Winnie’s story.

I woke and stood up to go to the bathroom when I felt some water leaking.  Joy filled me. Finally, at 41 weeks and 4 days pregnant labor was imminent!

It was 6 am so I crept downstairs in the silence to read and pray.

Amongst the excitement the day brought, I also worried over the fact that my water had broken before I had any contractions.  The same thing happened with Theo and I didn’t want to end up in the hospital with Pitocin and an epidural.

With a homebirth we were unlikely to have to abide by the same ridiculous standards that hospitals do, but I still had a lot of “what if’s” running through my head.  “What if my contractions don’t start?”  “What if I go too long before giving birth and get an infection?”  “What if we end up at the hospital anyways?”

I woke Brad and we spent some time together downstairs.

The boys soon joined us with excitement.  We ate breakfast together and enjoyed their presence, knowing our family would be changing before long.  I had mild contractions throughout the morning and before lunch we sent the boys off to Papaw’s house.  I  tidied our rooms and we went for a walk down the hill to get things moving.

Slowly but surely my contractions started to pick up.  It felt slow and frustrating, but we spent a good portion of the afternoon resting in between pains.

After checking in, Patty decided it was time to come and arrived in the early evening.

Almost immediately my contractions stopped.  Throughout the night they picked up and then slowed down again.   Finally, in the wee morning hours I felt they were strong enough to get into the birth pool.  The water was warm and wonderful and Brad read to me from a Henri Nouwen book.  It was beautiful and relaxing and exactly what I wanted…except that I had only one or two contractions while I was in there.  Out I went back to the bed.

Dawn broke on Wednesday morning and my anxiety was at a high.  How could I still not have a baby in my hands after 24 hours of labor?  Friends and family were concerned by our lack of baby.  “Go to the hospital”, some warned.  (Not helpful advice, by the way).

The progression of the morning is fuzzy to me.  I was so tired and so sad that this birth wasn’t going like I thought it would (does it ever?).

After a while Patty checked me and tried to maneuver the baby so she would be in a better position to stimulate contractions.  She had me push even though I felt no urge to do so nor had I thrown up in transition yet.  It was tiring but at least I was doing something.   She covered me in oils and had me swallow some herbs to increase contractions.   Her presence was calming and peaceful and not once did she worry or make me feel like this wasn’t going to work out okay in the end.  I am so thankful for her help.

Soon it all changed.  Unbearable pain set in and I vomited.  As much as I hate both pain and vomiting, praise Jesus I knew the end was in sight!

I was a mess by now and too tired to try and control my pain reaction so I yelled and screamed and the whole bit.  I was hot so the windows were open with a beautiful spring breeze rolling in.  I hoped the neighbors weren’t outside to hear me.

On hands and knees 31 hours after my water broke, I finally birthed our first baby girl.  Weary with exhaustion and filled with elation over our meeting, I collapsed on our bed.

Winifred Marie weighed in at a tiny 6 pounds and 2 ounces, our smallest and most overdue baby.   She was born after a year of change, bringing light into the pain and difficulty that life has brought our way.  Praise Jesus for another beautiful gift.


Ira’s birth

Solomon’s birth

Solomon teaches patience.

Two days before my due date.

I took the boys to play trains at Barnes and Noble in an attempt to enjoy a rainy day. I thought I would get a coffee and relax my aching pregnant body while they were entertained for hours.

No.

Of course not.

They began to fight over trains and my sweet Theo’s anger escalated quickly. What began as a lovely trip ended with a kid following me out of the store trying to kick me in the shins yelling “I WANT THOSE BOOKS”. Yep, I was that mom.

It was a rough morning and when we got home I was stressed out and tired. I began making lunch and realized that I felt off. I was nauseous and having some stronger braxton hicks. I didn’t think much of it because I had been having contractions for weeks.

Things quickly seemed to get worse and I just felt terrible. I texted Brad and he came home despite having a meeting scheduled.

I thought that maybe, just maybe this was the real deal. We spent the afternoon relaxing with movies and timing contractions.

