Pregnant and In Love – The Pitfalls of Crushing on Your Care Provider

This post is reblogged from a former post in 2011.


Several years ago a pregnant mom told me that she was in love with her midwife. I don’t mean that she was using the term loosely to describe that she was just “the bees knees”. She was serious, people.  Very, deeply serious.

This mom was not a lesbian with an erotic or partner type attraction for her care provider. That’s not what she was telling me.  She was, however, quite passionate.  Infatuated.  She had dreams about her midwife and was even bashful about how strong her feelings were.  She absolutely believed that her midwife could do no wrong.   Then here midwife induced her before her due date, “lovingly” scaring her for her own good because her baby was certain to be HUGE.  Mama lost the birth that she wanted, still trusting that her midwife would only do what’s best for her.
That mom has become much wiser, stronger and gone on to birth much bigger babies without an induction, even at home!  Awesome Mama!  I’m not so big on that midwife, though.

This is not uncommon.  Maybe the boldness to voice feelings in such a way was rare, but over and over I see women just absolutely IN LOVE and googly eyed over their OB or midwife.  They just KNOW that the care provider understand what they want and listens to them, so it does not matter that their typical pracice is not to “do” the type of birth that Mama wants. The care provider hears and knows her needs.  Mama just know that they’ll follow through with the exception to their daily norm for HER.

But they do not.  You may be telling your doula this when we know the actual statistics of your chosen care provider and hospital.  Some are so into their routine that a doula in your area can predict what their “Switch” is.
Big Baby
High Blood Pressure
Low Amniotic Fluid
Jaundice
Your Uterus Will Explode at 41 weeks and 1 day

While there are true cases of these complications, it’s hard to believe that a certain practice somehow has a corner on the market of all babies who have… let’s go with low amniotic fluid. Their statistic of it’s occurrence is so high that you would think the practice itself warrants some investigation, right? Wrong.  They “save” those moms and babies from the “threat” that they are under, when a second opinion would have clarified that, no actually your fluid is just in the low range of  PERFECTLY NORMAL.

These mamas end up confused, birthing under fear of a condition that they often do not have, put through the “Baby Factory” mindset where their body is expected to respond like the machinery a factory would be designed for.  When that body doesn’t kick in like clockwork a new issue is created, often legitimately now because you’ve messed with nature, and bad things happen.

But that’s ok. Your amazing OB or MEDwife that you adore is there to hold your hand and save you while they use instruments and tools instead of waiting on your body to do what it needs.  You adore them for it. As doulas we watch and encourage you to find as much joy and strength in your chosen path as possible. Sometimes that means letting you believe it and knowing that someday you will question all this. We hurt for you. We know what that is like.

Two years after the birth when you are still cringe in pain, remembering the experience, that OB or MEDwife won’t recognize you when bumping into each other at the grocery store.  You are one of many, but they were your only one.

NOT ALL CARE PROVIDERS ARE LIKE THIS.  Many chose obstetrics because it is literally the only specially that they can get to do surgery without the required extra years of residency for any other surgical specialty.  My OWN OB told me that was why he did it.  This is not a joke.
Yet some are amazing servants who see their career choice as a calling to serve women.   They will sacrifice their schedules and times, they will go out on a limb to give your body the space it needs and tell you the true statistics and risks for YOU to decide what you are comfortable with.  They are amazing. Your job is to find one of THEM.

This is not fair. Women should be able to trust and care for the person who we have hired to attend our births. It is completely reasonable for us to expect them to guard our best interests and provide real information that helps us understand and know what is happening. Unfortunately, we live in a society where medical professionals are required by insurance and specifically trained in med school to practice medicine defensively.  It’s wrong. Absolutely! But it’s the way it is.  I don’t envy them that either.

As I was saying puppy love is infatuation and it blinds you to reality.   You need to go into your birth fully aware, prepared, and with your eyes wide open.   You don’t want to be blindsided while you are in labor.
The question is, do you love  your care provider enough to have  medical interventions FOR them, to fit their schedule and charts?  Do you want them to be there for you so badly that you will have unnecessary major abdominal surgery?  Because women often do, and they don’t even realize it.

1. Shop Around– You are HIRING this person/group to provide a service. I have long, thick curly hair. I could NEVER go to someone who specializes in short thin haircuts. Even if they make me feel so comfortable, happy and mushy inside.  They can tell me I look great and make me feel beautiful in the moment. That’s NOT a good reason for a bad haircut, is it? And I’ll walk out of that appointment with BAD HAIR!! While they turn and croon to then next victim in their chair…
Find someone who has experience with the type of support you want. And don’t just listen to what they say. Ask the women who had the type of birth you want.  Find the group that has been proven to support moms wishes without making them fight every step of the way.
2. Find a Local Chapter of ICAN– Sure you don’t expect to have a c-section. Most women don’t.  But ICAN is about more than just VBAC(Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). They’re about awareness and avoidance as well!  These women are supportive and have BTDT (been there done that).  Typically they can  recommend good local care providers that are tried and true as well as help you think through other aspects of your birth.  And you may make some fantastic friends along the way. I have!

