14 March 2018

Tyson Judah

It has been three months since my second son, Tyson was born and I’m really just now getting around to processing his and my birth story. I include myself in the process because I know that I’ve come out of it a different woman. I’m more focused and self aware than I was just a few months ago. Its been such a journey processing our process as mother and son as I was 42+4 wks pregnant when he was born. My pregnancy was extremely trying and exhausting from the start. I was far more sick and tired this time than I was with my first born. Plus, I had a 2yr old to maintain and a business and home to run. It was quite the challenge, but as I think of it, I truly believe that there’s something that God wanted me to see in myself that I did not see before. Perhaps, there was something that he wanted me to see in my son that I otherwise may not have seen. He’s still really young, so I can’t really put my finger on it, but so far he has marched to the beat of his own drum even more so than his older brother. 

My guess date was November 26, 2017. About two weeks prior to that date, I started showing signs that Tyson would be born around 38wks. Which I pretty much expected since Cannon was born at 39 +5 wks and I’d read and heard so many accounts of second babies coming earlier than the first. However, the week passed and I was still pregnant. During week 39, my husband and I decided to have our home deep cleaned, so we asked his parents to keep Cannon for a couple of days. The day our cleaning company came over, I surged every 7mins the ENTIRE day. We were so sure that Tyson would arrive at any point, especially since I’d started losing my mucus plug! I tried to relax all day and spent much of it lying down and listening to Hypnobabies. Welp, the surges stopped at around 8:30pm. 

The Saturday of week 40, I decided that I needed a day to myself. I did a little light shopping and ended up with one hell of a back ache. I mean, I could hardly drive myself home. I even had to end a phone call with my mom to focus on the road. When I got about 5 minutes from home, I called Keenan and asked him to start a warm bath for me. While in the bath, I called my doula and she told me that this could be “it” or it could just be practice. She said to me “No matter what, it is all progress.” “Sweets”, she said, “You need to surrender. Whatever is holding you back, you need to let that go. Your son is ready, but are you?” I thought, “THE HELL YOU SAY! I AM DAMN READY! I’VE BEEN SICK THIS ENTIRE PREGNANCY AND I’M TIRED.” Nonetheless, by the end of the day, I was going to bed pregnant. Again. 

Later that week, I was stirred awake from intense surges. It was at least an hour before I decided to wake Keenan to let him know what was happening. I told him that I would take a warm bath to see if that would progress or stop anything before we called our midwife. The bath didn’t stop the surges and we thought that birth was surely on the horizon at that point! Things were picking up, my surges were getting closer together, so we walked a few laps around our house (this helped tremendously during Cannon’s birth). All of a sudden, the cramping and surges STOPPED! They f*#%ing STOPPED! I was crushed and felt completely deflated. We went to bed and decided we would bring Cannon home the next day. 

We spent our weekends walking our neighborhood, finding acupressure points, praying, wondering what he would look like, and trying everything under the sun to get him out. I had lost yet another chunk of mucus plug along with my hope that this baby was ever going to be born. Once we hit 41 weeks, our practice suggested we come in for a non stress test to be sure that Tyson was still doing well. We went in for the test and spoke with the doctor. He assured us that our son was doing well and told us that 43wks was when he would insist on induction and any time before then would be our choice. We elected to wait it out as long as possible because induction without medical justification goes against my heart and my desires for my birth. 
At 42+3, I called one of the midwives to let her know that I thought I was leaking water. She called the office and had them fit me in for an appointment. At that point, I was ready for a membrane sweep and curious if all of this prodromal labor had at least yielded some dilation. As luck would have it, the practice had just added two new midwives and the two I knew and trusted were not in the office that day. Needless to say, I ended up passing on the membrane sweep and cervical check. Later that afternoon, I asked my sister if she would come over the next day and go with Cannon and me to the grocery store. Thankfully, she was free to do so. 
The morning of the grocery store trip, I was exhausted and completely over it. A friend of mine had asked how I was doing and wanted to encourage me. She let me know that induction wasn’t a horrible experience for her (she’d had 4 induced births) and to warn me against the use castor oil to induce. While in conversation with her I realized (and told her) that because it took so long to get pregnant with Cannon and after experiencing the loss of two pregnancies, birth is my redemption. Its my opportunity to say to God “I trust you and what you’ve given me the gift to do. I will do it your way, Lord.” Birth is my redemption. 
Keenan called me to give me some excellent news about his job and all I could do is cry about my fear of induction and how close we were to 43 weeks. I felt terrible because I was so miserable that I couldn’t even allow my husband to be excited and live in his moment. I quickly apologized to him and congratulated him on a job well done and encouraged him to continue the good work. He assured me that it was ok and I was entitled to my feelings and that he loved me. 

