Community Birth Story: Leila Rene

Community Birth Story: Leila Rene


As told by Kellie:

Tuesday – 8.15.2017
40 week appointment
Cervix is closed, soft and favorable. Baby is head down, and she looks great on the ultrasound. I went ahead and scheduled my induction for the following Monday at 8pm. I left the appointment somewhat discouraged.
Dan (hubby) and I decided to go take a walk even though it was super humid. Our walk ended up in stopping to get some ice cream and that night we decided to get something spicy to eat. We ordered spicy wings from BonChon and they were so spicy that I felt that my mouth was on fire. I had to have ice cubes in my mouth after every wing. I then bounced on my exercise ball for a while until we decided to go to bed.


Wednesday – 8.16.2017
My husband got up to go to work for 12 hours at 5am. I woke up with a slight stomach ache around 9am. Despite feeling slightly uncomfortable I decided to eat the 6 leftover spicy wings for breakfast. I was committed at this point to get the baby out because I was more than ready to meet her. I bounced on the exercise ball, walked on the treadmill and cleaned the house all day long. I talked to my mom and was reduced to tears thinking about having to be induced if she didn’t come on her own.
I decided to text Dan just to let him know that I wasn’t really feeling the best. My stomach was hurting (still thought it was from the spicy wings) and my back was also sore. I made dinner and Dan got home around 740pm. I ended up not eating and decided to take a shower since I was so uncomfortable. I felt slightly better after my shower and Dan and I just hung out listening to music and watching the baby move around like crazy. Around 1030pm I decided that I was hungry, so my husband made me some toast and eggs. After that we went to bed.


Thursday – 8.17.2017 (Leila’s birthday)
1:00am- I woke up to a crampy stomach and felt like I needed to go poop. I got up and tended to what I needed to in the bathroom and as I was headed back to bed I felt another cramp that lasted about 40 seconds and then went away. I decided to get on my contraction app and start timing them just in case it was actual labor. After about 15 minutes and getting two of these pains that each lasted about a minute and we’re about 8 minutes apart, I decided to wake my husband up. Poor guy had worked a 12 hour shift and here I am waking him up out of a deep sleep at 130am.
From 1:30am until 3:45am I was getting contractions every 4 to 8 minutes and they were about a minute long. Dan helped out by applying pressure on my back while I leaned over a desk in our room for stability during each contraction. He also loaded up the car and tidied up a few things around the house between my contractions. Around 2:20am we started discussing when we should of leave for the hospital since we lived about 40 minutes away. I feel like my contractions weren’t staying 5 minutes or under consistently enough to go yet, so we waited. At this point the contractions were getting pretty painful, but I was still able to breath through them and talk through them. Around 3:30am I decided to get my makeup out to do between contractions so I could get my mind off of labor and get ready for the hospital.

3:48am- Another contraction began and about 5 seconds into it, my water broke. It shocked me and as it was happening I said, “Water, water, water, my water is breaking!” I obviously couldn’t do anything other than stand there and wait for the gushing to stop. As I looked down most of it was absorbed into my pajama pants and underwear, but there was a small puddle that I thought looked like a funny color. As I walked to the bathroom Dan started cleaning up the floor and I asked him if it looked like a weird color. He said that it looked a little weird and as I dropped my pants to sit on the toilet I saw that my water was a green color. I immediately knew that we had to head to the hospital. Dan calmed me down after I had a small freak out moment about the fact that she had pooped already. I cleaned myself up, got a towel, put a puppy pad down on the passenger seat and we were on our way to the hospital within 5 minutes of my water breaking. I called the doctor, my mom, and Dan’s mom on the way.

4:45am – We arrived at the hospital and had to go through the emergency entrance since it was so early in the morning. At this point my contractions had pretty much stopped and we had to fill out some paperwork to get admitted. As we were waiting for a room, a lady came in that was 8cm dilated and they gave a room to her first. We ended up going to triage where I changed into a hospital gown and a pad since my water was still leaking. Luckily we didn’t have to wait in triage and we walked to our delivery room soon after.

5:00am- They started setting up the monitors and my IV and then they checked me and I was 4cm dilated. They decided to start me on pitocin since my contractions weren’t close enough together anymore and we waited.

7:00am- My doctor came in and when she checked me I was 5 to 6cm dilated. At this point my contractions were getting pretty painful, but I decided to wait on the epidural since I was still able to get through them. I believe my pitocin was at about a 6 at this point.

8:00am- I finally asked for an epidural since I was having most of the pain in my back during my contractions. They checked me again before I got my epidural and said that I was 7 to 8cm dilated. The anesthesiologist got to my room really quickly and set up the epidural before 8:30am.

9:00am- The epidural was in and I was feeling some relief, but I was still wincing from contractions in my lower pelvic area. The anesthesiologist came back in to give me a booster, and then I was fine. They checked me again at some point and said I was 8 to 9cm dilated. Baby girl wasn’t responding well to the higher levels of pitocin, so they kept trying to change my position.

