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.
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.