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July 19-22, 2018
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Mont Tremblant, QC CA
Wellspring is a first-of-its-kind wellness gathering featuring the world’s leading innovators, teachers and socially-conscious companies. For 3 days, get away to Palm Springs and discover what will make you, and the world, well.
October 26-28, 2018
Downtown Palm Springs, CA US
Birth is one of life’s great dramas. Whether we are the mother or the father, a son or a daughter, or simply a comforting hand to squeeze, birth transforms everyone involved. Joy and pain, chaos and calm—a single tale contains all and more. And yet, no two stories are alike.
Here we have six unique tales of childbirth, told raw and unrehearsed. They span the gamut from humorous to heartbreaking: the frustrations of fertility, the anguish of what could have been, the comedy of appointments gone hopelessly awry. Watching these stories we are reminded how much hangs in the balance, and how fickle the winds of fate blow, despite all our intentions and best wishes.
As Mother’s Day approaches on May 14, our love goes out to mothers everywhere. Indeed, we are all sons and daughters, from the first.
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“My partner and I decided we would go to hypnobirthing classes. This was… difficult for him.”
“It changed who I am as a wife, who I am as a mother, who as I am as a friend, who I am as a stranger to people.”
“Call it ‘sunny side up,’ facing me, my son comes… I catch him, pull him right out. It’s something you can’t articulate with words.”
“I had a lot of assumptions that I could just show up and do it, and do it well, and that did not happen.”
“My life was in danger. Baby’s life was in danger. … I just let the universe take over.”
“I actually reach down and feel my daughter crowning. I’m going to have to ready myself to deliver this child.”
We invite you to contribute your own tale of birth to this series in written form. We will be posting them to this page as they are submitted.
I already knew that the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck a couple of times. I already knew when in the story to “laugh” as family members recalled how I was not a cute angel baby, but more of a purple demon who came out of the womb with a fury. Like I said, I called to collect the cold hard facts so I could finally find out what the stars have to say about me. Instead, I was given a big dose of gratitude.
My father was driving the night of my birth (you probably already guessed that part), and as we headed to the hospital we were T-boned and my father hit his head against something in the car.
For years after my birthday, he lost the ability to read.
He could recognize words and signs, but there was a disconnect somewhere inside his mind. Surprisingly, if he wrote it down, he could immediately read the word. If someone else wrote it, though, he had to concentrate until it made sense.
“DID MOM KNOW ABOUT THIS?!” I calmly asked as he relayed this tiny, life-altering piece of information.
“Well, I told her about it a few years ago,” he went on calmly. “I mean, I can read now.”
And he does, voraciously. “One day, it just all came back,” he said. It wasn’t just a learning process but, from what I gathered, there was a physical discomfort that went along with injury. My dad doesn’t like to get very personal, so I didn’t pry any further. It all seemed too close to his heart.
And now I will never look at my birth, my meaning for being here, the same. The depth of gratitude I have for these two humans who sacrificed and persevered silently for years is immense. Knowing the story, my story, of how I came to be here, has forever changed my outlook on family and duty and love.
And if you were curious, my Dad really loves to read Cormac McCarthy and I never filled out my natal chart.
~ Katie F.
Ethan was in the NICU for seven weeks, and we prayed that it would be a few years before I would need a heart transplant. Things started to go bad very rapidly, and we decided to temporarily move down to Florida where the waitlist was a lot shorter for transplants. After 19 days, I got the call from my heart. I was away from Ethan for several weeks, since I had developed an infection after the surgery. We FaceTimed every single day and when I was finally able to see him, I never wanted to let go. This year has been a roller coaster, but I would do it a million times over to hold my baby in my arms every day. I am so thankful every day for my donor, and really feel like the luckiest woman in the world!
~ Ali Barton
I was born under communism where contraception was illegal and unavailable and as the third child, my mother was exhausted but my amazing funny joker of a father wanted another child of his own. My mother was pretty well connected in my city and soon after finding out she was pregnant, she found a doctor that was willing to illegally admit her to the hospital under false medical diagnosis and perform an abortion on her (illegally). The catch: the whole thing was illegal and my mother had to offer him a bribe. All he wanted was about 2 lbs of coffee beans. Yes, under communism, everything was embargoed and sanctioned and exotic produce was impossible to find but my mother promised she would get him the 2 lbs of coffee and everything was set.
The day to be admitted to the hospital arrived and mom went alone, expecting my father to follow bringing with him the 2 lbs of coffee.
Two days passed by and my father never showed up and never called the hospital. My mother was incredibly upset, as was the doctor who after 3 days decided to send my mother home telling her that the whole thing was a bad idea, that he would have compromised his job, his life and would have gone to jail if he performed the illegal abortion.
My mom was pissed for days but my father was the happiest man on earth. You see, he wanted a second child (of his own; he had adopted my sister whose father died before she was born), and he thought it was funny to not show up and let the Universe take over.
Long story short, I was born and my father and I had the most profound father-daughter connection until the day he died. I was by his side and he’s been by my side since he left this world, always guiding me and protecting me.
As for me, I managed to change for the best the life of about 6 family members and brought nothing but light in everyone’s life.
We, as souls want to be here to serve our purpose, as G-d intended it to be.
~ Anca D.
I knew the day I was in labor because a) the appearance of the jellyfish (prenatal plug) and my water breaking in the middle of the night. After driving to the hospital in a rare Colorado rain storm, I arrived in the ER with birthing plan in hand swearing and fighting for the epidural and a room in the birthing suites. Apparently the rain had caused half of Denver to deliver early so the Doctors were busy and the rooms were full. After 15 hours of labor, said epidural, Pitocin, oxygen, heart monitors, catheters, ten backgammon games with my husband, and a stack of celebrity gossip magazines, the doctor decided it was time for an emergency C-section. My half-sister (birthing coach) tried to change his mind. Her directive was simply “no cutting anything.” However, my son had decided to squiggle himself up in the cord, and needed to be untangled.
So, we all suited up, were rushed to the emergency room, and he was delivered slightly blue but mostly healthy via the miracle of modern medicine and sharp tools. The doctors spent hours (or what seemed like it) stitching me up while my sister sat on my shoulders to stop the seizures from all the drugs. All I remember was the nurses ordering pizza and not offering me any. (I would have paid $1,000 for a pizza and a Sprite.) I ended up not needing the pump because I found out I had a design flaw which prohibited breast feeding and ended up having to wear cabbage leaves in a jog bra for 2 weeks. (Not kidding, Google it.) When I finally told my son the story a few years ago, he simply said, “Well having a birthing plan was a stupid idea. The only plan that really mattered was mine.”
Well said, my wonderful little boy.
~ Nora F.
On the eve of my daughter’s due date, my mom arrived and I could finally relax. We had someone to look after our daughter, so now the baby could come at anytime. Late that evening, my body followed suit and slowly started to labor. I was in bed and mentally prepared to breathe through the “surges.” I knew my body had work to do, and I wanted to conserve my energy as we moved forward in the process. Eventually my husband timed the contractions and then supported me as things began to get intense and we made the decision to move toward the hospital.
As my husband went about preparing us to leave, I remained in our bedroom laboring. The surges became more intense and then with one body shaking contraction my water broke. I was on my hands and knees and began crawling toward the door, calling to my husband. I reached down and could feel the top of the baby’s head. Now my cries to him became specific: “I need your help now! The baby is coming!” He raced up the stairs and called 911. As my husband and the woman on 911 connected, my sweet little girl slipped out without a push. My husband held her out toward me. And, this was my one moment of fear. My heart was racing. This baby had to be OK. I quickly wiped her nose and mouth and she let out her first cry. And with that, I lay down on the ground and held her to my chest. I knew we would be fine. My husband proceeded to follow the instructions of the 911 operator, grabbing towels to keep us warm and watching over us until the fire department arrived. We had five quiet minutes together before we were surrounded by EMTs and firefighters.
Luckily mom and baby were fine. We were in good hands. The ambulance was warmed up for us and my sweet little girl latched on and nursed for the first time during her ride to the hospital. We felt very blessed.
This was not the birth we planned, but I sometimes wonder if that seed of desire to have a home birth helped move my little one along so quickly. I’ve always believed in the power of intention.
~ Jenny Ramaswamy
At my 20 week sonogram, the technician mentioned to me that I had a very low placenta and something else that looked not so good. That something else was called ‘vasa previa,’ which is a very serious and very rare condition that puts your baby’s life at risk. Basically there are fetal vessels from the placenta running across the cervix. If I were to go into labor spontaneously, those fetal vessels would likely burst and the baby would bleed to death within a matter of minutes. I was told that I could not have a vaginal birth and that I may have to be bed-rested at 35 weeks and c-sectioned by 37 weeks. I was shocked by this news, and devastated that I was having to deal with possible bed rest and a c-section and that my baby’s life was at risk. I am highly active, and up to that point in my pregnancy had been running, surfing, paddleboarding, and teaching Yoga and paddleboard Yoga. I felt fine, had no bleeding or spotting, and knew I needed a second opinion. After 4 weeks of waiting for an appointment, my second opinion showed that I was mis-diagnosed and in fact did have a low-lying placenta (a partial placenta previa) but did not have the much more serious vasa previa. A vaginal birth was still very much in question and according to these doctors a home birth was entirely out of the question. The other thing was that my 13 and 9 year old both took their sweet time in coming at 42 weeks on the dot. Now if you are educated in the world of birth, doctors don’t like women to go much beyond 41 weeks, and will use all sorts of scare tactics about allowing baby to hang out inside of you for too long… so my pregnancy progressed.
I continued to run, paddle, teach, and pray. I visualized the placenta moving up and out of the way, making a vaginal birth possible. I postponed any sonograms, went to acupuncture, drank herbs, and prayed some more. When I finally went back to the doctor at around 38 weeks, lo and behold the placenta had moved. Not just a little bit. It had moved all the way up to the top of the uterus. My boyfriend and I cried in the office. We went home, ordered our birth tub and continued with our home birth preparations. 40 weeks came and went. 41 weeks came and went. 42 weeks came. Nothing. At all. Not a single contraction, no warning or preliminary signs. We deflated the birth tub somewhere in that time as it became this annoying reminder that I STILL had not had this baby. I stopped answering the phone, stopped responding to emails, and spent an inordinate amount of time on various websites and support groups about post-date babies. I especially loved a website called Birth Without Fear, and felt very supported by the stories I read about women going beyond 42 weeks.
