Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Fuels The Passion?

Many of you may think, what does birth and making jewelry have in common? If I am going to start keeping a record of my journey, it is best to know what fuels my passion. I'm passionate about a lot of things, jewelry, children, motherhood, earth, trees, midwifery, doulas, health... and at some point I will discuss all of these things here.
I love to talk, I love to give, I love to grow.
Back to the point, what fuels me? Only the most life changing experience of my life...Birth.

A.S.'s and A.L.'s Birth Stories-
One woman's transition from elective cesarean to home birth.

Home Birth After a Cesarean, most others hear that term and automatically assume that either A-something traumatic happened that led to an emergency cesarean or B- The mom was convinced her body couldn’t do what it should and then pressured into a cesarean. Well I don’t fall into either of those categories, I’m a home birth momma after an ELECTIVE cesarean…yes, you heard right…

It was 2007 and I was a senior in high school when I found out I was pregnant with my son, I had only been dating my husband for a 2 ½ months at the time, and I was clueless about what I was ever going to do with myself after high school, let alone give thought to a family. I was scared and sort of flowed with the motions, finished school through severe morning sickness and ridicule,  got married a month after graduation at 5 months pregnant, and moved a couple hours away from all the family and friends I had ever known to live with DH…I was scared, alone, uninformed and pregnant. I slept a lot, cried a lot, and watched my body grow.

Late September came and I had 5 weeks until my due date, everything with my pregnancy was healthy and excellent. The baby was developing well, perfectly positioned, and I was healthy as a horse. I was in shape, excellent blood pressure, no swelling, slept like a champ...Everything was wonderful. With one exception of course, my extreme fear to give birth. Fear that was literally consuming every day and gradually getting worse with each day that passed. Severe anxiety attacks, crying, vivid nightmares. None of them about anything specific, I had no clue about various complications... I was just afraid of going through a situation I would have no control over, my mother had  cesareans, and so did her mother, so how was I to know what to expect?

When discussing this fear with my doctor, She came up with what, she said, was the perfect solution...A planned cesarean. She told me I could be in control of everything. That I would be active part of the birth but not feel any pain, that I would not have to worry about tearing, incontinence, or not being able to enjoy sex again, and that I would only be down for about 2 weeks. She made a cesarean sound like a dream come true and a perfect solution. So it was scheduled, October 31st, 2007 at 4 30pm I would give birth to my son, and at the time I felt at peace. 

D-day came, and God was I scared as ever. Not only was I forced to fast (not eat) from midnight till surgery but I slept awful. I felt like crap. Little did I know what lay ahead.... The anesthesiologist came in to give me an epidural for the surgery (which now I realize was one of many mistakes) and left me to set until the medicine kicked in. Yet, in only 15 minutes from the time the needle was inserted, I found myself in the OR. 

I was restrained on the table, unable to move, and felt as if I was suffocating (a side effect from the epidural and laying flat), I also experienced an awful itching sensation all over my face, throat, and chest, and being restrained, could not itch. Dr.S came in and told me they were ready to begin and that the mild discomfort (mild my rear!) I was feeling was normal and would shortly be over. She pinched my stomach to check for numbness and started to slice... Little did we all know, I was not fully numb. After she got through the first layers of the abdominal and reached the uterus, I felt everything. I began screaming out in the most agonizing pain I have ever felt in my life. I tried to move, tried to stop it, but all I could feel was the sensation of my insides being ripped open and stretched to make way for the baby.  My doctors response? "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, this shouldn't be happening, let me get the baby out and we will get you some morphine, we’re trying to up the epi, I'm so sorry, you shouldn’t be feeling this." ....At this point I temporarily passed out from the pain. I woke up about 10 minutes later to a nurse stroking my face telling me it was almost all over and asking me if I wanted to see the baby.  It breaks my heart to think, but my response at the time was, " Get him away from me" Just the thought of this is making me cry, to think that as a mother my first feelings for my child could be anything but love. 