10:30am- My doctor came in to check my progression. He determined that I was only at 7cm and my cervix was still very thick. Apparently after a discussion with the nurse he found out that she had stopped my pitocin entirely. They had been giving me pitocin at a 10 and then stopped it cold turkey. My doctor did not seem impressed since it stalled my labor. He had them turn it back on at half the dose to see how baby responded.

11:30am- Baby was doing ok with the pitocin, but not super well. We continued to keep an eye on her and when my doctor checked me I was 9cm dilated. He optimistically said that we might have a baby by 2pm.

11:45pm-1:15pm- Dan and I took a nap. I started feeling contractions again in my lower pelvic region. I tried to fight through them knowing that it would be better for when it came time to push. However, I couldn’t push through the pain, so I pushed the button for more epidural around 1pm.

1:30pm- I was dilated to 10cm and they decided to have me start practice pushing. After a few practice runs, they determined that I was too numb and that baby was still too high. They decided that I needed to labor down otherwise I would get too exhausted.

2pm- They decided to shut off my epidural in order to get me ready for pushing.

3pm- I was really starting to feel my contractions in my lower back and I was feeling quite a bit of pain. Our nurse ended up needing to be in another delivery room and we got our back up nurse. I don’t think I would have had a vaginal delivery had it not been for her. The other nurse that I had didn’t impress me very much anyway so I was glad to see her go. My new nurse decided to have me try out the peanut ball to get baby girl to move down. It was super uncomfortable since I was also gaining feeling back and feeling every contraction. My husband says the tone in the room felt like everyone was thinking her birth was going to be finished via c section, but this nurse was determined to get me the vaginal birth I had hoped to have.

3:55pm- They started prepping me for pushing once again. At one point my nurse was prepping things and my body needed to push, but she wasn’t there to hold my leg, and I told her I couldn’t help it and that my body was just pushing on its own. My husband was the most supportive person and I truly believe that I wouldn’t have made it through this process without him. He helped calm me down and reassured me that all my pushing was getting me closer to meeting our little girl.

4pm- My doctor came in and acted surprised that I had made as much progress as I had. He said, “Ok, let’s try and do this” and he got ready to deliver our baby girl. My contractions were pretty intense in my back, but my husband just continued to tell me that I was doing a great job. I pushed for about 15 minutes and…

4:18pm- Leila René Ganoung was born. She was 7 lbs. 7 oz., 20 ¾ inches long, and perfect in every way. It was the moment I became a mother and my husband became a father and it was the best feeling in the world. I will never forget this life changing moment and I am so grateful for my husband, the nurses, and my doctor for making it all possible.






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Community Birth Story: Patch

Community Birth Story: Patch

imageAs told by Morgan:
The morning before I went into labor, I got up, showered, dressed and went to our next-door neighbors apartment to scoop them up before we all went to church.  While watching them get ready (they had a baby) I knew, life with children would not be perfect, or punctual.
We all went to church, and I was so uncomfortable in the pews, so right before the sermon was about to start, I got up and left for the Farmers’ Market and Lost Dog Coffee.  I got myself a basket of peaches (in season) and scooted down to the Lost Dog where the lady there made me a 2/3 decaf 1/3 caffeinated drink with “cupcake” flavoring, I’m pretty sure it tasted just as special as it sounds; I loved it and it filled every craving.
It was around noontime and I started cleaning the house.  Cleaning the floors of the bathroom on hands and knees, cleaning the floor of the kitchen with a mop, cleaning the bathroom shower….etc.  These were all of the things that HAD TO GET DONE before the baby came.  In my mind, CLEANING the kitchen/bathroom floors was the thing I needed to get done before the baby came. I knew that once the baby was here I wouldn’t be cleaning any floors. (Now I know this to be true almost four months later, and yet to clean said floor.)

I started feeling small contractions around dinnertime (beef stroganoff).  I remember eating a lot of food that evening, and after having the long labor that I experienced, I am glad that I ate so hardily that Sunday. I remember feeling anxious and excited, kind of cruising around the apartment feeling the contractions come and go about every five minutes or so, they were not intense, they simply reminded me of my Braxton Hicks, but this time they didn’t go away. I worked on a small project for my cousin’s wedding coming up using my calligraphy pen and ink, and also sketched a small card that read: “Baby, Welcome to the Wonderful World” with lips drawn underneath in black ink.

Little did I know that I was right. This baby was coming soon…ish.

I remember trying to go to bed that night, my sweet, loving, partner Patrick had no problem sleeping, as I lay awake timing my contractions, every five minutes while they were getting more and more life-like…hmmm, maybe if I woke him up, I thought, and told him that the contractions haven’t stopped and that they were still consistent, maybe then he would stay awake with me and know that I was in actual labor. It was around midnight.  I remember staying awake until about 2:15 a.m. on that Sunday Evening (Monday morning technically) and finally waking him up to tell him “I think we ought to start packing up the car to make the trip to Mom’s house”.  That is where I was planning to labor. He did not hesitate for a moment; he was up and excited just like I was for our upcoming arrival.  He loaded the car with my bags, things for the baby, pillows, etc.

At some point earlier in the evening I call to tell my sister that I’m having contractions but that “I don’t want mom to know yet, I just need to tell someone”, and she was that someone for me. It felt great to tell her that I felt like I was going to be in labor soon. I was so nervous and excited.  She is a good sister. Later on in the labor, she stayed on the phone with my father, who resided in the basement during my entire home-birth labor and talked to him as he waited nervously below us. I believe they found solace within one another during the wait.

Around 2:30-3:00-3:30 a.m. I call my mom to tell her that I think I’m in labor, that I’ve been feeling the contractions since dinnertime the evening prior, and that we were ready to come to her house and start laboring there. I knew we would have to get the aquadoula (pool) set up, hot water running, and prepare the house for baby’s arrival. The whole time “resting” never really struck my fancy. I was fully awake at this point.

I remember having some contractions in the bath tub while Patrick and my mom put the aquadoula together and sort of began filling it; it felt like they were taking FOREVER….and I felt lonely upstairs by myself.  I saw Patrick and he didn’t look like he felt very well, I’m sure now it was his nerves. He decided he needed to go back to our home to grab a few things that he would need (I guess they forget to tell fathers they need to make a “go-bag” for themselves as well). So, he left to retrieve his things, and even though I didn’t want him to EVER leave me, I understood and knew it would make him feel better. And, of course, he came right back.

As the morning wore on, having wave after wave of energy flow through me, Patrick was by my side the whole time, and mom was too, for most of it.  My mom was usually the person that fetched things that I needed. Water, food, remedies, water, juice, water…  From about 4am-11am that morning, I labored inwardly, yet on the outside I needed some hard pressure on my back during each contraction. Later finding out that this was because of the back labor I was having. (The simple joys of giving birth for the first time—you have no idea what is going on!)

Our midwife, our birth assistant, our midwife’s baby/ the baby’s caretaker, and another birth assistant showed up somewhere between 10-1130am to my mother and father’s house. When they walked in the house, I remember exactly how I felt.  A rush of gratitude came over me.  A flood of relief, happiness, comfort, and stability arrived when they walked through the door, knowing that these women knew what to do with me, the laboring woman. Before that, I felt somewhat incomplete, and somewhat uncertain.  Their arms were full with supplies and love. I will never forget that feeling. BUT, with these birth-workers, came their birth-knowledge and so came the unfortunate news of the hour: My baby is turned the ‘not ideal’ way! (ugh)

Shawna Dewitt and Amy Miller helped me upstairs, where I began having some contractions on all fours to try to help move the baby away from being posterior. I had my hips in the air to try to allow gravity to do its’ job. Shawna wrapped my big belly with a scarf and began the rebozo method to try to help dislodge the baby from my pelvis and allow it to turn. The baby was pretty hesitant. They took turns moving the scarf back and forth around my belly, and also letting me rest in between contractions.

“He did a quarter turn!” I remember them saying.  “YES!” I thought. This is progress.  The feeling of “I knew we could do it” rushed through me. Each time there was a hurdle during the labor, I felt discouraged and scared, and each time there was positive progress after that hurdle, I felt determined. I thought “OK, one more thing down, I can do this, just keep going, something ought to happen, trust in the process.”

I labored and labored; literally it was work.  I ate. I drank. I cried. I asked for tissues; I blew my nose; I labored.

I ate peaches, because that is what grew my baby.  I drank grape Recharge because it had just enough and not too much flavor.  I ate gluten-free pesto pasta, because I knew I had a long way to go.  I ate corn chips, for the salt, so that my body would know to go on.

I had “stations” where I knew I could “post-up” and go through each one of the waves.  I mean, while I was standing, I needed to lean up against something with my arms, something sturdy, so that the soon-to-be father, Patrick, could apply pressure on my lower back with the palms of his hands as hard as he could. He got better and better at this “hip squeeze” as time wore on, but it was a lot of work for one person to do over and over and over again, countless times.

The “station” upstairs consisted of an old changing table/shelf my father had built out of two by fours, that was just at the right height to prop my outstretched arms up against it.  Lying down never really did the trick. I could never really rest.  Standing helped.  Downstairs, my main station was an old, ‘stationary’ piano.  (In the picture below) Most of the time Patrick would be following me around, wherever I went, giving me what I needed, when I needed it, preferably on my lower back.

My mother and Patrick would take turns doing the hip squeeze for me, even my midwife provided relief for me through some of the contractions, doing the best hip squeeze of all, whilst showing Patrick how to do it.

I needed help during every contraction. (I needed it).

I felt badly for my poor mothers’ wrists.  I felt somewhat better, but still fairly bad about my partner’s wrist that has an obnoxious cyst he has had for years.

