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indie birth esali birth

Independent birth is a new term overtaking the unassisted birth world.  Many actually imagine the choice of indie birth to be one where a mother is alone during birth or without a care provider or at home or any specific set of "guidelines" that indicate you can use the trendy term.  However, independent birth is simply another way of describing a knowledgeable approach to the responsibility of birth decisions.

Take back your birth.

You already know how to birth.  You already know how to make decisions.

How do you have an independent birth?

  • Trust your knowledge and ability to make decisions
  • Trust your body
  • Birth where you want
  • Birth how you want
  • Birth with whomever you want

Yup... that's about it.  Whether that leads you to fully assisted, totally unassisted, or any level in between it is the PERSONAL CHOICE that leads you to making decisions for yourself from TTC to pregnancy routines to birth and postpartum practices that puts you in the indie birth category.  Post done....  Okay, okay, I know, you want some substance - some feel-good to give you the confidence you need to make all these decisions.

Independent Birth - Informed Birth, and Parenting Confidence

Ultimately, our birthing experience is a teetering transformation between now and life with a baby - even if you already have children, another baby brings you back to this level again of nurturing a soul for their life journey.  Birth is made to empower us with maturity and wisdom, but many cultures are taking this life phase and surrounding it with so much fear and "you have to be saved" mentalities that women and families are blindsided with even how to handle a runny nose during pregnancy or with a newborn.

Independent birth may be better described as Confident Birth, or better yet, Informed Birth.  When a family is informed, they can choose no provider, a team of providers, or anything in between.

Only you know how you feel. You are the expert on you - and you are the expert on your baby.  Truly.  The more you listen to your body, care for yourself, and make intentional decisions - the more in tune you become and the better you can communicate to your birth team (should you choose one at any point in your journey) on your needs and desires.  With knowledge comes great responsibility because then you are able to make informed decisions and be the leading role in the perinatal phase rather than someone just along for the ride doing whatever the care provider says.

Take back your birth.

You are here.  You get up, you eat, you drink, you pee, you rest, you move, you live.  You know how to be a human and birthing is just another part of being a human.

Want a test?  Go get it.  With an independent birth, you can learn the pros and cons and then make an informed decision for your personal situation.  It doesn't matter what I do, what your provider would do, what your friend did.  It doesn't matter if the studies for this year say a test will result in x, y, or z - what do YOU want?  What do YOU? feel?  What will YOUR family do with the information, the possible outcomes?  The information you receive from Esali Birth, or anywhere else, should provide you with thought provoking action.  Let the information swirl around in your mind.  Get mad at it for a moment if you want.  Then, research.  Get passionate.

Research with Dad, your birth team, anyone together.  Talk about it.  Ask questions and give thoughts.  Listen to every side.  Take that knowledge and be still while you listen to your soul speak.  Then make YOUR decision.

Don't want tests?  Don't do it.  With an independent birth, you can learn the pros and cons and then make an informed decision for your personal situation.  Not every mother has to have the routine option.  Not every (not many) mother benefits from cookie cutter care.  The cookie cutter western approach isn't exactly showing us better statistics anyway, and in fact we see more perinatal depression and higher maternal risks than many other countries - including developed - in the world.  Western medicine is great for some.  Eastern medicine is great for some.  A blend is great for some.  A different approach with each baby is great, too.  Your babies won't be the same and they will continue to require individualized nurturing their whole life - this is just a start.

Want to provide yourself with your own clinical care?  Have at it.  Journal your food, movement, emotions, schedule, and sleep patterns.  Take your blood pressure.  Check heart tones.  Pee on a stick.  Check your blood sugar.  Order your own labs (through online sources) or collaborate with a care provider willing to provide you with these services.  Pick one or all of these options.  Belly map, palpate, or just have a cup of tea with your birth team once a month and create a relationship to build oxytocin (remember that your birth team is providing a lot of their energy for this, too, though, even if it doesn't look like typical prenatal care).

