If you have ever heard the phrase "keeping up with the Jones' " this mama is the epitome of that saying and more. One of our beloved Le Leche League leaders and a homeschooling mama to (now 3!) little ones, her mad sewing skills and from-scratch cooking skills make us normal humans quiver in our inadequacy ;-) . I love that she has shared her birth stories with the world. From the over medicalized model of midwifery care that ruins so many first-time-mama births, to the redemption of a surprise unassisted second birth, and then a completely normal low key homebirth with her third. Amanda's stories prove that birth is unpredictable but you can ALWAYS take control over your care and the things that are most important to you. When you know better, you do better. I am so overjoyed to provide mamas like this with authentic midwifery care that is tailored to their families, in their own owns, on their own terms.
Dexter's Birth - 4/14/09
"I have always had a terrible fear of needles. I also wasn’t too fond of hospitals, so pregnancy was exciting and scary all at the same time. I was eagerly anticipating the birth of my son, but terrified of the birth--not because of pain, but because of being poked and prodded with who knows how many needles. I watched those birth storied on TV religiously, and they certainly didn’t help…until I came across one show that was at a Miami birthing center. I couldn’t believe how calm and happy they made birth seem. Then my dad said he had a movie he thought I should see, The Business of Being Born. Whoa. After seeing that, I worked hard to convince my husband of an out of hospital birth. I was a little scared myself of a home birth since we lived in the middle of nowhere and well, it seemed like a really scary way to go. What if something went wrong?! I didn’t tell my husband though and fought for the homebirth so that we can reach a compromise and go with the birthing center. We toured and I knew that it was perfect just because it was not the hospital, so we switched to the birth center an hour from our home when I was 24 weeks pregnant.
When I was working one Monday morning, laptop on my lap on the couch as I usually did to stay comfortable while very pregnant, I had this feeling like I had peed my pants. I called the birth center and they said that I should come for my appointment a little early since I had an appointment that afternoon anyway and they would see if my water had broken. I called my husband and off we went (Of course we kept our packed bags in the car and had the car seat installed for the past 3 weeks….). We got there and the midwives did three tests to see if my water had indeed broken. The first two they said could be false positives, but they said the third would really determine if it was amniotic fluid. They looked under the microscope, and 4 midwives argued back and forth about what they saw. Ultimately, they decided that my water had broken. I was 2cm dilated and had no contractions. Since I was GBS+ and lived so far away, they said they would start the IV antibiotics, I could leave and have lunch, then I would just come back and try to get labor started. After 20 minutes strapped to the IV, they sent us off with a bottle of castor oil to go have lunch. We had a nice relaxing lunch, wandered around a few stores aimlessly, then got some chocolate shakes (mine spiked with the castor oil) and went back to the birth center. My friend joined us there and my mom was on the way. We played games and relaxed waiting for labor to progress, taking walks around the block whenever the midwives instructed me to. They also had me drink grape juice with black cohosh in it to help things move along and continued with the IV every 4 hours. Soon, contractions were every 4-5 minutes, lasting 30-60 seconds so I thought things were going well. My mom arrived, and we continued our walks around the block, relaxing on the birth ball and playing games in-between.
There was a nursing student at the birth center that asked if she could be there for my labor, and I agreed. The midwives sent her in whenever I needed more black cohosh, IV, or if they wanted me to exercise. She came in around 4pm and explained that since they determined that my water had broken at 9am, I needed to be in active labor by 9pm so I couldn’t play games or relax at all. At this point, they had me going up and down stairs two at a time and going in the bedroom with my husband for nipple stimulation. They checked me again around 5 or 6 and I was at 4cm. The midwife noticed when she checked me though that my bag of waters was intact. She said she was just going to break it to move things along. I trusted that she knew what she was doing and agreed. After putting on a diaper I went back to bouncing on the ball, doing stairs, walking around the block, and everything I could to move labor along. Things moved along very quickly after my water broke and the contractions became a lot more intense as I laid in bed through the contractions. I didn’t even notice time passing. At one point while my husband was holding my hand, I turned and said I think I might throw up. Before I could get the whole sentence out, I did. A few times. It was probably an hour or two later when the castor oil worked it’s magic, but I was already in active labor and having painful contractions while having to make very unpleasant trips to the bathroom. The midwives checked me again around 10 and said I was at 9.5cm and had a lip, so it was time to get the tub ready. I got into the tub and after a few contractions they said I should try to push. I trusted that they knew what they were doing and pushed through each contraction. The midwives said I was not pushing properly and that I was going to harm my baby if I didn’t push him out effectively right then. I felt very discouraged. Over an hour passed, and I was getting tired. They said I should go empty my bladder and so I got out. They had me push on the toilet as well, then walk around doing high steps and squatting (we called them sumo steps…) and squat and push during contractions. I was in a lot of pain and getting very tired. They wanted to check me again so I got into the bed and let them, and I heard them whisper back and forth that maybe I moved back up a station and I was still at 9 and a half and maybe the baby was stuck…I felt awful. They told me to try to stop pushing and just lay in the bed for awhile. I started crying and saying I just wanted the baby out as quickly as possible. I was exhausted and didn’t think I could do it and didn’t think the baby would be able to get out at all. My friend was holding my hand and saying she knew I could, but the midwives seemed so discouraging. They called the back up doctor and had him get ready because they wanted me to go ahead and transfer to the hospital.
