Lilah’s story began seven years ago with the birth of my oldest son, Patrick. At the time, I was young and very uneducated about birth. His birth story is the story of so many others. At a prenatal appointment, I was found to be in labor. I was admitted, induced, didn’t dilate… emergency c-section. The anesthesia didn’t work, and I felt the physical pain of being cut open. I was devastated, but trusted that the doctors did what was best for me and my baby. However, I was sure that there was another way to birth, and if there was a next time my birth wouldn’t be the same.
Shortly after Patrick’s birth, I found out I was pregnant. I was so very frightened to go through the birth process again. I hadn’t completely recovered (physically or mentally) from his birth, and finding out I was pregnant brought up all of the feelings I was trying so hard to repress. Anger, resentment, failure, fear. I wasn’t sure about giving birth vaginally, but knew I couldn’t willingly lie on the operating table again. I read all the right books, ate all the right foods, I found the right care provider. I was on my way to birthing vaginally after my disastrous surgical birth.
At the time, I was active duty military. The care provider I found was a kind midwife, who encouraged all women to attempt a VBAC. She was pretty supportive through my entire pregnancy, and assured me many times that I would do a wonderful job giving birth the way nature intended. When I was 38 weeks pregnant, I tried to make an appointment with the midwife I had grown to like, but she had transferred. Begrudgingly, I made my appointment with the doctor that was taking her place. At my first and only appointment with him, he informed me he didn’t generally “allow VBAC’s” but if I went into labor before my due date I could try, otherwise my c-section had already been scheduled.
I didn’t want another c-section,especially for a non-medical reason. I wasn’t willing to give up my plans for a vaginal birth so easily. I informed him I wouldn’t be showing up for the surgery he scheduled. He happily informed me that he was my superior and that if I didn’t show up, I would be charged with “Failure to obey a direct order.” Again, I was devastated. I had physically,mentally, and emotionally prepared my entire pregnancy for the vaginal birth I longed for. I tried going to the commanding officer of the hospital and pleading with her. She suggested that I listen to my doctor and used the line “As long as you have a healthy baby, that’s all that matters.” I couldn’t believe that my dreams for a vaginal birth were being crushed by one heartless man. I consulted Navy legal and asked them what I could do, but they had no advice. My time was running out, so I tried everything to force my body into labor. It didn’t work, I just wasn’t ready. My husband was deployed, and I was so afraid that charges would be brought up against me and my children would be taken away that I just gave in. So, on my due date, I walked into the hospital, laid on the operating table and cried my eyes out.
My second son came into this world through birth rape. That really is the best way I can describe it. After his birth, I suffered from post-partum depression, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted any more children. I became mildly obsessed with researching birth. I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on. I needed to know if there was a chance for me to ever truly birth a child. While researching I stumbled upon stories of home birth. I was amazed and fascinated. The birth stories I read sounded so unlike the hospital births I had witnessed. They were calm, relaxed, and beautiful. The birth was a special event, not just a medical event. The mothers had a voice, an opinion. The babies were born, and kissed and hug and not just whipped off to be tested. I decided that I would love to have more children, if I could birth them in this manner.
I would have a home birth after cesarean! (HBAC)
My husband and I decided to start trying to conceive. Meanwhile, I was researching midwives in my area. I soon discovered there was only one, and she didn’t do home births after a cesarean. I was a bit upset, but was determined not to give up. During my research, I stumbled upon a web site that spoke of unassisted childbirth. I was intrigued at the idea of birthing while only listening to your instincts. I loved reading the birth stories of mothers birthing with only their spouse present, and tucked that idea away inside my head. I continued looking for a midwife to attend my birth, but wasn’t totally turned off by the idea of an unassisted birth.
Trying to conceive took us longer than expected. Months turned into years, and I was starting to think I wouldn’t have my home birth after all. But, during this time I began the process of healing from my births. I forgave all those involved with my birth rape, (including myself) and started helping other women have a fulfilling birth as a doula and childbirth educator.
Four and half years after we first started trying to conceive (and three miscarriages later), I found out I was pregnant. I knew in my heart that this baby would be born alive and well. Again, I began researching midwives in the area (I had moved across country). The one midwife in my area didn’t typically attend HBAC’s so I didn’t have many options. However, I wasn’t really sure if I wanted a midwife to attend my birth anyway. A friend of mine did a little lay midwifery, and offered to be present at my birth if I wanted her to. I thought that this was a good idea if I felt I needed someone.
Aside from some horrible morning sickness in the first trimester, my pregnancy was great. I didn’t suffer from the many ailments you hear most pregnant women complain about. Mostly, I didn’t feel like I was pregnant. This pregnancy was so special to me, I had waited so long to bring another child into this world. To actually BIRTH my child. I tried to cherish everyday of these magical moments.