Want all the prenatal care?  Go ahead.  Get all the titles and 30 years of experience.  Choose no titles and no clinical experience.  Choose yourself and your family and love.  Start with nothing, end with it all.  Start with high tech and then get back to basics.  Plan a cesarean.  Plan a home birth.  Transfer to the hospital in the middle of your birth.  Decide to stay at home.  It is YOUR choice.  Nothing is set in stone.  Love your pregnancy by knowing you can make a new decision at a moments notice.

Take back your birth.  Take back your pregnancy.  Take back parenting.  Take back your LIFE!

Learn.  Make decisions. Stop letting anyone make you feel like you don't know how to birth or take care of a baby.  This is biology! Your were MADE for this!

You were also made to seek support, guidance, love.  It's OK to want solitude.  It's OK to want a group of people laying their hands on you.  It's OK to want both at different times.  Just as a doula should provide individualized support for their clients, so should a care provider and it is encouraged for you to desire that individualized care.  Don't hesitate to ask for it if you don't feel like you're receiving it.  Others are only human, too, and their lives are happening all around them just like they are in your pregnancy.

Speak up.  Tell people what you expect, what you want, and don't apologize for it.  If people make you feel hesitant to speak up, find a new birth team or support group.

Supporting Indie Birth

It's one thing to choose independent birth, but to support others in their decisions is the real key.  As a mother, a father, an obstetrician, a midwife (home and hospital), and a community we need to support others in their ability to make their own decisions.  Most of the fear surrounding life choices comes from personal discomfort in someone making a decisions that goes against a decision we've made or the way we currently practice.  Are you a midwife that can't stand the thought of someone supporting birth without clinical experience?  How is this different than an obstetrician not supporting home birth?  Share your knowledge AND your love.  Are you a mother that had an independent birth at home with a midwife (or unassisted) and are frustrated because your friend is choosing an obstetrician or a cesarean?  Let's all take a breath and remember how we learn best.

LOVE.  We have to come to a place that not everyone wants our opinions or thoughts.  We have to come to a place where we ALLOW others to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own lives.  When you speak truth in a kind and empathetic way, others hear.  They may not react the same way as you - but they hear you.  It may be days or years before they change their lifestyle, or they may not change it at all.  It doesn't matter.  This is our journey.  That is their journey.  Let's not, as independent or natural or whatever birth advocates, make the same mistakes that have been made for decades.  Build up your community with knowledge sharing and encourage others to keep researching and keep discussing.  Surround your interactions with dialogue that doesn't put words in someone's mouth - but that encourages interest through your respectful words so others are encouraged in an intriguing way to learn more.

The more aware you are of the birth industry, the more information you have about biological birth, and the more you surround yourself with a community that knows how choices influence our experiences with a loving heart - the better your independent birth will be and ultimately you increase your experience of a happy healthy birth.  Happy increases oxytocin and oxytocin improves birth.

Information provides us with opportunity.  Opportunity allows us to make decisions and feel confident about the role we're playing and encourages us to learn all we can when we do take a leading role in the decision making process.

What are you doing to take back your birth?

 

Doula Bag Esali Birth

Labor Doula Bag Basics

When it comes to the basics, your doula bag should carry items for you (food, extra clothes, unique tools for supporting...etc.).  A labor bag that the parents pack should carry items for them (think toiletries, extra clothes, birth ball, food, money...etc.).  The best items in a doula bag or general labor bag really depend on the types of women and births you most often attend and the style of care you provide.  I'm mostly using my hands and my presence while supporting births, but it is nice to have a little bit of extras since they fit in the bag.  Likewise, it's not uncommon for me to attend births in the country 30 minutes from the nearest hospital and I'm usually the only other person present for a decent amount of time so I like to have a little extra tools available to me.  I would encourage you to know how to use the items well in your bag before adding them, particularly if you are adding herbs to your tool kit.  Ultimately, though, you'll probably add a lot more items to your bag when you're first starting out and eventually come to find a few tools to be your most common go-to items for the area you practice in the most.

What is the best Doula Bag to use?

