On July 8, 2019, The BIRTH Project Network hosted a free online meet-up on the topic of fertility. The meet-up featured subject matter expert Beth Dorsey, L.Ac, FABORM, who has worked in Chinese medicine and women’s health for more than 14 years, specializing in fertility, pregnancy, health, and hormones. Check out her full bio here.
The conversation covered the importance of preparing your body for pregnancy in the preconception period, the role of nutrients, and the mind/body connection in fertility, how to best support yourself throughout the process of trying to conceive, and so much more.
I’ve listed several highlights below for those who are interested in specific facets of fertility. Please enjoy the conversation and share with someone who might need this incredibly valuable information. Visit Beth’s business page here.
0:30- Learn more about subject matter expert, Beth Dorsey.
3:00- Learn what it is like working with Beth vs. receiving typical western care. Beth describes how she cooperates and works with western medicine, but also offers alternatives when the resource has tapped out.
4:00- Learn why the period of preconception is important in maintaining a healthy pregnancy and achieving a live birth.
6:30- Beth discusses the importance of the mind/body connection in fertility.
16:40- What does it mean to treat the individual vs. treating infertility as a blanket ailment?
21:45- Meet-up participant discusses she and her husband’s diagnosis, and expands on her own fertility journey. Topics include morphology and Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
23:00- How to prepare for the second phase of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with PCOS.
29:30- Reducing inflammation to make for a hospitable environment for a fetus, and the importance of nutrition and exercise.
33:30- Participants discuss that they are told they cannot receive fertility testing unless they have been trying to conceive for a year or more.
36:00- Irregular cycles.
39:50- Fertility and breastfeeding—does it have a negative effect?
46:45- Reducing dairy intake to combat inflammation. More on fertility and Chinese medicine.
48:20- Keto diet and fertility.
51:25- Specific nutrients to help with fertility and egg quality.
1:07:45- Clean beauty products to avoid hormone issues.
This story was written by Melissa Harness, who has suffered through five miscarriages. She has carried eight pregnancies, given birth to three healthy children, and lost five angels. She wants to tell her story to “give a voice to all those that have suffered in silence behind closed doors … who have hid their tears and tried to put a smile on their face when they just want to collapse.”
“We need to normalize loss and grief, ” Melissa says. “We shouldn’t be hidden away or forced to deal with this. We all grieve differently and we need to openly support each other in these times of loss.”
I said positive affirmations. I had more people praying for us than I can even count. This baby defied all the odds. You were so strong. We were told we would lose you so many times, but each time you proved that wrong. Each time my love grew stronger and I knew you’d make it through … until the day I knew you wouldn’t.
At our ultrasound appointment, we heard a tiny heart beating 119 times a minute. The moment the sound came on, I burst into tears. I couldn’t even hold the phone steady to record video for Eddie since he was unable to get off work. The nurse so kindly took my phone and helped me. I was overwhelmed with joy. The sweet sound of your beating heart made it all worth it. Loss after loss after loss. After three losses, we had Bryson, so we know it’s possible to conceive a healthy child. But why all the losses. We were told to come back in a few weeks for a repeat ultrasound. The yolk sac was still measuring large but maybe it would go away in a few weeks. We waited … the waiting is horrible. You dwell on the what ifs, you push yourself to remain positive and go about your normal life. Be a good mom to the other kids, be a good wife, go to work, put a smile on your face, but inside you’re a wreck. Loss changes you. Each loss has changed me differently. I proceeded to our repeat ultrasound on Monday, May 6, 2019. I had Bryson with me. Eddie had to work.
I purchased a baby giraffe with a heartbeat recorder the day before the appointment. Eddie hadn’t had the opportunity to hear our baby’s heart beating due to work conflicts. They pointed out the baby and were able to pick up a beat here and there, nothing consistent. I knew that moment that something wasn’t right. We made excuses, trying to hold on to the hope we had been given. This was an abdominal ultrasound … I’m early … my bladder wasn’t full … The sonographer was either picking my heart beat up (not sure if that’s possible), or picked up the last few beats of our baby’s heart as he/she faded away.