Once I was back into my recovery room and finally alone, I sat trembling so hard that one could actually hear my bones rattling, and crying. All I could think is, What happened? I held A.S. for a short time and gave him back... I told the nurse to take him so I could rest. The nurse asked me a few times that night if I wanted my baby, and I told her no...


I didn't sleep the entire 3 days I was in the hospital, due to the shock of everything, I was swollen and barely wanted to move...I felt as though I would never feel better again. Thank God for the breast feeding counselor. She sat with me on the 2nd day, and told me that some of the awful feelings I was having toward my son would get better and I would begin to feel better if I breast fed, so why not try. A.S.latched on like he had been yearning for that moment unlike any other. Just as she said, within the first few minutes of being close to him for the first time since his birth I broke down crying and held him close and told him I was so sorry for making him feel I did not love him...I couldn't help it, but I loved him more then I could tell...It was the bit of healing I needed, so I could begin to physically heal. I continued to breast feed for the next 2 months and every time bonded more to my son and asking him to forgive me, unfortunately my same awesome doctor (which for some reason at the time I still trusted to look out for me) told me that I should be using birth control after 6 weeks, never once asking if I breastfed (and me at the time not knowing it would affect anything) started taking it and had trouble producing milk after, and eventually just gave up.

So, how did I get to where I am now, a midwife and doula loving home birth junkie? Just sit tight kids, I’m not done yet…..

I found out that I was pregnant with number 2 in the end of May 2011 after 2 years of “trying” and one month after my grandfather died. I was happy, yet scared. I still was quite ignorant about anything birth related and was scared to death of the idea of scheduling another c-section.  My first two doctor appointments went well and I discussed my last birth and how I wanted this cesarean to be different. One day I decided to go online and Google “ Is the second cesarean as bad as the first” and “how to have a better cesarean” I read through a lot of other women’s stories on what they did to make their cesarean experiences better, but kept seeing the letters V B A C, Vaginal Birth After a Cesarean. Was that even possible? I can remember going downstairs and asking my husband, “Dear, What do you think of the idea of me trying to give birth normal?” He said he thought it would be good, but at that time for me it was just a thought, but it opened my mind and my interest to the plethora of information regarding birth.  I began to research like a mad woman, reading everything I could on VBAC, Birth, midwives, interventions… How did I not know about any of this? Why didn’t anyone else I knew seem to know about these things? I lived close to Syracuse, NY at the time and found Kristen Oganowski’s  birth story of being the first water VBAC at Crouse hospital, and I seen that she had a doula support her through her labor. A Doula??? After reading her story, the interview with her doula, and a bit more research, I decided I was going to switch doctors and follow in her footsteps, and I got a hold of Chris Goldman of Doulas of CNY  and asked her if she could do the same thing for me that she did for Kristen, she said yes.

Then the situation took a huge turn, my husband found a job back close to family in Ohio so we decided to move back. I was nervous because I was 20 weeks pregnant and had already switched doctors twice…. I instantly began doing research trying to find an accommodating hospital, all in this area have VBAC bans… so the closest hospital was almost an hour away. I contacted Chris and asked her for advice on what to do and how to find a doula, her and Kristen both pointed me in the way of CHOICE midwives and doulas, and the idea of home birth came into the picture. Now my mind was just completely over ran, first the concept of a  VBAC, now possibly home birth? I thought I was losing my mind, but again I hit the books and studies on hospital births and home births and decided to give them a call. I got assigned Jill Shroer and Amy Wakeling, two awesome women who convinced me that I could and WOULD give birth naturally and without fear! Midwives appointments went as normal, I joined ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) online yahoo group and got some awesome support, love, & encouragement from all those awesome ladies.... and I was ready, I was going to have a home birth after a cesarean, which finally gets us to the best part, A.L’s birth story.

