I want to begin by saying that I am writing an account of my experience and in no way am I judging or criticizing anyone else’s experience. I know that the hospital system has saved so many mothers and babies – my personal experience with the medical system and western medicine has been that what works for most people doesn’t work for me so many years ago I turned to a more holistic approach to diet and medical treatment and it has worked.
About two years ago I had a dream that I was having a little girl and I gave birth in a birthing center in water. I woke up in the middle of the night and googled birthing centers in Greenville, SC. There was one, Blessed Births, next to the hospital and Eric and I took a tour to see what it was about. I really liked the setting and that it was close to a hospital if there was need to transport.
Not long after, my sweet sister-in-law asked me if I would like to be with her during the birth of her daughter. I was honored and excited! She was amazing during birth and had a fantastic midwife that made sure she was safe and healthy and delivered a perfect beautiful baby girl. The whole experience was so magical that a few weeks later I decided I wanted to begin a program of study to see if I wanted to become a midwife in SC. I read many books and watched videos, anything I could get my hands on to learn more about the process of birth and pregnancy and how the body adapts to create new life.
In the meantime, my grandmother and I went to a book signing for Michael Cogdill and another author at Stella’s in Simpsonville. We were seated across the table from a cute girl and her mom. My grandmother asked what she did for a living and she told her she was a midwife. She actually studied the same program I was taking. She and I kept in touch and we talked about birthing center vs. homebirth. I had thought birthing center was for me because of hospital germs and the bright lights/ machines/ medical environment would make me nervous. She gave me information on homebirth and how you are already accustomed to the germs in your own home. I began to think more about this option.
We moved in August and on September 16th, went to a friend’s wedding near Asheville. Eric had some pink moonshine and that night a baby girl was created! (We know if we want a boy next time the moonshine must be blue!). It didn’t take long for me to realize that something was off…I was completely exhausted and couldn’t lie on my side because of tenderness. I texted a good friend of mine to ask her if she had the same symptoms and she told me to go get a pregnancy test. The date was October 4th. When Eric arrived home from work, I took the test. It was instantly positive. He was so excited. I think my normal reaction to new events is shock – it took me about three days to feel normal again. I was in disbelief that this could possibly have happened. We had planned to wait about another year – but once I wrapped my arms around the fact I was pregnant, I started to get excited, too.
By the fifth week of pregnancy the morning sickness hit me hard. I could barely eat and Eric would bring cucumbers and watermelon to the bedroom and ask me to try to eat something at 6pm when I was already in the bed exhausted. I felt like I lived in the bathroom – kept throwing up almost every day. I tried the sea bands for acupressure and they helped a little. I started going to acupuncture two – three times a week. Luckily there is an acupuncture clinic here that is on a sliding scale and is affordable. That helped me, but if I missed a day I was throwing up the next. I finally drove to my homeopathic doctor in King’s Mountain and he tested me and said my liver enzymes were off and gave me homeopathic drops. Within two weeks I was better – but that was the end of the first trimester when the body settles down anyway. I didn’t really gain any weight the first trimester because I was so sick. I wondered how on earth people had multiple babies – I felt like I had a parasite in me, not a child!
Around week 13 I felt much better and could eat again. I still didn’t get that 2nd trimester boost of energy – just felt kinda normal with a growing belly. I had an ultrasound at Baby Impressions – the 3d/4d kind so my mom could find out if she’d have her first granddaughter or her third grandson right before Christmas. The ultrasound showed it was a girl. (The acupuncturist had already predicted a girl).
I ended up with an allergy to soybeans of any kind during pregnancy – I would get a rash on my stomach if I had any kind of soy – I learned quickly that almost every restaurant cooks with soybean oil – Olive Garden, Moe’s, Cracker Barrel – eating out became a challenge. I was craving fruit mostly anyway, but I had to be careful what I ate out so I cooked most of the time. I honestly felt really good until the last week of pregnancy and at that point I was just ready to get her out and meet her! I think the prenatal vitamins I took really helped with feeling good – I didn’t have any of the mood swings associated with pregnancy and just felt happy and even tempered. The brand is perfect prenatal if anyone is interested. I did not take any medications during pregnancy, however, I did find the occasional cup of coffee stopped a headache when needed!
We had decided to work with the midwife that I met at Stella’s and she recommended Eric and I take a Hypnobabies class. That was the greatest suggestion! Hypnosis worked for me when I had leg surgery for pain management so I decided to give it a try. Julie Byers – the instructor – was fantastic. She really helped prepare Eric and I for what to expect and told me a lot about things I didn’t know about the birth process. I began to listen to these hypnosis recordings every day. They train your mind to perceive the contractions as pressure waves – and thinking pressure instead of pain.
