Cathy H

Cathy H.

I had a VBAC2 with Bonnie's gang!!!! This happened LAST Nov. 27, 2006. I know it's been a year now, but that's how long it's taken for me to have some time to do this! I'm a student, mom of 3 and a part-time worker. Besides, we're coming up on my baby being ONE this Nov. 27 and I think it's a fitting time to write this!

My story is that I had had two C-sections with no major complications in 1994 and another one in 2002 for the same ol' thing you always hear - "your baby's too big, nothing's happening, may have to induce." So, I had Seann in 1994, weighing in at 9 lb. 3 oz, via C-section. I loved Seann and having him, but something always ached in the back of my mind and in my body like - "hey, this wasn't right."

Same thing with Clarissa in 2002. Being a dietetic student, I watched my weight more carefully and didn't gain as much with Clarissa. She was only 8 pounds even. AGAIN my doctor who had very very rude and aggressive bedside manner, practically yelled at me that if I do not "progress soon we'll have to talk about inducing.." Then she went ahead and poked my "sac" without even telling me she just did.

Oh wait, yeah there was ONE complication: I had a small, low-grade "fever" they said, which I didn't even feel - and after my research found could have easily been read from my having and epidural. And, the baby's heart was racing a little bit (also can happen with all the needless interventions). Needless to say, with this doctor coldly barking at me and with all the social anxiety/shyness I always have had, that terrible experience REALLY clamped me up and I ended up with a C-section again.

The third time around I REALLY did my homework, starting with finding Edend Song Maternity. It was almost a second part-time job for me. I was obsessed with knowing the truth. I studied my medical records in great detail to the point of annoying others over it. Even other midwives were leary to take me from hearing me but Bonnie used her instincts and her great knowledge and went ahead and visited me. I could tell she was all eyes and ears when we first met. She examined me, heard my story and told me she "didn't know why we couldn't give it a try," or something to that extent. From the start she helped me have faith in myself.

I was so afraid because so many doctors and even midwives had turned from me but BONNIE NEVER GAVE UP FAITH ON ME. To that I am sooo grateful.

I proceeded to do everything she instructed best I could, AND, I did tons of research on my own, probably 50 hours or more I bet during the whole 9 months! - And Bonnie actually encouraged this! I had been with so many professionals who acted irritated when I tried to educate myself.

I was in basically very good health. Not overweight, all labs looking good for all pregnancies, enjoyed eating right and exercising (well that part, sometimes!). Here's just some of the advice I learned on my own and through Bonnie:

1. Do NOT run to the hospital at the first sign of contractions! Even if it's been a day or 2 of hard contractions and you are restless, and restlessness WILL happen! I talked to my midwives and kept them informed!

I even went to get my haircut and told the man to halt cutting while I was having contractions! These are normal and part of life even though they hurt! And, me and my husband went out to eat through my contractions and I was bracing the table and we had to tell my waitress what was going on because she saw me (but I did try to be discreet).

2. Watch your carbs like Bonnie told me. Eat only complex carbs (fruits, vegetables and grainy breads, never white) and watch your weight. Water and real juice, not soda, etc. etc. Almost no desserts except occasionally.

3. The whole process of labor can take much much longer than what they tell you. Remember that a thousand years ago there was no major time pressure to have a baby!

4. Standing and walking and massage are very very powerful ways to help when in active labor!

I learned tons more detailed info and why/how other births go wrong and how to handle that. Those were the top pieces of advice!

Bonnie had to be out of town for a trip that someone planned and she talked to me about this beforehand and left me with 3 other great midwives - Gail Johnson, Paloma and Ginger Holmes.

They stayed with me all night long and helped me through alongside my husband with constant massaging, helping me to and in/out of an inflated water pool in our bedroom, hot water running through a hose to it from the kitchen, our bathtub, etc. etc. etc.

The hardest part was between 5-7 a.m., the pushing part. I tried to do everything the midwives said - it was grueling. But I cannot even describe the joy when I heard them say "he's coming, we see him, it'll be very soon now!"

He was born at 8:24 a.m., Monday, Nov. 27, 2006. A lovely baby boy whom we've been raising for just about one year now. I love him to death and his entry into the world also helped me feel like quite a victorious woman!!! Now I know what birth is supposed to be like if all goes well (and it usually will if you let it) that so many other women before me, probably billions, have gone through, and I know that how those other 2 C-sections "didn't feel right" was NOT my paranoia or imagination. They were unnecessary.

In a world where people don't question things enough and think on their own, and in a world where people are out for your money and many times just don't really care...

THANK YOU BONNIE AND EDEN SONG MATERNITY for having faith in me, for being smart, wise and intuitive and kind, AND for giving me one of the very top best experiences I've ever had in my life!!!

Ziggy Skye

Ziggy Skye

      
So, we’re having a baby.  Several emotions pulsating through our physical beings; several thoughts speeding through our minds.  Euphoria- we’re having a baby!  Fear- are we doing the right thing?  Calmness- we ARE doing the right thing.  Anxiety- we only have nine months to plan this birth.  Thus begins the story of Ziggy Skye.
Right away, we knew we preferred not to have our baby in a hospital.  Determined to maintain a certain level of intimacy, we began searching our venues.  The list of options was short, so a midwife was the way for us.  In the beginning, I was skeptical of a home birth.  I thought I was more comfortable with being somewhere other than home; somewhere I felt was more equipped for emergencies yet not as sterile as a hospital.  But after speaking with Gail and Bonnie, my mind was made.  At home, our daughter would be borne into an immediate circle of warmth and love. And those special ladies, Vanessa included, proved themselves to be all the equipment necessary. 
My check ups reported nothing but perfect progression.  Everything moving along smoothly, we felt there was enough time to become fully prepared for the arrival of our daughter.  We were waiting to obtain the bulk of our necessities until after our baby shower.  After serious consideration, we scheduled our shower for January 19th.  That would give us our last month to tie up any loose strings.  So, the day prior, I went shopping for something cute to wear.  By this time, cute clothes were my only salvation to feeling like any average female, as opposed to a bloated whale.  Later that night, I enjoyed a steaming cup of raspberry leaf tea while relaxing with my husband and a friend that was visiting.  Having worn myself out that day, I retired to bed early. By two o’clock, I was up with an intense need to urinate and an odd moist sensation. Little did I know what was in store.  Same goes for Jim, my husband. Had he known better, he would have gone to bed earlier than 1:30 am.
After I went to the bathroom, I felt a warm moistness exuding from me again.  At about the same time, I began to feel a contraction.  After that one, another took its place.  Again I needed to pee.  This time I was having what I later found to be “pink show.”  I knew this because we had just begun our Bradley course, and had discussed the term; but we had three weeks to go, so this couldn’t be right. 
Just the afternoon prior, we discussed false labor.  As an attempt to put the pieces together, I decided to draw a warm bath with the intention of relaxing.  One after another, the contractions kept coming.  By this time, I was recording them with a pen and paper that I hauled into the tub with me.  When I could no longer concentrate on both my contractions and longevity therein, I woke my husband.  What a sight to see!  Me, naked in the tub, watch in one hand, pen in the other, staring up at him.  After wiping the sleepiness away, Jim took the reins of recording minutes.  Mind you, it’s now 3:30 or so.  He’s had only two hours of sleep, so he was somewhat out of sorts in the beginning.
Some time later, it dawns on us that this may not be false labor after all.  It was then that we opted to call up the ladies.  The first one we reached, Bonnie, arrived here just about a quarter to five.  (She later confides that when we called her, she was going to prescribe a nice long warm bath and a good night’s rest until she heard the description of bloody show.  Once she heard those words, she reckoned that she should take a gander.)  To our house she drove.
As she’s walking over our threshold, I greet her pacing the hallway clad only with warm white socks (it’s January).  As Bonnie examines me, she calmly says “Oh dear,” but her widening eyes give her alarm away.  We look at her imploringly.  “You’re nine centimeters!”
Yikes!  What to do?  A decision has to be made.  She looks at me and I know her question.  And I have her answer.  We’re having our baby here.  We may be early but thirty-six weeks is still a healthy baby, and I have had no complications thus far.  My vitals are good; the baby’s vital are good, so it’s a go.  She calls for reinforcement and Jim starts into “birthing” gear. 
Our initial intention is a water birth.  What a beautiful way to enter the world!  But an intention is how the idea remains.  We had purchased the pool but nothing else.  How are we to fill the pool once it’s blown up?  How do we maintain the temperature of the water?  All valid questions with no real answers.  After six breathless trips from the bathtub to the pool with a five-gallon tub (we have no hose) and no more hot water left, the water level in the pool is only ankle high.  We need the water to cover my bulging belly.  The dream is over, done, pricked with a needle.  Time for plan B.  The couch in the den is our next stop.
So everyone is here.  Bonnie, Gail, Vanessa, Jim and me.  I feel no true urge to push, so  I’m told to begin when I feel like it.  At 6:15 a.m., I begin.  But, I am just not getting enough push power per contraction.  It feels like trying to run a marathon uphill without any warm up runs.  We are trying all sorts of birthing positions.  I am eating honey by the tablespoons for quick energy and Jim is coaching while twiddling my nipples for stimulation (not that kind of stimulation.)  But nothing.  I am winded and all I want to do is have my baby already. 
The ladies strike gold with their next suggestion.  I must go to the bathroom and sit on the commode and let gravity do her job.  Boy, gravity is worth her weight in gold.  My contractions are coming along nicely; Jim is still tweaking my nipples, and the baby’s vitals are great.  What a trooper!  With each contraction, I am holding onto the toilet seat for leverage.  Many times I feared that I would break it.  But, alas, I do not. 
After some time perched there, we convene again in the den.  We try again over the couch on my knees.  Unbeknownst to all of us, as Ziggy had traveled down my canal, she had cocked her head a little bit, not enough to harm her or myself, but just enough to make that position very uncomfortable.  To hurdle over that, I attempt another position, but in process of doing so, I slide onto my back on the floor.  And believe it or not, that is how she was born.  I birth her head at 8:12 and then my contractions stop again.  Oh boy.  They stop long enough for even Ziggy to get impatient.  While waiting for me to get it together to birth the rest of her, she turns her head just enough to open her eyes and look at her father for the first time.  Then she calmly turns her head back down.  This may sound horrific, like out of a movie and maybe it was a little.  But, honestly, it was beautiful, heartwarming, maybe a bit funny, and something that my husband will never forget.  Three minutes later, Ziggy Skye was borne to us, an enchanting, alert, and peaceful daughter that we enjoy continuously. 
I must say that for us, our pregnancy was surreal.  Wonderful, yet surreal.  But the moment that Bonnie gave us our baby after catching her, a whole new world opened that we cherish.  And what makes our birth story so compelling to revisit and recite is the care, love, assistance, and the memories that these glorious women have given us.  Not only were these ladies caretakers, but also for a brief moment in time they were family members.  And in our souls, they will forever be sacred.  Thank you, ladies.

