Editor note: Rachael’s story is uncomfortable to read at parts but it is an important story to hear. It traces the story of a woman following her intuition and demanding supportive care. Doulas and midwives are trained to practice mother-friendly care. It is important for families to follow their instincts–even if it means finding a new birth team at 40 weeks. You are never, ever stuck.
I must say that my story is about much more than my birth time, but I think the rest of my story is vital to fully appreciate how amazing my birth time was.
When I was 8, I saw the birth of my baby brother at home. As a young child this was a somewhat traumatic experience. I remember hiding in the closet after my mom’s water broke. I didn’t know babies were supposed to be purple, so that alone was scary. After this I always said I didn’t want to have children of my own, I would just adopt. Though this pregnancy was not planned, I was actually excited when I showed Cj the pregnancy test results. Though he was shocked at first, it didn’t take long for the excitement to take him over as well. From the very beginning I felt this overwhelming love for the life forming inside of me. My pregnancy was picture perfect, I could not understand why so many people say it is so terrible, I quite enjoyed it, and to some extent I didn’t want it to end. I selfishly didn’t want to have to share this baby. I had formed such a strong connection with her in my belly, little did I know that love would multiply the moment I saw her.
At 38 weeks I was enjoying pregnancy and felt prepared and was actually excited about giving birth. I was in the home stretch now….until my midwife told me that I was going to have a huge baby if I did not stop eating sugar and carbs (which I did do). She said “I don’t want to lose a mom or a baby” …..who says that to an expecting mother who is 8 months pregnant? I am personally not a fan of scare tactics. She made it very clear that this baby was big, and she was not confident in my body or her ability as a midwife to safely deliver a big baby. Her lack of confidence had really shaken me. I awoke the morning before my due date with a vision that I was tearing in half all the way up. I asked my midwife that day if she had ever had a mom with a baby this big not tear, and she said “not a first time mom”. She could have easily said something like “most people will have small nicks, but nothing too serious”…or something along those lines…..but she had no compassion for me whatsoever.
That day I texted another midwife, Carrie LaChapelle (whose number I had saved on a sticky note on my desktop months before….even though I had decided not to interview her because I had decided I wanted to deliver in a birth center). I asked her what was the biggest baby she had a first time mom deliver without tearing and she said 10 lbs 7 oz. I then thanked her for restoring my hope and told her what my midwife had said. She showed me more care and compassion than my own midwife had shown me in months. The whole day I was thinking I had messed up and picked the wrong one and it was too late. That night I called Carrie and asked if she was available. She was! So at 40 weeks I texted my midwife to gently tell her that I had decided to let her go, only to get a response that she was already planning on risking me out the next day. Had I not had my confidence restored by Carrie earlier that day, my midwife wanting to risk me out would have destroyed any shred of confidence I had left at that time, (even though her reasons for risking me out were ridiculous). One reason she listed was my BMI….which had actually been on a steady decline over the last few weeks before she decided to risk me out. The other reasons were just as ridiculous.
The next day I found out that my doula had betrayed my trust and shared my personal information with the midwife I had fired (before I fired her). So at 40 weeks I fired my doula as well. I should have woken up when I had to use my bubble of peace on both my midwife and my doula. My doula had decided to tell me her scary birth story, and some scary things about some of the births she had attended.
After Carrie left my house after our first appointment, I told Cj “this is the feeling I thought I would never get about a midwife…..that is who is meant to be at my birth time!” We both loved her immediately and knew this was just right.
After a couple days of recovering from this traumatic experience, I decided to just let it go and enjoy the final days of pregnancy and try to relax and do things to try to persuade this baby to come. Cj and I went for a nice relaxing hike up at Caesar’s head the weekend before her arrival, again I think there are a few people who thought I was a little crazy, and maybe I was, but I think it was just the kind of relaxing experience I needed.