I LOVE camera back packs.  I use these for my desk job also because I work from home and homeschool - which means I might be in the office, at home, or at a park and I want to throw everything in it.  For the doula bag, they just keep everything so organized and easy to access so they're super convenient all the way around with moveable hook and loop dividers.  I have a few different brand styles, but I prefer the style shown in the header image because it doesn't taper at the top and has a lot of extra compartments great for carrying cash/debit cards, keys, food, notepad, or smaller items I might want to grab from my purse.

Doula Bag Must Haves

Essential Doula Bag Items:

  • Extra change of clothes - shirt, pants, and maybe under garments.  You never know if you need refreshed or have water from a tub or amniotic fluid on you.  An extra pair of scrubs are nice too and then you kind of have uniform without bothering the rest of your wardrobe.
  • Herbs for tea and herbs, oils, and tinctures for emergency or extra supportive scenarios - I use a travel cosmetic case for herbal teas that I cycle through often for freshness - that's the little red case you see.  I use a travel essential oil mini case - that's the green zipper pouch you see.  I'll talk more about these in a minute.
  • Food Items - because you need a quick pick me up, or sometimes a whole pot of soup and it might not be available.

Herbs (Red Case) Whole or Tinctured (not essential oils)

  • Red Raspberry Leaf - If its early in labor, I do tend to make a cup of tea for mom or whomever else.  It's emotionally calming, it's nutritive to the whole body, and it is far from clinical.  This can also be used for immediate postpartum.  Red Raspberry Leaf is a wonderful tonic (nutritive) herb which can be light on the stomach while also providing necessary nutrients for labor.
  • Nettles - Same as above while packing a bigger punch.  Great for reducing bleeding postpartum as well.
  • Dandelion Leaf - supports the liver and good for postpartum, especially if mom needs a bit of encouragement to pee over the first week.
  • Chamomile Flower - Soothes muscle tensions, especially in the digestive area helpful for nausea and support sleeping.
  • Separately, though usually blended together (steeped prior to birth if we might be wary of postpartum hemorrhage - stressed mom, long labor, tired mom...etc.) - Equal parts Shepherd's Purse (this is an oxytocic herb that helps to contract the uterus in case of hemorrhage), Yarrow (this herb helps the blood to clot in case of a hemorrhage or vaginal tear), and SWEET/True/Ceylon Cinnamon (NOT Cassia - cassia/kitchen cinnamon thins the blood too much due to high concentrations of coumarin which are not high in true cinnamon).  Cinnamon is helpful for women that may have a very cool constitution (thin, pale, often chilled extremities).  This is a nice postpartum tea blend as well.
  • Black Tea or Instant Coffee - for a quick pick me up drink for the birth team.
  • Doula Power Energy Tincture - for  a quick pick me up and mood balancing needed for long labors and for functioning after a long labor for the birth team.

Herbs (Green Case)

This is a case that holds 8 miniature dropper vials that I mostly use for essential oils though I also have some tinctures.  I also have a roller ball of olive oil for massage and diluting essential oils and a general salve tin for tear healing or as a lip balm - which is better than a stick of lip balm because I can more easily put it on a cotton swab or whatever is available to not contaminate the jars.

  • Olive Oil - for diluting essential oils and general unscented massage (I prefer olive to coconut because it has a longer history of medicinal use and I don't have to purchase something that has been processed in order for it to remain one consistency).
  • Lavender Essential Oil - For calming and anxiety related relaxation as well as rest support.
  • Rescue Remedy (Tincture) - For calming support (though I honestly haven't seen much benefit from this myself).
  • Peppermint Essential Oil - To help ease nausea during labor.  To help if the mom has to pee, especially postpartum thus reducing risks of postpartum hemorrhage from a uterus that can't contract efficiently.
  • Lemon Essential Oil - Uplifting when the birth environment gets a little too drab and everyone needs a pick me up to keep things going. Also helps with nausea during labor.  This can also be blended (equal drops) with peppermint and lavender for allergic reactions and itching (like with medication reactions or cholestasis).  (FYI - Though some people put this in their water for flavor, it isn't a great practice because it can't properly dilute and irritates the stomach.  Likewise, you don't get vitamin C from the essential oil so it doesn't help in that regard either).
  • Chamomile Essential Oil - For muscle tension (also helpful for a newborn that has tight muscles making it hard to breastfeed) and rest support.
  • Valerian Tincture - For anxiety and rest support.
  • Shepherd's Purse Tincture - For oxytocic needed (contracting the uterus) postpartum hemorrhage (NOT for induction or during labor).
  • Yarrow Tincture - For flowing blood postpartum hemorrhage.

