"Ask me for strength and I will lend not only my hand, but also my heart."
~ Unknown

Friday, November 29, 2013

You're Pregnant! What's Next?

Finding out you're pregnant can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. What should you do first? When will you see your doctor or midwife? These questions, and more, are answered in our latest webisode.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Top 5 Books for Parents-to-Be

Congratulations on your pregnancy!  Now, what should you read?  Here are my Top 5 Books for Parents-to-Be!  From pregnancy  and birth to breastfeeding and baby care, plus the support your partner needs, each book is the best of the best!

Friday, November 1, 2013

How to Afford a Doula

Are you considering hiring a doula for your birth; but, concerned about how to afford one?  Our latest webisode gives you a wealth of ideas and insights.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Doula FAQ - Part 2 & Lethbridge Area Resources

It's Friday and that means we've released another video in our vlog series!  This week's topic continues our look at the most frequently asked questions about doulas.  We hope you find the information helpful and we look forward to answering more of your questions in future webisodes!  

In today's blog we're also including a resource list for expectant parents in Lethbridge and the surrounding area.  If you know of any additions we can make to the list, please email us at wombtocradle at gmail dot com!  
Baby Care
 Baby Carrier Safety
Lethbridge & Area
  • Prenatal Yoga (403)634-8532
    • 517 4th Ave S. Lethbridge, AB T1J 0N6
General Health
  • Alberta Health Link 1-866-408-LINK
Pregnancy/Postpartum Mental Health
Prenatal Classes
  • Lethbridge Community Health: Getting Ready for Baby
    • (403) 386-6666, 801 1st Ave S. Lethbridge, AB T1J 4L5
  • Chinook Regional Hospital Childbirth Education Program
    • Sharon Prusky: (403) 382-6111 or (403) 382-6224
  • Birthing From Within - Lethbridge 
    • Ellie Colver: (403) 360-7878 
Postpartum Support
Special Needs
Please help us fill this resource area! 

From Womb to Cradle Doula Services, Inc.

(403) 942-6276 or
(403) 359-1102 

Lethbridge, AB Canada
From Womb to Cradle Doula Services, Inc. 
(403) 942-6276 or (403) 359-1102 
Lethbridge, AB

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Journey to HBA3C - Part 2.5

The reader responses to my friend Melissa's first two posts, My Journey to Home Birth After 3 Cesareans - Part 1 and My Journey to HBA3C - Part 2, were phenomenal.  She is still working on writing out Part 3, the birth of her fourth child; however, she has made a beautiful video sharing some of her amazing story.

Enjoy... and make sure you have plenty of Kleenex handy!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions About Doulas - Part 1

As doulas, we are often asked certain questions over and over again.  In our latest YouTube webisode, I've covered the following:

What is a doula?
Are you the same as a midwife?
Can I have a doula if I would like pain relief, a cesarean, etc.?
Why should I consider a doula?

I'd like to answer more of your questions and hear your input!  Please comment below or email me at wombtocradle at gmail dot com!

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Journey to HBA3C - Part 2

The response we received when we posted the first installment of Melissa's story was unbelievable!  We are so thankful for all of your words of encouragement.  Here is the much anticipated second part to My Journey to Home Birth After 3 Cesareans.
When VBAC hopefuls find out I gave birth at home after three c-sections, they want to know, “How did you prepare?” Each person’s road will look very different, but this is mine.

After I knew I wanted a fourth child, I felt like a huge mountain lay before me. I had to realize even if I climbed every obstacle, I may not ever make it to the top. I had to accept that I may never have a vaginal birth. I may be forced by circumstances, or worse, my health; or the worst, my baby’s health, to have yet another c-section. The fears rolled in... Maybe I didn't want another child. The introspection had begun.

I had already tried this twice. How would this time be any different? I thought I had done everything right when I tried for home birth the first time. I had prepared myself by reading countless books.

And these were just the books for my “failed” attempt at home birth. I had read every research article I could get my hands on. Starting with the ican-online.org white papers and continuing to vbacfacts.com. I had immersed myself in all things birth related. I have always been enthralled with the subject but it then had a real purpose, to get me prepared. I had ingested and inserted vaginally evening primrose oil starting at 37 weeks. I did foot zoning to help me let go of the emotional baggage I carried. I thought I had done it all, but I still had a c-section. What more could I do to “prepare”  for yet another try at this vaginal birth thing? I had no idea. I asked myself questions. Was it even safe to get pregnant again after such a large uterine dehiscence? Was it safe to try for vaginal birth again? Where could I find the answers to these questions? I started with the doctor that had performed my last surgery. I scheduled a consult and brought in a list of questions. His advice was “Sure, go ahead. You can get pregnant again. But you MUST have a c-section. We will check for signs of uterine dehiscence with weekly ultrasounds starting at 35 weeks. Any sign of a problem and you go straight to the OR.” This gave me medical permission to have more children. Which in and of itself was reassuring, because when I asked for the referral to speak to him from the military GYN, she said “I’m sure he thinks you shouldn't have any more kids.” None of this sat well with me. Doctors deciding the future of my family just felt wrong. Didn't I know what was best for my family? Wasn't that between me and my husband? My trust in them had been violated so many times. Why was I returning for more? I felt like saying “please sir may I have another?” I started looking for information anywhere I could. I posted questions on Facebook groups. I searched research databases. There was very little information about vaginal birth after three c-sections. And there didn't seem to be any concrete information about pregnancy after uterine dehiscence. I couldn't get hung up on stats and stories and suggestions. I had to look inward and upward. What did I want and what did God want for me?