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Tuck Tail and Run!  I know women who have changed OBs at 38, 39, 40 weeks… even one who left one hospital in early labor and drove to another where she could have the vaginal birth she knew she needed instead of an automatic c-section.  You are not married to them. Don’t have a bad birth just because you feel bad about hurting their feelings. They may not even remember you in 3 months but I assure you that your body and heart will remember.

4. Choose Your Battles-   I hate the idea of women having to fight in labor. Absolutely despise it! You deserve to BE safe and feel it. You should know you are protected and have the space to relax and trust your body. You deserve to have confidence in those who are there as a safety net for what your body is doing as you birth your baby. Unfortunately, we live in a country where normal birth is under siege and the majority of women do have to fight. You may not get the support you deserve.
So, choose your battles. I’m not referring to letting them do an epesitomy  and just being happy that you got to use your vagina. Not that kind of battle.  It’s simpler than that.
You may just have to fight something, so take the time to choose what that will be.
You can choose to fight your budget and save money to hire a homebirth midwife who will support your wishes at home, when you don’t think you can afford it.

You can birth in the hospital with someone you don’t trust and fight
through labor the best you can to get your needs met.

You can choose to fight traffic and gas prices to drive to the hospital/care provider that is most experienced in supporting the the type of birth you want. That may be a 2 hour drive. 

Do you see what I’m saying here?  Staying with someone who’s close and simple is not always the best option. If it is, you’re a very lucky woman!!

5.  Listen To Your Gut – If your care provider is saying one thing but your gut is telling you that it’s going to change in labor, it most likely will. If what you’re “allowed to do” is presented differently and with more restrictions at each passing prenatal appointment… Honey, RUN don’t waddle… Go find someone you can trust!

6. Do your homework
 –  If you can afford to take a good childbirth class, DO IT! Be prepared for everything so that you can relax and birth confidently.  And I don’t mean hospital classes that simply teach you according to what that specific hospital wants you to know.  Hospital classes have a vested interest in teaching you to be a good patient.  Find an independent class. With all of the time that you took preparing for your wedding I know that you can find some time to set aside for this, right?

7. HIRE A DOULA- I do not say this simply because I am one. I want you to picture yourself 20 miles into running your first marathon. How tired you will be, the fight for every step, the heaving chest, the sudden doubts that you can make it. Now imagine someone standing next to  you asking if you want drugs, if you want a c-section, if  this, if that.. we can get that baby out in thirty minutes…
The only thing that you can predict about your birth is that it WILL be unpredictable.  A doula’s job is to be one of your safe, constant predictable factors.
She is SO MUCH more than a BFF for the day.  A doula is there to gently remind you of the decisions that you have made, to offer educational information on decisions that you did not expect to make so that you feel informed. To look you in the eye on that final mile and remind you that you ARE doing it already!!!  To bring strength to your partner by supporting them and giving  a sounding board for their fears and questions as well, so that your partner can support you better than they knew they were able to.  You paid for professionals on your wedding day.  Pay for them now.  A doula is worth it.

I want you to LOVE your birth team. I do,  but the person who you need to love enough to base your decisions are, are both inside of you.
I want you to birth with no regrets…

Gestate in peace ladies,
The Doula

OTHER POSTS TO READ:
Birth Announcement Etiquette: Ban The Birth “Firsts”

 

Birth Announcement Etiquette- BAN the Birth “Firsts”

I have been a birth doula for almost 7 years now and have attended around  250 births.  I signed up to support women and their families through one of the most amazing experiences of a lifetime and to hold them up with my own body and soul through their first moments with a new human being.
I prepared myself for the toll it would take on me.  Exhausted muscles, worn out limbs, sleepless fogs and aching of my heart from things unexpected.
You know what I did not prepare for? The trauma and hurt that I never expected to walk so many families through?

The devastation of “Birth Firsts.”

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What is a Birth First?
It is the stealing of that moment, the first time it is said…

Our child is BORN!

That moment when new parents, whether it is their first, last or any in between, get to tell the world that their child has made it into their arms. For many it is a huge moment… like the kiss at the end of the wedding ceremony.  For some, they get the kiss out of the way and get on to the party. Others have waited for that moment, that kiss, and dreamed of it their entire lives. Neither is wrong, but it depends on the couple themselves to decide how important it is to them. Not the guest. Not the friends and family.

As a witness to births, I see couples go through deciding how, when and who to tell first. It can be a huge deal to them, or sometimes not. Often there are some politics involved, especially with the variety of family antics we all experience.  At times there are boundaries that need to be respected, maybe some family and friends need to be held off for awhile so the new mom and dad can feel ready and confident to face others after a private time of “cocooning in” with their new little person.  Some moms are taking photos and posting it to Facebook within 30 minutes, some wait until 2 days after the birth.

All of these are within their rights.  They deserve to make that decision. Often they don’t get to.

This is what I also get to see.  The moment they realize that someone else has trumped them.  A friend or family member has let out the “Birth First”.   That private photo texted to two people is suddenly sent to an entire email list or posted on Facebook and tagged.

It happens so fast.  Within minutes, cell phones are ringing, text messages pinging and Facebook page is blowing up with congratulations while mom still hasn’t had a chance to catch her breath and dad may not have even held his child yet.   The moment was taken. They can’t get it back.