I had been having little labor spells on and off for a couple weeks and had been 3 cm dilated for what felt like forever. I was nervous but ready to have baby boy, who was supposed to be “due” the next day.
I went about my day having frequent contractions, went shopping, took A.S to school, cleaned the house, I called my midwives that evening after supper and told them that the contractions were still very frequent and consistent, and they told me to update them if things progressed. Oh how I hated hearing that I would “Know” when I was in labor, seeing as I had never felt any type of contraction with my first. As the night progressed I started feeling crampy, and contractions were still frequent, I called Jill around 1 am and she said I was probably in early labor and to sleep. Like heck if I could! So I told my hubby we should “do it” I mean it was gonna be another 6 weeks at least, right? Lol. Not a few minutes after it hit, painful contractions, I called Jill back, and said, yup, it hurts….little did I know!

About 3 am Jill arrived at our house, I was still able to talk, showed her some pictures of my first birth, and our chickens we used to have  and DH worked at filling the tub. Every  few minutes I had to stop and sometimes slightly moan a bit, it was starting to get really uncomfortable. I called my gramma and my momma and let them know I was in labor, but I didn’t want to talk really, I was too excited. About 7-9 am I started to feel the effects of not sleeping for 24 hours and labor was getting progressively more painful but contractions were not picking up any, for 6 hours I was at 4 cm and was getting a bit frustrated. Jill encouraged me and told me that my cervix was changing in softness and position and told me I should rest before labor got more intense. I tried my best for a bit to lay down and listen to my ocean relaxing surf between contractions, and they began to pick up and really hurt. Jill came in to check on me, and for some reason I began to bawl like a baby. I was tired, I hurt, and I wasn’t anywhere close to the end, so I just cried. She held me stroked my head and continued to encourage me. The love that she showed me in those hours will be with me forever. I had never felt so much comfort and relief. I knew at that point that she was really there for ME, and I could TRUST her.  I finally quite crying and Jill suggested I get in the tub, things slowed down a bit and got bearable, but then just as quickly picked back up and got more intense. I finally decided to let Amy come, I knew she was dying to be there as well, but for some reason, the less people around me at the time, the better I felt, and she understood.

Around 1:30pm active labor began and things started to really pick up, I was 6cm dilated and hit labor land. Exhausted, I was in a half sleep state between moaning like a dying cow when contractions hit.  At about 3pm I NEEDED both Amy and Jill, Amy was my rock, she held my hand tightly and kept telling me I was doing it, and Jill was my quiet encouragement, with loving touch and pressure on my back to help with the pain. I can remember for some reason her cold hands felt wonderful and took the edge off of contractions.  The finally it hit, and I can remember being in the middle of a contraction and yelling, “I gotta poop!”  I was in so much pain at the time I didn’t care how it came out. They told me to tell them when I felt that way, so I did, even though it make me blush thinking that I hollered that out the way I did. Jill checked me, I was at 10, she said when I was ready, I could go for it. Thank GOD!

I began to push with all my might with every contraction, I can remember feeling myself stretch, the slight stinging, the pain, but at the same time it felt relieving and good to push. I occasionally reached down and I could feel his head just a few inches away from the opening. I pushed again, and my water finally broke, He was close. Amy made the comment that I might get his head with the next push, The next push came and out came the whole baby. At 3:47pm on his due date he was born. The next few moments were such a rush, Amy said, “Cassie, get your baby.” And her handing him to me. I was in shock. That was it? It’s over?  I‘m done?


I looked down at my precious baby and witnessed him take his first breath. Amazing. I was still shaky, and a bit sore, I lost 3 ½ cups of blood and I was feeling it and I was exhausted. I got out of the water and went to the couch and worked at letting A.L nurse while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. I still could not believe everything that had happened up to that point. I spent my “golden hour” with him cuddling in our bed and frequently offering to nurse him. He was perfect 8 lbs 2 oz, 21” long. I was so happy, but I was also exhausted and very weak feeling from blood loss. Just standing made me feel like I was going to faint. I wanted to sleep but I was scared to because of how I felt. So Jill, stayed, looked after me and the little one, and let me sleep for a couple hours . She finally left at almost 10pm that night. 17 straight hours she spent with me looking after me as my doula, my midwife, and in a way almost like a mother.  I had done it. I had given birth. I had given birth with nothing but the power of my own body and it was perfect.

