Monday, September 29, 2014

Some Good Advice

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was interviewing Doulas to assist with the birth. After a while, some of the interviews started to blend together but two really stuck out; one was with the Doula I ultimately hired, and the other with a seasoned local Doula who gave some wonderful advice.

Babywearing one of my twins for the first time.

"Don't worry about your home" she said. "Don't worry about entertaining visitors, about getting dressed, about running errands or getting anything accomplished. Really just focus on nursing your new baby, resting and making sure you eat and drink enough."

I nodded and smiled; it seemed like good advice, but I'd be fine. I would.

Of course after the birth of my first child, I didn't rest enough, or take care of myself very well. My babymoon was spent slotting nursing in around my to do list.

I didn't follow that great advice.

My second pregnancy gave me twins, and again although it seemed like good advice, I was way too busy to follow it. Granted having newborn twins and a busy preschooler made it a little more challenging, but I bounced back from an unexpected c-section by going to parties, heading back to work with a month of delivery and keeping my home in order.

And yet again I didn't follow that great advice! And goodness, I wish I had.

Those early days and weeks are so very short. The time to spend snuggled up with our babies, breathing in their baby goodness, those days when all it seems we 'accomplish' is sitting on the sofa nursing. Those days are so precious.

Don't worry about your home, entertaining visitors, getting dressed, running errands or getting anything accomplished.

Sit. Snuggle. Enjoy. Recover. Bond.

That is my advice to you.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Schedule

Just a quick note really!

When I'm taking bookings for my Post-Partum work, I take care not to over-schedule myself, or take too many clients on at a time; I want to make sure that I am fully available for each family who needs my Post-Partum services.

I am still taking bookings for clients for the Fall ... feel free to contact me here or here if you are interested.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Koa's Story

We featured a Birth Story from Bethanie of Green and Grateful a couple of weeks ago; here is the story of her second child!

Koa's Story
by Bethanie

All through the pregnancy the due date was February 24, but as the day approached and passed I didn’t feel at all like it was time for him to be born. I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all, no swelling in my hands or feet, I could still sleep through the night without having to get up to use the restroom, I hadn’t been having Braxton Hicks, I was measuring small, I hadn’t lost my mucus plug, and so much more. As I thought about all of this, I remembered that my cycles were 6 weeks long instead of the usual 4 weeks. I mentioned this to my midwives, Tierney and Peggy, and they agreed that the date had probably been miscalculated. The date was changed to March 10!

My last prenatal appointment was on March 5 in the late morning. While I was there I mentioned the fact that my feet had started to swell a little and I couldn’t wear my wedding rings any more. I also noticed that I had lost my mucus plug. We were all in agreement that Koa’s arrival was certainly getting closer. They asked if I wanted to try a few things to get labor started and I agreed. Tierney stripped my membranes (it was a little uncomfortable, but didn’t hurt) and then I purchased some Cotton Root and Labor E. Brian was there with me and on the way home we purchased some castor oil and Rosemary essential oil. After we ate lunch I waited 2 hours before starting the regime! First I was to take the Cotton Root under my tongue and then 15 minutes later take the Labor E. I was to alternate each every 15 minutes for the next 2-4 hours. I also used the breast pump for 30 minutes each hour, and also rubbed castor oil with the Rosemary essential oil on my belly each hour as well. As I was doing all this I was having contraction ranging anywhere from 2-5 minutes apart, but they didn’t hurt very much and weren’t at all regular or consistent.

I continued and pressed on thinking it would work, but after 4 hours and soreness under my tongue from the burning of the herbal supplements, I was ready for a break. It was about 8 pm and I was tired… Brian and I watched a movie, put Tonchi (read Tonchi's Birth Story here!) in bed and got ready to go to bed. I had been talking with Tierney and Peggy about it all. After stopping the supplements the contractions stopped completely. I slept through the whole night and didn’t have any more contractions.


On March 6th I awoke feeling great… unfortunately! I was ready to have that baby! Contractions started up again on their own at about 9am. It still wasn’t consistent and they only felt like cramps, not contractions. Brian was home all day so we all went for a walk in the afternoon. Tonchi had a great time at the playground! I was hoping the walk would help to speed up the contractions, but in fact, we were gone for 1 hour and I had a grand total of 3 contractions. Obviously things weren’t working on my time frame!

Mom had a program at church at 7pm, so she stopped by at about 6 to say hi and see Tonchi. We were eating dinner when they stopped. At this point my contractions were about 5 minutes apart, but still not at all painful. More like Braxton hicks with cramping. She left, and I asked her to call when she was leaving church to see how things were going. If it looked like things were changing then I was going to have her come back and pick up Tonchi for the night.

Tonchi, Brian and I laid on the bed upstairs and did some reading, worked on the computer and just laid around. At about 8:30 things started to pick up and I could tell this was it. Mom called around 9pm and came back and picked up Tonchi. These contractions did hurt! And they were about 4-5 minutes apart. Brian called Tierney and Peggy and asked them to come on over! Things were finally starting to move along!

