The birth of Judah Raphael

Our beautiful sons name is Judah Raphael. He was born July 4th, 2017, at Katy birth center. The story of how we got here is beautiful.  We drove down from Idaho with our travel trailer, 3 kids, a dog and 2 birds to visit my husbands parents for Christmas.  I ended up bleeding at I think around 14 weeks.  We went to the doctor and I was diagnosed with placenta previa which would require lots of rest and a c-section birth.  We brought this before the Lord and began believing for perfect healing.  The doctor in the beginning said it was a previa that would not correct itself because of the type it was and that I couldn’t travel anywhere because it would risk the safety of the baby and myself.  So this is how we ended up in Texas for nearly 9 months instead of just Christmas break! During one of my ultrasounds the doctor said that the previa was gone! The placenta had gone from the bottom to the top! Something totally impossible aside from a miracle from God! So I was able to go to Katy Birth Center for the remainder of my care.  All was well but then I began having symptoms of another condition of the gallbladder, cholecystitis, which is very dangerous for the baby.  We prayed through and the Lord delivered us our miracle yet again.  I was able to have a beautiful birth on July 4th. He was a little over 10 pounds! We brought him home and where so happy and blessed.  Well the next morning we noticed his breathing was strange.  We spent the day going to Dr’s, getting X-rays, getting transferred from one hospital to the next.  After midnight we finally transferred to Texas children’s NICU.  I had not been resting in bed like one would after having a baby.  He ended up in NICU for 2 days.  Again, God is merciful and his fluid in the lungs and fast labored breathing resolved.  What a traumatic time.  We were able to bring him home July 7th.  We were so grateful. Well I had done so much walking and not resting during this time that I set back my recovery time.  We had our plans to move to Alaska and after my 4 week appointment I was told that my uterus was looking like it was prolapsing. We decided to stay and rest instead of start out for Alaska. This was so discouraging for us as we don’t live here and needed to get on with our lives.  Again we brought my need for healing to the Lord.  Again God has been my healer.  At my 6 week appointment everything was healed.  We are in awe of Gods loving care for us.  He is still in the business of healing and all we need to do is ask in faith.  His love and care during this time has been life changing for my whole family.  We are grateful for all the people in our lives praying with us and for us during this time.  And now we are ready for our journey north to get settled in a home with our family.  Because we want to remember all God has done and honor Him for it we named our son Judah Raphael.  And when people ask why Raphael, that’s unusual, we can tell them that it means God heals and Judah means praise.  So we can give the testimony of how God led us through this wilderness and restored health so many times.  So we never want to forget what God has done here.  I’m grateful for Connie who has prayed with us through this process and been such a blessing.  And that’s our story.

Ewyn’s Birth Story

Ewyn’s birth story begins years before the date of his arrival. I was very involved in the birth community as a prenatal massage therapist, doula, and eventually student midwife in the years preceding my pregnancy. I had done lots of research and learned all about different medical interventions and complications. In talking with my husband, we decided that home birth was the right choice for us if the pregnancy remained low risk, and I started care with Natalie Wommack at the Katy Birth Center.

My pregnancy went fairly smoothly. I didn’t have much morning sickness at all, and was able to continue my midwifery apprenticeship until I finished all my catches at 30 weeks. At that point, I hunkered down and started really preparing for the birth. I really enjoyed reading Birthing from Within and continued regular chiropractic care- things that I think really assisted in the smooth delivery that I had. I sat on my bathroom counter and penned Zechariah 4:6 in dry erase marker on the mirror. My mom was scheduled to arrive from out of town three days before my due date and as we got closer, we became more and more confident she would arrive in time. Once she got here, we started walking daily on the path by our house.

The day after my due date, I had a prenatal with Natalie and her apprentice Jennifer. Everything looked good. Ewyn was healthy and kicking, but I knew at this point he was getting bigger. As my mom stepped out at the end, I turned to Natalie. “He’s at least 8 ½ lbs, isn’t he?” She nodded and smiled. I nodded back a little more apprehensively. I was around 6 lbs. My husband was 7 ½ lbs. I knew that 8 ½ lb was not a “big baby”, but I figured it was plenty big for my family’s genetics. When we got home from the prenatal that night, I drank a bit [a lot] of red raspberry tea hoping to start things off. Later that evening I was a bit of a wreck. I think my hormones were kicking in. I spent a lot of time listening to worship music and praying with Matthew.

The next morning I woke at 4:30 with stomach cramps. I was up for a couple hours until I woke Matthew up. I didn’t think I was in labor at this point because I knew that first time moms usually had a practice run before they went into labor, and I hadn’t had any strong contractions yet. As the morning went on and things didn’t let up, we started timing the contractions and they were about every 7 minutes. I texted Natalie to let her know before her appointments started for the day. I felt like if this wasn’t labor, it was awful and I wanted it to stop, but if it was labor, I could manage just fine. It’s funny how expectations and assumptions play such a big role in pain management. I rested in bed while Matthew set up the pool, then got in the shower while he made up the bed with plastic. By this point, I was feeling nauseated (but I have a strong nauseous response to pain in general) and texted Natalie to see if she could come by and check on me during her lunch break. When I got out of the shower, I had a bit of show and was now hopeful it was really labor. Yay! My mom came down and we got out the ingredients to make kimbly, but as soon as we started I became pretty useless. The contractions were stronger and closer together and I barely had time to get out an ingredient and check the recipe again before another would come. I relinquished the cake making to my mom, and went to sit on the ball.

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Natalie got to our house around 2:00 pm and I was 4 cm, so she stayed to see if things would continue to progress. They were stronger at this point, and I was getting tired so I lay down to sleep. I think I was able to rest an hour or so, and then got up to do an inversion off the couch and walked up and down the stairs two at a time before I sat on the ball again. The cake was done at this point too, and I have to say, that was the perfect snack for labor. The couple times I threw up or felt nauseated, I had no problem turning around after I recovered and eating more of the loaf. I can’t think of many other foods I’ve done that with. It was sweet and spiced without being sugary. I had the TENS unit on my back, and Matthew was doing hip squeeze with contractions. I felt really at peace with how things were going, and even though I was tired here and there, I found the pain to be more manageable than I expected. My friend Keeley arrived, as well as Alex. My sister-in-law Katie, a nurse and birth assistant, also arrived to help Natalie with the delivery. They were the perfect additions to the birth team.

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After a couple hours, contractions had gotten stronger and Natalie checked me to find I was 8 cm. I got into the pool and it felt glorious- again, better than expected. The warm water was soothing and really helped me to relax. Matthew and Natalie took turns massaging my back, which really helped as well. I was pretty verbal about what I was feeling. In hindsight it probably sounded a lot like complaining, but I don’t think I was internally. I was just trying to help those around me understand what was going on (“My back hurts here.” “I’m hungry but so nauseous.” Etc) After about 90 minutes, I was getting impatient and wanted everything to be over. I was probably in the middle of transition, the shortest most intense part, and since I had gone so quickly from 4 to 8 cm, I thought we should be near the end by now. I checked and I was still 8-9 cm, and I think I kind of lost it. I was done. It wasn’t the pain- it was my brain starting to get into things, wondering if I was stalled and how this would end. I got out of the pool and sat backwards on the toilet for a good period of time while Matthew rubbed my back and everyone gave us some space. During this time, the contractions became so faint. I could tell I was still having them, but they really didn’t hurt at all and they were only about every 7 minutes. Looking back, this was the normal rest period or plateau that happens right before pushing, but I was still thinking I was stalled and that my uterus just needed a break before it started up again so I was nervous.