Before I became pregnant again I found a book that tied birth to my spirituality. The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth by Felice Austin et al. It was the only book I read this time around. It gave me new perspective and hope. I could not only bring new life into the world, but I could also become closer to my Father in Heaven through this process.

The physical things I did also started before I became pregnant. I started to improve my diet by incorporating more fruits and vegetables and cutting out processed foods. I learned about essential oils and used them for me and my family. Then I asked the person that taught me, what she would suggest for strengthening the uterus before getting pregnant. At the time I was still breastfeeding and my period had not returned yet. She suggested trying vitex (chaste tree berry). My husband was across the country for a 60 day job training. So I figured I had some time to try it before I could even get pregnant. He joined our family again and because my period had still not returned I was sure I had more time. I still needed to clear my emotional baggage and find a provider who would go along with my "crazy" idea of VBA3C. I got pregnant pretty much the moment he got home. Even though I knew I wanted another child, when I say that positive test I sobbed. My amazing husband held me while I cried. I cried for so many reasons. All the pain and fear came flooding back. I felt so unprepared. Could I really do this again? I started to feel my only chance at a vaginal birth was to try at home again. K was NOT going to do that again. He was afraid of losing his wife and had trouble (rightfully so) thinking we could trust another midwife. Even though he had stanch reservations, I was going to try to find support. Support for what I knew deep down inside was the right thing for me and my baby, vaginal birth. I knew it was going to be hard, at best, to find someone to help me with that. So I started prenatal care with the doctor that performed my c-section. I knew bringing up the subject with him with be entirely futile, so I completely avoided it. Pretending I was good with another surgical birth was hard; but, I didn't see another option.

Then, I took a big gulp and called a midwife in a city two and a half hours away. I had lived in this city for college. This is where I lived when I trained and worked as a doula. I knew the birth culture there was much better than my city. I told her my story and she seemed encouraging. She thought she could help me. A better diet, some chiropractic, she could fix my problems. Then I told her about the uterine dehiscence. She didn’t know what to say. She would have to talk to her back up doctor and get back to me. Ok, at least she didn’t say no, right?  A week later she called to tell me she had discussed it with her colleagues and they all agreed it was best for me to have another Cesarean. I tried not to feel like the rejection was personal, but to me it was. My body was broken and the only way to safely deliver a baby was through surgery. They all agreed, but my heart did not. And again I sobbed. My poor husband tried to be supportive and did very well but all this was taking a toll on him too. Why couldn’t I accept my fate? I tried so very hard to believe that a c-section was the best, safest option for us. For a time I resigned myself to this and it brought so much sadness. I prayed to know what to do. Each time I would pray I would get the feeling I just had to keep trying. I never got the feeling that everything was going to end the way I wanted it to. But I felt I had to continue trying, no matter how hard it was for me to do so.

Through all of this, life outside my all-consuming journey continued. And I tried desperately to enjoy my completely complication free pregnancy. I continued prenatal care with the OB. I had an ultrasound at 18 weeks and learned my baby was a boy.

I also learned my placenta was posterior. I almost got off the table and did a happy dance when the tech said that. All my others had been anterior and I felt like it was a small victory and another little step towards normal uncomplicated birth.

So now what? I had heard the midwives in a city 5 hours away were very good and might help me. Getting rejected over e-mail didn't seem to hurt as bad, so I tried that. One responded saying it might be possible but her words and tone were one of extreme apprehension. I needed someone who believed in me wholeheartedly and could buoy me up when I inevitably had doubts. So I did not respond. The other midwife did not respond via email, so I got up the courage to call. After I told her my story she also seemed optimistic, but felt she should consult with a VBAC friendly OB as well. I waited and prayed. Then her call came. She could not help me. She relayed that the doctor would not even do it in the hospital. Which she said surprised her coming from this doctor because she was so supportive of VBAC. She asked if her daughter, a Doula, could contact me to help me find a hospital that would give me a family centered Cesarean. I told her to give her my number, hung up, then broke down once again. My past mistakes in trust had made it impossible for my body to do what it was physiologically made to do. It hurt so much. I cried to my husband who took part of his day off from work to comfort me. Not long after this he made it clear to me he was done with this search for a home birth midwife. He was not willing to do this at home again. I asked him what if I could find a doctor and hospital to support me. He was not enthusiastic but said I could try.

