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Baby, mother, father, birth, VBAC, pitocin, hospital birth

The Birth of Asa James Cantrell

As co-owner of Nashville Doula Services, Whitney, recently celebrated the first birthday of her third child, Asa James, she reflected on the day he was born. Whitney had already experienced two births of her own and supported so many mothers through labor as a doula, but she was thrown a curve ball during this labor! You won’t believe this amazing story full of strength, power, and beauty! This is a story that every VBAC mama or any expectant woman should read! Enjoy!

This is the story of my precious Asa James Cantrell, born February 6th 2016, and my second VBAC.

It was the evening of February 4th and I was 38 weeks, 6 days pregnant with Asa. I was even more exhausted than normal and decided to go upstairs and lay down while everyone else was eating dinner. I had just laid down and closed my eyes when I felt my water break. I jumped out of bed and as I stood to my feet, Niagra Falls was happening in my pants. I went to the bathroom and cleaned myself up as my adrenaline was pumping like crazy. We are going to meet Asa soon! Or so I thought…

My labors with my first two babies were fairly short, with my second labor only being around 4-5 hours. So naturally, I expected contractions to quickly follow and to be pushing out my baby in the next 3-4 hours. I called Michael to come upstairs and help pack for the hospital, and I continued to wait for contractions. We were excited but all of a sudden I was NERVOUS. I am a doula and have been to tons of births and helped many, many women through natural labor, and I had even done it before myself…but I really had not prepared for this labor, and I had a big, huge moment of self doubt! I sent a text to my midwife and friend, Lisa, to let her know what was happening, and also to my doula Sandee. They both expected my contractions to pick up soon. A couple hours passed and still no significant contractions, so we decided to try and get some rest while we could. I drank a half glass of wine to calm my nerves so I could rest, but as soon as I laid down, oddly enough, that’s when my contractions started coming regularly. I contracted all night, with contractions coming every 3-10 minutes. At about 2am they were so intense that I had to get on all fours and moan through each one. Then I would lay back down and pass out in between. About 3:30 they were around 2-3 min apart, so I told Michael it was time to go.

I got up to go to the restroom for probably the 15th time that night (and I had to change my enormous pad each time because I was losing so much water!) and wouldn’t you know it..my labor came to a screeching H – A – U – L – T. I was still feeling Asa move quite frequently and my water was still clear, so we decided to try and sleep some more. I got to sleep a couple more hours before the big kids were up and raring to go, asking for breakfast. 🙂 Still, zero contractions. Where did they GOOOOO?!?! I was totally baffled, wondering what this lil guy had planned.

We were so blessed to have Michael’s parents living with us so they agreed to take the kids for the day while Michael and I got serious about getting labor started. I checked in with my midwife that morning after we ate breakfast, and we agreed that I would give it a few hours and then go to the clinic for a non stress test and then make a decision on whether or not to go on in for an induction/augmentation. Hearing those words really stung. I couldn’t believe I was potentially facing an induction. Why was my body playing this mean trick on me?? I was in a pretty sour mood about this for the next few hours. We tried absolutely everything to get my labor going…chiropractic, acupuncture, lots of stairs at Cenntennial Park, Spinning Babies, lots of prayer, you name it! But nothing helped. Asa had his own plans despite my efforts to try and control the process.

After Asa and I got a clean bill of health at the midwife clinic, we decided that we would check into the hospital the next morning if labor hadn’t started by then. Michael really had to shake some sense into me, and remind me that we were going to meet our third child soon and that sometimes we just can’t control the process and have to trust that God has a good plan. I really needed to hear this. He was so encouraging and reassured me that getting things started with Pitocin didn’t mean I couldn’t have the epidural-free, active birth that I wanted. I had had a traumatic experience associated with an epidural with my first baby, so my desire to avoid that at all costs ran much deeper than a desire to check another natural birth off my goals. I made the decision from that point forward to be happy and to except with open arms the journey that God had for us. It was a freeing moment, and I literally felt the weight lift up off my shoulders. I started to feel JOY for the first time since my water had broken the night before.

We got a pretty good night of sleep that night, with just a handful of contractions, and I checked into the hospital at 7:30am, with Michael, Sandee (doula), and Kingsley (my sister) surrounding me and we joyfully proclaimed we were “Team Asa!”. It was VERY weird to check into the hospital not even being in labor! You have to have a supportive birth team in moments like these..Michael, Sandee and Kingsley brought the perfect mix of humor, compassion, love, and strength. I felt very safe, very cared for, and that everyone in that room believed in and loved me and my baby.