Tierney and Peggy arrived a little after 10pm and I was still able to converse before and after contractions. Brittany also arrived at about the same time. Brian was working on filling the birthing tub with warm water, but it never really did happen! He did get it filled, but it was only lukewarm, and not really as relaxing as it had been with Tonchi.

At just before 11 I was ready to get in the pool, but Tierney and Peggy wanted to check me and check the baby before I got in. I was 5 cm! YEAH! Things really were moving! I got in the pool at about 11pm. By 11:40 I was hitting transition! Tierney checked me again and said I was 9.5cm and if I wanted to have the baby out of the water and in my bed I had better head upstairs.

I tried to labor on the floor leaning against the bed (I wanted to keep the mess out of the bed!) but I just couldn’t get comfortable and nothing seemed to work. Peggy had a hard time finding Koa’s heart rate and said I needed to try a different position. I got up on the bed and laid back on some pillows. After two contractions I wanted to start pushing. After the next two contractions Koa was born! At 11:59pm!


As his head came out Tierney said the cord was around his neck and it was too tight to remove. She asked me to give one last good push to get the rest of him out quickly. I did and the rest of him was born along with about a gallon of water! My water broke while I was in the pool, but there was still a lot of water above Koa before he was born. I felt terrible that Tierney’s leg got soaked!
It was an incredible birth! I’m so glad it was faster than Tonchi’s, but I feel like it was so much more intense. I remember Tonchi’s labor being hard, but this seemed a lot more painful.


Brittany left around 2:10 and Peggy and Tierney left around 2:30. It felt so good to get in bed and go to sleep. What a great reward after half a nights work! I really did feel good. I didn’t have any tear or swelling which made recovery that much faster.

Brian again was the perfect coach. I’m so glad he was there by my side during the whole thing. I really don’t think I could do it without him. He is so good at encouraging me and helping me look towards the end instead of only seeing the here and now. God has truly blessed me with a wonderful man and two wonderful sons!

Koa's mama, Bethanie, has a wonderful blog, Green and Grateful, where she writes about her days spent as a mama to her four beautiful children, frugal living, delicious food and homeschooling. Stop by and say 'hi!'

If you are interested in sharing your Birth Story here on the Radiant Birth blog, feel free to Contact Me.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Birth Plan for Twins or More

I'm taking a break from Birth Circles today, to talk Birth Plans.

If you have an idea of what you would like your birthing experience to look like, it is a good idea to get those ideas down on paper. Just the process of writing out your Birth Plan, can really help you and your partner become clearer on what is really important for you, and what it is realistic to ask for.

If you know that there are factors outside your control then you are able to plan accordingly. For example, if you know that the hospital you plan to deliver at, allows you to labor but not deliver in a tub, then asking to deliver in a pool or tub is unnecessary!

Also, keep your audience in mind! If you are delivering at a Birth Center or at home, you can get quite specific about the things you request; dim lights, particular music, minimal vaginal checks etc. If you are delivering in a hospital then it may be better to focus your Birth Plan on the things that are REALLY important to you. Is it more important to focus on whether music played or being able to choose your own birth position, wearing your own clothing during labor or nursing as soon as possible after delivery? Focus on what is top of your list!

And once that Birth Plan is written share with everyone who will be involved with your birth, and  talk with them about what is on your plan.

And finally, if there comes a point in your labor and delivery where you need to deviate from your plan, know that it is okay too. 

I wrote two Birth Plans for my own situations, my first was for a single natural labor and delivery, and the second was for the delivery of my twins. Today I'm featuring my own Birth Plan for my twin delivery. Please feel free to use this as a basis for your own plan.
(Please know that this Birth Plan was written based on my husband and I's references; yours may look really different ... please change it as you need!)

Name of Parents:
Birth Center or Hospital:
Approximate Due Date:

We would like to thank you in advance for being an important part of this special time in our lives.  Please consider our wishes regarding the birth of our twins.  Our goal is to have an un-medicated labor and delivery.

We ask that the practitioner discuss with us any procedures or medications prior to administration and that we be allowed the chance to question such procedures before giving informed consent.

We will be flexible and willing to discuss all of the points below in case of complications.

We realize that this list is extensive, but please view it positively.  We trust in the care that you can offer which is why we have chosen your hospital.  We look forward to this experience and this partnership with the very special people on your staff.  Thank you!

Labor Experience

- Husband not separated from me at any stage of labor or delivery

- Doula(s) should stay with me for the labor process

- Infrequent vaginal exams

- Able to drink clear liquids (including apple juice and Gatorade type beverages) and take honey during labor

- Labor should not be augmented, including artificial rupturing of membranes, as long as both babies and I are fine,

- Natural methods of augmentation or induction only, unless critical

- Intermittent monitoring only, for as long possible

- Do not offer pain medications.  I will ask for it if I need it.

- Please explain all procedures, risks and benefits prior to use


- Allow choice of birth position, and change of positions if desired, along with access to a squat bar during delivery

- Spontaneous pushing, with no time limits for either baby

- Deliver over an intact perineum, with a pressure episiotomy only if medically necessary

- My husband should catch both babies, with me helping if possible

- Allow the Baby B to be delivered spontaneously, with no time limits between the deliveries of Baby A and Baby B

- To try turning techniques, if needed, before birth of second baby

- If a Caesarean Section becomes necessary I’d like to be conscious and be able to touch the babies; please leave my hands free.  Please explain the surgery to me as it happens.  Please perform the surgery in a manner that I could successfully have a VBAC with subsequent deliveries.

After Delivery

- My husband would like to cut the umbilical cords of both babies

- Wait until the umbilical cords have stopped pulsating before cutting

- To deliver the placenta spontaneously and unassisted

- Hold the babies immediately after delivery – please place each baby directly on my abdomen after delivery

- Allow us to bond for at least 30 minutes with each baby

- I would like to nurse each baby as soon as possible.

- Both babies’ medical exams should be performed in my or my husband’s presence

First Hours

- Husband to accompany the babies into the nursery, during any necessary procedures

- Please do not wash the babies, my husband or I will give them their first baths

- Exclusively breastfeed both babies; please do not offer any formula, sugar water or pacifiers

- Babies to room in with us

- If either baby is a boy, we do not want him circumcised

- Stay in the hospital should be as short as possible, barring complications, as I feel I will be able to rest better at home.

- If either baby is not well, my husband or I will accompany the baby(s) to the NICU or another facility.  I would also like to breastfeed, or provide expressed breast milk for and hold baby when possible.

Did you write a Birth Plan for your labor and delivery? 
What were your top requests?
Feel free to let me know in the comments; I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thomas' Story

A birth story with a bit of a twist today - the story written from the Father's point of view! Wonderful to hear a Father's perspective - enjoy!

 Thomas' Story
by Ben

We had intentions of a natural birth with a group of Certified Nurse Midwives in a small birth center right near our home.  We've had all of our prenatal work done with them and were very happy with the decision.  Our only concern was that the baby was positioned face forward which we were told can make labor very painful.

Rachel (Ben's wife) woke up in labor at 12am Tuesday morning.  Just as we were beginning to make the call to the birth center, her water broke.  We hurried to collect the few remaining loose necessities from their scattering around the apartment: things were disorganized after having moved out of the apartment the weekend before due to a severe storm that caused a multi-day power outage.  We met the midwife on call, Lisa, and our doula, Kelly, at the center at 3am.  The next 4 hours were extremely painful for Rachel.  Little we did could ease her back pain.  We found two positions that created a little relief for her but we were disappointed to know that despite the massive discomfort and the 7.5 hours effort so far, we had only progressed to 2cm by 7:30am.  At this point, Rachel decided an epidural was a must and we began preparations to transfer to the hospital with Lisa and Kelly (our midwife and doula) as well.

After the transfer and a round of IV fluids, the anesthesiologist finally arrived to place the epidural.  He did a fantastic job.  Rachel was finally able to rest.  Everyone caught a nap and, once awake, was able to interact without the incredible pain and focus that was previously required.  By the end of our first nap, Rachel had dilated to 5cm.  She remained there for quite some time and the doctor decided to introduce pitocin.  By early evening, we reached the appropriate 10cm and were ready to begin pushing. The epidural medication's rate was slowed to help Rachel push more effectively.

Rachel pushed for an hour and a half but the baby remained at -1 station for that time.  Due to the once again present back pain and the lack of progress, the doctors allowed Rachel to let the labor down by introducing more medication via the epidural.  Relief at this point was very quick, and Rachel was again asleep.  The rest of the birth team napped as well.

At 1145pm, Rachel was awake again and once again ready to push.  We worked for another 3 hours toward delivery; employing significant counter-pressure on Rachel's back and many of the positions we'd learned in our classes.  Still, the baby remained at -1 or 0 station and we were told the baby was having difficulty passing the pelvic bone.  The doctors proposed a small vacuum/suction cup could be attached to the baby's head and sometimes used to maneuver the baby while Rachel pushed.  Trying that took another 30 minutes but was unsuccessful.  The doctors decided a Cesarean section was needed.

Surgery was scary for me and freezing for both of us, but a clear success.  The baby was out in about 10 minutes after the initial incision, at 3:52am, and immediately let out a cry.  Rachel and I were extremely relieved to hear him as he was rushed to the NICU table in the OR, suctioned, measured, and evaluated.  They told us he was 9 lb, 2oz, which we could barely believe.  His official height was later recorded as 22.25".    Within minutes, he was considered stable and ready to return to our room in the labor and delivery wing.  We were later told his head was slightly sideways and he had an arm up, both of which were preventing him from moving down.  Rachel sent me with him while she remained in the OR for another 45 minutes to an hour to be stitched up.

We remained in the hospital for 3 days.  Though it was far from what we had intended, we learned a great deal, and our help from the nurses was invaluable.  Looking back, we're very happy with the experience and our decisions. We're now finally at home and very much enjoying our time with our son.

If you are interested in sharing your Birth Story here on the Radiant Birth blog, feel free to Contact Me.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Post-Partum Pinterest!

Radiant Birth is on Pinterest! Follow me there for 
articles, memes, tips and articles.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Evelyn's Story

 A quick note about this Friday's Birth Circle ... there is still room for Mothers to join the Circle, so please contact me to reserve your spot! 

And now onto a Birth Story ...
Evelyn's Story
by Jenni 

I must say, this was my dream birth from start to finish, the only exception being the tearing that happened. But, I'd do it this way again in a heartbeat, you know, if we ever decide to do this again! Ha!

After going to bed on 7/31/2009, the baby was VERY active in utero. She usually kicked some at bedtime, but tonight, she was kicking and moving way more than normal.

At 3:00 am on 8/1/2009, I woke up to go to the bathroom. Given that I was 38 weeks pregnant, a nightly bathroom trip wasn’t unheard of. Typically, though, I went around 2:00 or 5:00 am, so 3:00 was a little different. When I finished using the restroom, I felt a small surge of fluid and thought “hmm…that’s odd, I thought I was finished”. I thought *maybe* labor was starting but didn’t want to get too excited. I put on a panty liner and walked toward the bedroom, when another small gush of fluid came out and the panty liner was clearly not enough. I changed into another panty liner (which was all I had upstairs) and went to the baby's room and got a prefold cloth diaper and used that instead. I went back into the bedroom and told Scott (Jenni's husband) “I think my water broke.” He said “Seriously?” and I had another surge of fluid. Yes, seriously. I tried to go to bed and sleep some more since it was so early in the morning, but contractions started coming at about 2 minutes apart lasting 40 seconds or so. They weren’t too strong yet, but because they were so close together, I couldn’t sleep. I felt pretty icky after my water broke, so I decided to take a shower. I washed my hair and shaved my legs and stood under the water for a long time. Then I got out, got another diaper (I had soaked the first one through already) and went to lay in bed. Scott coached me through the contractions using visualizations and techniques we had learned in our Bradley class. (Scott says: I had been worried I was not going to be able to keep talking long enough during the contractions and that I would run out of things to say. Or that I would keep using the same couple of visualizations over and over for such a long time that Jenni would gripe at me, “Say something ELSE!” In reality, Jenni was such a natural at finding her rhythm and relaxing through the pain, I didn’t have to do nearly as much coaching as I thought.) Scott timed the contractions using his iPod Touch and they were still about the same as they had been before. He got me some water and around 5:00 am he called our Doula, Kelly. She advised us to call our doctor, so he did that as well. Since my water had broken, the on call doctor didn’t want me to labor at home longer than 8 hours, so she advised us to come in at 11:00 am. Around this time, my contractions started to spread out some, so I was able to nap in between them. At some point (around 7:00 maybe?) I threw up and we called Kelly again. She asked to speak with me and listened to me have a short contraction (I was disappointed – this was the shortest, weakest one I’d had yet, and it was the one she listened to!) and advised me to use slow, deep breaths during the contractions. She listened to another one and said I was doing very well with the breathing. She asked what I thought of the contractions and my response was “These are serious.” She also advised that I try to eat small bites of food and drink water, so Scott made me some oatmeal, which I ate a few small bites of.

I brushed my teeth and got dressed in comfy pants and one of Scott’s XL college t-shirts and we went downstairs where Scott could make me some more food. This time he made toast with margarine. I sat on the exercise ball through several contractions and texted and called friends and family in between them. I still needed Scott to help me through the contractions either by massaging my back or by talking me through them. We timed them, but they were erratic – sometimes lasting 30 seconds, one lasting 2 minutes, and anywhere from 90 seconds to 3 minutes apart. (Scott says: Somewhere around now, Jenni moved to laying on the floor on her side. Intensity was certainly picking up, but we were still taking our time and not in a hurry.) We called Kelly hourly at this point, and at 10:30 am Scott called Jenn (our Bradley instructor, assistant doula, and photographer!) to come over while he packed up to go to the hospital. We planned to leave at 11:00 am, but we waited for me to go to the bathroom, then waited out a couple of contractions, so we wound up leaving around 11:20 am. In the car, I turned completely inward and began to manage the contractions on my own. Scott has since told me that he couldn’t tell when I was having a contraction and when I wasn’t, so he wasn’t able to help me, which was OK – I was handling them well. His job was to drive smoothly and safely. The remaining timeline was recorded by Jenn, otherwise I would have absolutely no idea when anything happened.
The car ride wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated, and since it was a Saturday, it only took us 20 minutes to get there. Once we got there, Jenn suggested we walk around some before checking in, just in case things slowed down, then we could leave and go to a hotel nearby instead of checking in just as labor slowed down. I didn’t really want to walk, but thought the advice was good, so we started walking outside. It was too hot and I needed to go to the bathroom, so we went inside. I went to the bathroom as quickly as possible so I could stand up during contractions – those that I had on the toilet were the hardest, and I didn’t like them one bit. Scott and I walked around the lobby area for a short time, and I started to feel queasy, so I sat down and pointed to our makeshift puke bucket. Scott didn’t know what I was pointing at, so I pointed more fervently. He quickly understood when I started coughing. He got it to me in time, when I vomited bile. At this point, I just wanted to lay down, so I laid on the floor of the lobby. Jenn (I think?) gave me a pillow and at that point Kelly showed up. She joked about this being the place we were going to give birth and encouraged me to go upstairs and check in. I was so thankful. Labor was not slowing down; it was progressing at a good pace.

We walked to the elevators and I had a contraction or two on the way. When I would have a contraction, I would lean my head against my forearm on the wall, and Scott would rub my back. Slowly we made it to the elevator and up to the 3rd floor, where we had to check in - after a few more contractions, one in the elevator, several in the hallway on the way to L&D. (Scott says: It was a good thing we had so many people with us, because we brought so much stuff to the hospital! Yoga ball, pillows, soft-sided cooler with juice and ice cubes of Gatorade and chicken broth, an iPod docking station, another bag of dry foods, a duffle bag with clothes and other odds and ends.) I had to fill out some paperwork and was barely “with it” enough to do that, but we made it through. At this point, it was around 12:45 pm. There were no rooms available but one was being cleaned, so they sent us to a “waiting room” which was actually a hallway with chairs in it and a family or two hanging out. Kelly asked if I wanted to sit on my yoga ball, and I definitely did, so I sat with my back to the families and went back into my own world. Kelly suggested I go to the bathroom and I told her I didn’t like to labor on the toilet. She said that that meant it was the best place for me to be because it was getting the baby into a good position. So, I went to the toilet, and Scott joined me in the room. He kept telling me I was doing a good job and would occasionally remind me to relax my shoulders or my face or wherever he noticed I was tense. This was very helpful and I was able to do as he said.

At 1:25, we were finally in a room. I changed into a robe I had brought from home instead of the hospital gown. Dr. Carrie Lawson – the on call doc for Dr. Tchabo – came in and checked me (this was my first internal check through my entire pregnancy) and I was at 5 cm and 100% effaced. I was so relieved because I was worried she’d tell me I was only at 2 cm or something and after all that work I would have been seriously disappointed. As it was, 5 cm sounded great to me! My contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and 1 minute long and steady. The doctor looked over my birth plan and said everything was fine and that I would need a Heplock. The nurse (Sarah) came in and introduced herself. She was really nice and totally amenable to the birth plan too. I started to relax a little about having a hospital birth. She tried to put the Heplock in my right arm (the side where all the other wires, etc, would be for the monitors), but failed the first time. I really don’t like needles, and they were even harder to deal with while managing contractions. I needed Scott to help me through it, so I stared into his eyes and I think held his hand while she tried the other arm. I had to ask her to wait through the contraction I was having before sticking me, and she complied, but I remember thinking that she wasn’t very observant. The doctor agreed to intermittent monitoring, and so the nurse also strapped those on to me (also not paying attention to my contractions).
I labored on my right side in bed for a while, and Scott went to the cafeteria to get lunch. I asked for the monitors to be removed, and they were. At around 3:10 pm, Kelly convinced me to labor on the toilet, which brought on very intense and powerful contractions. I had a lot of bloody show and Kelly estimated I was probably around 7 cm at this point. I started feeling a fullness in my bottom and I pushed, completely involuntarily, once or twice on the toilet. Once I knew what pushing felt like, I was more capable of breathing through that type of contraction to wait until I was fully dilated so that I could push. Not pushing was certainly difficult, though! Scott came back from lunch around this time, and I was put back on the monitor in bed. I was very very warm, so Kelly and Scott applied cool washcloths to my face and neck, and I kept eating ice chips. I also became very verbal around this point – saying “ooh, ooh” or “ow ow ow ow” during contractions. Kelly advised me to use this type of vowel sound that kept my throat open rather than closing it off because if you keep your throat open, your cervix will be freer to open. At 3:45 I really started having the urge to push, but I had not been checked again, so I had to blow through the contractions. They were really intense and painful and I couldn’t resist pushing entirely. The nurse and doctor were called to let them know I was pushing, and at 3:55 Dr. Lawson checked me again. I was at 9 cm and, according to Jenn’s notes, I was having lots of double peak contractions, even one or two triple peaks. I had no idea at the time – I just knew they were strong. Kelly and Scott alternated putting pressure on my left hip/back area – the same place that had been hurting me during pregnancy and that had lead me to the chiropractor. The pressure helped, but it did not eliminate that back pain. I can’t imagine what it would have been like had I not been receiving therapy for it for months! I think it was around this time that I had the one fleeting thought of “an epidural might be nice” but then another contraction came and I had to focus, and I never thought about artificial pain relief again.

At 4:23, Dr. Lawson came back and declared that I was ready to push (I had declared this a while ago, and was practically begging them to let me push!). For the first push, Dr. Lawson held up my cervix to see if the baby’s head would drop, and at 4:25 I officially pushed for the first time. The doctor seemed surprised to say that I was a good pusher. I wasn’t so confident. Pushing was new territory – I had learned to cope with the contractions and could handle them. Pushing was a totally new experience.

At 4:25 the doctor left and Kelly and nurse Sarah attempted to put up the squatting labor bar. And then they thought they had it wrong, so they turned it around. And then they fidgeted with it some more and turned it back around. (Scott says: And then they thought they had it wrong, so they turned it around. And then they fidgeted with it some more and turned it back around. Finally, we all decided this must be right, because the other way looked even more wrong than this looked.) This was all very distracting to me. Finally, the labor bar was in place and the bed was positioned properly. Despite the labor bar being advertised on the hospital tour, our nurse said she had only put it up one other time in her 10 years at the hospital. Kelly sat at the foot of the bed and held a hand mirror so she could see how I was progressing. I had had a few more pushes and Kelly kept telling me what a good job I was doing.
I was pretty uncomfortable in the position I was in – I was sitting on the bed and would stand up on the drop-foot part of the bed and push against the labor bar during contractions. I wanted something to lean on in between pushes and Kelly suggested Scott sit behind me, so he did and I sat between his legs and was able to lean back on his chest when I wasn’t pushing. This made it more comfortable for me, but as I said earlier, pushing was a whole new ball game, and I didn’t like it one bit. I finally told Kelly “I’m so scared!” and saying it made it easier for me to focus on the job at hand. Scared didn’t begin to describe it – I was absolutely terrified. Scott has since asked what I was scared of, and I can’t put my finger on it. For one thing, I was worried, despite being told what a good pusher I was, that I was doing it wrong because I felt like I was only going to the bathroom – not pushing out baby. But, I don’t think that was all of it – I think I felt a little alone and without direction. The books all talk about labor pain management, they don’t spend a lot of time on the pushing part. I think Kelly told me it was OK to be scared and that I was doing a great job. During the next few pushes, I started making very guttural, animalistic noises – very loudly. After a few of these, Kelly suggested that my throat would be sore if I kept up this way, and so I tried to push without the noises. I would push for what I’m sure was a few seconds (that seemed like minutes…or days) and at the end would let out a roar. These pushes became much more effective, and Kelly told me I could touch my baby if I wanted. I tentatively placed a finger inside and sure enough, I could feel a bit of her head! I asked Kelly “How much longer?” and she, frustratingly ;), said “I don’t know.” Kelly recommended I pull against the bar instead of pushing against it, and again, this helped my pushes be more effective. All during this time, I was very hot and Scott and Jenn kept applying cold wash cloths to my face and neck between contractions and feeding me ice chips (I think).
Somewhere between 5:10 and 5:15 pm, I let out a mega-roar of a noise and pushed with all of my might. I began to understand the idea of “ring of fire” – an apt description of crowning, for sure! At 5:15, Dr. Lawson came back in and asked if this was the position I intended to give birth in. I was confused – was I not in the process of giving birth? So I said “yes” and the doctor took over Kelly’s position at the end of the bed. She asked if I wanted a perineal massage and I think I said yes. She then proceeded to run her finger around Evvie’s head as I pushed. This was SO PAINFUL. I think I said “ow ow ow” during those pushes. Sometime around this time, Kelly thought to ask for a mirror so Scott and I could watch as she emerged. They got it up just in the nick of time – I gave another push and her head was out – and it seems to me that her body just came out with it, but I may have had to push for that too. In any event, her body emerging was the most wonderful feeling! And at 5:22 pm, Evelyn Lily arrived. I barely saw it on the mirror – I was too relieved to not have to push anymore!

Dr. Lawson placed Evvie on my belly and they began to rub her. She was a little gray (Scott says: she was extremely gray for the first 10 seconds or so) and wasn’t yet crying. I didn’t really worry too much – just a fleeting thought of, “shouldn’t she be crying?!” before she did. I was able to hold her and kept saying, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” It was all I could think. Dr. Lawson, as per our birth plan, let her cord finish pulsing before it was time to cut the cord. I asked Scott, “Do you want to do it?” and he replied, “I guess so”. And he did. (Scott says: It was thick and tough and took a few snips to cut all the way through. I was also worried I might somehow slip and cut her, so I was probably being extra-cautious.)
Soon after the birth, someone asked me about our next child and I replied "I think we'll adopt the next one". At that moment, no one, including me, was sure whether I was joking. A few hours later, though, I knew that I was and that I'd gladly carry and deliver another child, when the time comes.

If you are interested in sharing your Birth Story here on the Radiant Birth blog, feel free to Contact Me.

Monday, September 8, 2014

What Happens at a Birth Circle

So?! What does happen at a Birth Circle?!

Birth Circles are small groups of women, usually no more than six or seven, who come together for an evening, to share their Birthing Stories, the stories about their own labor and deliveries.

The setting may be different (a yoga studio, a home, a church room) but as a group of mothers and women, we come together, sit in a circle and share our stories with each other.

After brief introductions, each mother will have the opportunity to share her own story, uninterrupted and without judgement. Whether you choose to write out your story before hand or just tell it from memory is your own choice. The very act though of sharing your story can be deeply satisfying, healing even.

The stories each Mother brings may vary greatly; some stories will be of natural births, others will be about medicated and scheduled births. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' story to bring to a Birth Circle; ALL stories are important and should be heard!

Babes in arms are welcome, as are Mothers of all ages, whether you birthed recently or decades ago. Sharing our Birth Stories can still heal.

Our first Birth Circles are being hosted at the Be Yoga Yurt in Sterling, so we will be sharing our stories sitting on the floor. While the Yurt has blankets and bolsters to sit on, you are welcome to bring other pillows or cushions if you would like. 

Please click here for details about upcoming Birth Circles, and feel free to contact me with questions, queries or make your reservation for an upcoming Circle.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Julian's Story

So long Labor day weekend! Hello September apple picking and leaf peeping!

Now, a Birth Story.

Julian's Story
by Pamela

Setting the Stage
This pregnancy was, by all intensive purposes, pretty easy. We never had any major complications, and sure, while some of the side effects that go along with pregnancy aren’t very comfortable or particularly pleasant, I enjoyed being pregnant very much.

When we got along in our pregnancy enough to discuss birthing methods, we decided that natural was the way to go for us. We hired a doula (Mary Beth) to help us in the hospital (the best decision we ever could have made) and took Bradley classes to help arm ourselves with the knowledge for a natural birth. We prepared a natural birth plan and specifically requested nurses and doctors who support natural childbirth.

Of course, things don’t always go as you planned…

About a month before my due date I started experiencing swelling. Everyone swells during pregnancy so I wasn’t too concerned about it. Unfortunately, I gained about 10 pounds in 2 weeks from water retention and developed carpal tunnel in my right hand due to the swelling. We monitored these symptoms but they never really caused us to raise any flags. About a week before my due date my blood pressure started to increase, enough that my doctors were concerned, and I also started having intense headaches. Still, I really didn’t think much about it until the Sunday before my due date the headaches were so bad that we went to the hospital to make sure everything was okay. The baby’s movement also decreased for a few hours so I got really paranoid that something was wrong (he was sleeping). On the Tuesday night before my due date I started having some cramps. We didn’t think much of them, however they were recurring and intense enough to make me slow down so Thad (Pamela's husband) started keeping track of them just in case. They lasted for about 3.5 hours and then stopped totally. My doctors told me to keep my regularly scheduled Wednesday morning appointment. Little did I know that that appointment would move things along considerably.

At my appointment not only was my blood pressure high but there was protein in my urine. Between the protein, swelling, headaches, and blood pressure, my doctor advised a scheduled induction on Thursday morning because he didn’t want my pre-eclamptic symptoms to go any further. I was already 2 cm dilated at this point and about 50% effaced so my doctor felt that inducing labor by artificially rupturing my bag of waters would jump start my delivery. After a lot of discussion, Thad and I decided to go with the induction. I had carried the baby for 39 weeks and 6 days at this point. Sure, it’s not a spontaneous start of labor but when the concern is over symptoms that can get worse in an unpredictable manner we decided not to tempt fate and risk harm to me or the baby.

Birth Story
We arrived at the hospital at 0545 for a 0600 induction. Unfortunately our doctor had just had a delivery so we didn’t end up having my water broken until 0815 and there was meconium in the fluid. Of course this raised a flag for the doctor but since I was already 2 cm. dilated and 50% effaced the hope was that my body would take over the labor naturally. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Luckily my doctors were okay with me moving me around and Thad and I spent the next few hours walking to see if we could get things moving. I only had a handful of contractions but nothing too uncomfortable. By about 1115 they checked me for dilation and there was no progress. At 1145 we decided to try some pitocin at a very low dose to see if that would jump start my contractions. At 1600 my doctor came to check my progress and I was only 3 cm dilated. My doula, Mary Beth, said that at this point the contractions should be “knocking me down” and they weren’t that bad so we went with the doctor’s advice and upped the pitocin yet again. The contractions became steadily stronger and longer, and what had begun as contraction-talk-contraction soon quieted into focused, active labor. The pain of the contractions also steadily grew, with the breathing and positioning techniques becoming less effective as the contraction times grew to two minutes and the breaks between decreased, with contractions sometimes stacking three or four in a row. Around 2200 the contractions were so long and close together, the nurse began lowering the Pitocin dose, which did very little. By 2330, the Pitocin drip had been turned off completely, but the contractions were still extremely strong and abnormally long. The doctor was doing an exam every two hours or so at this point, and at midnight, I reached the 5cm mark. Thad and our doula were both hopeful that things would accelerate at this point, with the contractions being as heavy as they were. Unfortunately, after another two grueling hours, I was only 6cm dilated, and all of our energy reserves were running low. We pushed through another two hours which included vomiting and bouts of the shakes, and we had high hopes as the doctor entered at 0400. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as I was still right around 6cm dilated. With so little energy remaining, we decided an epidural would be the best path for rest and another session after a brief rest. The epidural was administered at 0515, and we all took a quick sleep until 0730, at which point the nurses started up the Pitocin again (contractions had slowed to a point where we would not be able to make progress). The contractions were not as painful with the epidural in place, and over the next five hours, dilation slowly progressed. By about 1300 I was nearing the 10cm mark, but the anterior lip of the cervix refused to retract properly. We waited through another hour of contractions (and a stronger epidural), but the lip stayed in place. The nurse and doctor felt it was soft enough that it would not present a danger to the baby, and at 1500, we repositioned and started actual pushing!

After about 10 minutes of pushing (learning curve!), the epidural wore off, and while the pain was more intense, I also had a much better sense of where and how I should push, and the nurse was more excited about the movement of the baby, or at least what we thought was progress. As we continued pushing, a number of things became apparent: the baby was not moving as much as he should, my temperature (approaching 102 degrees), pulse (150 sustained) and blood pressure (180/110) were all worrisome, and the baby’s heart rate was sustained around 190-200 during contractions, signaling distress. After 75 minutes of pushing, the baby had still not moved past the unretracted lip, and the doctor and nurse both recommended we move to an emergency c-section in light of both my and the baby’s deteriorating condition. At this point, the water had been broken for 30 hours, I was already on IV antibiotics to protect against infection, and it was clear that a vaginal delivery was not in the cards.

After being prepped with a chest-down epidural, I was moved to the OR. I fell asleep almost immediately (I have never been so tired in my life), and actually was next awakened by Thad to see our wonderful son as he was moved to the triage station. It was 1714, and we had an 8lb. 13 oz. baby boy. We also received a couple pieces of information that would have been helpful the day before – he was sunny side up, his head position was asynclitic, and the cord was wrapped around his neck twice, preventing his proper descent!

Julian's Birth
After the doctors sewed me up, I was moved to transition, where the nurses were wonderful – as soon as his breathing was steady enough, they gave us 30 minutes for skin to skin contact, and he snuggled right into me – it was amazing! Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to keep his oxygen numbers high enough on his own and was showing other symptoms of respiratory distress, so he was moved to the NICU for additional oxygen and monitoring. He ended up staying there for five days, working through the TTN and then jaundice (caused by the difficult labor and delivery). We finally were able to bring him home almost a week after his birth.

Thad’s input
Obviously things didn’t go as we had planned. It was the most difficult and challenging 24 hours of my life, without a doubt. I’ve never been through anything like it, and doubt I will ever see its like.

As Pamela covered all the details, I won’t go into that, suffice it to say that the doula, Mary Beth, and I were both physically and mentally exhausted, so I can’t even imagine what place Pamela went to that allowed her to continue when we were both so close to collapse.

I will mention a couple of things, though, and they’re both Bradley related. Even though we weren’t able to deliver Julian vaginally, we still feel that we did the best we could have under the circumstances. There were so many times when we had a decision in front of us, and after discussion, we first tried things the natural way, and when that failed, we were forced to turn to the medicinal path to make progress. I can’t even count the natural things we tried – walking, squatting, raspberry tea, primrose oil, nipple stimulation, both blue and black cohosh, special positions with the doula’s riboso… the list went on and on. Unfortunately, they just weren’t enough. I believe that the baby wasn’t quite ready to come out, but due to the worsening pre-eclampsia and the meconium in the water, it is also clear that we didn’t have the luxury of time to wait, so we made the best of it.

Our doula was an absolute wonder. We are forever in her debt for the effort and comfort she provided during such a trying experience. She was a pillar of strength and also provided calm, sound advice during each of our decisions. I don’t know how we would have done it without her.

Pamela's Input
I don't know if I'll ever be able to look back at the labor and delivery and not get emotional. It was the hardest single thing I've ever had to do in my life and I suspect that it will never be topped. The whole experience pushed me into a new place as well as pushed my relationship with Thad to a new place as well. Looking back, though, despite the difficult recovery and series of unexpected events, I would not change a thing. Bringing Julian into this world required a lot of determination, patience, and ultimately a lot of love between me, Thad, and our doula and I will never be the same because of it. Now we have a beautiful, healthy baby boy and I am slowly on the mend. How can I be disappointed about anything that happened when the outcome was so wonderful?

I'll never be able to thank Thad and Mary Beth for everything they did for me. The doctors and nurses were wonderfully supportive and I am in their debt as well. Sure, it wasn't the delivery we were hoping but we are so lucky to be where we are today. Julian is the most wonderful thing to ever happen to me and I am so grateful for him each and every day. 'Nuff said.

If you are interested in sharing your Birth Story here on the Radiant Birth blog, feel free to Contact Me.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Birth Circles

A woman's birthing experience is such a powerful one, and many Mothers love to have the opportunity to share their own personal birthing story.

Birth Circles are small groups of Mothers, coming together to share their stories. This is a safe and non-judgmental space, where Mothers can feel supported and safe as they share.

I am so so excited to announce that I will be holding a Birth Circle, on Friday 12th September, 7-9pm, at Be Yoga in Sterling, Virginia.

Attendance is limited, to ensure that the group remains small, cozy and confidential. Please RSVP here to save your spot at an upcoming Birth Circle.

Babes in arms and nurslings welcome! Your first priority is to you and your baby, so please feel free to take care of your needs, to nurse, feed and change as you and your baby require.

There is no right or correct story to share. You are welcome at a Birth Circle whatever path your Birthing journey took. Please remember that Mothers each have their own story, and you may well hear stories that differ greatly from your own, including home births, cesarian sections, unassisted births, Birth Centers, Midwife deliveries and hospital births. This is a supportive space to share and receive ALL stories!

Interested in me facilitating a Birth Circle for your Mom's Group? Contact me for more information!

  • Upcoming dates
Friday 12th September, 7-9pm
at Be Yoga, 45406 Lakeside Drive, Sterling, VA 20165
     - Pay what you can! (suggested amount is $15 to $40)