Anyway, as my sister, Cannon and I were headed to the grocery store, I started feeling those back pains that I had at week 40. I said to my sister “This baby wants me to be positioned a certain way all of the time and he will let me know when he doesn’t like how I’m sitting. My back is killing me!” Once we got out of the car and I was standing, the pain subsided and I went on to grocery shop. I started feeling surges that felt “real”, but I didn’t get too excited because well, a month of prodromal labor. With each surge, I would sway back and fourth and once or twice, my sister would freak out and say “YOU BETTER NOT HAVE THAT BABY RIGHT NOW!” Or she would ask “DO WE NEED TO GET TO THE HOSPITAL?!” I laughed each time and told her, that this just might be it.
Once we got home, I started feeling real surges pretty close together. I put away our groceries and froze and labeled all of the meat I purchased. In the midst of that the surges became more intense and about five minutes apart, so I called the practice, then my husband. I told him that I wasn’t sure if this was another false alarm or if it was real, but if the surges got closer together, I would call him back. At that point, I was hardly able to talk during surges, so I knew this was it, but I wasn’t sure how far I had dilated or how much longer it would be before I really needed to head to the hospital. Still, I wanted my husband to stay at work until I called him back. I called my mother in law to let her know I wanted her to come get Cannon and that my sister would stay behind with him if I had to head to the hospital. I started repacking his bag to stay over with his grandparents and told my sister to call my mom. As I was doing all of this, Keenan called to see how it was going and I could hardly talk, but I was managing the surges. He told me he was not far from home as he’d decided to leave work anyway. 
When he walked in the door, I was lunging up the stairs to take a shower. I stopped midway to sway and squat my way through a surge. The look on my husbands face was of concern and worry, but I wasn’t worried. I told him to calm down and that I was just fine, but wanted to take a shower. I asked him to time the surges and I jumped in the shower. The shower felt amazing and helped a ton with the surges (unlike with Cannon’s birth) as I swayed, squatted and groaned through each one. Keenan called the practice again and told them that we were going to head to the hospital soon because the surges were so close together, they weren’t even worth timing. I was still in the shower, but I began my birthing ritual of crying out my gratitude to God for this beautiful opportunity to serve Him. I was holding steadfast to each and every moment as I wanted to be sure to remember every single detail. I was also calling out things to my husband to be sure we had packed in Cannon’s bag and our hospital bag. We had packed weeks before, but I was practically living out of the hospital bag at that point. “Babe”, he said, “We need to go!” 

I wanted to secretly have a home birth, so I was in no rush. I got out of the shower and put on a dress and no underwear just in case the baby made his way out in the car; like one of the midwives suggested. I had about six more surges before I finally made it to the car. I stopped a few times and was thrown onto my knees by my body. I groaned through those surges as Cannon rubbed my back and asked what I was doing and said “It’s ok, Mommy. You’re ok!” My sister had all but fallen apart, but I was more than ok at that point. In between surges, I gave a briefing on what the order of operations were going to be. I had her call my mom & daddy to let them know we were headed to the hospital and that my mother in law was going to come by to get Cannon. I even made time to text a few people and let them know it was time. 

We got in the car and headed to the hospital. It seems like things got more intense once we got on the road. I sat in the back seat, so that I could have room to do whatever I needed to do to get through the surges. As we were leaving the neighborhood, Keenan hit a bump in the road and that seemed to intensify the surge I was having at the time. (Three months later, he’s still trying to make it over that bump smoothly.) I decided to turn on Hypnobabies, so I could tune out and go inward to get through. With each surge, I held on to the back of the front seat and went as deep into a squat as I could. Once in a while, I opened my eyes to see where we were and once we got two blocks away from the hospital, I felt relief. I must note, though, that the road that the hospital is on is terribly paved and once we were a block away, I told my husband to slow down because I couldn’t take another damn bump!

Thankfully, we were familiar with the process to get to L&D since Cannon was born at the same hospital just two years ago. We parked our car in the emergency zone, and Keenan got an attendee to get me a wheel chair. I looked at the time. 4:50pm. Immediately someone took us up to L&D. She was a nice lady, but asked far too many questions, like “What are you having?” and “Is this your first?” I should have known then that I was in true active birth because I told her to stop asking us questions and just get us on the elevator to where we needed to be. 
Once we made it to triage, the nurse that was taking care of us put us in a room and checked my cervix. I was 6cm dilated and oh so grateful. I, once again, thanked God. I didn’t know how much longer I could go at this point. This had gone from 0-6 in no time. I had expected that I would have time to gather myself and enjoy my birth like I had with Cannon. Not the case. This thing was fast a furious and I wasn’t ready for that. 

I felt nauseous and told the nurse I needed to throw up, so she gave me a bag just in time. Once I was done, she told me that puking probably helped me dilate even more. She also assured me that I was handling and getting through the surges really well. She was really smart, she didn’t ask a lot of unnecessary questions and was comforting and encouraging. She called the doctor (he was on call that day, not the midwives) and assured us that he would be there soon. 

The doctor was there in no time and checked me again, I was at 7cm at that point and he told the nurse to get me in a birthing room and to get my tub ready. As she wheeled me down the hall, I heard some youngsters talking and one complaining about the dad of the girl who was in labor having his baby. I wanted to curse his ass out. I was annoyed and wanted him to know that it wasn’t the time to start drama, that the girl giving birth to his baby needed him to be present. Both him and her father needed to grow the hell up. However, a surge came up and the only sounds I could make were non verbal. 

My mom, sister and aunt had arrived by the time we got to the L&D room and Keenan realized that he needed to move the car. I knew he was my source of strength and support, so I begged him not to be gone too long. He promised he would be right back and he was. My family was watching in amazement adding commentary with each surge. Naturally, I asked them to leave. 
Once we were settled in, the doctor came into the L&D room and urged me to let him break my water. Well, I had made the decision that I wanted my water to break on its own since it was manually done with my first birth. I really wanted to trust my body even more this time. With that in mind, I asked the doctor for some time to think it over; he said “sure” and left the room. At that point, my surges started feeling different. They were intense, but they also felt like a horrible UTI. I couldn’t tell if I needed to pee or not, so I asked Keenan to help me to the bathroom. I straddled the toilet backwards and sure enough, my water broke. I cried and thanked God, once again. I told Keenan that He was answering my prayers. 