Would I say my birth changed me? Most definitely. Would I say that I care about giving other women this opportunity? Absolutely. No woman should have to be ignorant about one of the most important things she will ever do in her life. No woman should ever go into a situation not knowing her options and No woman should ever have to miss out on the opportunity to receive exceptional love and care during birth.  No woman. There is my passion, that is my reasoning, this is my goal, someday I WILL become a midwife and strive to give women power, choices, and love in regards to their birth BUT until I can I WILL support those who can. How? With time, finances, information, love, and any other humanly way possible. I can make a difference for a woman and her baby.

28 comments:

  1. +,
    hi cassie!
    what a powerful hbac journey and birth story of hbac after csac!

    god must loves you very much!
    love for your baby and fam,
    take care!

    dc+

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  2. Thanks for sharing your passion with the millions of women that need to know there are real options and real women that can and should choose home birth. I just started blogging about what I am learning. I have never birthed at home with any of my 8 children that are complete blessings in my life and I also know what it is like to be young and pregnant. I was 16 when I had my first child. I was 17 and pregnant again when I was married and I wouldn't change any of it. My high school love and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary in February. After my last birth experience in a hospital (emergency C-section)we made the worst mistake of our lives out of fear that came from a lack of information. We decided to have a tubal-ligation. I nose dived into a depression that God has pulled me out of and I am now taking steps to have a reversal and tell anyone who will listen to inform themselves before they make any decision regarding the birth of their child. It's been two years since the birth of my last son and I am so thankful I went through this experience because I now have the passion and conviction that women were created to be powerful and worrier like as wives and mothers. I have been freed and empowered by the biggest mistake I have ever made! I thank God for it!

    Keep pressing on!

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  3. You're story is so powerful!

    I think that VERY few women go into birth well informed. I mean, I thought that I was informed my first birth...and I totally wasn't. I refused to read anything I thought was too "hippy". I ended up with an unnecessary Csection and a hbac waterbirth with my second. I wish we could reserve the OBs for real problems. Real emergencies. Midwives should be the normal model of maternal care.

    I LOVE your jewelry!

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    1. I definitely agree with that one! My midwives were amazing! Hooray for healing HBAC and midwives that trust OUR bodies!

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  4. I so love reading positive VBAC stories! My first two deliveries were NUCB in hospitals and my last two were emergency CS. I'm 39 weeks pregnant with my 5th child now and am so looking forward to my first home birth, water birth, and VBA2C with a wonderful midwife. I hope my story ends as well as yours. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Wow Candy! That is Amazing! I wish all the best birth blessings on you! If you don't mind, when all is said and done drop by the FB page and let me know how it went! :D

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  5. I was also a teen the first time I gave birth... it took 7 hours and I decided right then and there that I wasn't going to ever do it again! Well, I have 2 more now, both of them were half hour births and with one we barely made it to the hospital in time. I'm not sure I can imagine giving birth at home but I am a huge fan of anything and anyone that makes a woman feel comfortable and secure at a time when nothing is comfortable and her life is about to change forever!

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  6. I share a very similar story to yours. My first was not a planned section, but it ended in one none the less. It was the most terrible thing that could have happened in that moment. BUT, 2.5 years later we had our second baby, a VBAC, also at home in the water and it was everything I had ever wanted. If I had been more informed I would have stuck to my guns much more firmly with my first child. If I had better support, or qualified support like a Doula, I probably wouldn't have let them change my mind and talk me into things I knew I didn't want or need, and that I knew weren't good for my or my baby. I think REAL education should be part of every childbirth education class or even reproductive class in high school.