Triumphant Birth

Triumphant Birth

         On Thursday, April 11, I woke at 5 am with a contraction.   It was a bit stronger than the braxton hicks I had been used to.  A few minutes later I had another one.  I got up, used the restroom and tried to go back to bed.  When I had the third contraction I whispered, ?Brad.?  He sat straight up in bed.  I finished, ?Don?t get too excited, but I think it?s happening.?  I told him to rest, as I got up, got some water and played on the computer for a while.  My contractions were coming about 8 minutes apart.  They were nice and fairly strong.  I noticed the sun coming up through the window and was excited to get outside.  I put on my robe and walked around the backyard.  It was a beautiful morning and I felt so happy, excited but calm.  My body was working and it was amazing.  I went inside long enough to get a banana and tell Brad that I was going for a walk.  I couldn't?t wait to be back outside.  I began walking up and down the street.   I had a contraction so strong that I dropped my banana!  I started walking a bit faster.  When the contractions came I sang, clapped my hands lightly and put a spring into my step.  That helped tremendously.  The sun got higher in the sky and the pink clouds got whiter as Brad came out to join me.  We walked together, laughing as we passed by my banana, still laying in the street.  We talked about how wonderful it would be to have a tiny baby in our bed as we fell asleep that night.  We smiled and held hands as we walked through the contractions.  Our front door was open, but I wanted to go in and check on Kaden.  He was awake.  Brad got breakfast for him and I told him that our baby was to be born today.  He hugged me and asked if he could watch cartoons.  I took care of him while Brad busied around the house preparing for visitors, labor and birth.  More contractions came.  I wanted to go back outside, but felt better leaning on the arm of the couch through them.  Oh, they were getting stronger and I told Brad we might want to start timing them.  Thirty minutes later we called my midwife, Bonnie?s, office.  My contractions were 3 minutes apart and they were wonderfully strong.  We called my Doula, Linda, my mother, and my friend Brandy.  I told Brandy and my mom to take their time.  The atmosphere in the house was so peaceful and nice, I wasn't?t ready for guests.  Brad asked me to get on the bed so he could check my dilation.  I told him to hurry.  Laying on the bed was not tolerable during a contraction.  He checked me, and estimated I was at  4 or 5 cm, and the baby?s head was on my pubic bone.  I stood up and started walking around the house again.  Standing and walking felt so much better!  Brad called Bonnie to let her know how things were going.  She told him she didn't?t think she was going to make it!  I was in the bedroom with Kaden and my mom, who had just arrived.  I felt another contraction coming and knew I was going to be making some noise!  Leaning on the stool with my toes curling under me, I asked Kaden to help me ?howl like a coyote? through the contractions.  He howled and smiled, I howled and gripped the stool.  I could have never imagined the power and strength my body was capable of as the contractions gained in intensity.  Brad still ran through the house, preparing the birth room while still massaging and supporting me.  My Doula arrived.  She hugged me and said,  ?You know you are in labor, right??  I told her I knew, and that Bonnie wouldn't?t be making it.  I wanted Bonnie there, but I was so thankful to know that this would be over in less than the two hours it takes for her to drive in from Fort Worth!  I walked in the living room and got Brad to bring the stool.  Another huge contraction, Linda rubbed and pressed on my back.  At the peak of this one I let out a huge grunting noise.  I realized I was having the urge to push.  During the next contraction I felt it again.  I told Linda, ?I pushed a little and it felt really good!  I?m not ready to push!?  I walked into the hall thinking I may need to use the bathroom.  I felt another one and hurried into the birthing room and called out for my trusty stool to lean on.  This time, with Linda behind me and Brad by my side, I pushed.  My water broke!  I called out, ?My water just broke and it felt good!?  At that moment, my instincts and God told me to get down on my hands and knees.  That felt so right.  I pushed and crawled, then pushed and crawled a little further.  Pushing felt so wonderful.  Linda was massaging the cramp in my hip and Brad was trying to put water in the birthing pool.  I felt my baby?s head drop deep into my pelvis.  I reached my finger in and felt the head.  I told Brad I wasn't?t going to make it into the water.  Startled, he accidentally sprayed me with hose!  He apologized and I told him it actually felt nice!  One more push and I felt the head crowning.  Linda said, ?Brad, I see black hair!?   Another push and Linda thought the cord was wrapped around the top of the head.  Brad ran to phone Bonnie.  I said, ?No, everything is okay.?  I reached down and felt what they were looking at.  It was the roll of fat that is at the top of the head as a baby crowns.  ?It is just the head, it is okay.? I calmly told them.  Linda called out for Brad to come back in.  As he ran in the room, I pushed again.  Brad said, ?Oh my God, oh my God!?  I could feel him smiling and I knew the face was out.  Brad guided the head as I pushed again.  Out came the body, right into Brad?s hands!  I held my leg up to be sure not to pull the cord as I turned over and sat down.  I took the baby out of Brad?s hands and noticed a velvety body, a beautiful face and a penis!  ?Hello my son!?  I cried out as I held him to my chest. 
I did it!  I birthed my baby!  There are no words to describe the way that felt!  My best friend, Brandy had walked in right as he came out.  Linda got my mom and Kaden, who had been playing with our bunnies in the backyard.  As Kaden came in and I said, ?You have a baby brother!  What do you think??  He said, ?It?s good.?  He smiled and kissed me, lightly touching is baby brother?s head.  Brad sat close as I rubbed Donovan and began nursing him.  Brandy called Bonnie to tell her our baby had arrived.  One more push and the placenta was out.  Soon the room filled with laughter, hugs, tears and the miraculous sounds of our baby?s cries.  It was more than amazing!
An hour later Bonnie arrived.  We introduced her to our tiny son and she checked us over.  We were both healthy and fine.  Kaden got the honor of cutting the cord, just as he had been requesting for months.  Bonnie said she was sad that she missed such a glorious birth.  Then she said, ?What a triumph for you, an unassisted vaginal birth after caesarian at home!  I am so proud of you!?   I agreed, I am proud of us, too!
Birthing Donovan was the most empowering thing I have ever done.  It was hard work, but so much fun.  God has blessed us with two sons, and all I can feel is bliss. 

Stephanie Coleman

The Journey Pt 1
     
    My History     
    
By Stephanie Coleman


   I did it!  Just writing those words, I get chills down my spine.  I have read numerous testimonials of women having a successful VBAC during the past few months of my pregnancy, but I am still in a state of awe and disbelief that I am one of those women!  I gave birth naturally, in awareness, and at home!  What a journey I have been on in the past few months!  Birth is most definitely a journey.  There is no better way to describe it.
We became pregnant with our second baby when Hanna was barely seven months old.  I think deep inside me, I wanted to have another baby so quickly because I felt I needed to “fix” whatever had gone ”wrong” with the first birth.  Hannah was born by Cesarean Section due to my severe case of pre-eclampsia.  She weighed 3lbs. 8 oz. And was 17 ½ inches long.  My tiny beautiful preemie.  She was born in a community hospital, so she was transferred to another hospital where she could be cared for in the N.I.C.U. (neonatal intensive care unit) I was too sick to go anywhere so I stayed behind.  I didn’t get to see or hold my precious baby for three days!  I still cry when I think of how long it was before I was able to hold her.  My arms ached for her and to this day, I feel as if I missed out on something important in her life.  I believe I still try to make up for that all the time.  Breastfeeding her was a rough, rocky start.  After eight long weeks, I was finally breastfeeding her exclusively! No more breast pump, bottles, or breast infections!  I felt as if I was doing something to help her in a way no one else could!  I wasn’t failing her again.  I know my C-section was necessary for my life and the life of my baby, but for days and weeks after the c-section, I felt as if my body had failed.  I was too sick to carry a baby to term.  I couldn’t have a baby normally.  The doctor explained that my body was allergic to my husband’s genes and so it was fighting off my baby by giving me pre-eclampsia.  I worried about the other babies I so desperately wanted.  Maybe I shouldn’t have any more babies?  When Hannah was seven months old we became pregnant again.  A part of me believed that this time I would do everything right.  I had to.  I had to make up for my “mistakes” the first time.
When I went to see my OB for our first prenatal visit with our second pregnancy she suggested I try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) She said it would be tough but she would allow me a “trial of labor”.  It had never occurred tome that I would have to choose a “method of delivery”.  She had me sign a VBAC consent form.  That was the first time I ever heard of a “uterine rupture” or “scar separation”.  Over the next few months, I continued my prenatal visits.  My OB considered me a “super high risk” case because I was pregnant again so quickly, I had a previous Cesarean, previous pre-eclampsia, and I had a genetic disorder called Phenylketonura {PKU}.  My P.K.U. was managed with a low phenylalanine diet and would cause no serious harm to my unborn baby as long as I continued that diet throughout pregnancy.  When I asked her what I could do to prevent pre-eclampsia this time around, she said there was nothing I could do.  My chances of developing this disease again were 10%.  She told me that I had a very high chance of my uterus rupturing because of my pregnancies being so close together.  This was a subject we talked about at every visit.  I was very uneasy about my scar.  What if it wasn’t completely healed?
When I was five months along, I had my last prenatal visit with my OB.  We were relocating to the state of Texas because my husband had a career change.  As I was leaving her office that day she told me that a new report had come out in the New England Journal of Medicine about VBAC and said that if your pregnancies are less than eighteen months apart, it was too dangerous to have a VBAC.  A scheduled repeat C-section was necessary.  My OB told me my uterine scar most likely wasn’t healed all the way and with the extra stress of another pregnancy, I would be lucky to make it to term.  “Better sage than sorry, Stephanie” she told me.  “Go for the repeat C-section.  The recovery is tough but you can do it.  C-sections are so safe nowadays.  You can have five or six C-sections if you want and you‘ll be fine.  Women do it all the time.”  I believed my OB.  “Ok,” I said.  I left her office feeling defeated and sad that I would never give birth normally. I remember also feeling a sense of relief at the same time.  How much easier it was to have someone else decide something for me.  After all, since toe doctor said so, then it must be gospel truth.  At least, that was what I believed at the time.  Wow!  What a major change of thinking I needed! {Little did I know the changes that awaited me in Texas}?
When I arrived in Texas, I found an OB who worked with six or seven different doctors.  She was nice and had a great manner about her.  I did not care for her colleagues though.  Of course, I was planning on having a scheduled repeat c-section.  And she was fine with that.  I was too scared to try for a VBAC.  I believed it was not possible.  As the months dragged on, I became more and more nervous about my impending delivery.  How I had hated my C-section before!  The recovery was worse than anything I had imagined!  The separation from my baby was unbearable!  Was I ready to do that all over again? And how would I manage a newborn, a c-section recovery, and a sixteen month old?  Hannah was still a baby.  I was not looking forward to the delivery day.  What if I could have a vaginal delivery?  Maybe I should find that report my OB had told me about?  Thus, began my journey… 
 

The Journey pt 2
    
Making a decision
 
By Stephanie Coleman


     I seemed to be looking, searching... for something. Anything. Wasn't there a better way to have a baby? Could I have a baby normally? Whatever I was looking for, I wasn't completely comfortable about my decision to have a C-section again. What about the risks of major surgery to the baby and me? So, I began to research on my own. I read books about birth and pregnancy and VBACs. I read until I couldn't keep my eyes open and my thinking began to change. I found the report my OB had talked about. It was in Obstetrics and Gynecology and it was not a new report. The women in the study who suffered from uterine rupture were usually induced with oxytocin Uterine rupture was counted as a "symptom" of uterine rupture whether it was complete or not. There were many other factors in the study as well that were inconclusive and yet, the risk of rupture was found to only be 1.5 to 2.5%. I could have a VBAC! My chances of getting preeclampsia were higher than that! I was uncomfortable with some of the OB's I had seen and I knew they wouldn't support a VBAC. My chances of getting the one OB I liked to deliver my baby was very small. Unless I decided to schedule a repeat c-section.
So, I switched to a practice of CNM's (Certified Nurse Midwife). I had been reading about midwifery and "woman- centered'' care and I knew that was for my baby and me. There were four CNM's and they practiced out of the same hospital. I took my list of questions with me to interview them when I was already 33 weeks pregnant! Time was ticking away! The CNM answered all my questions perfectly and reassured me that I could do whatever I wanted to in labor.
No pitocin, no drugs, no IV no EFM. etc. I wasn't 100% convinced. How could she guarantee that? There was something about her that didn't feel quite right. Maybe I was
was finally comfortable. He was going crazy with me changing my mind so often. When we left their office, I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders. I borrowed a ton of books from Gail about VBAC and homebirth.  We went home and watched "Gentle Birth Choices" I devoured every book and felt uplifted by the thousands of testimonials of VBAC women! If they could do it, then so could I!  I had been learning how to change my thinking. Pregnancy and childbirth is not an illness, a disease, or an emergency waiting to happen. Birth is usually normal, healthy, and a natural part of life. My body is not defective. My uterus is healed and strong. I drank more raspberry tea. My uterus is strong! ! My body is made for birthing! I was slowly beginning to realize how many unnecessary C-sections are performed everyday and how brain washed and ill-informed the women In our society are! Including myself. That was many years of un-brain washing I had to do. Instead of trusting my own body and instincts, I had put all my trust and faith in my doctors. I was beginning to discover that OBGYN's were for pregnant women who were high risk or were ill. Midwives were for the majority of normal healthy pregnant women! And oh how we need midwives! Unfortunately, in our highly technological society, we are programmed to believe that birth is scary, dangerous, and needs to be "managed" by an OB. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a system, like other countries such as Holland and Sweden, where the midwives and doctors worked together with the midwives taking care of the normal healthy majority of pregnant women and the OB's caring for the few women who develop problems or an illness? I found a "Birthing From Within'' childbirth class that held the same philosophy as the book I had read. Birth art was used, feelings were explored, and I went through a few soul searching exercises that helped me make peace with my body and learn to trust myself. I believed I was finally there almost. Little did I know, I still had one more hurdle to overcome.
All my life I have had a hard time making decisions and sticking with them.
Especially when the decision is hard or unpopular. How much easier it is to let someone else choose for me and let them take all the responsibility off of my shoulders! So, as I was choosing to have a homebirth, I began to have second thoughts even after we had hired Gail and Bonnie. Two CNM's taught the childbirth class together. One of them worked at a "radical" hospital that allowed women to labor and give birth however they wanted! The hospital was about 45 minutes away from our house, though! She talked about her hospital at every class and how wonderful it was. Meanwhile, I found myself in a very defensive position. I had recently told my mother, my grandmother, and friends that we were having our baby at home. Needless to say, there was not much support in favor of my choice. My mom was worried for me and it was rubbing off on me. (She had been with me in the office the day that my OB had told me about the new report and that all my babies should be born by C-section! ) My great aunt Elaine was a woman I respected and admired and she had said I was making a very unwise decision. (She used to be a nurse) That really hurt me and I felt like maybe I was doing the wrong thing since everyone was against it. My grandmother called me and tried to talk me out of it and said I was crazy and that I could die. (She had been born at home! ) My dad said to make sure I had a will made out! I spent the next few days trying to convince everyone that I was doing the right thing for my baby and myself. I never convinced them. They all thought I was being crazy and defiant. I just wanted to have a natural, normal birth and give my baby a better start at life than Hannah had. I felt myself becoming unsure. (it was the responsibility factor.) The CNM at our childbirth class told me that a VBAC was possible but that since I was too scared, I shouldn't be having my baby at home. That gave me a way out! The nurse said I had to have my baby at the hospital, so I changed my mind again. I believe I was too afraid to do what I felt was right even though it was not popular and I didn't have much support. Again, I was letting someone else choose for me. I called Bonnie and I guess you could say that I fired them. Bonnie respected my decision but I could tell she thought I was being crazy too! She said that she sees normal natural homebirths all the time and she knew that my chances of having a VBAC would be smaller in a hospital. I felt terrible after I hung up with her. I still felt like I wasn't making the right decision. I had felt so comfortable with my midwives and the decision to have the baby at home. I knew that for my baby and I to be safe and have a healthy birth, we would need to be free of the technology and limitations that are placed on VBAC women (and ALL women for that matter!) in a hospital setting. But, making such an important decision as this one was difficult. It meant taking complete responsibility for my choice even if something went wrong. I know now that I was too scared to take responsibility for that choice. I have had a hard time trusting my own heart without second guessing myself. It is much easier to do what everyone else says I should do- that way I am able to escape fault or responsibility. That way I can't be wrong. This was part of my journey learning to make a decision - and sticking with it. Learning to follow what my heart desires. Doing what I feel is best for my baby and me. I decided to sit down and read my postoperative report about my C-section from the previous year. I then called my OB from California and ask her some questions about my C-section and my uterus. I guess I was searching for reassurance that my uterus and scar was tine. She asked me when my doctor was doing my section. I told her I was having a VBAC. She spent the next five minutes trying to convince me that I needed a C-section and a VBAC was too dangerous for me. When I hung up with her, I didn't feel any better. I felt more resolved in my choice of a midwife. My OB said if I were still in her care, I would be having a C-section because she "...would rather be safe than sorry." I wonder what her C-section rate is? What about the risks of a scheduled repeat C-section? Hemorrhage, infection, respiratory distress to the baby, and effects of the anesthesia? I sat down to write in my journal about Hannah's birth and my feelings about it. I hadn't done that yet.  I "dealt with my demons and cleaned out the closet". Finally. And then I knew what I had to do. I called my midwife Bonnie and told her I had just had cold feet'' and had temporarily "gone crazy'' and that it wouldn't happen again. I wanted them back. I wanted to have my baby at home. I knew in my heart that my chances of having the VBAC I dreamed of would lessen considerably if I went to the hospital- any hospital. My husband had faith in me and trusted my judgment. That helped me more than he knows.  No one else- including myself- seemed to trust me. My friend Alyeen was there every time I felt scared and began to doubt what I was doing. I called her numerous times for encouraging words and to remind me why I was doing this. There was no turning back now. I was already 38 weeks pregnant.
Two days later, at our church services, I began having regular contractions. They were consistent and close together for a couple hours. III rubbed my back and gave ' me her stopwatch to time them. Five minutes apart. After we got home from church, l called our midwife. Gail arrived an hour later and checked me. l was 1 cm dilated and 90% effaced. She told me my body was just swarming up'' for the real thing. Pre-labor.  After Gail left, I was disappointed that I wasn't in active labor but I felt so comfortable and relieved having the midwife come to my home. I didn't have to worry about when to go to the hospital. My own environment- comfortable and familiar. I was surprised to realize that this was where I felt the most safe.
It seemed to me that now that I was comfortable about my decision to have the baby at home with our midwives, I wanted my pregnancy to be over. I was through battling with decisions and I felt settled so now I wanted to meet the baby. Again, I needed to learn another lesson about waiting for the baby's own time to come. No matter what I did, that would be up to the baby to decide when he was ready to make his entrance into our world. I was tired of being pregnant, I was big and uncomfortable, and I was anxious to get the show on the road. So, Alyeen and I went walking at the mall a couple days during the week to try and get me into labor. I took evening primrose oil every night to help soften and ripen my cervix. Nothing seemed to happen. The next day, I began taking blue and black cohosh and Alyeen and I went walking again. My contractions were coming hard and fast and started out at 5 minutes apart. After they had been 2 minutes apart for over an hour, I called Gail again. I was sure I was in labor this time. When I told Gail what my contractions were like. She said it seemed strange that they were coming so fast and they didn't start out at least 10 minutes apart or so. She asked if I was sure that this was it I don't remember my reply, but I remember feeling unsure. How was I supposed to know? I had never gone into labor before on my own! Gail arrived an hour later to check me. I was still 1 cm dilated and 90% effaced. Gail gave me a pep talk then. Don't try so hard to make the baby come when he isn't ready.  The baby will come in his own tame. I was told to stop taking the blue and black cohosh immediately- they were causing meaningless contractions for no reason. The baby wasn't responding to it so they were not effective. I resolved to let things be and wait for the baby to come. I think I had been afraid that since my body had never gone into labor naturally before, that it wouldn't know how to do that. I thought I needed to help it out. I was wrong again. And that was okay. Just another step in my journey. How amazed I was to realize that my body DOES know how to birth a baby. I went into labor a week later- on October 11- four days past my due date. The night before, my husband and I had decided to try bringing the baby into the world the some way he was conceived. It worked!
 