After posting on several Facebook forums about my situation I had a couple suggestions. One of the doctors actually contacted me and asked me to call her. We had a very good conversation about the risks and benefits. She seemed apprehensive but said if I did not find someone else by 32 weeks to call her back. This gave me a small glimmer of hope, a doctor at least willing to consider it. But she was across the country and I did not have close family there I could stay with. The OB I had heard nothing but amazing praise about, was next on my list to contact. He was 5 and 1/2 hours away from where my sister lived and I felt it was a real possibility. I called his office and faxed my records to his receptionist. She said he would read them and call me back. Two months of back and forth and reassurance he was truly going to call ended with a phone call from the office manager with news that he would not take me as a patient. When I asked for some kind of explanation she again said he would call me. K was furious. He called her back and told her what they had done was inhumane, dragging me along for months just to cut me off with a rejection and no explanation. This left me at the lowest I could get. I was questioning my very worth as a person. All my insecurities came crashing in on me. Was I not even worth a phone call? Maybe all the mistreatment I had endured to this point really was my fault. Others gave glowing reviews of the people who had wronged me. Why had they treated me so badly? What was wrong with me? The questions swirled through my head. I agonized over it all to me sister, who reassured me that if I scheduled a c-section she would be able to be here for me. I know she was sincere in wanting to help but once again hearing that a c-section was so much better brought me even lower. I quickly dropped to my previous state of depression. It was even harder than normal to sleep that night. I woke to go to the bathroom and knelt in prayer. I pleaded for peace and guidance. I woke with a new sense of hope, confidence, and a plan. I was going to drive with my three children to one of my sisters' house, fly to another sister's house, and drive 5 hours to his office and make him take me as a patient. Yes, looking back I see how insane this sounds. K looked at me like I was absolutely insane, but said if that's what I felt I had to do he trusted me. After a week and couple more phone calls to his office, it became apparent my plan was crazy and was not going to work. Traveling cross country to maybe get support was not good for anyone. I decided I would rather have a c-section. I actually felt liberated in a way. I had tried every single available option to have my VBA3C in a hospital. So where did that leave me on my journey? Well, there was just one more person I could try. She was a home birth midwife 3 hours away but she was across the border in Canada. I basically begged K to let me try just one more time. He very reluctantly agreed. I called her... I barely got three words out and started to cry. I had planned to be brave and professional, but I couldn't even keep it together for a full sentence. The way she responded was amazing. She told me it sounded like I had been through a lot and she would love to listen to my story. We talked for the next two hours. I felt so loved. I had never felt this from any care provider, let alone one I had never even met. We both agreed, our paths crossing was a miracle from God.

The next thing that happened was probably the hardest part of my entire VBAC journey. K fought me. He did not want to do this and found many reasons why we couldn't. The biggest one being, we had no money. If I went into the hospital for a c-section it literally cost us nothing. He thought I didn't care about my family and all I wanted was a vaginal birth. That I was going to do this no matter what the cost, and not just money. He thought I was willing to sacrifice our marriage for this. I was flabbergasted. How could he think this? Wasn't it obvious I was doing this for our family? I needed to be able to care for everyone after this baby was born. We both knew it was near impossible for me to do it after my last c-section, physically and emotionally. Mothering through the haze of depression is so very hard. Why didn't he understand? It got so bad he wouldn't even look at me. He avoided me in doorways and spoke only when it was absolutely necessary. It broke me. I was not going to lose my husband over this. I called the midwife and told her we could not meet. She tried to tell me not to make it about the money. I told her it wasn't me. Through sobs I apologized and hung up. I could barely stand from the weight of it all. I wanted to hide. Almost immediately K was following me trying to tell me something. I couldn't even look at him. I told him no, it was over, just let me deal with it alone. He finally got me to listen. "We can do it. Maybe it makes me a bad person, but I just needed to see you were willing to let it go.”

Now I want to make something very clear. He is by no stretch of the imagination a bad person. He is a loving husband and father pushed too far by a system that makes it near impossible to make good decisions about maternity care. I know that our argument actually had very little to do with money, and everything to do with his frustration, at his utter lack of control over how his wife and baby would be cared for. It blows a person's mind to know that intervention and surgery will cost nothing, but staying home and having someone safeguard my bodily integrity will put us in the poor house. I also know he wanted to trust me, but knew I had so much emotional hurt tied up in this. It was such a very difficult decision to make.

Copyright Kimberly Guardipee •www.guardipeephotography.com

After that emotional roller coaster I could barely speak, let alone call the midwife and tell her we had decided to go forward with plans for home birth  I told him he had to call. He called her back and luckily she did not think we had absolutely lost our minds, but was understanding and supportive.  Now I had to work on letting go of my demons. I prayed to be able to trust, the courage to forgive those that had hurt me in the past, and to feel peace throughout the remaining weeks until my baby would be born in my home.

~ Melissa

... Check back for Part 3, coming soon!

Copyright Kimberly Guardipee •www.guardipeephotography.com
NOTE: Everything on our blog is subject to copyright.  Sharing of the original article is allowed by linking directly to the blog.  All photos and content are property of the author and may not be shared on any other website, media source, etc. without prior written consent.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Journey to Home Birth after 3 C-sections - Part 1

I am overwhelmed and pleased to share the birth stories of my dear friend, Melissa Pate.  Her strength and perseverance is beyond inspirational.  I am proud and humbled to call her friend.  (Please note: this story takes place in the USA)  Melissa requests that you feel free to share the link to her story far and wide as her goal is to reach out and help other mothers throughout the world!  It makes it worth all of the pain she endured.
Love, Michelle
I have had THREE c-sections. 6 weeks ago I gave birth to my fourth child in my bedroom. It was an amazing miracle. I sit here knowing, I want to share my story with the world. But where do I start? It is all so overwhelming. The stories are long and such a part of who I am. I have tried to write them so many times, only to stop in the middle and say, “It’s just too long and hard.”  I could write a book, and still may someday. I have tried to shorten it as much as I can without leaving anything important out. I have included links to information that helped me on my way.  These are the stories of how I became a mother of three, through surgical intervention.