At 42 weeks and three days, I went for a walk in the woods and talked to the baby. I talked out loud and told her how I could not wait to meet her, how we were ready for her, how much I already loved her. That night, my boyfriend cooked an amazing meal. Afterwards, we went to bed. He fell asleep immediately and I was reading in bed, not so tired. I felt a gush of water between my legs. Water breaking!!!!! I could hardly believe it was true. I texted my doula and midwife and they both told me to go to sleep and they would likely see me in the morning. Yea, right. I was a little nervous because I was not yet feeling contractions, which happened in my first labor when my water broke and I never went into labor and needed to be induced. I got out of bed and started walking around the house, cleaning and preparing and willing contractions to come. This was at 10 p.m. After about an hour, I felt a contraction. More, I thought. Stronger, I thought. I want them longer, stronger, and closer together…….
It was time for this baby to come. I lay in bed again and started breathing and willing more contractions to come. After about 30 minutes of this, I was definitely starting to feel them. I woke up my boyfriend and told him to fill the tub. From that point on, my memory blurs. It was a foggy night and my mother was on the way, picking up my two older kids at their dad’s house to be at the birth to meet their new sibling. My boyfriend was trying to fill the tub but at a certain point noticed that we had no hot water (the hot water heater actually broke that night). My memory is of him (and then my mom) running up and down the stairs with pots of hot water from the stove. I was in intense labor. I kept feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom and in fact spent much of the time laboring on the toilet. Every time I had to go to the bathroom, I would get a MONSTER contraction and it felt as if my whole body was bearing down around it. I was shaking, at one point vomiting, and was having pretty extreme back labor, but it all went so fast. All I wanted to do was get in the birth tub. Finally there was (barely) enough water for me to get in the tub. I stepped in and submerged myself up to my lower back and my whole body softened for a moment. I think I had a short reprieve of about a minute or so and then a rush came and I think I yelled, “she’s coming.” My midwife was not yet at the house and my doula was just arriving. Another wave and I put my hand down between my legs and felt her head. My boyfriend got into the tub with me and the next contraction brought our baby into my boyfriend’s hands. She was so beautiful. We were absolutely ecstatic. She floated in the water while we gazed at her, unbelieving that after an unplanned pregnancy, a serious misdiagnosis, and 42 weeks and three days, she was here. Perfect and exactly as it was meant to be.
~ Jessica Bellofatto
Jessica will be teaching SUP yoga at Wanderlust Snowshoe and Wanderlust Stratton in 2015.
At 7:30AM on March 15th, 2014 my little man was preparing his arrival. I labored at home in our bath tub with my hypnobirthing disc on repeat. Surge after surge… He was working his way down. My husband started timing the surges at about 3PM because I was no longer able to do it on my own. He called our midwife and she suggested that we come in to get checked.
We arrived at the birthing center around 4:45PM… Dialated to a 7… It was go time. The tub was ready… I stepped in and began the most amazing birth journey. Every breath brought me closer to my baby. Just when I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, I reached down and felt his tiny little head and smiled. He was almost here.
My husband received him and I cried out, “that’s my baby” (as I ninja kicked over the umbilical cord, haha). He had a head full of blonde hair… He was perfect. The feeling of that mini human pressed against me was the most amazing feeling I have ever felt. Jett Alan Skalla made his arrival at 6:22PM in the water.
Us women are beautifully made. We grow humans. We were made to birth babies. The pain is temporary… The gifts of getting to be someone’s person, is forever. I’m so grateful he picked me to be his teacher.
~ Khristina Skalla
Instead, what we had was a baby that decided to come five weeks early, with my husband two days away in Australia, and with me in the middle of a power walk on a cold Wisconsin night.
Our baby was coming, and the essential oils I had packed along with the birthing hypnosis tapes went out the window. Our son was coming and nothing else seemed important to me but him.
We didn’t get the birth we envisioned, but the baby that awaited us after a quick, swift labor, never could have been detailed anyway. His eyes were beyond the blue we imagined, his cries unlike any sweetness we dreamed of, and the weight of him in our arms… no 14-step process could have prepared us for the breathtaking moment, when he was placed in our arms. Our baby was here, in two steps instead of 14, and somehow—we were ready.
~ Alexandra Rosas
The nice, elderly woman in front of me in CVS’s question startled me. I instinctively shoved the pregnancy test I was holding under the bag of jelly beans and smiled at her as I nodded. But I wasn’t able to stop thinking about the question. Did I wish it? I’m not sure.
The seeds of Grace’s difficult, slow, and painful 64-hour labor were sown that day, I think. My surprise pregnancy at 27 was just the start of what become a 40-week, mostly joyful, sometimes anxious amble to the delivery room. In that room, bouncing naked on the ball, at 7 centimeters dilated, I looked at my husband and asked, with tears in my eyes, “But we can’t have a baby! We aren’t ready!”
I will never forget the bewilderment that washed into his face as he looked at me. “What exactly is your plan, Linds?” he asked me back.
It was only after I let go of my fear, which I realized I’d held onto for the 38 weeks since those two lines on my pregnancy test stunned me speechless (and caused me to cancel the next morning’s appointment with a fertility acupuncturist) that Grace began to descend for real. Finally, after two hours in transition, during which my midwife had informed me with a grimace on her face that my baby was sunny side up and that I had to push her out or face a cesarean, I reached down and put my hands under her elbows and pulled her onto my chest.
I delivered Grace – my grace – myself. It took me a long time, not only in that room but in the dark and depressed months that followed, to realize the grace of her arrival. Parenting has been one long lesson that we are not in control, and I realize now that my first taste of that was standing in line at CVS.
I’ve never been in control of motherhood, not the day that I learned I was pregnant against all odds, not during my days-long pursuit of an unmedicated labor, not during the weeks and months that I didn’t sleep and cried all day, and certainly not these days, as I watch my 12 year old Grace grow and bloom and change in front of my eyes. And what an outrageous, life-changing blessing that has been.
~ Lindsey Mead Russell
~ Ashley Jordan
Fast forward to the 15th. Jonah had soccer and Derek was having open studios. Life went on. At this point I’m 4 days overdue. Jonah was born 5 days early and Eleanor was 2 days late. This pregnancy felt like it would never end! We picked my MIL, Kathy, up from the airport that night at 6 PM and went to Qdoba for dinner. Grandma and the babies went to bed early and about an hour and a half later, the contractions started up again. Except they were stronger this time! And lasting longer! And coming around 5 minutes apart! It was time. We were off to the hospital.
Derek woke up his mom to tell her and we left the house. Its a 20+ minute drive to our hospital of choice, Pennsylvania Hospital, from our house. It’s no fun having contractions while seated and not be able to move through them. We checked into triage around midnight. I had just done this the other day after my fall, so we knew what to do. They checked me (a tight three. I had been that on Thursday, so no progress in 2 days) and hooked me up to monitoring for 20 minutes. During all this time I was still having contractions. In the beginnings of labor I can still usually talk to you and joke around. I’m quite pleasant. In between contractions. After monitoring they told me to walk around for 2 hours to keep things going and they’d check on me at the end. So Derek and I walk around a bit. There isn’t really anywhere to go, so we’re just walking up and down the same hallways before we get tired and bored and go back to triage.
My contractions had slowed down a bit and I was even able to get some sleep in between. But they were still happening and they were strong. When they came back in I had dilated to about a 4. So they proclaimed I was only in early labor and they couldn’t move me to the natural birthing suite until I was in active labor. Did I mention that it was completely dead and I didn’t see one other woman in labor in the 4 hours we were there? So around 4 AM they sent me home. I only saw the on-call midwife once in this entire time and that was for her to tell me I was going home. I was so disappointed. I know my body, I know what it feels like to have a baby. This was my third baby! So we headed out to the car. And the contractions started back strong again. So we headed home to try and get some rest and to relax in a bath.
When we got to the house, Derek woke up his Mom to tell her we were back, and no baby yet. I decided to camp out on the couch to try and get some rest while I sent Derek to the bed to sleep. No point in both of us missing out on sleep if this wasn’t happening tonight. I was still having contractions, but trying to sleep a little in between. Which was working for awhile. Until they got so bad that I decided to give myself a bath.
I remember looking at the clock and it being about 5:08 AM, so I had only been home about an hour. There was no reason to go back into the hospital yet. So I filled the tub, put in a lavender bath bomb from Lush to calm and help with the pain. I was still dozing a little in between contractions and working through them when they came. Until there came a really strong one. I decided to move onto my hands and knees and when I shifted I saw blood in the water! I was really hurting and I reached down and felt a little head. It was happening right then, there was no moving, no getting to the hospital. I started yelling for Derek. Over and over. It felt like forever, but in all reality it couldn’t have been more than a minute. Kathy heard me first and asked if I was ok. I just kept yelling for Derek. She must have shaken him awake because soon after a very groggy, sleepy Derek came in and I told him “I feel like I have to push” and “this baby’s coming now!”
I pushed 3 or 4 times, I can’t remember exactly, and there was Inge. Crying and purple and little. Kathy immediately took charge and wrapped her in a towel and handed her to me. Then she wrapped a towel around my shoulders and started rubbing me to get me to stop shaking and warm me up. Derek, still in a bit of shock, asked “What do we do now?” Kathy and I both told him he needed to call 911. So Derek got on the phone and Inge was already starting to pink up. She was tiny and perfect and I couldn’t stop looking at her beautiful ears. Of course in all my yelling I had woken the kids up and they both bounced into the bathroom saying, “baby! baby!” This was a long time coming for them, too, and they were excited! Eleanor saw the cord and asked “what’s that?” Neither one of them was scared or nervous. They were just excited that the baby was finally here. It was perfect!