Often the stealing is unintentional. It can even be well meant and come from a place of pure joy and love for the family. Actually, new grandparents, aunts and uncles are high in numbers of guilt on this one.  Their joy is genuine and the harm was not intended.  Yet it is there.  I get to be in the room and see the hurt and betrayal felt by parents who don’t get to announce their own child to their friends.  They are almost always hurt, they feel cheated. They are blindsided. Trust me,  intentional or not you do NOT want to be the one to cause that for them.

Over the years and families I have learned a great trick. You see, as a birth professional, I am even bound to not talk to others in the birth community.  I follow HIPAA guidelines.  It gets tricky when someone gives birth and their three friends, who I also served through their births, want the inside scoop.  My answer is to always smile and say, “They were amazing and the birth was beautiful. You should ask them about it!!”

It’s not my story. Not my glory.  If you have had the honor of being  in the birth room or waiting room for a birth, I encourage you to do the same.  Respecting their privacy is a great way to show gratitude for the honor of being included in the experience.

True, some parents aren’t that concerned about it. They don’t mind you telling for them. They may be relieved to have one last thing to do and feel honored that you are so trigger happy that you post before the cord is cut!

ASK THEM FIRST.  Be sure that you have clear permission to talk to others, text others, post to the world.  If not, DO NOT.

So here is a little help for you.

Birth Announcement Etiquette:
If you know that someone has given birth, but they have not announced it THEMSELVES on Facebook it is inappropriate to congratulate them, thus making the announcement that they may have been withholding. It doesn’t matter if you are family, friend, coworker or part of their fan club.

You are not Perez Hilton. No one needs to “FIRST” their birth.  Please wait until the new parents themselves have shared the information to congratulate them. It is an amazing gift to respect their time together.

Respect their privacy, please.
That is all

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OTHER POSTS TO READ:
Pregnant and In Love – The Pitfalls of Crushing on Your Care Provider

Losing Your *IT* vs. Saving Grace (5 Thinks I’ve Learned Through 7 Years of Poop)

When God’s Timing Turns Me Into a Two Year Old – Because Patience Isn’t My Thing

Hello, My Name Is…

How do I start…

No, how do I pick back up. What do I pick back up?

That’s the problem with juggling hats, you see. I have so many and I love them all.  I hold them close, I spin them in the air. I store them in the closet.  And sometimes, I crush them because hats do crush so easily, after all.

Woman, wife, mama,  homeschooler, friend, designer,  crunchy, fancy, creative, maker, baker, picture taker, writer, artist, trainer, teacher, chauffeur, birth doulam volunteer, problem solver, coach,  foster mom, bio mom, adoptive mom, cheerleader, realist, dreamer….

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I don’t know which one to wear for you you. What comes first? What do I put up in the closet for next season?  Actually, why am I wearing a hat when I hate the way things feel on my head?

All that.
Running through my head.
For months now. Years, actually.
Stepping out in a funky hat takes some serious chutzpah.
Audacity.
How long does dauntless take, to become a habit?

Over the years I have had six different blogs. They have all been topic specific and  I have never just blogged as me, with my name.  As open and honest as I have always been, putting my name out there was something different. I orten did it anonymously or with a pen name.
She was braver than I, always.

It has taken until now to give myself permission to embolden from the ground up.  Let me tell you why.

I have blogged off and on for several years. Behind a keyboard pouring out my heart,  vulnerable to the point of flooding my face with tears and snot, only to panic and take it back frantically making those juicy tell-all posts private.

I’ve bared my soul, my history, and my body image. Then made it anonymous because it hurts. 

It hurts to have women and moms tell me that I inspire them,  and then have the someone I see day-to-day scoff and tell me I’m ridiculous. It’s that one that gets me, stabs and slays me, no matter if a dozen thank me. Why am I so weak?

It gets tiring to be the elephant in the room, especially when you’re the one willing to unpack your trunk. Haha…trunk. See what I did there?

The more I mull it over, the less likely I am to ever do this. So,  I’m gonna be real here and just…start typing.

But it’s ok. I’m ready.

I am not going to do fear and loathing anymore. I just won’t. I’m not going to make excuses for how people feel and worry if I am just “too much” for them. They did not even ask me to. I put that on myself.

I’m going to hash out a few things right now, before I start the baby-steps-back-into-blogging. I’ve been holding off on letting this out, trying to decide which way to go, what route to write…

I’m going to start with answering how I feel about me, before I put me in front of you on a silver platter to pick apart and mull over…in case anyone cares to do that picking business.

“You’re too intense.”

I am thankful for my God given intensity. I’m sorry if it stuns you and makes you uncomfortable. Nine times out of ten I’m thanked for being encouraging and challenging growth in someone. I refuse to take that one outlying opinion and mull it over in my head for days as a failure anymore. I’m not going to spend so much time if I have been wrong all along, over one opinion.  It’s ok. You’re allowed to read someone else’s blog. From now on, I’m me. All of me.Take me or leave me. Really… you are welcome to leave before this gets real. And I am not kidding here. Please. Feel free to read someone else’s blog.

“You’re too passionate.”

I am blessed by the gift of passion. Once in a small group we were supposed to go around the room and say what we are passionate about. I wasn’t sure. The minute I said that out loud someone piped in,
“You are passionate about parenting and family!”  
“You are passionate about supporting women!”
“You are passionate about sewing and clothes!”
“You are passionate about cooking!
“You are passionate about homeschooling and DIY stuff!”
Let’s just call it, y’all. It’s not that I have one thing. It’s everything.
I. Am. Passionate.  
There ya go.

