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

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!