Due to several contributing factors with my body my pregnancy was quite a surprise. I don't like saying my baby wasn't planned or an accident, the plan had just been for it to be a little later than it was; and we really didn't know if the plan was possible. When I went to the doctor the options seemed to be more pelvic complications or I was pregnant. The doctor actually said before the test that it was more than likely my typical issues and we talked about trying yet another option. Not that I felt prepared for a baby at that time, but I did pray right there for it. Maybe that was selfish because I didn't want to deal with more pain than I was already dealing with for no reason. I wanted it to be for something- really, someone. When the doctor came back he was surprised too! I was pregnant! Then reality set in and every thought of "we're not ready for this" came crashing down. It also didn't help that the doctor then wanted to discuss with me my high likelihood of an ectopic pregnancy or other complications due to my past surgeries and advised me not to make the news too public as I was only projected to be 4 weeks and 6 days along. I went home and thought immediately- I have to find a new OB/GYN (I lost count at how many I had seen at number 9- but seeing this doctor last year was the worst. Long story with her basically slitting my insides open unnecessarily while I was 100% conscious). I thank God everyday for helping me find Cindi and Gentle Birth Options. I was nervous because of my history that I wouldn't be a candidate for an out of hospital birth but when I talked to Cindi she reassured me that it would be fine. Not surprisingly (to me anyway) I had just about every symptom I had heard or read about. My whole pregnancy everyone would ask how I was feeling. My typical answer was always good or at least okay (up until the last 2 weeks or so!); a majority of pregnant women have to deal with symptoms related to it so I didn't see the point in complaining. I did have some additional pain that others may not have but I gelt like this time it was for something so it didn't bother me as much. Flashing forward several months. I saw Cindi Tuesday morning for my first non centering appt. 38w 5d on 4/4/17. We had just moved into our new house the week before and I felt like things were different. At the appointment she said "we might have a baby this weekend, or maybe a couple more weeks." She also said my baby was very far on the right side and was concerned she may end up posterior during labor. Another woman had just delivered a "sunny side up" baby a couple weeks before she made sure I understood I did NOT want to do that and I needed to lay on my left side exclusively from then on. I of course agreed and just remember thinking, "yeah Friday sounds like a good day." That evening was my usual Tuesday night Bible study, I hosted at my house so everyone could see it. My friends all brought wonderful snacks and a cake since my birthday was the next day. Looking back I'm so glad they did so I had a little birthday fun at least. I sat on a ball during the study and was grateful I was at my own home when I noticed I was a little wetter down there. I thought it was a combination of sweat and normal pregnant things. I was huge at this point and sweating A LOT more. I changed clothes and didn't think anything of it. I went to bed that night around 11pm and set myself up as best I could on my left side (my left hip had been giving me a lot of pain so I really didn't want to). There was a severe thunderstorm that night and I remember waking up just after 1am to pee and seeing the lightning through the blinds. It was my birthday that day and I had plans to have lunch with a friend who shares my birthday and then to swim afterwards. I had been dying to see what it felt like to swim while pregnant so I was disgruntled by the storm thinking that it would ruin my plan. I went back to bed as normal not realizing that it wouldn't just be rain that stopped me from swimming that day. I woke up at 1:40am I later woke up at 1:40am to a gush of water (thank you GBO for recommending double lining the sheets with shower curtains!!) My first thought was, of course you're going to share my birthday, thankssss. My husband just asked if I had peed the bed. Ugh! I of course snapped something in regards to do you think I could pee this much!? Contractions started but weren't very frequent. I sat on the toilet trying to make sure my water had stopped coming out and texted Katie Murray (my birth photographer) to keep her in the loop and ask some advice. I had thought that contractions would come long before my water breaking so I didn't want to get ahead of the game and wake up Cindi or Kassie for no reason. She advised me to go ahead and give the after hours line a call. I spoke with Cindi and she said to put on a pad and try and get more sleep- which is what I figured. Each time I tried getting back in bed (twice before I gave up) when I laid down so much water kept coming and I had to keep changing so I got frustrated and paced the floor trying to plan. With just moving I wasn't completely prepared and still needed to go to the store for several things. I kept telling Kaleb I needed to go to the store and he kept begging me to go back to bed like Cindi said and wait a few more hours. My water was still gushing every few moments so I stayed in the bathroom on the edge of the tub for awhile. I realized I only had one pad left so I NEEDED to go to the store. Kaleb finally offered to go for me but I knew it would be to complicated to