Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Guest Post - The UBAC Of Cambree

Tomorrow will make 1 year to the day since Cambree was amazes me how time flies.....I was content with having just 3 children. My pregnancies were so hard on my body from hyperemesis gravidarum to symphasis pubis dysfunction to moments where my blood pressure would drop and I would almost pass out (and frequently did while in walmart stores, lol) and the stressful journey of having twins born by emergency csection at 28wks and then an almost 10 week nicu stay. So after having gone thru birth trauma during the birth of my 3rd child and first son, also a vbac, I decided I was done having babies. I thought my husband agreed with that decision. I guess he wasn’t as comfortable with that decision as I was.

In July 2010 my husband told me over the phone that he wanted to have another baby. He was in California and I was back home in North Carolina. He was there for predeployment training and I was home raising our kids without him. I had just been doing research on birth, birth trauma, trying to get a feel for my emotions after having gone through alot of physical and emotional pain following the vbac (vaginal birth after csection) of my son. I was happy I didn’t have to endure another painful csection but knew that what had happened during the delivery just wasn’t right. I didn’t know it at first but everything that had occurred was NOT normal. That it should NOT have occurred. That the doctor, the man I put my trust in to do me no harm directly went against his Hippocratic Oath and hurt me. He abused me. He took away my rights. And broke my heart and shattered my soul. So when my husband said he wanted another child, my first instinct was to say no. That I couldn’t, that I wouldn’t go through that again. I let it sink in for a little while and we talked again the next evening about it and heard the reasons why he felt our family was incomplete and just knew I couldn’t let what had happened in the past keep my husband from his wanting of another child.

My reply to him was that if we were to have another child, he or she would be born at home. I would not allow myself to be placed in a situation that could lead to what had happened before. I didn’t trust a doctor or nurse to uphold my rights. I didn’t trust myself to not to surrender to them again. So I wasn’t going to put myself in that situation.
Josh was a bit taken aback by that response but he knew that I was still hurting and that this was what I needed so he agreed.

I began to research birth even more from there. I knew we were going to have a homebirth but I also knew that midwives in our state are limited being that only CNMs (certified nurse midwives) are the only midwives legally allowed to attend births. And in our area there was only one midwife. I sent her an email and we began to talk about my previous birth history, what I wanted from this birth and it was clear we just did not match up. I was not trusting and wanted this very hands off and she was leery that I was a VBAC. So that was that. I kept looking and found an underground midwife an hour away but she too was a bit uncertain being that I was a VBAC and that I carried risks. So I kept researching.

In a group I had found online I heard about unassisted birthing, or freebirthing as it’s sometimes referred to. At first I thought it was absolutely crazy but the more and more I researched homebirth the more that it seemed normal to me. I started researching whether or not it was really safe and if it was legal and saw that it was indeed safe and legal to do so. I brought it up to Josh that I not only wanted a homebirth but I did not want a doctor or midwife to attend. Needless to say, that conversation didn’t exactly end well.

But I didn’t give up. I did more research. I probed my husband for questions, answers, as to why he didn’t want to do the UC. Finally he gave in and told me his fears. I went through with him and showed him the research, showed him that it was safe and explained to him fully that this was just a better fit for me, that if we were to have another child that this was the way we were going to do it. It took time but he finally agreed that we could go ahead with our plans and have this child the way I wanted.

It was shortly after agreeing that we bought a house and moved and were preparing ourselves for our first deployment. My husband was going to go to Afghanistan for 6 months. It was terrifying. We were not going to try and conceive until after he returned but as time went on we felt as though we should just go for it. That if it was meant to be now than it would be. Our first month of trying, we kind of half assed it, I didn’t really track anything and there was just no rush. I had a cyst burst and I just knew this month wouldn’t be our month. I was still worrying whether trying now would be best, as I would be pregnant with him gone, having to raise 3 children 4 and under and go through the HG again without help. But at the same time I worried about something happening while my husband was deployed that would prevent us from having children again. I knew I just had to place my concerns with God and that when it was right it would be. So we kept on.