My husband, mom, friend, and the nursing student piled into our car with me and we rode to the hospital around 3am. The midwives followed behind us. I just remember gripping the seatbelt and crying and being in a lot of pain on the way. I don’t think I opened my eyes during the whole ride. We got there and I was taken in through the emergency room and put into a wheelchair while they rushed me up to labor and delivery. I kept my eyes closed. There was some argument with the hospital staff about not being able to take our whole group into the labor room, but we must have won because we were all in there (2 midwives, the nursing student, mom, husband, and my friend). The back up doctor’s nurse met me in the labor room and reinserted the IV and demanded that I needed to be checked. I was resisting everything they wanted to do and kept telling everyone to not touch me. I wasn’t winning though and I still kept my eyes shut and just wished it would be over soon. I gripped the rail on the bed while I lied on my side and quietly pushed through contractions. It was the only way to make the pain less. I could feel my baby moving at this point with each push and it felt really good. I could hear people talking to my husband about options for sedation for a C-section. He approved the epidural and soon the anesthesiologist and OB arrived. I still wouldn’t let anyone touch me, but still was losing. The anesthesiologist student gave me an epidural while explaining step by step what he was doing. I kept trying to get him to not tell me what he was doing since that was probably the most terrifying procedure in the world to me, but he still did. People were filling the room pretty quickly, wandering in from the hall to see the birth. I still kept my eyes closed. The anesthesiologist finished up and the OB came over and flipped me on my back. He checked me and said the baby was crowning and I could deliver him. I knew I had been making progress because I had been feeling him move as I pushed. The doctor put the vacuum on his head while I screamed for him not to and he pulled my son out in minutes. He was born at 4:56 AM. I felt searing pain and was screaming. My mom and friend were crying. They took Dexter away and the nurses checked him and cleaned him up with my husband. The doctor delivered my placenta and began stitching me up. The vacuum had caused lots of 2nd degree tearing. Finally, they brought Dexter over to me and I was overjoyed. As the doctor stitched me up, I could feel the epidural kick in. He asked for more thread a few times and gave me shots of pitocin to stop the bleeding.
When he was done, the room cleared out and it was just my husband, mom, friend, and baby Dexter. I was holding him and so happy he arrived. My friend had to leave to go check in at work and take the day off, and my husband and mom fell asleep on the couch. I was left alone with the baby, strapped to the bed with an IV, blood pressure cuff, epidural, catheter, and pulse ox monitor. I didn’t get moved to a regular room for a few hours, when they finally came in and removed everything strapping me down. It was a few hours before a lactation consultant came by to help me because he wasn’t breastfeeding. She determined that he had a tongue tie and I could use nipple shields to get him to latch and feed. A neonatologist clipped his tongue and talked with us about tongue exercises to do with him. I was very upset that I had been unable to have the birth I had hoped for.
Charlotte's Birth - 11/4/10
After the birth of my son didn’t go the way I had hoped, I was determined to have a dream birth with my daughter. I decided on a homebirth since the birth center and hospital were such negative experiences before. I also decided to take Bradley Method classes so that I would be more prepared and confident, and not so reliant on others.
I had been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks leading up to labor and was at +2 station. On Wednesday, November 3rd, the contractions were pretty regular so I thought that it was finally time. I had my husband, Doug, drive home from work (he works over an hour away and I was convinced that he wouldn’t be home in time unless I called in early labor). We worked on refinishing the rocking chair that I thought I needed to have done before my baby would arrive. The contractions never got more intense though and I slept through them for the most part, waking up a few times hoping they would get stronger only to fall back asleep. The next morning Doug went to work.
When my son woke up, I had my mom come over to help me out and be with me since the contractions were continuing and felt stronger. I called my midwife (Jill) at 9am and told her that the contractions were getting a little stronger, and she said she would come by around noon to check me. I called my husband and told him, and he said to let me know what Jill said at noon. I told him to get home before she got there and he agreed.