I needed pressure when I was in the water. That was the trickiest.  Somebody was getting wet. I didn’t care nor did they.  Patrick got into pool with me once or twice.  I don’t think I was ever in the pool long enough for someone to enjoy it with me. I used the aquadoula for relief from labor, for resting, for the wide steps it took to climb in and out of it, and mostly, for the shift in gravity.


The second or third time I had my cervix checked was when we all got a bit worried. I tried to hide it, tried to keep my game face on, but all I could think about was “please let this be okay, please let this be okay, please don’t make us go to the hospital, please please please make everything okay.”

There was what felt like a vein on the outside of the sac and our midwife was afraid that if and when this baby came, it would burst the vein (I think).  She was worried and I could tell.  I was glad to hear her communicate with us, it was nice to know what was going on, but at the same time my heart sank.

She said she was going to call her colleague, the other midwife in the practice at the time, to ask her opinion about what exactly it might be. I was still laboring. Patrick was definitely anxious. One more hurdle, I thought. Please let this be okay, please let this be okay. Please. Please. Please. The stress was rising as were the contractions…wave after wave….each breath ran through me. She was off the phone now, and the other midwife had helped her with a second opinion of what to do. Abruptly, it was brought up by someone, maybe even by me, about our sonogram that we had back in the beginning stages of pregnancy.  “It would have shown up on the sonogram”, the midwife seemed fairly confident while saying now, “it would have shown up and they would have written something down about it, if it were a vein.” We searched the folder and pulled out the paperwork to my sonogram and nothing was written. The midwife asked if we could check again to see if there was a pulse on what she was feeling.  I would go upstairs to be checked, so that I could lie down on a big bed.  I would be checked in between contractions.  I laid down in the bed and she checked my cervix and she said there was “NO pulse”.  Ahhhhh~ yes!!!!! A rush of determination filled my body and joy came over me. “So we are okay?”  We are okay, she said. (After the baby was born, we realized that this “vein” turned out to be a thick band of amniotic membrane.)

Patrick and I both had to mentally shake that fear away from us.


We needed labor to progress. “How about you two go outside for a walk” the birth workers said (they would always suggest things that I should do, which helped because when you’re laboring (at least for me) going for a walk is not the first thing that comes to mind as a joyful experience.  OH lord this will be the death of me.  I put clothes on, firstly. And by clothes—I mean a black dress nighty-thing.  I got out to the porch and contracted a couple of times there.  The birth assistant snapped a pic.  Yay. (Thank you Shawna.)


I got down the steps and to the sidewalk and onto the grass.  I fell to my knees with my partner, oh how he amazed me.  We walked towards the labyrinth in the backyard, with our partnership- growing stronger.  We walked the labyrinth, in love, and kissed. I know I had a couple or few contractions while we walked the entire labyrinth—a fifteen minute walk for normal goers probably took us about forty-five.  It was a great project for us to do.  We made it to the center of the labyrinth and to my last contraction in the labyrinth—we walked out.  I was tired of the grass making my legs itchy and I needed back inside.  On the way back to the house, I see my poor nerve-wrecked father pacing outside and heading back into the house.  It was great to see another person that wasn’t a part of the labor visibly—a mild distraction.

My dad was stuck down in the basement for most of my labor (Well, all of it really). I was just glad he was there, in spirit, in essence.  He went out of the basement door and around the house to the front door if he needed to use the bathroom or if he needed to get something to eat. Otherwise, Pop stayed downstairs, out of sight but never out of reach (it’s a finished basement). The sound reached him, every yell and every scream tugged at his ears as he most desperately wanted to help his little girl out of her pain. He felt helpless I’m sure. Thank god for my sister who lived in Texas, who stayed on the phone with him I’d say at least 50% of the time I labored. After I saw him in the yard, as we were walking up from the labyrinth, he came in the house and I hugged him, clothed, and told him where I needed pressure on my back. He helped me for one of my contractions.

Also let me not forget my cat, Louie. My cat also helped me through one or two of my contractions. His soft, fuzzy fur was such a relief, although I don’t think he liked it when I squeezed him. He was a spectator, and it was not until my baby was born and we placed the cat and my baby side by side that I knew, Louie had been a cat all along. He was an animal, not a baby, not my baby, after my baby was born. He was my cat.

It was getting close to dark, I think, (into Monday evening now) and I began to labor on the birthing stool. I cursed that thing I’m sure…Oooh it was hard, and I didn’t want to do it but I did have a few “good” contractions on that thing. That unruly stool. Patrick thinks “If you had just done a couple more on that birth stool I think it would have helped”. I’d like to see him do a couple more on the birth stool –it was agony. Pure agony.

I went upstairs to be checked and I was still not progressing past 8 centimeters. I believe in the entirety of my labor I was at 8 centimeters for probably 10 hours. Or more. Who knows, really.  I remember throughout my time in labor, the one thing that kept me going was “his heartbeat is still doing great”. Oh my my my MY STRONG BABY! I could not have done it without you, my littler love. I could not have done it without the food and drink, either.