Sometimes I may have pre-blended tinctures for scenarios like hemorrhage and after pains relief - but all of these mentioned can be used along with other techniques so it isn't necessary.  I just like having something available if I'm the only one at the birth or out in the hills of WV.

Food Stuffs

  • Protein bars, of the healthy kind, are well worth it for their compact nutrition.  I found these wonderful sprouted - fruit only sweetness - protein bars that are wonderful from Thrive Market.  It is really nice having something good for me, no condensed whey or soy protein, and that won't make me crash like a sugar-loaded bar will do.
  • Honey sticks - because sometimes they just taste good in tea or coffee and I just don't like white sugar that's often available.  They can make nasty herbs taste better.  They can also be a great pick me up for the Mom (and baby) that might be getting low on blood sugar - or anyone else that might need this pick me up as well.  A uterus doesn't work well when it doesn't have a healthy source of glucose (common in a long labor), which may increase risks of hemorrhage so this is a simple way of keeping something in the system even if mom doesn't want to eat (typical during labor as the body needs to focus on getting baby out, not digesting food).
  • Cucumbers or coconut water for natural and healthy electrolyte balance without overloading the body with salt (which may cause water retention, but not necessarily hydration and electrolyte balance).
  • Sometimes I grab a box or jar of soup if I have it available - and it has been glorious when I have this for a long labor or where nourishing food isn't available.
  • Gum or Mints - Because you never know how coffee or protein bars might make your breath smell to a laboring mother or anyone else for that matter.
  • Lip Balm - If you use a swab this can be used by multiple people (you and mom...etc.) without unecessarily sharing germs.  A blend of St. John's Wort, Comfrey, and Calendula in olive oil and beeswax makes a nice healing skin salve for various scenarios such as perineal tears and postpartum nipple damage issues.

Doula Bag Optional Items

  • Flex Straws - Making staying hydrated much easier for mom so she doesn't have to tip a glass back.
  • Tennis Ball - for pressure and massage so the hands don't get tired.
  • Birth Ball or Peanut Ball - for sitting with a moveable pelvis, for leaning over in various positions, for sitting on behind a squatting mother, and the peanut ball for propping the legs more easily in side lying positions.  These are common tools, though most clients these days (as well as birth locations) already have these or clients prefer to walk around - so carrying one around that needs stored or blown up is just not my thing.  A ball can easily be taken to selective births as needed.
  • Infusion Glass - This is not shown, but I usually strap a water bottle and Libre Tea infusion glass to the front of my bag for hydration and making tea or fruit infusions.  I don't have to worry about finding a tea ball or making a paper tea bag - plus no leeching from plastic cups.  Grab on of these in the Esali Shop!
  • Baby Wrap - About a size 4 woven wrap - for rebozo work, comfort relief, repositioning baby, wrapping around a pelvis for hip squeezing, and postpartum babywearing if it looks like the parents need some extra support... or postpartum belly wrapping if the mom needs extra abdominal support.
  • Yoga Strap - used similarly as a baby wrap, but a little easier to maneuver.  Myself or Dad can hold this up around the back over the shoulder in the front - up on a bed or other piece of furniture - and mom can hold the bottom like a birth rope for a supported squat that's easier on our arms and better for relaxing her bottom.  These are great for stretching the lower back and hamstrings and various parts of the pelvic region during prenatal appointments or to help a funky birth position.  Depending on the birth location, there might be something this can be hooked around to be used just like a labor rope.
  • Battery tea lights - because they can feel relaxing, and why not?  Many birth locations don't allow real candles, or we don't want to worry about one being knocked over or forgotten to be blown out.  They can allow that calm and dark space oxytocin prefers while giving the birth team a little bit of light to maneuver around.
  • Note pad and pens for taking birth notes, especially if I'm going to be the only one there for a while.  I'm not focused on this because supporting mom is my priority, but there are times this is helpful not only when relaying information to the rest of the birth team, but also for processing a birth during postpartum and having a really good understanding of the order of events with the family.
  • Some print out cards of tip reminders for positioning in case I'm tired - or the rest of the birth team needs something to reference (great for dads and family members).
  • Hair ties - because my hair is crazy long and its common for my tie to break.  Also because the mom might need one herself and may have forgotten one in her bag or lost it.
  • Digital camera and phone charger - I often take birth photos when doulaing.  It isn't my main focus, but it is something I offer.  I also want to be sure my family can reach me for emergencies and keep a phone charger on hand.
  • Surgical gloves - because sometimes I check baby's tongue ties postpartum to foresee any breastfeeding issues if things aren't feeling OK to mom.  I don't like to do this too soon because I don't want to mess with baby unnecessarily, but commonly used during postpartum visits.
  • Feeding Tube - just in case someone offers the Mom a nipple shield I have backup available.  I also use this bag for breastfeeding and postpartum consultations and like to keep those on hand for a finger feeder as one of the least invasive ways of mom getting a break from nursing without damaging the latch with other artificial nipples.  When they are needed - its nice to not have to wait 2 days to get them by mail.  I also keep some Dr. Jack Newman breastfeeding guides in here as well, though not pictured.  My doula support includes breastfeeding support and postpartum care, so having these items come in handy.