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After a period of time (30 minutes? 45 minutes?) I asked Natalie to check again, and to my surprise I just had a rim of cervix left. She broke my water on request and I started pushing. I had anticipated pushing feeling productive and rewarding since that’s how many people described it, but it was so intense I couldn’t tell what was happening. I knew it was normal to take a while, but I couldn’t feel if I was making any progress. According to everyone else, things were going fine though, and once Natalie showed me with a mirror, I believed them. 😉 Soon enough, at 10:31 pm, Ewyn Oliver was born and passed to me by his dad.

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It was amazing to see the little guy that had been in there this whole time! The placenta came with no problems, and I had a quick repair before Matthew and I were given some space to look him over and bond as a family. After the newborn exam was done, we bathed and ate. Then our team packed up and headed home to their beds while we tucked in with our new baby.

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All in all, my labor was very straightforward and “average” for a first time mom (it’s funny to say that, because there is no average labor, but it went by the textbook). I had mentally worked through all the possible variances and complications and none of them came up. It was 18 hours from start to finish and I pushed for one hour- perfectly average times. The “pain” of labor wasn’t as bad as I anticipated with the wonderful support of Matthew and the TENS unit, and it’s true that you really do forget. The familiarity of my birth team was such a support, and I really leaned on them through the labor. Pushing was harder than I thought, but I think that again proves that a large part of the experience is based on your expectations going into it since I thought pushing would be the easiest part. In thinking back on the labor in the following weeks, I realized God was showing me his faithfulness and that I could trust him. I don’t think that having all the knowledge I had about labor helped much- it probably made me overthink things more than I should have. People can grow closer to God through challenges, but I grew closer in the normalcy. I knew the complications that can come up, but He was showing me that, through his faithfulness, birth can be uncomplicated and good. Ewyn has been such a joyful baby and we are blessed that he joined our family!

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Photos by Alex White

Baby Michael’s Birth Story

We had just gotten settled after moving back to Katy in August 2015. We were overwhelmed with the move. Our oldest daughter was starting kindergarten and at the time our twin girls were 3 years old and a huge handful! Our lives were full and busy! Not to mention, we were just days away from going on our family vacation to Disney World. In October, a couple days before my birthday, I discovered that SURPRISE!…I’m pregnant!! It was such happy news for our family because at that time we were losing my beloved grandfather who passed away one week later. When we told our girls that mommy was pregnant and we were going to have another baby they were so excited! The month prior to our happy discovery our oldest daughter Biella had been wishing for a baby brother and asking me out of the blue how we could get her a baby brother to play with.

I knew immediately that I wanted a different experience for this pregnancy. My first pregnancy was great and I sailed through it without any complications. I had a very fast 6 hour labor and delivered our daughter Biella naturally at a hospital. Then two years later our twins Evelyn and Julia were born also at a hospital. This experience was totally different since I delivered twins and also because I was given an epidural just in case we needed an emergency c-section. Thank God that was not the case! But my sweet, tiny babies were born just shy of 35 weeks and needed to stay in the NICU for 12 long days. This was a very emotional time for me and hard on our family, but in the end we were blessed to bring home 2 healthy baby girls.

My hospital births were by no means bad experiences. The nursing staff was kind and respectful and the NICU nurses were so nurturing. It also helped that I wasn’t laboring in the hospital for long, thus not needing to face any interventions. But I never cared for the sterile hospital environment, nor the constant disruptions to my sleep in the middle of the night by the nursing staff. So for this baby’s birth I wanted to create an environment as comfortable, warm, and as welcoming as possible. Thus I began my search into midwifery care. I had heard about midwives and birthing centers through friends and decided to meet the midwives at the birth center with my husband Paul. I felt very comfortable as we toured the birth center and met midwives Cathy and Natalie. Both were very welcoming and professional. We ultimately chose Cathy to be my midwife.

During my pregnancy I had excellent prenatal care and Cathy spent time at each appointment addressing any questions and concerns I had. She really cared about me and the precious life growing inside me and she was always available any time I needed to talk with her. I really educated myself on the different methods of natural childbirth. I read through several books: Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Hypnobirthing , etc. Since I had a history of extremely fast labors my husband laughed at me because he said I wasn’t going to need to put into practice the majority of the laboring techniques I was learning about. There wouldn’t be time. But he supported my need to prepare myself. I ate a healthy diet and exercised regularly. Yoga really helped to calm my mind and prepared me physically and spiritually for labor. I felt very empowered during this pregnancy because of the great care I received and the healthy, natural choices I was making for myself and my baby.

We anxiously awaited our son’s arrival. The day before his due date I started feeling contractions with cramping and a dull ache in my lower back. I realized this was the beginning of labor and called Cathy to tell her how I was feeling. We decided for me to keep going about my day but to let her know when things change. Around 5:30 pm as I prepared dinner my contractions were getting slightly uncomfortable. I relaxed in the bath that evening and got to bed early, as per Cathy’s suggestions. At 2:30 in the morning I woke up and realized the time, thinking “Man! When is this baby going to come?”. I hadn’t felt anything from the time I went to bed until then. So I went to use the bathroom and got back to bed. But there was no more sleeping for me! As soon as I got comfortable in bed my contractions started. They were good strong contractions and they were coming on fast, without a pattern to the length or frequency. I called Cathy after about 20 minutes of working through these contractions. In hindsight I should have called right away! We got to the KBC at 3:42. On the car ride over my contractions were getting more intense and were coming one right after the next. When we arrived Cathy checked my vitals and cervix and I was already at 8cm dilated! I got into the birthing pool as soon as the water was ready. I felt instant relief as the warm water eased the pain. The atmosphere was soothing with dim lights, aromatherapy and relaxing music playing in the background. It was so nice to experience a labor like this. I had maybe 2 or 3 strong contractions in the pool before the active pushing stage began. Cathy and Paul poured water over my back which helped me endure the peaks of my contractions. My sweet husband also massaged my lower back during those intense moments. Cathy and Jackie were encouraging me along the way and praying for me. After only about 5 minutes in the pool I felt an overwhelming pressure and need to push, so I did and my water broke! After a moment of rest I pushed through the next contraction and my baby’s head was out! I couldn’t believe how fast this was going. With the next push came the rest of the baby. Cathy said “He’s out, reach down and get your baby!”. So I reached down in the water and scooped up my newborn baby boy. Our son Michael Thomas Wyman arrived at 4:22 am on June 2, 2016. He was pink and perfect and had a lot of vernix on him. He cried some good healthy cries and all I could do was smile and laugh that he was here so quickly! I held him in my arms just looking at the face of this little angel that now belonged to us. Paul and I bonded with our new baby boy, holding him as he floated in the water. The cord was still attached for several minutes until my placenta was released. Then we moved over to the bed and I nursed Michael while Paul got to cut the cord. His footprints were stamped and then we got to take an herbal bath together. The warm water with those amazing herbs was so relaxing. We also had soothing music playing and the lights were dim. Everything was quiet and peaceful, such a special moment. I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes and couldn’t believe how close to heaven I felt. We got out of the bath and dried off. We got to go home just 3 short hours later after Michael was born. It was the last day of school for my kindergartener and we arrived at home just in time to introduce her and our twins to their new baby brother and send her off to school! After that I was so ready to collapse into bed and get some recovery sleep with our new precious miracle.

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The Birth of Silas Philip

There are a few memorable moments and events in my life in which I have distinctly witnessed God at work in my life.  These are the moments that ground me in faith. They are stories, when told again and again, remind me of the power, grace, and deep love of God. Silas’ birth is one of those stories for me.

We had been anticipating his arrival for several weeks and at the midwifery appointment on my birthday, February 25th, had my first check and things were looking ready for birth—the baby’s positioning was low and my cervix was mostly effaced and dilated to about 2 or 3. I was hopeful that he would come on his due date—February 27th. On the morning of Friday, the 27th, I woke up and discovered that my waters had broken. Although I hadn’t really started regular contractions yet, Nate and I were giddy at the thought of meeting our little guy soon.

I sat on the birth ball for the morning and got some last minute work done while Nate ran some errands. Then we both went about the house working and getting things together. I was feeling waves of small contractions around every 5 minutes but they weren’t painful. Our moms showed up at the house around 4 pm and we promptly went on a walk around the neighborhood to try to get things going. Later I sat on the birth ball and put the breast pump on to try to get some stronger contractions going, which worked surprisingly well! The contractions started intensifying but were still 4-5 minutes apart.

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Since we were aiming to give birth at the birth center (which was about 40 minutes away) and didn’t want to get there too late, we decided to head out around 10pm. I could feel the intensity of the contractions increase in the car, as I had to focus more through them. When we got to the birth center, I was about 4 cm dilated, which I was happy about as I just wanted to be progressing (even a little bit!). The midwife immediately started me on an herbal tincture to get labor progressing and the breast pump as that helped earlier. When I was checked again I was about 5-6 cm dilated.  I had not progressed very much and the baby wasn’t positioned very well. He was higher up in the pelvis and his head wasn’t engaging the cervix well to dilate it effectively. We then did an inversion and rebozo work in order to get him to move and lunges and squats to try to move him down. Meanwhile my contractions would oscillate in frequency and strength, sometimes coming back to back with no break in between.

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By 2 am I was quite tired (as well as most of the crew) and so Nate and I were able to lay down for a bit and I was able to snooze in between contractions. At around 4:30 am, I was checked again and while I had progressed some the cervix still wasn’t evenly dilating and the baby was still in the same tricky position.

During this time, however, I didn’t feel discouraged or stressed. I felt just an immense sense of calm. I knew that everything was okay with me and the baby, although I did wonder if he was ever going to come out! I simply continued to focus on the contractions and slipped even more into my inner world. In this world, time seemed to be flying as I continued to labor. Hours would pass and it would feel like minutes to me. I loved being at the birth center where I could walk around, take a shower, sit on the birth ball, and labor how I wanted to. I also did a TON of squats and lunges to get the baby to turn. Worship music would play in the background and it seemed that there was an immense covering of prayer over the entire labor. Both Nate’s mom and my mom were there to encourage, make food, pray, and give me messages.  Chelsea, my midwife’s assistant, did so much to put counter pressure on my hips and help me during lunges. During each contraction, I was reminded to open up my hands in acceptance and my midwife Natalie would whisper “thank you Jesus.”

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Because it had been around 24 hours since my water broke, the baby and I had an increased risk of infection developing, so I was given IV antibiotics and my temperature was monitored frequently. After a low-grade temperature reading, things looked a little more concerning. We really needed for labor to start progressing more! Inside I felt a conflicted mixture of peace and concern. I somehow just KNEW that things were going to be okay.  I did not feel tired or worn out or like I was even CLOSE to giving up. Yet, I knew this baby really needed to turn and come soon if I wanted to deliver him at the birth center and not be transferred to the hospital.

At around 9 am, my midwife was in touch with the Ob/Gyn she works with at the hospital, who urged us to come in and said that he could be available before 1pm for us. I was hesitant to go and requested more time to labor and progress at the birth center. I said that I would do whatever it took, and so I spent most of my time on my hands and knees lunging during contractions. The whole room was in worship and prayer while I labored. We called out to God for strength and help. Please God help this baby turn. The song Oceans, by Hillsong, played in the background and I began to weep while I lunged…

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

After again requesting more time, I was given one hour to make some significant progress.  At then end of that hour, around 12 pm (and about 27 hours after my water broke), I had made it to around 9 cm but the progress wasn’t significant enough. It was highly recommended that I transfer to the hospital to get some Pitocin and possibly an epidural. The Pitocin could help get strong enough contractions to turn the baby into the proper position and the epidural could help relax and loosen tight muscles that might be inhibiting me to dilate or the baby to turn. And so I went with a nervous heart.

The car ride to the hospital was pretty miserable. Right before we left, my contractions seemed to leap to a new level and the only response to them was to squat or drop to all fours and rock through them. During the car ride I would double over and count to 30, knowing that by the time I reached 30 it would hopefully be on the downward end of the contraction. When we arrived to the hospital, I felt as if I was in the scene of a movie. I was that crazy pregnant lady in labor arriving to the hospital moaning and going nuts during contractions, squatting against the wall and dropping to the floor. It was strange to go from the safe birth center environment where I was able to labor freely, to the hospital environment where I felt I had to behave in a certain way.

I got to the hospital room, put on the lovely hospital gown, and promptly started using the head of the bed as a support for my arms while I rocked back and forth on all fours during contractions, my naked backside open for everyone to see. Did I care? Not in the slightest. I had much bigger things to focus on. I was beginning to feel as if I couldn’t do this anymore and the possibility of an epidural, or some kind of relief sounded wonderful. And yet I really didn’t like the sound of any option presented to me. I had done my research and I knew of no drug option that would give me what I really wanted.

Yet of course, when you think you can’t do it anymore, the end is right around the corner.

Soon after getting into the hospital gown, the labor and delivery nurse checked me and said matter-of-factly “well, you’re complete.” The whole room stopped. Well, that’s ironic. I guess I just needed a car ride to the hospital to get me over the last hurdle. Oh, and also the baby had moved to the optimal delivery position. WHAT?!?

I was elated. I didn’t need anything else. I didn’t need Pitocin. I didn’t need an epidural. I could push this baby out now.

As the nurses shoved consent forms in my face during contractions (because I was STILL having really intense back to back contractions that didn’t let up), I began to feel overwhelmed. I didn’t want to sign these papers! I didn’t want to consent to the fine print! I just wanted people to leave me alone and only focus on the task at hand—having this baby!  I asked in exasperation, “Do I have to do this? Do I have to be HERE?” The nurse replied, “Well, no you don’t have to be here.  You can leave. In fact, I think you probably have time to make it back to the birth center.”

I was shocked. I could leave? Nate and our midwife then had a little pow-wow. Should we go back to the birth center to have the baby? Could we make it back in time? Nate was deeply concerned for my health and the health of the baby, specifically that the risk of driving back to the birth center during such intense contractions and the possibility of the baby needing medical attention due to infection could outweigh the benefits of delivering at the birth center.  Natalie seemed to think it was likely that we could make it back to the birth center and deliver there.  As we were discussing this, I had my next massive contraction and felt that I could push that baby out right then. Natalie then suggested that it would probably be best to stay at the hospital.  Nate agreed.  All I could think about were the crazy intense contractions.