At some point the women tell me that I need to try and get some rest if this is going to keep going on. It was dark out, which meant I had been laboring a full day now, and I wasn’t sure how night came so quickly, but it did.

So, while lying down wasn’t an option at first, after I took some children’s Benadryl, I was able to lie down. It helped to relax me and my cervix. I was willing to try anything at this point, I had not really rested since Saturday night before the labor was even a twinkle in my eye, and it was now Monday evening.

Patrick was on the couch, resting, too.  And he fell asleep for about 5 to 10 minutes.  He woke up just after it got pitch black outside and worriedly asks “how long have I been asleep?!” Not very long the midwife tells him.

As I lay there, I shut my eyes, rested and for the first time in the whole entire process I could breath and not tense up entirely during the contraction.  My midwife broke my water at this point.  A gush of water streamed through my legs and onto the blankets and towels and chucks underneath of me. It kept coming. More and more water. Oh this is a good thing!!!  I thought. Thinking of all of the Hollywood films that I had seen. Your water breaking is what needs to happen before the baby comes, right?

Well, hell, the contractions kept building rapidly and just when I thought they couldn’t get any worse, they did. I could not stand I could not function I could not talk I just kept crying and crying, wailing and moaning. I had never cried more in my life. I wiped out all the Kleenex boxes. I was done. I got back into the water. I got back onto the birth stool, naked, always, never clothed. The birth assistant-turned-doula took a picture of me while on the birth stool. (thank god) If she hadn’t snapped that photo, then I would not have a visual of the pain I was feeling.  I am so thankful for her taking those four pictures of me. I treasure them, for sure.  They are every bit of evidence to me.


At this stage in labor-I was very tired.  It was very late. My contractions were on top of each other and I had no time to rest in between. One after another. My now (what felt like) doula began to talk to me, calmly, telling me to blow it away, blow away that last contraction as to not fixate on it, so that I was able to let it go before the next wave arrived. This was hard to do, but I tried. I needed help but I couldn’t internalize it any longer. I was determined but I was getting weaker.  It had been over 24 hours since I had started to labor. I was exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Thoughts were spoken about the H word. I knew I wanted it so bad. I wanted pain relief more than Miss America wanted World Peace. It was over. I surrendered. It took a lot of hesitation and a lot of time before I really said that, but I wanted to go to the hospital. I knew once I said those words that it was over, that I had given in, not given up. I had given in to the pull and desire of whatever exactly the hospital would provide me. I didn’t know but I wanted out.

My mother, in attempts to avoid our upcoming car ride, began pulling out her bag of tricks with the Reiki gods and started pulling negative energy and tightening out of my cervix with a method called aura cleansing or psychic surgery if you will. She was trying everything she could at that point to help me. God bless her.

My partner, Patrick, was scared. He kept telling me exactly what I wanted to hear: you can do it, keep going, keep going, you’re so close, and exactly what I didn’t want to hear: you don’t want to go to the hospital, really, you don’t want to go. He said exactly what any fearful soon-to-be panic stricken father would say. He said what I told him that he NEEDED to say if I ever got to this place in my labor. He knew how badly I did not want to go prior to the unbearable-lengthy-god-for-saken back labor. I told him I want to. The waves were never-ending, or so it seemed. Later finding out that I may have been transitioning, without knowing it. I was out of control, I could no longer hold on. My yells echoed through the house I grew up in. The same house that I was born in.  I remember feeling like one of us (the baby or I) was not going to make it. And I wanted to make damn sure it was me and not the baby. This was the intensity I felt.

My mother did not want to go to the hospital either, but she knew I had the final say, and when the laborer wants to go, it’s time to go.

The midwife was also hesitant but she knew I was exhausted and she knew how important it is to respect the laboring woman’s desires.

I am pretty sure once we decided to go to the hospital, I started to try to put clothes on. I’ve never had so much trouble putting clothes on before. I think it literally took me twenty minutes to do this. The birth assistant-turned-doula was amazing, going above and beyond her call of duty, helped me put some underwear on, and some pants on. Patrick searched for a shirt for me to wear, later finding out his thought process was to ensure that ‘people took me seriously when I got to the hospital’. I was wearing a Pink Floyd black retro worn-out t-shirt with a giant open gaping mouth filled with moody reds and astringent maroon pinks of flesh ripping and tearing like a giant womb or vaginal opening. IT was the PERFECT shirt to wear if you didn’t want to be fucked with.


I remember the worried look on my partner’s face, I remember my mothers face—knowing she had to drive and the stressed out face of my father just as we were leaving the driveway.  I remember the midwife, with her ‘pack’ on her back with all of her tools that she put away quickly and in a hurry.