Passion for my family. I am blown away by my husband and children and aim for growth in every day we have together. I’ve blogged about parenting  and love sharing that part of my heart. I do that because we all can do it better, not because I think that *I* do it better. I want to share that walk with you and with all the parents swimming through the sea of controversy in parenting. Staying above water is a struggle and we are constantly hit by tidal waves.
I do not share about parenting because I am bitter. It is because I am learning, and I love to learn! My mama taught me that. I do not challenge parenting standards because my parents were horrible. I parent differently than them. I absolutely do, unashamedly. When I blog about it, it has the potential to hurt feelings. They have told me so, and I absolutely understand why it would be uncomfortable. I feel confident enough to discover new ways because they taught me to. I owe that to my parents for homeschooling me and teaching me to teach myself. They are as amazing as they are imperfect, which is where the beauty lies. By that they have taught me that I can be equally imperfect and amazing, in being me.

Passion for the beauty of a woman’s body and its beauty in style,  in pregnancy and in birth.
Over the years I have had the great job of encouraging and supporting women to have a birth surrendered to truth. Truth is different for each birth. But don’t act like I’m a werewolf at a babyshower. Please. I’m ok with you loving your birth, however it was. Be ok with me encouraging others toward something that may be different. I’ve seen about 250 of them over six years. If there is one thing I know, her birth is not about YOU, and it’s not about ME. So… let me speak.
And then there’s my whole modesty mantra. Look… I’m basically a modest nudist. I like to be naked. But my spirit won’t let me. God won’t let me, ya know? I follow that still small voice that tells me what to wear. I’m going to tell you about it, and why I will champion the cause of modesty, yet dress as a “Modesto Incognito”.

Passion is a powerful part of my faith. Passion has lead me to places from which fear would have kept me. Passion left me dissatisfied with a mediocre faith based on popular Christianity and drove me to stand firm in searching for the Truth and the Light. It brought me to somewhere I never, never expected… The Catholic Church.

What?!?!? Did she just say Catholic?
She did. She said it. She did it.
She’s Catholic? What the what? Since When?
It’s ok. I love Jesus. Jesus loves Catholics.
Oh man, she’s gonna talk about Catholic.

Yep, I’m going to tell you about that… because it’s Jesus. I love to share Jesus. Stick around or don’t. That’s totally up to you. I free you from it if it bothers you. I mean, it’s all Jesus and you can read and not be Catholic… but I am. I found my freedom in it. So much freedom that it blows me away.

“You are so judgmental… “

Please understand that I make judgement calls. It’s what God asks of us, and I prayerfully try to toe the line of judging sin and not the heart and soul of a sinner, other than myself.  I’m not judging you by making a judgment call on what I believe to be a healthy standard. My choice is not about you. Also, I constantly encourage others to search their hearts and find that sound judgment that is there. It’s not what you think it is, and our culture and society is doing everything they can to destroy our good judgement.

“Nobody can make everything from scratch and do all that healthy stuff. I could never do what you do. “

Really, that’s fine. I can’t even do what people think I do. I love to make things myself. I also love ordering pizza, and I miss that option in my life. So there.

I love treating bodies well, nourishing them with whatever is wholesome and caring for them on a daily basis. But you may not believe me. You may think I’m a liar because…. gasp….

I had WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY!!!  Give me a few weeks and I’m going to explain to you in about 100 ways why that was NOT the easy way out. I promise. It’s hard. Especially when you’ve been known as a health freak for years…Yes, me. I did this… gasp…. Just wait. I’ll tell it all.

“I can’t believe you would tell people that! You know, that thing you just said.”

What, the truth?

Listen, I’m all about healthy boundaries. As a professional birth doula I am trained and experienced at following strict guidelines and HIPPA privacy regulations. It’s second nature. I was an HR manager with 900 employees when I was 22 years old. I can be diplomatic and discrete. I can poker face to the enth degree. That doesn’t mean that I can’t share failures and lessons I’ve learned, myself, in hopes that the experience can be used to help others. It’s part of who I am. To share. To support. To hold myself open to ridicule so that someone else can feel that they aren’t alone. I do that. Often.

I could go on and give you 100 things people have said to me about things I have written in the last nine years. I have the rebuttals ready. I think this is enough for you to get the idea, right? Right.

Moving on.

I’m starting fresh, from scratch and that may be with five readers instead of what I have enjoyed in the past. If you are reading this and you can see where I am going, it is worth it to me.

You want to know what all of this rambling is about? In a nutshell, it is a coming out in the light of day. I’ve spent years trying to hide ME behind a purpose or topic… every. time. I. write.


Because the real me, the whole me, was too much for people. Because Jesus wants us to see Him, not us. So I had to hide that for Him, right? Isn’t that required?
I  named blogs different things and kept them separate. At one point I had 5 at once, compartmentalized by different topics so the topic was what you saw. You aren’t supposed to see me.

I can’t maintain that. I can’t hide behind the banners and the goals anymore and say that they are what is important and I’m to be as invisible in the process as possible. I’ve refused to use my name in most of my blogging. I thought that was doing “Humility” correctly.