When I found out I was pregnant the first time, I was a little surprised but so excited. I knew I wanted to be a mother for a long time before it happened. I had a partial placental abruption when I was 25 weeks pregnant. It was very scary. I spent 10 days in the hospital and 10 weeks on bedrest and tocolytics. Even though I was a doula before becoming pregnant, through all of this I lost faith in everything I had learned about birth. I thought I was broken and could not possibly do what I knew other women could. Through the bed rest and around the clock meds, I almost went crazy. At 38 weeks pregnant I was offered an induction and I took it.

Watching the monitor

I had spent so much time believing my baby would come early and was convinced outside was a safer place for my baby to be. I arrived at 5 am to start pitocin. I was dilated one whole cm and 50% effaced. At 7 am the doctor came in and broke my water. No turning back now. I labored all day only to have my son's heart rate drop. They turned off the pitocin and it came back up, but was showing very little variability. So the OB came in to tell me it was time for a c-section, because I was only 4-5 cm dilated. He said if I had been at 8 he would have let me continue. I was absolutely devastated. They prepped me for surgery and I sobbed. The OB thought I was being too emotional and snapped at me to "Get it together!" Because it was "not good for my baby."
Waiting to be taken down to the OR
 They had just finished two c-sections in their L&D floor operating rooms and they were dirty, so I had to be taken down to the main OR. It took a very long time for them to dose my epidural high enough for surgery. They had a video camera on my abdomen. I was able to see him born. He cried even before his 7 lb 4 oz body was out. I briefly got to hold him. Then my husband took him upstairs to the nursery. As he was leaving I began to throw up, which is really hard to do when you are numb from the neck down. Then I went to recovery, where I shook uncontrollably. I didn't see my baby for another 2 hours.     
Meeting my son for the first time
When I finally did see him I couldn't hold him for very long because of how much pain I was in. Because I am allergic to morphine they ordered demerol, which was not kept in stock on that floor. We had to wait over an hour for it to come up from the pharmacy. I briefly attempted breastfeeding but I was in so much pain. I was given tordal shots for the pain and went home with massive bruises from the injections. Breast feeding was very important to me.

We got it down only for me to have to return to my job as a Registered Nurse when he was 8 weeks old. I pumped but it was never enough. Even though it hurt my heart, we supplemented with formula. It was a horrible introduction to motherhood and I struggled to push through.

My first scar
When my son was 16 months old I became pregnant again. I was in a very stressful job situation and it made being pregnant very hard.  I knew I wanted a VBAC, but I was tentative. I didn’t even ask my OB about VBAC until I was 20 weeks. I didn’t do very much research or preparation, as I really felt I didn’t want to put a lot of effort into it if I was going to just end up with another c-section. I had a lot of contractions starting at 36 weeks and so my doctor started checking for dilation every visit. Of course there was none, but after weeks and weeks and weeks of hearing the words “no change” I relented and scheduled the repeat c-section for my due date. That night I lost my mucous plug. By the morning I was contracting regularly. I went to the hospital midday, only to get checked and be told “well there is a dimple.” I asked him if I should just go home and he said "Do you think your husband wants to take you home in this condition?" Kyle agreed, he did not. It was so hard to move forward with no one believing in me.I walked the halls until I felt nauseous and wanted to retreat to a private place to labor.
Between contractions. All hooked up and ready to walk.
In the room, the nurse told me she needed to monitor the baby. I was sitting on a birth ball and agreed she could do it while I sat there. She rebuffed and told me I HAD to get in the bed, because she could not get a good strip if I was up and moving. I relented and got in the bed. I wanted to be a good patient and, being a nurse, I knew she had a job that must be done. It hurt so much more in the bed. Shortly after, I heard and felt a pop and water gushed all over the bed. Kyle said "Melissa there is so much, is that OK?" As I was reassuring him, the doctor returned from his office hours to check me. The contraction pain went up exponentially after rupture of membranes, and when he again said “no change,” I just lost it. I started climbing the bed and screaming "Just make it stop!" He stated “I’m not watching this anymore. We are doing a c-section.” As soon as they let me off the bed, I felt like I was once again in control, but then it was too late. I went to the bathroom, my husband was against the door and the nurse anesthetist was waiting outside the door with a wheelchair. All I wanted to do was close the door and hide, labor alone, and have the baby alone. I felt cornered. With all the courage I could muster it was off to the OR again. The surgery itself was much less traumatic, but my baby was still taken from me and sent to the nursery to be warmed by an isolette instead of me.

Crying for Mom
I begged to them to let me see his first bath but was refused. Instead I was waiting alone in my room with a tray of clear liquids. Which I greedily ate, as I was not even aloud ice chips while in labor. Only to barf them shortly after. I should have been meeting and bonding with my newest child, but instead I was utterly alone, vomiting. My son weighed 8 lbs 6 oz. The nurse in recovery said, “aren’t you so glad you didn’t try to push that big baby out?” I felt like it was inevitable, and I had done the right thing. At that point I decided that if I had any more children I would just schedule the c-section.

So drugged up on pain meds, I can barely open my eyes.
When my second son was 1 year old, I had a heart to heart conversation with a really great doula (Michelle). I cried and cried, realizing how much I was not good with my two c-sections and I did NOT want to do it again. Was it even possible to have a VBAC after two c-sections? I had so much work ahead of me. Two months later I was pregnant again. I found ican-online.org and researched and researched. Then, I called the local birth center midwife. I knew she did not usually provide care for VBA2C but I thought maybe she would at least be supportive or help me find someone who did. Boy was I wrong. She was horrible to me. She came at me from every angle and essentially told me I was a bad mother, a bad wife, a bad nurse, and a bad person for wanting to kill myself and/or my baby by attempting a VBA2C.  I knew she was wrong, but the conversation cut me to my soul. So I returned to the OB that had led me to the OR twice already. I looked into homebirth but knew my husband was not comfortable with that, and only dreamed of circumventing the birth assembly line by staying home. 