I also utilized chiropractic care. My baby was breech and I went to see Dr. Sarah Davis in Greenville several times. She helped me with a technique called the Webster Technique to help loosen ligaments and help the baby to turn naturally. I also took boron homeopathic pulsatilla in 30c strength for three days and she turned! Sarah helped me with pain in my hips and pubic bone many times before Tiari was born and I really believe chiropractic made a huge difference. I took Tiari to see her soon after she was born and she was able to adjust her neck (which had been jammed during birth) and helped her to instantly latch better for feeding. Dr. Sarah is amazing!!
At 36 weeks I went to see an OB and was cleared for home birth. All signs were normal – weight gain, protein, glucose, etc. I had promised myself I would only do homebirth if everything looked good to minimize risk to my sweet baby. I also had an ultrasound to verify placenta placement to make sure there wouldn’t be any complications there.
A few weeks before birth I started getting feelings like contractions that were six minutes apart for about 30 seconds in length and it lasted for six hours. Then nothing happened. This happened on two occasions and I really thought baby was coming. I was taking herbs 5w (which helps to prepare the body for birth) and evening primrose oil (which helps to soften the cervix). I now think that the herbs were increasing the feelings and that baby wasn’t ready to come out yet!
When June 9th (the “due date”) passed, I had to make peace with the fact that she would come on her birth day – not the day doctors predicted. I learned in my Hypnobabies class the average first time mom carries her baby for 41 weeks and 1 day. (I was born at 41 weeks and 1 day!).
On the morning of June 13th, I woke up at 4am with intense menstrual like cramps. They kept waking me up about every 15 mins. I ignored it until about 6am and then finally got up to use the restroom. There was a tiny gush of blood and I knew that it was starting. I woke Eric up and told him the baby would be here by tomorrow. We live an hour and 15 mins from Greenville (where Eric works and where my family lives). I decided to ride to Greenville and spend the day with my mom. By around 5pm, we were walking around the Fresh Market and I felt kind of hazy brained. I couldn’t think very clearly and the “contractions” were coming more often but not in a regular pattern yet. On the ride back home, Eric and I listened to happy upbeat music and I tried to ignore the pressure waves that were coming. We went to eat at his favorite Asian Restaurant and by the time we got home I knew it was really starting. I know the body starts producing different hormones at different times during labor and at this point time all started to run together for me. I would see the clock and hours would have gone by unnoticed. I tried to lie down and listen to Hypnobabies cd but lying down was uncomfortable so I would sit on the birthing ball and breathe through the pressure. Around 10 Eric called my midwife to tell her it was time to come over soon. She arrived around midnight. I was still cheerful a in a good mood, talking through the pressure and walking around. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law and planned to be with us and I wanted them to come but didn’t want them to have to wait 20 hours for birth. I had no idea how long it would take because this was my first baby and things seemed to be progressing pretty slowly. I asked Eric and the midwives to be responsible for calling people to let them know when to come. I found out through the birthing process that I am someone that really likes to entertain people and that each time someone new came in the room it slowed my progression a little and I had to unwind again to try to get back in the zone.
As things got to be a little more intense, I started to listen to hypnosis cds and breathe deeper during pressure waves. Eric decided to take a picture with a flash while I was doing this and broke my concentration – I snapped at him and then calmed down, apologized, and asked for no more pictures with a flash!
**Hypnobabies moms–BOP for next paragraph**
My midwife recommended I do what is called a rotisserie. The point is to spin the baby down into optimum birthing position. Next to pushing the baby out, this was the absolute worst part of my birthing process. You lie on one side for 2 contractions, 2 on the back, 2 on the other side, and 2 on hands and knees. Lie on my back? Are you kidding me?? I put on the hypnosis cds and tried to relax and got through two contractions before I had to pee. I had to hold in the urge to pee, breathe during contractions, and try not to be irritated that I was lying down. It took me twice of trying this to get through the whole process. Boy was I glad when that was over. The second midwife at this point told me to prepare myself because things would get 10 times more intense. That actually scared me a little but I told myself I was in it for the long haul and to get ready!
The pressure started getting longer, stronger, and closer together and my midwife asked if I wanted to know how dilated I was. I did. She checked me and I was at 5 ½ cm. Things were moving along and I felt relieved.
My biggest fear with waterbirth was a silly one. I heard of so many women having to poop during birth and I knew that if I did that, I would jump out of the water and it would ruin my concentration, so I decided to do an enema to prevent that. An enema also speeds up birthing time. I did that and they called my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to come. Things really got moving along quickly after that. There was more bleeding, which I am glad I learned in Hypnobabies that was normal or it would have scared me.