We had a nurse in the room checking my vitals at the time and she called the doctor in to let him know that my water had broken. On the way back to the bed, I had another surge and I fell to the floor on my knees. Once I got up and back to the bed, the doctor came in and checked my cervix. I was 9cm. I looked at the time. 5:40pm. He told me that I had a cervical lip and he wanted to move it over, so that I could start pushing. I had the same thing with Cannon and pushing lasted for a few hours. That had me petrified, so I wanted to be able to do as I had been asked. 

At this point the surges were so intense and close together, it was hard to lay there and comply. The doctor wanted me to lie there through a surge and hold my breath while he moved the cervical lip. My body wanted me to be on all fours. Period. I tried a few times to do as he requested, but my body was forcing me to do something else. My legs would close every time a surge came and I would be thrown into the all fours position yet again. He saw that I needed to be on all fours and asked for an exercise ball. I surged a while longer groaning and growling with each surge. Leaning over the ball, wanting any kind of relief. I honestly thought I would end up going against all I wanted and getting the epidural. 
The doctor tried once again to move my cervical lip, and during a surge, my body literally flipped me out of the bed onto the floor on all fours. The nurse literally caught me before I hit the floor too hard as the bed had been raised to help the doctor see my cervix. He got frustrated and told me that my cervix would swell and we would be there a long time and I would be in pain the entire time if I didn’t comply with his request. Keenan urged me and pleaded with me to give the doctor’s way another try. I cried and said I would try, but I needed fentanyl to get through it. I’d told myself that I wouldn’t get this drug again because I was convinced that I didn’t really need it after I had given birth to Cannon. But this was different. I was truly in agony and couldn’t see the light. The doctor didn’t seem to think that fentanyl was a great idea, but I insisted on getting it. What else was I to do? I had not had this experience with Cannon’s birth and I really wanted not to be in agony for hours as the doctor suggested.  
The nurse and Keenan helped me back onto he bed. I surged and surged and one more surge sent me to my knees on the floor again. I snatched off my gown and screamed for the doctor to help me. He said very arrogantly “I tried to help you, you wouldn’t do what I told you.” I screamed for the drugs once again and once again, my husband and the nurse helped me get back into bed. I looked at the time. 6:23pm. At that point, my mom had made her way back in to check on me. 

Once I was back in bed, I asked the doctor to put pressure on my perineum muscle and he refused, so I did it myself. He was mortified and said “Mom, what are you doing?” I responded “I asked you to help me, and you didn’t, so I’m doing it myself.” This helped, but not for long. Again, I screamed for the meds, so I could do as the doctor wanted and move the cervical lip. And again, my body threw me on the floor onto all fours. A nurse came in to ask the doctor a question and I told her to leave if she had anymore questions. 

Finally, a nurse came in with the fentanyl and I heard the other nurse call and tell the other staff that I would start pushing soon. 
I was still on all fours and surging. As I crawled around on the floor trying to get to a place where the nurse could do my IV, I felt the baby trying to come out, but I stopped it. I held him in out of fear. I told my husband “I’m going to try to calm down. I know I need to, so I can get this baby out.” Another surge came and I tried to groan and not scream because I knew I needed to keep cool. I remember looking down and being damn near under the bed and seeing that my husband was still in his dressy work pants and shoes. Once that surge was over, the nurse tried to put an IV in my arm and failed. Blood was everywhere. She mumbled “Shit. Shit. Shit.” She cleaned the blood, removed the port and tried another spot. I was still surging and asking for relief. She finally got the second port in and injected the fentanyl into the IV. I thought YES, now I can go with what the doctor wants and I can get this baby out! I heard someone chattering in the background. Once I again, I told them to stop talking or leave. The doctor excused himself to go use the restroom. *I later found out that the doctor and my mom where the two talking in the background. He told my mom that I was out of control.*

The port was in wrong once again and I never felt the fentanyl kick in. I kept asking “Why don’t I feel it!?” I was still on all fours when that familiar back pain came rushing through again. This time it was worse than ever and I screamed “MY BAAAAACK!” The IV nurse knew what was happening and said “she’s having back labor” and showed my husband how to apply counter pressure on my back. I thanked her so much because that relieved me unlike anything else at that point. Another surge came and I told my husband to put pressure on my back. It seemed like he wasn’t doing it hard enough and I said to him “HARDER KEENAN. YOU CANNOT HURT ME!” He assured me that he was giving it his all, but still no relief. However, I felt the ring of fire. I surrendered because I knew that Tyson was crowning and I yelled “He’s coming ouuuuut!” My husband said, “No babe, that’s not the baby, you are pooping, but its ok. Just let go.” 

I looked down, and Tyson’s head and arms came flopping out. I had not even pushed. Keenan held his head in his hands as begged for him to pull Tyson out, but the nurses told him not too. I looked down again and saw the cord around his neck and meconium and blood on the floor. I freaked out. One more surge and Tyson was out. Still, I had not pushed. I looked at the time. 7:03pm.