After another 45 minutes of hard labor, the doctor came and instructed me to start pushing.  Nate held one leg, Natalie held the other.  After about 30 minutes of pushing, everyone exclaimed that they could see hair! I didn’t believe them. I then reached down to feel his head, amazed. About 15 minutes later the doctor lifted him up to my chest. He was the most beautiful, squishy baby I had ever seen, and I couldn’t believe he was finally here.

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Nate did the honors of cutting his cord before he was whisked away to be weighed and suctioned (he did have some difficulty breathing and had a lot of mucus suctioned out).

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Later, after Nate and I had a quick meeting, we announced his name—Silas Philip Messarra.  The celebration then ensued with fajitas from Pappasito’s.

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Overall, the birth was everything I desired—a low-intervention, natural childbirth that resulted in a healthy mom and healthy baby.  I still wrestle with some sadness relating to delivering in the hospital.  Yet we received great care there and you can’t be too sad when 3 hours after giving birth, you just want to do it all over again.

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The Birth of Dexter Alexander

Several months ago, one of my closest friends, Rebecca, asked me to photograph the water birth of her baby. This would be her 3rd baby, and 3rd natural birth, at the Katy Birth Center

. I didn’t hesitate even a little bit to tell her ‘YES’. I had photographed a birth once before, but it was a medicated hospital birth so this would be much different. Throughout the last 2-3 weeks of her pregnancy, there were several false alarms. I checked on her everyday and tried to stay as available as possible. FINALLY, on July 3 baby Dexter made his grand entrance into the world. Rebecca opened my eyes to a whole new birthing process I never would have considered and knew almost nothing about. She was so in tune with her body and coached herself through every contraction- “OKAY Rebecca. You can do this” she would say over and over. Her midwife, the birth assistant, her husband and I were her own personal cheer squad. I couldn’t believe how relaxed everyone was. Connie, the midwife, talked in the calmest voice, even while helping Rebecca through the worst contractions. Craig, Rebecca’s husband, was amazing! I don’t know that I would be able to stand someone squeezing my hand for hours, but he stayed right by her hunched over the pool with her the whole time. Good man! To be honest, I was probably the most nervous person in the room and I was not even the one pushing a baby out of my body. There were times I looked at everyone’s faces trying to see if anyone was feeling as anxious as I was, and they weren’t. I probably whispered “is that normal” at least 5 times. ‘Yes’ was always the answer, followed by a giggle. I’m a newbie, okay!? We were all stunned when Dexter weighed in at 10 lb. 7 oz., and I couldn’t stop thinking over and over what an inspiration Rebecca was to me. She is one strong mama…and a CrossFit mama at that! I tried to get as many details and emotions from the birth that I could. To protect the privacy of Rebecca, some moments won’t be seen here, but I think you’ll get a pretty good idea. Enjoy, and please join me in congratulating Rebecca, Craig, Alice, and Amelia on the arrival of their new little love!

Please click this hyperlink for the original blog with PICTURES: A Birth Story in Pictures

The Birth of Lisa Gloria

Thursday. It wasn’t a great day. My friend, Terrie Bitner died of brain cancer. She was an amazing homeschool friend, writing mentor, and inspiring primary teacher. I was having a down day. It was also the day before the Shakespeare play. I was feeling a ton of pressure all day. I was trying to do as little as possible so I would have energy for the day of the play and all that would entail. The errands I did have, I took Kalani and she drove and did all of the running for me. I tried yoga and stretching and laying down to relieve the pressure. It was a long day. The evening I had a few signs that labor might be coming. I started thinking of all of the other times I almost made it to when I had hoped: starting the labor the day before Chris’ last final during his masters program, labor the day before Christmas, labor before 37 weeks…I wondered if I would almost make it to the Shakespeare play but not quite. The timing was not stellar.

 

I went to bed hoping it’d just be another night of pre-labor contractions and pressure and little sleep. By midnight, I could no longer talk myself out of reality. The contractions were only 10 minutes apart and not serious by any means, but I knew it was labor. I was having heartburn issues and feeling nauseous. I did NOT want to labor and feel this way. I needed to rest before labor, but staying down wouldn’t work with heartburn. I had been laying in bed timing contractions and wondering if they would all disappear. After an hour I broke the news to my husband. We debated when to call midwives when clearly my contractions were wimpy. No matter what I needed to get upright for a while. I called the midwives at about 1:30 am. Chris set up the birth pool and I puttered around getting things ready. My contractions were weak and 8 minutes apart at 2 am when Chelsea arrived. Baby and I were both fine and Natalie and her assistant Amanda showed up shortly. Although contractions were creeping closer and slightly intensifying, I started wondering how long labor would be. We had a discussion shortly after the midwives arrived about whether or not I wanted to be checked. I didn’t. I don’t like it. The next few contractions are buggers and it means nothing. I’ve been at a 7 for 7 hours. I’ve been at a 3 then delivered 2 hours later. Why do it? I didn’t want to get into the birth pool yet, lest I slow things down. So we opted for movement. I had been laboring on my ball and leaning forward to get any contractions off my back-they were still mild, but I don’t like back labor. To speed things up I walked and did squats and paced all over the house. Chris tried to rest, the contractions were so little, I needed him rested more than I needed someone to watch me waddle. Chelsea chased me down to monitor the baby where I was 🙂 I love home birth midwives. After an hour and a half of walking and moving, my contractions were 6 minutes apart and I was starting to wonder why I would want MORE contractions, but still not much. ugh. I was tempted to rest for a while. We decided to get checked. I was a 3 maybe 4. THIS IS WHY I DON’T get checked. sigh. I wanted to cry. The next two contraction were buggers…why did i get checked? I didn’t tell my husband, because I KNEW I would cry. It was 3:30 am. I was trying to talk myself down off the ledge. This didn’t mean anything. Every contraction was bringing me closer to my baby. Midwife Natalie and her assistant went to the couch to rest and Chelsea monitored me by the light of her phone. 5 minutes apart.

At about 4:30 am I decided to try the water. My contractions were 5 minutes apart, but very manageable. Once I got into the water the contractions intensified. Within a few minutes I wanted my husband. The back labor was more than I wanted to handle alone. I had to get out of the water at one point and hated every second. I was glad they could monitor the baby while I was in the water. I was 4 minutes apart and vocalizing through contractions with counter pressure…my back was hurting. Chelsea massaged with oil, which felt great and Chris did counter pressure. I was on my knees for contractions, but my knees are…weak, so I’d flip over and sit down in between. I thought I was relaxing in between, but Chris would put his hand on my arm (he was sitting behind me, out of the pool) and it helped me relax and melt and give my back more of a break. Chelsea got Natalie and Amanda, and I could hear them talking about how I must be close…judging by my behavior. I was glad to hear that because I had already started to count contractions (normally when the get really hard I have less than 10 to go-I was having a hard time remembering what number I was on). Two horrible, back breaking contractions and with my vocalization Chris announced “that’s a crowning noise”. The water took the edge off of the pain enough that I had the wherewithal to reach down and feel my baby’s head. I tried to push gently, Chris reminded me to breath. Somehow Chelsea reached across the tub to reach the baby too, which was very comforting to me. A few pushes and her head was out, Chelsea checked for a cord or any problems. I was used to the baby wooshing out once their head is delivered…not so. When I was already feeling completely split apart and broken…I couldn’t imagine more.I felt far away from my husband based on where I had ended up and where I was delivering. I did NOT like that distance, and the pool made it difficult to change that.I really needed the water, and I needed and wanted my husband. Holding my baby’s head gave me hope and with a few more pushes I was bringing her up in my arms.