Onto the repeat ultrasound. As we waited an hour after our appointment time, we were finally brought into the dimly lit room where the fate of our baby would be revealed. Ugh, my stomach was in knots. I sat Bryson on the chair next to the bed. I undressed from the waist down and covered up with a sheet. Early ultrasounds are usually done vaginally. I looked forward to a clearer picture of our baby, and I grabbed the recorder so I was ready when we listened to the heart. My heart was beating so fast, my eyes fixated on the screen as I waited. Nothing. The blood flow was showing up, but not inside the uterus. There was no flicker. She tried and tried. She gave me a smile and told me the doctor would be in. I feel sorry for those girls. It must be so tough to see those things. I didn’t shed a tear. I knew it was coming. The doctor came in holding my chart close to her and told me, “I’m afraid I don’t have good news.” I told her we expected this at some point. We were instructed to head to the birthing center to discuss our next steps with the midwives. We were greeted with the familiar faces who had helped me through Bryson’s birth, and had been there for our last miscarriage a year ago in March. Hugs. They helped. I still was in shock? Maybe? I hadn’t cried yet. A script for Cytotec was called in, and I was instructed on what to expect. The next few days were not going to be easy. I walked out to my car and called work to tell them I’d need to take off and get through this at home. Severe cramping, backache, heavy bleeding and passing tissue was not going to happen at my job. Not to mention the emotional trauma of going through this. As I prepared to leave the hospital parking lot, I caught a glance of my pregnant belly … ugh.
You were there, then you weren’t anymore. I put my hand on my belly and cried. I didnt think I’d ever stop. I cried for the pain my heart was feeling. I cried because I heard your heart beating. I cried because I just didn’t understand God’s plan. Why??!!! Why give us hope just to take it away!? Bryson kept asking, “Mommy, what’s wrong? Why you cry?” I just kept telling him, “I’m OK.” But I wasn’t. I texted Eddie. No words can describe the feelings you go through. Finally, after we settled in at home, and decided to start the process. Mom picked up Carter and we got Bryson some toys to distract him. I went into the bathroom and stared at the three little white pills that would bring this journey to an end. I cried more. I can’t believe it’s over. Just like that your gone. Another loss … my new number is five. Five angels in heaven. I used to look back on my patients’ charts and feel so bad when I would see a mama pregnant six, seven, eight times and (with) maybe one child … how could they go on? How did they do it?? Here I stand … eight pregnancies … three children … five angels. I took a deep breath, said a little prayer asking God for peace and comfort and inserted the pills.
I walked out and sat on the couch awaiting my worst fears. Eddie and I watched TV, talked, tried to pass the time. After only a few short hours my back started to ache. Soon after, the cramping started. It became more intense. I couldn’t sit still, a heating pad wasn’t helping, so I went into the bathroom to sit in a tub of warm water. As I undressed, I felt something warm trickle down my leg … I heard drops hit the floor. My hell was beginning.
I sat in the bath for quite some time. It eased the cramping and pain. When I stood up to get out, another gush as I lowered myself to sit on the toilet. Large clots had fallen out. To look or not to look. I was scared to see my baby, formed … forever imprinted in my memory. Just clots and nothing more … that’s all I saw. I cleaned myself up best I could and got dressed. We went to bed soon after. I was up and down numerous times through the night. One big gush soaked through my clothing and onto the bed … a reminder this morning of what will never be.
I got up and showered again. More gushes, more clots … more feelings of sadness and confusion. With the others I had D and Cs (dilation and curettage) … I went to sleep, I woke up and besides a small amount of spotting, it was over. It was hard emotionally but nothing like this. I opted to go this route. This was my choice. I had an assignment (optional, luckily) due last night. I couldn’t do it … I couldn’t even think straight.
The process continued until my uterus was completely empty. The fullness in my belly that I so eagerly embraced was now fading away slowly. My breasts hurt. I know what’s next. No one prepared me with our first loss. My milk came in. A few days after our loss, I woke up to find my T-shirt soaked. My body knows I had the baby, but it doesn’t know they passed. My body is still trying to produce milk and nourish my baby. I relive the trauma of my loss as my body takes the steps to care for my little one. I’ll go through this again. People have asked me so many times, “When will you stop? When will you say enough is enough and quit putting yourself through this!?” To you, this is my answer: “We have Bryson. We know what God can do. We believe in miracles. We have one running around our house right now. We aren’t giving up. Our journey has taken a long time and been so very hard, but if we are meant to have another child it will happen.”