It was around the 15th of October that I tested after displaying some sure signs of pregnancy. It was still early only 9 days past ovulation and the day I was sure we would have conceived but I got a negative. I was so bummed but I knew that it was still early. My box had 3 tests in it so I decided to wait a day and test the next. So on 11dpo I tested again and sure enough that positive line showed up. Josh and I were so happy. We decided not to tell anyone just yet and wanted to wait to find the best way to announce it this time. Luckily an idea popped in my head and I shared the info with a close friend who is a photographer and we came up with the idea to announce it via family photos including a sign that read "baby #4 due June 2011" the photos were a hit when we released them via facebook. Everyone was shocked but pretty happy. Many thought we were crazy but we expected that.

Halloween came and I was already showing even though I was only a few weeks along. Josh was supposed to deploy but they delayed things so we welcomed the time together. I was feeling tired but great. I wasn’t sick yet and I just wanted to enjoy everything as we are sure this would be our last pregnancy.

Mid November arrived and I made my first appointment on base. Got the pregnancy confirmed and went to my first visit where we had a quick ultrasound to determine due date which was right on of course, with what I knew to be my due date. Had my second visit and just knew that I couldn’t continue seeing the doctors. It was laughable. They were so naive as to what normal birth was. That because of my genetics and history I was so high risk and had to be managed. I knew better. I wasn’t broken; i didn’t need to have another csection because I had one before. I didn’t need to be followed closely the whole pregnancy just because we were at risk to have another child with Down Syndrome. I didn’t need to have weekly visits since I had previously had preterm labor and deliveries. I was made to give birth. I was made to grow this child perfectly within my womb. I didn’t need the doctor’s help for this. But i wasn’t sure if I could just not go to these pointless appointments.

December arrived and it was time for Josh to deploy. The week before Christmas he left, and that is when my HG hit me full force. I had my dad come up for a few weeks to help out with the kids and house chores and such and it helped keep my mind off of everything. I went to my doctors’ visits, dreading each one. After going to a specialist appointment that I was tricked into, we discovered my cervix was shortening. I was only 15 weeks along. They wanted me to start progesterone shots weekly and to have monthly appointments with ultrasounds at each one. I was hesitant. But the doctor here seemed supportive of me that I could have the birth I want IF I could do what i needed to do to stay pregnant. I went to a few more appointments with her and realized nothing was happening further with my cervix without me needing the meds or being on limited bed rest and the doctors following me really weren’t providing any care that I couldn’t do myself. So at 16wks I stopped seeing the regular OB. I still saw the specialist once a month for a few months but more and more I realized they were just looking for something to be off, for a reason to say, let’s have this baby now.

At 32weeks, my last visit with the specialist, they pulled the 'big baby card' saying my little girl was already over 5lbs. that if things continued there was no way I could deliver her vaginally. They wanted me to repeat a glucose tolerance test. I laughed and said I never did one at all. They freaked out saying I must have gestational diabetes and that I had to test immediately. I thanked her for her opinion and let her know I had done the research and that I felt confident that the testing was not needed. We ended the appt with that and I left and never scheduled another visit and never went back.

At 36 weeks I got a call from the OB that I had quit seeing at 16wks asking how things were, where had I been and if I planned on returning. I had to laugh at the nurse calling. I told her I was having a homebirth and no longer required their services. I could tell in her tone of voice that she thought I was crazy as we said our goodbyes. I just laughed thinking it had been 20 weeks since my last visit and they just now noticed I was gone....

May had arrived and it was almost time for Josh to return home from deployment. I was so excited. I loved talking to him online and everything but the time apart was tough. But we had made it through. And most importantly he was safe and I was still pregnant! He finally came home and we were a family again!

Just a few days later I had my first "false alarm" I had been having contractions 3-5 minutes apart for 2hrs they were much stronger than my other prodromal labor contractions and more painful than braxton hicks contractions I had been having. I even called my friend and doula to come over and sit with me as I wasn’t sure if this was it. Of course a few hours later it was clear this was just prodromal labor again and it wasn’t time. But I was ok with that as my parents were due to arrive a few days later and I didn’t want them to miss the birth of their grandchild. And most importantly I was ok with waiting until Cambree chose her birthdate. It amazed me to think that had I gone into the hospital they would have pushed augmentation of my labor via artificial rupture of membranes and pitocin and would have forced her to be born before she was ready. I couldn’t imagine doing that to my precious little one. So I was glad we were doing things the way they were meant to be.

