A long time ago, in a land far away…I was 22, and very pregnant. I was 30wks and just miserable, tossing my cookies every other hour and dealing with an incredible amount of kidney pain. I had nephritis, which is the buildup of fluid surrounding the kidneys. This landed me in the hospital several times for IV fluids and pain meds. I think my OB was just as frustrated as I was and induced me at 36 wks. Pitocin was started at 6am, epidural at 8am, and a 6lb baby boy was born at 11:20am via episiotomy and 3rd degree tear. I nursed him, held him, and fell in love with him instantly. He was a beautiful gift and at that point, the way in which he entered the world was of no concern to me. About an hour after his birth, a nurse came in to tell me she was taking him for his first bath. I declined. She told me that I had to give her the baby and she would bring him right back…after tears and prying him from my arms, away she went with my babe. I would not hold him again for 5 days.
We asked multiple nurses to bring us our son, but no one seemed to know where he was or refused to tell us. Three hours later, after sending my husband on a search for our child, I learned that Tanner was placed in NICU for breathing difficulties. I will never forget the social worker walking into my room and handing me a polaroid photo of a naked baby sprawled out on a flat bed with tubes coming in and out of his body. This was not the baby I had given birth to…and I told her so! I demanded to see my baby, but they refused to allow me a “visit” until he was stabilized!
Late that night, I was finally wheeled into the NICU to see this baby, which they claimed was mine. I really could not believe it…how does a baby go from perfectly healthy to being so sick in such a short time? All we could do is cry as we listened to the nurses explain all of the POSSIBLE problems that he MIGHT have. I asked to hold him and was told that I couldn’t even touch him. Although I was young, and knew nothing of childbirth, I knew my baby needed me. As soon as the nurse turned away, I put my finger in his tiny hand and whispered my love in his ear. Every time I touched him the monitor would show that his breathing rate would slow down. At first I thought it was just a coincidence, but after ten minutes of steady breathing rates, I alerted the nurse. She scolded me for touching him and stated that it was just a short hiccup and would speed back up soon. She was correct, the minute I removed my hand from his body, the alarms went off and we were ushered outside. For five days we prayed, we pumped, and we hoped that this nightmare would end. Then one morning we came to “visit” and we found that he had been moved to newborn nursery. When we asked why he had been moved they explained that they couldn’t find anything wrong with him and promised that we could take him home after 3 days of observation and weight gain. We were so happy to be able to hold and nurse him that we didn’t complain. We brought him home 9 days after his birth. The trauma of the whole ordeal didn’t really hit me until I became pregnant again 13 months later.
Our second pregnancy was a bit of a surprise. I was rather scared that this would be a repeat of my fist pregnancy and birth. So I made it clear that this baby would not leave my side…no matter what! I developed nephritis again and went into preterm labor at 27 weeks. I was 5cm and having steady waves. So they shot me full of drugs, tipped the hospital bed upside down, and told me to cross my legs! I was sent home on bed rest and held out untill 36 weeks. I was induced again, epidural, and the whole nine yards. But this birth was different, much fuzzier and hard to remember. Immediately after giving birth I was given the option of sterilization via a tubal. The OB had been working on me for several months…filling my mind with every terrible birth scenario she could muster. She told me that every future pregnancy would be more traumatic and every baby would come earlier. Prenatal appointments overflowed with her sympathetic phrases, “Baby girl, some women are just not cut out for this. Their bodies are just not meant for this. You’ll have two children and for that you can be thankful. We don’t want to put you at risk, your life is more important.” And those are just a few that I can recall! I can still hear her calling me “baby girl” as if I was a child and she the adult that knew what was best for me! Unfortunately, her psychological warfare tactics worked. She convinced me that I just wasn’t good at being pregnant.
I agreed to the tubal while nursing my newborn son, placenta still attached. To be honest, the next thing I remember was seeing my husband feeding our son a bottle and being very angry! Dawson was such an easy baby, so sweet and cuddly. He made me want more babies and regret my decision almost immediately. I would live with the grief of my decision for many years.
God’s grace abounds, and what seemed like a terrible decision lead us to foster and adoption(a big long story for another time). We were blessed to be able to adopt our two lovely daughters and growing our family in a different way. Adoption is a beautiful picture of God’s love and we are so thankful that we have these girls to love.
Fast forward 8 years…I am a midwife’s assistant and reading every midwifery and birthing book that I can get my hands on. Knowledge is powerful, and it begins to open my mind to the possibility of having another baby. I consulted with my midwife about my previous pregnancies and she seemed to think that we could resolve the nephritis and constant “cookie tossing” with good nutrition. This was a huge encouragement for me. After seeing so many beautiful home births, my heart ached to experience what these women did…to have a peaceful and gentle birth. I grieved over the loss of a birth that I didn’t even know was possible at the time.
My husband and I started to do some research into tubal reversals. We found that many women all over the country are getting reversals. The stats for success were high and the cost was affordable. On March 22 2011, ten years after Dawson’s birth, I had the reversal. We became pregnant on June 7th, 2011!
I am convinced that the key to holistic treatment is prevention. Thankfully, Elizabeth (my midwife), suggested I start a whole foods prenatal and milk thistle for nausea. Taken in the months prior to pregnancy, milk thistle strengthens and increases healthy liver function which helps to control morning sickness. Although I only had a month on the milk thistle, it actually worked to control my nausea. During my first two pregnancies, I “tossed the cookies” 5-6 times a day for nine months, with this pregnancy I only threw up a hand full of times. When the morning sickness started to get to me, I used my relaxation techniques, increased vitamin B and protein. I did resort to calling in a nausea RX, but found it to be of little help. By week 18 the nausea was better and at week 20 it was totally gone! Around the same time my kidneys began to become a problem. I started taking stinging nettle, which repairs kidney damage and improves function among other things!(one of the best herbs for pregnancy) It did the trick and within a few days the kidney pain had subsided. After a month on stinging nettle I felt great. This was a huge success for me, I felt like my body was strong and knew what it was doing…very encouraging. I could be good at being pregnant!
