day!

Kale’s Birth Story

Randalin, from Harvesting Kale,  has become one of my most favorite blogging mamas and friends. She’s an incredible writer, which is hard not to notice in her writing of Kale’s birth. Randalin is mama to baby Kale, such a sweet boy with great hair and a beautiful smile! This home birth story is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read and Randalin’s account of it is incredibly encouraging and moving. Click HERE to see more incredible photos from this birth.
***
On Thursday May 6th, three days before my due date, I woke up after dreaming all night about having contractions. I went to the bathroom and noticed a bit of blood – my first sign that labour might be starting soon! I continued to feel crampy all day, but was hesitant to get too excited knowing that labour could still be many days away. Kris was working out of town, but was expected to be home that evening and so I kept him updated but tried to play it cool. I just didn’t want us to get too excited! I went ahead and had lunch with a co-worker and spent the afternoon sipping tea and catching up with my neighbour.
At around 5pm I went to the bathroom and saw what I thought was part of my mucus plug. Luckily Kris was already on his way home.  I know that losing your mucus plug doesn’t necessarily mean labour is going to begin soon, but along with the cramps, I started to really believe that the baby could be on its way.
Once Kris got home we picked up a bottle of wine and went out for dinner where I ordered the spiciest item on the menu. We left the restaurant around 9pm and this is when I noticed that my cramps were getting more regular and a bit more intense. I continued to play it down and tell Kris that it was just cramps, but then he pointed out they were coming every 10 minutes. I think he realized I was in early labour before I accepted it myself!
When we got home we started to get things ready for our home birth “just in case.” We set up the spare room with all the supplies – plastic sheeting on the bed, old sheets, and plenty of towels. We then put in some laundry and did a quick clean of the house. We had our wine and I took a gravol, but sleep still wasn’t possible. By this time I knew that my cramps were really contractions, since they were coming every ten minutes and with increasing intensity. Every time I had a contraction I would have to get up to pee. I didn’t think it was possible to pee every 10 minutes, but that’s exactly what happened all night long.
On Friday May 7th we got up around 7am. I hadn’t slept for more than 10 minutes at a time and as a result of my getting up so often, Kris didn’t get much sleep either. Around 10am I went to the bathroom and there was a gush of bright red blood. I called our midwife, Leslie, to let her know and she decided to come and check in on me. She got there about an hour later and after a quick check, told me that I was 2-3 cm and very soft and she expected that we would have a baby that day! Even though I knew it was labour, I was still a little shocked to hear that it would be so soon!
Leslie gave me a shot of gravol to help me get some sleep since I was exhausted from the night before and knew I had a lot of hard work ahead of me. Once Leslie left we called our Doula, Monique, to let her know and then I tried to lie down and get some rest. Kris went out and got a few last minute things and I curled up in bed and listened to some music. I didn’t manage to get any sleep, but was able to rest. Kris came home with the McDonalds I was craving, but I couldn’t get much down. The combination of contractions and excitement made for a very queasy tummy.
At 2pm we started to fill the birth pool up since my contractions were getting more intense. We weren’t sure how long it would take to fill the pool so even though I wasn’t ready to get in, we wanted to have it filled just in case. We called Monique and asked her to come over at that point. While we were waiting, we heard the cat rustling around with the plastic tarp that was covering the filled pool, followed by a splash and then a wet cat running by! It was good to have a laugh!
 When Monique got there I got into the pool for a little bit and immediately felt better. Our hot water tank is not the best, so the water wasn’t as warm as I’d like, but the buoyancy was a great help. I was feeling my contractions a lot in my back, hips and thighs and the water really helped to ease that. Monique suggested that I get out of the pool since it was still early in my labour and the water was slowing down my contractions. Kris was also able to sneak a nap in at this time while Monique and I took a slow walk around the block in the pouring rain. I felt bad dragging Monique out in the bad weather, but I need to walk. When we got back I sat on the birthing ball in the living room while listening to some music and eating a sandwich. My contractions were erratic at this point. They would be 4-5 min. apart for awhile, and then they would be 10 min. We were timing the contractions with the aid of a stop watch on the computer and every time one started I would yell for someone to click on the start button. At this point walking around helped the most, even though we have a small house and there isn’t much room to walk!
 By 5pm I was back in the pool with regular contractions. I was on all fours in the pool with my arms and head resting on the edge. Kris sat on a chair beside the pool and every time I had a contraction I would grab his hands, look into his eyes and moan. He was an unbelievable support and so much stronger than either of us expected! Monique reminded me to keep hydrated and gave us a few suggestions for trying different positions. I felt so relaxed and in control at this point that when Monique asked us if we wanted to call the midwives I told her no. My contractions were 4-5 min. apart and gaining in intensity so Monique convinced us to give Leslie a call (later Monique admitted that she was getting worried that we were waiting too long to call the midwives and thought we might just have the baby ourselves!).