They checked me before starting pit, and I was about 3cm dilated and Asa was -2 station. No wonder labor was stalling… he was up in my rib cage!

 

I started out sitting on the birth ball when the pitocin drip started. We were joking around, telling stories, and laughing. Active labor kicked in at just 5mil of pit, and from that point on, it was game on. Michael applied counter pressure to my lower back and Sandee talked me through each contraction, reminding me to relax every muscle in my body. After about 1 hour of steady contractions, the midwife Stephanie checked me and I was 5-6 cm. We all agreed that we wouldn’t raise the pit anymore because just that little bit was doing it’s job! I was thankful. I was still handling the contractions super well, and I felt very much in control. I labored mostly standing/sitting on the side of the bed, but had gotten on my knees in the bed after I was starting to get tired, and switched back and fourth from knees to “throne” position. About an hour later I started to feel more pressure, so my midwife Stephanie checked me and I was at a 7. It’s weird laboring after you’ve become a doula… I was well aware of my body and the labor process, and even though things were getting really intense I could still think logically about what was happening and what was coming next. I knew that with my second birth, I moved from 7cm to birth in about 20 minutes so I knew we were getting close!

 

Just like that, transition set in, and boy did I know it. I looked at Sandee and said something like, “this is hard! Help!” She continued to encourage me and I felt her strength pour right into me for the home stretch.

Just a few minutes later, I finally felt the urge to push. I was so relieved! I pushed for about 10 minutes and my sweet baby boy was born and I pulled him up on my belly, although he was a little blue and the cord was around his neck. I very instinctively grabbed the cord and pulled it over his head.

He was beautiful! He looked JUST like my first son, Cole to me. I couldn’t believe it. At that moment I felt I had known him my whole life.

I am so thankful for the BEST birth team ever. Sandee was that calming, peaceful presence and reassurance when I had many moments of self-doubt. Michael was such an amazing support to me. He has become quite the doula himself after going through three of his wife’s labors. 🙂 And my sister…I was so excited for her to be at Asa’s birth after I had helped her through labor just a few months before. Birth is such a majestic, life-changing moment that you’ll absolutely never forget once you experience it