All through the month of June I wondered when baby would arrive. I was feeling the pressure of my family since they were on a schedule with when they had to return to Florida. We wanted hubby to be able to take more time off. We were going to be going on vacation to Florida in July and I didn’t want to end up giving birth there. So I was feeling the stress but still was happy with baby choosing her day, but it was getting harder to keep waiting.

Then my due date arrived. I was still pregnant! I never expected to make it to my due date, let alone passed it! I felt great though. I still had a lot of energy considering. But I was big and my hips and back hurt but I was doing well. I saw a chiropractor a few times to get my pelvis realigned and it helped me a lot.

On the morning of the 4th of July I was trying to sleep in a bit but woke up around 8:30 to go pee. I go and came back to lay in bed to hopefully fall back asleep for a little while longer before we started our day. We had a full day planned from the block party bbq at our doulas house on base followed by fireworks with the family. Josh came in and asked how I was doing and asked if labor was near. I just said no, that I was kind of crampy but U didn’t have any contractions or anything. I could tell by the look on his face he was bummed and I just kind of shrugged. Baby would come when baby was ready.

He left and I tried to get comfortable again to rest. 15 minutes later and I’m hit by a super strong contraction that I had to really focus and breathe through. It HURT! I was like man..... It was pretty crazy. 5 minutes later another one came, just as strong as the first. I rolled over and cuddled up with a pillow trying to get comfortable. But again was hit by another even stronger contraction. I looked at my phone and it had been 5 minutes again since the last. Hmmm i thought. Could this be it?

I posted on my facebook from my cell "happy 4th of July, let’s see what the day brings" as a lil clue that I might be in labor. Some thought so but many didn’t. I Kept still after that and tried laying there and fought to breathe through these contractions but couldn’t. So I got up and got dressed but didn’t leave my room. I wasn’t sure what was going on but I thought maybe if I moved they stop or slow down. I put on some shorts and my tank top and was almost knocked over by an even harder contraction, Just 3 minutes later another. Holy cow, I think I’m really in labor. Just from getting out of bed my contractions went from 5 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart.

Around 9:45am I went out to the living room and sat next to hubby and whispered to him, I’m having contractions, don’t tell anyone. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell my parents yet as they were quite jumpy whenever I mentioned them before. But that plan was short lived as I was hit with yet another strong contraction and right then my dad came out of the kitchen and asked if I was in labor yet, as he had every morning for the last month. The fact I couldn’t respond kind of gave it away. Once the contraction passed I said yes I’m having contractions, but I’m not sure if this is it. Another contraction came and I couldn’t sit through them any longer I had to get up.

Josh and my dad went into the kitchen and I hung out at the pass through looking into the kitchen and tried to talk with them for a bit but had to stop and really focus during the contractions. I would lean over and hold the edge of the pass through and slightly bend my knees. It was clear this was labor. They were steady at 3 minutes apart.

It was 10am when i went to the back bedroom to wake my mom. I told her, hey mom i think I’m in labor... contractions are about 3 minutes apart. My mom who was half asleep almost jumped outta bed at that point, 3 minutes apart?! She practically yelled out to me. She got up so fast, lol. She headed to the bathroom and was trying to start the day when I needed to use the bathroom, I felt like I had to pee. I joined her and sat down and tried to pee but instead had a few contractions. My mom was doing her hair and looked at me and kept saying stuff and I was trying to tune her out. She asked me at one point 'Are you sure you should be trying to pee, you don’t want to end up delivering on the toilet" at which point I yelled at her. SHUT UP MOM, JUST SHUT UP. My mom quickly left the room as I ended the contraction and I heard her tell my husband and dad that I was clearly in transition already.

I left the bathroom and texted my doula "if these contractions continue I don’t think I’ll be making it to your 4th of July party" that they were 3 minutes apart. She texted back, well then I don’t think I will be either! Just a few moments later I had another harder contraction than before quickly followed by another and then another. Looking at the clock I realized, these are 2 minutes apart! I texted Chrissy back again and said, ya contractions are 2 minutes apart now, I need you. She replied with I’m getting dressed and I’m on my way.

We knew from her house to mine was 16 minutes and man did those 16 minutes feel like ever. I was having contraction after contraction and I was trying to focus and breathe through them but it was getting pretty difficult.
I went back into my room and I posted in my due date group a simple post....
" if this isn’t labor, I’m in hell cuz OMFG!!"

