Elliasen

Our son was born on August 17th at 8:52am. He was 8lbs 5oz and 20 1/2 inches long. He was 12 days late and it was the most frustrating thing waiting for a baby! We didn’t intervene with nature and it repayed us ten fold.

My water broke during our dinner at 7:30 on the 16th. Not much, was just a little puddle and the tiniest bit of mucus plug. I was sure it was going to be another week. Looking back, I know I was trying not to get my hopes up. We went for a walk around our neighborhood in the cool evening air and gazed at the stars. I started having surges that were serious around 9pm. I used Clary sage essential oil and copaiba oil on a hankie to encourage surges to be stronger and more frequent and help me stay focused on them. We also used the oils in a diffuser. I breathed through each surge listening to the rainbow relaxation on a birth ball. Bill was close to me. My mom (midwife) was filling up the birth pool and setting up for a baby to be born!

At around 1 a.m. I was ready to get in the pool. We had it set up in the baby’s room and it was dark with lots of candles. I was absolutely unaware that it was 1 am. It really felt like it had only been about an hour since dinner. By this time my other midwife, Pat had arrived. So excited to see another generation birth as she delivered me when I was born. She was also at all three of my sister’s births and delivered my sister also. Both midwives and Bill were so supportive and attentive the entire labor. Bill made sure I was hydrated and felt calm and relaxed. He was steady as a rock and I fed off of his serene energy.

I was extremely relaxed and in a perfectly zen state of mind. Through each surge I would blow raspberries. As Ina May Gaskin puts it, horse lips. The sphincter law was in full effect. Lose lips equal lose bottom. I waited to push until I absolutely couldn’t resist the urge. Pushing in the pool was really difficult. I wasn’t sure what pushing was supposed to feel like and also wasn’t sure about all that pressure in my bottom. So, I pushed in the pool but didnt really have a good understanding of relaxing my butt. I was on my hands and knees mostly. There was a water birth stool that I sat on or leaned on but after about and hour and a half and no crowning, I looked at my mom and asked her what I was doing wrong. “Nothing!” She told me. I pushed for another hour and said “something isn’t working!” My mom calmly looked at me and with the softest voice said “you are doing beautifully. You could get out of the pool if you want, Sit on the birth stool and let gravity help. Or, we can get on your bed and do some push assisting with you.” She explained to me that she would help me understand and feel where to push and it might be easier to do on the bed than in the water. I had a few more surges and decided to get out. We came into our room and got on our bed. Bill sat beside me and my mom and Pat were on the bed with me.

At this point, my legs were cramping with every surge. It made pushing really difficult. I had Pat and Bill hold each foot and pushed against them. Like human stirrups! During each surge I would grab my legs bury my chin in my chest and push with every single muscle in my body. Amazingly and in perfect harmony my baby helped my body during each surge. He would kick and wiggle his head back and forth until the surge ended. I finally felt like I was making some progress! My mom reminded me that this is exactly how it is supposed to feel and to push my bottom into the bed and not clench. What a difference this made for me!! At this moment I decided it was too late to give up and I HAD to push my baby out. I was so exhausted. I had been in labor for 12 hours and pushing for 3 of them. I moved baby down more and more with each breath and push. When I felt the ring of fire as his head came out, and as I focused on the pain, I started to panic. Everyone was so encouraging and guided me back to earth so to speak. His head was finally out and I knew it would be moments before he was in my arms. As his shoulders came out and the rest of his body I felt the best relief I’ve ever felt before as he slipped into Bill’s arms. Bill was just beaming and crying and in awe of him. They placed him on my chest and both Bill and I looked between his legs and said “Boy!!!” We hadn’t had an ultrasound since 8 weeks pregnant and didn’t know what our baby’s sex was. So this moment was so so special. We named him Elliasen and waited to cut his cord for a little over two hours. I have never been so in love and filled with joy in my entire life. For the first time, I have never felt like I have so much to lose. When I look into his eyes I feel like I have known him forever and I don’t even know how I lived without him before. I feel so blessed and so lucky to have had the experience of a birth that was completely natural and led by instinct. My mom was absolutely amazing and I feel like she never gave up on me. The trust I have in her is out of this world.

24 hours after coming earthside, Eli pooped in the potty! We are trying Elimination Communication and it is so much easier than I thought! I managed to reach my goal and catch all of his meconium poops! No messy sticky butt!!! ♡ even though we drenched him in olive oil.

We are spending the first ten days in bed with no visitors except for those in our family. My milk came in 2 days after he was born! Our hypnoBirthing experience really helped prepare us as a couple and individuals for the birth or our child. We relied heavily on our knowledge that we gained in the class. Birth Works!!!