When I went in for my 28 week checkup I presented my doctor with a letter explaining that I wanted a VBAC and three things I felt would make me successful. One, to have intermittent fetal monitoring to facilitate movement in labor. Two, I wanted to be able to eat in labor. Three, I wanted to be able to push in whatever position I felt best. He shot them down one by one using a story about a VBAC hopeful who “left a bad taste in the mouths of the hospital staff” to make me want to comply. He also had many choice one liners, including “do you want to aspirate and die?” and   “well, next time don’t grow um so big. You know, 8-6 is really big.” Then to put the icing on the cake as he was leaving the room he said “Do you know what your husband needs to get you for Christmas?" pause for affect... and punch line. "A new cervix.” Then the Nurse Practitioner delivered the real demoralizing blow with, “Yeah, one that works.” I was so hurt. I knew I was never going to be able to have a vaginal birth with him in control of my care. At this point my husband was livid and willing to do anything to avoid their condescending “care.” 

I made an appointment with the only homebirth midwife in town. I was never really comfortable with her but I really felt she was my only option.  I also hired a doula and asked a midwife student I knew to be there with me during labor and birth. I continued to see the OB and his NP “just in case” I had to go the hospital, but I decided on homebirth. Because of the past history of my cervix not dilating and the possibility it could be scar tissue from cryo surgery and a very difficult insertion of an IUD, I consented to let the midwife “massage” my cervix to break up any scar tissue while I was in labor. In my mind it would be a one time thing, and I would carry on undisturbed after that. Well I was wrong again. She manually dilated my cervix and pushed every hour to do it again and again and again. 18 hours after labor started she pronounced me “ready to push.”
Kyle holding me.  He was my rock.
One of the reprieves from the midwife's prying
I would have done just about anything to get her hands out of me, but that was not to be either. I had an anterior cervical lip and she told me she had to hold it back while I pushed. I begged her to just get her hands out of me. I pleaded. I cried. What was going on? This was supposed to be my beautiful peaceful home birth. I pushed for six hours with her hand inside me. Not in whatever position I felt was right as I had asked the OB for, but in the position that was most  convenient for her, flat on my back on my bed.

Pushing and pushing and pushing
After trying inversions and walking my stairs and enduring many verbal assaults from the midwife, I could physically take no more. I was sure if I continued, I was going to die. When I told the student midwife this, she made everyone understand I needed to go to the hospital NOW. We called my OB and told him what we had done and he called my husband names and hung up on him. I had to just take the OB on call. I didn't care. I needed it to end. In the hospital they treated me like a leper. When I was getting the spinal I tried to lean on the OR nurse for support. She pushed me and said “don’t touch me!”  Upon entry into my abdominal cavity they discovered a 10 cm by 8 cm uterine dehiscence. The only thing keeping my baby in my uterus was peritoneum. My 7lb 1oz daughter was born.  I remember all but nothing of her first moments. I was nervous because the spinal did not feel the same as last time. So they gave me versed (a drug with very strong amnesic properties) to calm me down. Very shortly after she was born they whisked her off to the NICU for “labored breathing.” Even though her apgars were recorded as 8 and 9. There, they took her blood sugar and made my husband feed her formula. I didn't see her for another four hours. They kept telling me they would bring her up so I tried very hard to hold off on the narcotics for my pain. I wanted to be present when I met her. I couldn't wait any longer and was high as a kite when I finally met my beautiful daughter.

This is when I saw my daughter for the first time.
They performed a newborn assessment in her plastic
 bassinet, before giving her to me.
I feel this picture embodies everything I felt.
I wanted so badly to be happy; but,
I was in so much physical and emotional pain, I could not.
Finally getting to touch her.
Because she had been given a bottle she wanted nothing to do with breastfeeding. We eventually figured it out, but we suffered through 8 weeks of thrush (caused by the prophylactic antibiotics). The physical and emotional pain put me into a dark depression. For many weeks after her birth I had overwhelming symptoms of PTSD. The first time my husband and I tried being intimate I had flashbacks of pushing with her hand inside me. It was so scary for us both. Forming a real bond with my daughter was extremely difficult. I was just going through the motions. I knew what it should feel like because I had two other children, but it just wasn't there. Though I was able to create a very strong bond eventually, I was still dealing with looming depression 10 months later. At that point we were NOT planning on having anymore children. Despite our plans, I realized when she was very young that there was another child to come to our family. It was all so very hard for me. On one hand I really wanted another child, but on the other, I knew I could not endure another c-section. So many questions so often overtook my thoughts. Was it really necessary? Were we really as close to death as they said? What if I had just had more strength to keep pushing? What if I had not let her manually dilate my cervix? WHY??? Why did I let, yet another, "care" provider violate my body and trample my trust? What is wrong with me? I connected with birth groups online. In my desperate hours, I reached out to Michelle, and she encouraged me. I wrote out my feelings and prayed for relief. When she was 10 months old I wrote this-
All of that pain. Pain inflicted by her hands. If I am fine and my baby is fine. No one is to touch me. EVER! What you were doing was supposed to make it easier. HA. So much pain. You HURT me! YOU not my baby, not my body ,YOU. I would have endured ANY and ALL pain to get her here, into my arms instead of a sterile field. You took advantage of all I was willing to give, to speed it up so I wouldn't tire out. I did tire out. I told you all I couldn't do it. I was right. I could not endure you hands inside me. I dug to the depths of my soul. And you mocked me. “Almost there. Almost there.” I gave all that I had and it wasn't enough. I was willing to give it all for a chance at the amazing euphoria. To feel my baby girl come through me into life apart from me. I wanted to tell her how the heavens sang as I held her in my arms, on my chest, against my breast. I don’t even remember the moment she was born. I was given amnesic drugs that have erased it.
Then, my sweet daughter, they took you from me. All I wanted was to feel you, smell you, feed you, touch you, comfort you. Be your mother. Instead I was drugged, in pain, and alone. I wanted so badly to be coherent when they brought you to me. I held off on the pain medication as long as I possibly could. But they would not bring you to me. They gave you formula. Your first food was from a bottle. The ONLY time you would ever have a bottle.
It has been 10 months today and my baby lies asleep in my arms, laughing in her sleep. As I sob. This is the first time I have written anything about that day.
Read Part 2 HERE
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Rhett's Birth Story: As Written by Mommy