It wasn’t.

It was letting the fear of others cripple my heart. I let them hold back the baring of my soul, and if there is one thing I have known since I was a child, it is that God gave me a soul that is intense and passionate… that loves to DIY for everything… and he wants me to bare my soul. He gave me a crazy one… to share it. Yes.. bare… naked. Like that.

I was afraid.

Now I am not. So this is all about taking a deep breath and for the first time presenting me. All in one place. All my randomness. All my depth. It’s ok for my blog to be about me. Who I am is ok. That can be useful.

Most of all,  I want to share all that I’m meant to be… with you. To believe and know that I AM worth seeing and knowing. I don’t have to hide behind the words that flow from me, yet I don’t have to give them up to be something that I’m not. I can do both.

And if I’m worth reading.
I am worth seeing as a whole.

If I am,
That means you are, too.

But first, I have to tell you about me.

Bare and openly yours,

Talitha Cumi Seibel

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The Opposite of Failure- Mec Happens- Part 2 of Lil Bit's Birth Story

65025_10200375207403190_1720942416_nI had my first three little ones in 3.5 years.  Memories are like smoke and wind chimes, hard to define anything from those few years really. Any mama who has done the same can attest to the truth in this.  Mostly a happy colorful blur, full of life and vibrancy, but a blur none the less.
Wait, did you miss PART ONE?
Ironically, I grew up suspecting that I may never be able to have bio babies.  I had several reasons for this, but the main one  was the horrible abdominal pain and issues that I suffered since I was a child but no doctor had diagnosed. That’s a long story for another post. Or 5 posts. We’ll get to that someday.
I warned my husband when we were engaged that he may be joining in holy matrimony with a lemon.  As he is clearly the right and perfect choice for me, he didn’t bat an eyelash.  We made plans from the beginning to have a family of adopted children, whether we were given bio babies or not. He new my heart was drawn to adoption, having lived in South America to work with orphaned children on the streets.   No matter how we were blessed with them, we just knew we wanted children. We agreed that our dream come true would be to have both.
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That is why it was no surprise that even though we were only 23 when we got married, we decided to “try” before our first anniversary. We didn’t know how long of a road we would have to conceive.  It was only a few weeks our first year  I knew the, ahem, “window” was coming up.
We discussed it and decided to try on a Tuesday.
We….tried…. on Thursday.
We woke up on Friday and decided that maybe waiting 6 months or a year would be better after all.
Too late.   That Thursday night was the only night we have EVER “tried” intentionally in our entire 12 years of marriage.  Infertile? Umm. No. Not even close.  Just our hearts being prepared for the blended family that we will soon have.
I expected not to be able to get pregnant. What I didn’t expect was how hard pregnancy would be on my body.  My mother had 10 children and I grew up surrounded by pregnant women. She never complained about pregnancy.  My sister was pregnant alongside me with her 4th.  She is also amazing, although she does have morning sickness really badly in the beginning.
I was not as prepared as a though. I threw up the entire 9 months. I was throwing up the morning that I went into labor.  We considered homebirth for Big Sister, but that was a fleeting thought. With throwing up 14 times a day, losing tons of weight, episodes of bleeding and contractions starting early in my pregnancy, I went for the “We’ll just have the first in the hospital and then do homebirth.” approach.
No one in my extended family had ever given birth by c-section. I knew a few people who had but I knew nothing about csections. It’s just not what Fowlers do. My mother birthed 10 children. I was an unassisted homebirth, myself.  My sister was double trained as a homebirth midwife (CPM) and also had her masters to deliver in hospitals (CNM).  We’re Fowler women. Birthing babies is our thing. It’s what we do.

With my cousin, Alex, and my Uncle Mike who passed away a few months after this photo. I miss him.
With my cousin, Alex, and my Uncle Mike who passed away a few months after this photo. I miss him.

You need to know this for me to try to explain to you the peace and strength that flooded me at 20 weeks when we had our typical, routine ultrasound.  It made no sense. Everything was perfect. SHE was perfect, and we finally knew her as SHE. Something stood out to me though. Something small and inconsequential it seemed. I looked at the sonographer and said it.
Me: “Wait, she’s breech.”
Sonographer: “Oh honey, we don’t even call it that at this point. She’s just fine.”
Me: “I understand that, but look at her. She is perfectly head up. That looks so strange.”
Sonographer: “You’re right. She really is. Don’t worry too much about it.”
Me: “Oh, I won’t. Lots of time.”
And that was that. Except, it really wasn’t. I didn’t say another word about it to anyone.  I didn’t bring it up again for weeks, but something happened in my heart. It wasn’t scary, or traumatic. It wasn’t devastating or even disappointing. It was, well… we Christian folk would call it a peace that passes understanding and it really was.  Peace surrounded me as I looked at my baby girl on the screen and I just knew. She was going to need a c-section. I had never even considered a c-section or heard the word during my care. I knew that I didn’t need a c-section, but I knew that SHE did.  I saw her and I knew, and in the knowing I was ok.  I knew I could do whatever my child needed, and I wouldn’t do it in fear. I was strong enough for her.
With my cousin's wife and my dear friend since we were 16, happy to be pregnant at the same time!
With my cousin’s wife and my dear friend since we were 16, happy to be pregnant at the same time!

