My plans for this birth were to have an unassisted home birth. I have a history of precipitous labor so it seemed like planning for not making it to the hospital was the best idea…unless I felt differently when I went in to labor.
I’ll begin with Wednesday. I had slept about 3 hours. Up every 5 minutes to pee. Then Lizzy (2.5 yrs) woke up. No sleep. I was going to blow off my DR appt, but that little voice said go and get your iron levels checked. So I dragged myself, my 2.5 yo and my 5 yr old to my appointment.
Now, fast forward to some scenarios…
I believe my contractions started while at my mother-in-laws for Mothers Day. It was Sunday night and we were at her house until about 10:30pm. When we got home I was exhausted and went straight to bed. After lying down for a few minutes I asked Joe for a glass of port wine to help me fall asleep because the contractions were keeping me up. I didn’t think these were real contractions though, since I had been feeling Braxton Hicks for weeks I thought that’s all they were. My midwives had told me to take naps everyday and that if I thought labor was near to make sure I go to sleep even if I have to drink two glasses of wine, so that’s what I did… and good thing!
At about 1 am Monday I was awoken with stronger contractions. I got up went to the bathroom, walked around and tried going back to bed. I think I was in denial that this could be the day! An hour later I was up again, this time with hunger. I grabbed a bagel and started pacing around while eating it. I decided that I would not wake Joe up until I absolutely needed him, and at 3am I NEEDED him.
Most of my pregnancy was very uneventful. I felt great, and with the exception of some round ligament pain, never even got that uncomfortable. However, Baby Miriam decided we needed some more drama in our lives when she turned breech around the start of the third trimester and stubbornly refused to go head down. We spent weeks trying all the normal tricks–breech tilt, inversion, chiropractor, acupuncture, massage, Turn Your Breech Baby cd, music, ice, flashlight, headstands, homeopathics, and of course lots and lots of prayers.
Finally, when I was almost 38 weeks my midwife referred me to an OB for a version. I had an ultrasound done first where it was discovered that my amniotic fluid levels were quite low. Too low to attempt a version, and low enough to cause concern that something else could be wrong. The OB said that most of his colleagues would recommend I get a c-section that night since my baby was full term and breech.
We’re so excited to have Baby H home with us!! She was born at 7:30pm on Tuesday night (July 13th), two weeks before her expected due date. We’re so blessed that everything seemed to go just the way we had hoped!
It was about a 24 hour labor that started with really mild contractions at around 8pm on Monday night. I thought for sure it was Braxton Hicks at first, and after the first 4 or so, we started timing them and they were 20 minutes apart. As the evening progressed, they gradually increased in frequency and intensity. I used contractionmaster.com to keep track of when they were coming (great site!). By midnight I was timing them at 12 minutes apart as we busily sorted her clothes and blankets to get them washed “just in case” this was for real. That was a task I had originally planned on doing when I started my leave from work, which was still a week away!
Naomi’s birth story actually starts months before her birth. When we announced her due date – April 28 – we realized that the weekend before she was due (April 23 and 24), I had a bat mitzvah student who would become bat mitzvah that weekend. This girl (M) and I had gotten close during her studies, and she informed me (in a way that only a 13 year old could) that if I didn’t make her bat mitzvah, she would kill me and steal my baby.
I assured her that Toby was late and I wouldn’t be having a baby until May. She told me that she didn’t mind if I went into labor at her Saturday night party, but I had to make it to her service Friday night, the Torah reading Saturday morning, and at least make it to dance with her once at her party Saturday night. I promised her I would.
Fast forward to the weekend of M’s bat mitzvah. I made it to Friday night services, where her mother expressed disbelief that I was “still here” and we ended the night with nary a contraction. M reminded me that I wasn’t allowed to go into labor until the next night (because I still had her morning service and the party!), and I assured her I would be there.
In order to fully explain my VBAC birth I need to quickly explain my first birth. Although I prepared for my first birth by taking Bradley classes and hiring a doula, I did not end up with the natural vaginal birth I wanted.