The following story from a dear friend of mine and is written to her son, Rhett.  Thank you, Tara, for sharing! 

I was super busy during the beginning of September. Your Daddy was in the field, working very, very hard to finish harvest before you came along. We would both talk to you at night time and ask you to please wait until Daddy was done. I am so thankful, for so many different reasons, that you listened.

I was trying to get my 2 businesses to a good spot where I would be able to leave them for a few months. So I was working really hard during the day and at night. Poor Aubrey! She spent a lot of time with Grandma Carla and Randi those first 2 weeks of Sept. I felt like I was constantly on the go and getting nothing actually accomplished. Truthfully, I would have been quite ok if you went over your due date. I actually hoped you would be.

35 weeks pregnant
We still hadn't had any work done on the basement, but knew that we wouldn't be able to leave the office upstairs much longer. I asked Gramma Cheryl and Papa Gary to come help me the middle of Sept with painting and moving; I wanted you to have a room just for yourself.

The 14 and 15 I was in Medicine Hat and then Lethbridge. I had an appointment at the Mat Clinic and met with Michelle one last time. She was just coming off of 2 births within 3 days and was super tired, but she still managed to converse coherently, and tell me I still didn't look pregnant (this was at almost 39 weeks).  I mentioned I was feeling some tightening in my lower stomach a little bit, something I hadn't felt with Aubrey’s pregnancy and Michelle thought it was likely Braxton Hicks. For Lethbridge I was a little nervous to go by myself, but decided that if I didn't feel ok I could head home. I booked a wax and hair appointment, and ended up being able to fit a pedicure in (nice nails are a MUST while giving birth). I also had a meeting to attend, and I did end up leaving early, but that was because I needed to pick up paint for your room for the weekend. Your Daddy also finished harvesting the night of the 15th! We were so excited to celebrate the end of the crop season!

On the 16 (Friday) Aubrey and I had planned to go visit a friend with another friend of mine and her  girls. She sent me a text saying that her girls had a runny nose and did I still want to go? I was feeling a bit off, as well, so I decided to stay at home. I made myself a chai latte and called your dad. I think that I maybe knew something was going to happen. We talked about how it was the first day during the whole pregnancy that I actually felt pregnant. (I think you had maybe dropped that night and were putting a bit more pressure on my lower back). As I sipped my drink I could only think that this would be the last time I’d be able to have a quiet morning for a while. I got a lot of cleaning done that day and made a delicious homemade pizza for supper to celebrate the end of harvest. And then I tackled the office. (I look back now and wonder WHY I left it so late.) I chatted with Gramma Cheryl, they were scheduled to come down the next morning, and at about 7 or so I called her again and asked her to make sure that she packed for a week, just in case; I was having some light contractions. At this point the office was packed up and I had left instructions on where to put things.

Your Daddy came in during one contraction and decided we should start timing them. At 9:30 I called Michelle to tell her I was definitely starting in labour, as I would have to stop every time one came and breathe through it. We decided that it wouldn't be a bad thing to head into Medicine Hat, and that we could assess there with Michelle, and then decide what to do. With Aubrey being a c-section, and my labour with her being only 3 hours, we had no idea what to expect with your birth. We packed Aubrey up, called Grandma and Papa to make sure they could take her, and dropped her off. I continued to time all the way to the Hat. We decided to go to a hotel at the south of the city. We checked in (received a really nice, big suite) and waited for Michelle. Around midnight we thought it best to just get some rest and call her in the morning after we woke up and she would come over. I slept for a bit, and the contractions slowed down, but was up at 7 when they started to pick up a bit more. When Colin got up we went down to get some food and then called both sets of grandparents. Aubrey was doing well, and my mom and dad were on their way down. We told them we wouldn't be there when they arrived, but to call Colin’s parents and they could pick up Aubrey for the day.

Michelle came back and we settled in for what ended up being a long day. The contractions stayed very consistent, and I kept moving around, hoping to get them picked up a bit. We went for a walk around the building where 2 firemen came out to see if we needed any assistance. In the early afternoon they became a bit more intense and I found that I like having someone talking to me in a low voice to relax and breathe. I would go into a state of concentration when this happened and Michelle or Colin would repeat positive Hypnobirthing affirmations to me. I found I was able to relax better. Once they finished, we talked and kept the mood very light.