It was my 32 week appointment that I brought it up.  Yes, I was a first time mom, but I knew my body. I knew pregnant bodies. That big lump that hadn’t moved and was absolutely killing the right side of my ribs was my daughter’s head.
Me:  “She’s breech. I think we need to talk about flipping this kid.”
Midwife: ” I just felt her. She’s not breech.”
Me: “Yes she is. That’s her head in my ribs.”
Midwife: “No, that’s her butt.  I’ve felt hundreds and hundreds of bellies. It’s a butt.”
Me: “Come on. Don’t treat me like a first time mom. I dare you to check.  I’ll even bet you $5. It’s a head. That is too round and hard to be a butt.”
This particular midwife happened to know my sister from some midwifery conferences or something they did together, so she had a soft spot for me.  She laughed and agreed to walk me over to the ultrasound room to have a peek.  The second the sonographer put the probe on my belly she exclaimed loudly…
“Oh! That’s her little head up there!”
I never got my $5.  I got some advice on exercises to flip her. Nothing changed.  in the meantime I was dealing with lots of contractions. I know now that I just have a happy, overactive uterus and they were overreacting.  As a doula I’ve seen that happen to many moms.  Anyway…..
At 34 weeks an external cephalic version was suggested. I talked to my sister. She recommended it.  I knew that breech vaginal delivery was an option.  We talked about it. I read about it. It seemed crazy not to use every option available.  That’s how I am about everything. Know all the options…
Praying about it was where the decision was made.  My gut said no.  Every time I considered it, I saw that tiny girl at 20 weeks gestation head up at attention. It looked right for her. It looked like how she was meant to be. I have no other way to describe it, because I make sure that every mom I work with knows of the version for changing a breech.  I didn’t hesitate at all for it with my other children and it was very successful. It was that still small voice, that catch in my spirit that held me back. I would have a c-section for breech.
I ended up on partial bedrest, with meds. I spent my birthday in the hospital getting IVs to stop labor.  That happened a couple of times, actually.
Then December 26th came. I was 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant and my sister was coming to visit from Illinois in all her matching-me-she’s-pregnant-too glory.  I was beside myself. The only thing I ever wanted was my sister and mother to be at my births. Here I was barely 38 weeks and she was coming for 3 days.  Pretty unlikely window of opportunity and I knew it.  I couldn’t blame her though. She came with 3 little ones of her own and was due in 6 weeks. They showed up at 9pm that night, but I insisted that Travis drive me across town to be there when they got in.  I didn’t want to miss a minute with her.
She was so tiny. 6lbs 2oz and 18.5 inches long!
She was so tiny. 6lbs 2oz and 18.5 inches long!

My parents had their church homegroup there that night.  I walked in the door and threw a big hug around her neck but was immediately pulled into the front room by the group of friends who had decided that they were going to pray then-and-there for me to go into labor. Yes, THAT NIGHT.  I laughed.  I mean, who’s going to turn that down?  Let’s go for it.
Sounds pretty inconsequential and I didn’t think a thing of it.  At least, I didn’t until I woke up hardly a few hours later at 4am with the first rockin’-hardcore-contraction of my entire life.  I sat up in bed… I walked to the bathroom… That was no joke, ladies and gentlemen.
I paced outside the bedroom and didn’t wake Mr. Marvelous.  I have found this to be true of all my births. When it happens, I get quiet.  I find myself internalizing…pondering in my heart…wondering in amazement at my body.  Quiet, secretive.
Contractions were short, but serious. I hadn’t really expected this for a few more weeks so I still didn’t believe it. I wasn’t even packed.
So, and I’m not sure that Mr. Marvelous is going to appreciate the overshare…..but when he woke up I didn’t exactly explain anything.  I just, ahem….attacked him.  I was a well educated girl. I knew that sex at the end of pregnancy can be a tool.  I also knew that if this was itthis was it for several weeks.
There. Now you know. Moving on…
At 7:30am I called my parents house and let my mom and sister know that, believe it or not, something was happening. I had an appointment that morning at 9am anyway so we just went on in. Sure enough, dilation had begun. I think they said I was 1cm? All those false alarms before and all that preterm stress…yeah there was never any dilation. Let this be a lesson to you ladies. Contractions happen. They aren’t always labor…
They sent me over the hospital.  We took our time and got breakfast on the way.  Because I was ever doubtful I had sent my man to work and had to call him and tell him to come meet us.  I was that doubtful of it being the real deal.
4pm at 4-5cm and heading to the OR.
4pm at 4-5cm and heading to the OR.

I don’t remember much of the next few hours other than that I wasn’t in a rush. I wanted my body and baby to experience labor and I wanted some dilation to prepare my cervix for next time.  I got that, even though I never hit active/hard labor.  I simply closed my eyes, exhaled in release and then went back to conversation after each contraction.  That was it.  During those hours of labor I lost my plug, I had bloody show and my water broke.  My body knew what to do.   I was 4-5cm when they checked me before my c-section at 4pm.  To be honest, I was still afraid that they would check me, yell “Just Kidding!” and send me home. They did not.
Words can not express my awe in joy at seeing my man fall in love with another girl. Our girl.
Words can not express my awe in joy at seeing my man fall in love with another girl. Our girl.