Tyson had yet to start crying and I asked why. The doctor walked in at the exact moment I started screaming for someone to help my baby. Keenan panicked and all but threatened the doctor. He screamed “DO SOMETHING TO HELP MY BABY!” and the doctor cut his cord. He still had not begin to cry. I was still screaming and crying to hear my baby cry. I was still on all fours with my back turned, but I heard the chatter of several nurses in the room. I heard one say “I need a suction.” I heard her ask more than once, and I screamed “WHY DOES SHE HAVE TO KEEP ASKING FOR THAT? GIVE HER SOMETHING TO HELP MY BABY!” Less than a second later, I heard his cry and I bawled like a baby with relief. 
The doctor came over and told me that he and the nurses were going to help me into the bed, so he could examine me. He did the examination to check for any tears and fortunately there weren’t any. I asked if Tyson had ingested any of the meconium and the nurses assured me he had not and that he was perfect. They put him in my arms and I looked at the time. 7:10pm. Immediately, Tyson nursed like a champ and the staff respected my wishes for the golden hour. During that time, the doctor apologized for his behavior during our birth and suggested that he had underserved our family. We accepted his apology and he left the room. Once our golden hour was over, Tyson was weighed in at 6lb 2.9 oz and 20in. Only .9oz larger than his older brother. 

The practice we used is run by a doctor that is well know for his ability to attend and facilitate unusual, otherwise healthy births. While I prefer a midwife, I was initially comfortable with the doctor because he was so comforting when we went to him for a second opinion during my pregnancy with Cannon as well as our miscarriage. After this experience, I realize that his expertise lies within the realm of special case births (his staff agrees) and that my birth should not have been attended by him. Not only that, the rest of our hospital stay was less than stellar and has led us to decide that our next birth will not be at a hospital. 

On a positive note, woven into all of that anguish, I got the birth I wanted. I had told Keenan several times over the course of my pregnancy that I didn’t want to do coached pushing this time, that I wanted to allow Tyson to birth himself (aka Fetal Ejection Reflex) and that I wanted my water to break on its own. I had prayed for those things. I had not known to pray for the gumption to surrender. If I had only trusted my body and surrendered earlier, Tyson would have been born about 30 minutes earlier than he was and I would not have allowed the doctor to bully me into the fear that led me to request narcotics. 

Above all, I not only gave birth to Tyson, I gave birth to myself and in many ways my husband. I know its sound insane, but we are both different people now. We are both far more confident in ourselves and our love for one another than we were before this day. We have Tyson Judah Neal to thank for that. 

*No photography for this birth. We asked our friend to be on call for us, but this happened so fast that we were not able to get her to the hospital in time. Our doula was not present nor did we ever get a tub for water birth for the same reasons*

10 October 2017

In a Year's Time

As I sit here just seven weeks away from giving birth to our second son, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that I’ve been pregnant for over a year. Your eyes do not deceive you, I said I’ve been pregnant for over a year. I know it seems unthinkable, but it’s true. Let me explain…

It had been a month since we celebrated Cannon’s (our first born) first birthday when I found out I was pregnant again. While we were excited, we were also shocked because it had been six years between our first [ectopic] pregnancy and Cannon. We had been preparing to start trying again once Cannon turned 18mos old. Well needless to say, God had other plans for our family. He obviously wanted to let us know that there was no need to worry ourselves over needing anything except his Grace and Mercy to get pregnant again.

I’ll admit, I was petrified to have two kids under the age of two! This baby was due less than a month before Cannon’s second birthday. The thought of it gave me such anxiety that I was losing sleep at night! While overwhelming, the thought of being a badass tandem-nursing Mama did excite me. I worried so much about being prepared for another baby; about Cannon being ready to be a sibling. I don’t think I’d ever been so confused with my emotions. I wanted and prayed for this baby, but I was SO  afraid of everything that came along with being a Mom of two under two. Nonetheless, we pressed forward and set an appointment with our midwives to confirm the pregnancy.

At about 6wks we went in to have an ultrasound to be sure that this embryo had implanted properly. At that ultrasound, there was evidence of a fetal pole, but no heartbeat yet. We were advised that it may be too early for a heartbeat or we may be dealing with a blighted ovum and asked to return in two weeks. We proceeded with our lives as if we were having another baby in a few months (read: we still had no wine in the house), but were emotionally preparing ourselves for the possibility that this pregnancy would not yield a baby.

During that two-week wait, we lived our lives in prayer. We prayed that we were able to accept God’s decision for our family and that we allowed Him to use us as He saw fit. We’d told our families and close friends that we were pregnant and what was happening with us. They offered their prayers and we accepted. I read countless stories of this happening to women and they go back at 8wks for another ultrasound and there was a healthy embryo with a beating heart. We were optimistic.

A day or so before our second ultrasound, I spoke with my dad. I explained to him how I was feeling and how optimistic I was because I trust God. His words to me were the most empowering I’d heard in this trying time. He said “Well Babygirl, God can and will turn anything around.” That let me know that as unemotional as my dad is, the last thing he wants for his girls (I have three sisters) is to hurt. I keep those words close to me as we approached our second appointment.

At the appointment, we saw more of a developed embryo, but still no heart beat. We were crushed, but knew that God had a plan for us. Once we were done with the ultrasound, the doctor spoke with us and told us that there was no cardiac activity and that more than likely this pregnancy would end shortly. He gave us the option to spontaneously abort (wait it out to miscarry), have a D&C, or to take a prescription drug that would encourage a miscarriage in a few days. We told him we wanted some time to think it over, so he led us into the lobby while he wrote the prescription in the event we wanted to “get it over with.”

