Community Birth Story | Jocelyn

Community Birth Story | Jocelyn

As told by Chelsea:

I was eating dessert at Thanksgiving when my water broke. I was eating coconut cream pie to be specific. Just like I heard in the stories about when the water breaks, I felt the sensation of peeing my pants. I was at my husband’s aunt’s Thanksgiving get together. My sister-in-law is a doctor so after several minutes of wondering to myself did I or didn’t I, I pulled her aside and told her that I think my water broke. It was the day before my due date. Over the next two hours, we waited for contractions, for more amniotic fluid, or for any other labor signs. I remember thinking that the movies really made it seem more obvious and dramatic than this when you have your first baby.

I was in touch with my midwife, April, throughout the evening. I had two mildly uncomfortable contractions on the way home from dinner, but nothing else, so we were advised to get a good night sleep and meet at the hospital early the next morning. There, a test would be conducted to determine if the waters had broken.

Surprisingly, I slept great that night. I calmly showered the following morning, fed our cats, and we loaded our suitcase in the car. Because contractions still really hadn’t begun, I was hoping the staff at the hospital wouldn’t turn us away due to a false alarm.

At the hospital, I took a test that resembled a pregnancy test where I had to pee on a stick. April met us in triage and came back with positive results from the test. The good news was: my water had broken and we were gonna have a baby! but labor had not begun so we had to use a artificial oxytocin to induce labor and contractions, get a 10 cm dilation, and birth the baby.

As much as I was a little disappointed my birth plan already was going down the drain, I was excited that today would be the day. We were leaving the hospital with the baby.

The mind of a new mother is quite foggy, so here are the highlights from the day, presented very likely out of order.

1. Labor felt like a combination of severe menstrual cramps and the sensation I believe a vegetarian would have if they ate at Fogo de Chao for the very first time.

2. My birthing team was my husband Jake and my friend Kirsten, who was an off duty Certified Nurse Midwife at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. My mother also visited the hospital, but she stayed for only about an hour in order to set up a crystal grid on my bedside table, and give me words of encouragement and support.

3. I threw up 3 times during labor and delivery from pain. Jake said it was much more than 3 times.

4. My pain relief techniques included a hot shower, a hot bath, distraction via Fixer Upper on the laptop, bouncing on a exercise ball, rocking in a rocking chair, and humor. During a contraction, I would ask Jake or Kirsten for a joke, knowing that the serotonin from laughing would help offset the cortisol from the stress.

5. My labor kept starting and stopping. April asked late in the afternoon if I wanted her to strip the membranes, which should help move labor along. I said yes, and that procedure was probably the most painful part of the labor thus far. After they were stripped, labor contractions came on full tilt and hit me, wave after wave. I felt like I only just come up, gasping for air, when another one would come on and the undertow of pain would take me under again.

6. I sat in the shower amongst strong contractions, Jake shirtless and sitting on the edge by my side. I had some flameless candles in there to keep a calm energy flowing. If the circumstances were different, it’d be pretty romantic. And in a way, it was, but not in a sexual way. I sat on a chair in there, naked with my swollen belly, tears turning into water by the time they hit the drain. I would squeeze Jakes hand tight when a contraction would come and I go, vulnerable in front of him, willing this baby to come soon but also asking myself to be patient and trust the process no matter how painful. I was in so much pain, and remembered the dumb quote in the movie Major Pain “you want me to take your mind off that pain?” It was so dumb yet funny, and at this point I was becoming slap happy, so I tried my best to tell Jake the plot of the movie. I probably looked nuts while I cried and laughed sitting in the shower.

7. I sat on the edge of the bed, writhing and trying to get away from the pain when they came only 60 seconds apart. Jake was on his knees in front of me so I could lean against him. He kissed my neck and told me to breathe. Kirsten sat behind me on the bed giving my lower back counter pressure.

