Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A Beautiful Birth #VBAC

With our first child, the Lord led us to use a Doctor.  My husband and I had prayed for direction. Within a few days, Cole had a dream that the Doctor was delivering our baby.  Turns out, she decided to stay in a frank breech position(bottom down) and we felt most comfortable for her to be delivered by C-section. Things went well and Elizabeth Kate was perfectly healthy.  
When we found out our second child was coming along, I knew I wanted a VBAC. After research and prayer, Cole and I really felt a peace about using a Midwife; knowing that was probably our greatest chance at having a VBAC birth.  
I loved the care and relationship that was built with Amber, Galyn and Stephanie.  Our toddler STILL asks to go to the birth center!
I had a healthy, enjoyable pregnancy.  Since I’d had a breech baby, I did stretches to encourage proper positioning (spinningbabies) and she stayed head down.

My day-after-Christmas due date came and went.
Amber had me get a Biophysical profile sonogram at 41 and 42 weeks. I wasn’t anxious or discouraged about being ‘over-due’ till about 42 weeks, then I felt like it was time.  Amber did too; so I began doing natural things at home to induce labor.  My sister, Natalie, came in town on Wednesday night, January 8th. We spent Thursday and Friday walking (aka shopping) and getting to catch up.  I really loved having her here.  Friday, I had the second sonogram to check on Baby Girl and the amniotic fluid level; then we walked around at the Outlet mall.  Looking back, I was in early labor. Having contractions that were getting more and more uncomfortable.  I remember thinking this seems like the real thing. Friday night I could not lay in the bed for anything. As soon as a contractions came I had to jump out of bed and sway back and forth.  I woke Cole up at 2am and told him the contractions were stronger and consistent (5 minutes apart, lasting a minute long) I called Amber to give her an update.  She said to keep her updated when they got longer than a minute.  I rested/slept between contractions; getting in the bath at some point in the early morning.  

Galyn came at 7am, Saturday morning, to check me-- I was still only 1 cm and baby was posterior (which explained the horrible back pain). Hearing I was only dilated to a 1 was discouraging.  I remember coming into the living room; laboring on the floor and leaning on the couch.  I’d sleep in between contractions. Deep sleep.  That continued for the whole labor; and later I realized what a blessing it was since my labor lasted so long.  Cole’s Dad came and got Elizabeth so she could play at their house.

Around noon or 1 Amber called…. She had the report from the biophysical from Friday.  They’d deducted 2 points for not seeing Brielle take a breath during the exam.  Amber was concerned but Cole told her how God had answered prayers along the way and we were determined to have a VBAC with them.  I wanted to go to the birth center; and Amber decided it was time.

Cole and Natalie loaded everything up. During the 30 minute drive, I had 3 contractions but they weren’t that bad.  On the way, Natalie and Cole prayed.  As soon as we got there Amber checked me and I was 3-4 cm.  Answer to prayer! Praise God for progress. I dilated about 1 cm every 2 hours.  

The back pain was excruciating.  Cole, Natalie and the midwife team all took turns pressing HARD on my lower back during contractions...that was the only thing that made the pain bearable. At one point, the Midwives felt that Brielle had turned to an anterior position and thought it best to break my water. I got in the shower with the birth ball, and it felt SO good.  I was shaking a lot and Galyn said it was probably transition.  I think that was the point I felt best in the whole labor.  With every contraction I started sounding more like I was moaning.  A low, deep moan.  Galyn checked me and said I was almost 7cm.; and said I could get in the tub.  I was excited; but the tub didn’t feel good. Amber checked me...I’d gone back to being 5cm. I could feel the mood change to discouraging

At that point I think they had me try different positions- laying on each side on the bed for a few contractions, holding up my stomach during contractions, using the birth stool. I was in and out; sleeping between contractions.  Later they said my contractions never got closer than 5 minutes apart throughout the whole labor!

They gave me an IV fluids. I hadn’t held any food, liquids or even ice chips down, so it’d been over 24 hours without food. The IV made a huge difference- I remember telling Cole, “I feel a new determination”.