Once the paramedics got here Kathy wrangled the kids into the living room. One of the guys immediately just said, “We have to cut this cord now!” to which I calmly responded, “no, I’m waiting to pass the placenta and then you can cut it.” He was very insistent and I had to explain to him that there are still nutrients pumping through the cord to the baby and I wanted her to get them. Thankfully his partner was calm and cool and told him that we could have a few minutes and then we would cut the cord. He was a little bossy, but I was so grateful for him! I didn’t have to fight for what I wanted. This would be an amazing pattern through the morning when we got to the hospital. I will be singing praises for Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for the rest of my life. They were amazing!
Now back to my apartment. I birthed the placenta not long after and then we cut the cord. They passed Inge to Kathy so I could get dressed and out to the ambulance. I got to ride in an ambulance! It’s really not that exciting. And I will worry about the bill later. Just having had a baby I was high on endorphins. Everyone was asking me if I was ok and I felt absolutely fine. The lady cop there was amazed I was up and walking around just after having a baby and Kathy was bragging about me and saying that I could do all this because I had that baby naturally and there were no drugs in me keeping me down. I got dressed, kissed the kids, and walked down all 4 flights of stairs with Derek and Inge following behind. They laid me down on the stretcher, put Inge on me and we were off.
Now, I was originally planning on having Inge at Pennsylvania Hospital, but HUP was much closer. So that’s where they took me. And I’m so glad. They were amazing! There were so many nurses and doctors in the room when I got there. Some just there to see the cute baby. They don’t see many down in ER. They checked Inge when I got there and gave me one suture in the meantime. Then they immediately passed her back and I got to nurse her and they left me alone for 20 minutes. It was perfect. Her blood sugar was a little low so they wanted to get some food in her. I really cannot say how great my experience was. They were so accommodating. When they were to transfer me upstairs to postpartum they said they would have to separate us because last time this happened they got in big trouble for sending the mother and baby up together. Which made no sense to me. And it didn’t make sense to one of the nurses, Claire. What a god send. She was loudly telling anyone who would listen how dumb that was and she wasn’t going to separate the mom and baby and that she would personally escort the two of us up so there was no reason for anyone to get in trouble. She made phone calls and everything. She escorted us up to the 8th floor and we got to stay together. Thank you for that, Claire.
Derek and Inge went to the nursery and I went back to my room and had a shower. Her blood sugar was still low so they gave her 5 ml of formula and that made it shoot right up! I wasn’t concerned about it. She had already nursed and already showed me what a champ nurser she is. We stayed in the hospital for 36 hours, which is the minimum amount of time and then went home.
It was an absolutely amazing experience. I got to have a home, water birth again even if completely by accident and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Derek was amazing in the moment and everything was as it should be.
~ Aynna Rigby
I knew the day I was in labor because a) the appearance of the jellyfish (prenatal plug) and my water breaking in the middle of the night. After driving to the hospital in a rare Colorado rain storm, I arrived in the ER with birthing plan in hand swearing and fighting for the epidural and a room in the birthing suites. Apparently the rain had caused half of Denver to deliver early so the Doctors were busy and the rooms were full. After 15 hours of labor, said epidural, Pitocin, oxygen, heart monitors, catheters, ten backgammon games with my husband, and a stack of celebrity gossip magazines, the doctor decided it was time for an emergency C-section. My half-sister (birthing coach) tried to change his mind. Her directive was simply “no cutting anything.” However, my son had decided to squiggle himself up in the cord, and needed to be untangled. So, we all suited up, were rushed to the emergency room, and he was delivered slightly blue but mostly healthy via the miracle of modern medicine and sharp tools. The doctors spent hours (or what seemed like it) stitching me up while my sister sat on my shoulders to stop the seizures from all the drugs. All I remember was the nurses ordering pizza and not offering me any. (I would have paid $1,000 for a pizza and a Sprite.) I ended up not needing the pump because I found out I had a design flaw which prohibited breast feeding and ended up having to wear cabbage leaves in a jog bra for 2 weeks. (Not kidding, Google it.) When I finally told my son the story a few years ago, he simply said, “Well having a birthing plan was a stupid idea. The only plan that really mattered was mine.”
~ Nora F.
I went back to school, got a great job and eventually met and married an absolutely wonderful man. I knew I would have a baby, even though I had been told I should never have even married since I had so many “useless” areas in my body. It was such a joy to be pregnant even though I was sick morning, noon and night for the whole 9 months, but I always new everything would turn out just right.
At almost the last minute I finally had but one visit with an obstetrician who wanted me to be admitted to the hospital as soon as possible. However, it was the day before the 4th of July weekend holiday so he sent me home to pack a suitcase and go to the hospital the next day saying he would see me sometime after that to discuss a Cesarean section (this had not even been talked about with my family doctor who obviously just didn’t want to make any kind of decision).
By this time my ankles were grossly swollen which scared everyone except me. While standing and filling out the admission papers the nurse didn’t even believe I was the patient – I guess because I was so calm and matter-of-fact about the whole situation.
I was still throwing up most of the night which also frightened the nurses, even though I was quite used to it by now, after 9 long months. All went well until I was left on a stretcher outside the operating room the next morning (July 5th) and started to have trouble breathing while lying flat on my back. With no abdominal muscles left to all intents and purposes I couldn’t sit up without assistance. Fortunately a kind doctor passing by stopped to ask if anything was wrong and he kindly helped me up. From then on I don’t remember anything until the next morning when a young intern came into my room and in a concerned voice said “I just wanted to know if everything is alright with the baby”….when he saw the shock on my face he ran from the room shouting for a nurse. I didn’t know what he was talking about.
It turned out the C-section had taken a very long time since I had no muscle fibers for the doctor to sew me together and the baby girl whom I had yet to even see, had been born with an infection. I would not be allowed to even see her for 72 hours while they waited to see if she would live. This was truly a time of living agony and prayer.
Then, a long and tear-filled 72 hours later a group of nurses and my husband came rushing into my room pushing a wheelchair – the baby was going to live and everyone wanted to see this miracle child. They virtually pulled me out of bed, dropped me into the wheelchair, rushed me down the hall to the elevator that was being held open for us and raced down the hall to the Nursery. My first glimpse of my beautiful child was of a tiny baby shaking with hiccups! I was quickly assured nothing was wrong and this was a sign of healthy lungs, even though she had been born with the dreaded “Hyaline Membrane”….you may remember the famous Kennedy baby that died shortly after his birth from this condition.
I found out some time later that a very well known and highly respected doctor who had been away on vacation had dropped into the hospital nursery that night to see how some of “his” babies were doing. The head nurse told him about this newborn whom everyone desperately wanted to live and she and this wonderful caring man worked over my child throughout the whole night long in an effort to save her.
And now, my wonderful miracle child is a beautiful accomplished mother herself who has spread joy, comfort and healing to everyone for some 53 years.
~ Norma Weeks
P.S. Her middle name is Grace!!
~ A Young
Pregnancy is a normal, natural process.
If you had told me five years ago that I would have a home birth I would have looked at you like a crazy person. My life journey it has led me down this path, from watching The Business of Being Born, being a yogi, and someone who strives to live a more natural lifestyle. The biggest selling point for me for home birth was freedom of movement. I am a yogi and in tuned with my body, the idea of being strapped on my back freaks me out.
When I first found out I was pregnant I went to my regular OBGYN for my first appointment. From that appointment I knew this guy was not going to be delivering my baby. He asked me how I was feeling and confirmed my pregnancy. I told him I had some nausea and inquired about the things I “could/couldn’t” do/eat. He basically made me feel stupid for asking then proceeded to give me three prescriptions. Really? I thought, I am pregnant—not sick. I picked up the prescriptions “just in case,” but I never took them. They are sitting in a bag of cat poop and litter now.
The hunt for a midwife began.
I originally wanted to give birth at a birth center, but in the middle of my pregnancy my midwife moved locations and was only doing home births. Even though I had some reservations about giving birth at home, hospital birth was not an option for me. Later I learned birth center birth and home birth is the same thing except one you have to pack a bag.
I had low risk/normal pregnancy with some minor issues that ended up resolving themselves. I never got sick. I maintained low stress, calm and relaxed lifestyle. I practiced yoga and mediated daily, mindful of my diet, drank tons of water, and got regular massages.
My expected due date was April 20, 2014.
April 19 rolls around and I had been experiencing contractions all morning. I was sure that my little one would be arriving soon. April 20 came and went. I was so disappointed. I went to work that following anxiously awaiting his arrival. I ended up working that entire week.
Labor begins April 29, 2014.
I woke up around 4am to use the restroom when I noticed I lost my mucous plug. (Also referred as “bloody show”, it’s a mixture of blood and mucous which helps keep the baby sealed in your uterus). Hooray! I was so excited! I immediately told Sean, my other half, which he then instructs me to go back to bed. No way! I was way too excited.
5pm rolls around….still no baby. Starting to feel upset and frustrated, I call Haley, my doula to come over for a reflexology session to help get things going. We go about the rest of our evening as normal with no sign of baby. Before bed, Sean suggests we try some nipple stimulation (because that is what good baby daddy’s do). After a few minutes in I had to tell him to stop because I was having an intense contraction. I couldn’t sleep after that I was way too uncomfortable. We decided to go downstairs and watch some TV.
Baby arrives April 30, 2014
After about an hour of contractions and poor Sean falling asleep on the couch, I felt like things were starting to get real. I texted Haley to come over. Haley arrived at about 1:30am giving Sean and I some needed support. By that time I decided to get in the shower for some relief. Sean gets in the shower with me allowing me to rest my body against his. After showering, I didn’t have the energy to walk down stairs where I was planning to give birth. I put my robe on and continue to labor sitting upright on my bed. My contractions start getting stronger and closer together. I get up to use the restroom and end up throwing up all over. My doula calls my midwife Sherry to send over her assistant. Neoni arrived at 4:30am to observe my progress.