I’m just focusing on breathing today. Trying to take in what has happened and move forward. Trying not to let this lost feeling consume me. Trying not to feel broken in this mess. A friend recently told me that the God of the Mountain is also the God of the Valley … so very true. I will lean on him in these times of frustration and sadness. We aren’t meant to understand … you just have to have faith. I sit here on the couch writing this … using this as my therapy to work through the loss of my baby. I’m searching for a tattoo in memory of all the babies we have lost along the way. When I find the right one and it’s the right time, I’ll know. For right now, I just have to breathe and trust in God. Thank you to everyone that has been a part of this journey with us. We can’t thank you enough for all your kind words, prayers, thoughts and so on. We will get through this, too. One day at a time. Fly high sweet angel, mommy and daddy will see you again one day.
On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, The BIRTH Project Network held its first-ever online meet-up. This inaugural meet-up covered the topic of home births, and featured an experienced home-birth midwife as the subject matter expert.
The conversation covered the home-birth process from pregnancy, to labor and delivery, and through the postpartum period. You can watch and listen to the whole conversation above, or see time stamps for highlights listed below.
Learn About the Subject Matter Expert
Kelly Olmstead, LM, CPM, is an Iowa native who has been in Santa Cruz, California, for 17 years. A mother of three, she has been active in the Santa Cruz birth community since shortly after the home birth of her third child, Henry, in 2002.
Her particular passion is ensuring that women understand they have options in birth—and the benefits and risks of various choices—so they can make the best choice for themselves and their babies.
After four years of midwifery school and apprenticeship, Kelly was licensed by the Medical Board of California in March 2010. By the close of 2017, she had attended more than 450 births. She’s also served on the board of directors for Birth Network of Santa Cruz County for several years.
Additionally, Kelly is the co-founder of a midwifery advocacy group called Birth Santa Cruz. Check out BirthSantaCruz.com on Facebook—it’s a great way to stay up to date about what’s going on with birth locally and nationally.
More recently, she joined forces with two other amazing midwives to create Pacific Community Midwives. They each have independent practices but collaborate and back one another up.
From 2011-2014, Kelly was Regional Co-Rep for the California Association of Midwives (CAM). She remains active on projects with their sister organization, the California Association of Licensed Midwives (CALM), including keeping midwives updated on continuing-education opportunities, meeting with state legislators on midwifery issues, and creating welcome packets for newly licensed midwives in the state.
Highlights and Time Stamps
19:07- Kelly discusses an effective written home-birth birth plan.
13:00- Amara shares her takeaways after experiencing a home birth turned hospital transfer.
24:00- Katy shares her home-birth takeaways.
28:15- Kelly suggests what to look for when trying to find the right midwife for you.
29:20- Katy shares the story of when she got in a car wreck at 8 months pregnant.
31:45- Katy shares her biggest insight after working with a midwife and experiencing a home birth.
34:00- Participant question about not wanting any ultrasounds, but suspecting she’s carrying twins.
38:00- Participant question about a safe distance from home to hospital when planning a home birth.
41:50- Participant question about responding to family who are hesitant about home births.
47:15- Kelly discusses the hospital vs. home-birth experience.
49:08- Kelly addresses how she remains confident as a midwife.
51:00- Kelly discusses how she handled an emergency with a patient who had Hellp syndrome
54:20- Participant question about assuring women that their births will work out the way they want them to.
At 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant, it certainly is not following my plan. Tonight, per my doctor’s strong recommendation, I am getting induced. The primary reason is because I have a velamentous cord. This means that the umbilical cord is not fully on placenta and therefore, not 100 percent protected by Wharton’s jelly. I also have an accessory lobe placenta and being 35 (geriatric pregnancy), they are being cautious and I’m accepting it (sort of).
I get that my birth plan is not a guarantee—in fact, I’ve been calling it my “wish list,” instead of “plan.” What has been most frustrating is that they did not tell me about the recommendation to induce until 38 weeks. I asked when we found out about the velamentous cord if I could still plan on having an intervention-free birth. I was told yes, and continued doing what I do unless they said otherwise. They never said otherwise, and the word “induce” did not come up until just over a week ago. Then, after reluctantly scheduling the induction for Dec. 24, the doctor called me on Tuesday, Dec. 19, saying the nurses are giving her a hard time for scheduling the induction on the 24th. I was with her when she made the call to the hospital to confirm they would take us on Dec. 24. Also, due to the holiday, they are concerned about staffing. Oh, and after the last ultrasound, the recommendation was to induce by week 39.