Every prenatal without signs of pre-term labor or kidney pain was also an encouragement. I kept thinking, “I’m doing this and doing it well!” Around week 35, we had some cause for concern. I began to have consistent practice waves about 4 mins apart and needed to use my Hypnobabies for some of them. Elizabeth came over to check on me (all gussied up as it was date night with her hubby) and reassured me that they were simply practice waves. I was only 1cm and about 60% effaced, for which I was extremely happy. We both were a little concerned that I wouldn’t make it to 37 weeks, which is required for homebirth. So she told me to take it easy, gave me a shot of hard liquor, and put me to bed. My hubby was determined to help me make it to full term and kept insisting that I would. He would tell me to go listen to my “Baby Stay In” cd and remind me of our goals. This was so helpful; to have his support… it was priceless. The waves continued. Bed rest was not very restful for me, it made me feel defeated. I was very angry at my body for not cooperating and began to struggle with fear. Hubby stepped in again to remind me of how strong my body was and that I was doing a great job. He was a total superhero, taking care of our four kiddos and waiting on me hand and foot. The ladies in our church rallied around us, bringing us meals and taking my kids for the day.
Around week 37 the waves became intense again. They felt very strong and seemed to be about 3 mins apart. We called Elizabeth and she came over to check things out. I was 5cm and stretched to 7cm, 90% effaced, and 0 station. I was so tempted to have her strip my membranes or break my water…all of these waves were becoming annoying and I really wanted to see this baby! The waves spaced out and nothing happened.
Week 38, and yes we were counting! Waves would come and go throughout the nights and so would the phone calls to Elizabeth. I was frustrated; I am a doula, why can’t I figure this out? Why is my body teasing me this way! Elizabeth reminded me of what was best for baby and it was to wait this out. I held out until just two days before my guess date…then I pulled out the bag of tricks! If you would like to know what is in the bag of tricks, contact me via email! ;)
Finally, just one day before my guess date…I awoke to strong waves at 2am. I figured it was another tease, so I went back to bed, put on my “Come Out Baby” cd and fell asleep. At 5am I felt a POP and his head slam into my cervix. I leaped out of bed and ran to the bathroom. It was on! This was TRANSFORMATION…I yelled for hubby to call Elizabeth and fill the pool. Then I started making weird phone calls to friends and family. I even left a message on an answering machine while having a wave…I don’t recommend that! It felt as though time was standing still, everything was moving in slow motion. Elizabeth came, set up and observed me.
WARNING: This is where my memory gets really sketchy!
I walked over to the birthing pool and my water gushed. I turned on my Hypnobabies and instantly felt better. The waves were so much easier with the cd! The pool wasn’t full at all, but the warmth of the water was sooo soothing and instantly the pressure felt as though it had changed. I remember using my cues, looking at my “special place” beach scene, and floating back and forth in the water. At some point things changed, and Elizabeth and the apprentices joined us in the room. I heard a cue, on the cd, about every 30 mins feeling like only 5mins and from then on things moved very quickly in my mind. I asked for counter pressure on my back and moved to the side of the pool so that hubby could support me.
Thousands of thoughts raced through my mind between waves. Little did I know that these thoughts were not staying in my head, I was saying them out loud! Crazy things came out of my mouth!
“Get that hose out of the pool, it looks like a snake!”
“I hate Ina May!”
“There is nothing orgasmic about this!”
“I think I might cuss, I’m sorry.”
“Lord be merciful to me.” (I thought I was praying this to myself!)
All the while I wasn’t feeling any pain, just intense pressure and an opening feeling that I really can’t describe. I could feel every move he made inside of me…I knew where he was and that he would be here soon.
Pushing began and my hubby supported me on the side of the tub. I remember pulling on the shoulders of his shirt for leverage. The squatting position was great and I had no desire to move from it. I pushed his head down and felt a little ring of fire, but as soon as the wave left he moved back up. I told Elizabeth what had happened and she reassured me that everything was just fine. I pushed again, bringing his head out partially and held him there for quite some time…there seemed to be a pause in my pushing here. Elizabeth asked me if I would like to feel his head and I gave her a stern “NO!” Another couple pushes and his head slid out. I reached down and felt it and an instant connection happened. I felt this wave of love and compassion for this babe that had only made a partial entrance into my world. I said, “That wasn’t that bad!” Again there seemed to be another pause. I was so intoxicated by the experience that I wasn’t thinking about pushing out the rest of my little guy. Elizabeth seemed to bring me out of it when she said I would need to give it a couple big pushes for the shoulders. I felt another ring of fire and with the assistance of some stealth like moves from Elizabeth, out he came. His arm had been positioned across his chest and the umbilical cord was wrapped around several times. I turned around and cradled my new baby, somewhat in disbelief!
We did it! It’s a boy! Silas was born just over 3hrs after my birthing time began! Our four children ran down stairs to see their new brother. They looked on with awe at the miracle that had just taken place in our home. The room was flooded with love and thankfulness. After recanting my hate for Ina May, I moved to our bed to get cleaned up and rest with Silas.
Silas was 9lbs 4 oz and 23 in long! I gave birth to one BIG baby without any interventions, meds, or pain!
Honestly, I have never felt anything so good in my entire life. Thanks to Hypnobabies for the tools and my wonderful midwife for her talented hands!
Karla Costner is a certified Hypno-Doula who serves women in the Upstate! Visit her website to find out more: www.brilliantbirth.wordpress.com