Birth stories are interesting, inspiring, moving, intimate and many times they are healing and liberating. We can learn so much by reading other women’s birth stories. Birth stories do not have to be only about natural birth, in fact, we encourage you to share the good the bad and even the ugly. Letting it out and sharing will help someone. You are invited to read some birth stories and perhaps share your own to inspire and be inspired.
Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.
Read Their Birthing Stories…
A year later....
Finally I was able to process the birth and write a little bit about it. I have shared it with ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) ICAN of South Florida Community Group in hope to be helpful to other moms seeking a similar experience.
Some thoughts about the birth of Mariana.
(There were many moments I actually believed that Mariana would make us wait and decide to be born on Easter, so I thought it would be beautiful to write her birth story today, April 16, 2017 - This is my second HBAC. The second home birth after a c-section. I hope to inspire and help all women out there that wish for a natural birth, especially if they have had a previous c-section)
Mariana had her own plans, from the start. We conceived her in one very important time of our lives. It's one of those decisive moments in life where you know you've entered a path, and to reach the light at the end, you must go through with the journey within. I believe that each soul, and baby in this case, brings a new challenge and gift to the marriage and family. The blessings are the results of conquering the new lessons presented along the way. We knew that it was going to be all worth it, and it already is.
Mariana's birth never "worried" me. I asked myself many times, what fears do I have? How should I prepare myself? Should I plan the home birth differently this time? Should I plan at all? The internal answer was always the same. Do nothing. I felt that planning for it was taking away from her journey. Interfering with a plan that wasn't mine. I knew if I started to plan her birth, I would make it mine... and it wasn't my birth. It was hers. This realization and the awareness of her wanting to live her own experience, made me think about my own birth. Mariana'a birth wasn't my birth.. so which one was mine? I then realized our parents often talk about our births as theirs, not ours. She had asked to come thru me, that's all. All I had to do was to step out of the way.
Being a mom of two had already taught me that motherhood is all about stepping away. Stepping away from yourself, stepping away from your own upbringing, stepping away from everyone else's opinion about how to raise your own children, stepping away from your own expectations. I learned that for me, this was the only way to free my kids, so they can learn one day how to own their world. I have this image that comes to me every once in a while, where I see my kids walking away from me, with an amazing understanding in their faces, of what mom and dad really taught them. If I'm to see that, I'll be satisfied with my job.
So I stepped away..
At 40w1day Mariana decided to make her entrance. I had been gracefully thinning out the cervix since the night before. I could feel the gentle rushes coming and going all thru the night. They felt great. I would feel a whole sensation in my body, sort of a chill, before the contraction. I said to myself.. oh wow, this is maybe why they call it a rush. And then I realized: A rush is nothing else that a contraction that you don't oppose to! I had read all the Ina May birth stories, and they all talk about these "rushes" - I thought about this a lot, and found the answer in my own experience.
That morning I really felt the time had come. It wasn't a physical sensation just yet, but an emotional call saying that my baby was ready. She was ready. It was time for me to surrender, and use all the resources to help myself open the way for her.
My midwife answer a call from my husband, at 7 am or so, telling her I was "in labor". My husband was very excited, he knew Mariana was coming, and even though we weren't sure if real labor would actually kick in, we both felt that was the day.
My midwife, Gelena Hinkley, came to see me around 9 am. I was 3 cm (this was the only vaginal check I got during the whole process) and very thin and soft cervix, but baby's head was still not engaged and a little off center. Still, I felt she was coming very soon. My midwife said she would check on me in a couple hours, to rest and have a good breakfast in case things would pick up.
I called my doula right away. I knew she would come by and help me thru what I was feeling, and with the help of a good inversion, a side pelvic release, and her rebozo, I felt the baby's head nicely dropping into position during a rush. It felt amazing. The contraction started just like the other ones, but thru it, when the movement happened, it intensified and centered. Nothing has felt so right in my life. It's the feeling that something falls into place, exactly where it needs to be.
Birth is very symbolic.
After these exercises, the plan was to take a quick walk to the corner and back, and then try to eat and sleep to see how it would progress.
By now, we are around 11 am, and we decided to order Chipotle for everyone, like nothing was going on. Husband and kids went to pick it up while my doula and I went for the walk.
(Understand that at this point we all thought that I wasn't in "labor" yet, and that we had hours ahead to prepare, eat and call people! Little we knew we were going to be holding Mariana so very soon!)
This was the best walk of my life, so far. It was chilly, the only day of April where a cold front decides to hit. It was sunny! So sunny! And the contrast of the temperature with the sun and the excessively blue sky made it all look sparkly and surreal. After a couple of steps the rushes started to intensify, and the walk turned into an intense labor journey. Here we are, with the information I was 3 cm a little while ago, and feeling like I was so, so very close to holding my baby... but wait! You mean this can actually happen without anyone announcing the very next step before it happens? You mean this can actually be my baby's journey and not mine? Don't I need to be checked and be pronounced "in labor" for the body to work? Don't I need to hear the words: Ana, you are in labor"? My doula would said to me: Mama, you know better than anyone. You are were you feel you are at.