The Journey Pt-3

Labor
 
By Stephanie Coleman


 That morning, I woke up with mild contractions. I went to the bathroom and I lost my mucous plug. Now, that was pretty gross! I had a strange gut feeling that today was the day! Of course, the house was a mess. Laundry needed to be done. The bathtubs needed to be scrubbed with beta dine. I wasn't ready. I was lucky my mom was there.  She came to visit from California and stay to help out when the baby came. She got busy cleaning. I got busy eating, walking around, squatting, and timing my contractions. They started out at ten minutes apart. Then they were seven minutes apart. After they were 5 minutes apart consistently, I called our midwife Bonnie at the office Gail (who had just had her appendix out) was also at the office- crazy lady! I told them this was it and they asked if I could come up to the office. So, I called my husband's cell phone at work. We bought the cell phones exclusively for this purpose- to contact him when I went into labor. And of course his cell phone wasn't working! I called his office number and no one answered! I was getting frustrated! I left a message for his supervisor to have him call me. I was mad that I couldn't reach him! What if I have the baby without him? Now I was getting irrational! My mom was starting to believe that I was really in labor! A half hour later, my husband called back. When I told him to come home, he asked, "Are you sure?"  I was. When we finally arrived at the midwives office, they checked the baby and me. Blood pressure fine. Baby's heart tones were great. I was 100 % effaced and dilated to 3 cm! Yeah! I was right! These contractions felt different than anything I had ever felt! They felt like menstrual cramps that were followed by sharp pains in my lower abdomen and back. We did an ultrasound to confirm the baby's head position. His back was on my left side and his head was facing sideways. His head still needed to rotate. We went home to labor. I got into the knee/chest position and I walked around the apartment cleaning up and making snacks for the midwives. I decided to take a bath to ease my back pain. My husband helped me and stayed with me. I could not get comfortable in the tub because I was too short. I couldn't rest up against the tub without sliding down. Needless to say, I didn't stay in there too long. Around 4:00 pm, I felt like I "needed" my midwives. My husband called them and Bonnie arrived at 5:00. She checked me and I was 5-6 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and very thin! She said I had probably gone into active labor (4-5 cm dilated) at around 4 pm. What great news this was! When Gail arrived at 6:00, I had been leaning over my bed while Bonnie continued to give me counter pressure on my back- I had some uncomfortable back labor due to the baby's head position. A few minutes later, I felt queasy shaky. I threw up in a bowl. Bonnie thought I was done so she took the bowl away. I threw up again- this time on my husband! What a wonderful guy! He just held his hands out for me to throw up in! I remember turning to Gail and saying, "I think it's for real, Gail. I'm in labor." She laughed and replied nonchalantly, "Yep, looks like the real thing to me" She had me get into the knee/chest position. The baby's head still needed to rotate. I rested my head on a pillow and felt so comfortable and sleepy. I stayed in that position for about a half hour. My back felt wonderful! Whoever says this position is uncomfortable has never had back labor! My husband brought me a snack (though I honestly can't remember what it was) and I relaxed like this for a little while longer.
Around 7:30 pm, Bonnie checked me again. I was dilated to 8 cm! Wow! What progress! I was in shock that my body was progressing naturally as it should and that it knew what to do! I did not feel scared. Just excited. I couldn't wait to get to the pushing part! How badly I wanted to feel my baby coming out of my body! As Bonnie felt for the baby's head, my bulging bag of waders broke all over her and the bed! "I hope it didn't get on your face and mouth!'' I laughed at her. (That actually happened to her before and she had amniotic fluid in her mouth! ) Her face was saved! I had never felt so much water before! How strange and wonderful to feel that come bursting out of me! It was during this time that my contractions were now coming so fast and so intense that they were right on top of each other! Bonnie did the counter pressure. She was the only one that did it perfectly. In fact, while she was in the other room getting a snack, my contractions were coming harder and I remember yelling for her to come quickly. I needed her now! Instant relief come as soon as she applied the counter pressure! At one point, I began rocking and swaying my hips. It was almost like my labor was a dance. I tried to let my body just feel each contraction and "give into it'' instead of fighting it. With each contraction, I just moved with it and I "sounded" deep into my throat. The moaning was almost a natural reaction to the pain. The vibrations and movement felt better. I felt as if I was taking control of my pain and "letting it be" instead
of letting it take control of me. I remember thinking how grateful I was that I wasn't stuck somewhere in a hospital bed flat on my back. No wonder women get an epidural to deal with the pain! They don't have the freedom or privacy to "dance" or move around with their contractions. Their pain takes control of them and the only way they can deal with it is by by getting rid of it.  If I had been in a hospital on my back, I probably would have gotten an epidural too! My back labor would have been unbearable! I did keep thinking that eventually the pain would get worse than this, but I was wrong! My labor was progressing so quickly I had a hard time remembering everything that was happening! Jeff and Bonnie took turns letting me hold onto them while I rocked and danced. After a contraction, I remember feeling a strange sensation between my legs! Could that be the urge to push? Bonnie told me to bear down if I wanted to. I did push very gently and it felt wonderful! Relief!! A few minutes later, the urge was unbearable and there was no mistaking that it was time to push! I immediately climbed up on the bed and laid on my left side. I pulled my right leg up in the air so that I could push. I NEEDED to push! What an incredible feeling that was! My body was working! Bonnie and Gail looked at each other at this moment (or so my husband later told me) and they said that a woman puts her leg up instinctively when she is complete. They checked me and I was 10 cm dilated! My husband climbed up onto the bed and cradled me in his arms while he also held up my leg for me! I gave into the urge to push again. It was almost 8:00 pm.
 