Angie

When my husband I first learned we were going to have a baby, we had already imagined a home birth. We first heard about home births from a chiropractor and how important a natural birth really is for the entire family.

When we met Dr. Caroline, we knew right away we were in good hands and chose her to be our midwife. She was confident, knowledgeable, gentle, considerate and easy to talk to. She was interested in making my birthing the way every woman was meant to experience it.

From day one, she took such great care of us. Dr. Caroline was continually working on my body to prepare it for birth. She included chiropractic, exercises, nutrition, cranial sacral, neuro emotional technique and then to make it even more concrete she got certified in Mayan abdominal massage and included that in the treatment! I could not have had better care in preparation for our first baby.

She not only prepared me physically for my labor, but also emotionally. She really cared about me and how I was feeling. Each treatment she did had its purpose and proved to be worthwhile. Each step of the way she worked with me ensuring I was comfortable with where I was at. She answered all my questions and gave me total confidence for what was to come.

Dr. Caroline is all about preventative care and preparing the body to do what it is supposed to do. She doesn’t interfere with nature and how our bodies are designed to work. Sometimes our bodies get out of place so she puts it back to prepare for an experience we should never forget, or want to forget.

On the day I went into labor, my doula Kadie was right there with me encouraging me to let my body do what it is supposed to do. She never forced drugs on me, manipulated my thinking, offered me pain medication (that was not needed or considered), or told me to stop pushing. She simply encouraged me to let my body do what it was designed to do. I had not had any experience in the breathing aspect of labor and Kadie just jumped right in and guided me through that with total calmness. She made sure there were no major problems in the process as she simply allowed me to transition into this new stage of life.

I could never ask for a better birth experience if I could imagine one. I hear horror stories of women being pressured into taking pain medication or inducing labor – forcing their bodies and babies to do something unnatural. Having a baby should not be traumatic, stressful or full of fear but to be a special exciting tender time for the whole family.

I had my first baby in August and labored at home in the shower, the bath and on the couch; wherever I felt comfortable. My doula and midwives all knew that I was not interested in pain medication and they all respected that without any questions. I was enjoying the transition and ‘riding the wave’ as I call it. I was allowing my body to just go through what it needed to do and not fight it. I was waiting for ‘death’ as my friends called it but…it never came. All of a sudden I was pushing, then 28 minutes later we had a beautiful healthy little girl born in the water at home in her own room. It was a beautiful experience, no stress, no problems, no issues – simply the miracle of a baby being born the way God created it to be.

Amelia

I woke up this morning after an evening of cramping last night. I’ve only had a couple nights and/or acupuncture appointments in the past with Braxton Hicks contractions (I never got those very much) – but this seemed more persistent. Each of the seven (!) times I used the restroom last night, I noticed the cramping. At 8am this morning, after 9 hours of sleep, upon using the restroom for the 8 (!!) time, I lost my mucus plug. It was much less gross than I anticipated, and from what I learned signaled that labor could eventually come within a day – to many days – beyond this point. But, I knew this was a sign of progress, and I was excited, a little nervous, and thought it would be a good time to finish the last preparations for our hospital visit.

I woke up Cameron. He was excited, surprised, and available for whatever was needed. He cleaned our room, made us both breakfast, and called our doula, Kadie, to give her the heads up. I got myself ready and emailed the ladies of our centering group the newest update. We’ve been rooting each other on from the very beginning of our pregnancies – and as the babies start coming, each of us is keeping open communication in regards to our progression through labor. Two babies have been born so far. If Amelia comes, she’ll be the third of six.

After breakfast, we finished packing our labor bag, did some laundry, and tidied up the house. At 10:30am, Kadie called. All sounded fine, so we scheduled another check-in for 2:00pm. I remembered thinking of all the lovely things I would like to do on this day – like go for a walk, drive up to a lookout point…. But, honestly, all I wanted to do was focus and prepare for what I know is ahead. So, I did all the acupressure points I got from my last acupuncture appointment (including the ones to help begin/strengthen my contractions), hung over the medicine ball for 40 minutes (like I’ve been doing every day for the past month), stretched, and all the other things I had been taught to increase the odds of good fetal positioning. Since our plan is no drugs, a good fetal position could make a huge difference in our chance to avoid back labor or a long labor that might lead to intervention. After my “labor homework,” it was nap time.