explain all the things I needed to I packed and extra pair of underwear in my purse and we went to Walmart around 4am. He dropped me off at the front and as I was getting out of the car there was another huge gush that my pad couldn't hold. No one was around, it was raining and thank the Lord for black shorts. I hobbled into the bathroom and changed quickly but had to put back on the wet shorts. We went all around Walmart pausing with contractions and checking things off the list. After going home I continued to prepare for my baby to come home later that day. We still had many things in boxes so I was frantic. My mom and sister came over to help with things. Cindi called around 9am to see how I was doing. I hadn't been timing my contractions but guessed they were about 8-10 minutes apart. Since my water was already broken Cindi asked us to come in for a membrane sweep to stir somethings up. We got there around 10:30am and discussed different ways to move so I could hopefully progress things faster. After going home and moving on the ball and swaying my hips a lot things really picked up and I started to feel horrible ripping lower back pains with each contraction. Our instructions were to come in when I could no longer talk through contractions. Things progressed and we got to the birth center around 5:30pm. Katie had arrived just before us. Cindi did say she may not end up sharing my birthday after all but at that point I thought for sure she would come before the day ended. Back labor hit me hard and it wasn't something I was expecting to deal with. Each lightning strike came and felt so unproductive. I had been holding onto the "every surge brings baby closer" and it certainly did not feel that way after the back labor had begun. My team was so amazing though and took turns giving counter pressure to get me through it. Somewhere in all the blur Larissa, the in house chiropractor came in and was comforting as much as possible. I am SO grateful for her going above and beyond like that and for Cindi calling her in. The birth tub was filled and after trying to relax there for a while I got out. The pain was a bit more manageable it the warm water but I didn't feel like things were progressing in there. On the bed Cindi checked me and told me she thought I was ready to push. It was just after 10pm. There was definitely a learning curve for this first time mom! I thought I figured it out after not too long and I was still thinking we'd share a birthday. It was about 11:30/11:45 when Cindi said they could see her head! She was almost here and I just needed a few more pushes, or so we thought. As I pushed and pushed and changed positions I was thinking, well she really does want her own birthday, okay. I remember it was 12:10am when I saw the clock and thought, this is the push!!! We even have a picture of Kaleb's face excited and happy and me screaming. It wasn't. And it wasn't for several more afterward. We continued to change positions and I was truly giving it everything I had. I remember looking around at Cindi, Christy, Sarah, and Katie and feeling so bad for making everyone have such a long night. As we kept trying new positions and I kept pushing, the clock kept nagging me. I could feel her head only about an inch inside since just before midnight. It was reassuring that the whole time, my baby girl's heart rate was strong and did not drop. At about 3am Cindi said I needed to get this baby out or think about transferring to a hospital. I was so opposed of course. I was pushing with every ounce I had left in me and many ounces I didn't know I had. She let me go two more hours and at 5am we decided to do what none of us want to and headed to the hospital. I was so thankful for Cindi coming with us!
Getting in the car was probably the most difficult part because of the defeated feeling and of course the baby I could feel so closely between my legs. I "sat" with my legs underneath me for the ride there and tried to breathe through the contractions as Cindi has said. That was extremely difficult. My body NEEDED to push and I would say about half of the ride it did. I felt something change after we got off the bridge and thought that I might very well have her in the car. Kaleb was completely silent- at about the outlets I glanced over and saw he was doing the speed limit exactly. I said something to the effect of: "Can you just give me 5 over!?" . After arriving at the hospital getting out of the car was just as difficult as getting in. They wanted me in an wheel chair but I didn't want to sit on her head so I held myself up. I really don't know how I had the strength. By the time we got in the room and on the bed I pushed a few times and she was out within minutes. The doctors around had seemed angry when Cindi let them know how long I was pushing but my strong girl was monitored with each contraction after about 2am and her heart rate was constant. I did have a second degree tear but being stitched up didn't matter at that point. I FINALLY had my baby and with no pain medication or intervention. Baby Girl Howze was born at 6:10am on April 6, 2017. Not the typical GBO birth but I still count it as one. Cindi was right next to the doctor as Kairi was born. I can't say enough how awesome everyone at GBO is! No hospital would have given anywhere near the support I had from my team every step of the way and I'm confident they would have forced me into a c-section after pushing for a couple of hours with her head showing. After a little over 24 hours we named her Kairi Celia Belle. 💕9lbs 6.6oz 21.5 inches.