It was as I labored in the tub, with Kirsten pouring warm water over my belly and April coaching my breathing, that I asked for the epidural. It had been 10 hours of laboring on pitocin, which apparently can be more painful than naturally occurring contractions. I felt like my body had been through battle, and I needed reinforcements so I could keep going.

My body was shaking and I was in tears when I asked Jake what I should. He knew I wanted to attempt a drug free birth, but he knew that my body was slowing down after the beating it had taken all day. He told me to make it through one more contraction, and then decided. I did, it came and went, and I yes, yes, a thousand times yes… I need help. April suggested another pelvic exam to see how far I was dilated if that would help cement my decision. The exam, more painful each time it was conducted, revealed that I was only 4.5 cm dilated, a whopping 1 centimeter more than I was at the beginning of the day. I felt so defeated that we had only made it that far.

I sat shaking on the bed as the needle was administered into my spine. Staying as still as possible while receiving the epidural may have been the hardest thing asked of me yet. Everyone but Jake, one nurse and the anthestisiologist left the room to reduce risk of exposure to infection. Jake couldn’t hold my hand, only the experienced nurse could. I was introduced to her only moments before I clung to her for dear life. The doctor was calm and collected; a woman crying and exhausted from pain did not phase him due to his profession.

Within a few minutes after he left, my body started to relax. The shakes subsided as well as the pain. I felt like the edge was taken off and my body could finally get some rest. And rest, we did. The staff dimmed the lights and Jake, Kirsten and I all took a nap. When April came back in an hour and a half later, she conducted another exam to check my dilation. It was 10 centimeters. Everyone was shocked, especially April. The rest and pain relief were what my body needed to become ready to push the baby out, and I was so glad I opted for the epidural, birth plan be damned.

As the medical team prepared for the pushing stage, so did we. It was 10:30 pm and we were all in high spirits as I asked Kirsten to braid my hair to get it out of my way. We were having a baby! But the hard part was only just beginning.

In labor, you are supposed to breathe during the contractions. In delivery, you are supposed to hold your breath as you bear down and push. There was a learning curve in regards to learning how to control my breath yet push with all of my might, and just when I finally gotthe hang of it, all the tension I put in my chest and lungs built up into terrible reflux- like burning, resulting in vomiting about an hour into pushing.

They say you use every muscle in your body to push the baby out, including your eye lids. This is fact.

Time began to lose all meaning and get fuzzy during the 5 hours I pushed. After getting sick once again, I developed a terrible, excruciating headache. It was 2am and I needed a break. Everyone in the room became frustrated at one point or another, whether at me or the situation, I’m not sure, but no one would dare tell me. I was frustrated myself. I sat on the bed with my eyes closed and I think I even fell asleep for a few seconds while everyone took a break of their own.

I vacillated between asking my baby girl to please come out – come on sweet baby, we’re all waiting for you – to  down right demanding for her to vacate my uterus – child, don’t make me come in there and get you!

After more pushing without success, April came to my head and told me that she was starting to get uncomfortable with how long this was taking. She was a patient person who never rushed me, so when she said this, I knew it must be serious and that the baby was starting to show signs of distress. Her heart rate was high and I had developed a fever and was put on oxygen. I was so tired, hadn’t eaten for 12 hours, and for the first time in this whole ordeal, I became scared. I told April that I consented to anything that would help get the baby out. She calmly but quickly left to get the doctor who would perform a vacuum. Jake and I knew that we were now headed towards a c-section. At this point, I didn’t care how she left my body, I just wanted my baby and for her to be okay.

While April was gone, I watched the monitor and saw contractions come and go without doing anything but laying there. For the millionth time that day, I cried. I thought the baby was in danger and I couldn’t do anything to help her. I was trying my best and even asked April if I was pushing correctly, to which she told me that I was.

When April returned with the doctor and a new O.R. nurse, the 15 minute break from pushing proved to give my body a renewed strength. The doctor waited to see me push before jumping into action. I pushed with all my might, and we finally turned a corner. Everyone in the room audibly gasped their excitement: they could now see the baby’s head.