The intensity increased ever so slightly and we discussed what our evening might look like. I knew we wouldn’t be going to the hospital super soon but we made a quick call to the grandparents and decided it would be better to leave the kids with them before bedtime than to have exchange them in the middle of the night.

We treated the rest of the evening like a date night/attempt to increase contractions. We went to a meeting Brad already had set, ate dinner at Whole Foods and walked around Target and Half Price books.

I began to feel very anxious because my contractions were still not really increasing in intensity. I felt like we had prematurely given the kids to the grandparents and caused a lot of fuss over nothing.

We went home and eventually I fell asleep at 3 a.m. I woke up two hours later feeling super bummed because I wasn’t in labor. I used the restroom and realized I was bleeding a bit.

My excitement ramped up again, bleeding means labor is imminent! I wasn’t crazy!

I called the midwife and she said to come in to get checked out because I was bleeding.

We got to triage at OSU around 7 a.m. I was only 3 centimeters dilated so we were instructed to walk the hospital for two hours.

Two hours later I was at 3 centimeters. Go home, they said. Come back in if anything changes.

Le sigh.

We picked up things for breakfast and went to get the kids. I missed them and wanted to give my in-laws a break.

My contractions continued throughout the day, the same somewhat uncomfortable but very manageable feeling I had been having for a full 24 hours. I tried to rest.

We took the kids back to my in-laws for the night because we were still pretty sure that labor was happening, albeit very slowly.

We ate dinner with them and put the kids to bed there. Once home we opened a bottle of wine to calm my anxiety over the slowness of this labor. I brought a glass with me to bed, Brad fell asleep and I laid down in slow and quiet prayer. I contemplated how my body was feeling with every contraction.

I decided to time them again for an hour and then reevaluate.

That hour was the first time I had truly relaxed in 36 hours. By the end of it I was moaning through the contractions. This woke Brad and we both realized it was time to return to OSU.

At midnight I was 5 centimeters dilated and quickly moved to a room. My contractions were getting much stronger as they filled up the labor tub. My midwife, Cassandra, offered to break my water just to speed things up even more.

I immersed myself in the warmth of the tub, Brad put on Bon Iver (the same thing I labored to with Ira) and the pain increased quickly.

I entered into the birthing zone. I no longer conversed between contractions but just lay my head down to rest. I wasn’t quite present in my surroundings found myself in another place of both dread and anticipation of each contraction that would draw me nearer to my baby.

OSU no longer allows women to actually birth in the tubs so Cassandra told me that as soon as I felt a desire to push I needed to get out of the water.

I could feel that time getting nearer with every contraction. Nausea was present with every pain and Brad faithfully held the blue barf bag next to me just in case.

The slight urge to push filled me with the next contraction. I told Cassandra and she helped my dripping self out of the tub. They surrounded me with warmed blankets on the bed but I could not stop shaking. The contractions were overwhelming at this point.

At this point I imagine every woman feels they cannot continue. That their body will simply give up from the pain it is enduring.

The many times I said I couldn’t do it, Cassandra simply told me that I could.

Thankfully I knew that I could. I knew that I did this with Ira’s birth and that I would do it again.

I felt much more confident and less overwhelmed by the entire process this time. I knew how to breathe with the contractions, I knew how bad it was going to feel before and during pushing. I knew I would probably throw up (I did, right before starting to push). Knowledge is power and I knew it would soon be over. That soon my baby’s tiny little body would exit my womb and immediately I would be flooded with relief and great joy.

I began to push and scream. I could feel my baby’s body moving down. Cassandra told me to focus and moved me into a better position to push. She told me the baby would be out soon if I could focus all of my strength into one push.

She was right. His perfect little body slid out of mine at 3:10 a.m. on his due date and I heard Brad gasp from the beauty and rawness of it all. Cassandra quickly unwrapped the cord from his neck and the nurses brought him to my chest as I declared that it was a boy.