I didn’t know the time frame of everything during labor.  It was dark out.  I remember thinking, “ I just don’t want to do this anymore” Not that I couldn’t do it; I just didn’t want to.  From that time on, I could feel Cole’s encouragement and strength.  The midwives and doula started having me push.  Brielle’s head and my cervix weren’t lined up several times throughout labor. Amber and Galyn were doing everything they could. I pushed for 1 ½ hours. It. was. intense.   I was shaky. In and out of the tub. On the birth stool. And in the bed. Everyone kept telling me to push as hard as I could...even when I felt like I was pushing as hard as I could.  It was hard since I was not feeling the urge to push at that point. At the end, I was in the bed, in a position Amber wanted me in. Cole and Stephanie (Doula) were holding my legs and Amber and Galyn (the midwives) were assisting my pushing to get the baby out.  It was hard to relax between contractions since we didn’t want to lose ground on the progress I’d made with pushing.  The 5 minute breaks between contractions felt long at this point. Cole’s face lit up when he saw her head crowning.  His reaction encouraged me to finish.  It took several contractions for her head to come out but then the rest of her body came out quickly. Amber said, “Brittany, reach down and catch your baby”. At 3:49am,  I reached down and pulled Baby Girl onto my chest. She felt slippery and so big. That moment felt incredible. We were very happy to have her here. What a relief!!! Oh my goodness. I felt good!  I was bleeding a little more than normal, and the cord was short...so they cut it right away, and monitored me; all the while we were in awe that she was here! The placenta came out pretty quickly. We named her Brielle Hope.  Brielle means “God is my strength” and it fit her perfectly.  

Cole held her while they cleaned me up.  Next, Brielle and I got in an herbal bath.  She started nursing and was so alert. After 20 minutes or so, we got back in bed.  I got a few stitches while Amber did all the vitals and measurements on Brielle.  She was 8 pounds, 12 ounces, 21 ¼ inches long.    

Huge thanks to Cole, my sister, Natalie, our Midwife team, and all of our praying family and friends!

I got to have a VBAC. It’s still sinking in that God gave me birth back. Delivering naturally was a dream and an answer to prayer.  It wasn’t without a fight and determination. It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. One of the biggest differences is that my recovery and nursing has been much easier this time!
For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth.
By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You. “ Psalm 71:5-6

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

This little man is NOT so little!! But soooooo cute!!

Here is the birth story of baby Jayden:

My due date was January 6th; even though I was measuring a week ahead we went with January 6th to be the date our sweet boy would arrive.
I remember taking guesses from my family in December to see what day they thought Jayden would arrive (no one guessed his birth date correctly, in fact we all guessed really early). I was measuring 1-2cm dilated December17th and 50% effaced. I thought I would have Jayden on the 30th if not before. I was completely wrong!! Between the 17th of December and January 12th I would take long walks, bounce on the exercise ball, eat spicy foods, have Chinese food (which I usually would never eat but I heard it can make you go into labor), drink raspberry leaf tea, apply castor oil to my belly with a warm compress, have a small glass of bitter wine and a couple other things I shouldn't put on Facebook. I would get some contractions that would come and go but nothing serious. So I gave up thinking he obviously doesn't like that I'm trying to choose his due date instead of him doing the picking and choosing.

On January 17th I made a huge deer steak dinner with bacon wrapped avocados and veggies wrapped in the deer meat. I didn't think anything of it... (Apparently this was the extent on my nesting). I remember waking up January 18th at 530am to having a strange dream that I was in labor (I had the contractions in the dream and everything)! Turns out I was! I got on the exercise ball during each contraction that would start in my stomach and progress to my back. The contractions started at 45-50 seconds long every 5-7 minutes. At 630am I woke my husband up saying "I think today is the day!" He quickly got out of bed and we started cleaning the house! I texted my midwives Amber and Galyn to let them know where I was at. In between 630-9 I read a lot of scripture, took a shower, folded and hung up my 4 year olds clothes, cleaned the crib sheets one last time, and got out the diapers, creams, shampoos, etc that I would need for the baby.