 Leslie arrived and then a short while later, Marissa, a new student with the midwife clinic. It was my first time meeting her – naked in the pool and moaning with every contraction. Leslie and Marissa set up their equipment in the spare bedroom and Monique and Kris continued to help me through the contractions. I have to say it again – Kris was amazing. When our eyes locked during a contraction I seriously felt like it was just him and I in the room and I had this overwhelming sense of connection with him that I’d never felt before.
Leslie checked me around 7pm and I was 7-8 cm! She called the back up midwife, Gabrielle, and I knew this meant that the hardest part was about to come. Gabrielle came around 8pm and by this time my contractions were coming very quickly and were very intense. I was so exhausted!! Meanwhile, an incredible thunder and lightning storm raged outside and I remember worrying about what would happen if the power went out.
The atmosphere was so relaxed. The lights were down low, the midwives were sitting on the floor leaned up against the wall, Monique was snapping some pictures and Kris helped me work through the contractions. Despite everyone’s relaxed attitude, I was getting louder and louder with every contraction and withering in pain in the pool. Despite the intensity of the contractions I still felt as though the pain was manageable and I was managing to rest between contractions, refocus and let go of the pain before the next one started.
Shortly after Gabrielle arrived, it was time for me to start pushing. Unlike everything I read I didn’t get the urge to push. Before the labour I had told our midwives that I wanted to push when I felt like pushing but at the moment I was so thankful for their coaching because I don’t know if I ever would have pushed!
I tried a few different positions, but found that sitting on the birthing stool in the pool was the easiest way for me to bear down and push. With every contraction the midwives asked me to give three good pushes – pushing for as long and as hard as possible. After a while I felt as though I couldn’t push anymore. I was so tired and every muscle in my body felt depleted. Up to this point, the pain has been manageable, but the pushing stage was another story. I was finding it increasingly difficult to keep my noises low and open and they started to turn into screams of despair and pleas for the midwives to do something – anything! – to get the baby out. Unfortunately there was nothing they could do – it was all up to me.
Kris originally sat outside the pool directly in front of me, but as my pain intensified I saw his eyes fill with tears and I knew that watching me in that amount of pain was shaking his strength. He decided to move behind me where he could hold me and I could lean into him with every push.
After an hour and a half of pushing, Leslie had me reach down and feel the top of the baby’s head. I think at this point I screamed, “I don’t want to feel him, I just want him out!!” Despite the fact that he was so close, I felt like it was going to be impossible to get him to come the rest of the way. While Kris tried to hold me from behind, Gabrielle had my left leg and Marissa and Monique had my right leg. Leslie thought she was going to have to hop in the pool because I was floating way from her as I begged them all to let me go! I was starting to panic and Gabrielle sensed it because she grabbed me by the chin and forced me to look directly at her and told me that I had to focus and listen to Leslie. It was exactly what I needed.
After a few more pushes, I felt an overwhelming pressure and then a giant sense of relief as his head came out. Looking down into the water, I could make out his head and had to stop pushing while the midwives moved the cord and seconds later, he slipped right out and was on my chest. It was an unbelievable moment of love, combined with sheer exhaustion and elation that it was over.
That moment was the most awesome moment of my entire life.
We were so incredibly lucky to be able to have that moment together as a family. Kale let out a couple quick cries, but nestled quickly against my chest. Kris had his arms around us and I felt as though no one else in the world existed besides us three. It was so incredibly powerful.
I had to get out of the tub pretty quickly since the water temperature had dropped and they wanted to get us both warmed up. Kris held on to Kale while I made my way over to the bed to deliver the placenta.
In the next couple of hours, Kale and I were both checked out, I delivered the placenta and received a few stitches. The whole time Kale was getting checked over right beside me and as soon as they were finished, he was in my arms. I took a quick shower, ate some peanut butter and toast, called my mom and the midwives helped me get started with breastfeeding. Meanwhile, Kris and Monique emptied the birth pool, set up our bed and did the laundry. By 12:30pm, only three hours after Kale was born, the midwives and doula had tucked Kris, Kale and I into bed together with some last minute instructions and then we were alone.
I cannot convey how incredibly grateful I am that we had such an amazing birth experience. I am so moved to tell this story a thousand times because it has become such a defining moment in my life. I’ve had some pretty great things happen to me in my 30 years. But a natural home waterbirth? Nothing tops that.

