I knew the day we came home from the hospital that my next birth would be different. I would not birth in a hospital and I would never step foot in my OB's office again. My hospital birth left me feeling broken, physically and emotionally, and made me doubt my abilities as a woman and a mother. So 11 months later, when we found out we would soon be welcoming baby #2, I immediately called Gentle Birth Options! I had heard so many great things and I knew this is where I would birth my baby and who I would choose to support me through my pregnancy
My pregnancy was relatively smooth, aside from a 2 day stay in the hospital for some GI issues at 28 weeks, which were remedied by Cindi's recommendation of natural calm. Although I had a low risk pregnancy, a pelvic injury I sustained in my first birth left me horribly uncomfortable after about 36 weeks. At 39+4 I fell coming up my back steps carrying Piper because I couldn't get my leg up far enough. I went in for an NST to make sure baby was fine (she was!). Cindi, Lori, and Christina all sat in with me the whole time rather than abandoning me on the monitor like a hospital would! I felt so loved! The following day, after discussing my pain level and the possibility of me maxing out before labor began, Cindi and I decided that stripping my membranes and trying to encourage baby out would be best. Contractions started that night and I was so excited! I would meet my baby soon! I "labored" all weekend but baby girl just wasn't ready. Between 39+4 and 41+2, we did 6 cervical checks and membrane sweeps trying to get baby earth side. My sweet husband had taken off work starting on my due date (October 13th) to help take care of me and our big girl, Piper, so I could focus all my energy into resting and preparing for labor. What a long 9 days! I struggled somewhere between no patience, no peace, and being absolutely content with being pregnant forever. My outlook changed several times throughout the day. I was tired of being asked when my baby would be here, when I would be induced, hearing horror stories of dead babies past 40 weeks. I knew my baby would come on her own, when she was ready, and she just wasn't ready, even though mama was. Why couldn't everyone around me just be patient? My midwives and all of the GBO office staff was so supportive and encouraging. I would come in ready to cry and they would remind me that babies DO come out, I would be holding my baby soon, and I wouldn't be pregnant forever! Praise The Lord! The morning of October 22nd, we went in at 10:30 for one last attempt to encourage baby along before Cindi headed out of town! I was so nervous that she would be leaving and wouldn't be there for my birth. 5 cm dilated with a bulging bag of water! Come on baby! So we left, went for a walk around Walmart (very uncomfortable!), and contractions started around noon. Carla had encouraged me to go home, relax in the tub, and have a glass of wine, so I did. I laid down for a nap and contractions continued to get stronger and closer together. By 3 they were commanding my attention. I was still able to talk through them, but it was increasingly difficult. I text Cindi and my doula Bethany to let them know how things were going.
Around 5 Paxton wanted to make dinner but couldn't remember the recipe. I couldn't talk well enough to clearly communicate to him exactly how to make it, so I decided to get up and do it myself. I managed to eat a few bites before I completely lost my appetite. At this point I was still handling my contractions fairly well, but decided that I needed a little more support, so I decided to have Bethany go ahead and come. Paxton called his mom to come and get Piper (her first night away from home!) and the dogs. I also called Carla and requested that she and the birth team come soon. I was a little apprehensive, afraid that my labor would stop again, but am ultimately glad they came when they did. The birth team arrived around 7:30. Carla checked me and my cervix hadn't changed from earlier in the day and baby's head was unable to press against my cervix properly because of the bulging waters. We discussed breaking my water but decided baby needed to do some moving around before that happened. So I got into some crazy positions and got baby moved around enough. Carla then suggested that I sit on the toilet through a few contractions. That was definitely effective! I was now vocalizing more through my contractions and could feel my baby getting lower. I NEEDED to get in the tub! I was so tired and just wanted to rest and relax. I guess it was probably around 9:45 when I got in. The water felt so good and I thought I might get a few minutes of relief. But just a few contractions after getting in the water, my body was pushing! I couldn't believe it. So quickly! I was leaning over the edge of the pool, holding onto Paxton's hands while I pushed. It was so incredible to listen to my body and not be told when and how to push. My body knows how to give birth! Between contractions, I would lean back in the pool, sip my water, and try and catch my breath. As my contractions got stronger, to the point of feeling like they never ended, I began to lose my peace. I kept being reminded to catch my breath, deep sounds, my baby would be here soon. Paxton kept telling me I could do it, I had done this before (with a f$&@!?% epidural! Was my not so kind response). But I felt like she would never come out! I hit a wall and knew I could not do it. Can I just be pregnant forever? I even asked if I would love my baby after this was over! Why do women have babies without drugs?! I prayed to God, please give me the strength, Lord. Help me through this. I can do all things through Christ. And just then, her head was out! I CAN do it! It was such a relief to know that I was almost done, my baby was almost here. I leaned back again but couldn't push effectively, so Carla had me get back on my hands and knees. A few pushes and some shimmying later, she was out! "Reach down and pull her up to you!" I think everyone in the room had to say it at least once before I pulled myself together and understood. I did it! I did it! My baby is here, all 9lbs 8oz of her! Paisley Bay Shelton.
That moment, seeing my baby for the first time, feeling so accomplished, so proud...that moment is invaluable. Nothing in the world is as great as that. I was induced with Piper for an unproven pelvis and a "big baby" that my OB estimated at 6-6.5 lbs. I was told I would not be able to deliver vaginally if I went any further. And then I had so much damage and a shoulder dystocia that he reminded me later, if she had been any bigger, I would have needed a cesarean. But I knew better. I informed myself, I prayed, I trusted God and his creation, my body. I chose incredible midwives to support me and come beside me while I brought my baby earthside in the best way for her and I. And then I did it! I pushed a 9lb 8oz baby through my "narrow hips" at home! And I have never been more proud or felt more blessed than I do today, to have had the experiences I had birthing my babies, one that lead to the other, and to have these 2 beautiful girls. I could not have done it without the support of my husband and my midwives :)