We all got in our cars, the midwife and birth assistant in one and my mother, Patrick and I in the blessed CRV.  I couldn’t find any way to sit comfortably, so I was on my knees, belly facing the seats of the car, my arms sprawled over the back of the seat, holding on for a dear life, literally.  There was no comfortable way to be at this point in my labor, but the gravity of the situation became relevant, and my little boy was making his way down through my pelvis, and through my cervix.

We made it to the old, abandoned Sheetz parking lot, on our way to the hospital, right by the stop light in Kearneysville.  Aw crap, literally, I felt like I had to poop.  I ask Patrick to check me, and I said that I think the baby is coming, and that he needs to feel down there, he doesn’t but he does tell my mom to flash the midwife with her headlights. My mother alerts the midwife to the situation, who is driving ahead of us, and just quick enough for us both to pull over in the abandoned lot. My midwife gets out, comes to the side of the car, checks me and says “yep, we have a baby coming!”  The best words I’ve heard spoken in a long time.

We decide we all three need to get into the back of the CRV, midwife, Patrick and I—so we do.  The midwife asks “well, do you want to have this baby at the hospital or at home?” We are half way in between both places at this point.  “HOME, we want to go HOME”, Patrick exclaimed. Thank goodness for him.

I remember looking out into the road when I was laying in the back of the CRV, staring out past that stop light, and into a car’s headlights as they passed by us, thinking to myself what a site they must have feasted their eyes upon that night.  What a special thing for them to have witnessed, a stranger, a car, a set of headlights that I will never know who was behind them- got to see- MY VAGINA. (or what a vagina looks like at this point in labor).

I am not pushing at this point, remembering what the women at the midwifery had said, that the contractions will push for you, trust your body, if you push too soon you could tear, so I just let my body do the work, not wanting my baby to come midway through our drive home. Unfortunately my little baby was probably a little crammed at this point, and would’ve loved the extra push, but I waited until we got back and stopped in the driveway to push.

I had almost forgotten to do so when the birth assistant told me “you can go ahead and push now Morgan” and just like that I looked up to the left, into the starry night sky, and on the day he was born, time slowed down, my breath was full, and my world became a strung out series of seconds where I pushed and I pushed and on my third or so push— he slipped on out earth-side, into the hands and forearms of my midwife, warm towels being readied to wrap around him like the new earthling he was.

“Is the baby ok, is the baby ok” I kept asking, delirious and worried.  Patrick got to tell me that he was a boy (we waited to find out the sex). We were happy. We thought we were having a girl. A surprise. A boy! At last, 2:13 a.m. – my boy gave me the best gift I could ask for, motherhood.

Patrick cut the baby’s cord after a little while, because we were still in the back of the car, and I was shaking from adrenaline, cold and tired, and the baby needed to get inside, there was an obvious knot (or two) in the cord, and it wasn’t too long… After twenty some odd hours of active laboring, we all went back inside the house. The midwife and birth assistant, my mother, my partner, and my father, were all looking after me and baby equally.

I was tired, but I knew I needed to deliver the placenta, so Patrick held the baby, with his pinky in the baby’s mouth, while I went to the bathroom area to the toilet to see if I could use it.  It took forever to pee.  I wanted to pee so badly but I couldn’t—damn.  I squatted on the bathroom floor and delivered my placenta, right in the same area that my sister was born-26 years before. (Just now thought of that!) We reunited, baby and I after I did a thorough (but short) examination of the beautiful placenta and the tree within it.  I was tired.  Did I mention I was tired? We made our way upstairs-babe and I and the sweet, new, proud Papa along with my two parents.  The babe started nursing or suckling or whatever that babe wanted to do.  They weighed all 8 lbs 12 ounces of him, we smiled, we slept. The end.

Community Birth Story: Leonid Ardent

Community Birth Story: Leonid Ardent

Leodin’s Birth on New Years’ Day

imageAs told by Julia:

I lived in a rural location with no homebirth midwives and no birth center. I hired the closest doula and she lived two hours away. I was not pleased with the OB practice, and one of the rotating doctors told me that my natural birth plan was not going to happen. I was ecstatic when, at 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant, the only certified nurse midwife in the area got hospital privileges and joined my birth team. With a doula and CNM, I was sure I could get the natural hospital birth I wanted for my baby.

The same day I found out that I would have a midwife, I woke up to bloody show. When I had a check up, I requested a membrane sweep. I regret asking for it and had no reason not to just be patient for labor to pick up on its own. Contractions started about an hour later. I ignored them and was able to sleep through them until about 4:00 a.m. when they really required my attention and I was too excited. For most of the day, contractions were 3-5 minutes apart lasting 1.5- 2 minutes.