I had an idea in my mind of exactly how my birth would be. I pictured that I would go into labor on or around my due date. I would have a labor that lasted about 10 hours long. I would push two or three times, and my baby girl would be quietly and gently born into this world. My birth was nothing like I pictured.
First off, my due date came and went. I wasn’t anxious at all but everyone else around me seemed to be. I was getting daily calls from my family, and friends asking when I was going to go into labor, and annoying me with their own fears. A day before Lilah was born my grandmother called me and asked me about life insurance. She was afraid I was going to DIE! I hung up on her and broke down into tears. At this point I was two weeks overdue, and didn’t need to hear her worries. My husband comforted me and reassured me that we could do this. We decided to turn off the phone until the baby was born.
But, I am getting a bit a head of myself.
I started having prodromal labor nearly every night from about 40 weeks on. So, on the night of March 28th when contractions started up I really didn’t think nothing of it. I was lying in bed, when I suddenly heard a pop, and felt a small gush. I thought that perhaps my water had leaked a bit, but wasn’t overly concerned about it. I got up to go to the bathroom and to change my underwear. When I pulled my pants down there was a huge gush, and a splash. Yep, my water had broken. I noticed that it was a bit yellow, but had previously read that yellowish fluid is another variation of normal. I was very excited that labor would be starting soon, but decided to lay down and try to get some sleep.
The next morning I woke up disappointed because my contractions had apparently gone away in the night. Throughout the day I would have a contraction here and there. They weren’t strong, but they weren’t Braxton Hicks contractions either. I went to bed that night hoping that I would wake up in labor, and around 2 am my contractions started back up. The were strong enough that I was hopeful that it would be the real deal. But, again I woke up in the morning disappointed that I was still pregnant.
This lasted for six days. My membranes were still broken and leaking so I kept up my water consumption, and really prayed that I would go into labor before my husband or I lost our confidence to birth our child at home.
On the morning of April 3rd around 2 AM, I woke up with contractions again. They started out pretty strong, and after one or two, I couldn’t lie down for them anymore. I got out of bed, and went downstairs to check my email, and tidy up a bit. They were pretty steady, so I decided to time them. They were about 5-10 minutes apart, but I really wasn’t sure if they would last or not. My husband woke up at 5 AM to get ready for work, and I told him that I thought I may actually be in labor but I wasn’t sure. He asked if I wanted him to stay home. I told him to go into work, and if I needed him I would call. He decided he would go in a little late just to see how things were going in a few hours. After a few hours, my contractions were getting stronger so he decided not to go into work that day.
I pretty much went about my day as usual. My husband made the kids and I breakfast. I cleaned up the kitchen, and scrubbed down the bathrooms one last time. I made sure all the birth stuff was within reach of where we were setting up the birth tub. Around noon, I decided to try to take a nap. The contractions had been very continuous through out the day, and I was tired from not getting much sleep. I slept for about an hour, but I just couldn’t deal well with the contractions while lying down so I got up. I made all of us lunch, and just labored along. My husband was great through the process. Whenever I felt a contraction, I would lean on something and moan softly through them. He would put his hands on my lower back, and tell me how wonderful I was doing. Once, when my husband wasn’t in the room, I had a contraction and my six year old son came over and put his hands on my back and said “You are doing great, Mommy” It really touched my heart.
I really felt like I needed water to help calm me, but thought it was to early to set up the birth tub. I decided to take a bath, and it was amazing. I was so relaxed that I stayed in there until the water got cold, and only then reluctantly got out.
Around 5 PM we decided to bake a cake to eat during our celebration after the birth. I started making the cake with my son, but my husband had to take over because the contractions were coming 2-3 minutes apart and I had to stop what I was doing through them. I decided to go upstairs to be alone for a bit. The contractions were hard and strong. Every time one would start up, I went into my own little world. I kept saying “Open.. open… open..” until it was over. I felt like my mind was in a cloud during the contractions, but the cloud was lifted when it was over.
While I was upstairs I decided to check to see if I could tell how dilated I was. I felt what I thought was my cervix, but it didn’t seem like it was any more dilated then it had been days ago. I tried to stay positive, and recited some positive belief suggestion. I kept repeating to myself “Your body was created to give birth. You are not broken. You can do this.”
I labored alone for an hour or so, and then went back downstairs so that my husband could take the boys upstairs to get them ready for bed. Things were really picking up, and I didn’t really want them around me anymore. After my husband bathed the boys, he came back downstairs and suggested that we put up the birth pool. The contractions were very intense at this point, and the birth tub sounded like just what I needed.
He set up the birth tub and began filling it. After a while, the water turned cold but we only had a few inches of water in it. I really needed the water, so I climbed in while my husband heated water on the stove.