While we waited, I turned to Keenan and said to him with tear filled eyes, “I want to birth my baby no matter what. This is our baby and I want to give him or her a birth. Who are we to make this decision for our baby when God has a plan for us and them.” He accepted my words and my choice and we left the office with the prescription in hand (just in case we changed our minds).

A month or so later, Keenan had a work trip planned in Las Vegas, so I took that as an opportunity to get away and relax for a few days (this was my first time leaving Cannon overnight). I drank a little wine at that point because I knew that this pregnancy was no longer progressing (although my uterus was still growing) and I needed to really relax. I had been bleeding off and on for over a month and was exhausted. Still, I wanted to give my body a chance to do what it was designed to do.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years had come and gone and I started thinking that I was crazy for waiting out this miscarriage for so long (at this point, I would have been in my second trimester).  I was tired of wondering when my body would expel the pregnancy, so I decided I would make one last appointment with my doctor to discuss my options again. I called on a Monday and they had an opening for me Wednesday of that same week.

That Tuesday, my mom and I were out shopping and I started cramping like crazy. I was passing blood clots every time I used the bathroom. I was pretty sure this was it. This was the birth of my baby. We decided to go home, so I could lie down and relax some. The entire ride home was gruesome. I used the Hypnobabies techniques to get through the pain as much as possible, but I couldn’t wait to get home, so I could stretch out and do what my body was telling me to do. (I texted Keenan to let him know what was going on, but told him I thought I was ok and to stay at work. He left about 2hrs early anyway.)

Once we made it back to my house, I ate something and took some Advil to help with the pain. I was in a daze. I was happy to be alone (my mom was tending to Cannon). I was happy to be birthing our baby. I was in agony (nothing like giving birth to Cannon), but I was elated at the same time. As with birthing Cannon, movement was the best thing I could do for myself. I swayed and squatted for an hour or so and spent most of the time in the bathroom. Once my body gave me the go ahead, I was able to lie down and rest with very little cramping and slept for a while.

By the time Keenan was home, I was still sore, but I felt a sense of invigoration that I made it through. I was able to take it easy and rest up for our appointment the next day.

At our appointment, we decided to go ahead and schedule a D&C to be sure everything had been eliminated. We were on schedule for the procedure a few days later and I can honestly say that I was ready. I had given myself the time I needed to accept and grieve. I gave my body a chance to work based on Gods design. I had given myself the freedom to follow my heart. With that, I didn’t even think of the D&C as anything more than an outpatient procedure as opposed to the first time we lost a baby in the hospital. The first time I felt robbed. Robbed of my choices. Robbed of my rights. Robbed of my time.

Needless to say, I had one menstrual cycle before we were pregnant again. Ironically, Cannon was about 19mos old when we found out this pregnancy. I felt ready this time. Ready to have two children (still scared as hell even now, but ready). Ready for what God has asked me to do. Ready to celebrate all of our children. I am ready.

So that is how I’ve been pregnant for over a year.  

12 July 2016

The little guy and the breastfeeder

 I used a midwife practice that had a maternal fetal medicine specialist and an OBGY in their office (they were mandated to do so by the state). Because I had some procedures done on my cervix well over ten years ago, I had to see the MFM who was concerned about my lo's measurements and size. As my pregnancy progressed my appointments with her increased (I still saw the midwives as well) because my son was at risk to have interuterine growth restriction or IUGR, (my placenta wasn't "nourishing" him properly). At 34ish weeks she threatened that we would need to induce at 37 weeks because he was below average in weight. All the while, none of my midwives or ultrasound techs were concerned. I cried and cried at one of the visits because I felt like I was faced with deciding whether or not to let him be or deliver him. I was scared out of my mind for that moment because I had done so well my entire pregnancy. I hadn't allowed ANY negativity to enter my mind, but THIS? This had me shook. 
One day it dawned on me, I'm 4ft 11in ,140lbs at 9 mos pregnant, my mom is 4ft 9in, my dad is 5ft 6in. My in laws are about the same and my husband is a whopping 5ft8in!!!! I decided that I wasn't going to let this woman get the best of my positivity. I went and got a second opinion and that doctor said "You have to pay attention to who you are being measured against. These 'percentiles' are based on babies born to parents of Anglo Saxon decent in the Midwestern portion of America. Babies born to parents of African and Asian decent are often misdiagnosed with this because they are not accounted for in the 'population' of babies studied. Your baby is fine, you are small and so is your husband. If you still are concerned, you should have the option to induce, but it should be your option, not forced upon you." 
My husband and I thanked him and considered changing practices, but I was about 37 weeks at the time. and didn't have the energy to do the footwork and get to know any new midwives.  Once the mfm caught wind that I had a second opinion, she changed her tune and "cleared" me to wait until my son was ready to be born "because my husband and I aren't large people". He was born naturally at 39w4d weighing 6lbs 2.5 oz. 20inches long. There was even concern after he was born about his weight gain. I was encouraged then to supplement with formula, but I  refused and kept at breastfeeding or two weeks. He ended up gaining and was perfect and has been since then. 
My point is trust yourself and trust your higher power (for me that's God). You are equipped to do what it is your body is supposed to do. Sometimes it just takes patients and a little self evaluation to realize you are just fine and it really is mind over matter. BFing is not for everyone just as natural birthing isn't, but if it's your hearts desire you should have it. I pray that this  is nothing but encouraging to the preggo mamas that are nervous about BFing and the mamas discouraged at this point. Don't give up, keep searching for someone that can help you.