4:45am my water broke. At that time Neoni tells me that my contractions are going to start getting more intense. This freaks me out a little bit. I was starting to feel envious of all those planned c-section moms. I asked Neoni if it was safe for me to take a bath since my water had broken. She looked at me and gently says, “Your vagina is not a vacuum.” Touche.
The change of scenery was nice, but I could not get comfortable in the bathtub. During that time the tub lady had arrived to get things setup. I make my way downstairs and continue laboring standing up in my living room. Once the birthing tub was setup, I got in and immediately laid my head against the railing. I had observed that Sherry had arrived. I don’t remember her coming in but I knew she was there. At that point I was beyond tired and I wanted to get this baby out and sleep. The dogs where running around the tub and driving me crazy. I couldn’t focus on this process going on with my body. I had pleaded to get the dogs out of the room.
Sherry had then suggested I try squatting in the tub. I tried the change of position but I was too tired to hold the squat. Even though I squat all the time in yoga, it made me feel a bit scared. I was afraid my vagina was going to bust open. (It never did.) I had tried laboring in the restroom but I couldn’t get the urge to bear down and push. I needed guidance. With all the restroom breaks I had, I don’t remember actually peeing once. I come back to the living room and it setup for me to start pushing on the floor.
I start pushing on my side since my baby’s head is not quite facing all the way down but rather sideways. At one point Sherry tells me to stick my fingers and feel my baby’s head. I refuse which confuses everyone. I have this phobia of touching my insides because of my nails—I don’t want to scratch myself. (I know I’d make a horrible lesbian). I push for two hours on my side and my back. I start feeling frustrated and feeling like I am never going to get this baby out of me. Sherry then tells me, “You have to get mad.” So I get mad.
Finally I start feeling him crowning. It scares me a little bit. Sherry was generous with the olive oil to help prevent tearing. I had asked her to help me when I make that final head push which she applied pressure. (I thank the Goddess everyday for that.) I never experienced that ring of fire feeling. I felt intense stretching feeling and feeling like I am going to lose my clitoris and pee hole. (I didn’t lose it.) Once I got his head out and I could feel him hanging out there. At that point I was determined to get the rest of him our right away. It was all smooth sailing from there. Sherry put him on my chest and let him pulsate on the cord. He was crying, covered in cheese, and perfect.
After over eleven and half hours of labors, two of those hours of pushing – I am exhausted and starving. My first post labor meal was a big bowl of oatmeal. I ate like a wild animal and then threw up immediately after. I start to become concerned with my bleeding. I could feel pools of fluid gushing out of me. I ask Sherry if this was normal. She checked my chux pad and said the amount of blood was normal. I start feeling faint and I could feel myself coming in and out of the room. I couldn’t remember what was going on from moment to moment. My body started to go into a state of shock. Sherry becomes concerned with my state. She gives me a shot of pitocin to help stimulate the contractions get the rest of the blood clots out of my body and hooks me up to an IV with fluids. I spend the rest of the day glued to my couch admiring my new little person.
About home birth.
I am not going to sugarcoat it – homebirth is no walk in the park. From beginning to end – women who choose homebirth do not walk into it lightly. (It freaks half the people know you out). You end up learning a lot about the birthing process so if you’re not into knowing all the details, this might not be the right choice for you.
People have this image of childbirth as “Oh my god, my water is breaking”, lots of screaming and chaos. This is far from my birth. I learned that birth very quietly. My midwife commented that this was one of the quietest births she had been to in a long time. I only made noise toward the end because she told me to. (I am an internal processor so this makes sense). I thought I wouldn’t be comfortable on my back, but I ended up preferring to push on my back. I knew everyone at my birth – no strangers or people I just met.
Giving birth was the biggest physical workout of my life. Did it hurt? Sure it did. It was uncomfortable but not unbearable. I think there are things in life much more painful than childbirth and recovery. Car accidents with airbags, teenage love, tonsillitis was also pretty shitty. Then end result of it all is nothing but pure love.
~ Angela Harlan
Benjamin’s birth and my birth experience were full of anxiety and fear. I didn’t trust my body enough to speak up for myself when nurses and doctors doubted what I was telling them. I was scared that I was wrong and that they somehow must have known better. My husband didn’t understand that he had a voice too when doctors and nurses pushed him aside, as if he didn’t matter. We allowed the staff to pump me full of all kind of drugs and hook Benjamin up to a monitor by using a small screw that went into his head; as they explained to me, “this was what all the women do,” and “this is for the safety of your baby.” I trusted them because who was I to second guess. I had no medical degree.
After 26 hours of labor we did end up with a beautiful, healthy baby boy, and that was definitely the number 1 priority. But after that experience I soon realized that the mother and her birth experience were a very, very close second. I didn’t realize that when you have a child you will carry that memory with you for the rest of your life. The immediate memories that I walked away with after having Benjamin were ones of self-doubt, fear, anxiety, and guilt. I didn’t understand how, as a laboring woman, I was doubted and told I was wrong for feeling the sensations I was feeling. I didn’t feel supported or loved in the most vulnerable and powerful moment of my life, and, to be honest I held a lot of frustration and anger towards the hospital staff for that…but looking back I am so thankful for them. I am so grateful for the experience I had and I am so grateful for Benjamin. He helped me to awaken to a world where I don’t take everything at face value, where I don’t just nod and agree because I am scared of owning my truth. Because of that experience I knew there had to be a better way.
When Benjamin was about a year old we began thinking about the possibility of having another child. The mere thought sent anxiety rushing through my body. I knew that I didn’t want to have a hospital birth but I was also gripped with fear. My ideas and thoughts were going against the norm and that scared the shit outta me. Slowly over time my need to follow my heart and my path overshadowed my fear of being different, and a beautiful shift took place in my life. One of many on this journey of motherhood.
I found out I was pregnant with our child second on April 1, 2014. This was somewhat of a shock as we weren’t planning on it, but we were overjoyed and immediately I felt those rushes of anxiety and fear come up. I knew in my heart and soul that a hospital birth was not an option I was open to unless it was medically necessary. I knew that having a baby is not a medical emergency for me. I now looked at pregnancy and birth as a gift, a gift to be completely vulnerable and powerful, a chance to be one with my higher power and my source. I also knew that I was still full of fear of the unknown, fear of what people would think, especially family, my mom, fear of making the wrong decision for my unborn child, fear of rejection. The deep knowing that this was the right path for me, Joe and our unborn child came from undeniable knowing that cannot be explained. It was my soul speaking to me, urging me to grow. The fear and anxiety came from my ego—a place that doesn’t support the growth and evolution of our souls. While my ego speaks loudly, my soul speaks in soft whispers and only when I am quiet enough do I hear it.
This time I heard and I decided to listen. We chose to pursue a homebirth. This decision to listen to my soul was not just a one-time thing at the beginning of this pregnancy. It was an everyday and even moment-to-moment decision to return to love when fear took over—love for myself, love for Joe, love for this baby, love for the experience I had with Ben. This love was so powerful that today I can sit here and say it washed away the guilt Joe and I carried for not knowing any better when Ben was born and not speaking up. This love washed away the anger we had towards the hospital staff and this love washed away the negative memories of Ben’s birth. Now looking at Benjamin’s birth all I see is beauty in the experience.
It was challenging to get to this place and Joe and I didn’t experience this peace until the end of my 2nd pregnancy. It wasn’t until my friend and doula, Holly, asked Joe and I what our fears were regarding the birth of our second child that all these feelings of guilt rushed to the surface again…but we sat with them this time. We didn’t push them down. We didn’t dismiss them and pretend they weren’t there this time. We sat with those heavy feelings while Holly sat with us in complete love and support. Joe and I poured our hearts out to each other and we both released the regret and hurt we felt for Benjamin’s birth. This was a beautiful moment because it was the moment we both released all the fear and guilt and replaced it with love. Getting to that place meant we had to walk through those emotions instead of around them and honor the experience we had with Ben—honor him for being our greatest teacher. We walked through the darkness we carried and on the other side there was nothing but love and light. Now when I look at Ben I feel such gratitude and trust in the divine process of his journey. He came in to this world at exactly the right time.. in exactly the right way so that he could give us all a special gift. He went through a fearful and anxiety-driven birth so that he could shake us up and show us our truth and ultimately give his brother the gift of a peaceful birth.
Once we got past the guilt and shame of Ben’s birth there were new fears to work through. Though I was positive that this was our path with our second child it was really difficult for me to release the seeds of fear that have been planted in my head since I mentioned wanting children years ago. As a woman I have been told that childbirth is something to fear—a horrendous torture of your body that only doctors could help you with. That our bodies cannot be trusted, our intuition cannot be trusted, and we must rely on machines and doctors to tell us what our body is doing. Letting go of my fear was something I didn’t see coming when I started this journey. I questioned myself daily, asking “Can I do this? What the hell were you thinking Christina?” I was terrified of feeling the sensations of birth. I was terrified of trusting my intuition and myself. I began facing each fear one by one, replacing each big fear I had with an affirmation. I made an affirmation prayer flag that I hung in my bedroom months before my due date. This helped me to focus my energy and reaffirm that I was capable of having a natural birth and that my body and my baby knew what to do to be born and my only job was to silence my mind and step out of my own way.
The moment I mentioned a home birth to my mom I could see the fear in her eyes and I asked her why she was so scared. She told me that as a mother she didn’t want to see me in pain or helpless. That for her to see her child in that way and not be able to help me was unbearable. I could see that she was worried and scared for us, for my unborn child, and I felt hurt at times that she wasn’t as passionate about this as I was. She and I have a connection that goes beyond our relationship as mother and daughter. We have walked this earth many times together and in many different roles. My soul recognizes her soul and we are so deeply connected that it is hard for me to even put into words. So when I didn’t see her immediate acceptance and joy for this decision I felt a bit uneasy and again questioned my own intuition and this journey of a homebirth. I gave her the space she needed to process Joe’s and my decision while still keeping her informed of the choices we were making as the pregnancy progressed.