When I woke up, I was hungry. So, we took full advantage and ate a big lunch of veggie stew. At the 2:00pm follow up, Kadie confirmed that I was making progress. While my contractions were still sporadic, they were requiring more of my attention. After a few suggestions of how to deal with the new sensations, we agreed on another post-dinner call at 8:00pm. After touching base with Cameron, we settled into an afternoon and evening of drinking lot of water, eating snacks, trying to relax, and napping.

As the evening progressed, so did my contractions. At 8:00pm, what was low and in front, was now reaching to my hips. Our doula validated my progression, gave some comfort measures, and tips on dealing with a night labor. Then, we moved into the evening hours. Before bed, while the contractions were still reasonable, I sat on my meditation cushion and practiced opening up to the sensations, like we had learned in our birthing class. After checking with me, Cameron went to bed.

At 10:30pm, I called the hospital. I spoke with one of our midwives (the woman who taught our water birth class) and determined that I was in early labor. She requested I rest, drink lots of water, and call back again around 2am. Between contractions I read through all the information I had put together. It was a little ridiculous how much I had: inspiring birth stories from birthing center websites, a summary of all the notes I took at each of our prenatal group appointments, notes from our birthing class, notes from the meetings with our doula, notes from the water birth class, advice I wrote for myself. Whenever I felt silly about it, I would joke with Cameron and tell him this was the most important test I would ever study for. And, wouldn’t he want to be prepared for the most important test of his life? I’m so thankful I have a patient husband.

At 2:00am, I called and spoke with Linda again to let them know I did not want to wait longer. She said to try and hold out a bit longer if I could. I agreed, and returned to my place on the couch. After 20 minutes, I called Kadie and asked if she could come over – I was having a hard time. About 5 minutes later, I went in and spoke with Cameron. We decided that it was probably the time to head to the hospital. We called Kadie back, and she was able to take the right exit just in time.

Draping over the bathroom sink at home, I started verbalizing my difficulty. Cameron came in, tightly squeezed my hand, put pressure on my lower back, and held a low pitched hum for the duration of my contraction. I would hum/groan along with him, and that’s how I got through my contractions from that point on, until things progressed more at the hospital. I’m not quite sure how Cameron got the house picked up, the car packed, me in the car, and Hunter fed, all while being present for each contraction, but he did. I’m pretty sure he became superhuman when I went into labor – I’m pretty sure.

At OHSU, Linda greeted us in Labor and Delivery. After a checkup, she advised that Amelia was looking sideways versus towards my back, and commonly indicated a long early labor and a fast active labor, once her head turned. This was a little concerning because, first, a long early labor could mean I could be very tired once active labor began, and a fast active labor could demand more physically. Both factors worried me a bit, but knowing what we were up against was liberating as well. Linda explained that I was within the long early labor phase (it had been 19 hours at this point) and we could choose to go home and wait it out or to stay at the hospital. The idea of being at home and/or in the car when things started to progress scared me, so we decided to stay at the hospital. Linda was completely supportive and admitted us.

At that point, things became a little hazy. It was about 3:30 in the morning, I hadn’t slept, and contractions were steadily getting more intense. This was when I began trying each of the methods taught to ease discomfort in natural childbirth. I most certainly did not use my labor skirt, essential oils, calming music, flameless candles, and/or calming focus object! I did continue to drink as much water and protein goo that I could stomach, and welcome suggestions from our doula and midwives. At this point, Cameron presence was very important to me. I could feel him there, and needed to know he was present, but we interacted only briefly from this point until Amelia’s birth. Among the blur, I recall laboring in the hot shower, laboring in bed, trying to find positions to rest between contractions, going back into the shower, sitting on the birthing ball, seeing the sun rise, hearing Linda go off duty, meeting Laura and Kim (the new midwives) coming on duty, and all the while the contractions and my body working harder and harder.

At 10:00am, I hobbled to the bed. I wasn’t sure how to keep going, and voiced my concern. Cameron stepped in and gave some encouragement, and we asked if I could get into the birthing tub. Kim checked me, and alas, I was entering active labor. While things would be getting much harder, I could also fully immerse myself in hot water for relief from my muscles and gravity.

In a flurry, two midwives, Cameron, and a nurse worked to blow up the tub and fill it. The hose was working too slowly, so they had to set up a bucket brigade from the sink to the tub. I jumped in naked with six inches of water in the bottom. Funny how all those inhibitions fly out the window, in times of desperate need.