I made a kale salad in the kitchen and turned on some reggae music. My midwife showed me how to move my hips in a figure 8 during pressure waves and it was amazing how much better it felt. I just put on some of my favorite music and moved my hips around to help. It got so intense that I remember walking down the hall to go to the bathroom and having to stop three times to lean against the wall during the waves. I looked in the mirror and my pupils were dilated huge – I looked like I was on drugs – and I felt like it too, just the natural hormones your body gives you to be able to do this great process.
As things progressed it really helped to have Eric stand behind me and lift up on my belly while I relaxed during waves. It took some of the pressure off and helped the baby’s head to press down. After a while (I have no idea of time) they asked me if I would like to get in the birth tub. I said sure. It was amazing. The floating sensation and the warmth made each wave so much easier and I could float around and breathe. I joked that they should have let me in the tub the whole time! At this point everyone was sitting on my bed or around the tub and I began to feel nervous – like I was the movie that everyone was watching. I asked Eric if people could leave the room and come in one at a time. It seemed like it had gotten really intense all at once and if I was quiet and concentrated, it made it manageable. Any distraction (especially a camera flash) made it very difficult. After a short while I was comfortable with people back in the room with me again. I asked for Hypnobabies cds and floated in the water through the waves with deep breathing. I learned another one of my fears was making noises in front of people. It is almost impossible to give birth without making any noise, especially during pushing. I had to let go of that fear and submit to what my body was trying to do.
For me, pushing was the hard part. I have read books about people feeling so good to push the baby out, and heard a lot of good things about it. I think I didn’t know what to do and it scared me! I began to wonder if I was doing the right thing – were things going ok? Was there a problem they weren’t telling me about? Was I taking too long? I didn’t voice any of these questions, I just told myself that was a normal response when adrenaline kicks in and I was close to pushing. At some point Eric decided to take a picture with a flash again. This time I yelled at him. Then I asked him not to use the flash again because it distracted me and that I wasn’t mad at him, I was so thankful that he allowed me the chance to have a baby and become a mom. I was so happy during birthing time and can honestly say I wasn’t mean, mad, or yelling in anger. I just wasn’t sure how long it would take or if everyone in the room felt like I was taking too long.
Then came the pushing. I decided to take some liquid arnica in case there was discomfort. There wasn’t but there was an intensity that I can’t describe that overpowered me. I felt the urge but wasn’t sure what to do with it. My amazing midwife decided to help coach me. She asked me what I was feeling and where. I told her that it felt like the baby would come out of my butt! She said, that’s fine, you just push like you are going to the bathroom when the urge hits you. I started trying that but still felt kind of lost in the pushing. I asked for the “pushing baby out” Hypnobabies cd. That helped and I would kind of twist under the water during the contractions trying to figure out how to push the baby out. My midwife asked me why I was twisting around during the waves – was I trying to escape from the pressure? YES. I was. I tried a few different positions – sitting on the stool in the birth pool was a no for me. Finally I kind of floated with my feet against the wall of the pool and was able to push. I began to think of a song “Lead me to the Cross” that I haven’t heard in a long time but for some reason humming it in my mind helped me to relax. Each push I would feel my body shake and I would grab onto whomever’s hands were above me and pull while pushing down. Little by little she moved down. I felt her starting to crown and she kept going back in. Finally at one point, I decided I wasn’t going to stop with the next push. I just kept pushing, pushing, pushing and I felt her head come out.
My midwife said ok, Tori, next push is the shoulders. I pushed and she had Eric bring the baby out of the water and put her on my chest. I was in complete and total shock at this point. I couldn’t believe I had actually had a natural birth and all was ok with me and baby. The cord was kind of short, but as soon as I stood up, I was able to push out the placenta easily. I got to lie down and feed my baby and everything checked out great. I showered off quickly and once the cord had stopped pulsating and all the blood had been transferred to her, then we burned the cord. It took so long that we finally just clamped it and let Eric cut it. I was completely amazed at the process and thankful my sis-in-law held her for an hour so I could sleep for what felt like two days. Tiari Marley Marshall was born on Friday, June 14th, 2013 at 9:49 am weighing 6 lbs. 13 oz. and 20 inches long. She came out yelling and healthy, ready to eat!
I woke up the next day after having her with very little bleeding considering. My shoulders felt like I had lifted twice my weight and I felt like I had ridden a horse for way too long. Recovery was a breeze and my stomach was instantly shrinking from feeding her. I decided to have my placenta encapsulated to prevent postpartum symptoms and that was an excellent decision. It has worked out well and I feel very balanced. I am so thankful for the experience and the wonderful team of people that gathered together to help bring Tiari into the world safely.
And to answer the question of did it hurt? No, it did not hurt, but there were times that the pressure was overpowering and I wasn’t sure when it would end. It was a blessing to be able to bring her into the world in a peaceful way. So far she’s holding up to the theory that babies born into water are strong, alert, and sleep well.