The more confident I grew in my own intuition and deep knowing that this was how our second child needed to be born the more open my mom was to hearing about it. She too had been inundated with images of screaming women in pain and suffering as they gave birth. She experienced 3 births herself and knew how much work and pain the body endures in order to birth a child. Through time she opened up to the idea that a birth can be calm and peaceful when the mother is surrounded by love and support.
That is something that is greatly lacking in our society today. I believe that when a woman is supported and told that she absolutely can do this and that she should trust her body, birth is not only easier, but it can also be one of her greatest achievements—full of love, beauty. This is an opportunity to live in the moment so deeply that you lose yourself to the greatness of love and all the universe has to offer. In that moment the woman is one with her source and her soul is one with her baby’s soul…they are working together along with the support of those that surround them to bring forth a new life and this is a celebration.
I needed my mom to be there along with my husband Joe, my doula Holly, and my midwife Debbie. All of them would be crucial to providing the most perfect and raw experience of my entire life. These words were never spoken, but like I said, my mom and I have a deep connection…often no words need to be said…just the space to allow and accept each other as we are in each moment. If every relationship was like the one my mom and I have I believe there would be no room for fear or hate in this world. My mom’s fear transformed to great clarity and support she expressed a deep love for our decision to have a homebirth. How she came to that place is a story for her to share, but the fear she had was replaced with love and an undeniable knowing that this too was all part of a beautiful and perfect journey for her. She honored her feelings and expressed her support by hosting a Mother’s Blessing for me.
The Mother’s Blessing was one of the most spiritual and connected moments of my life. Some of my favorite woman all gathered in one room to bless our home, my unborn child, and me, the mother. My mom performed a sacred ceremony by blessing me and anointing my feet with a special oil blend prepared by Holly. This is a scared moment that I have no words for. I am deeply honored to be her daughter. She gave me the gift of life and on this day she gave me the gift of seeing me and honoring my truth—standing by my side as I walked this journey. That day was so beautiful and I felt a oneness and strength come over me that I still carry with me today. The love and support that was shared in my living room was profound and humbling. I had been so very fearful of what others thought and of rejection, and here I was, surrounded by some of the most important people in my life with nothing but support and love.
I had a moment of clarity when everyone left and I sat weeping. We are all one and we are all so connected. We build up walls and wear our masks because we are so frightened of people seeing the real us and being rejected. My ego mind had created an entire story in my head about how no one would support my decision. When I let my guard down and owned my truth I was able to see that I was not alone and that many people were by my side holding me on light and supporting my every step. My ego mind spoke loudly in order to keep me separate and convinced me that I was all alone. This Mother’s Blessing was again my soul… whispering softly that I am connected and we are all part of a universal oneness with our source. I chose to listen to the whisper of my soul in this moment and it has stayed with me. The moments when I feel alone and scared to honor my truth… all I have to do is look at the many blessings I received that day and I am once again in my soul space.
The weeks after my Mother’s Blessing leading up to the birth of my second child were probably some of the most challenging for me. I knew my baby would be coming soon and my body was starting to prepare for the arrival. I experienced a great deal of prodromal labor and had a “false” alarm or two. During this time I decided to not use the word contractions when describing the sensations I felt as my body prepared for birth, but instead used the words waves of love. This gave me a sense of peace and also helped me to visualize the sensations during the prodromal labor as me floating in the ocean…feeling the waves but never been consumed by them.
Holly worked with me almost daily, sharing her love and light. She reminded me of my power and my strength when I felt weak and honored my feelings of frustration when my due date came and went. In my moments of fear I would start to panic that I couldn’t do this, that I couldn’t possibly give birth with no medication. I would obsess about all the what ifs and play out dramatic scenarios in my head of things going wrong or of my birth team not arriving on time or having to be transferred to the hospital. On top of these fears I had a layer of guilt that I was somehow going to upset people that were there to help me if I called too soon once I was in labor, or that I would go into labor at an inconvenient time for others. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but those were my thoughts, all coming from a place of fear—my ego at work once again.
Holly said something to me that I will never forget and when I started to fall into the rabbit hole of fear. She said, “You are a witness to this baby’s journey earth side…this is about his path and his divine timing of entering this world.” This statement washed over me and surrounded me in peace. This journey was not just mine ..it was my baby’s. I had the honor of being the vessel that carried and birthed my children, but they are not mine. They are souls, each with their own individual journey in life and I am honored to be able to witness that and hold their hands until they are able to go out into this world on their own. This allowed me to fully surrender and trust in the divine timing of how everything would play out.
The day before I went into labor I spent a couple hours with Holly talking and walking around downtown Antioch. We talked about life about fears and about anything that still might be holding me back. I felt I had done all the soul work necessary to prepare for this birth. She suggested I spend some time in quiet mediation talking to the baby. That night when I was awake experiencing some more prodromal labor I decided to meditate.
When I meditate I go to a space that is not of this world and I truly believe that the visions and words that come to me during these sacred times are coming directly from my source..from the universe, from God. When I surrender without judgment and allow.. I am able to tap into the depths of my soul and the knowing that resides there. This is the vision that came to me:
I was on a beach and it was nighttime. A man in his late 20s came walking towards me wearing all white. He smiled and looked at me. He had the most intense blue eyes and in that moment I knew …this was Bodhi…this was his soul…looking at my soul. I asked him why he hadn’t come earth side yet and he told me that he was waiting for me to fully and completely surrender. He was scared to enter into a body again. The heaviness of being in a body again was not something that excited him. I told him that I was scared too and we talked about our fears. The vision then changed. We were both in the ocean and it was dark. We were both floating and holding hands. I spoke. I told him that if he got scared during labor all he had to do was reach out and grab my hand and that if I got scared I would do the same. All of the sudden I noticed that there were soft glowing lights surrounding us. The looked like millions of lanterns floating on top of the dark water. I knew in this moment that there were millions of angels surrounding us and holding us in pure love and light.
I awoke from this meditation and sobbed uncontrollably. I have no words to describe what I felt in that moment but as I sit here writing about this I am again moved to tears. I knew after this moment that my labor would start soon. I drifted off into a deep sleep.
I awoke the next morning full of energy and showing some really clear signs that this day I would be giving birth. Joe hurried off to work and Benjamin and I spent the morning snuggling and playing legos. I start experiencing waves around 11 a.m. but didn’t pay much attention to them. I knew that today was the day but I had no fear and I was calm and trusted the process. I knew that all was well. I put Benjamin down for a nap around 12:30 p.m. and spent the time showering and going about my daily chores. When Benjamin woke up around 2 p.m. I was still feeling the waves and they were becoming a bit more intense and coming on a bit more frequently. I decided to walk around the house and Ben and I continued to play.
Around 3:30 p.m. I had my first wave of panic rush over me. Was this really it? Omg this is it? When should I call Joe, Holly, my mom..Debbie??? I quickly replaced these thoughts with trust and I took a deep breath. I sent Joe a text around this time and just said that he should probably make his way home soon…this was it..but I was doing great so not to rush. By the time he got home I was having to really concentrate as each wave came. I called Holly and she asked if I could talk through a wave. For some reason this sent me into a spiral of self doubt. Could I talk through a wave? What does that mean? Should I not be able to even if I really wanted to if this is true labor? I called my mom and rattled off these questions. She calmly said, “Well, can you talk during a wave?” I told her we will wait to see the next time one comes along…and within seconds I let her know a wave was coming along. I immediately began to cry and told her it hurt too much to talk. She calmly said “ok great…I’m on my way.” I called Holly back and cried and told her to please come.
Once I knew my mom and Holly were on their way Joe called his parents to come grab Benjamin so they could watch him. I paced around downstairs…taking breaks to lean on the counter when waves came along. Joe would rub my back while entertaining Ben. I decided to sit on my labor ball and during that time a very intense wave came along and I screamed for Joe to come help me stand up. My second rush of panic came over me. Omg that hurt! What the Hell was I thinking? I’m losing control fast. All these thoughts whirled in my head. I knew I needed to get to a quiet space and call my midwife who lived 3 min away.
I walked upstairs into my room. The salt rock lamps glowed softly and the room felt calm and peaceful. The affirmation flags hung in perfect view as I laid in my bed. The flags my mom gave me hung across the room and the letters and notes I received at my Mother’s Blessing laid on my dresser. I called Debbie and let her know this was the day and to please make her way to my house. When I hung up I turned on one of my favorite meditation CDs. This CD has been with me through some major life changing events. I listened to it the night before my wedding, the day I brought Benjamin home from the hospital and every night we put him to bed his first year of life…and now…as I prepared to welcome a new soul in to this world. I felt at peace. Then another wave came and I felt the intensity hit my body like a truck and I had my third and final rush of panic come over me. “Omg this is painful…where is Joe…I need someone..I can’t do this alone” as if my pleas were heard my birth team started to arrive. Holly arrived and came into the room and immediately saw the fear and panic in my eyes.
She looked at me and said, “Christina, we have to get into a quiet space and get on top of these waves.” I immediately felt better. My mom arrived and then Joe’s parents arrived to take Benjamin. Holly began talking me through each wave and reminding me to slow my breathing and completely let go. Debbie arrived and she began setting up her equipment. She checked me and told me I was 5 cm and completely effaced. I felt so proud in that moment. I was doing this. I was half way there and I knew I could do it.
After this things became rather blurry for me. I don’t really know what was going around me. My mom and Debbie were setting things up and Joe was helping Debbie set the tub up. I remember feeling the panic come over Joe as Debbie told him we had the wrong hose or hook up in order to fill the birth tub up. He knew how badly I wanted to have the birth tub but in that moment all the need to have things “just right’ fell away. I told him it’s ok…if it’s meant to happen it will happen…if not it’s ok…that is not where our baby wanted to be born then. He was then able to be with me and stop worrying about the tub.