Those are the basics.  Sometimes I might add a few extra items - usually a different herb or extra food item or something specific the mom may have requested.  Maybe an extra camera battery, but nothing too extreme.  The bag is mostly my personal convenience and comfort items rather than items I ever really use much.  I might throw in a book I'm reading for a time where mom is sleeping or wants some privacy.

 

What's in YOUR Doula Bag?

Some fears, for many women, will just not disappear. There is no trickery, no education, no mantra, no book, no method that can take all the fears away for some women – and that is OK. It is OK to have fear. Fear is a normal process in life, and has a very valid purpose.

Gabriel Blayne - 8lbs 15oz
Born at Home - October 3, 2011

"Deep within each woman,
lies the knowledge to give birth
without outside interventions."

My 2nd birth - the birth I've been dreaming of for so long.  Bell's birth was incredible and life changing.  This birth was as close to biological as I could have ever wished for my family.  It was the birth that I talk about so much.  It was perfect.

After a week of on and off again mild regular contractions, the night before my birth I started feeling strong cramps in my cervix.  They were irregular, then slowed, and stopped before bedtime.  I had turned off the ringers at the house for the weekend, and each night took a long warm shower, and fell asleep listening to Tibetan Bells and relaxing to the scent of Lavender aromatherapy oil.  I had been waiting.... anticipating a past "EDD" birth - but not imagining I would go 2 weeks past.  I was ready to welcome labor with open arms.

I woke up each hour to pee - just like always.  But, around 2:00, I was feeling strong cramps, and felt like these were different than the contractions I'd been feeling throughout the past week.  I called James (who was on his 3rd midnight shift of the weekend) to let him know my contractions were regular and that I was going to call Donna (Donna Spellman, CPM) to see what she thought before he came home.  Donna said to call her back in an hour and we'd see how the contractions were, so I also let James know I'd call him back in an hour.  I sent a heads up message to Allie (our birth photographer with Allie B Photography), and gave Crysta (our doula with Gentle Beginnings) a call.  I was feeling like these contractions were pretty close, and was starting to feel like I wanted someone with me.  Bell was sleeping, and if things got intense, no one was here to attend to her if she would wake.  I told Crysta I'd call her back in 1/2 hour - but I was afraid to have anyone come if things were just going to stop.

Things weren't stopping.  But I did take a moment to snap a picture of myself.

I'm a nut about documenting events.