It was 10:56am and I had been in labor a little over 2hrs. 2 very intense hours.
I was in my room on Josh’s laptop leaning over my bed, browsing FB and Cafemom, listening to music when Chrissy arrived. We had a laugh when she saw what I was doing. She said something like "I just knew you’d be on FB while in labor" the laughing was nice but it distracted me right as a contraction hit and it was very intense. I had to slightly squat and breathed through it and Chrissy could tell this was definitely the real thing. She rubbed my back and her presence there helped get me back into my zone.

After a few more contractions like that I had Josh fill up the birth pool. I could not wait to get in it. My legs were getting tired and I was just hurting. I wanted my "aquadural". I wanted the relaxation the water would provide. The pool was quickly filled and I got in. And the pool slightly overflowed. But I didn’t care. It was sweet relief, At least for in between the contractions. I was sitting down slightly leaning back against the side when the next contraction hit and I knew I could not stay in that position. It hurt just way too much. I got up on my knees leaning over the edge and spilled more water out of the pool but it was much more comfortable.

Another contraction hit and I made Josh sit in front of me. I held his hand and squeezed it as he squeezed back. Chrissy poured water over my back during the majority of the contractions. Whenever I would start to tense up she'd remind me to breathe and it would help me back into my zone.

I kept contracting about every 2 minutes for quite a while in this position. Each time I would need hubby to squeeze my hands I don’t know why but it helped get my mind off the pressure and intensity of the contractions.

My 4.5yo daughter Alayna was in and out of the room helping Chrissy pour water on my back, she'd tell me I was doing great and was excited but very curious to watch me labor. It makes me happy now thinking about her being there.

Around 2:00pm or so I began to waiver, I was getting exhausted. I tried to rest in between contractions but they were coming so fast, about every minute, minute and a half now, sometimes double peaking. My body began to get pushy at the end of them as well. I knew not to fight it but it was taking up alot of my energy. I kept thinking to myself I can’t do this, why am i here, why am i doing this? I know at one point I vocalized that I couldn’t do it and chrissy was right there telling me that I could do it, I was doing it and that I was awesome and doing great. It helped me to focus.

Each time I would think to myself I couldn’t do it, I would tell myself what I couldn’t do was get in a car and drive the 5 minutes to the hospital and go through all the trouble there in triage to moving to a room to wait for an epidural,etc. That I wasn’t going to give up on everything I had wanted just to get a lil relief. That I could do this. I could do it. That i was doing it.

A few minutes later I asked josh what time it was. He told me it was 2:15... I thought to myself, I better have this baby before 6:00...I don’t know why but I thought it. Right after that my body just took over. I began pushing with each contraction and I couldn’t help but go with it. I pushed down and I grunted and it was hard. But i did it. I was still holding my husband’s hands and Chrissy was still there to comfort me and i was pushing. I was going to deliver this baby, unassisted, at my home, just like i had wanted for so long.

After what felt like forever I wanted to move so my mom suggested I try leaning back on my husband for leverage to push as I was getting really tired in the squatting position. So Josh hoped in the pool and I pushed with the next contraction. Oh my- the ring of fire!!! Johnny Cash is right, it sure does burn!
**side note, I don’t recommend listening to a playlist on random if it includes this song... while we laughed we had to turn it off as it totally ruined my concentration lol**
But man does it burn. It was like my clit was going to tear in two! I tried supporting that as I pushed but the angle I was at I could support my perineum and my clit and feel for baby as she came down.

I started to lose it. I got scared. I kept saying it hurts it hurts, my doula kept saying its ok, push through it, she was coming, and my husband was telling me to just push, that it was ok. It was almost chaotic. But they got me refocused and in the next contraction Cambrees head was out.

This part hurt alot. Her head was out and she was facing my left thigh. My contractions just stopped. I kept waiting for another to come and they didn’t. I could feel cambree inside of me trying to free herself but together we could just not get things going. I told chrissy that I felt like things were getting stuck. I knew in the back of my mind what we needed to do but Chrissy was the voice that got me moving. Once i said things felt stuck, that she was trying to move but couldn’t, she ordered me to get up and move. At that josh helped me up onto my knees again and my mom took Alayna out of the room because she wasn’t sure what was going on and didn’t want her to see anything if it went wrong. But I wasn’t really in a place to tell her it was ok. As soon as I got back up on my knees with my legs spread as far as I could a contraction hit and I pushed with all my might.