Around 4:30 I decided I wanted to go to the hospital to get checked out and see where things were. As it turned out, it was a premature visit and I hadn't needed to. We arrived there and by that time the contractions had slowed down considerably. I got hooked up to the monitors, and by then they had pretty much stopped. The nurse wanted to send me for some blood work, seeing as my blood pressure was up and there was some concern from Aubrey’s pregnancy. So we waited around and I decided that I was tired of walking and didn't want to anymore. When we got sent “home” at 8:30, we dropped Michelle off then grabbed some food and I fell asleep fairly early. (I found out later that your Daddy didn't).

Around 1 am I woke up and started timing again. About every 10 minutes. So I went to have a bath as I couldn't get back to sleep. I took my Hypnobirthing relaxation sound track with me and just had it on repeat as I laid there in the nice warm water, feeling weightless. It was such a nice feeling as I talked to you, relaxed and sent love your way. I told you how much I loved you and how excited I was getting to meet you. It was an amazing feeling to know that I would soon be holding you in my arms, kissing you and wrapping you with my love.

About 3:20 your Daddy came to see where I was. He was pretty sleepy. I decided to get out of the bath, and when I stood up I ended up losing my mucus plug. Once that happened, the contractions became even stronger in intensity and I had to really concentrate on breathing and relaxing into them. I had him put counter pressure on my lower back as well. He was so sleepy that he would go to bed for the few minutes between, then I would call him for pressure. I decided to call Michelle and let her know that things were picking up and asked if she would be able to head over as soon as she could. I went inside myself at this point, the only thing I was concentrating on was breathing through each contraction. All the sudden I started to feel a lot of pressure, which was eerily similar to the feeling I had when I was in labour with Aubrey. In that moment, I told Colin that we needed to get to the hospital. He wanted to know how long he had. I told him NOW. I was so ready to go in, and I knew it. He was able to get me down to the vehicle; we were unfortunately on the 2nd floor and I was in my own world. It felt like it took forever to walk to the car. I leaned on him the whole time, trusting him with us, knowing we would get there safely. I called Michelle again and told her to meet us at the hospital.

The drive from the hotel to the hospital is roughly 8 minutes during the day. At about 4 am with no traffic and me telling your Daddy to drive faster I think we made it in about 4 minutes. I couldn't sit comfortably, so I leaned over the front seat, hoping we didn't get pulled over. I called Michelle on the way and told her to meet us at the hospital. We drove into the Emergency entrance and I had to time getting to the doors between contractions. I remember the look on a man’s face who was standing inside as he saw me come up to the doors. Needless to say we didn't have to check in there, but headed quickly up to the L&D area.

When we got to L&D I quickly explained to the nurse there that I needed to be checked immediately and how I thought that maybe you were breech like Aubrey had been, which is what the pressure reminded me of. They got me into the bed and checked just as Michelle arrived. I was excited to learn that you were head down (YAY!) and that I was about 8 cm…. very close to start pushing; which was also the reason why I had felt so much pressure. Michelle stayed with me until your Daddy got back from moving the vehicle. Michelle and the nurse started to move me into the wheelchair to take me to the delivery room from the assessment room, but I couldn't sit. So I walked. Now, this was the longest, hardest walk ever. I had Michelle on one side and your Daddy on the other, and they held me up, carrying me (of course we had to be in the room the furthest away). I met the doctor who would deliver you, Dr. Prince, on the way to the delivery room. He asked how I was doing. I believe I answered with “why the hell did I think a VBAC was a good idea?” And I`m pretty sure he laughed. We got into the room and I got settled on the bed. My energy was starting to wane and I was starting to feel like I needed to push, which I told Michelle and our nurse. She checked again and told me I was able to. In a matter of 10 minutes I had gone from 8 to 10 cm’s. And so I started what turned out to be a very long time of pushing. In that first push my water broke…. which was an odd experience for me as there was no gush like there had been with Aubrey: it was a slow, constant leaking.

I took a while getting into the rhythm of birthing you. At this point, I have a very skewed sense of time that even now is still off. It felt like only a short time, but I knew it wasn't  I was in myself, talking to you in my head and out loud. I would constantly repeat “I want him out” and there were a few moments when, in my very exhausted state, I said “I can’t do this” after a contraction and pushing. Michelle and your Daddy told me “You CAN do this”. After hearing the positive affirmations I then continued to repeat “I can do this” over and over again. At 7 the nurses changed, and we were lucky enough to get Cherry! She was so amazing! For the most part I birthed you squatting on the bed, so I would hold your Daddy’s hand in my left and Michelle’s in my right. When Cherry first started with me she held my hand and just talked to me in the softest, kindest English accent. Michelle was excited to work with her, and we soon found out why. (Even your Daddy felt her effects too). When I would look at her I just felt calm flooding through me.

Around 8 am Dr. Prince came in to talk to me. I had been pushing for a long time at this point, and he wanted to let me know that he was concerned by how long it was taking, especially since I’d had a previous caesarean. He wanted me to get you out before they started to get worried about you being in distress (though you weren't  and there being a necessity for another caesarean. I was so adamant that I was having a VBAC that I refused to listen to that (especially after all the work I had done- you have a very stubborn mother). He also wanted to tell me that there had been meconium in the water when it broke and that they were worried you may have inhaled some of it, so they were going to have NICU come in to assess you after you were born.