It was 5:16am. She was covered in thick vernix, with dark hair and many darling fat rolls everywhere. I snuggled her, so grateful she was with us. Kalani and Natalie came in to see the baby. Chelsea checked the baby while she stayed in my arms. We still didn’t have a name for this darling! Daughter Natalie had made me a shake which made me happy. I had been drinking throughout labor. I had been hungry sometimes, but couldn’t eat and I was now starving. After some energy blast from the shake, I delivered the placenta while still holding my baby. Chris took Natalie and Raymond to seminary and school. Kalani became my everything. We nursed while I was still in the pool. Once the cord stopped pulsing, Kalani cut the cord.

Midwife Natalie took the baby and I was helped out of the pool and rinsed and dried off. and we moved to my bed. No tears 🙂 no problems to deal with. I nursed the baby again, she is one hungry little girl. We weighed her, 9 lbs and 6 oz! She was 21.5 inches long. The baby pooped all over her blanket. We snuggled skin to skin and nursed a bit more. Kalani was starting to run interference for the little people who were now starting to wake up. I was getting cold and got some socks on…it was wonderful to have so many women around cleaning up, taking care of me and the baby and the children out there. Lydia woke and started making muffins.

I got dressed and Kalani got the baby dressed. Baby and I snuggled in bed while the midwives Chelsea and Natalie and assistant Amanda scurried around cleaning up, getting pool down (it didn’t want to pump out with any speed) and giving me help with nursing – the baby does not have a strong suck (there is a clicking noise so I support her chin to maintain the suction) Yes, with 10 other children every single nursing experience has involved a learning curve! How can that be?

Chris and daughter Natalie came home and the midwives left. The little children were eating and Kalani brought each child in to briefly to see the baby and tell them that she was mommy today. My room was deemed off limits until 9.

The midwives left. Chris and I waited until 8 to call my mom. Chris made me an omelet (I was SO hungry). After I called my mom, we were debating names…none of the names we were considering were right. As we were talking about calling people, Chris said “What about Lisa Gloria?” It was right! We have a name. Lisa! Lisa is my sister’s name. I love her. She is so loving and kind and is just…my best friend in the whole world (husband aside). Gloria is my mom’s name. We knew from early on her middle name would be Gloria. My mom is so inspiring. All together her name means devoted to God’s glory.

The Birth of Eliava Grace

The idea of having a birth center birth was one that was introduced to my husband, Aaron, and I in December 2012.  Prior to this time, I had always envisioned giving birth in a hospital and getting an epidural—just like you see in the movies.  However, as God would have it, a conversation with some close friends opened our eyes to the concept of midwifery care and birthing outside of a hospital.  From that moment on, Aaron and I began our research.  I wasn’t pregnant yet and hadn’t planned on getting pregnant soon but nonetheless we wanted to be ready for when the time came.  Through watching various documentaries, YouTube videos, and reading blogs we became completely convinced that when it was time, we would have our baby in a birth center with a midwife.  Now we just needed to find a midwife/birth center that we liked.  Through the advice of the same friends, we decided to attend one of the Katy Birth Center “Meet the Midwives” on a Monday night in April (still not pregnant yet, just wanted to be prepared).  By the time we left the birth center that night, we were convinced that this is where we wanted to have our baby.  Not only was the birth center very nice but the midwives and their openness of God’s role in childbirth sealed the deal for us.  We both felt a strong connection to Natalie and prayed that when I got pregnant that she would be available.

Fast forward a few months to September 2013.  I was pregnant!  Praise God!  I called Natalie pretty soon after we found out and so our relationship began.  From the first phone call with Natalie, I knew she was going to provide me with outstanding care.  During that initial phone call, she spent nearly 30 minutes just talking with me.  I had her direct cell phone number and could text/call her anytime I needed to (and I did). 🙂  When we told our family and friends that we were using a birth center, some understood and others thought that it wasn’t a good choice.  Many of our friends are in the medical field and they just thought it was way too risky to have a birth outside of a hospital.  After a couple failed attempts to convince them otherwise, we just decided that we would stop trying to defend our choice and continue to trust God for a great birth experience. Aaron and I looked forward to each prenatal appointment with Natalie.  She took time to explain things thoroughly and to just get to know us.  We also were blessed to have Natalie’s apprentice Chelsea sit in on most of our prenatal appointments and birth.  During the prenatal process, I kept a log of my diet and exercise that Natalie would review at each appointment.  Although it was tough at times, I really think monitoring my food and exercise helped a lot in the end.  In addition to monitoring diet and exercise, Natalie provided us with so much valuable information each visit.  For example, she showed us exercises that I could do to help turn the baby from a posterior to an anterior position which is most ideal for birth.  The birth center also offered various educational courses which we took advantage of including a Bradley Method series taught by Karen Sanderson.  The Bradley classes provided us, first time parents, with a lot of insight into labor, delivery, and postpartum (which all came in handy when it was show-time).

