We invite all ICAN of Northern Virginia subscribers to share their birth stories on our website. Current subscribers may login to add your story to this list. We welcome you to browse through the emotional and powerful words of our subscribers, past and present, and to be inspired by their strength and courage.
Helen's first birthday was today. As I think back to last year, I wonder if the magic of that day could be owed in part to my birth experiences with Charles and Sebastian. If I had never felt the terror I felt when I first lay on an operating table with bright lights shining down, a horrible tugging and pressure down below, tears streaming down my face, would I be grateful for the experience of vaginal birth? I was just looking at the clock and thinking this time last year... (as I have done many times over the last day and a half). Well, at this time last year I was walking down the hall after a lovely shower. But I was walking very gingerly, I was quite sore and it was very uncomfortable to move around. Certainly sitting down was very painful! The pain factor was not unlike a c-section recovery. Of course it lasted much less time than c-section pain and my recovery was very swift. But initially the recovery was difficult. Without two c-sections in my past, I am not sure what I would have thought about a vaginal birth.
So... I woke up at 4:30 a.m. AGAIN on the morning of April 11th. I had been waking at 4:30 every third day or so for a while, so I didn't think anything of it. I wondered if maybe I was hungry and had a protein bar to see if it would help me go back to sleep. I thought I was having some contractions, but again, this wasn't surprising, since I had been having contractions on and off for about three weeks. I couldn't believe I might actually finally be in real labor. Around 6:00, I woke my husband and told him I think I better call the midwife, because I thought my contractions might be 5 minutes apart or so and that we might want to set up the Aqua Doula (a.k.a. "Aqua Doodle" in our house). He said OK, and jumped in the shower real quick. I called the midwife and asked her if we should start setting the tub up, and she was like, "Uh, yeah!" She said she would call back in an hour to check on me. I also called my doula (Lori) to let her know I thought I was in labor. She was at a birth (!) but, fortunately, they had just finished.
I had planned a birth center birth for my daughter, using Hypnobirthing for relaxation and breathing. She was born via c-section in 2005, only because she was breech and the midwife practice would not deliver a breech baby. Her position was discovered by sonogram at about 41 weeks (every prenatal visit it was, "I THINK that's the head!"), so my visits to the chiropractor, acupuncturist, and even the manual version did nothing to turn her.
After 6 weeks of recovery (for the physical incision) and months of postpartum depression, I knew that I couldn't tolerate another c-section for our second child. I looked into options for VBAC, and someone at my chiropractor's office told me about ICAN. I found my midwife through the ICAN website and after further research, I knew that things would be best with a home birth.
Jacob's birth was supposed to be my easy one. I was having a nice normal pregnancy and planned to deliver at home with my midwife, C. It took me a long time to feel comfortable with homebirth and it only happened because I had come to know so many women who had done it successfully and had wonderful healthy births. The agreement I had come to with my husband John was that if my pregnancy continued to be uneventful and healthy, I would deliver at home. If any problems arose, I would deliver in the hospital under Dr. T's care. I had established a relationship with him early in the pregnancy and felt comfortable with his approach and VBAC-friendliness.
Every woman has a notion of an ideal birth. My first pregnancy was a beautiful time and I educated myself about my labor options... my husband and I believed in natural birth and enrolled in a Bradley class, read extensively, exercised religiously, and were expecting a difficult but hopefully fulfilling birthing experience. Unfortunately after gestating 41 weeks, an almost 30 hour labor with no medication and reaching full dilation, due to my daughter's malpresentation I had an emergency cesarean birth under general anesthesia.
At my 40 week appt with my back-up OB, he suggested a non-stress test for the following week. I took the paperwork knowing that I would never schedule the appt. My daughter, now four yrs old, was born at 42 weeks and 3 days and I tend to have long cycles so I knew that this baby just wasn't ready yet. I had another appt at home with my homebirth midwife at 41 weeks, still feeling good and having lots of contractions here and there about every other day. Emotionally I was ready so I was just waiting for a sign from inside. On January 31st I had contractions for 3 hours straight and I really thought this might be "it," but after a big dinner, a glass of wine, and a nice shower the contractions just went away. I guess our Baby Q. just wasn't ready yet, and some wonderful words from my midwife made me feel very positive about the start/stop labor I seemed to be experiencing. She said, "Every contraction you have now is a contraction you don't have to have later." So, I adopted a wait and see attitude and was hoping the full moon on Feb 2nd would jump start things.
"Honey...I was thinking..."
That's how it all starts. Your wife, glowing in the aura of pregnancy, gently asks you the question you never expected to hear.
"...maybe we should have this baby at home."
If this happens then-no matter what kind of guy you are-I hope you wisely keep your mouth shut and hold on to a docile, sunny face that says, "Honey-I-love-you-more-now-than-ever-before."
If you have to say anything then repeat the following phrase: "Gee, honey, I don't know. Please tell me more about what you're thinking."
This will allow your mind to race...like mine did.
"Is she out of her mind? Who does she think we are...the Waltons? What if something goes wrong? It's so dangerous. Isn't this why we have hospitals? What about the mess? What about our kids? What about the noise? What will our neighbors think? Where does she get this stuff? No more Girls' Night Out. Is she serious?"
Yes, she was serious. Just a few months later, my wonderful wife gave birth to our daughter, Mirabel, at home with the help of our doula (pronounced DOO-lah, a childbearing mentor) and two midwives (one was finishing her training and the other was the veteran). It was beautiful and, as my oldest daughter put it, homebirth seemed more natural than a hospital birth.