My Natural Home Birth (And Why My Doula Was Worth Every Penny!)

My Natural Home Birth

 I had a natural home birth and I’m nobody special.

If I had one, then you could too!

My Natural Home Birth

Recently I shared the experience that drove me to choose a natural home birth for my 3rd child’s delivery. You can read about it here: http://dontcallmesupermom.com/2017/03/14/hospital-home-birth-my-story/

As promised, here is the follow up post with just how well that decision worked out for my family and me!

March 11th, My Baby's Due Date :

7:30am :  I was laying in bed when I noticed a warm trickle between my legs…I’d just been to the bathroom a few minutes earlier, so I definitely wasn’t peeing the bed. In slight disbelief, I laid completely still for a few moments to assess the situation. It was definitely my waters…and more water was coming out every second. I reached over and tapped my husband, whispering,

“My water broke…”

My poor husband. He wasn’t ready. The longer baby boy stayed in my belly safe and sound, the better in his opinion. He was slightly nervous about my natural home birth plan. Hubby’s response amused me…he quietly murmured,

“It did? Ohhh no…Ohhh boy….”

He knew it was game on, no turning back now!

This is the 2nd time I’ve had a labor start with a broken bag of waters, and its always so awkward…what do you do with gushing water between your legs? On this occasion, there was no need for a towel to cover the leather seats in our car, or hoping a pad would sufficiently soak up the flow until we made it to the hospital. I calmly stood in our bathroom over a towel, texting my midwife and doula. I brushed my teeth, put on makeup, and ate bacon and eggs.

After awhile, I felt the water had subsided enough for me to come downstairs and hang out with the family. I wasn’t feeling any pain, so I told my doula not to come yet and my midwife said she would check me in 4-6 hours if no contractions had started. I was to keep everyone posted if there was any bloody show or contractions.

Nothing exciting happened for hours. And hours.

40 weeks pregnant
We took one last baby bump pic that morning! 40 weeks exactly!

11am : I’m losing some of the mucus plug. Whoopee! Keeping things interesting (sarcasm). Still no contractions or pain, just feeling a little pressure in my lower belly and a slight lower back ache. Lots of walking around the house and trying to keep busy. Removed clean sheets from dryer to remake the bed after I got them wet earlier in the morning. Painted all my daughter’s nails (fingers AND toes) as well as my toenails. Blue, for baby boy. 🙂

Noon: Feeling more achey in my lower back. Still no actual contractions, but at least I can tell something promising is going on.

My first labor crosses my mind. I had to be induced because my waters had broken and contractions didn’t start quickly enough for the hospital’s liking. What if they never started on their own? But my midwife said there’s no time limit until 48 hours. At 12 hours she would add some herbs to the labor process. I feel reassured that at least we have a backup plan!

Still losing water, but a smaller amount. I was told that I would continue leaking until the baby came because your body keeps making amniotic fluid until the birth. Makes sense!

2pm : My back is hurting more and more, but is only slightly worse than period cramps.

My midwife checks me and I’m at 2 centimeters (3 if she stretches a bit). I’m instructed to take a dropper full of cotton root oil every 30 minutes to help the contractions along. My doula decides to head on over since she is a 45 minute drive away.

The midwife will come back for another check at 6pm, she says.

2:30pm : I’m still quite jovial, texting friends and hanging out with the family. Feeling a little more discomfort after the cervical check but nothing I can’t walk and talk through. I’m still not sure if these are considered contractions or not. (Shouldn’t I know by the third child?)

I’m finding lots of reasons to go up and down the stairs, to hopefully get that baby moving!

3pm : My doula has arrived! Not much for her or anyone else to do so…we go down to the basement and watch a Steve Martin movie while I pace the floor trying to help the labor along. I start timing contractions (or something like them?) on my contraction app!

4pm : This dumb app makes me laugh. My contractions are nowhere near regular (every where between 1.5 minutes and 6 minutes apart!) but it keeps telling me silly things like, “Delivery is immediate. Get to the hospital!”. I have to keep walking because the one time I sat down, I didn’t have another contraction for 10 whole minutes!

I had one contraction sitting on the exercise ball – I thought it was never going to end and I would never get up again. Lesson learned, the ball is not an effective labor tool for this girl!

4:30pm : Since things are picking up and the movie is over, I decide to eat a little dinner before I no longer feel like eating. Turns out, I lose my appetite halfway through my bowl of chicken chili and we (hubby, doula and I) decide to move things upstairs away from the rest of the family.

5pm : I text my midwife, “Contractions are still irregular, but they’ve definitely picked up in intensity. Pain is still bearable…But almost not so bearable.” She asked if I wanted a check sooner than 6pm as originally planned. I respond, “They’re getting worse, anytime.” She slips her shoes on…

6pm : Midwife arrives to do a cervical check. I look at her and sigh, “I don’t want you to check me.” She exclaims, “Yay! You’re having a baby! That’s a good sign when you don’t want to be checked!” I lay down on the bed and we wait through a fairly painful contraction until she can check me. I’m only 4-5 centimeters and 90% effaced, but at least I’ve made progress!

Immediately after she leaves the contractions pick up with a vengeance. I stop texting my friends and my mom. I can barely text the midwife because I forgot to ask if I should keep taking the cotton root oil.

6:40pm : I begin to think maybe a home birth was a stupid idea. If I’m only at about 5 centimeters, how in the world am I going to make it to full dilation and push a baby out??

6:50pm: I tell my doula I’m feeling a little like I could push during the last few contractions. She rubs my back and tells me she doesn’t think I could have dilated that quickly and offers a new pain management technique or change of position.

7pm : My husband texts the midwife from my phone that I feel a little like pushing during contractions. She thinks it is me texting, so she calmly replies that it is common to feel that way around 6-7cm, but she will head on back. (If I could still text, there’s no way I’m about to push a baby out, right?)

7:15pm : My husband texts the midwife, “Head showing.”

7:18pm : And then he texts, “Head out.”

7:19pm : Midwife walks in the door.

7:20pm : Baby boy is born!

So what exactly happened in just over an hour after that 6pm check by my midwife where I was still only halfway to birthing a baby??? Besides possibly doubting my sanity in this crazy home birth decision…

My husband was busy filling up the birthing tub I planned to labor in once the contractions got worse. While he was busy doing that, my doula, Caroline, was busy massaging my back. She applied counter pressure whenever I had a contraction. Another technique was putting her hands on either side of my hips and squeezing, which really helped combat the intense pressure I was feeling in that area.

A contraction hit during an outfit change! I got really hot a few times and decided to put on shorts and a tank. My doula is applying counter pressure here during that contraction.

I was still trying to walk between contractions, but they were only about a minute apart and soon I could no longer even press the stop/start button on my contraction timer app.

Then suddenly I had a contraction where I felt like I could push. And another. I can’t describe if it sounded like I was grunting, trying to catch my breath, or dry heaving, lol. My body took over and did something I had no control over. I felt my body pushing, and I had nothing to do with it.

Caroline, my doula, suggested I see if I could go to the bathroom or if just sitting on the toilet would help me relax through contractions. I learned that this was a trick of the trade during my natural home birth research and preparation. Laboring woman often find that this is a comfortable position that offers a little relief through the pains.

But after my doula heard me go through two powerful back to back contractions on the toilet, she changed her mind. Caroline kindly insisted I get off the toilet and over to the bed. I groaned,

“I don’t think I can!”

It seemed like the most incredibly impossible task at that moment in time, but somehow I managed to leave the bathroom, kicking off my shorts along the way.

(I guess I knew the baby was coming soon at that point, because I’m not sure what else would have possessed me to do that, haha! I’m normally a pretty modest person, and was adamant about staying clothed during labor. 🙂 )

I rolled up into bed and laid on my side. The contractions were unrivaled in their intensity, causing me to whimper and whine. Having my doula there to massage and press on my back was really comforting. I knew I was in good hands!

Natural Home Birth
My last few contractions before pushing!

After a few more contractions, I felt a really strong urge to do something…It scared me a little, because I wasn’t sure exactly what it was! I decided that now, if ever, was the time for honesty. Gasping for breath, I told my doula, “I feel. Like I have. To push…Or poop.” Lol! It was really hard to tell the difference. Just in case, I resisted the urge, whatever kind of urge it was, for a few moments. Finally, I gave in and started pushing my baby’s head out.

(At this point, my midwife is still on her way in the car – luckily she only lives 15 minutes away!)

My doula told me I could reach down and feel the baby’s head…I thought that seemed a little gross at first – I mean…there’s all those bodily fluids, yuck! But I did, and it was the most awesome feeling in the world! The contractions had eased and I don’t remember feeling any pain at that point, just joy and excitement!

Once the head crowned, I remarked,

“I wish I could see it!”

My husband leapt into action, looking for a mirror. He ran into our daughters’ room and fiddled with the tall mirror screwed into their wall. Deciding THAT wouldn’t work, he ran into the guest bathroom. He looked at the huge mirror over the sink, thinking he would have to carry that into the bedroom for me. And finally he remembered we have a small porthole window shaped mirror in our nautical themed nursery. He grabbed that and dashed back into our bedroom to see the baby’s head coming out.

My husband stood at the bedside feeling all his fatherly feels, lovingly gazing at our emerging baby while I thought, “Oh for goodness sake, where’s the camera?!”. I exclaimed,

“Ryan! Get the camera; take pictures!”

He snapped a few awesome photos that no one but us will probably ever see in their unedited version, but I’m so glad to have captured that amazing moment!

Natural Home Birth
My doula congratulating me on the baby’s head emerging! Photo cropped to remove delicate subject matter. 😀

My doula suggested we let the baby’s head sit and rest for a moment to let my body stretch and avoid tearing. (And also since my midwife was almost there!) I was fine with this, as I didn’t have the urge to push again for a few minutes. I noticed the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck and asked if that was alright. My doula calmly replied, “Yes, it is wrapped around there, but it seems pretty loose. I think it’s fine.”

This whole time, it never occurred to me that I should possibly be concerned about giving birth with no midwife present. My doula was so composed, I had complete faith in her.

There’s a few facts I haven’t mentioned about my doula before now…Mine was her first natural home birth. And she’s a doula in training! She’s attended 5 or 6 births, but they’d all been in hospitals until mine. It just goes to show that the number of births under your doula’s belt isn’t everything! 😉 Having confidence in and feeling comfortable with the doula you chose is important!

My midwife (and her assistant) arrived right before I felt like pushing again, just in time to catch the baby! Which, oddly enough, was a large factor in me choosing a natural home birth. I wanted to avoid the whole midwife-is-only-there-to-catch-the-baby-scenario. Oh the irony! This is why my doula was worth every penny! I was supported every step of the way during my delivery!

Natural Home Birth
Moments after birth!

The thing that was different with this birth experience is that I felt loved and supported by my birth team. Every effort was made for my comfort and well-being before, during, and after the labor. My doula made sure I was drinking, the lights were dimmed (which I always thought sounded silly, but was really very comforting!) the assistant midwife covered me with a blanket after delivery, the midwife oohed and ahhed over the baby, engaged with my daughters and congratulated me on what a great job I did! I felt a little like a rock star…so much love and attention!

Big sisters meeting baby brother for the first time!
My daughters got to come in and meet the baby only about an hour and twenty minutes after baby was born.

I had a very quick labor and delivery – I was only in active labor for about 2 hours! He was born at 7:20pm, only 2 hours after my cervical check where I was only 4-5cm dilated and 90% effaced.

I can’t say whether I would have fared as well through a longer labor, but the intense pressure of contractions and back labor was totally worth the ecstasy of finally feeling a baby crowning for the first time ever!

My doula was an amazing support postpartum as well as during my labor and delivery. I’ll always appreciate her calming presence and thoughtfulness. A few of her considerate actions included grabbing me a fresh, soft blanket to cuddle baby up in, helping clean up, leaving me a snack and nipple cream, taking lots of pictures…

My recovery has been awesome! This is the first delivery where I haven’t torn! I’ve had the strongest, most instantaneous bond with this baby – all I wanted to do was stare at him for days. I couldn’t get enough! So much love, and that extended to my girls…Seeing them hold and exclaim over their brand new baby brother evoked the sweetest of emotions. My milk came in like crazy! Even more than with my first. I could feed 2 or 3 babies right now I think.

I honestly don’t know how much of this had to do with an unmedicated birth. I mention all these things because this is my experience and how it differs from my two previous hospital births.

Having a natural home birth was definitely the best decision I could have made! I hope it will make me a better mother in the future, better able to fully appreciate all of my children for the miracles they are. <3

Newborn baby boy

I’m interested to know if you’ve had both a medicated as well as an UNmedicated birth experience!

What were the differences you noticed post-delivery? 

Let me know in the comments!

From Hospital to Home Birth: My Story

From Hospital to Home Birth : My Story

A home birth was never on my radar, nowhere in the realm of possibility. Until…

From Hospital to Home Birth : My Story

Whaaaat? A home birth you say?

Right now, you may be looking at your screen in shock and horror. Or maybe respect and admiration (I can only hope, haha!). I used to think home birth people were so ‘out there’, completely weird. Why not have your baby in a hospital where it’s safe? It’s common sense, right?

Not necessarily. While awesome when absolutely necessary, hospital interventions like inductions and epidurals come with a risk of side effects for you AND your baby. I’ve had one hospital birth with an induction, and two hospital births with epidurals. I loved my epidurals! Except that along with the loss of feeling in my lower limbs, I also lost a feeling of accomplishment and a sweet rush of emotions. The baby simply appeared one moment and it was like, “Oh cool, she’s got hair!”.

newborn

When my first child emerged, I merely said, “Awww”, like any stranger would do upon seeing a cute new baby. I loved her, but it took a week to fully develop the mommy/daughter bond. Maybe that would have happened anyway, especially as a first time mom, but I don’t know.

I also tore with both children and I wonder if it’s because I couldn’t feel anything while pushing. There’s a time to push and a time to wait for your body to stretch and catch up, not push on demand from your doctor.

Besides all that, I didn’t love the fact that I had absolutely no support whatsoever during my labor besides nurses that walked in from time to time with ice chips. I don’t even remember the name of the midwives who delivered my first two children. Each time, they waltzed in just to catch my baby, then waltzed back out. To me, that is extremely sad!

Still, I thought there was nothing to be done about the situation. This is simply how hospitals operate, I thought, and I would have to tolerate it again when my baby boy arrived.

But then one Friday, I was at a routine midwife checkup, the day before I turned 32 weeks. My midwife began talking to me about the glucose test for the 3rd time. I’d discussed this with two different midwives at two previous appointments (it’s a large practice!) and sighed when this one brought it up again. I explained for the third time that I did not want to drink a nasty orange drink full of artificial colors and flavors, that I had absolutely no risk factors for gestational diabetes and that I eat a (fairly) healthy diet to begin with. If they could offer me a food alternative, I would take the test. Instead, the midwife offered a needle prick test as a solution- 4 times a day for 2 weeks! I am deathly afraid of needles and there is no way I could bring myself to do this. Plus, in all honesty, I can’t remember to take my daily prenatal vitamin. Four needle pricks a day would never happen!

When I attended this same practice with my last child, I discussed my reservations with the midwives about this highly fallible, inaccurate test. I mentioned the research I did regarding my extremely low risk factors, and I was excused from the test. This time, the rules were suddenly different. I was told that the doctors in my practice would “go crazy” if I didn’t have the test done by 32 weeks and I would be “dismissed”. My midwife also tried the scare tactic, telling me they have one stillborn baby at the hospital every year. Now that’s just wrong!

I was livid. Why did I have to be the one to compromise?

Why could I not eat a normal breakfast before testing? Drink freshly squeezed orange juice and eat toast instead? Plenty of other practices have real food equivalents for the glucose test. But not in my area.

I left the exam room to reluctantly schedule my appointment. The receptionist was so rigid about the urgent timing, refusing to work with my schedule, and it made me even angrier.

Stalking out to the car, I began angrily texting my hubby and crunchy friends, complaining of the injustice. I heatedly wrote my husband,

I’ll have a home birth before I let them threaten and bully me!

And a lightbulb went off in my head. Why not? I hated the impersonal care I received at my current practice. I was still bitter about my last birth experience with the rude, angry triage nurse and the epidural I was given without my progress first being checked. I knew I was basically making a mountain out of a molehill, and I knew I was crazy to leave my practice over one sugary orange drink. But you just don’t threaten or use scare tactics on a 32 week pregnant woman, and the midwives’ lack of communication up to this point floored me.

So even though I’d never considered a home birth (not even for a minute!), I immediately texted my friend who’s had 3 babies at home. And the next thing you know, I’m one of those crazy people having a home birth! I’m so excited about having more support and encouragement during labor as well as help with pain management techniques.