Now for the birth story.  Thursday night, while Aaron was giving me a perineal massage, he noticed a little bloody show.  He continued with the massage and after it was done and I went to the bathroom, I saw some mucus tinged blood on the toilet paper. Okay, “looks like my mucus plug had started to come out”, I told Aaron.  However, it wasn’t a lot of blood or mucus so I figured that it hadn’t all come out yet.  While I wanted to get excited that labor was starting, I knew that some bloody show didn’t necessarily mean I was starting labor.  From the classes we took, I knew it could still be many days (even weeks) before active labor actually started.  I wasn’t due for at least another week anyways (and since it was my first one I figured maybe I would go over).  So that night we went to bed as normal.  I continued to have what felt like Braxton Hicks contractions but nothing that was really strong so I slept pretty well Thursday night.  By Friday morning, I noticed more cramping then the regular Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having.  I texted Natalie just to give her a heads up and she informed me to go about things as normal but to pay more attention to staying well hydrated and rested. Just in case active labor started soon, she wanted to make sure I conserved my energy.  So I went about my Friday as normal.  I was working from home that day so I sat on my birthing ball at the computer and worked.  By Friday night the cramping had increased in strength slightly but was still very spaced out.  I also was still having some light bloody show.  Aaron and I decided we would start timing my contractions so we downloaded a phone app and started timing.  Friday night it was a bit harder to sleep through the night as my contractions had strengthened and started getting closer together.  They were about a 4-5 on a 10 scale for pain and were coming every 20-30 minutes lasting anywhere from 20-65 seconds.  By Saturday morning, my contractions had gotten closer together about 12-7 minutes apart.  I started thinking maybe this baby is coming this weekend or at least I sure hope she is because I wasn’t sure if I could go days with these type of contractions.  Although the contractions were starting to hurt more, they still felt like strong menstrual cramps and I was able to just breathe through the pain.  Aaron and I decided we would try the Dr. Bradley “Is This Labor” checklist so I ate and drank something, walked the neighborhood with Aaron, showered, and napped.  The contractions seemed to pick up slightly on the walk but still not coming consistently and still not lasting more than 40 seconds on average.  Aaron and Natalie had been texting back and forth all morning just keeping her updated on my status.  We had already planned to go to a breastfeeding class at the birthing center on Saturday but I wasn’t sure I felt up to the ride (we live about 50 minutes away).  Natalie suggested we come to the class because she was at the birthing center and she could check me to see how far along I was.  So we decided to go in to see how far things had progressed.  I was sure she would tell me I was maybe 1 cm dilated but no more (in my mind, I had this idea of a long labor).  We packed up the car with everything just in case we ended up staying on that side of town.  I even made the comment that this might be the last time we leave without baby.  By the time we made it to the birthing center, my contractions had picked up and were about 5 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds and the pain had increased to a 5-6 on a 10 point scale.  I don’t remember much of the car ride there but I do remember lots of deep breathing and pelvic rocking while I was in the car.  When we arrived, I was still smiling and able to talk when I wasn’t going through a contraction so both Natalie, Aaron, and I were pretty surprised when she checked me and I was 4-5 cm dilated!  Since I was that far along, we decided that we would go ahead into the breastfeeding class and Natalie would stick around and check me after class. Right before going into class, I made a pit stop into the bathroom where the rest of my mucus plug came out.  In class, I labored on a ball in the back while the class was going on and munched on some snacks (needless to say I didn’t learn much but the hubby was listening).  I actually think being in class helped distract me and get through another 2 ½ hours of labor relatively easily.  After class, Natalie could tell from how close together my contractions were that I would be having baby relatively soon so she suggested we grab some dinner. I decided I was up to going to grab dinner with Aaron so we got back in the car and went to the store.  We picked up dinner just down the street but by the time we got back I was having strong contractions about 3 minutes apart.  Looking back, I probably should have stayed and continued to labor at the birth center while Aaron grabbed dinner.  It was pretty miserable being in the back of the car while my contractions picked up.  I just tried to focus on breathing through them (like we learned in Bradley method) and pelvic rocking (almost like I was hula-hooping without the hoop).  When we got back to the birth center, I took one bite of dinner and didn’t feel like eating anymore.  I was officially admitted to the birthing center around 6:30pm on Saturday night.  The birthing room was perfect.  As I had requested during my 36 week appointment, the lights were dimmed, oils were diffusing, and it was just a calm atmosphere.  Aaron brought our laptop where we had downloaded some background music to play during labor.  Once admitted, I started laboring in the pool for about 2 hours.  During that time, Chelsea (Natalie’s apprentice) gave me the best lower back massage with some essential oils.  It felt amazing and really helped me through some contractions.  I spent most of my time in the pool hunched over the side so I could rest my head.  Aaron sat on a stool in front of me and helped me breath through contractions.  He also made sure I had a sip of water or apple juice after each contraction to help me stay hydrated.  After a couple hours in the pool, I got out and labored on the toilet then the ball where I got another great back massage from Chelsea.  Another couple hours had passed and by this time, I was pretty tired as I hadn’t slept well the night before and the contractions were pretty strong (still felt like really strong menstrual cramps but were starting to move to my back).  So I got in bed, where I labored for another hour or so.  It was really nice to be in bed because Aaron was able to lay beside me and help hold my leg when a contraction would come.  While I was laying down, it felt as though my contractions had slowed down a bit so I was able to get little mini naps in between contractions which helped give me a boost of energy. To try and help the contractions kick back up, Chelsea gave me some homeopathic pills which I held under my tongue while they dissolved.  After being in bed for about an hour, Natalie and Chelsea checked me and I was about 8cm dilated.  Right after they checked me, I felt like I was going to throw-up.  They grabbed me a bucket in just enough time for me to throw up what seemed like everything I had eaten and drank that day.  At that point, I also felt that my water was leaking.  Natalie tested the fluid that I was leaking and confirmed that my water was indeed leaking but the sac had not completed ruptured.  She explained it was most likely an upper leak.  Once my contractions had picked back up, I got back into the pool.  It was now around 10:30pm.  For about an hour, I did some rocking in a squat position in the pool to help encourage the baby to move down.  By 11:30pm, I was feeling the urge to push.  Natalie checked me again and I was 9.5 cm dilated.  I told Aaron to get in the pool with me so he changed and got in just in time for me to start pushing.  Up until this point, I had been pretty conscious of not using my voice when going through contractions.  However, once I started feeling pressure to push, I couldn’t help but moan/breathe my way through the contractions.  Natalie helped to hold back my cervical lip while I first started pushing to allow for the baby to pass the lip without it swelling up as I still had about ½ inch to go before I was fully dilated.  This part was pretty painful as there was a lot of pressure when a contraction would come.  Once the baby had dropped past the lip, the pushing became less painful but it still hurt pretty badly.  Natalie coached me through pushing while Aaron sat behind me and helped hold me up in my squat.  Natalie also held warm cloths on my perineum while I was pushing to help the skin stretch and try to avoid tears.  After about 15 minutes of pushing, I remember thinking for a moment that the baby was coming out the wrong hole as I felt very strong rectal pressure.  Pretty silly thought but I actually believed it at the time, ha!  When the baby was close, Natalie had both me and Aaron touch the baby’s head. We could feel her hair which was really cool.  During the pushing phase, Chelsea was recording and taking pictures using our video camera and also checking the baby’s heart rate every so often using the Doppler monitor.  It was really nice that Aaron could be in the pool with me and Chelsea could still capture these amazing moments on video for us.  After pushing for about 35 minutes, my water finally completely broke and about two minutes later Eliava Grace Banks was born at 12:33 am on May 11th (Happy Mother’s Day to me :-)) weighing 8lbs 8.4oz and 20 inches long.  When she first came out, she wasn’t crying but after some suctioning of her nose and mouth and a couple flicks on her feet by Natalie, she was crying and healthy with no issues.  Praise God!  I then drunk what seemed like the world’s biggest cup of apple juice while Chelsea held the cup and straw in my mouth.  We sat in the pool while I delivered the placenta and let the cord finish pulsing before it was clamped and Aaron cut it.  During this time, my mother and sister-in-law came into the room to take pictures and meet little Eliava.  After inspecting me once I was out of the pool and on the bed, Natalie found that I had a couple front tears which required stitches.  So I nursed Eliava, then Aaron took her and did skin to skin with her while Natalie took me to her office to stitch me up.  After stiches, I ate some food then got into the soothing herbal bath with Eliava.  After the bath, we got some instructions from Natalie then we were on our way home by about 6:30 am so I could get some rest while Eliava had her recovery sleep.  Natalie and Chelsea were then at our house the following day for our first postpartum checkup. Throughout labor, it was very encouraging to hear everyone (Natalie, Chelsea, and Aaron) say how great I was doing.  I felt like they were really proud of me and it helped give me the confidence to keep laboring and keep breathing.  I also remember thinking to myself as I was laboring that God designed me to be able to do this very thing so surely He will help me get through it.  I am still in awe of how GREAT my labor and delivery experience went.  I truly believe that it was a direct result of our choice to birth at the birthing center with a midwife.  While we aren’t sure when #2 will come, we already know that we will use Natalie, Chelsea, and Katy Birth Center again. 🙂

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THE BIRTH OF BABY VADA

The events of this day will forever be etched into my memory…that is how powerful this day was. I can’t even begin to express the amount of gratitude that I have to the people in my life that made this birth experience possible. I can tell you with 100% honesty that this birth was everything I wanted it to be and I would not have had it any other way.