After getting into the tub, things became very intense. Time is a little murky from this point forward. I remember feeling like I needed to throw up, and my husband handing me a bucket. I vomited, and thought that perhaps I was in transition. I remember having an inner dialogue with myself. I had the rational side, and the irrational side of me.
Rational side thought- This is transition.
Irrational side thought- No, your body is tricking you into thinking this. All these symptoms are in your head.
Rational side thought- It isn’t going to be much longer.
Irrational side thought- You probably are in early labor, but you can’t handle the pain.
I kept dwelling on the fact that when I checked my cervix I was only a few centimeters dilated. I knew I should have been further along then that, but I didn’t understand why I wasn’t. Deep down I knew I was transition, but that irrational side kept speaking her nonsense.
Around 10 PM, J called and asked if she should come over. (She was who I was planning on calling if I thought I needed someone there) This was right around the point where I was doubting myself, so I thought that perhaps she could come over and check dilation. She arrived around 10:30, and tried to check me but I didn’t want to get out of the tub so she really wasn’t able to. She was going to encapsulate my placenta after the baby was born, so she went to set up the stuff needed for that. Meanwhile, she called my friend, Lexi who I also wanted to attend the birth. Lexi arrived shortly after that.
I continued to labor in the tub for the next few hours. The contractions were very intense, and painful. I tried not to scream through them, but screaming felt good. I was cursing, and willing my body to stop so I could rest. I didn’t want to labor any more. I was done. I remember telling my husband that I changed my mind about having another baby. He just smiled, and told me that it was a little late for that. Lexi stayed by my side, along with my husband. J was annoying me, so she stayed out of my way.
I started getting contractions that I was pushing through. I couldn’t really help it, and I let my body do what it needed to do. A few times I reached inside my vagina and could feel the head moving down. I would have a contraction, and the head would move down. Contraction ended, the head would move up. I was starting to get disappointed, but I knew that everything was going wonderfully (although slowly). This went on for about two or three hours. Eventually, the baby was low enough that I started to push with all that I had during the contractions. I would push with all my strength, and roar while I did it. I LOVED the feeling of pushing. When I felt the baby crowning, I pushed and pushed to get her out. Her head came out, and I kept pushing. I felt like she needed to come out right away. She was out in one long push. I pulled her up and out of the water.
Lilah Rayne was born into my hands at 2:36 AM on April 4th, 2009
My husband checked the gender, and yelled “IT’S A GIRL!” He was so super excited that he finally got his baby girl. I was holding her and kissing her. I couldn’t believe that I actually did it. I remember saying over and over again “I did it. I birthed my baby. I actually did it!”
My husband went upstairs and woke up my youngest son. He brought him downstairs half asleep. When he saw us he suddenly woke up and shouted “There’s the baby!”
I was really uncomfortable in the tub, so I decided to get out. J and Lexi made a bed for me on the floor, and my husband helped me walk over there. I sat down and attempted to nurse the baby. She had already fallen fast asleep, and wasn’t interested in nursing at all. I was feeling really lousy. I wasn’t sure why but I had intense pain and pressure in my vaginal/rectal area. It still felt like I needed to push out a baby. I knew there wasn’t a twin in there, but wasn’t sure why I felt so crappy. I decided to cut the cord, it was so short it was really hard to hold the baby. Also, I couldn’t concentrate on the baby because I was in so much pain so I wanted my husband to take her from me.
We cut the cord, and I got up to try and pee. When I got into the bathroom J brought in a bowl for me to birth the placenta into. First I tried to use the bathroom, but I didn’t really feel like I had to go. I stood up and squatted over the bowl, but nothing happened. I just stood there in a lot of pain. Finally I had a huge contraction and I pushed the placenta out into the waiting bowl. Suddenly I felt so much better!! The placenta was HUGE. We weighed it later, and it weighed in at a whopping five pounds.
I cleaned myself up, and went back into the living room to cuddle with my little girl. I tried nursing her again, and this time she was a little more interested.
We measured and weighed her, and got her dressed. I called a few of my family members to let them know she was born, and then decided to go to bed. I took Lilah and Corey upstairs to sleep while my husband cleaned up.
I was secure in my decision to have a home birth even up until the end. I had no fear.. but was annoyed at all the people who were worried about me. I know it’s hard to let go of the medical model of care when it is so ingrained in your head, but I was really hoping that my friends and family would know ME well enough to know that I am educated about birth, and would never do anything that would put my baby’s life in jeopardy.
Post partum has been really different than with my other two births. I am so madly in love with my baby. Not that I didn’t love my boys, but it took a bit longer to warm up to them. I am almost giddy in love with her. I think the awesome birth had something to do with it. I suffered from a bit of PPD with the boys each time, but I don’t think I will this time around. I am totally peaceful! I don’t want to put her down, I just want to hold and cuddle and protect her. Even when she wakes up at night, I am happy, because I actually get to look into her eyes.
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