24 August 2015


SURPRISE, I HAD A BABY! Yep, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy boy 6 weeks ago today. It seems just like yesterday that I was wondering if I would ever see the day where I would be called mama. Of course my little one isn't quite old enough to talk, but just the look in his eyes when he hears my voice or the calm in his breath when I pick him up is prize enough.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for his role in bringing my son, Cannon into the world. Even in the wee hours of the morning, I'm grateful to be waking up with Cannon to feed or a diaper change or sometimes just to cuddle. Its all such a blessing to watch him grow and change everyday and beyond that, its so awesome to see God at work 24 hours a day.

With that said, I really want to share my and Cannon's birth story. Let me start out by saying that I started preparing myself after the loss of our first baby for Cannon's birth. A client of mine referred me to the book "Supernatural Childbirth" by Jackie Mize and I've read and given it as gifts ever since then.  Most recently (as in 4 months into my pregnancy), I purchased "Ina May's Guide To Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin and read the stories of many of the women that gave birth on "The Farm". These stories were so empowering for me and filled with such  intensity, that I didn't finish reading the entire text. I do, however, believe I got out of it what God intended for me. As my pregnancy progressed, I started the "Hypnobabies" home study program and Keenan and I attended a four week "Birthing From Within" course all of which had us extremely prepared to give birth they way we wanted to.

On the morning that my birth started, I told Keenan, "We are going to have a baby within the next 24 hours." I decided to sit and bounce on our exercise ball for 20 minutess or so that morning as well as later that afternoon. Around 5:00 that afternoon, I decided to take a short walk, but since it was so hot at that time, we waited until about 7:30 or so to go out. I told Keenan I was having surges, so the walk may be shorter than expected. My mom went with us on the walk, but I didn't want to tell her I was having surges (she would have panicked and caused me to do the same), so I decided to power through them on our walk. Once we got back home, I had a very powerful surge and thought "Oh boy, that one was pretty serious!" I told Keenan that I thought this may be it, so we decided to get our room even more ready than it was and make sure we had everything we needed for the hospital.

Once we were done packing bags and cleaning, I decided to sit and bounce on the exercise ball a little more while I twisted my hair. We were watching a movie that happened to be a comedy and I found myself laughing at the funniest parts. That's when I started doubting if I was actually starting the birthing process; I thought maybe I had a UTI or bladder infection because that's kind of what my surges felt like. I told Keenan I wanted to shower to see if they stopped or if it would help, so he helped me get in and waited there for me as I let the hot water beat on my belly. Let me tell you, that was a genius idea at the time! It helped keep me calm and focused on what was happening.

After the shower, I told my mom I was surging and thought I was in the early phases of birthing, but not to panic. She called my sister, who came over within minutes and I went back to our room and Keenan and I started timing the surges, but they were irregular. Some were 2 minutes apart while others were 11 minutes apart. Not to mention, they didn't seem to last an entire minute (I was attempting to follow the 5-1-1 plan). Keenan got a little nervous because of the unknown and insisted we call the midwife. At this point, it was probably around 11:00pm and when we spoke to her she said it sounded like I was in the early phase of birthing and to give it more time. She did end the conversation with "If you disagree with me, feel free to go to the hospital. Just call my cell phone when you're on your way." I, for one, was content with her assessment and advice (I didn't want to go to the hospital to only be sent home), but after a few more minutes of watching me have the surges, Keenan thought it would be best to head to the hospital and I complied because I didn't know where I was in the process. Before we left, I asked Keenan to go to the grocery store (for what I can't remember) and he was back within what seemed like 5 minutes. He packed the car and we headed to the hospital with my mom and sister following behind us.

There was a certain electric feeling in the air as we were driving...it began to rain as we got into the car and lightening began to scatter across the sky. It was absolutely beautiful! Beyond that and Keenan calling his parents, I don't remember much about the car ride to the hospital.

When I got into a triage room around 1:00am, the nurse checked my cervix and I was 2.5 cm dilated, which I wasn't happy to hear because I had been told that the active part of birthing starts at around 5-6 cm and anything lower than that, you may be sent home. I continued to surge as the nurse and administrative staff came in and out of the room asking questions and giving us forms to fill out. Once it got quiet, Keenan left the room to get our bags out of the car. While he was gone, I asked about water birthing and the triage nurse asked for my certificate. *What certificate?* I needed to take a course and receive a certificate in order to have a water birth. Talk about deflated...that was the first tear I shed since I began the birthing process. I was so devastated and when Keenan got back into the room, I just lost it completely. My mom thought it was because of the surges (because that was her experience), but it truly was because my birth plan was being derailed and I had just gotten started. Meanwhile, she advised me to try to walk the halls of the hospital for two hours to see what happens. It was about an hour until I became anxious to find out my progress and returned to the triage room. A few minutes later, the nurse came back and checked me (I was then 3 cm) and informed me that most of the time when patients are less than 5 cm, they were sent home with a mild sedative and asked to come back the next day, but we would wait for Gloria, the midwife to arrive and asses me. Needless to say, I started praying right then and there. There was NO WAY my birth plan could go wrong this early in.