As I sat shaking from the adrenaline while I was being attended to, I looked back and forth between Brad and our third son. Perfect excitement and joy filled my soul as I surveyed his tiny body.

I looked at Brad and asked him the name. Solomon Daniel, he said, I feel like that’s right. Me too, I said with a smile.

We rested like that for many minutes until the nurses came back in to measure and clean him.

promoting midwives and natural birth

My birth experience with Theo was disappointing.  I am very happy that I ended up with a healthy baby but the intervention that I felt like I was forced into because I was not educated enough left me with a sour taste in my mouth.  The midwife on call wasn’t even there for his birth (no it was not a quick labor).

Two friends advocated for their obgyn/midwife practice when I was newly pregnant with my second child so I thought I should check it out.  I was pleasantly surprised when I read their site and seeing so many positive reviews.

Making the switch to Women’s Contemporary Healthcare (which is right now going through a change and the midwives are moving to OSU to expand their services) was the best choice I made during my pregnancy.  I got to know all three midwives at my appointments and they were all so wonderful, personable and reassuring.

My birth experience with Ira was perfect and everything I had been longing for.  I wrote it down and after some deliberation decided to share it.

I think it’s important that women know that they have a choice when it comes to childbearing.  Seeing a midwife doesn’t mean you have to have a unmedicated birth, although they are very open and helpful with natural labor, but it means that they are there for you every step of the way.  They are caring for you and your needs and they are giving you the knowledge to empower your own decision making.

If you are interested in OSU midwives please check out their facebook page.

Here is the story of Ira’s birth:

3 weeks ago I gave birth to my second son.

I sit here now listening to the birth playlist I intended to play during labor as both of my sons nap upstairs. I find it hard to believe we have created two perfect boys.

I had my 39 week midwife appointment on Wednesday September, 5th. A few days earlier I thought labor was imminent and even timed contractions for a night. However, I fell asleep and woke up the next morning still pregnant.

The anxiety over when this little boy was going to enter the world was beginning to consume me. This was something I never experienced with Theo…he surprised us at 37 weeks and I assumed his little brother would follow suit.

Once my midwife checked me she asked if I would like to have my membranes stripped. I had considered this before going in and I agreed to try it. She told me that if it worked I would have a baby within two days. I was skeptical but went home with a smidgen of hope.

I had contractions on and off that entire day. I didn’t think much of them because I knew that could be a symptom of the membrane stripping. Once evening arrived and they were still coming somewhat steady, however irregular I thought that maybe, just maybe it had worked.

Brad went to play poker with his buddies and I told him to keep his phone close. After he arrived home we started off to bed and I realized my contractions were coming at somewhat regular, although not close intervals. I began timing them at midnight and found them to be around 8-10 minutes apart. I tried to get rest in between and ended up calling my midwife around 2 because I had no idea when I should go to the hospital. My water broke with Theo so I wasn’t sure how bad contractions were supposed to get before I went to the hospital. Everyone told me that your second labor moves more quickly.

She said that it didn’t sound like I was anywhere near coming to the hospital yet and to call back once they hit another level of pain. I spent the night in an out of consciousness, timing contractions as they slowly moved closer together and intensified in pain. 

I woke Brad up around 4 and told him that we should think about calling his parents so they could get Theo. We both took showers and packed the rest of the bags for the hospital. Around 5 Brad called his parents to let them know what was happening but found their phone just kept ringing and ringing. He tried both of their cells but found no answer. I called my midwife back within the next half hour and she told me that I could come to hospital if I wanted to but judging by the sound of my voice she still didn’t think I was too far into labor.

We tried to get a hold of my in-laws until about 7 am. At that point we realized sometime was wrong with their phones and they may not be answering anytime soon. My contractions were getting more painful so Brad called his brother Brian who agreed to come pick Theo up and have my sister in law Jen watch him for part of the day.

We left for the hospital around 7:45 and made our way through traffic and a brilliant sunrise. I considered going to Sharon Woods for a bit before heading into the hospital but decided I wanted to be checked and know if this was real labor.