Over the phone, my doula suggested I take a shower which felt good and contractions sped to 1-2 minutes apart. However, they slowed back down after the shower. My doula decided to come down and arrived at 7:00 pm. She suggested some positions since I was having a little back pain and I did lots of hip circles and pelvic tilts. As it got later, my doula gave me some homeopathic tinctures. We went on walks. I was in a lot of pain and making noise, not wanting to talk between contractions, but I could walk through contractions. I think this alerted the doula that I was still in early, decidedly prodromal, labor. She decided it would be best for her to go home and sleep and us to do the same. I was devastated because it was the end of the second day of labor and I felt I was in serious painful contractions. I cried but accepted it and went to sleep right away. We slept or at least were in bed for 12 hours. I had contractions in my sleep and they were strong when I got up to pee but my body did some rest.

The next morning, I got a lot of physical contact from my husband and repeated the word “open.” I visualized flowers opening with my husband’s guidance. I tried to hold off for a while in calling my doula to avoid another false alarm but she called and decided to come back. We continued doing lots of walks around the apartment complex. I did need to stop for every contraction now. My favorite during those times was to put my arms around hubby’s shoulders and lean down a little, putting weight on him and swaying. When he or someone else was not in reach at the time, I would put my arms up on the wall, head down, and lean. The worst was when I had a contraction while peeing or just after peeing and had to run to a wall or person. I spent a ton of time sitting on the birth ball or floor. Some hip squeezes which felt good and counterpressure on my sacrum for slight back pain. My doula had me use cleansing deep breath at the end of contractions. We all wanted to speed up labor since water kept slowing it so I pumped with a hand pump sitting on my birth ball by my bed. It made contractions much more painful so I stopped after a few minutes.

She said that my contractions were definitely longer than the norm, staying around 1.5- 2 minutes in duration. I was starting to be in a lot of pain, moaning and crying at the peak of contractions. She said it sounded like time to head to the hospital and that sounded good to me. Contractions in the car sucked because I could not move.

It was 10:30 or 11:00 pm so we had to go through the emergency room, which was empty. They were going to send for a wheelchair but I asked them not to. A nurse walked us up to labor and delivery. The lights were dim. I put on a hospital gown. did some contractions on a birth ball. My midwife arrived as well as an L&D nurse for 20 min electronic fetal monitoring which we had discussed at an appointment and I was fine with. I asked if I needed to lie on the bed and she said no, I could be in any position so they set blankets on the floor and I got on my knees leaning on the birth ball. It was officially midnight, New Years’ Day 2012, but I had no sense of time at all, a very inward focus and oblivious to all around me. We used intermittent monitoring; baby heart tones checked with doppler every 1/2 hour and my blood pressure checked every hour. I declined routine IV.


I had not had a cervical check but I had some typical signs of transition. I was burping a lot and then threw up a few times. Lots of crying. The nurses brought in the delivery cart because everyone thought I might be ready to pop! After sometime, that proved not to be the case yet. My doula suggested we try to whirlpool which was next door. It felt wonderful but contractions slowed down and I spent the next few hours getting them back to where they had been before the tub. My doula reminded me to take it one contraction at a time, but I kept thinking ahead to how much longer and worse they would get and feeling that I did not have recovery time in between. I went back to my room and did a squat to try to move baby down. When I sat up I felt very wet and told my midwife. She did a pH test that showed my water had broken.


I was feeling desperate and needed encouragement. I knew that a cervical check would be risky as I could have a low measurement, but I requested one. I asked that if I am in transition, to tell me the number, and if I am not, to just say ” not in transition.” I heard “not in transition.” I was disappointed but just kept doing what I was doing. I did not attempt any visualization or other coping techniques because I was just too exhausted and could not think beyond the pain. I cried through every contraction and was saying “I can’t do this” “I need this to stop.” I got in the shower and sat on the bench and cried. There was no room for my husband so he sat outside the shower curtain which made me sad. My doula gave me an herbal drink approved by my midwife which had cohosh. I walked through the hallways with my parents and my birth team started taking turns sleeping. I was encouraged to eat and drink but I was not interested. I was likely dehydrated, hadn’t eaten in a long time.

After hours more of labor, I made a plan which I didn’t share with anyone. I would get another cervical check and if I was not in transition, I would ask about drugs. What I really wanted was a break from labor so I could sleep, fearing that my exhaustion would necessitate a c-section. I could deal with the pain but I was just so indescribably tired. I asked the midwife to tell me everything this time. She said that at the last check, I was 4 cm and 100% effaced which was a staggering announcement. That means it had taken me over three days of labor to get from 1 cm to 4 cm. At this check, I was 5-6 cm. With that news, I immediately asked about my pain relief options. My options besides water were an opiate called staydol or an epidural. She went over the details of each as well as the risks. My doula reminded me that epidural could slow labor and might not relieve me very well or in the right places. I decided to get each, though I had planned for no pain medication.

I was absolutely exhausted after days of contractions and little sleep and my body was involuntarily collapsing between contractions. I thought that the drugs would allow me to sleep while my body worked so I could wake up with the energy to push. I chose to get the staydol to take the edge off during the two hours before I could get an epidural. The midwife said that I would need to get electronic fetal monitoring but I was fine with that because all I wanted at that point was to be in the bed.