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  7. I really just want to cry sometimes hearing about birth experiences these days. My first 2 were very much uninformed and had a lot of interventions. Most women that I know, even if a friend who knows what they are talking about tries to help them, will blindly go into an OB office and take whatever is given to them like inductions without need or epidurals before trying to move around or do anything else. The level of mother and baby based care around here is astronomically low. I did a lot of research after my second child because I am going to nursing school, eventually to have my MSN in Midwifery. I am so glad that this baby coming is going to give me a chance to do things my way and the way that my body is intended to. I have been trying to help other women in my community educate themselves. Childbirth education classes are a joke around here. There is little room for argument with local OB doctors and hospital policies. I had to travel over an hour to find a Nurse Midwife/OBGYN practice that shares my beliefs in natural labor and birth! That is insane! I think that certified doulas' fees should be covered by insurance companies. Much cheaper and safer than the drugs! Our country is in a maternity care crisis, in my opinion. 1/3 of babies or more delivered cesarean? Come on. Our vaginas and pelvises can't all be broken after so many years of evolving. I call B.S. on the maternity care industry. It isn't health care. It is about the money and convenience for the companies involved.

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  8. I know that I personally had to work VERY hard to get informed so, no I think the majority of women are not well informed. For a start, I'd like to see birth classes through independent organizations become more widely available, even subsidized, rather than the 'classes' provided by hospitals

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  9. No, i don't think women are well informed. How to change that, i have no idea.

    Debnmike moretti

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  10. I do not think that the majority of women are well informed about the birthing process. To change this, we need better education. I birthed at a birthing center and still had a "hospitalized" class. This is probably due to the fact that the birthing center is in a hospital. I can think of plenty of ways the class could be improved. I also think that those of us who have done the research should share with others BUT this is a slippery slope. I have noticed than people seem to think that you think you are "better than them" or condescending, because you had a natural labor. That could not be farther from the truth in my case. I do not think that there is any way in the world I could have had a natural labor if I had not done the research and put the effort into it (ie. learning meditation techniques, prenatal yoga, etc.). I try to share with people as much as possible my experience, but back down if I am met with resistance. ~Jenna Beck

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  11. I think a lot of women are uniformed bc they just trust their dr to do what's best. Sometimes this can be a great thing and sometimes a horrible thing. I def think women need to take charge and educate themselves... I think they need to be active in asking their care provider questions about their birth and what they would like.

    The BIGGEST change I'd LOVE to see... is DOULAS covered by ALL insurances. They are so beneficial and can save the ins companies billions.

    ((SO EXCITED about your giveaway))

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  12. Thank you for sharing! Being uniformed is a huge obstacle for birthing women. I don't think it's too much to ask for doctors and hospitals to practice evidence-based care. Get women off the assembly line!

    I am passionate about this too and am involved with ICAN.

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  13. I had a home birth with my first and my second was a cesarean because she was footling. Both births, unfortunately, were very traumatic. I wish someone had walked me through what natural birth would be like more thoroughly and helped me see what a great thing I did/was doing, though it's so different for everyone. I also wish there was someone who was willing to deliver my breech, but there wasn't. I spent the whole time preparing so I wouldn't be so bowled over with my second and didn't get the opportunity. I agree with Holly above that most women just trust their docs as you did. Doesn't that seem like a smart idea? Sadly it's not. Without overhauling the whole medical system, the only way I see for it to really change is for women to raise their children to see the options and help every childbearing woman in her circle to know. Slow change, especially since many women don't ever really find out what their options were.

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  15. I think a lot of women are mis-informed about birth. We don't realize that sometimes Dr. does not know best. For me being due in a few weeks I am so blessed that I happened to fall into a birth community that is well educated. Seeing Birth the play really helped open my eyes to know if I dont think something is right I have the right to speak up and not allow my birth expeience to be something I would not want. Blogs like this one also really help. Although I am not having a home birth. I am giving birth in a Birth Place with a Mid-Wife and I am very excited. I have such a peace about giving birth and I pray that all goes well and I am strong eneough to have a natrual birth. :) I can not wait for my little guy to be here in the next few weeks!