My mom and sister decided to go back home since there was no telling when things would pick up for us. No sooner than they left, Keenan's parents arrived. They'd come to say hi and to let us know they would be in the waiting room (by this time, it was about 3:30am). 

While we waited on Gloria to arrive, I decided to change positions in the bed to all fours and turn my "Hypnobabies" program on. I believe I fell asleep until Gloria arrived, at least an hour and a half later. When she came into the room I was so relieved to see her simply because I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. She checked my cervix and I was at 5cm!!! She said "Let's get you admitted." I immediately asked about the water birthing certificate and Gloria told us to get online, do the course (read pay $30) and she would print our certificate out for us.  Keenan borrowed his mom's iPad and "did the course". *YES!!! My birth plan was back on track!!*

While we waited to complete admission paperwork, the surges continued on and I knew it was time to really implement what I'd learned in our class, through my readings, and Hypnobabies. Keenan had to leave the room for a few minutes and while he was gone someone came in for me to sign some documents. When they left, I was still there alone. I decided to take the advice of our class coach and straddled the the toilet backward (of course I cleaned it first because I'm a little crazy). As I sat there rocking back and forth I remembered that my mom always told me to recite Psalms 23 when I felt the need. My granny had told her to do the same as she was growing up and became an adult.

As I began to recite what I could remember at the time, tears began to flow again. This time it was because I really felt the presence of my granny there and moreover, God. It was at that moment that I knew my birth plan would go as I had prayed and worked so hard for. When Keenan got back, he found me there, straddled the toilet with me and rubbed my back. It was at that point I decided that I wanted to talk to my body, specifically my cervix. I started grunting and chanting the phrase "OPEN UP!" As I did that Keenan would chant along with me and we used that phrase throughout the birthing process. Not long after that, I was wheeled to the delivery room followed by Keenan and all of our belongings. 

The second I got situated in the room, I decided to try the shower again. A friend of mine mentioned that the shower was amazing for her once she was in active labor, so it was pretty much a given for me to give it a shot. I have to say, at this point, in between surges the shower was awesome, but during surges,  not so much. I can't explain why the feeling wasn't comfortable for me, but I tried it, and I'm happy I did because now I know what will work for me and what will not. Not long after getting out of the shower, Gloria came to check me again and I was 7cm!!!! I asked her when would be a good time to call my birth photographer, and she advised me to ask her to come at that moment. So, I did. I also called my mom to let her know I was 7cm and that she and my sister better had come back soon. By that time it was about 7:30 am, the surges were coming back to back and Keenan and I decided to walk the halls again while we waited for the birthing pool to be prepared. 

As we walked the halls and chanted our phrase, Keenan would remind me to continue to keep my voice deep and to allow it to vibrate throughout my abdomen. As the surges came, I would let Keenan know I was ready for his support and we would chant, squat, and rock together as I held on to him tightly. In between the surges, we would walk and hold hands and talk about our future with this baby. Whenever I felt like supporting myself, Keenan would rub my back or I would lean into him and chant, squat and rock alone. During one particular surge, I remember his closeness giving me the feeling of intimacy. I began to cry and tell him how much I loved him. Again, this birthing process was exactly what I prayed for. 

We went back into the room and the tub was almost full, so I jumped in. MAN, WAS THAT AMAZING! My birth photographer, mom and sister all showed up at the same time. Since I was comfortable and had company, Keenan went to chat with his parents in the waiting room and his mom brought us some breakfast (I only ate hash browns because I had no appetite) and Keenan some coffee. I had become so comfortable with this process that in between surges I would have a full conversation. When a surge came, I would stop talking, chant and rock and go right back to what I was saying when the surge was over. I'd become an expert at getting through the surges! Gloria came in to check me once again and I was then at 8cm! I couldn't believe it and I thought "OMG!! I'm going to have a baby really soon!" After that victory, I was in the mood for music, so I asked my sister and birth photographer (who is a great friend) to find "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" by Tupac and Snoop Dogg on their computer. Don't judge me, I felt so empowered because I knew the end was almost near and I had done what I'd set out to do. 

After my song request was played, I decided I was tired of being in the pool and got out to walk the halls once again. Keenan and I continued with our song and dance with each surge. After a few laps, we went back into the room because Gloria and her student midwife was there to check me again. This time Gloria said I was about 9cm, but my water had pressure on it from the baby's head. Sort o of like squeezing a full water ballon, but it not bursting. She made the decision to break my water at that time and low and behold, not only did it burst, it burst all over Gloria. I'm talking face, hair, scrubs. Everywhere. She said "Well in my 30+ years of doing this, this is the first time someone's water has been that full." I apologized, but took note at how warm and cozy the baby must have been in there because that was the most comfortable temp I'd felt all day. 

As Gloria left to get cleaned up, Keenan and I did our song and dance a while longer until her student midwife came in and asked if I wanted to be checked again. Naturally, I said yes and I was 9.5cm! She told me there was a little scar tissue in the way of my cervix dilating completely to 10, but asked me if I wanted to try to push a little to see if I could get it to move. I was ready to meet my baby, so I complied. As I felt surges coming along, she would apply pressure to my perineum muscle and the feeling of the surge would disappear and I would push. We did that a few times and we were successful at getting the scar tissue to move. However, I was tired at that point and we took a rest for a few minutes and she checked me again and the scar tissue had moved back over. It was then that she asked me if I was interested in a sedative. She explained that the sedative would last an hour and wouldn't harm the baby. Its purpose was to give me an hour of rest and allow me to sleep some during the surges although, I would still feel them. Resting would also give me energy to really push when it was time and being relaxed would allow me to dilate completely. I asked if I would be confined to the bed, and she said yes. I wasn't too happy about that since movement had been my friend up until this point, but Since Keenan and I had learned about this sedative in our birthing class and spoke to a friend about it, we decided to give it a try. As I was being prepared with an IV, the nurses cleared the room except for Keenan. Which was a relief, because I wanted some time with just the two of us again since it was so beautiful when we walked the halls. 