The c-section went smoothly enough. They played my music. They were respectful.  The epidural was heinous. It took them 7 tries to get it in. I threw up. I was alone with strangers and cold.  I hated it. That was the worst part.
Because my sister was a CNM, they allowed her to join us in the OR for Big Sister’s birth, 34 weeks pregnant in scrubs.
It began. I lay there in wonder that of all people I was having surgery for birth.  And that I had chosen it over other options. And that I was ok with that because my spirit knew it to be right. But I wondered at it all…why was I ok with this?
I had hives, shaking and swelling from the epidural. No surprise with all of my other random allergies. It was horrible and I was so groggy from the drugs they gave me to counteract it that I don't remember much of her first 24 hours. Actually, none of it.
I had hives, shaking and swelling from the epidural. No surprise with all of my other random allergies. It was horrible and I was so groggy from the drugs they gave me to counteract it that I don’t remember much of her first 24 hours. Actually, none of it.

I remember the feeling of not feeling,  completely numb but there being pressure. So much pressure. I didn’t feel a single touch of the surgeon, yet there was sensation then suddenly I knew I was empty. She was out!  And then it happened. The lightbulb in my head. I knew the reason.
OB: “Woah!! That is a short cord. That may be the shortest cord I’ve ever seen!  Look at that.”
My sister did.
Sister: “That is a seriously short cord! That’s crazy!”
OB: “Really, I’ve been delivering babies for almost 20 years and I don’t remember one that short! That’s less than 12 inches!”
OB asked the tech to take a picture. They did.
That’s all it was. I had been told earlier that my placenta was toward the top.  I never saw the cord myself. It was enough information. Suddenly I could put two and two together and I knew what added risk there would have been to an external version, or to attempting a vaginal breech delivery. I knew what forcefully moving her could have done. I knew that being born butt first could have pulled the placenta down on top of her, too early to be safe.
I knew. And it was good.
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And that is how I, of all people, had a c-section for my first baby. I was confident and strong. She was and is worth every bit of it.
Continuing with Lil’ Bit:
It is 9pm on January 16th, 2014 as I write this. All four of them are in bed.
Things changed about this time five years ago. I was starting to think maybe this would fizzle.  I mean, these were real but they had spaced a bit.  It could happen to me again. I could have 12 hours of steady contractions that just suddenly evaporate into thin air, like  2 1/2 years earlier with Ruckus.
For an hour they were at 3 minutes but now they were back to 5.  I didn’t want to go through that again. The confusion and disappointment of a big stall. I couldn’t control it either way, but I prayed. Please not that again.
We arrived home with the older three and went straight to work putting them in bed.  Mr. Marvelous was in our room and I was doing bedtime duty. I hefted the big lug of a 2 1/2 year old up onto the changing table to put on a clean diaper for the night.  That is when it happened.
I felt the pop.
Warmth down my legs.
Fluid pooling around my feet.
So….. that was gross.
I called Travis to come take over and waddled across the hall to the bathroom, leaving a trickling trail behind… there was no going back now. With water broken I was sure to be in labor, slow or not.
I’m not one to panic when water breaks.  I knew that my OB wanted to know right away but I wasn’t inclined to rush.  I knew my risks and was still planning to take it slow.
At least I WAS planning to, until I started cleaning things up. It took one glance for me to know what was going on.
“Oh heck.”
No wait… It was “Oh Mec”.  Actually, I didn’t say mec. Mec is short for meconium. Baby poop. I did say another word for poop, to be exact. It’s not a word that I want to put on my blog but I’m sure you can figure it out.
So there was meconium. Thick. Tons of it. Shocking amounts of it. As comfortable as I was with the idea of laboring at home with my water broken, this was different. Mec happens.  I didn’t expect it to happen to me.
So I cleaned it all up, and took a few minutes to stomp my foot and pout like a diva.  I don’t know if it was the loss of that lovely protective cushion that had been my bag of waters or if it was the stomping pity party.  The next few contractions were seriously sturdy.
I got my act together and told Mr. Marvelous what was up. He agreed. It sucked. At almost 42 weeks, with that much meconium, I didn’t want to be home for this. I called Dr. Tate. I knew what the answer was.
Calls were made and kids were dispersed.  I honestly don’t remember how that happened or how long it took.  My water broke between 8:30 and 9:00pm.  We got to the hospital around midnight. No panicked rush, but begrudgingly earlier than I would have liked. And now contractions were more like 10 minutes a part. Boo.