So…here it goes. The very long birth story.

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On March 9th (my birthday) I was due to have a baby. Now we know that babies rarely ever come when they are due; my daughter Olivia was eight days late. But I never thought I’d make it to March 9th. I thought this baby was coming early…I was wrong. When March 9th came and went I was a little bummed but, hey, this was nothing new for me. Luckily, my sister was already here for her visit so at least I had some company during the day to keep my spirits up.

On March 11th I went in to see my midwife; I already had an appointment scheduled for that day should I go past the due date. Everything was business as usual at my check up. She did all the usual things, but this time checked my cervix for the first time over the course of my pregnancy. I was 2cm dilated…nothing to write home about as any woman that has had a baby knows, you can be dilated for days before any labor signs show up. However, she poked around a little bit, did some stretching and eagerly told me that she was pretty certain this baby was coming by the weekend. So I went home.

An hour later I was feeling pretty crampy but having no pain. 2pm…these felt more like contractions, but still not painful at all even though they were very close together. 3pm…getting stronger…definitely real contractions. I texted my husband and told him that I was pretty sure we were having a baby tonight. No response. Typical. 😉 😉 By 4pm I was leaning up against the wall to brace myself; this was the real deal. I text Josh again. “Come home now.” He was on his way. When he arrived home at 4:45 I had the bag ready to go, Olivia was all set with my sister, we snapped a quick final family photo of the three of us and by 5 we were out the door. I told my midwife that the contractions were 2-3 min apart. Actual text message from my midwife:

Cathy: You need to get here now.

Anne: Don’t worry. We’re on our way. I’m not having this baby in my brand new car.

Cathy: LOL! see you soon. (Thumbs up)

Josh looked at me in the car and said, “did your midwife just LOL?” “Yes,” I said. That’s how cool she is.

We arrived at our birthing center and the tub was already filled and ready to go. Cathy checked me and I was 7cm dilated!! That was amazing! I did all that good work at home and now it was go time. They got me into the warm tub at 5:45pm. This was the fun part. Getting in that tub was so relaxing. Amanda, my birth assistant, was massaging my back with lavender oil…heaven!! And before you knew it the hard contractions were coming on fast and strong. Time to put the hair up and start doing the hard work.

I’d really like to tell you that this was an excruciating experience for me because isn’t that what birth is supposed to be? Painful? But I’m going to be 110% honest. It was not that bad. Did it hurt? Yeah…a bit. Was it manageable? ABSOLUTELY! And thanks to my vocal training and my classically trained musician husband coaching me all the way, I kept breathing deep and using my low register voice to power through the contractions. There was only one time toward the very end that my voice got a little shrieky and Josh said to me, “use your low voice, Anne. Remember your lower singing register.” He’s the best. And he brought me frozen grapes to eat. Score!

In between contractions I did not have that much time to rest because they were coming one right after the other, but I did crack a few jokes with Josh and apparently had time to give a few camera instructions to him and Amanda who were in charge of documenting all this. Yes…the professional photographer was giving shooting tips in between stage 2 labor contractions. It was hilarious.

At around 7:15 I knew it was time to push, I could feel it. And this stage came hard and fast. I can’t even believe how quickly it went. I remember reaching up into the birth canal and feeling for my child’s head…and there it was. I was so excited! I even said to everyone, “Oh my gosh, I felt the head!!” Cathy asked me if the baby was still in the water sack and it was. This. was. so. cool. I propped myself up on one leg, kind of like in a runners position getting into the blocks. One push…second push…third…(I think this is where I shrieked). One more push…baby’s head was out….under the water. My midwife turned the baby just slightly to maneuver the shoulders out. I reached down and with one fell swoop I pulled my baby out of my body and up out the water. Holy crap. I had done it. At 7:33pm this beautiful baby was born. I was filled with happy adrenaline. I laughed, I cheered and then I cried. It was such an emotional moment. Josh gave me a kiss and I just sat for many more minutes before anyone even touched the baby. I got to enjoy this time, which was not the experience I had with Olivia in the hospital. Then Cathy asked, “well, what is it??” I hadn’t even looked yet! I looked down and said, “it’s a girl!!” At which point Josh said, “I knew it!” He was convinced all along that it was a girl. Then we were asked what her name was going to be. We only had one girl name picked out!! But it was one that we both loved and, actually, Olivia loved the name the best so we went with it. We named her Vada. Yes, I named my baby after a character in the 1991 movie My Girl. What can I say, I’m an Anna Chlumsky fan.

Now the staff started doing their part of the work. They let the chord do it’s thing, my placenta floating in a bowl in front of me. Once it was ready to be cut, Josh got to cut the chord. My placenta was put on ice and it would be picked up later by a woman who would encapsulate it for me and put it into vitamin form. Yes people…I am eating my placenta. It is the most amazing thing. It’s like a happy pill I get to take everyday. If anyone wants to know more about that, don’t hesitate in the slightest to ask me.

Anyway, once all that was done they got us both out of the tub and into bed to relax. By this time my sister had arrived with Olivia so that she could meet her new baby sister. Olivia was a little shy about the whole experience and wasn’t too quick to embrace the situation. It was also getting past her bed time and she was tired. Vada had all her vitals done, feet inked and printed, and Josh went out to get me dinner. Twenty minutes later I was eating Chinese food in bed and nursing a baby. After a full belly of food, they got me and the baby back in the tub for one more bath. This was the most relaxing experience ever! They made an herbal bath of various things like camomile, lavender and tons of other stuff. The herbs were steeped in a pot of water and then strained off so that all that remained was a pot of brown water…like tea! The tea water was poured into the bath tub and the baby and I got in for a soothing soak. The purpose behind the herbal bath is to reduce swelling, help with healing for me and it also helps to dry out the baby’s chord. I held Vada’s head and she just floated in the water, so calm and relaxed.

After the bath we all rested for a few hours and by 10:30 I was getting ready to go home. We packed up all our stuff, got the baby into her car seat, gave hugs to everyone and were out the door by 11. Cathy walked us to our car and that was it. We were done. We were on our way home with a baby. And that is when Josh said the funniest thing that I’ll never forget. He looked at me and said, “I feel like we just went out on a dinner date and came back with a baby. It took us longer to buy your car than it did for you to have that kid!” We had a good laugh and we were on our way home. By midnight I was in my own bed, snuggling with this perfect little person and soon would fall asleep.

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And that’s it. The story of how Vada came into this world. I cannot say enough about the power of the human body and how strong women can be when they are given the support and the space to be just that. We are amazing creatures that can do amazing things. If your curious and want to know more, don’t hesitate to ask. I love talking about this stuff and hope you all enjoyed reading about my experience.