Everly’s Birth Story

Everly’s mama, Melissa, is the full time working mama and writer of Dear Baby, a blog all about her little North Carolina family. She’s my hero in that her sweet children are a mere 17 months apart. Her honesty about parenting and working full time while her musician husband takes care of the kids during the day is profound. I am honored to feature the birth story of her daughter, Everly. I have followed Melissa’s blog since I was expecting Logan and have not stopped reading since. This birth story is incredibly moving and uplifting. Enjoy!

****

Everly Veda’s Birth Story.

I’ll start this story at the moment my water broke. It was 2:45pm on Monday afternoon and Brent was taking a shower. I’d been hounding him to make a run to the grocery store with me to stock our cabinets before Everly arrived. I’d had mild contractions all day – but nothing significant and then, in a matter minutes, I went from bouncing on my big blue birth ball while answering email, to standing in the bathroom, leggings around my knees and staring at my husband in disbelief. There was no doubting what was happening – my water had broken and the impossible wait for our daughter had come to an end.

While Brent called our family and prepared the last items for our hospital bag, I went to work baking peanut butter cookies for the nurses in labor and delivery. He put on an old Wilson Pickett album and as music filled the house, I tried to steady my emotions. We had done so much, worked so hard, dreamed of this day and it was finally here. My contractions begin to get stronger and I was hit with a wave of emotions. I went into Everly’s nursery, leaned my head against her crib and sobbed. I said a long prayer to God and asked him to watch over Everly and I in the coming hours. I called my best friend Natasha and said “This is it. It’s really happening, I’ll call you when she’s here”

By this time, Brent had called our doula, Lindsay who had made her way over from the East Bay. My contractions were strong, but manageable and I leaned against the kitchen counter, rocking to “Hey Jude” on the record player and trying to focus myself. It was important to me to labor in the comfort and quiet of our house as long as possible. As my contractions grew stronger and closer together, I used my hypnobabies cds to stay calm and centered. Brent and Lindsay massaged my back and hips as I breathed through them. It was about 6:30pm when I felt they were getting so intense that I couldn’t breathe through them in comfort any longer. We climbed in the car and made the 15 minute ride through the Castro and Noe Valley to St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission. The car ride was miserable as I had to sit upright, wearing a seat belt as each contraction rolled through my body. More than anything, I just wanted to get there and get centered on the task that lay ahead of me.

It was 7:00pm by the time I had checked in, undressed, and gotten settled in the labor and delivery room. Brent wrapped his arms around me and we swayed back and forth as I worked through each contraction. It is hard to really understand what a contraction feels like until you are in the middle of one. It isn’t like menstrual cramps, it isn’t a head to toe ache – it’s a deep, intense, active pain that rolled from my lower belly and spread through my body. Every contraction had a steady increase in strength, a peak, and then a merciful end – giving me enough time to gather my breath and courage to prepare for the next one.

As part of our birth plan, I requested as little medical intervention as possible. No IV, intermittent fetal monitoring only and no internal exam until I requested. A lot of women have a strong desire to know exactly how far they have progressed in their labor, but for me – I didn’t want a number of centimeters dilated to effect the focus of my efforts. I was afraid that hearing I’d progressed only a few centimeters would shake my courage. With nothing connecting me to my environment, I was free to move and find a comfortable position to labor. Surprisingly, being on my hands and knees felt the most comfortable and I stayed that way for the next hour.