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  16. I feel I was very well informed because I made a point to study up, take classes and asked many questions. Of course I had to weed thru the things I felt didnt feel were a good fit for me.
    There were some places other than the hospital that offered classes. I however felt that the class I took at the hospital was not pushy about how to give birth. They just wanted us to know our options.
    After the experience, I do have a total respect for women who choose to go natural and/or home births. That isn't a decision that I feel is made by women who are uninformed. That seems to be a decision by women who are well informed and know what their bodies can do!

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  17. Beautiful Story! Thank you for supporting women. I believe there are too many situations were families are not informed of their choices.

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  18. Incredible! We came from completely opposite places but ended with a very similar sentiment and passion. :)

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  19. Thank you so much for your wonderful post! It's so hard to watch so many women going into pregnancy and birth with no support, or no way to learn anything but what people are throwing at you from so many different directions. Throw in a low income, and you have a recipe for lack of information (at best).

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  20. I absolutely love hearing VBAC stories! The women who attempt these births are so strong and have gone through hell and back to get a birth experience they so deserve and need. It makes me sad when there are so many women out there who take pregnancy and birth for granted and just follow their doctor's beliefs without a thought of their own. I would love to see women in general become more empowered with their prenatal care and births - I think we'd hear so many more joyful and successful birth stories as a result.

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  21. Beautiful, amazing, and encouraging! My daughter was born emergency cesarean due to complications (no horror story just complications)but i've always thought if (read when) we have another i'd like to try natural again and have read a lot about water births. Your story has helped to strengthen my resolve. Thank you for sharing

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  22. Hello! Your story is absolutely wonderful, and soo inspiring!! I have had two cesarean births, both with the whole 'failure to progress' diagnosis. For my first, I was very uninformed, and I was thankfully much more informed the second time. While that was a better birth overall, it was not the VBAC I had so badly wanted. I think many women go into births vastly uninformed of not only their birth choices, but the power they hold within themselves. That is a crucial part of birth that many women have lacking due to too little support. I am training right now to be a doula to help other women and am going to have a HBAC for our next child (whenever that may be ;) ). Keep up the amazing work!! You and your babies are beautiful!

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  23. Wonderful blog! I think many woman go into labor with very little knowledge of their own body, the birth process & their rights. Sadly, many simply follow along with whatever the doctor or nurses say. I wish women would educate themselves before labor. Modern medicine
    (c-sections, meds, ect...) is a wonderful thing when NEEDED.

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  24. Thank you for sharing your story. It is wonderful to see women have a truly positive experience after one that left them wondering if the experience could have been differant. I had that happen as well - not as a VBAC (though we should have been). Me son was a 31 hour labor w/ 6 hours of pushing and thanks to the most awesome nurse midwife seeing in me the power to continue and complete this journey a vaginal birth (it was the beginning of her shift). My son was posterior. My daughter was a water birth at home. I was determined not to have the same awful experience as w/ my son. She was born thanks to a wonderful midwife, Kathy Mitchell and her apprentice Bethany Stanley at home in the water in less than 4 hours start to finish. She was the same size as her brother. So long story short I think women are horribly uninformed. I feel we as a society make women feel that they can't do this - that their bodies are not meant/built for this purpose and we scare them/take away their power to discover this w/in themselves. I think there needs to be more positive information out there and it needs to be easy to find which currently it is not :(

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  25. I do not think most women are informed. I think a lot of women get their ideas of how birth should go from tv and movies. It is not talked about much and there for most people don't know what the options are when they go into labor. I wish a real portrait of labor and delivery were more mainstream. I had a homebirth and some people thought it was related to witch craft and others were sure I was going to die if I weren't in a hospital. We survived, had an amazing and safe home birth, and have a happy, healthy 6 month old!

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