I called James, Crysta, & Allie in 1/2 hour.  I wasn't waiting an hour to get someone here.  I was ready for companionship.  I just wanted someone nearby.  I was really needing to concentrate during contractions, and had to quickly finish my message to Allie because that one was getting too intense to talk.  Yes, these were progressing fast.... but - wow, don't I have at least 6 more hours of this... then transition... and still pushing?  These are one on top of the other, I'm moaning, and I'm getting a little nervous.  I'm not doing so well am I?  But wait, this is the exact same way I felt when I was in transition with Bell.  Am I in transition???

All the sensations and movements were running through my head.  I got the birth ball out to lean on... nope, that didn't help - I needed to walk.  All the birth scenarios were running through my head.  Thinking of someong pushing on my back was running through my head.  Every direction of the baby, every little foot movement.  I could sense all of them - I could feel the whole birth.  I knew my body was working, and the baby was doing OK because I could feel him move.

I called Donna.  I think it had been 45 minutes.  It was time.  She had over an hour drive, and this wasn't stopping.  I still felt bad.  It was the middle of the night - and everyone was going to come out, and this was just going to stop.  I don't care.  I need presence.

James gets home.  Relief!  Wow, I'm getting loud.  I really don't need to be this loud - but it just feels good, so I went with it.  But, I'm still talking and doing just fine between contractions... gosh, am I going to have to deal with this all night?  Can I handle it?  I really don't want to...  I'm kind of done - these are intense.  James is a little panicked.  I asked him to move Bell back to her bed, and get the bed ready.  He wasn't putting the sheets on right - and that annoyed me a little.  I just wanted it prepped - and fast.  He started getting glasses of water, straws, and putting all our birthy-needs in place.  "I need you to HELP me!"  Yup - that same scenario with Bell's birth was coming up.  James is a prepper... but doesn't do so well with support.  When is Crysta going to get here?  Why did I tell her to wait?  I hope Allie gets my message.

I have to pee.  It hurts to sit on the toilet.  Same feeling I've had for 2 weeks.  I have to pee - and I can't.  I constantly feel like I have to poop... I'm totally pooping when this baby comes out.  I just accept it.

I decided getting in the shower will let me stand and pee.  I try the water on my back.  It was incredibly distracting.  I'm just not a water birther.  I'm a walker.  I couldn't imagine sitting in a tub - I need to move.  I turn the water off.  Pacing - my same ritual I used with Bell.  It brings baby down, and it helps me deal with the sensations.  Oh WOW, those sensations!  I paced in our little standard 5' tub.  "James, get the camera."  I leaned on the bathroom wall with each contraction.  Really?  More hours of this?  Oh my gosh - someone just tell me I'm in transition and I'm doing OK.  "You can do it."  "I can do it."  "You're OK... You're OK."  Nope - those don't work.  Moaning... totally works.  And I was MOANING.  Bell is going to wake up, surely.  MOAN....MOAN.....OOOOOHHHHH.....I remember my deep noises this time, though.  Yup - bring that baby down, Danielle.

"You're doing good."  What was that?  I thought.... James was telling me I was doing a good job....  He was taking pictures, and then just sitting by the tub watching.  He was so nervous... but this was great.  NEVER underestimate the power of encouragement and presence!  I AM doing good.  I'm loud - but I'm doing this!  And, I don't have to get in my car and drive anywhere.  This is going to happen at my home!!!

I really need to pee.  Baby is pushing down and squishing stuff out with each contraction - but I just want to pee.  James, get me the peppermint oil on a tissue... nope, that didn't work.  Worth a try.  Oh well, I'll just stay in the tub.