At noon, Jill and Doug arrived. She checked me and said I was 2cm dilated, +2 station, and 60% effaced. I was extremely discouraged. Jill apologized and said maybe she shouldn’t have told me that I was only 2cm. The contractions were 5 minutes apart and though I couldn’t really tell when they started or stopped, when they peaked, they hurt a lot. The peak was only about 15 seconds though and I felt fine in-between so I told myself I could make it through. The midwife said she was going to go ahead and go home since it could be awhile. My mom took my son out with her while she ran errands and my husband suggested that we get a few movies since we might have a long way to go and it would help me rest. We left to go to the store and rent movies. I knew I was fine to move around as long as I stopped during the peak of each contraction so I timed my movements to and from the car accordingly. We got back home and started watching. My mom took my son, Dexter, to her house for his nap. I laid down on the couch and was in some sort of state of sleep, waking up during each peak and falling asleep in-between. At 3:30, I reached the peak of another contraction and felt a pop. I knew my water broke and told my husband. He ran around the house in a frenzy trying to find the ‘right’ towels to bring me, and I told him where to go. I wrapped up in a towel and decided I wanted to take a shower, so we paused the movie to tend to labor. He called the midwife and our Bradley instructor, Melissa (who we planned to have attend) and let her know that my water had broke. While I was in the shower, my husband inflated and filled the birth tub. When I got out I laid on the floor hugging the birth ball while he made the bed according to our instruction sheet. When he finished up, I decided to try laying in bed. That was a bad idea. I was suddenly in a lot of pain. I asked him to help me move to the toilet so I could sit there and see if it hurt less. He called the midwife back and told her he thought things were moving along and maybe she should get there. She said she was on her way already. He called Melissa again and said it was time. I sat on the toilet and the peak of each contraction was a lot more painful and the contractions were closer. My husband told me to relax, stop tensing my hands and feet, and picture red 7s. I told him to please stop talking. The contractions hurt a lot and I kept telling myself I could survive the peaks and I would get a nice break. I was trying to convince myself I could make it through a long labor.
I decided that I should try pushing during the next contraction since the pain was getting hard to relax through. I did, and reached down…I felt her head bulging! Doug didn’t believe me and I made him reach down and feel also. He immediately called the midwife back and kept her on speakerphone. She said she wasn’t going to make it in time and that we would have to deliver the baby without her. Doug sprang into action and said I needed to move to the tub since he didn’t want me to have the baby on the toilet. He helped me get to the tub before the next contraction. Luckily they had spaced out a little at this point so I could run there. I got in the tub on all fours. I pushed during the contractions as slowly as I could so that I wouldn’t tear. I told Doug ‘counter pressure!’ because I wanted him to put counter pressure on my perineum. He pushed on my lower back thinking I meant I was in back labor. I splashed him and decided I should take things into my own hands. After three pushes, her head popped out. The midwife instructed Doug to check for a cord, and he reached down and felt an ear and got excited before I splashed him so that he would go away again. The next push, her whole body came out and I caught her and pulled her up to my chest. I started crying tears of joy and could not believe she was there and the birth happened so quickly and easily. The midwife said over the phone to rub her and make sure she let out a good cry, so I did. Doug ran to get some clean towels to wrap us in. My mom walked in with my son right then to find me holding a baby. She was shocked that she left us watching a movie on the couch and came back two hours later to a baby! Charlotte Emma was born at 4:45pm and was 6lb 14 oz.
Doug helped me get out of the tub while I held onto the baby so that he could get us into bed and dry off before the afterbirth. I tried my best to not push during contractions so that the placenta wouldn’t deliver until Jill arrived, but it became a little too painful and I pushed it out anyway. I was scared that I would start bleeding excessively or something and suddenly really wanted Jill there (I was a little happy that no one was there before to check me or tell me what to do up until this point). Finally, Jill and Melissa arrived around 5:15. Jill checked me and the baby and all was well. She helped Doug cut the cord and made sure breastfeeding was going well (she latched immediately and was a strong nurser!) I got 5 or 6 stitches but otherwise everything went perfectly.
Jill, Melissa, my mom, and Doug cleaned everything up and made sure Dexter was cared for while I bonded with Charlotte. By 6:30, Jill and Melissa were gone, I had a shower and clean sheets, and my parents brought over dinner. I was so glad I fought for a homebirth and now my husband and I would not plan on anything else!
Heath Elliott 6/20/2014
At 10 PM on June 19th, I got into bed after a long day. As I was laying down, my water burst...After a call to the midwife, the plan was to try my best to sleep and pray that contractions started in the morning. So of course I finished up a few things like folding laundry and rearranging furniture for birth, then watched a movie so that I would hopefully pass out from exhaustion. I made it through the whole movie though and then contractions started around midnight. I tried to sleep through them and maybe that worked for 45 minutes, but by 3am I made a call to the midwife to be there with me. She arrived at 4 and I woke up Doug too. I did my thing, walking around, bouncing on the birth ball, trying not to punch Doug when I heard him playing Counterstrike in the background...and then around 6am Charlie suggested I get into the tub. I thought she was ridiculous to have me get in so early, but I did anyway since I was exhausted and hoped it would make the ridiculously painful contractions less so. It didn't, and I was screaming and pretty sure baby was stuck or something. I insisted to Charlie and Doug that I needed to get out to use the potty. She tried to convince me to pee in the tub and I absolutely refused. She told me I would have the baby on the toilet if I got out and I would have laughed had I had it in me. She said to reach down and feel his head and I told her that he had not moved and it would be awhile. So finally I convinced them to help me to the bathroom, and it was the worst ten feet I've ever traveled in my life. I made it there and back in the tub anyhow and Heath made his arrival on the next couple contractions. I pushed his head out, then waited for it to feel way easier as his shoulders slipped out...we are pretty sure he never turned though so after a few more excruciating contractions and more pushing, I got the rest of him out. By then, I thought my body had ripped to pieces and went completely limp and had Charlie catch him for me. There was no euphoric high after that, just utter and complete exhaustion, and that's where these pictures begin."