If I had it my way, we would wait until Charlee is good and ready. However, that is not the case. Overall my pregnancy has been great. Other than working through learning about the velamentous cord and accessory lobe placenta, I have felt good and have kept my energy up throughout. I think a lot of this has to do with my regular chiropractic care, eating well, and staying active. I haven’t done as much working out for the past couple months, but I have continued to walk when I can and attended prenatal yoga 1 – 2 times per week throughout. That class has been a savior! I love the teachers and the community it creates. I’m not sure this pregnancy would have gone so well without that, not to mention the physical activity on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings!
With all that being said, I still want to be sure we make the right choice to ensure our daughter arrives safely, so tonight, in about 45 minutes, I’ll call Mercy Hospital to make sure they can take us as planned at 7:30 p.m. Then we will head into town (through a snowstorm no less!), stop and pick up dinner, and go to the hospital. I have tried everything I can to get this baby to budge. Acupuncture, acupressure, additional chiropractic visits, bouncing on my exercise ball as often as possible, and moving as much as I can without exhausting myself (I did some walking hills in the snow this afternoon!). Clearly, she isn’t ready to come on my terms and I’m OK with that. It tells me that we are doing the right thing by starting the induction process. Step 1 will be cervadil when we get there. After that, we will sleep overnight and see how things are in the morning. If things aren’t progressing, I’ll try pumping. If that doesn’t work, we start pitocin. We shall see what happens! Our birth team is on call for when we need them. Our team consists of Brandon’s mom (a trained doula) and my mom.
I just called the hospital—they’ll take us at 7:30 p.m. as planned.
Charlee Elaine Sperrey arrived on Dec. 25, 2017—yes, we have a Christmas baby! Don’t worry, she’ll be fine and won’t miss out on having her birthday celebrated. I’m excited to share our birth story because it’s nice to get it down in writing and maybe my experience will provide insight to other moms giving birth down the road.
Getting to Dec. 25 was quite an adventure. We arrived at the hospital a little after 7 p.m. on December 22. We checked into room 3005 and the nurse told us to eat our dinner and she would be back in an hour or so to start the first round of induction drugs. Cervidil is the first drug I would be getting. It is a drug on a vaginal insert meant to help your cervix gradually open. I was told the reason they started with Cervidil is should I start contracting heavily from it, they can remove it and I would be intervention free from there.
We ate our dinner, a steak bomb on a gluten-free sub for me—man, was it good! I put on my pajamas and we settled in to enjoy some cable TV (we don’t have it at home). The nurse checked back in stating they had gotten busy with labors, so it might be a few hours before they could start anything. OK—understood (kind of—we were super anxious to get things rolling). She said she’d be back to check my blood pressure and the baby’s heart rate. More hours went by with a couple check-ins from the nurse at 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Neither of us slept well in anticipation of getting things going.
Around 7 a.m., the nurse came in to let us know she was switching shifts and said it was likely I’d get the Cervidil in a couple hours. The Cervidil was inserted around 8 a.m. and it would stay in me for 12 hours, unless I went into labor. It is essentially a string and small piece of what looks like cardboard—not as big as a tampon. It did hurt and cause some discomfort when inserted, but once in, I barely noticed it. I had to lay still for an hour or so. They also put monitors around my stomach to watch contractions and Charlee’s heart rate.
We gave Theresa and my mom an update. Theresa had stayed at our house in case things got going during the snowstorm, so she arrived around 8:30 a.m. My mom started driving down arriving around 10 a.m. Our expectations at this point were that we might have a baby by the evening.
Twelve hours of Cervidil did result in some contractions toward the end—no lion, but more than I had felt. I walked and walked, did some yoga stretches, squats, bounced on the ball and had acupressure done on the small pins my acupuncturist had left on me. I was able to walk the floor while the nurse watched Charlee’s heart rate and my contractions because the monitors were wireless (thank goodness!) However, every now and then, the nurse would come looking for me because they lost the signal. It was kind of humorous, but also annoying.
At one point, they told us a concern was Charlee did not have consistent fluctuations in her heart rate. We learned that fluctuations in the heart rate signify she was thriving and moving around inside me. From time to time she would do well, but then she would not. Because of this, at one point, they made me get back in bed and lay on my right side on wired monitors. I wasn’t overly concerned because I could feel her moving, but of course, it became an obsession to watch the monitors when in the room.