Oooh... I am still doing this...  but how much longer?  I want to squat.  Wow, that kind of works.  I want to squat, and.... am I grunting?  A few squats with James supporting me (I almost knocked him in the tub with me) and my water broke.  Am I pushing???  No way.... no way am I already pushing.  I'm grunting.  Maybe there is a lip, I think.  These grunting pushes are good.  No one has even checked me - how awesome is that?!!  Oh, yea, I'm pooping.  Hey, at least I'm not going to feel like I have to poop anymore...Baby must be really moving down now...maybe if I poop it will make room for the baby.  (Seriously, you'll think of all kinds of stuff when you're in labor).  Where's my labor land?  I so am not in labor land.  I am completely here - completely feeling everything, completely conscious and aware... but I'm doing it.  There's no way I'm already in 2nd stage.  But, contractions were easier to rest through.  Still close - but I was getting a break.  Wow, this is awesome - totally intense, and I'm really ready to just be done.  James thinks about cleaning up the poop.  That's love... that's comfort.  Birth with someone who is OK cleaning up your poop!  But, I kept moving around, so he couldn't get to it.  Wow, that stinks.  A few more pushes, and there went my water.  Oh NO!!  Meconium.  Wow, this bathroom really stinks now - and everyone is going to smell it.  Oh well... "James, call Donna... there's meconium."  Donna was about 15 minutes away.  I'm still squatting and grunting.  I'm going to have this baby!  Yes, I'm in 2nd stage.

James prays.  I think I pray at some point, too.

I want to stop standing.  Squatting just feels so much better. James lays down a towel and a chux pad.  Ahhhh - this is better.  I can lean... All 4s - what a powerful position.  Rest and birth at the same time.  Oh, I'm really pushing now.  No one is telling me to do anything - no one is touching me - I AM doing this all by myself!!!  James is just sitting behind me and waiting.  He's nervous.  I'm DOING this!  I don't care that no one else is there - I have a presence with me and I am DOING this!  I reach down... no head yet.  Oh, how long is this going to take?  A few more loud pushes - yeah, yelling just feels great.  I think of that carved stone face of the woman birthing - I totally look like her.  I'm POWERFUL!

Azstec Goddess Tlazolteotl Giving Birth - although I'm not keen on the idea of the "Goddess of Filth" this was, nevertheless, how I was picturing myself.

More pushes.  I reach down again.  I want to know how far the head is... I feel something squishy - but it is small.  It is that same distinct feeling I felt when Bell was crowning, just smaller.  OK, baby IS moving down... I AM doing this!  "Crysta is here," James says.  I look out - she's just quietly leaning by the wall in the bedroom.  Wonder what she's thinking.... I'm LOUD!  Wonder if she thinks I'm nuts and not doing well... oh well... yelling just feels good!  More pushes, a little high pitched, but that's OK.  Remember to just breathe, and you'll be fine.  More pushes, and I'm feeling the head.  Oh, there's that ring of fire.  I can do it - I think... I don't want to - I think some more...  Just push - you CAN do it... you just HAVE to do it.  I only pushed for a few seconds with each contraction.  Not getting out of breath this time.  That was perfect - exactly what I could handle - no one telling me to do any more than what my body was ready to handle.  I could feel the baby moving down, then back up - wow, that's crazy - doing the baby dance.  OK, I know we've still got more to go... baby is still moving up.  Oh, then there's full on crowning.  My perineum is stretching, but I don't think it is tearing.  Baby stops dancing.  Oh, we're almost there I thought, and no one is interfering!!!

A few more pushes and the head was out.  I DID it!  I DID it... and all I have left to do are the shoulders (oh, not fun) and the body!!!  "Can someone get Bell?"  Crysta says "she's here."  OH, cool!  I was SO glad she was able to be there - that meant the world to me!  I was worried she wouldn't be able to see because of the small space - but James said she was watching.  I hear Donna, "There's the head... but I'm sure you already know that!"  That was funny... I didn't have the energy to laugh, but it was funny.  I feel her hold the baby - that was a little intense.  I knew I had to get the shoulders.  "Next contraction, I want you to reach down and hold your baby."  OH - it is almost over... it is almost over!!!  I CAN do the shoulders - and my scar is giving me no issues (shoulders are what made me tear with Bell - that and directed pushing).  This is great!!!  I try to reach down, but I need to support myself, so I stop.  Donna holds the baby with the next few pushes, and AHHHH, relief - there's that squishy body!