The Birth of Jacob Cooper

We often share stories of women who have had traumatic births in the past, but today we want to honor one of many mothers that have had all wonderful birth experiences.
This mother would’ve never expected that she would’ve made the conscious decision to have an unmedicated birth with her third baby. With all three of her births, she made intentional decisions in her birth team that allowed her to truly #BirthOnPurpose. We hope this gives hope to many mothers in waiting!
The Birth of Jacob Cooper
By Bekki Lowrance
Before we really begin, I have a confession.  I’m seriously the LAST person you’d ever imagine writing a story of her account of an unmedicated birth.  I’m not remotely crunchy, I’ll surely need some sort of intervention to ever entirely drop my soda habit, and I eat wayyyy too much processed food.
Now that I’ve cleaned my conscience, let’s get down to business.
I had three routine vaginal deliveries in three years, each one unique and wonderful in its own right.  My first two were delivered with the help of Pitocin and an epidural while my most recent baby came through an planned unmedicated delivery.  None of them have been what I’d consider to be traumatic and all of my children were healthy at birth, even my middle son who came 6 weeks early.  I have very quick labors in general with my last two babies coming within an hour of labor onset. As far as epidurals, I was surprised by a few things. First, I was shocked that the actual administration of the needle was nearly painless, both times I got them.  I had some fear about this and honestly it hurts a lot more getting your blood drawn.  I experienced a lot of anxiety while using the epidural – I felt stuck and constantly had the sensation of my legs being asleep.  (I didn’t know until my Lamaze class with my third pregnancy that I could have asked them to turn it down a little so I wasn’t feeling so numb.)  The medication also took a long time to wear off.  The feeling didn’t fully return to my legs until nearly 24 hours after each delivery.
When I found out I was pregnant with my third baby, we knew this would be our last.  Between my second and third babies, I had several friends who had either attempted or succeeded with unmedicated deliveries and they were people who I considered to be fairly balanced in their views and not afraid of doctors/ hospitals/ medications in general.  I remember being shocked to hear that one of my friends (an RN with the same OB as me) had two unmedicated deliveries and told me that she thought I’d be a great candidate for it.  I sort of blew her off at first but it did start me on the path of considering it.  I talked to my OB who said she’d support whatever birth plan I wanted, barring any hospital policies or health necessitated interventions.  My husband and I signed up for a Lamaze class, I read a couple of books, and hired a doula friend from church.  Maybe it’s the fact that it was my third child or just the fact that I’m older and (hopefully) wiser, but I just felt at peace about letting my body do its thing and getting out of nature’s way. It seemed strange to me to finally be learning what was happening through the birth process, when I had sort of been on auto pilot before.  Most attendees in our Lamaze classes were on their first kid, and found it funny that we were taking our first classes on our third delivery.  I think more than anything, I just wanted the perspective of a different experience.  I was curious what an unmedicated birth would be like and also wanted to know if I was truly capable of going through with it.
I ended up carrying my last baby to 40 weeks, but had been significantly dilated for several weeks.  Everyone thought he’d come early but he hung on till the very end.  I went to the hospital with cramps – not your standard contractions but I knew I was 6 cm at my appointment the day before and didn’t want to risk spontaneous labor at home.  After being in my room for 8 hours without any real progression, my OB suggested breaking my water to get things going.  I was SOOOO conflicted in this decision.  It was Dec 18th, I was beyond done with being pregnant, and I didn’t want to be in the hospital over Christmas.  However, I knew that once my water broke, I was “on the clock.”  My OB told me she’d give me 12 hours to go into labor on my own before she’d really push Pitocin so I agreed to let her do it.  She broke my water at 9:00 AM, heavy contractions started at 2:00 PM, my doula got there at 2:30 and baby was out by 3:15.  I had spent months preparing for this peaceful, spiritual experience of bringing life into the world.  I had a playlist of film scores from movies like Braveheart, my favorite scents in the form of essential oils, comfy blankets and pillows from home, etc.  I had envisioned laboring in the hospital’s tub, using an exercise ball to relieve pressure on my joints… you get the picture.  All the quintessential things I expected a natural delivery to look like.  In reality, I went from 6 cm to 10 in about 30 mins and when labor came on, it was fast and furious.  There was no time for any of those things.  I was in transition and then I was pushing and then he was here.  I recall thinking during the worst of it that I couldn’t possibly bear this for hours on end and that I might literally die from the pain.  (All my babies have been born sunny side up so my OB concluded that it must just be the shape of my pelvis that causes my babies to pass through like this.)  Also interesting to note that I pushed longer with this baby than with the other two medicated births.  That was contrary to what I thought would happen.  I also had so looked forward to feeling that amazing rush that so many moms alluded to that happened right after birth when all the hormones hit you at once.  That didn’t happen for me.  I underestimated how much it would continue to hurt even after I got him out.  I had so much adrenaline rushing through me that I couldn’t stop shaking.  I was trembling so hard it was difficult for me to hold my baby and I just felt incredibly weak.  My doula was amazing in that moment and came and applied counter pressure to my legs so I physically could not shake against her weight and over a few minutes, it helped me calm down.  I will say that within a couple hours of giving birth, I felt great.  I didn’t feel the lingering effects of medications, and I was incredibly happy that I had accomplished what I’d set out to do.  This baby scored higher on his APGAR test than my other two had and was just so wonderfully healthy from the minute he was born and I couldn’t help but wonder if my unmedicated delivery contributed to that.  The biggest regret I have from this experience is not getting photos during the birth.  (Not talking money shots here, folks, just wanted some of Jon and I in our zone. Ha!)  Everything ended up happening so fast that they just didn’t happen when everyone was so busy.
In closing, I am grateful for three unique delivery experiences and three healthy babies.  When people ask me about medicated vs. unmedicated deliveries, I always stress that birth comes on its own terms.  I planned way more for my third delivery than I did for my first two, but in some ways my first two matched my expectations more than my third.  The more of a plan you make, the more possibility there is that something won’t go according to said plan.  I could have been just as disappointed about not laboring in the tub, listening to the music, using the other various tools and techniques I’d learned as some moms have been with their medicated deliveries.  I think the key is being flexible.  I was okay with the fact that it didn’t turn out just exactly as I had hoped.  If I were to have another pregnancy, I would most likely plan to do another unmedicated birth, mainly because my deliveries were over so quick and I think most people could bear about anything for an hour.  It’s not worth all the “coming off” feelings from the medications for such a short period of pain, to me.  If I knew that I was up against a 12 hour labor, I’d probably opt for an epidural again. I feel so blessed to have had relatively good experiences through both scenarios that can hopefully shed some light to other mamas who might be on the fence about their decisions regarding birth.
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The Birth of Atticus Eli