I got in the bed and was fitted with contraction strap, baby heartrate strap, blood pressure cuff, IV in my wrist with a saline/electrolyte solution and later the staydol. The drugs started setting in and allowed me to sleep between contractions. The contractions were slightly numbed and I made hmmming sounds through them which helped. My husband was very sad during this time as he felt he had failed as my birth partner (he told me this later when I pressed him, at the time I was high on staydol and not much aware of how he was doing.) The anesthesiologist came in and everyone had to leave but my husband. I was terrified to move for fear of paralysis or spinal fluid leak, which was so hard during contractions. Then, I went to sleep immediately. The room was dark and my whole birth team slept which was much needed.

We slept for about 4 hours and when I woke up, my midwife was there. I was 10 cm dilated! I opted for an in-and-out catheter. She had me labor down for an hour which just meant letting my body bear down and move the baby without pushing. I got another vaginal exam and the baby was at +2 station. Time to push! There was a discussion between my midwife, doula, and myself about whether to leave the epidural as is or turn it down for pushing. The anesthesiologist agreed to let it be turned down half way and I was glad to get some sensation back to work with. I was still tired but had some energy from sleeping. At first, I could not feel the contractions so I had to be told when they were going on but I could push at my own pace and will. I started on my left side with legs bent and apart. Birth team helped to hold my legs. My first two pushes were ineffective. I tried exhaling while bearing down. I ended up peeing with both first pushes!. Finally, I got a real push and knew what they were supposed to feel like. The epidural was wearing off.

On the first push, everyone saw baby’s head with hair! I was asked if I wanted a mirror and I said I didn’t want to see myself tear and everyone said I should have it. I was expecting something small but it was a full length mirror. It did help to see which pushes were bringing the baby forward. After a while, I flipped and pushed on my right side. It was taking a long time to get baby’s head to clear my pubic bone because my pelvic floor muscles were too strong. My doula and midwife agreed it would work better on my back semi/reclined position. My knees were up and I would grab my legs and lift my chin to my chest. I still slept between contractions which I was feeling somewhat now. The OB who had to oversee my midwife since she was new was called in because they thought I would be delivering in any second. Delivery took longer than expected and the midwife actually apologized to the OB who left for a time. That was discouraging. Four pushes per contraction that were each eight seconds long seemed to be best. The most effective part was at the end of each contraction so they kept trying to make me sustain it.

The room was all natural light and Eva Cassidy music. I puked on a nurse. Finally, baby cleared the pubic bone and did not pull back into the vagina each time. It took many more pushes for him to crown. The contractions got closer together and stronger. I pooped a little bit. Finally, I felt a ring of fire which was the best motivation to keep pushing. The worse pain was in the upper part of the vulva around the clitoris. They said the cord was around baby’s neck so I stopped pushing and panted though I felt my body continuing to bear down a bit. He was out with two hours pushing total. I reached down and helped move him to my belly in the position advocated by Birth Without Violence with belly down and knees bent. It had only felt like seconds when my husband cut the cord, but my midwife said that it stopped pulsating after only two minutes at which time she clamped it.

Baby was grunting and nurses tried to stimulate and suction him while he was on my chest. Lots of mucous was in his lungs. I agreed for him to be brought to the warmer for suction and oxygen. At first, I declined pitocin for the placenta so the nurses got to worse massaging my uterus. I had excessive hemorrhaging so they needed to give me pitocin to control the bleeding. My midwife said that I had “countless” first degree tearing everywhere, including one in the labia which needed suturing because it exposed a blood vessel, and a second degree perenial tear. Because of the extent of the tears, the OB stitched me up. It hurt like hell and she did not give me a local analgesic. When I asked her about it, she said that I shouldn’t be able to feel it and the only thing she could do was turn my epidural up. Nope.image

After about 15 minutes, baby Leo was back on my chest and we attempted breastfeeding. Ian had his hand on Leo’s back ala Birth Without Violence. I learned that I had elevated blood pressure for the last few hours of delivery and postpartum so I needed to be on the watch for preeclampsia but I did not get it. From my first contractions, labor was four days long and my doula counts it as 25 hours active labor.

I am conflicted about my choice to get an epidural. I was exhausted and it allowed me to sleep and possibly gave me the energy I needed to push. I am grateful for a vaginal birth with no augmentation or assistance. Recovery was horrible. Tearing hurt. My back hurt where the epidural was inserted. My arms and torso were in extreme pain from the effort of pushing. My face was swollen from pushing. Leodin had feeding issues which I think were at least partly caused by the epidural. He was so sleepy, he would not eat anything from any source. He went 18 hours without peeing and longer without eating. I pumped endlessly and had to force feed Leo, tracking every cc he was able to keep down. All of these issues were temporary and we did come out of it healthy!


Find the birth story of Leo’s little sister Ary here.


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