We found I was only about 3 centimeters but my contractions were indeed “real”. We spent an hour or so walking the halls and area around St. Ann’s in hopes of more dilation.

The next time I was checked was disappointing. I didn’t make as much progress as they would have liked for me to be admitted but Emily, my midwife, still didn’t want to send me home for fear of things progressing too quickly later.

This time she told us we could go to Sharon Woods to walk if we wanted. It was a warm morning and we walked around the pond. I stopped every few minutes to lean on Brad through a contraction. It felt nice to be on my own timetable and to be able to labor in such a natural setting.

The third time I was checked was equally as disappointing. Emily told me I could either go home to continue laboring, she could break my water, or they could start a low dose pitocin drip. Pitocin was my last resort because of my negative experience with it during Theo’s birth. I felt good about breaking my water although that put us on a timetable to get the baby out.

It was lunchtime so Emily told me to go downstairs to get a bagel since it had been a while since I had anything substantial to eat.

Once we came back and got settled in our room Emily came in and broke my water around 1 pm. Almost immediately my contractions intensified and I began to have to moan through them. Until then Brad kept telling me that I should be loud if I needed to in order to relax through contractions but I kept telling him that I just felt like I needed to breath slowly. Wow, did that change quickly. Deep, low utterances became a requirement to work through the pain.

Brad continued to tell me what a good job I was doing through every contraction. I felt so powerful and strong to be able to do this laboring naturally and on my own. Emily was in the room with us the entire time but stepped to the background and offered advice when needed.

I suppose she could tell where my labor was by the noise I was making through contractions and after a while asked if I wanted to get in the tub. I had been waiting for this and I couldn’t believe that I was actually about to have the birth experience I desired.

The hot water was immediate relief to my pain. Brad put Bon Iver on Pandora and I felt as though I were transformed to another place where I wasn’t quite aware of what was going on. I worked through each contraction, Emily reminding me to moan low and deep and Brad telling me how wonderful I was doing.

My contractions were so intense at this point. I remember thinking how grateful I was for my midwife who just sat next to the tub, watching and offering any words of advice she had for me. It was so peaceful and comforting to know that both she and Brad believed I was fully capable of birthing this baby on my own.

I got out of the tub to use the restroom and felt that I needed a change of pace so I leaned on the bed for a few contractions. They really picked up speed and no position felt comfortable or helpful at this point. My stomach began to turn and I vomited up my lunch.

I vaguely remember Emily telling Brad that the throwing up was a result of the hormones and looking back on it I realize I must have been transitioning and nearly ready to push at this point.

I got back in the tub and really started to get loud with each contraction. I am not generally a loud person but could not help the sounds that were coming out of my mouth. I kept wondering if the people in the next rooms could hear this.

Emily told me that when I felt the need to push to let her know. There was no need for checking to see if I was 10 cm., she knew my body would tell me when it was time.

Each contraction was utterly horrible and many times over and over I said how hard this was and that I couldn’t do it. Each time Emily and Brad reassured me that I was doing an amazing job and that I could do it. There were a few moments where I fell asleep in between contractions. It’s amazing that my body knew it needed rest.

Eventually (I have no concept of the actual timetable of things once I got in the tub) I felt a small urge to push with the contraction. After a push or two I realized that this was the most unbearable pain I will ever feel in my life. All I could think about was getting him out at this point and I began freaking out after every contraction. Emily calmed me down and told me to look at her and assured me that it was OK. I just needed to keep pushing and that he would come out.

At some point I just realized that this was happening, there was no stopping it,it was too late for pain meds and they couldn’t just pull him out so I just kept pushing as hard as I possibly could.

I felt like progress was painfully slow but then Emily told me she could see dark hair. That made me smile big.

With one big push Ira Stephen emerged into my hands and into the water at 3:43 in the afternoon.

I cannot explain to you the immediate joy and relief that flooded my body. Knowing that I had birthed my baby boy exactly the way I wanted was the most empowering feeling I have ever felt.