How can an emergency c-section be a mother’s most healing birth? You’ll have to read today’s birth story to find out! We are so honored to share the beautiful birth story of Atticus Eli and his powerful mama. #birthonpurpose
The Birth of Atticus Eli
By Melissa Bonar
I have had 2 previous traumatic birth experiences that resulted in c sections with general anesthesia. One of the hardest things has accepting everything that happened and the fact that I was not able to witness my babies being born. I knew this time that I needed to be prepared for absolutely everything that I may encounter in this pregnancy and birth, so my first mission was to hire only the best doula that money buy. I knew immediately after meeting Sandee and Whitney that I had the right doula services.
So after several inspirational and educational classes and motivational meetings with them I felt more than ready for the birth of my 3rd baby.
My mom and step dad had been staying with me to help with the kids while my husband had to travel for work.  I had been having several days of prodromal labor before I actually went into real labor.  Monday night was about 6 hours worth.  On Thursday the 25th around 4am I woke up with waves of cramps that I knew were the real thing, and they were intense and moving quickly together. I asked my mom to notify Sandee that I  thought she needed to head over. My husband was about 5 hours away, so Sandee helped pack up my things into her car and of we drove. It was going to be a crazy drive in morning rush hour. Throughout the drive Sandee was multitasking by soothing me and fighting traffic.  We arrived at the hospital around 9am and upon arrival when the midwife checked me,  I was 6cm dilated. I was so excited that all of my hard work was paying off that I busy into tears of joy. Laboring was amazing and the energy was unexplainable. I was able to move around and change positions and all along had an the most supportive birth team with me. I wasn’t having back labor yet, but the contractions were very intense. Mother nature was allowing me to rest in between, but then asking me for everything I had during these contractions.
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After 2 hours I was asking for the epidural because I was still at 6cm. I started to have horrible back labor pains that were taking over my body and concentration was going out the window. I knew I wanted to see my baby take his first breath and I wouldn’t be able to with how exhausting and torturous these last few hours had been.  I endured 3 contractions while they were placing it and I knew that if it weren’t for Sandee’s help and strength, that I wouldn’t have been able to sit still.
I got to 10cm in the next few hours all while comfortable and pain free. My husband arrived and I felt such a relief.   The nurses used a peanut ball to help position me,  and my water broke, but as it turns out, baby was posterior and not moving down.  We tried pushing for about 2 hours and got to a stage 0 and then things slowly started to go wrong.
The doctor on call recommended that I get a c section because it was not looking well. He suggested less then an hour before I get the surgery.  Shortly after I got a low fever, baby’s heart rate was dropping, there were signs of meconium,  and I had the most intense pain in my shoulders.  It felt like a gorilla was squeezing my neck. I knew in my mind that this wasn’t good. All signs of ruptured uterus.  We were rushed to the operating room in the next few minutes.
One of the most beautiful I things was about to happen. Atticus was born at 8:44 pm. I was able to hear my baby cry for his first time and then see my baby almost immediately. My husband was there to hold my hand and watch as they were checking him out.  He was then allowed to do skin to skin with the baby while they finished repairing my uterus and closing me up.
The overwhelming feeling of love and joy that came over me when I was reunited with them was so powerful. Tears flowed like a river as I  was handed  that little bundle. I greeted him by introducing my self as his mommy and kissing him in the forehead.  We nursed right away, with only a little bit of help since my body was weak and sore, and he was a bit groggy from the medications. Sandee stayed with us this entire time and insisted on staying until we were ready to be brought up to the room.  She truly went above and beyond her call of duty and I am forever grateful.
The last hour was scary, but ended more beautifully  then I could have ever imagined.  I feel so proud and so emotionally healed that I was able to really be a part of it all.  I finally felt like I had given birth.
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