Mommy and Rhett moments after birth.
I concentrated so hard on birthing you. I couldn't understand what was taking so long and why you weren't coming out easily (turns out your head was turned a bit funny). Cherry finally recommended that I get some help in birthing you. Just a little incision and then you would be out. I didn't want to at first, but I knew that I was getting so exhausted and to a point where my exhaustion wouldn't allow me to push much longer. So I agreed. From there I moved onto my back and they got ready to make the incision. The room was full with people, NICU staff, nurses and 2 doctors, and yet it was so quiet and calm. I really didn't notice them at all. They were so respectful of my space and my birthing. It seemed to take a while to set up, but as soon as it was made, with the next push I could feel that it was what I and you needed to be born. I felt your head, and was told to wait for the next contraction, and then the rest of your body came out. At 8:57 am on September 18, 2011, you made your way into the world for your birth day.

Even now, more than 5 months later, I remember that moment clearly. You were born onto my tummy, all purple and covered in stuff. And your Daddy and I just stared at you, taking you in, falling unconditionally in love with you. I looked at him and at you and said “we did it” and started crying. That was the most empowering moment of my life. Dr. Prince asked if Daddy wanted to cut the cord. He said no, I asked if he was sure. He said no again. Then NICU took you over to the cart and cleared out your lungs, gave you a quick check and cleaned you off a bit.  I could hear your sweet, soft cries and I longed to hold you and reassure you that I was here. At this point Dr. Prince and the nurses started to get me cleaned up and warm as I was shaking. They put blankets over me and then you got to snuggle right on me. You settled almost immediately, and we talked to you, looked at you, kissed you, loved you. My little baby boy! I was already so deeply in love with you. I said to your Daddy, “look at him, he looks like Aubrey” and the nurses commented on you looking like your Daddy, with the same amount of hair. We took some pictures and Daddy sent them to your Grandparents and Aunt and Uncles to let them know the good news! You also were weighed (6 lbs  10 oz) and measured (18.9`).

I wanted to start feeding you right away, but Michelle told me to wait until you started to root. I believe you fell asleep. We decided to call you Rhett Arthur. We wanted to have a name before Aubrey saw you. Daddy decided to quickly get us checked out of the hotel and pick up our bags. I was so involved in watching you that I didn't mind at all. Michelle stayed while he was gone and we talked. I was on the most amazing adrenaline rush and where I had been so sleepy even 30 minutes before, I wasn't any more. You finally started to root and I stuck you on and you started sucking. You were a natural! I couldn't believe how you knew exactly what to do, and had no issues what so ever. You ate for a bit and then fell asleep tucked up on my left shoulder, cozy and warm. I loved feeling you snuggled against me. You slept for a while, and we didn't want to wake you up, so the nurses delayed your Vitamin K shot and eye drops. Your Daddy came back and Michelle left, and then Cherry came back to get me cleaned up and ready to go to the Maternal/Child area.

Rhett Arthur
I felt so good after having you that I even walked the whole way there. She got us settled and then Daddy and I talked and held you until everyone started arriving to meet you. We wanted Aubrey to meet you first, and hear your name first before we told anyone else. Gramma Cheryl and Papa Gary were first to arrive with Aubrey. She was a little scared of me, in the hospital bed and gown, and so she just wanted Daddy. She started to warm a bit, and when we let her hold you, she noticed a bit of blood still on your head and said `he has bird poop on his head`. Needless to say that gave us all a good laugh!

Then your other Grandma and Papa came. I had decided to go for a quick walk to see where your Daddy was (he was having a rest on the couches) and they were both really surprised to see me up and walking around. (I think they had remembered how I had been with Aubrey- heavily drugged). Your Uncle Kyle and Karmyn came and then Uncle Ryan. Cindy, Josh and Chloe Hume also stopped in to visit as well. Later on that afternoon your Auntie Linz arrived with your Nono and Sue. They had come at a really good time as they were able to have you all to themselves. You were so sleepy that day, but good for new baby snuggles. They even tried changing you into some clothes that they had brought for you.

Our first night was unlike any that you have ever had being at home. Maybe you were a little mixed up on your days and nights, or didn't like being in the hospital, but you seemed to want to be up during the night the 2 nights we were there. I was worried that you would maybe continue that when we got home, but I really needn`t have worried as you are an awesome baby! My adrenaline had started to wear off that evening, so I was getting pretty tired and wanting some rest. I finally just propped you up in my arm while I dozed that night. I think the nurses came in and moved you when they came to check as you were in the bassinet when I woke up. 

We stayed in the hospital for Sept 19 as well. Daddy brought Aubrey with him that day, and Gramma Cheryl took her back to our house with her as she was staying for the week. It was so nice to know that Aubrey would get the attention she deserved while Daddy and I got to know you those first few days. Karmyn, Grandma Carla and Michelle also came to visit that day and Daddy went to get you a crib. You and I relaxed and cuddled a lot your second day with us. We were able to go home on the 20th, also Grandma Carla`s birthday! Daddy came to pick you and I up, we got you in your car seat (which you weren't real happy about) and then we went to Wal-Mart to pick up more diapers, Canadian Tire to get Aubrey a big sister gift, and then decided to stop for lunch at Moxie`s before heading to your home; you slept the whole time.