 The Journey pt 4
    
The Birth
     
By Stephanie Coleman 


This part of my labor was strange. I felt as if I wasn't even there. I had tunnel vision and I was in my own world. My mom was there, my husband was holding me, Bonnie and Gail were massaging and stretching me, and Alyeen was watching. Although all these people were here, I could not see them all at once. I could only focus on one person at a time. I felt as if I was in a sort of twilight zone. My ears zeroed in on key words and phrases. The baby's heart tones were low for a while. Then they were okay.
I was surprised at how much concentration it took to push correctly! I think a part of me was afraid to push too hard- that my uterus might explode. I felt some pain right at my scar as I pushed a few times. I was worried for a moment but I remembered that the pain was from weak muscles. Also, I remembered reading somewhere that if the uterus would rupture, it usually happens before the pushing stage. I became tired from the pushing and I was afraid I was not doing it correctly. No one had ever told me how much work it was to push! The heart tones were not good again. I could feel Gail and Bonnie massaging me. The hot compresses felt wonderful! The heart tones were still low and for a moment they couldn't even get them. Then, finally Bonnie asked me, "Stephanie, what do you think of an episiotomy?'' That really caught my attention. I knew how my midwives felt about episiotomies and they only did them in an emergency. "Will it hurt"?  I asked. What a dumb question. Of course it would hurt. I didn't really care. I just wanted my baby to be all right. "Yes" Bonnie replied, "But if this baby is not born with the next contraction we're going to do an episiotomy. The baby's heart tones are too low and we think the cord is around the neck. He needs to come out now" At the next contraction, I felt like a mother lion! I even roared like one! I had kept my eyes closed before as I pushed, but this times by mom held my gaze and made me keep my eyes wide open and looked at her as I
Pushed! I had renewed strength from out of nowhere and I pushed so hard I felt as if I was going to burst wide open yet it felt wonderful!  I felt the baby's head come through me and Alyeen held a mirror down by his head for me to see. I sat forward and saw my baby's face! What an awesome feeling to see his head outside while the rest of his body was still inside of me. With the next contraction, I pushed the rest of his body out. The midwives had slipped the cord off of his neck, which had been wrapped around three times! Gail said, "It's a little boy!'' Jeff was so excited, I remember him saying, "Honey, it's a boy!" The baby was very quiet. Gail blew some air into his face and auctioned him.  He finally was breathing on his own, yet he was quiet. I just wanted to know he was okay. He wasn't crying for a while. Alyeen looked at me and said, "You just had a gentle birth, Stephanie. He's fine."  Gail laid him on my stomach and as I held him in my arms, I remember crying over and over, "Oh, my baby! My baby! I can't believe he just came out of me!" My mom brought Hannah into the room and she held and kissed her new brother! She looked a little confused and startled at what was going on! A few minutes later, I pushed out the placenta and so much blood that I felt as if I was swimming in it! I felt light headed. Bonnie gave me a shot of pitocin in my thigh because I had lost about 3 cups of blood. (Thank goodness for Chlorophyll. I drank so much of that stuff in the next few weeks! ) Jeff held the baby while I was getting cleaned up. You've never seen a prouder Daddy!'' Alyeen said to me. " You should see your husband! He's so proud of you, he was just prancing around the house!'' An hour later, Bonnie put our son in the net and weighed him. 7 pounds 11 ounces, 21 inches long. Wow! To me, that was huge! A whole four pounds bigger than Hannah was and long, too! After four hours of active labor and an hour of pushing, Michael Allen Coleman was born in our home and into our arms at exactly 9:0 pm. Within his first hour of life, he nursed for the first time and I cried. Though I felt joy in those first moments, I also felt sorrow for this beautiful time that I had missed in Hannah's life.
Even though I was quite pale and light headed from the loss of blood, I felt like I was on cloud nine! I did it! I had my VBAC! I felt like I could climb Mount Everest now! My baby was beautiful and healthy and his birth was quiet and safe. He didn't enter the world with blaring hospital lights and he wasn't thrown around from person to person.  We had caring, competent midwives who guided and waited and supported throughout the birth. I had the freedom to eat, drink, and move as I please. I had the privacy and support and comfort to move as I felt I needed to, to "give into'' my labor and enjoy it! YES! I ENJOYED LABOR! I LOVED IT! IT WAS EXCITING AND FUN! I would do it all over again just to experience the labor and birth! What women do you know of that can say that and mean it after a chemically induced, pitocin'd, epidural'd, vacuumed, episiotomied labor?!  I won't lie. It hurt. It was hard work. But, the difference was the support I received, the loving environment in which I was surrounded, and the lack of technology that was involved. My beliefs are reaffirmed now more than ever! Birth is a natural, normal, and healthy part of human life. Birth works! It has worked for thousands of years, obviously! It works even better when it is not interfered with! Sometimes it needs a little help but not with chemicals or drugs - unless a woman is completely incapable of birthing normally for reasons beyond her capabilities. (Severe deformities, illness, or life threatening childbirth emergencies-which are rare.) I am able to understand more fully how marvelous my body is! Yes, I marvel at this body that God has given me. I marvel at how miraculous and beautiful are conception and pregnancy and birth. I marvel this beautiful baby that was born sweetly and gently into a warm and welcoming world. Quiet and alert he came. No drugs!  I loved being able to FEEL every little twinge, every contraction, and every ounce of pain! It meant my body was working and it reaffirmed my belief that our bodies are made for birthing! I made a poster that still hangs on my wall with a picture of a woman (myself) giving birth. It reads these words, "My body is perfect for birthing!'' I would do it all over again in a heartbeat! My midwives were incredibly supportive and caring. They believed in me. My husband had faith in my ability to give birth. Alyeen constantly reminded me that I could do it. Even towards the end, my mom had faith in me and helped me at a crucial moment to bring her grand child into the world! But, the most important part of this journey was that I believed in myself. I believed in my body's natural ability and I trusted that my baby knew what to do! I felt at one with him as we danced our way through birth! No longer will I question what I know is right. No longer will I question what my heart desires. I will trust my instincts and intuition. Even when no one else agrees.  I will always do what I feel is best and safe for my babies. I believe in my body's ability to birth normally and I feel whole. Oh, that every woman could know such joy!

One Woman's Testament

One Woman's Testament

     
 A side note from web publisher:  This birth story is not meant to degrade the work that doctors do, because as we know they do save lives.  Its intent is to show how this woman and many others suffer when someone trained for the treatment of disease and surgical procedures is their primary care provider, when the only condition involved is a normal, healthy pregnancy.
 