Joe and Holly helped me find a comfortable position to labor in. I ended up on my knees in front of the lazy boy rocker chair with my head laying in the seat cushion. At this point the waves were coming on strongly and close together. I had completely and totally surrendered my body. Nothing in this moment mattered and I completely let go. It is hard for me to describe what happened in my bedroom that night but all I know is we all became one and we flowed together in perfect harmony. Holly and Joe rubbed my back and applied pressure to my back. Holly spoke softly to me and reminded me to take deep breaths and let go as she saw my body tensing up. I got into a rhythm and I literally felt like I was riding waves and although it was very intense I couldn’t say it was a pain I couldn’t handle and when a moment of panic started to rise I went back to the meditation of the previous night and pictured myself floating in the dark ocean with my son…holding hands and surrounded in the soft glow of millions of angels. I never felt a moment of panic during the most intense phase of labor. It is difficult for me to describe what I was feeling but I felt as though I was having an out of body experience. I was not my body. I was one with God and everyone present in that room. The energy was holy and sacred and there was no space for fear. These precious hours were lived from a space of pure ecstasy and love. I experienced the joy and beauty that comes from completely and totally surrendering to my higher power and living with unwavering trust in the process of life.
While on the floor I began to feel pressure and expressed this to Joe who helped me to bathroom. As soon as I sat down on the toilet my water broke. I expressed my need to push and we made our way to the bed. I couldn’t go any further because I knew this baby was coming any moment. I laid on the bed and Joe and Holly supported my legs. I remained completely one with this moment and continued to trust the process even though the sensations I were feeling were extremely intense and foreign to me. I remember Debbie yelling to my mom for supplies because her assistant had not yet made it to my house and my mom rushed around to help her. I pushed a few times and then I felt it…his soul entered earth side. I yelled out “My baby! My baby! My baby!” And asked if he was ok. Debbie said he was and she suctioned and then immediately place him on my chest.
Bodhi Alexander Hladnik was born 7:10 p.m. on December 15, 2014. Bodhi meaning Awakens/Enlightenment.
He arrived in a little under 2 hours after my birth team arrived at my home. Time stood still in the moments immediately following his birth. All attention and focus was on him…this perfect little soul who entered this world in a sacred space surrounded in love. He came into this world in such a peaceful way that he didn’t even cry. When Debbie placed him on my chest Joe and I kissed him and welcomed him to our family. He opened his eyes and looked directly into mine. The same eyes that looked deep into mine during my meditation the previous night. His soul recognized my soul.
There are no words that could adequately describe the events of that night. I was in a space of complete love and trust. This overpowered me leaving no room for my ego. It was pure love…pure bliss…pure connection with my source. I can still feel the sacredness of that night as I sit in my room writing this 2 months later. I found a quote during my pregnancy that I believe comes close to describing the labor and birth of Bodhi. “It is said that a woman in labor leaves her body….she travels to the stars to collect the soul of her baby, and they return to this world together” -Anonymous
Just like Benjamin’s birth was a great awakening for me so was Bodhi’s. This experience showed me just how close to my God I am. That I have the power to tap into that source at any moment at anytime regardless of what is going on around me. It is always up to me to choose love over fear and choose the whispers of my soul over the loudness of my ego. The choice is always mine and mine alone. I saw first hand what happens when I let my guard down and honor my truth as I follow my path. I saw that when I was vulnerable and open that it allowed others to be in that space with me. As soon as I owned my truth and vision for my journey people began showing up in my life in order to provide the support I needed.
I cannot imagine walking this journey without Joe. He was the biggest support through out. His capacity to love and be present in each moment is humbling. And my friend and doula Holly. I barely have the words to describe what a light she has been in our lives. She allowed a space for me to own my truth and walked with me in this journey. I am honored that she was present for the birth of Bodhi.
My mom—a woman of strength and vulnerability. She allowed me to go though this process without trying to save me from any pain or myself. She stood by as a light…holding me up with her trust and knowing that I was capable of this…capable of greatness.
The journey still continues and I strive to let go each day accept what is…knowing that that is the connection to my source…choosing love over fear and trusting in the process of my life. Some days it is easy and other days it’s a moment-to-moment decision to listen to the whispers of my soul instead of the loudness of my ego.
~ Christina Hladnik
I found out the beginning of June I was pregnant. We planned this. We were excited. We didn’t expect things to happen so quickly, as I suffered from endometriosis which can hinder pregnancy sometimes. I took pictures of our 2 yr old holding a sign with all of kids’ names on it and a blank with a question mark saying coming soon. I put that in a card for Father’s Day from the baby. Now here we were and, looking back, for a few days I wasn’t feeling well. Friday I had indigestion, so I thought.Saturday and Sunday I didn’t feel right, not much of an appetite and I told my family I felt nauseous. I spent the day in bed laying down doing homework. Monday in class I would get hot on and off and I thought I had heartburn.
On Tuesday the office staff had me go into the office when I called to tell them I was fine, but wanted them to know that yesterday I had the worst “heartburn” ever. I have never had it before so, I didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like. I told them what I did to try to relieve the pain, by taking tums when I got home at 7 p.m., I took a hot bath, again consumed more tums…and still I didnt feel well. By 9 p.m. I took ranitidine, the max strength that was on the sheet they gave me of approved meds in the beginning of my pregnancy to take at home. I waited for it to kick in and it didn’t resolve the pain I had under my sternum that was heartburn. I took more tums, another hot bath and at 10:30 p.m. still was in pain. I managed through it, and at 3:30 a.m. when I was getting ready to go to the E.R. fell asleep next to my 2 year old when she called, out of pure exhaustion and tears.
I woke up that morning and went along with my day feeling okay. I went in at 1:30 p.m. to see the doctors. The medical assistant took my urine, Bp and rechecked my Bp. It was 160/118 with a 2+ of protein in my urine. 2 or more bp’s of 140/90 with protein in the urine classify pre-Eclampsia as mild. Severe pre-Eclampsia is labeled as 2 bp’s of 160/110. She put me in a room and had me lay on my left side on the table while I waited another 5 mins so she could re-check my Bp. The doctor came in and asked if I would drive across the street to the hospital because she wanted to monitor me since my Bp was extremely high for myself. It usually runs about 90/60. Along with the protein in the urine this could be a sign of pre-Eclampsia, even though I didn’t fit the classic signs of being a first time mom, or having a new dad, being in the third trimester, or having it before.
Yes, I had stress from school, but I didn’t think anything more than similar work stress. They asked if I was having headaches, or had changes with my vision. No. I had them sometimes but, I was a nursing student and mom. I would have never thought it was my blood pressure. I felt… not 100% but, I figured it was from being tired from staying up studying and also taking care of the other children at home.
My husband left work to meet me as everything hit home really fast. We met when we were 14, he took my best friend to prom, his family lived around the block from mine, we grew up – went separate ways, had kids of our own and re-met at a music event in the late summer of 2008. We hit it off fast, I bought a house for my children and myself but we quickly decided by May of 2009 we wanted to be married and have our own family together.
He asked why I needed to go to the hospital and I told him what they suspected. He wondered what that meant, and as I looked it up on Google in my cell phone, I couldn’t bring myself to tell him “it’s fatal.” I just said it’s “not good” and didn’t want to scare him. I was trying to stay mainly in work mode, and not personal mode, so I didn’t freak out. Overall, I was always very healthy; I get a cold now and then, but have no health problems, diseases, or disorders. I’m 5’0″ tall and normally weigh about 105. My pregnancy weight right now was 112 and they say the baby is normal size and I’m doing well. We heard the heart beat at the office visit.
Pre-eclampisa causes thousands of women and babies to die or get very sick each year from a dangerous condition called preeclampsia, a life-threatening disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Preeclampsia and related disorders such as HELLP syndrome and eclampsia are most often characterized by a rapid rise in blood pressure that can lead to seizure, stroke, multiple organ failure and death of the mother and/or baby. HELLP syndrome happens to 0.2% off all pregnancies according to http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/hellpsyndrome.html.
The nursing staff was getting me settled in at the hospital. They were very calm and professional while taking my urine, getting vital signs, and waiting for the doctor. The phlebotomist came to draw my blood. An ultrasound tech came in to check my gallbladder. I could hear my wonderful doctor Fagan outside my door informing staff I have always been healthy and have never had a blood pressure problem. As my doctors did many tests to rule out things, they collected my urine for 24 hours, as it had protein in it, a +3, did a gallbladder ultrasound that came back negative for gallstones, took my blood pressure every 15 mins, started me on protonix, labetalol, and dilaudid, and drew lab work to test my ALT, AST, BMP and infused 2bags of lactated ringers.
My AST was 49 and high (enzyme released into blood when the liver or heart are injured)
ALT was 33 and normal (tests liver)
Red blood cell count was 3.59 which were low. (Tests for anemia)
Hemoglobin 11.8 low (protein that carries oxygen to organs & tissues, shows anemia if low)
Hematocrit was 33.0 was low (proportion of total blood volume composed of red blood cells)
Platelets were 104 which were low (measures how many platelets are in blood. helps to clot the blood) normal is 150,000-400,000.
AST 45 high
ALT 30 ok
RBC count 3.44 low
Hemoglobin 10.7 low
Hematocrit 30.4 low
Platelets 76 low, with no platelet clumping seen and confirmed with slide estimate.
The severity of HELLP syndrome is measured according to the blood platelet count of the mother and divided into three categories, according to a system termed “the Mississippi classification.”
Class I (severe thrombocytopenia): platelets under 50,000/mm3.
Class II (moderate thrombocytopenia): platelets between 50,000 and 100,000/mm3.
Class III (AST > 40 IU/L, mild thrombocytopenia): platelets between 100,000 and 150,000/mm3. ( http://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/hellp-syndrome).
From the fluids my hands and feet swelled and looked like sausages. I couldn’t move my wedding band and it hurt my feet to walk. At one point I know my b/p was 240/180. My liver enzymes were high, and I had low platelets. Along with hemolysis which is the breakdown of red blood cells they thought it might be HELLP syndrome.
In the morning, Dr. Fiefield came in and said they would be transferring me to Froedtert in Milwaukee and didnt give me the choice of a hospital so I could be with specialists that know more about HELLP syndrome and they do have a level 3 neonatal intensive care unit if needed. She reiterated that I didn’t meet the typical case guidelines for this syndrome and they were somewhat taken back by it all.