We walked, stopping at every rush, at this point around 3-4 mins apart, hugging, squatting, swaying, laughing, crying, talking. Yes, one of the best walks of my life, and I'm surprised of the intimacy and comfort when we come together in birth, Dawna. An honor having you around. I remember at some point I burst into tears of joy when I realized that it was happening, I was laboring in complete peace and comfort. I felt SO LOVED. I felt so very loved.
The Chipotle arrived, and my husband and kids drove right by us. I could tell their faces got real serious when they saw me just a few minutes after they had left. I must have been transformed, and I probably looked like I was in the zone. There was no way back. I had already left.
I said to Dawna, I can't eat past this point. We entered thru the garage and I sat in the toilet of the small half bathroom downstairs. By that time there was show, and I told Dawna and Flavio to "give me a pool"! They improvised and thankfully my doula carried a birth pool and the whole setup with her. My midwife was not there yet, and my doula suggested to let her know things had "picked up" while setting up the pool exactly on the same spot my daughter Solange was born.
After the fact, we realized I was transitioning at that time. Starting during the walk with the tears and awareness moment and ending with another high consciousness moment before entering the pool. This moment was a walk thru all my births. My first born, Oscar, the c-section, and my first experience as a mother. Solange, my first home birth, that incredible journey of faith; and now, Mariana, and this moment where I felt I was so incredibly able to just be a channel for her. I knew I could do it in that instant, I was so sure! And that made me so happy! I hugged Dawna, and I told her how lucky I was! Right there in transition! I noticed that in that moment instead of "breaking down" I felt totally empowered, I felt so thankful for having gotten there! I felt I had past the necessary tests in my life to deserve being gifted the ability to truly step away.
As so I did.
With every rush, now in the water, I relaxed my body, like I wasn't there. I opened my mouth with every wave, and breathed out. I relaxed, I left, but the rushes still came. I watched myself give nothing, do nothing, while at the same time doing all that had to be done. This has prepared me for motherhood now in a whole different way. I'm a new woman, a new mother and a new wife after this experience.
That moment lasted around 30 mins or so. It was a peaceful moment. Quiet birth sounds, and lots of silence. The family around, my husband blessing me and supporting me, the kids bringing water. My doula pouring water on my belly, on my back. Amazing. They say this is the calm before the storm. They say that after transition there is a quiet moment to realize and recognize the soul of your baby. Once together, the mother and baby come down, united.
My midwives, Gelena Hinkley and Sandy Lo, had arrived at this point, and certainly enough, at the next move my water broke, in the water, and with the next rush I could feel her coming down and I touched the top of her head. No fuss, nothing unexpected, no one moved or made a huge deal. The next rush the baby crowned gracefully and I supported her head while smiling and giving thanks to God. With the next rush my midwife asked me to go on a one knee/squatting position to facilitate her entrance, and Mariana was born in the water received by mommy and daddy. She made her own transition to this world at her own pace, surrounded by love and family, surrounded by those who understand birth as a normal natural process.
Right before this point I remember thinking of asking my midwife for a check, and expecting to hear I had at least progressed past 6 cm, but instead my baby was already there.
Mariana was almost 11 pounds, and her birth at a hospital would have probably meant a c-section, or a traumatic vaginal birth due to the inability to move around on hands and knees or switch to a natural position to safely birth an 11 pound baby without any cuts, episiotomy or medication. My baby remained on my chest at all times. Cord was cut 1 hr and 15 mins after she was born, and was breastfeeding.
Among all those that were present and assisted the birth, I was able to feel it was just me and her. There is so much I could say about how safe I felt, at all times. Thank you to my midwives and doula for their outstanding work, their "precision" at each step, and their love towards me and my family.
Solange woke up just in time to receive her sister, and the siblings witnessed Mariana's entrance, in tears of awe.
Happiest day of my life. Because this wasn't just Mariana's birth. I feel I gave birth to all the children that day, once more. I feel the family is reborn, the union, the marriage.
This was Mariana'a gift to us. We are a new family.
Thanks to her, and God.
Some thoughts about the birth of Solange..
About a week ago I had my so much wanted HBAC. With the help and support of my team, my baby girl was born at home, received and blessed by her family, and a very much transformed and accomplished mommy.
Before we conceived Solange, I knew he/she wanted to come to the world in a particular way. Maybe because it would influence her journey or maybe to give me the gift of feeling what a natural unmedicated birth feels like. Perhaps to fill in the emptiness I felt when my previous birth unfolded in a c-section, due to my own lack of information. I like to think it was her gift to me. I believed, if able to birth naturally I would heal a great deal, and even the perspective of my previous birth experience would positively change.