Hi, Bonnie! I'm going to share my birth story with you as I remember it, but I must warn you that I'm rather a butcher with the written word. And I still get angry when I think of Eli's birth, so if my story is barely legible...don't be surprised.
My entire pregnancy was complication free; I was incredibly healthy the entire time, I gained about 26 pounds, ate a great diet and remained pretty active through the entire pregnancy. I was so healthy and happy, and it's a shame that I didn't educate myself about birth. I might have been in a better position to advocate for myself and my wishes...maybe I could have avoided some of what happened.
I can't say that I enjoyed the physicians who provided my prenatal care (could what they provided me be called care? No, prenatal treatment is a much better term, I think). They were cold and callous and for them, my pregnancy was an illness to be diagnosed and treated, rather than a normal condition of life. I was the patient; merely a woman (weak and useless by virtue of my vagina) who, without the wisdom and guidance of the great and almighty physician, would surely never survive the pregnancy and birth of the child I was carrying. In so many subtle ways, I was encouraged to doubt my body, my child, and my ability to bring both of us through labor unscathed... Questions were certainly never tolerated, and to question anything was to suffer the wrath of the almighty.
As I neared my due date, I was told that my cervix wasn't effacing and that I might not efface or dilate at all because I'd had a cryocautery (for abnormal pap smears) in the past, and that the resulting scar tissue might prevent dilation. At my 39 week check up on Friday, my doctor told me that if I didn't go into labor over the weekend, he would want to induce me the following Wednesday, as he didn't like his patients going past 40 weeks. Like a good little girl, I allowed him to schedule the induction. Was grateful, even...because surely I'd never have gone into labor without his help...right? *sarcasm*
The weekend came and went without event, and on Wednesday, at 40 weeks +2 days, I went to the hospital for my induction. My IV was in place, the pitocin started at about 9:00. I thought the pit was going to hurt, but I didn't feel anything at all. I could feel my uterus contracting, but there was no pain or discomfort. At 12:30 my doctor came in and broke my bag of waters, and the fluid was meconium stained. What looked like a river of stagnant water flowed from between my legs, and he told me I'd need to get my epidural now. Didn't ask if I was ready, just told me it was time to get one, because he was putting an internal monitor in to watch the baby more closely. Like a good little girl, I deferred to the wishes of the physician, even though I was in no pain at all. Around one, my epidural was placed, and the doctor came back to do the internal monitor. He never did get the thing to work, so he left, and I lay numb, hungry, and painfully thirsty on my back for the next 11 hours.
Every hour or two, a nurse would come in to check my cervix and up the pitocin level, but I couldn't get anyone to help me go to the restroom. The first few times I asked the nurse for help getting to the toilet or at the very least for a bedpan, she put me off, and put me off, and put me off until I urinated on myself, and had to lay about in soiled bedding until she was ready to come and change it. So after that, it was my mother who had to place me on a bedpan every hour, because no nurse would help me to the restroom that often.
So I lay and wait...still hungry, so thirsty I was literally in tears, and I developed a fever...could it have been because the nurses treated my vagina like a playground, checking me so often and introducing bacteria with their rubber clad hands? That's my theory...
I progressed quite slowly (according to the nursing staff and my doctor--though in retrospect I can't see how anyone was possibly surprised by this. They set me up for it by putting the epidural in so early, and by forcing my to lay flat on my back) and by 10 o'clock I was at 4 cm and had been for quite awhile. The gOBlin came back. He checked my one final time and informed me that if I was not complete and pushing by midnight, I would be having a cesarean and then he left...And I lay and waited, grieving the fact that my body was apparently broken, and that it seemed that I couldn't deliver my baby without help from the almighty after all...
And then I had to poop...Or that's what it felt like, anyway. 45 minutes after the ultimatum was issued, I was found to be completely dilated, and ready to push. Was the doctor just really rough when he examined me? Perhaps...but I like to think that my body was saying it's final "f*** you"...So the doctor was paged to return, and the nurse put my feet in the stirrups, placed a mirror and a light at the foot of my bed and told me to push. With my feet in stirrups, I pushed like a good little girl (though I am amazed that I could, because I couldn't even feel my feet) watching as my perineum bulged with each one. One of my big fears was defecating while pushing, and when it inevitably happened, I asked the nurse to clean it. I was horribly embarrassed, but she told me it was only going to get worse, and I don't recall her doing what I asked...
So I pushed, and pushed, and pushed...Probably for 45 minutes, all told...Sometime near the end of that, the good doctor arrived, suited up in his green gown, and sat on his stool between my legs to catch my baby. I couldn't see him for the big blue sheets draped over my bottom half, but I watched in fascination the mirror set up behind him. I recall asking him NOT to cut me with his scissors, but a few minutes later, he did it anyway.
It really didn't take long for my son to come out. He was quiet long enough to make my breath catch, but then he cried out. He was laid on the big blue sheets on my stomach long enough for my husband to cut the cord, and then he was whisked away to the warmer. He was pronounced to have a fever (duh, I had a fever, and he was in me) so before I could hold him or nurse him, the nurse required that he have a bath to bring his temperature down. My husband and mother were at the warmer checking out the baby, and I was alone...
The single most powerful memory of my son's birth was not his arrival, but of looking at the mirror which remained at my feet as the placenta was delivered, and the work of stopping my bleeding came to fore (because, of course, I wasn't allowed to nurse my baby yet. No nipple stimulation to staunch the flow...) I watched as the blood flowed out from my ruined vagina. That is the image burned into my brain more deeply than any other. The image of my mutilated genitals, and my doctor in them wrist deep pulling out wads of bloody gauze.
And that's how my son came into this world. *NAME DELETED*, 9 lbs, 3 oz and 21 3/4 inches long.
As soon as he started nursing, the bleeding stopped. 
Shall I recount the indignity of the recovery period? That once in my room, I again could not get a nurse to help me to the bathroom, even though I was too dizzy to get up alone and was instructed to wait for help? That no one would help me shower, so my mother had to bathe me, cleaning the dried blood from my thighs? That strange women breezed in and out of my room looking at my swollen genitals several times a day? That I was encouraged to give my child formula, and hand him over to the nursery so I could get some much needed rest?...that's not even all of it, Bonnie.
And you see, this is why I must birth at home. It was more than a year and a half before I regained any feeling of being a sexual human being. I honestly attribute this to the humiliation, the degradation of my birth experience. I felt (and to some extent still do) so incredibly violated and traumatized...Medical rape, a fitting label for what I went through, I think. And through much careful examination, much research, and prayer, I'm finally healing from my experience. And I feel that homebirthing my next child will be the culmination of the process. So now, I'm taking my body and the birth process back. I am empowering myself, and trusting fully in my body to do what it is designed to do. Birthing at home is the only thing that makes sense to me anymore... And here I am, in search of a midwife and friend to accompany me on my journey of empowerment and reclamation... 

The Birth of Jaden

Jaden's Home Birth

    