Crysta is taking pictures - AWESOME!  This birth was fast, and Allie wasn't quite here yet.  The video camera's battery was dead, but at least I'm going to have some pictures.  I move around, try to get into a better position, and then Donna hands me our little....  Its a boy!  A boy. I knew it!  I feel elated with this one - I didn't have that instant feeling with Bell.  But, this was perfect - this was exactly the birth I wished for.

"Let's cut the cord," Donna says.  I check to see if it has stopped pulsing "Can we wait?"  "Do you still feel a pulse?"  I wasn't sure - I was shaking - so she waited a minute or two longer.  She took the baby, and I moved to the bed.  We still had the placenta to go - but it was OVER.  2.5 hours from waking up to birth.... WOW!

We didn't have a name picked out yet.  Interestingly, I was the one in a hurry to name him.  He was 8lbs 15oz - over a whole pound bigger than Bell.  But, was only 19.5" long.

photo by allie b photography

photo by allie b photography

The cord was wrapped around his shoulder, which caused a little bit of cord compression, and likely the cause of the meconium staining.  He was fairly blue and limp at birth - alarming to me, but Donna checked him and he was doing well.  Funny - he has favored the ROA/ROP positions, flipping to LOA occassionally, but always back to the right.  I did some optimal fetal positioning, but felt like he was on the right for a reason.  I believe he was there because the cord was on his shoulder - and that the birth went fast so that he would do well throughout, and not have to deal with the compression for longer than he could handle.  God was watching over us.  He was well.  Not much bleeding from me, and he pinked up quickly.  He has a strong urge and suck to nurse - just like his sister did.  Now, just transitioning to a family of 4, and encapsulating my placenta next!

photo by allie b photography

What a magical experience.  Allie was able to make it for the placenta birth, and she got some beautiful pictures of our family - thank you so much for taking the time away from your family to document this special time in our lives you can watch the slideshow here - I've only watched it about 100 times http://gabriel.alliebphotography.com/).  Crysta was there with love and support... and she ended up cleaning up my poop.  Thank you Crysta, for being there - for being a wonderful presence - for being patient - for cleaning up my poop.   I was SO glad to have people there for 3rd stage and immediately after - just perfect!

photo by allie b photography

Thank you Donna - thank you for no dopplers, for no vaginal exams this entire pregnancy.  Thank you for such wonderful care and advice - you are an absolutely amazing midwife!  Thank you to James for sitting patiently - for those small words of encouragement - I love you and am so glad to have been able to experience this birth in this way - even though you were nervous.

photo by allie b photography

Thank you Bell - for starting my life over, and putting me on the path to experiencing this amazing birth.

photo by allie b photography

Thank you God, for watching over our family and our birth team.  I didn't need an unassisted birth... I needed THIS birth!

photo by allie b photography

 

Just a few thoughts after the fact...  I am a firm believer in learning from *every* situation.  Birth stories and photos and related can be picked apart until there is nothing left - especially in an online environment.  This is my birth.  This was an amazing birth.  You may see things in this birth story that don't jive with what you believe, and that is OK.  You may see things that empower you, and that is wonderful.  You should read this and learn something you want, or don't want, for your birth.   You should also know that this is a very very small, albeit significant, snippet of my life, and you need to plan for YOUR birth.  For me?  I would likely really focus on an unassisted birth next time.  If my husband did not feel comfortable with that, I would be very choosy on the people in my space, just as I was with this birth.  There is a hat on my newborn.  I wouldn't do that again, at all.  We didn't care about the hat, and it wasn't on long, and no issues resulted from it - but it has the potential of messing with the safety of birth, so I wouldn't do that again.  I also would keep the placenta attached until I request it to be separated.  We, of course, waited until it stopped pulsing.  It was easier in the moment for me to move and such - but it would specifically not be a "thing" in a future birth until after the placenta was birthed, at least.  Regardless how annoying those after pains are, there is no way my baby is leaving my side.  If you want to pick apart my birth, and want to know the intimate details of my choices and why and how they've affected my entire family - and for future births, please get in touch with me - I am always more than happy to share.

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