Once I got the sedative I was to lie on my left side for half an hour and roll over to the right for a half an hour after that. I did as instructed and managed the surges quite well while on my left side. When I turned over to my right side, all hell broke loose. I was *finally* in real pain and not happy about it. I couldn't get out of bed and move around with the surges because of the IV and when I did try to move, things got worse! I did sleep in between the surges, so I suppose it was worth it at the time (although I don't know if I needed to sleep). Gloria and the student midwife came back at the hours end and checked my cervix once again. This time I was complete and ready to push. The sedative had worn off for the most part and the surges begin to feel "normal" to me again. Somehow, my mom and photographer knew when to come back and were there just in time for me to start pushing again. 

Just like before, when I was still only 9.5cm, the midwife would apply pressure to my perineum when a surge came and I would push. Both midwives were coaching me saying "push like you're having a bowel movement", and I would, but nothing was happening. I would push the baby down a little and somehow suck him back up. I even asked if I could try an alternative pushing position and they complied. It didn't help, but it was worth a shot. After what seemed like a couple of hours, the midwives asked if I was interested in a birthing bar and a mirror. The bar would help support me in the squatting position (I didn't want to lie down) and the mirror I hoped would motivate me to push properly. It took a while for the mirror to get there and when it did, the nurse that brought it was asking Gloria if she ordered a mirror. HUH?! I DEMANDED THAT SHE GET OUT! At that point, I was finally at wits end and tired. Our birthing coach from class explained to us that every woman gets to that point during birthing and that it was normal and not long after that we would be meeting our baby. One of the hospital nurses went into the hallway and got the mirror and placed it where I could see as I worked to push this baby out. Everyone in the room would tell me "There's his head, you're doing great!" 

Unfortunatly for me, not even the mirror was motivation for me to push properly, so I asked them to take it away. I was even over hearing the motivational chants coming from everyone in the room. I felt deflated and I was tired and overwhelmed at this point. The surges were no longer an issue because I figured out how to manage them, not to mention whenever one started, the midwife would apply pressure to my perineum and I could no longer feel the surge. The real issue was fatigue and delirium.   Keenan had gotten so overwhelmed that his nose started bleeding. That added even more concern to my situation and I felt like I couldn't push any longer and that I just wasn't good enough at it. My legs were cramping and I even asked the midwives to try an alternate route to get him out. I was begging for everyone in the room to help me, just reach in a take him out, or do whatever it would to get him out. It was then that Gloria grabbed each side of my face and said "Carlisa, this is YOUR job! We can help you, but we can't do it for you. YOU have to do this!" While I wanted to slap Gloria, I knew she was right and I put on my armor and went at it again. 

By this time, Keenan's nose had stopped bleeding and we were ready to start pushing again and I had found a little more strength to keep going. This time, I have no idea where the strength came from, but I pushed his head to the point where I *finally* felt like I needed to take a really bad poop and I knew that I was near the end! THAT'S WHAT MOTIVATED ME! Once, the Midwives said, "Let's take a little break." To their surprise, I told them NO WAY, I because I felt him coming out. With the next few pushes, I felt the "ring of fire", his head come out, the Midwives turn him, and the rest of his body slip out. When I opened my eyes, Keenan was holding the baby up for me to see (since he caught him) and the nurse called out TOB 4:05pm.  I was so relieved that he was out I couldn't even believe it. I couldn't wait to feel his little squishy body in my arms and see his little squishy face. 

He was placed on my chest immediately and through his tears Keenan repeated "We did it, babe. He's here". He then fell to his knees in tears and prayer and thanksgiving to God for this miracle we waited so long to see. I kissed his little face and touched his little arms and legs as he screamed to the top of his sweet little lungs. I examined him as quickly as I could before the nurse took him to weigh, measure and run his APGAR test.  While he was being tested and I birth the placenta, my mom ran to the waiting room to tell my dad, in laws, sister, and nephew that he was born and gave his stats. Of course they all came back to the room, but the men had to stay out for a while until I was decent. It was then that I asked the midwife had I torn, and to my surprise she said I hadn't. She also said that everything was perfect including my placenta. 

Once I was decent and before the medical staff left the room, I told Gloria that she was the first midwife I'd seen at the practice and I liked her right away. I added that as she was walking out of our exam room that day, I asked if she still caught babies and she said "I couldn't imagine my life doing anything else", and I told Keenan that I wanted her to help me birth this baby. The realization that everything I asked for, I received from God caused me to cry and once again, the entire room was in tears.  

*Cannon latched perfectly immediately after birth
*We elected to do delayed cord clamping, circumcision, and bathing
*We also declined initial shots and eye ointment
*The hypnobabies program suggests that if we change out language regarding birthing, we change our minds about the process as well.

A special thanks to Intown Midwifery for guiding us throughout our pregnancy and keeping us sane through the process.