It’s still somewhat unbelievable to me that I chose this path, but I really believe that God had a better plan in mind all along. For such a big decision, to feel the instant peace and calm I felt in that moment tells me this was the right thing to do.

I’m writing this at 35 weeks pregnant, and won’t hit the publish button until after the birth. I don’t feel like fielding a lot of questions and concerns during my last few weeks of pregnancy. I think staying confident, relaxed, and focused is the best way to have a happy, peaceful birth. I’ll post details of my birth experience after the little one arrives safe and sound!

Tell me, what kind of birth(s) have you had? What was your experience like?

 

Healthier Worms and Dirt : A Fun Snack For Kids!

healthier worms and dirt

Today I’m sharing a healthier twist on a fond childhood memory!

healthier worms and dirt

I love treating my kids, but I prefer healthier snacks that will provide extra nutrients to get them through their day! I’m not even sure they notice a difference, to be honest! And it makes me feel like a good mom. 🙂

I have fond memories of eating “worms and dirt” as a kid. The best librarian ever made it for us once at story time – just one of the many reasons to love her! In case you’re not aware, worms and dirt is chocolate pudding layered with crunched up Oreo cookies and gummy worms lurking inside! I thought it was the best thing ever as a young child.

So a couple months ago, I set out to recreate this awesome memory for my kids. I was inspired by finding organic gummy worms at the grocery – on sale! The next step was waiting for the healthier brand of Oreos to go on sale. (Yep, I’m really cheap.) I buy the Back to Nature brand whenever I get a hankering for yummy cookies (like Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Thin Mints, etc.) with no high fructose syrup, artificial colors, preservatives, or flavorings.

Once all those stars had aligned, I went looking for a healthier chocolate pudding recipe. I won’t buy the boxed mixes (especially when homemade tastes SOOO much better!) I couldn’t find a recipe I liked, so I combined a couple. Here is my tweaked version of an “Eat to Live cookbook” recipe and a random pin I found (and since lost).

Healthier Worms and Dirt Avocado pudding
Ingredients necessary for worms and dirt (plus vanilla!)

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

  • 2 avocados
  • 3/4 – 1 cup chocolate almond milk or plain, unsweetened almond milk (add until you get the consistency you like)
  • 7-8 Tbs. cacao powder
  • 10+ dates (possibly more, depends on your sweet tooth – can also add honey or maple syrup at the end if you find it’s not sweet enough. It’s easier than adding more dates!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

First, blend dates into a paste. This is KEY for getting a smooth pudding consistency (Unless you have a Vitamix, perhaps, or another high powered blender, which I don’t.). The dates will come together and ball up in a lump. Once that happens, you can add all other ingredients. Add more almond milk if it’s too thick and adjust amount of cacao and sweetener to taste. If it isn’t sweet enough, I recommend adding maple syrup or honey instead of more dates for ease of blending it all in.

That’s it! You’ve got pudding!

  • Now crush some cookies in a ziploc or chop them up in a food processor (I used about one row out of 3 from the Back to Nature brand box of cookies.).

Grab a pretty glass or parfait dish for the pudding if you have one the kids can break (I have a glass mug set I got at a yard sale for 25 cents. 4 glasses for 25 cents! Totally breakable.).

  • Layer a couple scoops of pudding, then some smashed cookies. Add a couple Black Forest organic gummy worms. Repeat layers. Top with extra gummy worms and add a spoon!

Eating her healthier worms and dirt pudding!

My kids loved helping me make this special, healthier treat! And I loved eating it with them (sans gummy worms)!

Their favorite part was finding the hidden gummy worms…in fact, I probably could have skipped the whole pudding part and just thrown some worms on the table. Oh well. Someday they’ll appreciate me. 😉

Thumbs up for healthier avocado pudding!
This is how they felt about their special snack! Thumbs up!

What’s a fond childhood snack memory you have? Anything you’d like to recreate as a healthier version for your kids? Let me know in the comments below!

 

An Anticlimactic Potty Story

An Anticlimactic Potty Story

The worst thing about taking toddlers out in public is when they have to go potty. Or trying to use the potty yourself while you yell, “Don’t touch that! Get your hands off the floor!”