At 40w2d I went into intense prodomal labor, with real labor kicking in on 40w6d. Exhaustion was one of the worrying factors, but the body becomes your ally as long as your mind and soul stay strong. Labor went very fast at certain stages and seemed to take forever in others, as she positioned herself and lowered into the birth canal. The beauty of this experience is that there is nothing else there other than you, your baby, and God. So if the process takes a certain amount of time, there is probably a reason why. I found that listening to my body and my baby at each stage was critical. Even if it didn't make much sense... It worked for me and it helped me progress because that is what my body needed. The whole idea of a home birth is so you are in contact with yourself, having an experience no one has written for you. An experience that will unfold as your earthly being and your soul needs it to grow.
It's a growing experience.
Still a week later, when it's all quiet and peaceful, I can hear and see myself through the birth of Solange. I see myself through the process, and I have come to understand the meaning of each stage, which lessons needed to be learned to advance to the next level, what ties had to be broken and which feelings, reborn.
I realized that as much as I thought I was ready and as much as I thought I believed in my body, when the labor started and as I walked through it, I had to give into the feeling that what was happening in me was much bigger than anything I had lived before.
I learned I had to disown the birth as "my experience", I learned that the journey wasn't mine, but through me. I learned to give myself to my child, fully, before she was born. My feelings of fear, pain, the "what could go wrong" feeling, I had to let go. Mine and those of the others around me. I had to look at their faces and let it go. I surrendered to the power and trust I found within.
The most amazing and puzzling sensation I still hold, is that as much as I look back, I would do it all over again, just as it was. I do not fully understand it, it amazes me! But I will so do it all over!
I had my dream birth. I realized after all that the dream birth is the one that happens and you allow to happen, not necessarily the one you plan for. I remember the smell, the lavander, the love, oh gosh the love! I felt so loved by all of the ones that attended my birth, how they respected my body, my intuition, my desires and those of my child. I appreciate so much the guidance, the help to walk my own path and not theirs.
My husband, my support, how much he gave during the process, battling fears and shielding the heaviest of emotions, to allow the miracle to happen.
That miracle unfolded itself in the most magical way. Being a VBAC I had to make peace with the fact that a transfer could have been a possibility, specially after 5 day of intense prodomal labor. I had to make peace with the fact that I could have ended up with another c-section and my birth would have still been the perfect birth. It was in that moment that I questioned: why? Why am I doing it this way?
All I knew was I wanted my baby to finish her journey, to complete her transition to this world as she had started it. I let it to God, and my Doula. An army of angels surrounding us, a lot of trust, and true purified intentions welcomed Solange, my daughter.
I have learned an eternity bringing my daughter to this world. It was a transformational experience for me, and for my family. A true bonding journey, to seal the union as one of the heart and soul. Forever.
My due date was July 30 and by week 37 I was 1cm dialated and 70% effaced. I hated walking around, going to work everyday and not knowing what to expect, so when my doctor offered to induce me at 39 weeks, my husband and I seriously considered it. We read up on the pros and cons and after speaking with our doctor we decided to go for it. Unfortunately, I kept feeling that I was making the wrong choice for my baby and wavered a lot on our decision. The day before I was scheduled to be induced, I got a pedicure and grabbed some Mexican food with a friend. Around 9pm that night, I walked into my kitchen and immediately felt something running down my leg. Thanks to staying active with yoga during my pregnancy I hadn't had any incontinence issues, so I assumed my water had broken but I wasn't having any contractions. We slowly made our way to the hospital where they confirmed my water had broken. I was also surprised to find out that I was having contractions about 3 minutes apart, but for whatever reason I couldn't feel them. I was admitted into labor and delivery around 12am, still feeling nothing. The nurses said they were going to give me pitocin around 6am Sunday if I still hadn't dialated more. From 12-6 I steadily dialated, however I didn't feel my first contraction until around 6am. Honestly, it wasn't what I expected. I didn't feel anything in the front. It was just excruciating back pain on my left side. I tried several different positions I learned at my prenatal classes and the nurses showed me some others to alleviate the back pain and help move the baby, to no avail. I finally caved around 7am and received an epidural. I'm not sure what I expected but I continued to feel everything on my left side. After complaining that the epidural wasn't working, they finally gave me some pain medication to help with the back pain. By 11am the doctor came in and said that I was completely dialated. She had me start pushing. I'm not sure if it was because the epidural didn't work, or all the techniques I learned in prenatal yoga, but I could feel every contraction coming on and had no problems feeling myself pushing the baby out. After pushing for about 45 minutes, my son made his way into this world. He came out sunny side up (which explains the back labor) with the cord wrapped around his neck. My doctor did a great job of unwrapping the cord quickly, and even had me pull him out when she was finished. It was an incredible, unexpected experience. Truthfully, it was not how I imagined giving birth would be. I never felt contractions in my belly and I would've never been able to time them myself, so I'm happy we went to the hospital when we did. I was also extremely happy with the nurses and my doctor at the hospital. She never once suggested a C-section, even though it became apparent the baby was not facing the right direction. As hard as it was, it was truly amazing, and I'm happy to have experienced such a life changing event. (And it's super exciting to finally be a mom!!)