For the original story with PHOTOS please click this hyper link: Baby Vada

The Birth of Cailynn Anora

A note about midwifery: I decided with my third child that I would select a midwife to deliver my baby. I made this decision after having researched natural birthing. Home birth and birthing using a midwife is becoming less taboo as more mothers and fathers are educating themselves on the subject. It is actually safer than hospital births if you are low risk. Hospital births can lead to unnecessary intervention. I did not feel that I had the greatest experience with the birth of my first two children. I felt too restricted. It is not in my nature to feel that accepting drugs such as an epidural is natural in the least. Additionally, I had a male doctor deliver my babies, and the thought occurred to me after seeing him several times was, “How does he know what is best? He has never actually experienced birth himself. Has he even witnessed a natural birth?” I will talk more about him when I post the stories of my first two children. 

A day after my “ultrasound due date” I went to work. I am a teacher and I needed to try and get my classroom together before our daughter arrived. I worked for a couple of hours and then ran some errands with my oldest (my son Aidan). I had noticed a pretty serious pinching pain in my cervix that was happening off and on. I had experienced it weeks before, but this time it was different.  On my way to Michael’s (craft store), I almost jumped out of my seat from the pinching sensation. I thought I was going to go into labor on the freeway! I got to Michael’s and the thought occurred to me that my waters might break in the store. They didn’t… That evening around 9:30pm I felt a sudden frantic type of energy. I told my husband Cody that I could not give birth in a dirty house and had the sudden urge to want to frantically clean everything. 30 minutes later I felt a pinching sensation again and then a gush of water. My waters finally broke! I started laughing hysterically. I go to the bathroom to change, and of course I keep gushing water. Cody walks in on me and I explain to him that I think my waters broke. He nods in agreement and then we kiss, deeply. Which made me gush more water. I decide to put on a pad and call my midwife Cathy. I decide to lay down to rest, and I start having some mild contractions.

After awhile I decide to get out of the tub and put on my bathing suit top. I do different things like walk around, sit on my birthing ball, eat yogurt, drink water… Cathy asked if she could go ahead and check me for dilation and effacement. I was only about 3cm dilated. I had to wait a little bit longer before getting into the birth pool. I spent a lot of time rocking back and forth on the ball. Cody sat with me and held me through each contraction. I made sure to start “practicing my breathing” by keeping my voice low and my mouth relaxed and open. The contractions were pretty manageable. But a short while later they grew about 3 minutes apart. That’s when my doulas (Joli and Kathleen) show up. I think it was about 3:30am at this point. I get in the water and my contractions slow down to about 5 minutes apart. I remember moving around a lot. I was constantly re-positioning myself to get comfortable. I would float on my stomach, then float on my back. The most comfortable position was being on my knees and leaning over the side. 

My kids woke up around 6am. I am assuming that’s what time it was because that’s when they normally get up. I was also making a lot of noise. I looked up and saw Lillian on the balcony laying on her stomach, peaking through the banister rails. She was being very shy. She finally decided to come downstairs. She was very interested in what was going on. I gave her a kiss to reassure her. She hung out for a little bit and then Kathleen helped her get snacks in the kitchen. She sat on Kathleen’s lap for the rest of the labor and watched her sister make her debut. Aidan hung out on the balcony and did not want to come down. 

It wasn’t long before the placenta was delivered. Pushing the placenta out was nothing. I didn’t even care. I was so in love with my baby. 

 
I did it! I did it with very little intervention, intermittent fetal monitoring, hardly any vaginal exams, and I got to move around any which way I wanted. The water was amazing. My body felt weightless, and my body was able to relax after each contraction. This was the greatest experience of my life. It is amazing what a woman’s body is capable of. I feel blessed to have had the support I needed. Especially the support of my husband.

Video of Cailynn’s Birth

The Birth of Boaz Lee Stark

As I’m sitting here, at home, in bed, nursing my sweet little Boaz, I am journaling about the beauty of today and thought I would share a short version of our birth story with all of our friends and family that have prayed about Boaz’s birth for weeks now.

It is fresh on my mind and so incredibly exciting! As many of you know, I had been in prodromal labor for weeks and honestly thought for about the last month that I would have this baby “any day now.” But 40 weeks passed … and then at 41weeks I was starting to wonder if my dream for a natural, out-of -hospital-birth would become a reality….. Well on that last night….. I stayed up watching treehouse masters until 10 pm with my friend Tara, and once again, we made plans for the following day, trying not to get my hopes up that this baby was going to come any time soon.

At 1am, I woke up with some strong contractions but lay in bed for a few minutes thinking they may go away. At 1:15am I woke Jared up and said “I think this is it”. Jared sent a text to our midwife, Connie, and we decided to stay around the house for an hour and time the contractions. They were 5 minutes apart so she let us know if we wanted to, we could labor at our house a bit longer. Jared told her we’d come to the birth center at 3am.

In between the contractions I got ready, grabbed some last minute things to take with us, checked on the kids and then insisted that the giant watermelon on our counter needed to come to the birth center with us in bite size cubes. My very kind husband with his “are you serious” look happily obliged.

Thankfully our wonderful friend Tara had come in from El Paso this particular week just to be of help so she was able to stay home with our sleeping boys. I woke Tara up and told her we were leaving; it was 2:55am.

The ride to the birth center was a little rough … and as Jared puts it, “I only got yelled at two times and my hand should be better in a couple of weeks”. I told him the whole way there that I better be at least 6cm because these contractions really suck. We prayed together before going into the birth center and got settled in while the contractions got even harder. At 3:30am Connie checked me and I was definitely not 6 cm…. I was a 9!!!! She filled the birth pool and called her assistant, Katie.

Both sets of our parents were on their 30th anniversary trips at least 3 hours away. My mom was going to be my birth photographer but I knew there was no way she would make it to Katy in time. Fortunately, a few days before, I had asked Sara Griffin if she would be interested in being our go-to photographer if my mom couldn’t make it and thankfully she said she would love to. I called her immediately and asked if she could come up to the birth center. Sara showed up very soon after and truly became a part of our family through this experience.

The next 3 hours of transition labor and pushing were the most difficult, painful and powerful moments of my life. Worship music playing, prayers being spoken and pleading with The Lord. All I could do was to get through each contraction… Connie held my hands and spoke scripture aloud, her eyes were my focal point, while Jared used every pressure point and massage technique to try and relieve the pain. He coached me through breathing, Katie continually gave me sips of juice and water and spoke soft sweet words and Sara took moments away from her camera to wipe hair of my face and affirm me. It was truly a room filled with the Holy Spirit.

I labored in the pool until it was close to time to push then I moved to the bed. I always thought delivering in the water is what I wanted but my body took over and once I got to the bed I knew he was coming. I labored a short time more and felt the urge to push. After17 min of pure adrenaline, and by the grace of God, Boaz Lee Stark was born into the world screaming and super healthy. He was born a strong 8lbs 4oz and 20.8 inches long. I’ve never felt so elated, grateful and at peace. Thank you to my Heavenly Father! He created the spectacular and miraculous beauty of birth! I’ve never in my life felt so close to my creator.

My parents arrived just moments after he was born and got to meet their fourth grandson. That beautiful and tiny vintage home was filled to the brim with love for Boaz. Jared and I are so thankful for Katy Birth Center and the wonderful and wholesome birth experience.

The Birth of Boaz Lee Stark (in pictures)

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