At 41 weeks I was really dreading the thought of drinking caster oil, so I pulled out all the stops… Ate something with a lot of parsley, felt a little crampy, had sex and did nipple stimulation and BAM–pressure waves started as soon as we finished. They started out long, strong and close together at about 3 mins apart, but they were very inconsistent. They spaced out to 4 mins, then back to 3, then 2, 4, 6, 5, 2, 3, 7, 5, eventually leveling off at 6 around midnight. Then 4,6, 9,8,9,7,8 finally I stopped keeping track and just focused on resting in between. During every wave I would jump into all 4s or knee chest and try to make some low tones. I had found my rhythm, and was just focused on getting through each wave as it came, not even noticing how much time was passing. The next morning I would go to the bathroom between waves, and every time I would sit on the toilet another wave would start. I later looked back and realized this was transformation, but at the time, I still wasn’t sure this was the real thing.
Finally I called Carrie and told her I wanted to get in the tub because the most comfort I had felt was when I took a hot shower. She said she would come check me and bring the tub. She came at around 10 am and was welcomed by my butt in the air with nothing on but some depends (in case my water broke in bed)….and I was worried I wouldn’t feel comfortable losing my modesty…..HA!
She checked me and said “would you call me a liar if I told you that you were fully dilated?” I was ecstatic but not surprised. I got in the tub and stayed in my comfort position of all 4s for the next few hours, until Carrie gently suggested I get in a squat or sit on the toilet. I chose the toilet since I had been holding back the urge to “go” for quite some time. I sat and tried to go to the bathroom and then realized that urge to “go” was really the urge to push out the baby. My water broke and after some uncomfortable progress was made I begged to get back in the water.
Now knowing I was not going to “go” in the water even if I tried, I was able to really let go. I remember reaching down and feeling her head, I could feel her hair…this was really happening! I just wanted to get this over with so I could meet my baby! I kept pushing and could feel her head crown and then go back in. At some point during all this Carrie realized I was crowning and started getting ready to catch her. Finally I could feel more of her head coming out….it was so squishy! Carrie told someone to go ask my mom if she wanted to be in the room for the birth. I got so excited, it was at that moment I realized that she was going to be here very soon. About 30 mins after getting back in the water I had pushed her out to about her nose.I told Cj to give me a kiss for a boost of oxytocin, (something I had seen work for another couple in a birth video I had seen). One kiss and one more big push later and she came twirling out like a ballerina doing a dance choreographed by God.
Everyone was relieved we could finally stop listening to “baby come out” after it had been repeating for the last 6 hours. The one thing I remember hearing the most is that my body knew exactly what position was best to birth my baby and that my body was made for this. I recently looked back in my Hypnobabies folder to see what my biggest fear had been. It was “what if the baby gets stuck”….haha.
I had full confidence in my body at the time I delivered, and I made it out with just a little nick….more like a bit of pinched skin, and a beautiful healthy baby girl. As soon as she was out, I felt no discomfort, only joy and love, my life changed in that moment when I held this perfect baby and realized I had done it! I had done it without fear! I knew my body was made for this. That my body had grown her perfectly and would deliver her perfectly.
We welcomed miss Kaylee Rose into the world on 10/28/14 at 4:10 pm, after a 21 hour birth time. She was 9 lbs 6 oz. 22 in.
I could not have done this without the amazing birth team that i was able to put together after firing my entire birth team on my due date! I can not imagine what my story would have been had I not gotten up the courage to listen to my gut and rid myself of those negative people.
I have to say my doula, Jennifer Middleton, who I hired at the last minute after firing my first one was amazing. Her positive calm energy was just what I needed. She was so good at knowing what I needed at the moment, weather it was rubbing my back, pouring warm water over me, holding cold rags on my face, or just telling me how good I was doing. She and Cj both gave me constant encouragement and made sure I was constantly being offered water…(the bendy straws were a must have!).
Thank you Carrie LaChapelle and Jennifer Middleton! My birth team rocked! Thank you to my teachers Julie Byers and Mary Kury for not only preparing me for birth, but also being friends who I can turn to with anything! Thanks to my guy CJ who went to hours of birth classes with me and retained more information than I could with my pregnancy brain. Thank you for being there for me during my birthing time and for taking such good care of me during my recovery, I couldn’t do it without you! Thanks mom for taking such awesome pics! Most importantly thank you God for such an amazing pregnancy, a safe birth, and for blessing us with this beautiful baby!