I was then transferred to Froedtert on Wednesday, November 21, 2012, at noon by ambulance with a nurse by my side. I tried to stay calm and keep my up spirits. I tried to make small talk to distract myself. I was given magnesium sulfate to reduce the risk of seizures from the severe pre-eclampisa. This made me feel like my whole body was on fire. I was transferred all for a rare life threatening condition known as HELLP syndrome hoping they can help me and my baby.
There were so many people there. There were 2 RN’s waiting for me. People were drawing blood. Doctors were coming in. I cried while they told me staff members would come in to tell me what to expect with a preemie and if I had questions for them, to ask. My husband finally arrived and a neonatologist came in to explain what could happen, and how to prepare ourselves for the road ahead with health problems and disorders. Things we may need to expect with being under developed, such as immature lungs and eyes. Being blind or deaf.
A doctor came in and did an ultrasound of the baby. This showed absent end diastolic flow. This means there is fetal vascular stress and there is placental insufficiency. We were told he wasn’t getting appropriate oxygen and nutrients. The baby was positioned in breech footling position. In this position, one or both of the baby’s feet point downward and will deliver before the rest of the body, so a C-section was needed. With a classic C-section like I had, I would never be able to have another vaginal birth if more kids were in my future due to the risk of uterine rupture. This is also better, since the stress of labor may not be well tolerated by a baby of 26 weeks gestation. Once they decided I would immediately have a C-section, I called my mom and started crying, she came right away to be with me. She had an idea of what to expect because my mom had me 3 months early and I was premature. Prior I was given an intramuscular injection in my gluteus of beta methadone which helps the surfactant, a protein that keeps small air sacs in the lungs from collapsing in the baby. It helps get the baby’s lungs ready for their big job of breathing early.
My husband stayed off work the rest of the week to stay with me in the hospital. He was just as scared as I was. He was the best support I could have. This was our family. Our baby, his son that we were preparing to bring into the world way too early. We weren’t ready at home with car seats and clothes. He wasn’t supposed to come into the world until February 2013, not November 2012. This was something we perfectly planned for February and now our plan was thrown off course and the world had other ideas for my body and baby. The best thing to do would be deliver the baby early, as the placenta was deteriorating because my blood supply was being shunted to my vital organs, and the uterus is not one of them. There is no known origin for HELLP syndrome. Nothing I did caused this. I did everything right and yet this situation was not right. I was ripped off of my pregnancy experience, I wouldn’t get to grow a large tummy to cuddle and caress, I wouldn’t get to let others feel kicks and punches, I wouldn’t get to do pictures and molds like I planned. I felt guilty somehow, no one would understand that.
I was wheeled back, just like for surgery, they intubated me, and prepared me to cut through my layers of skin and muscles into my warm cozy home of the uterus to remove my baby so I would survive along with my baby. I felt like I was being crucified, my arms out, my clothes gone, and a sheet pulled up towards the ceiling below my neck. No one was with me. not my husband or my mom. What if I didn’t wake up? 2 people were complaining, another 2 people were giggling, while my hair cover slid into my eyes, I was crying and I was alone. My husband was not allowed in with me. I laid there and prayed for our lives. I remember nothing else.
My husband tells me they immediately took our baby, our son, over to Children’s Hospital to be admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care unit. We had no names ready, we would kid around at home with names like Willy Nelson or Norah Jones, but decided on Maxwell William.
He was born November 21, 2012, at 4:58 pm; he weighed 1 pound 8 ounces and was 12 inches long. He was a micro-preemie. He had a head full of black hair. He had respiratory distress syndrome and was given a breathing tube right away. He was small for his gestational age, but still in the normal range. About the size of two cell phones. Weighing less then a loaf of bread.
I wasn’t allowed to see Max for 2 days until my blood pressure was improved, I could stand, and I was off of the magnesium sulfate I.V. It’s all a huge blur. My husband had seen him, I hadn’t. Other guests had already seen our micro-preemie, I had not. This was hard to swallow when I watched visitors go down from my mommy and baby room to see my son, when I still had not for the first time yet. Tears would come to my eyes as they left my room to travel the twists and turns to the NICU without me. When I finally did, I thought I knew what to expect, but I still lost control of my emotions shortly after being able to see my baby in his plastic pod isolette that would be his new womb until he was discharged into my arms. To see him so small, yet so strong amazes me. He breathes so fast, and fights so hard to stay in this world. Things in life are quickly put into perspective of what is important and not important now. Houses, cars and possessions are no longer priority—others can have it, just keep our baby alive.
Our son Max has since then been taken off of his breathing ventilator, he has also had a pic line inserted now, has an infection that the doctors can’t find the source of, has had 3 attempts of a straight cath’s without success, Friday, November 30, 2012 had a spinal tap, and Sunday December 2, 2012 had a blood transfusion. More blood transfusions have been done since then, he has moved to having his oxygen by nasal cannula. All internal lines have been removed now. He is fed by a tube until he is big enough to suck, swallow, and breathe on his own. He doesn’t need any blood pressure meds, heart meds, or other meds. We are lucky, other preemies do. There is no word as to when he is coming home. So, our visits consist of driving to Milwaukee and hanging out with him at the hospital while he grows and strengthens to come home.
I came home on a Sunday and went back to nursing school on Monday along with clinicals to finish my semester as a nursing student. What else was I suppose to do?
2 weeks after the birth my Bp check was 130/90. Still high. 2 weeks after that it was within normal range, but not my normal range. Finally at my last visit the reading was 90/69, my normal. This is good. They say with future births you might have this again. They are still doing research through the Pre-Eclampsia foundation and March of Dimes. So many things are unknown with HELLP syndrome. I was just one of the small percentages to go through it.
HELLP syndrome is listed as a “rare disease” by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that HELLP syndrome, or a subtype of HELLP syndrome, affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
The head of high risk OB there suggested still studying me since I am different than the typical case, and maybe there is an underlying disease or disorder like lupus that triggered this. Of course, being in healthcare, I will do whatever I can so another family, mom and baby, can learn from this and possibly not have their pregnancy cut short and emotions stirred up. There may be nothing, which we would likely, but if there is, we can link things together possibly. My OB doctors in Kenosha have been phenomenal, they didn’t think I was crying wolf, had me go right in to check things out. Dr. Fifield didn’t question anything and was on top of all of the signs and sent me to be admitted. Dr. Fagan was on call at the hospital and was thorough by checking into other possibilities, and Dr. Robinson was supportive and encouraging by phone as my primary OB over the weekend while I was in Milwaukee.
Not a lot of people know what HELLP syndrome is. Some professionals don’t fully understand it either. If more awareness can be drawn to it and research and education can be done, we will have a start to reducing morbidity and mortality of babies and moms.
Now, I have conquered the challenge of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. It took me an extra semester. My school was not understanding of my extenuating circumstances. We were able to bring Max the micro-preemie home February 11, 2013, but still on oxygen. It was different learning to adjust to always having a cord.
Max today is doing great and I’ve been inspired to go into parent preemie coaching!
~ Angela Gross
Mother to Ellis Owen, 22 months old.
Since I was a little girl I always dreamed of having a big beautiful family. Having worked with kids after graduating High School I felt confident with what was in store for me having one of my own…..except for the birth! To be honest I was petrified, I read all the recommended books and watched all of the shows (don’t watch them) but I was still nervous. To be honest, I don’t think anything can prepare you! Having heard that most first pregnancies go overdue and have long labours, I was certain I would also. However, this was not the case.
So after cooking dinner for my partner and I for Valentines Day I was just about to sit down to enjoy my meal when my waters broke! I think I was in denial, I remember calling my mum saying “Hey mum, so I just had a water-like substance run down my leg, it can’t be my waters though…” My mum laughed at me and said “it’s your waters darling.” I suddenly felt more emotions than I thought one could feel at any one time. I was excited, scared, nervous, overwhelmed and empowered.
I was due in 2 days, so it wasn’t like I was early at all but I still had this thought in my mind that I had at least a week. Luckily my bags were packed and my birth plan was ready to go. I called the hospital to let them know and they said to come in to the hospital in 3 hours or when my contractions get close together. I went in straight away. I was just too excited to wait! And so was my baby!
On the way to the hospital I couldn’t contain my excitement, I remember us going through all of the names we had picked out for our baby boy. When we got there the midwife told me I had a long way to go and to head on home. As much as it would have been nice at home, I had a gut feeling I should stay at the hospital. Lucky it was quiet in the hospital and they gave me a birthing suite to wait.
I settled in and had a shower and walked around for what felt several hours, but was just 1. I suddenly felt the pain in my lower back, which was to stay until it was all over. I decided to have a bath to ease the pain, that’s when the contractions intensified which then made my back pain worse. However, I had chosen to do it naturally with no pain relief. I had to lay down and relieve this pain, so I laid down on the bed and my partner massaged my back.
Up until now it had been only 2 hours since my water broke, so I still thought I was in for many more hours of pain. To my amazement I was already 7 centimeters dilated! This is going faster than I thought…
I quickly called my mum and told her to “GET HERE NOW!” I had chosen to have my mother in the room for the birth, she is the strongest person I know and I knew I could do it with her holding my hand.
The next part is a bit of a whirlwind, it all went super fast. It was now 3 hours since my water broke, my mum was finally here and I was in the final stages of labour. Thinking back I definitely thought of having pain relief, but things were going way too fast. I remember my partner watching the monitor telling me when the numbers were going up where I would say “shutup,” and when they were going down where I would feel a whole heap of love for him.
Suddenly I couldn’t take it and I felt the urge to push, with every contraction I thought this next one they are going to tell me to push. It wasn’t long until they said the unspoken word and it was happening, I was bringing life into the world. This thought empowered me and gave me the strength I needed.
Throughout my reading on labour and birth I also read a lot about hypnobirth. I started concentrating on each contraction and imagining it being like the ocean’s shore. As a contraction was intensifying I would think of it as the waves crashing and the tide pushing further onto land and as each contraction eased I would imagine the water being sucked back in.