I kept in touch with my midwives and let them know I have a pretty high pain tolerance & it's becoming a little unbearable, so Amber said to let her know when I can't walk through the contractions and they would head out this way at that time (which I couldn't walk through the contractions at 9am) I knew I had to be close then. My husband and I stopped cleaning and he would rub my back as I bent over the closest thing to me. Galyn lives about 3-4 miles from me so she was here first. She checked to see how I was doing and to see where I was at with the dilation. I was a shocking 5-6cm. Jayden still wasn't locked in place, so I was only 75% effaced. Galyn was hungry so she went to get a bite to eat while I walked to my parents house to let them know the baby is coming today.

Between 10-1030 Galyn was showing Jared where the contraction hurt the most on my back and why (this was so he could better assist me and rub it the right way). I was ready for the bath at 1045 & Galyn was already getting it ready for me. I got in the water at 11am the contractions weren't as bad in the water, but they were still coming every 3-4 minutes lasting 1-2 minutes. Galyn got me some water to sip on and would check my blood pressure, baby's heart rate, etc to make sure everything was going good. I remember I had an audience in my bathroom; luckily I have a huge bathroom! Galyn checked to see where I was at again around 1120, I was a shocking 9cm. She said there was a lip that was still there that Jayden had to move past before I was ready to start pushing. She said on my next contraction to push as hard and as long as I wanted to! At that point my water broke on its own and Jayden was ready to start descending! Amber was there at this point behind my entire family and some of my extended family! She was writing down everything Galyn was saying. At this point I was on my back in the bathtub & able to push when I wanted to for as log as I wanted to! Jayden started coming out pretty quick with me pushing as hard as I did. I remember during the whole active labor I was saying ouch here and there. I never really screamed or anything like that, but I did say ouch 7-10 times. I will never forget Galyn saying "Lauren you need to stop pushing or your going to tear." I was thinking you are out of your mind if you think I'm going to stop pushing (it hurt too much to stop)! I did stop, but it took everything I had to stop! Jayden's head was almost half way out when I asked "is his head out yet?!" My husband said "baby your doing so good, his head is almost out." Galyn had me feel his head which was encouraging! She then helped get his head out some more with me pushing lightly until his head was out completely! During this whole process Galyn was holding my hand and keeping me calm and focused! I think it was probably 1135 when his head was fully out and Jayden was still kicking me while he was 1/4 of the way out of me. Galyn said "ok you can continue pushing when you feel ready to do so." Haha I was finally not in pain and I didn't want to push anymore! The biggest part was out of me and I was convinced mentally that I was done and maybe he would fall out from here.  Well she said "laying on your back will take longer for him to get out, so get on your knees." When I got on my knees I felt like I had to push again! Little did I know that was the last push I'd have to do. My entire family and I remember Galyn saying to Jared "daddy grab your son" at 1140am. In that moment I didn't know what to do besides cry, be in shock, and want to sleep. Jared placed Jayden on me and we started bonding. Once The umbilical cord stopped pulsing Jared was able to cut his sons cord. At that time Jared took his son and started his bonding while I dealt with the afterbirth with Galyn. Galyn checked to see if I tore and I didn't! With my first son I had to have 7 stitches, and he was a smaller baby by 2'2 lbs. I was amazed I didn't tear!! It was all because of Galyn!

From 1140am-130pm Jared and I bonded with Jayden, I got to take a wonderful herbal bath that Stephanie (Ambers midwife in training) made for me, Amber was checking to see how I was doing, and I started nursing Jayden right away. He had no issues latching on just like his big brother. I finally got out of the water at 145; after Amber so sweetly washed my hair and pampered me! I was treated so well by my midwives; it was an experience I never had before this day! We finally checked to see Jayden's weight, height and size all around. He came out to be 9lbs 11oz and 22 1/2 inches long. His shoulders were also 14 1/2 inches. He was a big boy!!!