“You don’t need me. You’re going to push this baby out.”

The doctors presence was the motivation I needed to make progress in pushing. It still took another hour, and another visit from the doctor, to fully push her out.

When the baby’s head was breaching, Jake told me that there was so much hair. I wanted to see! The nurse rolled in a large mirror and I could see the hair as well as how effectively I was pushing. It was one more hit of motivation I needed.

The biggest thing I remembered that helped me was a particular nurse. She was young and of mixed race. She appeared out of nowhere, and it was only later that I learned she was the nurse that accompanied the doctor in case I needed a vacuum or c-section. I focused in on her, especially because she was quiet until I pushed some really hard pushes and made another leap. At the time, she felt like a good gauge to measure my progress.

Finally, after several more encouragements involving “yes, that’s the one!”, I felt a gush of fluid.

“The head is out!” 

“Okay, that’s the biggest part of the baby,” I told myself. I knew I just had to push once more to get her shoulders out and then the rest of her body would slide out with considerable ease.

And true enough, I pushed one last time, and at 4:22 am, Jocelyn Luna was born. It was finally over.

The labor had lasted about 15 hours and the pushing went on for 5 hours. Joss was quickly placed on my belly and was toweled off and was encouraged to cough or cry to get her lungs to open. I don’t remember crying happy tears or saying anything, but all I wanted to know was if she was okay, and she was.

Her eyes were big and open almost immediately. Jake stood over my shoulder, kissing my head and laugh-cried as he welcome our baby. Joss used all of her tiny little strength to lookat him as she laid on my chest. I found her tiny hand with my finger, placed it in her palm, and she closed her hand around my finger.

I heard April ask Jake if he wanted to cut the umbilical cord before they took her to the nearby warmer to check her vitals and towel her off some more.

Much later that morning, we were settled into our new post-delivery recovery room. Jake was in the shower and it was my first time alone with Jocelyn. Phone calls had been made and photos were snapped. Family would be arriving soon.

I hugged her tightly and simply stared at her.

So this is you, huh? You’re my baby I asked aloud.

I had gotten to know the little baby that grew inside of my belly for the past 9 months, but now I could finally see what she looked like. I already knew that she had a funny sense of humor and kicked me in the ribs when I started talking about her. But now I knew that she had dark hair in the shape of a perfectly coiffed pixie cut, her skin was bright pink, flowing with new blood, her eyes were blue and her face looked exhausted, eyebrows furrowed at me. It took us both a lot of energy to get here. She looked at me, looked away and then darted her eyes back to mine, staring sleepily at me.

I think I could see her beautiful deep blue, piercing eyes say to me:

So this is you, huh? You’re my mom

– – – –

Click HERE to learn more about the Community Birth Stories Project or to submit your own birth story


Community Birth Story | Naomi

Community Birth Story | Naomi

Mother’s name: Melissa Eyler

Date of Birth of baby: 5/19/2015

Place of Birth: Waynesboro Hospital PA

My pregnancy was very healthy and progressed normally.  I was nervous as I had a previous miscarriage, and all the testing and stressful atmosphere of the clinic always rushing me didn’t help. I really needed reassurance, but didn’t really get it, at my first appointment at about 6 weeks they gave me a paper that had some basic guidelines about diet and a list of medicines to take or not to take, but that was it.

I needed to know more, I did a lot of reading and decided we needed childbirth education. Nathen and I took the Bradley Method 12 week class. It taught us all about nutrition, relaxation exercises, normal labor progression and basic coping techniques.  It was very helpful and gave us more confidence. I kept my full time job and worked right up to my due date.

At 41+1 (May 18th) I went to the hospital for an ultrasound and non-stress test at 4pm. They said the fluid was low so they would have to keep me in and induce me. I was admitted and taken up to the maternity ward. I was very upset that I hadn’t gone into labor naturally and I knew that being induced would be more painful, so I felt like all the preparation I had done was worthless. Nathen helped me know that he was with me and what mattered was our baby, and we would still be able to use the coping techniques from our class.