At 8 p.m. the Cervidil was removed. The doctor checked my cervix to see how far I was dilated—not fun! She had to reach way up in me to do this—whoa, painful and hopefully good practice for contractions (come to find out, it’s not nearly as intense as contractions!) I was 2 centimeters and 80 percent effaced. The small dilation was discouraging, but being 80 percent effaced was encouraging. Effacement is the measurement of how stretched and thinned the cervix is. When you are 100 percent effaced, labor is said to be right around the corner. The doctor said my progress was not enough to break my water.
The next step, because of my goal to have as little intervention as possible, was to pump. Pumping can induce labor, so I wanted to try this versus Pitocin first. Pumping didn’t really do anything. So, around midnight, they gave me my first dose of Pitocin. This meant continued constant monitoring. They started with a low dose, increasing it slowly every half hour. After having the Pitocin pumping through me overnight … NOTHING! Contractions actually slowed down from when I was on the Cervidil. Clearly, Charlee did not want to come out on demand! We were all very disappointed and more frustrated because regardless of my progress, I had to stay in the hospital because they wanted to be able to monitor me as soon as my water broke due to the velamentous cord.
After the Pitocin, the doctor checked my cervix again and a little glimmer of hope was that I was now 3 centimeters dilated and 90 percent effaced. This was still not enough to break my water, but a sign that things were at least moving.
It was now Christmas Eve. My sister Nellie had flown in from Atlanta the night before. Her and my Dad were hanging at my house, likely a bit bored, waiting for Charlee’s debut, and wanted to come by for a visit. Originally, Brandon and I said no visitors while going through the laboring process. However, it had been a rough couple days, so I opted for the distraction of visitors.
As soon as Nellie and my dad walked through the door, I started crying (just writing about it brings me to tears!). The emotions running through me were incredible, I’m sure all the extra hormones helped, too! We had come into the hospital more than 36 hours prior with very little results. Not to mention the holiday—I really felt like we were screwing everyone’s Christmas up (even though deep down I knew they were fine). Their visit was a great distraction, helping to burn an hour of the day.
After they left, we continued to wait for the next step due to another influx of deliveries coming in the door. We spent the early afternoon doing laps around our floor, trying to get something to happen. Still nothing. We continued to wait around due to other deliveries coming in the door as a priority. At one point, Brandon and I were walking and we saw a woman, in a wheelchair, looking to be in immense discomfort, most likely in full fledged labor. I told Brandon that I was incredibly jealous and broke down into tears. We went back to the room and we were all very frustrated as we continued to wait around.
When we got back to the room, Theresa and my mom had been chatting about how ridiculous it was that we continued to wait. After nicely complaining to our nurse, we decided to call Theresa’s partner’s brother, Ray, who is a doctor, to get his perspective.
This was a great move due to the frustration (the poor nurse who was getting the brunt of it!) Ray helped us understand that the reason we had to wait around is because they needed to monitor us 100 percent of the time. What they were doing was for the wellbeing of both Charlee and me. He said based on the influx of unanticipated deliveries, it made sense that they were holding off. We all understood and it was incredibly helpful to get his perspective.
Around 4 p.m., the nurse came in and gave me about a quarter of a pill called Misoprotosol. To summarize, it is another induction method similar to Cervidil, and it helps to soften the cervix to induce labor. The difference is because it’s in a pill form, you can’t slow it down like you can Cervidil. If contractions come on heavy, you can’t take away what you swallowed versus you can take out the Cervidil. Four hours after taking the Misoprotosol, there was no change in contractions.
Around 8 p.m., they gave me another dose. At that point, we were all incredibly exhausted. Our moms decided they were going to give us some space and camp out in the solarium room down the hall. Brandon and I settled in for the night and actually got about 10 hours of sleep (other than a few vital checks).
The next morning (Christmas Day) there was still no major change. At 7 a.m., the doctors switched out. We met with the new doctor who explained how she saw the day going. She said that they had a c-section they had to perform and a delivery on the way in. After each of these, if no other unanticipated labors came in, they would start me on a higher dose of Pitocin. They would see how that went, and then most likely break my water.