My experience was such a wonderful uplifting experience that God got me through. I remember the birth of my 4 year old that I had in a hospital... I not only felt groggy after having him (and for the next 7 days after his birth), but he wasn't as alert as Jayden was and I wasn't up and walking around right away like I was with this birth. I had Jayden 17 days ago and man I feel amazing thanks to my midwives Amber, Galyn, and Stephanie!
 — with Midwife Galyn Lacewell and 3 others.

The birth of a little, blue-eyed angel. Adalyne Jo.....

Birthing Adalyne Jo, through my eyes

February 4, 2014 at 12:03am
I predicted I'd go into labor on Thursday, January 16, the forecasted full moon, and deliver the 17th. I had read somewhere that more women go into labor when the moon is full and I liked that idea... so I went with it. I also half-joked and was half-serious with my three midwives (Amber, Galyn and Stephanie) saying I wanted a short, active labor of 4-6 hours (active labor is 4cm dilated). And after Chris' first prediction past with no baby, he guessed I'd go into active labor on a Wednesday night and have a quick 5 hour labor.

On Monday, January 13th, the night of my due date, I laid down to get some rest. Around midnight, I started having menstrual-like cramps in my lower abdomen. They were strong enough to notice but not strong enough to convince me I was in labor. I didn't time them but if I had to guess, I'd say they came every ten minutes, lasting about 25-30 seconds. I could half-sleep through them but was unable to enter a deep sleep. So I rested the best I could in between the contractions.

Tuesday came and the contractions continued all day & all night at the same interval & intensity. We went for dinner with Chris' parents and when we got home, I tried to get some sort of sleep in between contractions but couldn't sleep longer than ten minutes at a time.

On Wednesday, January 15th, it was the same thing during the day. The contractions continued to last 25 or so seconds with a ten minute break before another contraction would come. I hadn't slept since Sunday night, before the contractions began. Needless to say, I was tired and started to lose hope but Chris was there to encourage me. Thankfully, by nightfall the contractions had increased to 6-7 minutes apart lasting 45 seconds so I knew we were getting close! On Wednesday night, when Chris got home from work, we ran to WalMart for errands. My phone had conveniently crapped out on me so we decided a quick, appropriate fix would be to purchase a 'go phone.' We waited for associates to help us and as we stood, patiently waiting, my contractions would come. Standing still made me absolutely stir crazy so I would walk around the large entertainment kiosk as the contraction made its way from my lower back and then wrap around to my abdomen. At one point, I got stuck talking to the young employee who was helping us when I had a contraction. As she was talking, my eyes must have glazed over or something because she stopped talking, her eyes went wide and with a genuine freaked out look on her face asked, "Um. Are you okay?!" When I explained I was having contractions her facial expression was hilarious. haha Anyhow, we got my new phone locked and loaded and as we left WalMart, what do you know? It was a full moon AND it was a Wednesday night, a happy medium to both Chris' and my prediction. Now... lets see about that short labor, huh?!

On our way home from WalMart we grabbed Pizza Hut. It wasn't a healthy choice but there was no way I was able to cook much less think about eating healthy. After our guilt-free dinner, Chris laid down to get some much needed shut eye as he works 12 hour shifts. I tried my darnest to sleep! I put my self-hypnosis tracks on and dozed off between the contractions. I informed my midwife but the contractions weren't close enough or strong enough to signal I was in active labor. However, at 2 am I felt a painless "pop" inside my belly. My water broke. I called the midwife and she advised I try to sleep. Even though my water broke, this could continue for hours and we needed to see if I was going to progress, as labor can stall and even stop. She advised if I transition to the next stage of labor, I'd know... Something very different would happen; the contractions would become much stronger and it would be hard to focus. I remember thinking, "$h!t." lol

After we got off the phone, the contractions continued in intensity to the point where sleep was a foreign concept. Most of the time I found myself in the bathroom during a contraction. When one would come, I instinctively laid my head on the sink and rose up on the top of my toes while I grasped the side of the counter. Nothing I did alleviated the powerful surges. At 3:45 am, I called the midwife back between contractions and let her know they were lasting over a minute with a minute and a half break. I was told to leave the house at 4:30 am. I woke up Chris, he got the things that couldn't be packed prior, like our toothbrushes and shampoo. I told our dog, Timber, to be good, and off we went.