 At 36 weeks I had a bout of false labor so I assumed that I would probably deliver before my due date of March 4.  How wrong I was.  The due date came and went and I was devastated.  I had been having contractions off and on for weeks and still no baby.  Finally, at 41 weeks, on Monday March 12th around 2 am I woke up with contractions.  They were only about 30 seconds long but they were every 6 min or so.  Too much to sleep through but not active labor.  I had a prenatal appointment with the midwife that morning so I decided to get ready for that and go if things stayed the same.  They did not.  The contractions moved to 1 min long and every 5 min.  But they were still mild.  My husband wanted me to call our midwife and see what she thought.  She said it sounded like labor and said she would be over soon.  She arrived around 8 or so and checked my cervix.  No change from the last time she checked it, only 2cm. dilated, so she said that she would leave her stuff and told us to go for a walk and see if things picked up.  Before she left she taught my husband how to check dilation and the baby’s position so that we would be able to get our own progress report.  The contractions stayed the same all day.  We went out to lunch at Chilies.  The lady sitting across from us had her 3-week-old baby girl with her.  I was so jealous that she had her baby and mine was still cooking.  The contractions did not go away but they did not get stronger either.  I was beginning to think it was false labor again.  We decided to go to Super Wal-Mart and buy some groceries.  While we were shopping the contractions got quite a bit stronger.  When we got home we put away all the food and my husband checked my cervix.  He said that the cervix was very thin but dilation was the same.  However the baby’s head was REALLY low.  So he wanted to call Bonnie-our midwife-.  We called her around 1 am and she came and checked me.  She agreed but the cervix was now at a 3.   She was actually amazed at how low the baby was and how little I was dilated.  She decided to stay.  Adolfo-my husband- went to get some rest and I tried to rest on the recliner.  Just as I would doze a contraction would come and wake me up.  They were a lot more painful sitting than they had been standing.  Bonnie curled up on the sofa for a little bit of rest and I tried to deal with contractions in the recliner.  Finally around 5 am I got up.  I was hungry so I cooked breakfast stopping for each contraction.  I almost burnt the eggs. :-)  Bonnie said it was the first time a laboring woman cooked her breakfast.  I was working really hard at keeping protein in my system because I could tell this was going to take awhile and I wanted to have the energy to finish it at HOME.  Around 7 am Bonnie decided I needed some sleep.  So she suggested that I drink a beer or some wine to see if we could slow contractions down a bit so that I could rest.  It did not work.  :-(  I was exhausted but not ready to give up.  We decided if we could not stop it maybe we could speed it up.  So she checked my cervix and found it to be at a 4.  One cm for a whole nights worth of laboring...arggg!  At this rate I was going to be in labor until Sunday!  We went for another really brisk walk and that got them to become stronger but still dilation was slow in coming.  Bonnie thought that perhaps it was the position of the baby slowing things down so she had me get onto my hands and knees to see if we could help him move to a more favorable position.  It seemed to work because contractions became more intense but the little stinker moved right back after 3 or 4 ctx.  Bonnie had an open house for her new office planned for that evening from 5pm to 9pm:  she needed to be there if possible.  My labor was not really going anywhere so she called another midwife-Ginger- and she came to be with us until Bonnie could come back.  Before she left she gave me some herbs to help labor and rubbed some epo into my cervix.  I kept eating and laboring trying to keep a positive outlook.  We had decided not to call any of our family or friends until 6 or seven cm.  But my husband was emotionally worn out and needed some help so we called my mom and asked her to come she brought my sisters as well.  They are 13 and 17.  He called his mom and told her what was up and that we would call her when things got moving.  My mom was great.  She went and got some chicken so we could eat and straitened up the house.  I think Bonnie returned around 9:30, that’s about when labor began picking up.  My friends Rachel and Erin came over about the time I hit hard labor.  I was overwhelmed by all of the people in my living room so I dragged my husband into the bedroom.  From there on time is really blurred.  I was standing and rocking through the contractions.  My hind waters broke and so we decided to break the for-waters to help put more pressure on the cervix.  I started to get really hot and decided to get into the bathtub for a little water therapy, but the tub was not deep enough and sitting was unbearable.  I got back out.  But I did not get dressed.  I was wiped so I asked for an energy drink that my mil had next door.  I drank it and then threw it up.  So much for that.  At some point his mom arrived and so we had a full bdrm.  Me, my husband, mom, his mom, 2 midwives, and Erin and Rachel.  Rachel was in and out.  I think she felt helpless but just knowing she was there made me feel better.  All throughout my back was what hurt he most.  After the bath I went into transition- maybe it was sooner-.  I began to get very frustrated that I was still in labor and sooooo very tired.  I was not sure I could go on.  I started to cry.  That’s when Erin and Adolfo reassured me that I could do it.  I prayed for strength and stamina.  A few min later Erin told me that Bonnie said I had amazing stamina.  At some point I began to sing my birth song.  Erin later told me it was the most primal thing she has ever heard.  It came from somewhere deep within.  I will probably never be able to duplicate it.  I withdrew into myself and found my laboring place.  I would get very confused and annoyed when something would pull me out of it.  For my next birth there will be fewer people in the birthing room.  I remember beginning to push little pushes and Adolfo asked me if I was pushing.  All I could say was "I don’t know...maybe."  I felt a tremendous amount of pressure in my rectum and I remember saying the baby was trying to come out of my bottom.  Bonnie checked me and I was progressing nicely.  I don’t remember at what point I was fully dilated but it did happen.  I remember standing beside the bed leaning on my ball; it was on the bed, and Adolfo putting counter pressure on my back and my mom holding my hands on the other side of the ball while I pushed.  Bonnie was putting compress on my perineum and massaging with olive oil and monitoring the baby.  I pushed lying on my side for a while and then I stood some more.  I asked for some honey at some point to help with energy because I could feel it draining away.  I also talked to God and told him how tired I was and how much I needed his help.  I am certain he gave me the strength I needed to finish giving birth to my baby.  At 5:30 the baby’s heart rate was a little low and it stayed low.  Soon it was really low and Bonnie told me we had to get him out now and she was sorry but she had to do an episiotomy.  I told her to do what ever she had to do just take care of my baby!  She had me lay on my back and my mom supported my shoulders and Erin and Adolfo held my legs back to help open my pelvis.  I had been pulled out of my labor place and was confused and scared.  I just knew that I had to push with all of my might.  She had to cut twice to get it big enough to deliver quickly.  I screamed with the cuts but actually delivery was thrilling not painful.  I could feel his little body slid out of me, he even kicked as his legs were coming down the birth canal.  He came out screaming.  Nothing was wrong with him.  His 1 min apgar should have been a 10 but Bonnie said that she refused to give him a 10 when he gave us such a scare. :-) So it is a 9.  When his warm wet little body was put on my tummy all I could say was "Is he ok” All I could think was "Thank you God he is ok".  He was born at 5:48am March 14,2001.  He weighed 6lb 4oz. and was 20 and 1/2 inches long.  My bleeding was minimal and the placenta delivered easily.  I cannot express how happy I am to have had him at home with my closest friends and family members present.  Adolfo's dad lives next door and heard me scream with the episiotomy so he came over.  We wrapped him up and put a shirt on me and covered my legs so his Grandpa, and aunts and uncles could come in to meet him.  My brother and one of my husband’s brothers had arrived at some point.  I breastfed him shortly after and his father and I sat and looked at him in amazement for a while.  The midwife came back into the room and weighed and measured and checked him out.  We then got into an herbal bath.  He loved the water. I got out and Bonnie stitched me up and filled out the papers.  We named him Jaden, which means Jehovah has given ear or heard. Everyone had left except Rachel.  Ginger showed us the placenta and explained it to us.  Then Bonnie and Ginger left and Adolfo and I took a nap while Rachel looked after the baby.  I woke up around 12 and took over the baby and Rachel went home for some much deserved sleep as well.  My mom came over in the afternoon and cleaned up the house.  Our siblings had made quite a mess.  She also made chicken and dressing for us. 

Bonnie said that the baby was asenclitic-sp- and that is why my cervix did not want to dilate.  Not the right amount of pressure.
This was the most amazing experience of my life.  I know that had I planned a hospital birth I would have been induced and probably had a c-section for failure to progress.  Given time my body did just fine with minimal interference and I am thankful to Bonnie for her knowledge and experience that helped make this birth so wonderful and successful.  God and food are the two things that enabled me to physically deal with such a long and exhausting labor.  I ate a little every 2 hours or so.
There is so much more that I cannot express in words.  The emotion seems lacking in black and white.  Immediately following his birth I expected to cry for happiness, but I simply could not cry.  The emotion was so overwhelming all I could do was marvel at the miracle I had just had the privilege of being a part of.  A few hours latter, when it was just our tiny new family the tears began.  I spent the next few weeks crying when I thought of that day and the love I have for this baby.
The pain of labor and childbirth was different from what I expected.  Once hard labor hit the contractions had a force that is indescribable.  The pain of them is not the same pain that we think of when we say something was painful.  Only another woman who has experienced a totally natural labor in an environment she fells comfortable in can understand what I mean.  Suffice to say it was the most difficult, painful, exhilarating, fulfilling experience of my life.

Sara G  
 

The Birth of Kristopher

The Birth of Kristopher

     
The birth of our son Kristopher was an anxiously awaited occasion. The sheets were folded, tubs scrubbed, and baby clothes washed. We were very comfortable with the idea of a home delivery, after all we had two very caring and professional people to help us.
The months before the birth were filled with laughter and love, becoming close friends with Bonnie and Ginger. Our visits were like family get-togethers.  The day of the birth proved to be exactly what was expected. The re-assurances, comforting words and precise actions were exactly what we wanted for our baby boy. There were no bright lights, loud noises, or strangers, just our house, our family, and our friends.

We highly recommend home birth, but more importantly, we recommend Bonnie and Ginger without reservation.

Donna and Dave 

Wyn Taylor

 Wyn's Story

     


All of my life I knew it was my destiny to have my babies at home. I was the first of 8 babies born during a time when home birth was perceived by most as outdated and possibly dangerous. However, within our community of "hippie" friends and family well over 20 healthy babies were successfully born into the arms of their fathers.

A few times the cord was wrapped around the neck or there was a knot, some babies were very big, in fact there was even a breech birth and a pair of twins. These women didn't have midwives, or prenatal care, there were no books on home child birth at that time.

They were determined not to relate to pregnancy as a disease. Each of these women reasoned that their bodies were MADE to make babies. They rejected the fearful way pregnancy was regarded and found within themselves the POWER that comes from trusting ones body.

These are the thoughts placed in my mind from my first day of life. Unfortunately, there appeared to be little or no support whatsoever for Mom, my Aunts, and their friends. During my birth the grandparents called every few hours to beg my parents to let them pay for the hospital birth, and accuse them of recklessness.

That was 29 years ago and when I first became pregnant 4 yrs. ago I was surprised and greatly disappointed to find out that not much has changed. I was only able to find care with a doctor once I stopped saying I wanted to have my baby at home. I was told several times that the doctor wouldn't see me at all if that was what I was going to do. My desire to have a home birth was met with reactions of horror. I wasn't able to find ANY support within the medical community. I ended up getting prenatal care at the local public hospital and just not showing up when the baby came. I use the word "care" in that sentence very lightly. I didn't even know how bad my prenatal care was until I got good prenatal care with a midwife.

When I went into labor it felt like I'd been hit by lightning. It was more intense than I ever imagined. The family gathered and I had a team working on me at all times massaging my back and legs. It took 17 hrs. to get a 9 lb. 3 oz. baby boy out. It was terribly hard on me. I ripped. I couldn't get the placenta out afterwards because I was so exhausted. I napped in the tub for a while and then it came out but not easily. Even with all the experienced family members there to assist, I felt alone. It wasn't as if I lost my faith or trust at any point, but there were moments when I needed someone who knew more than that I could do it.

All of that aside, it was a moment of supreme victory. Dave caught our son and cut his cord. My son watched his first sunrise from the arms of my mom a few hours later as everyone else in the house rested. His entrance into this world was met by his rejoicing family. That is what I wanted for him, it is what I wanted for myself and it was a moment that changed Dave forever.