The Opposite of Failure- Part 1 of Lil Bit's Birth Story

n502182112_1384615_2186[1]I didn’t mean for it to be like this. Me, sitting at the computer five years later trying to pull some semblance of  ordered memories out from this befuddled brain.  It isn’t that I was avoiding the truth.  It wasn’t about hiding it either, because I’ve told the story many times over always with an exultant rush of tears and joy.  There is just something about sitting here, banging away on this dilapidated laptop with missing keys, that makes in permanent. It puts it in the books. I don’t know how I want it to be. Or really if I want it to be at all. But I must.
Birth is never a failure. It never is. It’s an experience. A part of life we walk through, are dragged and drugged through, or are pushed through on a stretcher. In the case of the birth of my fourth child, it was all three of the above over the span of three days.
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I haven’t really written my other three  births out either, so it would appear that I am just not the kind of girl to write them up.  The truth is, I knew that if I write the  first three, I must also write the fourth. So I didn’t.  I stalled. I said someday, but I never wrote. It’s so definitive, that last one.  It was my Alamo. My last stand. I did it, and did it well. I celebrate every contraction and every moment.   But sharing it gives others that opportunity to label it a failure. To see mistakes and a labor that was a lost cause.
No one needs to analyze my decisions but me.  For me to be able to share the first three stories I have to face the giant. The one where I said enough.  Where we decided it was done. It was time, and boy do I HATE it when an OB pulls that line. I have to share where I accepted being done and being broken all in one fell swoop that I didn’t see coming.  Where I surrender and moved on to being a mother of 4 and
The-doula-who-couldn’t-do-it-herself, all without losing my thankfulness and the beauty of it all. That wasn’t easy.  Birth is huge. It is powerful. It is not all of who I am or who these children are.
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I refuse terms like “FTP” (Failure To Progress).  I progressed. I labored for 43 hours. That was progress, regardless of what my cervix decided to do about it.  There was progress in my soul, in my very being.
I don’t call it a “Failed” VBAC(Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).  My birth was an amazing beautiful success that didn’t happen to end in the use of my vagina for delivery. That is not failure. I am a success and I worked my butt off for my daughter, loving every minute of it.
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So maybe I’ve held off because I don’t want words or acronyms to define this sacred experience of mine, yet my biggest struggle has been how to describe it to people because I want to.
The easiest way IS to say “I had 4 c-sections”.  Yet that doesn’t tell anyone about the strength and beauty I have found through my births.  About confidently fighting for your body to work, trusting it to do what it needs to, and then peacefully surrendering to the process that leads you, once again, into the O.R. for the surgical extraction of your child from your womb.
I loved every one of my births!! Yet in no way would you ever hear me say the phrase “I loved my c-section.”  Heck. No. Never.   They are a part of my life and growth, but they aren’t who I am. I can’t let them be.  They were something I went through, in spite of all efforts, that brought me these amazing little people that surround me. And in that I say, it is well. I am well. So is my soul.
And with that, the story begins like this:
About this time in the afternoon, 2:00pm on January 16th, I had the first few contractions for the day.  I didn’t think anything of it. I had been contracting for weeks.
The day before at 41 weeks and 2 days on a Thursday, I had gone to my OBs office and waited 2 hours to be checked and have my membranes stripped. That wait sucked but I had refused it two days earlier at my 41 week appointment.    I was in again that day, Thursday, for a NST (Non Stress Test) to check on Lil Bit since I was getting to the end of full term (Yes, you are NOT LATE UNTIL 42 WEEKS, LADIES).  
I decided that I did actually want to be checked and have my membranes stripped to see if something would happen.  I could have skipped it but I chose to do it. So the wait was my choice. It felt right and I didn’t complain.
So on Friday, 5 years ago about now,  when the contractions started I knew that it may just be the effect of the membrane stripping and not true contractions. I took note, but didn’t call the press if you get my drift.
It was about 4pm when I had that feeling.  The feeling I had at 8am the day that Big Sister was born.  That feeling I had after 10hours of contractions with The Brainiac.  I had it the night Ruckus was supposed to come and then everything fizzled into disaster.  I may not have had a full labor and vaginal birth before, but I knew this.  These were it.
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Mr. Marvelous and I had plans to go out to dinner without the kids and eat the famous Eggplant Parmagian at Scallini’s. Did you know, they’ll give you a baby onsie if you have your baby within 24 hours of your meal?  Sometimes when a mom tells me that she heard about that and is on her way there… I laugh and laugh…
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I sat through that meal contracting every 5 minutes. They were stronger than before.  This was changing.  I didn’t realize that this was the first day of labor and I had 2 more.  No onsie for me.  Actually, I spoke to the manager and they admitted that the success is partially due to moms that come in before a scheduled induction or c-section.  Posers!!!!
Anyway, It was good. I ate it.

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To be honest, I didn’t eat much of it between the contractions. It’s hard to chew when your abdomen suddenly balls up in a rolling thunder trying to turn your whole body inside out.   I got a few fun looks from other patrons of the establishment. They could look all they wanted. After all the waiting I was one happy mama.
I suddenly realized that the problem was actually that I needed chocolate, in one of it’s most amazing forms, as all pregnant women know.  So across the parking lot we went, in the middle of January.
For Ice cream.
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We didn’t stay out late. At this point contractions didn’t seem to be doing anything or changing. I figured we had a long night and day ahead and was in no rush. We picked up the kids and headed home to put them to bed, hoping that something was happening.
Five minutes after we got home, something did happen. Oh it happened, and it wasn’t pretty.
But right now, today in 2014, I have to go get that almost-fiver-year-old from preK.
Come back tonight if you want to hear more. 😉  Be sure to enter your email on the right to follow and get updates, or “Like” YOUR MOMSTINCT on Facebook!
 This birth took three days to happen. I foresee it taking that long for me to write. It’s that jam packed of twists and turns. Join me!
READY FOR MORE?  READ PART 2: MEC HAPPENS