Things get a little fuzzy here. They started me on the Pitocin and around 2 or 3 p.m., as promised, they broke my water. Just as uncomfortable as having your cervix checked followed by a gush of warm water! There was meconium in the water. Meconium is the baby’s first poop. When it’s found in the water, it’s a concern because of the potential for the baby swallowing it through the amniotic fluid. There is a high risk of it blocking the baby’s airway, so they are unable to take their first breath after delivery. What this meant was they would have more hands on deck when she arrived should there be any issues.
With my water broken and a higher dose of Pitocin, the contractions started to quickly increase in intensity and timing. I now understand what they meant in my birth class when they said you go from the lamb to the lion in labor. There is a clear difference and you will know when you are there! The lion came on strong!
I started off contracting in bed because they wanted to have a consistent read on Charlee’s heart rate. Laying in bed was not an optimal position for me—my hope was to be able to move around to help with the discomfort. As the contractions intensified, I asked if I could at least move to the rocking chair. They granted my wish!
I then started to need more support from my birth team. Brandon was with me throughout. He sat in front of me holding my hand as I breathed through each contraction. Theresa was there, too, coaching and encouraging me. My mom gave us space, but I gladly felt her presence the entire time.
The experience of having Brandon be able to read me through these contractions was amazing. He seemed to know what I needed without me saying a word. At one point, he saw in my face that I just wanted him and he let his mom know. Then not many contractions later as they intensified more, I switched from focusing on him to focusing on Theresa 100 percent. Brandon knowingly stepped away and let his mom step in.
Up until this point, I stayed in the rocking chair. First squeezing Brandon’s hand then the arms on the chair. When I switched off Brandon to focus on Theresa, I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. Theresa went with me. When I sat on the toilet, I felt like I had to go so bad, but could not go. This all happened as contractions continued. Being unable to go for a few minutes, they brought in a portable toilet for me to sit on so they could continue to monitor. Not long after getting on the toilet, I told them I felt like I had to push, really bad.
It was about 5 p.m., so about 2 hours of intense labor. The nurse’s response to my need to push was I likely had only dilated 6 centimeters at that point, so do not push. She said the doctor would come in at 8 p.m. to check my cervix again. I looked at the clock and in my head I thought, “There is no way I can make it through 3 more hours of this.” I think this is also when they turned off the Pitocin drip. I told Theresa that I felt like I was going to pass out. She said focus on your breathing. The nurse told me I was doing awesome and to keep it up.
All I could think was: “Is this when I should ask for an epidural?” After one contraction, I was in so much pain, I felt like I was passing out. As another contraction came, I shook myself awake, thinking, “Did I just pass out?” After the contraction passed, I asked Theresa, “When do I ask about an epidural?” She looked me and said I was doing great and could do without. The nurse reinforced this message (awesome nurse!) They also said that Dr. Wadland was on her way to check my cervix. I looked at the clock and it was about 6 p.m.
When Dr. Wadland arrived, seeing her face relieved so much anxiety for me! They got me into bed—not easy with the contractions happening pretty rapidly at this point. I laid back and held Brandon’s hand as she check my cervix … 9.5 centimeters and 100 percent effaced!
Dr. Wadland said she wanted me to have a few more contractions before pushing. She had me get on my hands and knees in bed (thank goodness for all the cat/cows I did throughout pregnancy!) This is the moment when I felt most natural and was the experience I was expecting for my labor. I was going through the contractions, my bum and lady parts fully exposed, feeling like and saying I might poop. Thinking, “Wow, this is surreal!” I did in fact poop—most women do. When Brandon and I sat down and talked about the experience, I asked him about this. He said he wasn’t looking, but he did notice Dr. Wadland would very discreetly and quickly clean up any poop. For some reason, this made me feel better about this, so I wanted to share.
After a few contractions, they said it was time to push. She had me get back on my back. My mom came to my right hand and Brandon to my left. They both helped me bring my knees toward my head in a crunch position. When my next contraction came on, Dr. Wadland told me not to breathe now, to push through the contraction instead, pulling my upper body toward my lower body, almost a crunch motion.
Everyone was cheering me on. After the contraction passed, Theresa told me to stop pushing and coached me to breathe in between. At this point, all I wanted to do was push. They told me to wait for a contraction. I did my best, but I was outside of my body at this point, not really knowing if a contraction was happening. So whenever I felt like a minute went by and what might be a contraction, I pushed again and again.