I grunted and pushed and pushed again. Took a deep breath and pushed again and cambree was born into her daddy’s hands. She had a nuchal cord (cord around her neck) but it was easily unwrapped.

With help from Josh and Chrissy I turned over to sit and they handed me the baby. She was purple and gurgly and hadn’t yet taken her first breath. I rubbed her back and her breastbone trying to get her stimulated so she would start to pink up. She'd gurgle but wasn’t responding exactly how I would have liked. I knew she was still receiving oxygen through her umbilical cord and the placenta so I wasn’t too worried but I wanted to get her breathing and pinking up. I gave her one little breath and she coughed and sputtered. I patted her back and talked to her, telling her to take a deep breath and gave another short breath and she let out a nice cry as my mom walked back into the room.

We checked the time and it was 3:00pm, just 6 hrs and 15 minutes after my first contraction. Cambree pinked up nicely and we were all elated. I nursed Cambree for the first time and it was great.

Hubby got out of the pool and immediately into the shower as he "was covered in yucky stuff" as he said. After about 15 minutes or so I decided to get up and let gravity help the placenta out as the after birth contractions were pretty rough. We moved over to the chaise and nursed a little more and then delivered my placenta. After the cord was completely white, cool and limp we had a fun time trying to clamp the cord with the cord ring, I guess I should have researched that part a little bit more. We got that clamped and cut and then we weighed Cambree and she was 9lbs even and 20" long. A nice big healthy girl!

I did not think she was going to be bigger than her big brother and my mom kept saying she was.... she was right because Cambree was almost 2lbs heavier!

After a bit I went and took a shower. While in there I could feel my blood sugar dropping so ate some granola bars and cheese sticks and drank some juice to get my blood sugar back up and then I laid down for a while with Cambree and Chrissy, my doula, helped me with side lying nursing.

Healing went well, and postpartum bleeding was very mild the whole time. The hardest part was the after birth contractions. They were awful and nursing just made it so much worse.

After a bit of a nap we joined the rest of the family out in the living room for dinner and for the kids to really get to see and hold Cambree and it was amazing seeing them with her. They adore her and she really does fit in, just like she was always there.

Looking back at everything, reliving the birth experience in my mind, I definitely know that we did the right thing, the best thing for our family, by having Cambree be born here at home, unassisted. Even though many think we really are crazy, we have been surprised at just how many have been supportive in this journey. It is certainly nothing we will ever forget. It’s been an amazing experience.

~Stephanie Lunday

My Dream Job

As I entered motherhood, I never imagined I would be where I am today. From the time I was 5, I knew my job in life was to be a veterinarian. I loved animals. I always had a pet. A dog and many cats were always at my home. I had rabbits, gerbils, hampsters, birds. Then, when I was a Junior in High School, it happened. I no longer wanted to care for animals. I still had a love for animals, but I had changed. It was not a passion. I just didn't want to do it any more.

I got married right out of High School. I had kids. I worked here and there (airlines, quality control for DirecTV, travel agent, hotels, etc.). Mostly, a SAHM. Then, after my 4th child, a spark began to kindle.

My 4th baby was my first home birth. I had my wonderful midwife and my doula. It made such an impression on me. I began studying pregnancy, labor, and birth a lot. During that pregnancy in 2006, all my time was studying. I wanted, I needed, to know more.

I went on to have my next child at home in 2008, assisted by my friend's mother and her daughter. I learned so much from her about natural healing and herbal remedies.

I went on, in 2010, to have my first unassisted pregnancy and birth. Then again, in 2011, my second unassisted pregnancy and birthed my son completely alone.

That was when the spark burst into flames. I knew what it was that I was to do with my life.

I have since began my journey as a Doula. I am still studying. I am trying to get off the ground. I have my site, my Facebook page, listings on Craigslist and Facebook. I am just waiting, hoping, praying, and searching for the opportunity to help women through their labor and birth. I am so excited to be there for them. To offer placenta encapsulation. To actually have a job with what I have my passion and love in.