This, along with deep breathing, helped me give birth to the sweetest little boy, Ellis. In the later stage of labour I remember thinking (and a lot of you may have thought the same) “no, I just can’t do this!” but those memories are now at the back of my mind.
I was extremely lucky to have a beautiful pregnancy and a quick 4 hour natural labour which I will always be grateful for. There is nothing that you can compare with the emotions a woman feels after giving birth to their first-born. I was on a complete high. I finally had my baby in my arms, the only thing I ever wanted, my own child.
If it’s not worth getting a divorce over?
Jan 13, 1965 An ordinary day in the warm, sun-shiney paradise of Kauai that I had made my home. I was right around due date but not thinking too much about it. My Mom had come in from CT to help me along. We went for a walk on the white sand beach one house lot away from my little house.
A half hour out I had to use the bathroom, back to the house. Back out to finish our walk. Back to the bathroom. I have had IBS for as long as I can remember so problems with bowel movements were no surprise. By late afternoon we decided to stop trying to walk. We just stayed in the house to watch my little 19″ TV.
Still I kept getting up and heading for the bathroom. I couldn’t get comfortable so I lay on the floor and put my feet up on the piano. At 6:30 Mom finally said, “I think you are having the baby.” “No, it’s just a BM. I do this all the time.” To appease her I called my doctor. He said the same thing, You’re probably constipated.” and called in a prescription for me.
My husband had not come home and we only had one car so I lay back down on the floor with my feet up on the piano. This time I did not take as long. 7 p.m. “Mom, I think you’re right.” “I know I’m right.” I called my Mother-in-law’s neighbor (the only one in her neighborhood with a phone) Told her “I need to go to the hospital. Would you ask my husband to come home with the car?”
7:20 p.m. My brother in law drove in my yard with the car. My 6’2″ rock solid 300 pound Hawaiian was a coward and never came to the hospital. In perspective in 1965 NO ONE went into Delivery Rooms except the Mother to be and the Hospital staff. I walked into the hospital. “Hi, I think I’m having the baby.” I was so nonchalant they had me stand at the desk to do my paper work.
Then the nurse led me to a room, got me into a gown, and, razor in hand lifted the gown to shave the proper area. What happened next was nothing short of hysterical. The nurse jumped back and literally SCREAMED, “SHE’S HAVING THE BABY! CALL THE DOCTOR!” Repeating more than once. “CALL THE DOCTOR!! SHE’S HAVING THE BABY.” It was 7:30 P.M. I still felt like I was having the BM and wasn’t the least excited. Doc lived next door and we were in the Delivery Room by 8 p.m. He told me “PUSH” Embarrassed I replied, “No I’ll have a BM.” At 8:30, over my protests he performed an episiotomy and out popped my little 8lb 14oz baby boy. His head girth was 15 1/2 inches. That was the biggest little BM of my life. Guess, maybe, the episiotomy was the right choice.
Mom said when she went to tell my husband he put his head down on the table and cried. Four years later, for the birth of our second son, I had my own car and drove myself to the hospital at 2 a.m. Baby was born a 5 a.m.
Husband showed up after visiting hours (He had gone to work and had worked overtime.) Now he was pounding on the door of the hospital to get in. I got out of bed and ran down the hall to the front door (I have easy births) to tell him he had a son. Hey, at least he showed up this time.
We had our 51st wedding Anniversary on 4th of July 2015. The moral of the story? If it’s not worth getting a divorce over? It’s not worth getting upset about.
I have three beautiful healthy children and one little soul in heaven. All the births were different, long, short, really long. None of them went to my plan at the time but it doesn’t matter. I am grateful for the care and assistance of all the medical staff who ensured my babies were born healthy and strong. I grieve for the little one who I never got to hold. I touch my children’s faces and feel a love unexplainable. Nameste to all the beautiful souls born in our universe.
During pregnancy I searched for the gory details about birth, including the stories of tearing from yay to nay. Some say why put fear into a soon to be Mama with all of the unnecessary detail, but I believe this helped with my preparation.
About 20 weeks in, I had a curious conversation with my obstetrician about childbirth. I was intrigued that convenience and availability of obstetrician are influential reasons for caesareans. I still didn’t understand the fondness of a C-section—until I had one. We spoke of my Mum’s birthing experiences and how she had all four of us kids via C-Section, as she didn’t dialate. This didn’t necessarily mean I would inherit the same complications.
The second half of my pregnancy continued with no issue. I really enjoyed being pregnant and felt quite blessed that it was smooth sailing for the duration. My due date of Friday, 17 July, 2015, came to a close, but only 5% of babies are reportedly born on their due date, so I had no reason to be alarmed.
I was booked in for an induction at 40 +5. They occur in Australia to around one in every four women. As a first time Mama, I was mostly happy to be guided by the professionals and my friends who had similar experiences with an induction.
On Saturday, 18 July, I went to hospital for cardiotocography (CTG), which is fetal monitoring of the heart. I was on the monitor for over an hour because a specific reading needs to be recorded. It was then back home in the hope labour would arrive. I tried all the natural remedies and wonder whether they have actually worked for anyone. Drove over speed humps, had sex, ate spicy food, climbed stairs, walked, got acupuncture, ate dates and bananas, drank raspberry leaf tea and licorice tea and every herbal tea there is, did squats and had warm baths. Is there anything else I should have tried?
All of these natural methods didn’t bring on labour but they brought me to my induction date of 6 p.m. Tuesday, 21 July. I was excited about meeting my baby but somewhat anxious because I’d browsed way too much Google. This was a silly thing to do because everyone’s pain threshold is different, but Google can’t distinguish that.
We arrived at the hospital and given a room with a picturesque view overlooking the city and the bay. If nothing else was certain the amazing view definitely was. I was put on the monitor again and the midwife explained it was still early days and suggested I could go into labour naturally if I left it a few more days. Despite this, I followed the advice of my obstetrician and proceeded with the induction.
The gel was inserted quite high in an effort to bring on contractions. This process was uncomfortable but it wasn’t as painful as I had read it would be. It’s probably more awkward than anything else, having a stranger (who is rather handsome) carry out his medical insertion duties with my own audience. I quickly learnt during the miracle of creating a child that your dignity goes for a short time but as cliché as it sounds, it’s all worth it.
That night at home, I had slight cramping with minimal indication of contractions; apparently it can take a while for the cervix to soften with gel. As other Mamas would agree those final days of pregnancy can be difficult to sleep and this night was no different. We returned to the hospital at 6 a.m. and the monitor identified a slight change in contractions but an internal suggested otherwise. Another two lots of gel was inserted; women can go into labour after one so hopefully three was going to work for me.
With the advice to get active, Anton and I walked to the Royal Children’s Hospital and checked out the Aquarium and Meerkats—weirdly, this was on my bucket list. Who would have thought ticking off an item from the bucket list would happen at 41 weeks pregnant.
My abdominal area was starting to really cramp so we returned to the hospital and I was put on the monitor again but still no sign of labour, so we were able to go home. Over the next two days the cramping got stronger and peaked every 15 minutes or so. It was an achy and uncomfortable few days that got more intense as time passed.
By Saturday, I was set on a C-Section—no way I was going home pregnant again. We arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m., my Ob tried to break my waters but was unable to because of a gap between my pelvis and cervix. The gap was a couple of centimetres but this in medical terms is equivalent to miles. Like mum, I wasn’t going to dialate.
It was confirmed I would be having an emergency C-Section. I was relieved with this decision and glad I had a few days prior to process the possibility of this occurring. I knew all options had been exhausted for a vaginal birth.
A midwife assisted me for theatre and talked through the process of what to expect. For those ladies unshaven downstairs, the midwife will shave you. I’m sure it isn’t all that invasive having the midwife sort you out but if you can organise yourself beforehand, then why not. It’s all these tips that need their own little black book exclusively for pregnant women.
Excitedly, I walked myself to the operating theatre. My Ob offered his iPod and I chose a few tunes for us to listen to during the operation—it was shaping up to be happy days.
The anaesthetist gave his recited spiel on the risk of epidurals before inserting the needle into my spine. I also Googled too much about this process and was lead to believe it would really hurt, but I didn’t feel any pain at all. I felt a warm rush spread through my body and within a couple of minutes I was numb from the chest down. There were a couple of other injections to prepare me for the C-section but in the pecking order of needles, they were harmless compared to the spinal block.
So there I laid listening to One Direction, naked on an operating table. I was a dead weight by that stage so the heavy body spread was doubly attractive. I watched the scrubbed up medical staff manoeuvre around me while a catheter was inserted.
The anaesthetist spent the entire time talking me through what was happening and making me laugh throughout the operation. We had a good chuckle about prams and the demographic each pram is supposedly suited to. I’m not sure whether the standard role of the anaesthetist is to keep the patient entertained, but he constantly reassured me throughout the operation and was bloody funny too.
I felt pressure and pulling from my stomach so I knew meeting our baby wasn’t too far away. We had plans for a birthing photographer but it was decided against due to the uncertainty of how my birth was unfolding. Anton was invited over the curtain to take photos of our baby getting pulled out of my stomach. Anton’s face beamed with amazement but looked slightly overwhelmed too, as he captured lots of memories to treasure.
I was busting to know the gender and was delighted when Anton eagerly shared the news of a baby girl; in an instant she had brought so much joy to us. All 9.1 pounds of Raffaella was placed on my chest. That moment is something that can never be replaced.
So here I am in the 31% of Australian women who had a C-Section, or out of the sunroof as my witty friend hilariously describes it. I couldn’t believe how quick and straightforward the operation was despite my initial reservations. Within half an hour of entering the theatre I’d given birth, although it was in a different way than I first imagined it would be. It’s this moment that made me understand why women opt for C-Sections.
Wanderlust Storytelling encourages people to share captivating descriptions of ordinary life as well as tales of extraordinary circumstances. These are not stories directly about yoga, but stories that speak to us as yogis. They are personal, intimate accounts of insight, emotion, and inspiration.
Featured image by jlhopgood from Flickr.
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