At this point, I was resisting the contractions – big time! They were really strong, and I started to panic. Kadie was able to calm me, to a point, but I knew it wasn’t sustainable for long. Admitting to myself that I was not coping cleared the air a bit. I knew it would only get harder, and realized I needed to do something differently. At that point something shifted. I think I realized that nothing beyond myself ( short of drugs! ) could help from that point on. And this was where Amelia and I took over. Our two bodies were going to work harder than they ever had before, and together, would bring her into this world. Realizing that was very freeing for me. I asked for the room to be absolutely silent, and for Cameron to sit off to the side – to give us some little space. Then I closed my eyes, and started repeating a mantra to myself – over and over and over, and off I went off to Labor Land.

Cameron said he thought I went to sleep.

After two hours, I opened my eyes. I was floating in the water, and it felt like time had stopped. I realized I was in transition, and tried as hard as I could to take deep breaths and rest, before…

I whispered, “I think I need to push.” Kim and Laura quickly mobilized to check me, and then broke the absolute silence in the room. Laura looked right at me and said, “Girl you’re fully dilated and +2!! You’re baby’s right there! Reach down and feel her head!!” In disbelief I looked at Kadie, who said, “You’re going to meet your baby soon.”

All of a sudden, all my cells woke up. I was starting to wonder if I would ever meet my baby, and now I could see a light at the end of the tunnel (actually, that was probably Amelia’s view)! I was present, alert, and felt like a wide-eyed animal. After an hour of intense pushing, Amelia’s head emerged, followed quickly by her little body. The midwives caught her under water and handed her to Cameron. His arms, gloved to the elbow and immersed in the tub, pulled Amelia out of the water for her first breath. She quickly gasped, and he laid her directly on my chest. At that point the rest of the world disappeared. She was wide-eyed, looking straight at me, crying. After a bit, Cameron cut the cord, and they took Amelia to the other half of our room for her initial tests. After Amelia was wiped off, weighed, tested, and swaddled, she was placed on my chest and nursed the entire time the medical team finished with me.

Afterwards, we were taken to our room in Mother Baby, to see many a doctor, lactation consultant, nurse, and midwife. Those few days were some of the best we’ve ever had together. It’s not often you feel so loved and supported, all the while as you’re falling in love yourselves. We welcomed our daughter, Amelia, into our lives at 1:04pm on January 31.

And, you know what they say….In that little hospital room, on the hill, in Portland, Oregon, all of our little hearts grew three sizes that day.

Abigail

Your Birth Story begins on Monday, June 6. It was a beautiful sunny day. I went to work that morning, went to our little fitness center, had lunch, and took a nap. Looking back, I probably had a moment of ‘nesting’ when I felt compelled to go to Hallmark and spend $40 on cards I would need over the next few months. That evening, Dad and I went out for “date-night.” We were quietly celebrating the 5th anniversary of our very first date, and went out for sushi (which is kind of funny because one of your nicknames while you were in my tummy was ‘Sushi’). I had been having sporadic contractions over the past few days, but that evening they had become stronger and more frequent. Dad suggested we start timing them, this was around 7pm. We noticed that there were definitely more contractions and decided to keep an eye on things, just in case.

Back home, we were comfy and watching T.V when at 8:30, with a pop and a gush, my water broke! We were so excited! Dad called our midwives Stephanie, Caroline and Cassie. Stephanie told us to try and get something to eat, keep to normal activities and get some rest. Someone from our team would call us in a couple of hours to check in, and we should call them if anything came up. I knew there was the possibility of many hours or even days ahead of us, so I tried not to get too excited. Since the waters releasing, the contractions became stronger, and I needed to stop to breathe through them. Dad drew a warm bath for me and the water felt so relaxing. I still felt on top of the contractions, and for some reason, began to worry that we still needed things for your birth: food for the midwives and baby wipes! Although he didn’t want to leave, I shooed your Dad off to the store.

Things started to move along from there…Dad had left some music on in the living room, but I could barely focus on it as I labored in the bathtub. The next contraction felt like I was at the top of a rollercoaster and suddenly I felt the urge to push! This can’t be right, I thought, it hasn’t even been an hour! Thankfully, Dad had left my phone nearby, and after the next contraction, I managed to call Cassie. I told her that I felt like my body wanted to push. Was this normal? She said yes, and waited to listen through my next contraction. She asked if I wanted her to come over, and although I was afraid of calling the midwives over too early in labor, I said Yes! We hung up and I worked through a few more contractions.

I imagined my body working with each surge, telling myself over and over that my body was meant to do this, that it knew what to do. The feelings where physically and emotionally overwhelming. Was it very painful? No. It felt like strong tightening sensations in my core which would nearly take my breath away. When the sensations threatened to become painful, I remembered that it was a signal to change positions, and somehow managed to turn to a different side or shift my hips. And breathe! I focused on making each breath as long as I could, blowing and humming and imagining that you were having a pretty intense time too! I felt and sounded like a beached whale, and probably looked like one too, but I was far from caring. The surges would build and peak and slide down and I could breathe fully again.