After an intense ride, we arrived at the birth center at approximately 5 am. Galyn greeted us with a soft voice. The room was dimly lit and there was tranquil music playing in the background. It was so soothing! Galyn checked me and I was 4-5 cm dilated. That was a huge relief because I worried I'd only be 1-2 cm. For a few contractions, I laid on my back on the bed but it was extremely uncomfortable so Galyn suggested I try sitting on an exercise ball. Holy Toledo, that was the best thing! I was able to straddle the ball and lean my body forward while my head and arms rested on the bed. When a contraction came, Galyn would massage my lower back hard while Chris, who was laying on his stomach across from me, gently stroked my hands and head. Between the two of them, the support really helped me deal with the pain.

While Chris and Galyn coached me for some time, Amber and Stephanie showed up. I remember hearing their voices but couldn't move my head from the bed to say hello. At this point, Galyn's hands had to have been cramping! So Amber, Galyn and Stephanie would alternate rubbing my back while another would periodically apply the Doppler radar to my lower abdomen to see that baby's heart rate was good. They'd also check my blood pressure, temperature and heart rate. In addition, I took sips of Gatorade and nibbled a protein bar in between contractions; staying hydrated and keeping a little food in my belly was vital for the energy I'd need in a little while.

Sometime later, as I was laboring on the exercise ball, baby's heart rate couldn't be found. I remained calm, climbed on the bed and her heart beat was found. Amber checked baby's position and it was discovered she was turned in an unfavorable position. She wasn't breech, her head was in fact down but she was tilted in a way that would make birth more difficult for her and I. To encourage baby to turn, Amber instructed me to lay on my left side. They brought my right leg in front of me at a 90 degree angle and placed it on a couple of pillows. Galyn told me every time I change positions, the next three contractions would be very intense. Yep... She was right. I don't remember being vocal until this point, and at the peak of the contractions I'd let out a slow, deep "ohhhhhh." My saving grace was Galyn quietly saying to me, "don't be afraid of the pain." Literally as soon as I heard her say that, I'd relax my body and remember the pain was temporary. I can't explain how tremendously those words helped me.

Side note: this concept of not being scared & releasing fear and tension is called "Fear-Tension-Pain." Fear causes tension and when you're tense, you feel more pain. The reason you feel more pain is because when your tense, your body isn't able to release endorphins or oxytocin. When those hormones aren't released, the stronger the pain is for you. It should be known, its been proven endorphins are substantially stronger than morphine or any other man-made drug. So, in my mind, relaxing my body was crucial in dealing with the contractions.

Back on track... After I laid in this position for awhile, with my leg bent up on the pillow, they checked me again and found I was 7 cms dilated. Baby had turned in a more favorable position, too! I'm not sure what time it was but I got back on the birthing ball and worked through contractions. I maintained breathing techniques throughout all of them, breathing in slowly to the count of seven and out to the count of eleven. I also reminded myself of my favorite birth affirmation, "your contractions can't be stronger than you because they are you." While that affirmation worked for awhile, I had to switch gears.

I began utilizing my visualization techniques. Have you ever seen a time lapse video where the camera records the life of a flower over the course of a few weeks or months? Well, during the peak of my contractions, I'd see a white magnolia blossoming into a beautiful flower just like one of those videos. The theory behind this visualization technique is it encourages the cervix to dilate in the same manner. And I secretly hoped it was working because the contractions were crazy intense! A little later, after climbing back on the bed, an exam revealed I was 9-10 cms dilated! I was so happy! Not only that but the midwives told me the contractions would subside! I was in heaven and with a huge smile on my face, I said, "I'm gonna have a baby!!"And since we planned on a water birth, I was anxious to get in the tub and with their approval, they drew the water. It was around 730-745 am.