It was 5 months before I stopped hurting. I feel like I missed so much of the first months because I was in pain. Physically the experience was enough to put some fear into me of ever doing it again.

When Dave wanted another baby 2 yrs. later, it was not an easy idea for me to embrace but we knew without a doubt that we would do it at home again. This time though, I would get some help. Dave agreed to get a midwife as long as he could still catch and cut.

I was so lucky to find Bonnie. Dave knew I'd already picked her before I did. She was simply the only choice for me after talking with her. We clicked instantly but my appreciation for her expertise took time.

I wasn't sure what I'd do with a midwife, knowing that I could do it by myself. My thought was that if she could only help me find an easier way to do labor it would be worth the money. With so little expected from her it wasn't long before she blew my mind.

That was when I experienced what real prenatal care is. When she took my blood, she didn't butcher my arm like the nurse at the hospital had. After she looked at my blood work she told me that I needed to get my iron level up, even though it wasn't at a dangerous level. She made it clear that if I could get my iron level up and increase my protein intake that I would stop feeling so faint all the time and most importantly it would make labor easier if I had more strength. I had the same physical experiences the first time but the care I received never included any advise of that sort. It's very clear to me that had anyone mentioned these things to me the first time I could have had less trouble during the entire first pregnancy.

She watched the first labor on video and advised me as to how to approach this labor. Months of her input prepared me to do it again. Over all, the two "prenatal care" experiences don't even compare. Having Bonnie and Ginger as a part of my second pregnancy had an enormous impact.

When I went into labor Ginger was with us before my family got there. Once again, it was more intense than I thought I could handle. Once again, I was lucky to have my sisters and mother massaging my back the entire time.

Bonnie was on vacation but literally flew to my side. She was in touch with us on the phone until her plane landed. Ginger's ability to check my progress and advise accordingly was so helpful. Before we knew it, I was pushing.

Bonnie appeared just in time to talk me through it. As he was coming out, I heard the command, "Stop!" The cord was wrapped around his shoulders like a harness. Unbelievably, I was able to stop and they slipped the cord over his shoulders. With her guidance I was able to push out an 11 lb. 5 oz. baby boy with only the tiniest tear. This time it took only 7 hrs., partly because I had so much more strength going in to it and partly because it was my second baby. So, instead of collapsing afterwards, I was alert and able to really participate in the first few hours after his birth.

I found myself marveling at how quickly it had happened and how relatively undamaged I felt. The recovery period was NOTHING like the first. For days I kept thinking to myself, " That was it!?"

In both cases the outcome was essentially the same. I got two fabulously healthy babies born into Dave's arms. I was able to do it at home where I felt most comfortable and in control. My family was there to greet my babies. And as far as I'm concerned, the sensation of supreme victory was present both times.

BUT there is a notable difference in the two experiences for me as a woman and it's all about damage control. I didn't incur nearly the amount of damage the second time because I had help. It made all the difference. I would never do it again without Bonnie, Ginger and my massage team. Neither will my sisters do it alone.

My eternal thanks to Bonnie and Ginger.
Wyn Taylor


Midwife's note:
Normally I do not take clients whose due date is within 3 weeks either side of me being unavailable.
When Wyn first came to me and we calculated her due date, I informed her that I would be away soon after that date. I recommended she choose another midwife. She did not want to do this and accepted the fact that I may not be able to attend. I arranged for another midwife to attend the birth, but due to extremely unusual circumstances, I flew back to be with her myself.
In the end, I was very pleased to have come back, as she had a great birth

Heather Garrett

Heather's Birth Story
     
After trying to conceive for over a year, I eventually resorted to seeing a fertility specialist. Three months (and what seemed like a million doctor visits) later, we finally conceived. I had been introduced to the idea of midwifery by a friend, and after completing the fertility treatment “gauntlet”, I was interested in researching a more naturalistic approach to the birth process. My husband was very much on board, which surprised me a bit because home births and midwives are unfortunately not commonly considered in this day and age. We researched what we could find about it, interviewed some midwives, and on my friend’s recommendation watched the documentary The Business of Being Born. We were shocked to learn what a “normal” birth is usually like in a hospital, and felt even more drawn to midwifery.

At our first meeting with Bonnie, we were pleasantly surprised to feel like we were chatting with a friend. Upon walking into her office, we sensed a warmth that is not found in a doctor’s office or hospital, and we knew right away that we wanted to have a home birth and that she was the midwife we wanted to work with. She gave the impression of someone who had the perfect balance of professionalism and passion, and we knew immediately that we could have total confidence in her abilities as a midwife. We were very excited to be pregnant, but even more so after talking to Bonnie and realizing that our baby’s birth did not have to be what our society tells us it should be (as always seen in movies): cold, scary, painful, with lots of screaming and crying and drama! Our idea of what a birth would be like had included all of these things and more. We thought that if you were having a baby you just went to a doctor and did whatever the doctor told you to do; you got induced if they said it was time, you got an epidural if they said it would alleviate the pain, you got whatever interventions they told you to, no matter how invasive. Researching midwifery and talking to Bonnie made us realize that birth didn’t have to be what we had originally thought! We learned that that pregnancy is not an illness, that babies usually know when it’s time, and that drugs aren’t always necessary if you have the ability to move freely which allows your body to employ its own built-in pain management.

With each visit to Bonnie, we learned something new, and I became more and more amazed at what my body was preparing to do. After seeing her for our routine pre-natal visits for the past 6 months I felt empowered, and confidence started to outweigh any nervousness. As my due date came, and then passed, I felt completely confident in Bonnie’s judgment that it was okay to go past the due date as long as baby was still healthy. Five or six days before baby was born I began having some noticeable mild contractions that I hadn't had before, but nothing seemed to come of them and there were no other signs of labor. Then a few more days passed, and I started to think he was never coming out. But not once did I feel that Bonnie was making the wrong call by letting me be. I knew that if I had been seeing a doctor, I more than likely would have been induced and things would have gone down a path that I didn't want.

Finally, on the evening of February 19, 2009, my Mom and I were at dinner, and I noticed the same mild contractions as I had had a few days earlier but they were just a bit more noticeable. We started to time them, and called Bonnie at 9:00 pm to report that they were about 3 minutes apart, but still very, very mild. I will always remember Bonnie telling me “Well, dear, you know that since this is your first baby, you will most likely be in labor for quite a while. So, I want you to drink some chamomile tea, take a warm bath, and go to bed. Call me back if the contractions become more intense or if something else changes”. I did exactly what she had recommended, but when I tried to lay down to sleep the contractions began to get incrementally more uncomfortable. I got up and walked around for a while, and started to notice that they were not something I could sleep through, but not terribly painful. My husband called Bonnie again sometime after midnight to say that she might want to head to our house. Again, I will always remember her saying that she was on her way, but wouldn't break any speed limits to get here.

Meanwhile, I began to realize that I was truly in labor. My husband, mom, and friend Caressa were starting to look a little nervous as I paced and breathed through contractions. Finally, I had some other signs of labor, but Bonnie was not here yet so my husband called to check on her whereabouts and inform her of my progress. She told him that she and her apprentice were almost here. When she arrived at about 1:50 a.m. she was calmly making her way in the front door when she saw me leaning on the kitchen countertop breathing through a contraction. She knew immediately that this was no early/false labor and informed me (very kindly) that I would have to lie down so that she could check my dilation. The very last place I wanted to be was on my back, so she checked me quickly and found that I was completely dilated - she could feel the baby’s head! Bonnie and her apprentice snapped into action; the items they needed from the birth kit began flying out of the box as they prepared for the birth of our baby… which didn’t take long because Elliott was born almost exactly 45 minutes after they walked in the door! Bonnie recently told me that next time she’ll be camped outside my house so that she doesn’t miss the birth….

Looking back at the whole experience, I can see so many things that worked in my (and Elliott’s) favor to make the labor process so positive. I was at home with no anxiety about when or if to go to the hospital. I was in my comfort zone, with my things, the people I wanted around me, and the quiet and space I needed to have throughout the labor. I was able to move as much (or as little) as I needed to. And once Elliott was here, I didn’t have to worry about anyone taking him from me before I had even had a chance to clutch him to my chest, breathe him in, and study him… this little person who had resided in me for almost 42 weeks was finally here, healthy and safe! And I am fairly certain that had I not had Bonnie coaching me through the beginning stages of learning to nurse, Elliott would have become a formula-fed baby within the first few days.

Thank you, Bonnie, for persevering in a sadly misunderstood, misrepresented field so that you can help bring babies into this world in the way they were intended to come. Thank you for sharing your passion, your wisdom, and your friendship. Thank you for making it possible for Elliott to be born into your calm, skilled, caring hands. And thank you for giving me the guidance I needed to be able to learn to nurse him successfully. Should I become pregnant again, you will be one of the first to know. And we’ll have a tent all set up for you in the backyard. 


Love,
Heather Garrett