I was admitted and the midwife on duty came and talked to us. She gave me the option of Pitocin or Cytotec. I had heard all the problems with Pitocin induction, but hadn’t heard anything about Cytotec, so I asked her what it would do. She said it would get me started and give me contractions (she didn’t tell me that they would be incredibly painful and that women have died as a result of Cytotec induction, or that it is not even FDA approved for pregnant women, which I have since learned). So I said ok. She checked my cervix (my first time) and it really hurt me – on discharge she mentioned that she had stretched my cervix, without my permission. I will never forget what she said “if you can’t handle a cervix check then you will NEVER be able to give birth without any pain medication.” I was only 1 cm dilated. About an hour after she gave it to me I started having some very strong and painful contractions. I was on the monitor so couldn’t get up. A very grumpy nurse kept coming in to check the machine, but she didn’t pay any attention to us. I asked her if I could get up and walk around but she just said I had to be on the monitor a bit longer and just acted like I was being a baby about being in pain. The nurse and midwife both dismissed my birth plan and said that plans like that were unrealistic for a first birth. This made me feel even worse about the whole thing and I just wanted to go home.

My progress was very slow and the contractions were very painful. They wouldn’t let me get up apart from to use the bathroom so I was stuck in bed most of the time, they did let me labor in the bathtub for a while but I didn’t really like it. I tried to stay in there for a while as that meant I wasn’t in bed. At about 2am I was still only about 3.5cm and they convinced me that to have the energy to make it through without a C-section I would need some Stadol so that I could get a break from the contractions for a while and sleep, I was exhausted. I had the Stadol and slept for a couple of hours, I remember suddenly being aware of the painful contractions coming again, but I was so drugged and out-of-it that I couldn’t really move. When I woke up Nathen was sleeping on the couch, but I couldn’t call him. Eventually I got his attention and he came to help me breathe through the pain, we called the nurses and a new Doctor came in, Dr. Lessard. She checked me and I was 5cm, she broke my water but said that if it didn’t pick up within a couple of hours, I would be going to surgery. This was about 7am.

After this my dilation did continue and the contractions started getting much longer and more painful. Courtney the new midwife and Nurse Betsy were with me and they were amazing, coaching me and letting me change positions. As it turned out, Naomi was posterior and they were trying to get her to turn around, but the contractions were so strong that she didn’t have chance. I alternated from being on hands and knees and on the ball. My transition was so intense I didn’t think I could take any more. When I had to push I had to wait while she checked me and I thought I would die, but pushing felt better, like I was actually getting somewhere.

I was told that I pushed for 90 minutes, but it felt way longer than that. I ended up squatting with my feet on each side of the squat bar with a sheet around it to hold on to (I was too short to use it normally) to move her down, then I pushed her out on my side. I had a third degree tear. The OB surgeon had to come back in to stitch me up.

I was allowed to hold her, but I was flat on my back being stitched so all I could do was hold her on my chest. It was longer than an hour before I was able to start breastfeeding and I had a lot of difficulty getting her to latch on. They did let me hold her for a while before they weighed her (in the same room so I could see) but I didn’t get to feed her until my tear was fixed.

After the birth all the nurses were very nice, I had a lot of trouble getting her to feed (it turned out later that she had a tongue tie) and lots of nurses helped me. Nathen was great and did everything he could to help and bond with Naomi.

I was very tired and sore from the stitches/hemorrhoids. Nathen was very helpful and supportive, but he could only stay for a week. I really needed help around the house after that. His parents came over most days, but only wanted to hold her. At least I could get a shower and sitz bath in peace. I needed more breastfeeding help and general reassurance. My parents were great, they came to visit when she was almost a month old, but they could only stay for 3 weeks.