At one point, the night nurse came in. She said hello to me and was very excited to get to see I was in full fledged pushing mode. She remembered my birth wish list and asked me if I wanted her to bring in a mirror so I could watch. I said, yes! She brought a mirror in and I could see everything. They asked me if I wanted to touch the head—YES! I touched it—surreal and motivating for me!
Shortly after this, Dr. Wadland said the baby’s heart rate is going down when I push, so we need to get her out in the next couple pushes or she’d have to use the vacuum. Hearing this motivated me even more to get her out. I could also sense there were a lot more people in the room at that point beyond the nurse and doctor.
They had me get on my right side again to help with Charlee’s heart rate—it is so hard to push in this position, but entirely possible! As a contraction came on (or so I thought)—everyone was cheering for me to push. My mom was there cheering me on as only she can.
A few more pushes and out came Charlee, pooping and crying! This was great news and Dr. Wadland immediately plopped her on my chest! I remember her with wide eyes looking right up at me and wailing—such an amazing moment. After the umbilical cord finished pulsating, Dr. Wadland asked Brandon if he wanted to cut the cord. He said yes—awesomeness. My mom snapped photos with my phone capturing all of this. They briefly took Charlee to the small station in the room to do her initial tests. She weighed 6 lb., 14 oz., 19.5 inches, arriving at 7:19 p.m. on Dec. 25, 2017.
After Charlee joined us, my placenta came out nicely, accessory lobe and all. Dr. Wadland said I did tear, so she needed to stitch me up. At this point, she could do anything down there, I was so focused on Charlee. She did numb me up with something and I could feel her working down there, but again, nothing mattered now that I had a thriving Charlee in my arms.
All in all, after trying to induce labor for almost 72 hours, Charlee joined us after 4 hours of intense contractions and 45 minutes of pushing. It may not have been how I pictured it all coming together, but I wouldn’t change any of it. The experience of going through this with our mothers, the amazing nurses that we got to know and appreciate, and having Dr. Wadland deliver Charlee will never be forgotten. I am eternally grateful that I trusted the journey.
A few tips that I offer to moms about to welcome their little one (or ones!) to the world:
-Cover or remove any clocks! Especially once the lion hits—you do not need to know the time, trust me!
-Get to know your nurses. We will never forget Vanessa, Brenda, Cathy, Emily, Allison and Kayla. Each of them made our experience the best it could be. I could tell they all read my birth wish list and they respected it the best they could. The timing of each of their involvement was also perfect. We didn’t meet Cathy until delivery day and she was the perfect nurse to have present at that time. When Brenda arrived when I was pushing, I couldn’t have been happier to see her face and I think we made her day as well!
-After delivery, cover up your nipples for a family photo. We have so many amazing pictures after Charlee arrived, but my nipples are out loud and proud in all of them!
-Document your experience so you can remember all the little details. It took me a month to complete and some of it was hard to remember just 30 days later. What I did find helpful is a bulleted timeline to reference as I typed this up. I’m so happy I now have it written down so I can share it with Charlee when she grows up.
-TRUST THE JOURNEY! We are not able to control how our labor goes, but what we can control is our trust in the process. If you have a bad feeling about your provider and their support for your birth intentions, find a new provider. I know a woman who changed in her third trimester. If you have trust in your provider, you will be able to trust the journey. Remember, at the end, you will have your baby in your arms and that’s all that matters! Having these affirmations written and on the wall as a reminder is one of the best things I did for our birth room.
I am so excited to announce the launch of The BIRTH Project Network! The overarching goal of The BIRTH Project is to add value to the birth community through storytelling. By publishing birth stories written by parents, I hope to spread awareness, knowledge, and connection in regards to the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum processes.
The BIRTH Project Network is a way to further connect, relate to, and learn from others in the birth community. The Network is comprised of online topic-based meet-ups with topics ranging from pregnancy, to birth, postpartum, and beyond. Each meeting is one hour in length and features a subject matter expert (SME). The SME is always someone who has more knowledge, experience, and qualifications on the given topic than I do. The SME is present to partake in the discussion, share their stories, share information, and answer questions.
Topics that are currently in the works include home births—this will be the inaugural meet-up!—postpartum fitness, nutrition during pregnancy, postpartum partner relationships, unmedicated births, c-section support, and so much more.
Please visit The BIRTH Project Network page HERE to find out how you can participate in this FREE online meet-up. I’m looking forward to chatting with you!