I don’t know how long it was since I spoke with Cassie, but Stephanie called back to see how things were coming along. I let her know that the contractions were intense, that I felt my body wanting to push, and asking her if this was even possible?! She reassured me that these were normal sensations, and listened to me work through another contraction. Then she asked me to check to see if I could feel your head. Part of me was thinking ‘Are you crazy?!’ And the other part of me, somehow, had the courage to check. I reached with my fingers, and sure enough, barely two knuckles in, I could feel your head. I’m so sorry, but I was so shocked I forgot exactly what your head felt like. I remember feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness and surprise that there was actually a baby in there!

I don’t remember hanging up the phone. And then, wonderfully, your Dad was there. I was barely able to tell him that I had called Cassie and Stephanie. Dad squeezed my hand and was very calming. The next time I opened my eyes, Laura, another Alma midwife, was there. She dimmed the lights and introduced herself. She said that Stephanie and our team were on their way. Laura happened to live nearby, and came to be with us until our midwives arrived. She was reassuring and yet her presence somehow reaffirmed that your birth was actually happening!

When I closed and opened my eyes again, Stephanie was there. I felt so relieved to see her, and I apologized for calling her over so late in her evening. It was probably around 10pm. Dad was pouring water over my tummy, squeezing my hand, and putting cool towels on my head. It felt so good, but all I could do to tell him so was to give a tiny ‘thumbs up’ sign. At one point, Dad asked Stephanie if he should start filling our birthing pool, and Stephanie replied with a smile, “It’s not gonna happen.”

It soon became apparent that our dream of a water birth was in fact “not gonna happen.” Although our labor was progressing, it seemed like the positions we were in weren’t helping you descend past my pubic bone. Stephanie asked me if I could move to the bedroom after the next contraction. Some people would say that we were ‘brave’ to have our baby at home, but I have a deep respect for anyone who manages to make it to their car, to their birthplace, up the walkway and to their room to give birth. The walk from the bathroom to our bedroom seemed like miles! Somehow, we made it, and the next surge brought me to a sitting position at the foot of our bed.

From then on, the contractions felt more purposeful, as if you were saying “it’s time for me to come out!” Pushing was hard work! Each surge would bring a rush of energy and strength. I could feel you slowly moving down and out and then the surge would end. There would be a minute or two before the next surge and then I could push again. We worked like this for a long time. Stephanie or Cassie would listen to your heart tones, which remained steady and strong. Caroline brought me orange juice, which never tasted so good! I knew that I was supposed to be “breathing” you out as they taught us in HypnoBirthing, but I wanted you out so badly and it became frustrating to push and push and feel the power of the contraction subside until the next one started again. I said “I think my baby is stuck!” and Stephanie smiled and reassured methat every woman thinks her baby gets stuck, but you were on your way.

On June 7th, at 1:19am, your head was born. Your cord was wrapped around your neck, but Stephanie wasn’t worried at all. She calmly said “I’ll just let it be,” and the next moment you were out! All aches and pain disappeared. You were brought up to my chest and I just couldn’t believe you were actually here! You had a lot of vernix on you, and a strong little voice! I held you close and Dad rubbed your back and we told you “Hello” for the first time. You had lots of dark hair, beautiful dark eyes, and tiny hands which you held close to your chin. I was in love for the first time, all over again.

The next few minutes were a bit fuzzy. Once your cord stopped pulsing, Dad had the honor of cutting it. The placenta was born shortly after, which was a very strange feeling. Stephanie had to give it a little tug and it left a swooping sensation in my tummy. Stephanie checked you over – 7lbs 8oz and 19” long! I needed a few stitches, but you and I got to snuggle and nurse while Stephanie & Caroline made sure I was ok. You lay on my chest and bobbed your head to nurse. You were so alert and amazing to watch as you took in your new world.

The midwives stayed with us for the next hour. They cleaned our home, and made us something to eat. I was so hungry! Dad put on your first diaper, and Stephanie showed him how to wrap you up like a burrito. Once all three of us were tucked into bed, our wonderful midwives said goodbye.

You were already sleeping as the sun began to come up. It felt like a surreal experience. Only a few short hours ago, your Dad and I were having dinner and talking about you…and now you are here! Your birth was the most intense and incredible night of my life. I became whole when I became your mama. I’ve never seen your Dad look so proud and happy as he did when he held you for the first time. You are the most amazing blessing in our lives. We love you, Abigail.