Breastfeeding was very hard initially, I couldn’t get her to latch very well and struggled with sore nipples and thrush. I ended up getting Marah my local La Leche leader to come and see us (she is an IBCLC), she said Naomi had a posterior tie that needed revision. I then took her to the pediatrician who referred me to the ENT specialist. They snipped her lip tie but said the tongue was ok. Issues persisted and Marah said I still should see the pediatric dentist. I did and he fixed it. But not until almost 4 months. Then breastfeeding got a lot easier and all my problems went away, but I suffered with a low supply and had to supplement with formula for a while. Now I am still nursing her at 33 months, I also nursed her through another pregnancy and am now nursing both sisters.

_ _ _ _ _

Photos: The Eyler Family

Click HERE to learn more about the Community Birth Stories Project or to submit your own birth story

Click HERE to read the birth story of Naomi’s little sister Leah Rose

Community Birth Story: Mira Klaire

Community Birth Story: Mira Klaire


As told by Elizabeth: Mira Klaire was born April 6, 2013. But her birth story began many years before. My husband and I married July 4, 2006 and knew immediately we wanted to be parents. We didn’t realize we were entering the darkest time of our lives… we then began what would be a 7 year journey of infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, failed infertility treatments, being told we would never have biological children, and two failed adoptions… along with the tragic unexpected death of my mother. By the summer of 2012, we were battered and completely worn down; totally defeated. Two days after we spent the evening with our social worker to renew our adoption homestudy, we got the surprise of our lives. I was pregnant.