After a 40 hour labor, 4 hours of pushing, and multiple attempts at vacuum extraction all with no medication, I ended up having a cesarean section. It wasn’t until they cut me open that the doctor realized that the reason she wouldn’t come out was that she was posterior and in brow position, which basically means that she had her neck cranked and was looking out the birth canal. Unfortunately the vacuum they had tried was pulling on her forehead instead of the crown of her head, and she came out with a gigantic purple bruise and a large scab in the middle of her forehead.
I was devastated, and spent the next year and a half mourning the loss of the natural childbirth I so desperately desired. When I got pregnant for the second time, less than a year later, I knew I had a lot of emotional healing to do. I was positive that I wanted to try for a VBAC, but I was actually scared to let myself believe that I could do it. I was terrified of getting my hopes too high and having my natural childbirth “stolen” from me like I felt it was the first time.
Our daughter Lauren was born at home on her due date, a Friday morning late in May.
In the week leading up to our due date, I could feel my body getting ready for the birth. I knew the baby had dropped because I could feel the pressure of her weight come off my pelvic bone and shift more towards the back of my body. Early Wednesday morning the mucus plug slithered down my leg.
I went to see my midwife on Thursday, the day before our due date, and she told me that if I didn’t deliver in the next 10 days she would have to turn me over to a doctor to be induced in the hospital, which was the last thing we wanted. She suggested there were some natural methods of induction we could try and since I felt my body was ready, I agreed to let her stretch my cervix. This was somewhat painful, but the pain faded within about 30 minutes. She told me that she could feel the baby’s hair, which made me realize the baby inside me was not the tiny fetus from the ultrasound pictures, but a full term baby. At the end of the appointment, she asked me if I felt I was ready to have the baby. I replied casually that I was.
Her story really starts with a book. My husband’s mother had been thinking for some time about becoming a doula, especially since they were planning on moving to Clarksville and there is a large military community here and many new mothers giving birth while their husbands are deployed. She had been a military wife during both of her children’s births and had had to do it without her spouse so she understood the need for support of such women.
When she found out we were expecting again she told us her desire to be a doula and asked if we would want her to try and finish the course by our due date so she could be a doula for us. We decided that her aspiration was wonderful and she should definitely pursue it, but we were very eager to have my husband coach the birth. She understood and went ahead with pursuing the doula training, but not with the urgency to have it completed by our due date.
I was 4+ cm dilated on Monday at my doctor’s visit. I stayed home from work that day because I was totally bummed out. Tuesday (our actual due date) I sacked up and went to work, which was a very bad idea because by the end of the day I was back to being totally glummo and I wanted to kill everyone, hence:
Tuesday night I told Jon that we should go out on a date to get our minds off the waiting part. I was getting pretty cranky about the whole thing after being so chill for so long. So, after our 5 billionth walk around the neighborhood we went out to get some food and then went to see “The Hangover”, where at some point during the movie someone threw a pair of 3D glasses and hit me in the head. But, the movie was funny because: Mike Tyson… singing. Do I even need to mention at this point that I was having contractions? I had been having them so often all week I was pretty much just ignoring it. They would get stronger as soon as we left the house or went on a walk but then not much else would happen.
I woke up earlier and perkier than normal on Wednesday February 10, 2009. I was having contractions much lower than normal, and it seemed that they were coming regularly. So, I lay in bed for the next hour waiting to see if they would subside. They didn’t, so I got out of bed to watch the news, check my e-mail, and clean up the kitchen. Still, the contractions were regular! I was so excited. I assumed that I would be way overdue as I was with my first baby. This time I was early! I also never had the chance to experience normal natural labor with my first. I was induced with Pitocin. Yuck.
Anyway, I took a shower, ate some breakfast, and called my husband. The contractions were strong enough that I really didn’t want to stay at home alone with my 3 year old all day. I was afraid I wouldn’t be as available to get him what he needed, so John agreed to come home. I also wanted John to be with me during the whole thing.
Birth is inspiring, amazing, and empowering. This website shares a collection of real natural birth experiences from you, the readers. Births the way nature intended. No pitocin. No epidural. Just the beauty (and intensity!) of the human body at work. Whether you've had one natural birth, five natural births, or are considering natural birth in the future, our hope is you will find courage and joy in these stories. Enjoy.
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices
Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation