History: When Michael and I were pregnant with Jackson (our first) we somewhat unexpectantly signed up for a natural child birth class called the Bradley Method led by Valerie Felder. We learned a lot about the benefits to natural child birth and that the birth could be something that we could really look forward to instead of something for me to be fearful about. We worked hard to educate ourselves and prepare for a natural birth. Our Dr was very supportive of what we were doing and signed off on a birth plan that we had written up during our pregnancy. I went into labor with Jackson at 11 days over my due date and we had a wonderful natural birth. We were able to labor at home until contractions were about 3 minutes apart and then headed to the hospital where we were welcomed by very supportive nurses and an on call Dr that was happy to help us have the natural birth we wanted. The whole experience was really wonderful. My labor with Jackson was 14 hours but it was manageable the entire time using the relaxation techniques we learned in our class my water did not break until I pushed with him. Even though it sounds like a long time I actually thought it was nice to have a longer more manageable labor than a fast and super intense one. When we found out we were pregnant with Isabel our insurance had changed and I had to find a new Dr. our new Dr was fine with us wanting to go natural but she was never as supportive with us as our first Dr had been. I have a family history of carrying our babies 2 weeks after our due date so I figured I would go late again with Isabel. I did not think however that I would go 16 days late! That was exactly what happened though. We ended up scheduling an induction for 16 days past my due date thinking that surely she would come on her own before then. When we got to 16 days over and I still had not started labor we went in for our induction. The whole experience was so different from Jackson’s birth. The nurse we had was not in any way supportive of our birth plan and basically told us that we would not be able to do anything we had asked for. My Dr planned to break my water, strip my membranes, put me on Pitocin and start an IV with fluids. We felt like our whole birth had just been hijacked from us. We asked to have a minute alone (my husband and I) and prayed for wisdom on what we should do. We ended up telling the Dr that we wanted to just have my water broken (I was already 4 cm dilated when I went into the hospital without being in labor) and delay anything else…pitocin, IV’s, etc. for a minimum of two hours to give me a chance to get up and walk and see if my body would go into labor with just having my water broken. They agreed to that and 3.5 hours later Isabel was here. It was so so intense! We still were able to do it naturally without any other intervention or medication but it was so much harder that time around.
Pregnancy: When we found out we were pregnant with our third I knew I wanted to do something different. I know so many people who have had hospital births and even been induced and had a wonderful experience so I am not saying that is wrong or bad. We just felt like for us a home birth sounded like a better fit. I knew a couple of friends that had recently done a home birth so that helped having someone we could ask questions. We ended up finding Toni Kimple a midwife that lives in Brenham but had an office here in Bryan and was even building a birthing center right down the street from our house! We met with her and just felt really at peace with using her as our midwife. She has so much experience and really seemed to have a holistic approach to mine and the baby’s health. There was one point in my pregnancy when she sat down and asked what my fears were about this pregnancy/ birth. I honestly had never been asked that before by any Dr’s or nurses with my previous kids. I shared with her my concerns and she told me what we could do to try to keep those things from happening but also just spoke a blessing over me that I would not go as far over my due date, have a straight forward and healthy pregnancy and birth and not have problems with postpartum hemorrhaging which I had had with Isabel. It was so great to have her be so supportive in every way possible. The whole pregnancy Toni did so much to answer any questions I had, took time to really explain things to me and kept me very educated on what all was happening throughout my pregnancy…like the babies position, my blood work, diet, etc. She also had me taking Alfalfa which helps your blood clot since I have had problems with that postpartum on my other two, 5W an herb taken the last 5 weeks of pregnancy that helps to tone the muscles of the uterus and for many people helps them go into their labor closer to the due date and blood builder an iron supplement because I was anemic. We learned this pregnancy that I also have gestational Thrombocytopenia, which basically means a low platelet count during pregnancy. Little did I know that I had had this with both of my other pregnancies but no one had ever told me about it. Both Toni and myself did lots of research on it and I made changes in my diet to that seemed to at least help slow my platelet count from dropping. Toni also had me go see an OBGYN at 36 weeks to prescribe Pitocin and Methergine to be used after the baby was born in case I had any problems with bleeding postpartum.
Labor: Leading up to labor we had a birth kit that we ordered that came with lots of the basic supplies they have at the hosptial, latex gloves, umbilical cord clamp, etc. and a list of things for us to buy and have on hand for when labor started. My due date was June 18. I was not expecting to go into labor early but I was hopeful that taking the 5W would help me at least not go as far over my due date as I had with Isabel. On Wednesday June 20 only <strong>two</strong> days after my due date I ended up starting labor! That morning I woke up feeling perfectly normal. Michael’s mom came into town to hang out with us for the day and help out with the kids so I could get some things done without having to cart the little ones around. 🙂 I also had an appointment with Toni that afternoon. At the appointment I was still feeling normal and not having any signs of labor. When we listened for the babies heart rate she noticed that he was posterior. I had a feeling that was the case because I was feeling him kicking all across the front of my stomach instead of towards my side/ribs like I had with the other two. Since Katie was in town and I had some free time I asked if Toni and Angeline (who was just in town for a few weeks shadowing Toni) might try the Rebozo scarf on me to see if they could get him to turn and then I could go walk around at the mall for a while to see if he might stay in a better position. I had never heard of the Rebozo scarf until about half way through this pregnancy when Owen was consistently turned posterior and Toni mentioned that it had worked well for her in the past as a way to get the baby to turn. If you are curious about it here is a <a href=”http://spinningbabies.com/techniques/activities-for-fetal-positioning/rebozo-sifting” target=”_blank”>link from spinning babies that goes into more detail</a> I have to admit it is pretty funny looking 🙂 After they tried that for about 10 minutes we went back and listened to the heart rate and he had turned towards my side! She said that he might turn back towards my back but it was at least good to know that he had responded to it. I went up to the mall after that just to get in some walking time. While I was there I texted Michael that my stomach was feeling crampy but that was about it. Nothing painful or that I could really time like contractions. We have a small group from out church that meets at our house on Wednesday night so since Michael’s mom was in town to watch the kids we all went out to eat and I got some spicy Kung Pow chicken 🙂 During dinner I felt like I had 1 or 2 contractions but still nothing really painful or that I could time. When we got back to the house Michael’s mom headed back to Magnolia and our group met at our house just like normal. After about 30 minutes I noticed that I was having somewhat regular contractions. I only felt them across the very front of my stomach below my belly button though which was different than the other pregnancies. My phone was about to die so I asked Michael for his and used a contraction timer app he had downloaded on his phone for when we went into labor. I started timing them and they were only about 4-6 minutes apart! I decided to casually leave the room and give Toni a call just to give her a heads up that I was having contractions. I still didn’t know if this was the real thing though because they were not super painful and it was so much earlier than I had started labor with my other two. At about 9:00 some of our group had left and me and a couple of the girls went for a quick walk around the neighborhood. At that point I had a few contractions that I had to stop walking and breath to get through so I started thinking maybe this was the real thing! Everyone went home about 9:30 and we gave Toni a call to let her know that contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart. She lives about 45 minutes away so we thought maybe she should go ahead and come over in case things went as quickly as my labor with Isabel. The whole time we waited for them to get here I told Michael that I was worried everything was going to stop at any moment so I was pacing the house trying to keep things progressing and trying to clean Owen’s nursery at the same time! Toni, Angeline and Andrea a nurse that is Toni’s assistant all showed up around 10:45. And BAM everything just kind of came to a halt 🙁 It was definitely a different experience to me to have other people in the room with us while I was in labor. Even at the hospital it was just me and Michael and the nurses would pretty much leave us alone in the room unless they needed to come in and adjust my fetal monitor. I think it took me a little while to get comfortable to having someone else with us. I also had to get over the feeling that everyone was just watching me waiting for something to happen and if nothing happened then I was letting everyone down. I guarantee that NO ONE in the room was putting that pressure on me except for myself. They were perfectly fine if things picked up and started going right that second or if it took hours and hours for things to happen. Toni suggested that Michael and I go for a little walk down the street to see if my contractions picked up. Sure enough as soon as we got outside and started walking I started having contractions every 3-4 minutes. When we came back in it was about 11:30 and I was very sleepy. As soon as I came back in and sat down everything seemed to stop again. Toni had checked me right when she got to our house and I was just about a 4. Toni told us that since my water had not broken and I was tired I might as well try to lay down and get some rest and just give them a call if things picked back up while I was trying to sleep. I was happy with that rather than trying to walk a bunch to get things going when I was already getting pretty sleepy. So Michael got me a pillow and some blankets and I laid down on the couch and he made himself a pallet on the floor next to me so we could get some rest. I remember waking up about every 10-15 minutes and timing a contraction on my phone and then falling back asleep. There was one point around 2 that I woke up during a contraction and it had been 45 minutes since the last one. That was the longest stretch of sleep I got for the night. By 3:00am the contractions were back to every 5-6 minutes. Once they got to every 4 minutes I woke Michael up and we called Toni. They showed back up around 4:45 and checked the babies heart rate. Everything sounded good but he was still very far to my back left side . We did the rebozo again at that point and I moved to our bed to try and get a little more rest. The contractions seemed to slow down again once everyone showed back up but I was too tired to do much about it. I figured if I got up and walked things would pick up but I remember just wanting to get a little more rest. Periodically Toni would come in and check the babies heart rate and make sure he was still doing well. Around 7 Jackson and Isabel woke up so Michael got them dressed and took them over to our friends house. At about that time I decided to stay in bed until Michael got back home and then I would get up and walk to try and speed things up. I didn’t really want things speeding up too much while he was not at the house though. Luckily our friends house was only about 5 minutes away so he was back home in no time. Toni came in and checked Owen’s heart rate again and everything sounded good. She told us that she had gotten a call from another mom that was starting labor but contractions were still about 10 minutes apart. She also had a couple of appointments at the birthing center just down the street that she could call and postpone if my labor started picking up or she could go to and just have her phone with her ready for a call if things were still progressing slowly. She checked me before she left and I was about 6 cm dilated. We decided to walk around in the back yard and sure enough as soon as I started walking contractions were back to 2-3 minutes apart. After doing that for about an hour we took a break on our porch and as soon as I sat down contractions stopped. It was so crazy. Neither of my other labors were like that. With my previous 2 once I had my first contraction things just progressed no matter what I did so I was able to just lay in bed and use the side lying relaxation techniques we had learned in our Bradley Class. With Jackson I remember trying to walk and stand leaning against Michael during one of my contractions and saying “Let’s NOT do that again!” So the idea that my labor was only going to progress if I was standing and walking was not the most exciting thing for me to imagine. It ended up working out very nicely though. Toni showed me how to relax better while standing. Michael and I would walk and as soon as I felt a contraction coming on I would drape my arms over his shoulders bend at the knees a little and sway side to side putting pretty much all of my weight on Michael. I don’t know what I would have done without him! As long as I was standing contractions stayed anywhere from 1-3 minutes apart. Every time I got tired and sat down I could easily go 8-10 minutes between contractions. We came back inside when Toni had come back from her appointments and at this time it was about 11 maybe. Owen was still not in the ideal position facing somewhat posterior so we did the rebozo again but it did not turn him. Toni said she had one of those big exercise balls in her car that she could bring in and I could try sitting on that during contractions. She brought it in and I tried it out. It was so so comfortable. So comfortable to the point that I was smiling and laughing and once again…not having a single contraction 🙁 We all decided that although it was nice it did not seem like the thing that was going to progress my labor so I got up and started walking. The second I stood up contractions were back to 1-3 minutes apart. All of the rooms in our home connect so Michael and me basically just started walking in circles through the house. We have a little orange chair in the corner of the living room so we would do a lap around the rooms of the house having very intense contractions about every 2 minutes and then stop and rest at the chair without any contractions literally going from intense labor to feeling like I was just sitting and resting. It is still so crazy to me! After about 5-6 minutes we would get up and do another lap. About the 3rd time around while taking my break I remember saying “ok…I guess we better keep walking if we want to have this baby!” I stood up and had the most intense contraction, took one step and felt another one coming on, finished that one and before taking another step another one came, took a step and a fourth one started. I told Michael I don’t care if everything stops I just have to get to the bed. So we made our way as quickly as possible stopping at each contraction to lean against Michael and breath through it. As soon as I got to the bed I told Michael I felt the urge to push. He yelled for Toni While she was coming my body was pushing whether I wanted it to or not and I could literally feel Owen’s body turning into the right position! It was super intense but I’m so glad he was able to turn before he came out. During this point Toni had come in quickly checked me and said I was a 10! It took a few contractions maybe 4-5 of pushing before Owen came out, but I remember being ready to push but not having a contraction to push during. I even asked if I could push while I wasn’t having one. Looking back on it I probably could have gotten him out faster if I had used the birthing stool she brought so that I would have been in an upright position seeing as how my contractions came so fast when I was upright. Toni was checking his heart rate during the whole time I was pushing and it was starting to go down a little so she told me on the second to last contraction if he wasn’t out on this contraction we needed to get on the birthing stool (it is like a big c shaped stool low to the ground to help you sit in a squatting position). He did not come out so we started to move and as soon as we started to move I had a contraction and was able to push him out!! Right in the middle of that intensity we heard a knock on the door. Angeline asked if we were expecting anyone to which I replied, “NO!!” She went to the door and it was our poor poor mailman just trying to drop off a package with no idea what was happening on the other side of that door. Owen’s baby book has a page that asks who was in the delivery room to which we now have Mommy, Daddy, the birth team, and the mail man 🙂 But back to the story! When Owen came out he had tried to take his first breath before his head was out so he had swallowed a lot of fluid/mucous. I have to say that it was one of the scariest moments I have had. But Toni was amazing. She knew just what to do. It was also great to know that she had everything she needed on hand and ready for that exact situation. She had oxygen tanks and masks that she had Michael giving Owen in between her suctioning his lungs. Both of my other kids had gotten oxygen in the hospital when they were born but it was something I wasn’t even aware of because it all happened so fast and the nurses were doing it while other nurses were taking care of me. So it was definitely a new experience being a part of that whole process and made it feel a little scarier. As soon as Owen was good (which was probably about 5-10 minutes but felt like a few hours!) Andrea told Toni that she needed to check on me because I was bleeding a little more than normal. We knew going into labor that I had had issues with post postpartum hemorrhaging with my past pregnancies so Toni had planned in advance to keep an eye on everything and had given me a shot of Pitocin as soon as Owen was born to help with it. They gave me some different herbs that help with it while massaging my stomach and then Toni told everyone to stop and she prayed over me. She asked for the bleeding to stop, and for them to have wisdom to know if they needed to take me to the hospital to receive medical help there. I remember I had my eyes closed and she said we pray all of this in Jesus name. Checked me again and I heard her say “Thank you Jesus!” The bleeding had stopped. Praise God! That was definitely not something I experienced at the hospital. I ended up having less bleeding this pregnancy than with my other pregnancies but we wanted to be safe and careful since we were at home and would have to account for time to go to the hospital if that was what needed to happen. Once all of that craziness was over I looked at Michael and he was holding our little boy and looking at me with tears in his eyes and a face of total relief that I will never forget. We had done it! What an amazing experience. Even with all of the “excitement” at the end I am so overjoyed that we chose to do a home birth. It was one of the best experiences of my life and Toni and her team were so amazing. Toni knew just what to do, when to do it and when to get help if needed. Andrea was such a joy to have there with us. Something about her spirit just puts me at ease all the way back to my first consultation that she attended. She has such a tender heart and I’m so glad that she was able to help with our birth. We also got lucky with having Angeline there while she was in town shadowing Toni! How great it was to have an extra set of hands helping and someone to shimmy little Owen with that Rebozo scarf 🙂
Looking back on how different my labor was this time around I know that this was the perfect labor for us to do a home birth and have the flexibility to move around and walk all the way up until time to push, to have someone work so hard to try to help turn the baby before pushing, and to have such holistic care throughout my entire pregnancy. Thank you again Toni! We are so so very blessed.