Less then three hours after we got to the center, I climbed into the bath tub. Chris sat on the left side of the tub while Amber, Galyn and Stephanie were on the right side. With my legs propped up on the side of the tub, Chris had ahold of my left foot and Galyn had ahold of my right. The contractions were no longer painful and I had to feel my belly to know when I was having a contraction. When a contraction came, I bore down and pushed with all my strength. And let me just say, it not only took an incredible amount of power but was equally exhausting to push like that. Even when the contraction dwindled, I had to continue to keep pressure downward as to discourage baby from moving back up the birth canal. At the same time, I'd keep one hand on my belly to wait for the next contraction and then start pushing again. At one point, I became discouraged during a push and at the end of it I let out a loud, deep, long grunt. Quickly after, I apologized for being loud in everyone's ears and Galyn brightly encouraged, "hey, whatever it is, its working! She just moved down a lot. Keep doing it!" So... I kept doing it. Amber said, "She's right there, another couple of pushes and she'll be here!" Chris said, "You can do it! You're doing so great baby!" He also said, "Dig deep!" which made me laugh in my head because I had a feeling he'd say that. And Stephanie reminded me, "You're amazing! She's almost here! You're doing it!" And with the support and encouragement of Chris, Amber, Stephanie and Galyn, I continued on my path to motherhood.

Now, this is where a lot of pressure was felt downstairs. At first, it was an extensive amount on my lower back. However, a few pushes later, baby moved past my coccyx and the pressure migrated to the southern end of my lady parts. While the pressure was substantial, Amber told me to reach down and feel my daughter's head. It was something very special and knowing how close she was to being in our arms motivated me that much more!

The contractions continued and I continued to push. I read about women describing a "ring of fire," as baby is crowning. That's no joke. And this... is when I became increasingly noisy. Its not necessarily a pain as much a highly irritating, burning feeling. It was uncomfortable & I remember thinking I'd never have another child after this. But this was it!! Our baby was about to be with us! And with another contraction came another long, hard, very deep push, and her head emerged, and another push, her shoulders and body. Chris reached down, grabbed his little girl from the water and placed her on my chest. Adalyne Jo Bohannon was born at 8:29 am on January 16th, 2014.

Our sweet baby let out a couple of small wails and calmed down. She laid on my chest and we talked to her for a few minutes while the blood pulsed out of the umbilical cord. Once Adalyne Jo, or AJ, received all her blood, Chris cut the cord and held his baby girl while I handled the after birth. Afterwards, the midwives drained and refilled the tub with a herbal mixture to reduce swelling. After Daddy got acquainted with his new daughter, he handed Ms. Adalyne back to me and we took our first bath together. I was on cloud nine in heaven. Becoming a parent is hands down the best gift. I never understood the hype and an instant, it became lucid. We were blessed.

While relaxing in the bath, AJ latch on and nursed successfully for about 10 minutes. The midwife's assistant ran and got us all breakfast in the meantime. After our bath, Chris took AJ and the midwives assisted me to the bed and they checked me. No episiotomy was performed, and because of their expertise, I had no tearing! I did have a few minor scrapes but nothing major or worth complaining over (although it wasn't pain-free!). The midwives congratulated me for getting through the birth successfully and becoming a mother. They said I was a birthing champion! They also claimed I gave birth like it was my third child! Amber advised our next birth should be done at home because she didn't think I would make it to the center in time. All of these things asserted the confidence I've always had in my body. I'm not afraid to say it, I was one proud Mommy! :-P

After receiving my verbal praises, Chris handed AJ to Amber who performed a series of tests and got her weight and measurements. Adalyne Jo was born weighing 8 pounds 7 ounces, measuring 20.25 inches long and was healthy as could be! Amber administered a Vitamin K shot to stop any internal hemorrhaging and then the midwives bid us farewell.

Chris and I enjoyed our breakfast in bed while admiring our new bundle of joy. After a few hours of some much needed rest, we packed our belongings and left the birth center. This was the start of something very beautiful and our birth experience was the perfect way to begin our journey. We will never forget what an amazing birth this was and are forever grateful to our midwives. Now, we just have to learn this parenting thing ;-) And for the record, I'd do it all over again!