By 8pm, I was asking to use the Aqua Doula tub for the remainder of my active laboring. This was the first time they checked my progress, as the hospital where I delivered does not allow you to deliver in water and they had to establish that I was not fully dilated. The midwife confirmed I was 5 cms, halfway there. I felt encouraged by that thought. As a first time mother, I knew my labor could be long – but knowing I had come so far already gave me renewed energy.

While my doula and a nurse set the tub up, I rode each contraction up and down – on my hands in knees in the bed, my face often pushed into the pillows as I tried to stay focused on one wave at a time. Brent stayed right there next to me, rubbing my head, looking me in the eyes and encouraging me over and over again that I was doing a good job. “You are doing so good, honey. I am so proud of you” he would say – and even those few and simple words made me even more determined. I was doing this for him as much as I was doing it for myself- I focused on the image of Everly in her father’s arm and the intensity of my desire to bring his little girl into the world. He left my view only long enough to change the music from Fleet Foxes to Beirut and was back before the next wave hit me. There were times they were so strong that I would have to chant “I can do this. I can do this. I can do this” over and over again to myself. The pain had become so deep and active that I began to vocalize a loud, deep moan with every contraction – it wasn’t a sound of fear or even one of raw, physical pain – it was a sound of full and complete effort – a focused, primal sound that carried me to each wave – over the peak and down again.

At some point, my body began to push despite my best efforts to control it. “I have to do this – I have to push” I told my midwife. It was 9pm, an hour since I was last checked, and they had just finished setting up the Aqua doula tub. She checked me again and to everyone’s disbelief – including my own, I was a full 10 cms dilated and ready to push. All the effort they had put into getting the tub ready went to waste as I couldn’t even get in. Another request in our birth plan was to let me push when I felt the need to push instead of being directed to do so. In the dim light of our room, I let go of my body and let it lead me. With each contraction I felt a deep, guttural urge to push – I couldn’t have stopped it if I wanted to. It was as if I was hooked up to electricity and each jolt pushed my body a little more. I soon began to feel Everly’s head moving out a little more with every contraction. Brent put Regina Spektor on in the background, and held my hand as I vocalized through each contraction. I was being really loud and it felt good to let the sound go with each push. My doula, worked to keep me focused on releasing after each contraction. Because I actually feel my daughter moving forward with each contraction, I found myself not wanting to release at the end of each one. I wanted to keep moving her forward – but my body needed those small breaks between waves to regroup.

Because I had no pain relief, whatsoever, every nerve and fiber of my body was tuned into the experience. I could feel every time her head would push forward, and then slid back as the contraction finished. I experienced her journey. I knew exactly where she was at each moment and as we approached the final pushes of my labor – I found myself consumed with the need to bring her through me and into the world. Those last moments are a bit of a blur – an intense and consuming pain, an overwhelming joy – my life changed forever in one final burst of effort.

At 10:07pm, a mere 3 hours since we’d walked into the room, she was laid, wet and pink on my chest. Her eyes blinked, her small hands clasped at my skin. She never screamed, but instead cried out for a few seconds then settled against my heart beating through my chest. Her eyes were open and she stared up at us with her small, dark eyes. Brent curled around us and the three of us laid there consumed by the new definition of who we were. New parents, a daughter, family. God, she was so beautiful. Beyond beautiful. Perfect in every way.

No one took her away for tests. No one disturbed us. We laid there in bliss while our eyes memorized her every inch. We stayed that way for almost an hour with Regina Spektor sang “Little wet tears on your baby’s shoulder” in the background. 25 minutes after her birth, the midwife let Brent cut Everly’s umbilical cord. And eventually, when we were good and ready – they measured and weighed her. A very healthy 8 pounds, 6 ounces and 21 inches long.

I breastfed her for the first time as I lay there recovering and an hour after that I was out of the bed and standing. My recovery has been wonderful, despite a few stitches and a sore body. Everly has been feeding non-stop since she was born and that has become one of my favorite times with her. We lay in the bed together, at some early hour of the morning, both of us sleepy and she nurses while I rub small circles on her back. She coos at me and open and closes her fingers against my breast. Nothing you do in advance can prepare your heart for those moments.

I’ve spent the past hour writing this experience with tears flowing down my cheeks. I’ll never be the same. Not after this. To come face to face with the most intense pain, the strongest desire, the deepest love… Motherhood is a gift unlike any other.

Love,

M