Here’s one rousing story out of our three public potty breaks today:

An Anticlimactic Potty Story

This afternoon, we were all at our limit during our last stop of the day. It was after 3pm, and we’d left the house at 9am. My Costco grocery list was simple – butter, milk, strawberries. I asked my 5 year old to repeat it with me so I wouldn’t forget, “Butter, Milk, Strawberries, nothing else!”. Any more exertion and that baby boy in my belly might arrive 2.5 weeks early! It had been a long. day. Did I mention that?

We trekked across the Costco parking lot and I hoisted my 2.5 year old into the cart (but unfortunately sat her in a less than desirable spot, and had to remove her immediately). She insisted on sitting in the basket of the cart. My 5 year old pointed out the picture on the seat with an “x” through a child sitting in the basket. I nodded, “Yeah, I know; you’re not supposed to sit in there, but she’s going to today.” I figured 37.5 week pregnant women are allowed to be bad mothers once in awhile.

With my belly heavy and aching, we soldiered through a multitude of sample carts, me loading the kids up with their own personal snack bar. My toddler had an impressive snack buffet laid out on top of my reusable bags in the cart in no time at all.

Tragedy struck briefly when she spilled all but two pieces of popcorn out of her caramel/cheese popcorn mix, but that was quickly remedied with another quick swipe at the popcorn sample cart. No apologies here.

We passed a dried pear man, who wanted to tell me all about the 11 pounds of pears that went into this one bag of dried pear slices. I nodded and raised my eyebrows, feigning absolute amazement, and pushed on. We were almost there! The land of milk and honey (or butter) was near!

But adversity was on the horizon – my toddler had begun to complain about needing to go potty. AGAIN.

I reminded her she’d JUST been to the potty at the last store – and she didn’t even go! She could wait two minutes (okay, 20 minutes, until we got home. But toddlers have a terrible sense of time, and it’s very easy to take advantage of their ignorance.).

I halted at the Dr. Praeger’s cart of veggie burgers, and maybe that was my biggest mistake. But I’d been so intrigued by these veggie burgers for so long; I had to try one. I chatted with the veggie burger lady for a moment, and it was then my 2 year old began complaining in earnest.

Moving more quickly now, we sped to the end of the veggie burger aisle where, dangit, they had a gluten-free chicken nugget sample cart. This is not something my kids get but for very rare occasions. So, although I was tempted to speed on, I saw my 5 year old eyeing the samples and I knew that wouldn’t fly. We stopped for a nugget. The sample lady had to tell me of all the salubrious benefits of these wonderful nuggets (which I wasn’t impressed by).

Feeling ever-increasing unease at my younger daughter’s persistence that she had to go potty, I smiled and rushed away from the nugget cart.

We finally made it to the butter aisle whereupon our predicament reached a peak. The toddler was now clutching her crotch, eyes wide with alarm, eyes teary. I thought, “Oh crap; I’ve misjudged the situation!”.

Desperately, I raked my eyes over the butter display. Where was the organic, unsalted butter?? I looked from the butter case, to my agonized daughter, back to the butter. “Oh God, where is the butter!!!”, I cried to myself.

I gave up.

I implored my oldest to hurry and we raced back the way we’d come. The veggie burgers and pear slices were all a blur as we zoomed towards the front of the store. Yes, the butter is about as far away as you can get from the restrooms at our Costco.

We drew nearer and nearer to a sample cart we’d neglected to hit before and I sensed my curious 5 year old starting to lag. Then the sample lady said something to her or me, I don’t know which. In a frenzy, I barked, “Don’t stop; keep going!!!”, as if our lives depended on it.

At long last, we’d reached the Promised Land, the restrooms! What a gleaming, glorious site! I whisked my 2 year old out of the cart and into the very first open stall. In my haste, I’m not even sure I lined the seat with toilet paper before I sat her on it.

She delicately tinkled and she was done.

No impressive explosion of any sort.

I ran my extremely pregnant self through Costco for THAT?

It was so anticlimactic.

THIS, my friend, is why you should never give your child an entire carton of chocolate milk when you’re still two errands away from home. In fact, I suggest no liquids for 24 hours previous to your outing, just in case.

potty training

The moral of this story is:

You can never be too careful in matters of the heart poop and pee.