Saying we were shocked would be an understatement. After seeing the baby was healthy we started to get excited. Over the next few months we had bleeding scare after bleeding scare. Then at 19wks I was diagnosed with Incompetent Cervix and rushed for emergency surgery. My cervix was basically non-existent and beginning to dilate. The doctor actually had to put her bag of waters that was bulging back into my uterus without breaking it, before he could stitch my cervix closed. The success rate with our circumstances was less then 10%. We prepared before the surgery for our baby to be born and die. The surgery took 45 minutes (normal is about 10) and the Dr came into recovery afterwards with tears in his eyes and said “I don’t know why that worked! But it did!” We were terrified. I was on strict at home bed rest… lying down with the end of the bed elevated. No stairs or even sitting up. I laid in that bed terrified from 19-35wks. My cervix was a mess the entire time but somehow the stitch worked! It was removed at 36wks and we assumed I’d go right into labor. But I didn’t!
The weeks continued to pass… at 39 weeks I went to a routine OB appt and it was discovered she had flipped breech. The dr absolutely terrified us and told us at that point it was less then 3% she’d flip back head down. We had to schedule a cesarean or she could die. Yes. That’s exactly what they said. So obviously, we scheduled it, for 3 days later. I spent 3 days crying… everything about it felt completely wrong!! I could NOT accept that March 29 would be her birthday or that she would be born via cesarean. None of it felt right in anyway. We showed up to the hospital for our cesarean and I was shaking and crying through all the pre-op. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was a mess. Finally the dr came in and sat with me and I sobbed and just said “this feels so wrong. It just isn’t supposed to be this way” and he was so kind. He tried to reassure me and then took my hand and patted it and said “you know what? This baby is perfectly healthy! We are ONLY doing this because she’s breech. So let’s make sure before we go to the OR” he brought in an ultrasound machine and began to scan my belly and he started laughing! He looked at me and said “this feels so wrong to you, because it is! Your baby is head down. You are not having surgery today. Nurse? Take the IVs out, she’s going home!” I was gasping and yelling and crying! I asked him if I could hug him. I could NOT believe it!!! I jumped up outnof that bed and got dressed so fast LOL I took my 39wk pregnant self and was running down the hall out of that place. I remember my husband laughing and tell me to wait up! LOL
I spent the next 8 days high on life and so happy! At 40wks 3 days I had some acupuncture to help encourage labor, 12hours later consisted contractions began. After 12 hours of laboring at home I felt like I was in active labor so we headed to the hospital. Upon arriving it was discovered I was 2cm dilated… it would be a while yet. I felt a bit disappointed but that was quickly overruled by overpowering contractions. I couldn’t be disappointed, I had to focus. Over the next 22 hrs we danced through labor, cried, screamed, dismissed a rude nurse (who told me I needed to get dressed because she was uncomfortable! Ugh!) had labor stall, got an epidural, started pitocin, felt completely defeated… had a dr check me and “accidentally” break my water (i.e., break it without my consent after I’d said no) which lead to hours of heart rate decels and nurses rushing in panicked constantly scaring me… I was spent. And exhausted. I just wanted to be done. I remember talking to myself and telling myself to focus; one way or another we were having a baby TODAY! It was the craziest mental place I’d ever been.
(29hrs into labor. About 3 hours before her birth)
At one point the dr came in and said he was concerned about the baby and he could only give me one more hour before we’d have to go for a cesarean. I hastily agreed. I didn’t want surgery but I also didn’t want the awfulness to continue… I was beginning to feel as if I was loosing my mind. Before long I began to shake uncontrollably; mind you the epidural I was given never worked correctly; my legs were totally numb but my abdomen and vaginal area was only partially and by the time I began pushing the numbness was totally gone except for my legs. Suddenly the dr came back in… I was pissed! My hour wasnt up! He said I could have an hour! I began getting upset… he smiled and said he was not taking my hour from me; he just had a hunch and wanted to check me. I agreed, and he happily told me I was fully dilated and ready to go. The room was a buzz getting ready for delivery and all I could think was “OMG. I can’t do this. I’m too tired.” I hadn’t eaten anything in nearly 24hrs. I was so weak.
I actually told the doctor I didn’t think I could push. And he patted my hand and said “I know your tired but just wait for the urge… once that urge to push comes you’ll find the strength” I was sure he was nuts. But sure enough surge after surge and I found myself pushing… I fought and tried to avoid it every contraction but every time it took over and I had to keep going… a nurse and my husband were holding each of my numb legs and I pushed and pushed. For an hour! Before the dr came and told me if I didn’t get her out soon he’d have to get the vacuum… hearing that set some kind of fire off in me. I didn’t want my baby pulled out. That scared me! I found power I never knew I had and pushed with all I had. I felt her head pop out… I breathed as they unwrapped the cord from her neck and then pushed again and felt her little body slide out of me. It was incredible! I sobbed and sobbed. I couldn’t stop. Her cord was short so she was on my belly. She pooped everywhere as soon as she was born. I was touching her and crying and wiping her poo all over my face lol it was the biggest rush I’ve ever felt in my life.
(Daddy cutting the cord)
After her cord was cut they took her to the other side of the room. They were wiping her down and weighing and measuring her. And I still hadn’t seen her. I tore badly and the dr was busy stitching me back together. She was crying for me and I was in so much pain. I kept asking for her and kept being dismissed… Her daddy tried to pick her up at one point and was told no. it was the worst feeling, I’ve ever had in my life. Finally after 40 minutes of listening to her cry, they brought her to me when I started getting loud and demanding they stop everything and give her to me. She stopped crying as soon as her head was pulled in to my chest. She was home. And I was home with her finally in my arms. And I had never felt such an incredible love before in my life. She had her first and second nursing session the following hour and it was pure bliss. A few hours after her birth I texted my friend and the text simply said “OMG! I had a baby! Out of my vagina!!!!” Even though so many things went not as we expected, and many of our wishes were dismissed and disrespected, I had my baby. After all the darkness and rain; our rainbow was in our arms! And our lives would never be the same.
Mira Klaire Joy
4/6/13
6.4lbs 19.5inches long.
(4hrs old. I was Totally blissed out)
Photo Credit: The Darling Family
 ———–
Click HERE to read Mira’s little brother Alistair’s story

Click HERE to learn more about the Community Birth Stories Project or to submit your own birth story