A beautiful, peaceful labor with a fun twist


Our baby girl was due on Tuesday, August 29. I was hoping she would be a September baby since fall is my favorite season. But as the date approached, I was showing no signs of labor and starting to get nervous. My pregnancy had been easier than I expected--no morning sickness or other complications—and I was convinced I would have a difficult delivery to make up for it.

On the day she was due, Chris and I went to Dr. Stradtman’s office for my 40-week ultrasound. I asked the ultrasound tech to double check that she was a girl. At that point we hadn’t decided on a name, though we had a couple options we were both happy with. While the ultrasound looked fine and so did the non-stress test, doctor said I wasn’t dilated. I left that appointment feeling spooked and out of control. We decided to wait another week and see if labor would begin on its own, even though we were already discussing the possibility of induction.

Chris and I had met our doula, Aimee, early on in the pregnancy. I liked the idea that Chris knows me, and Aimee knows birth, and so the two of them together could support me well. I imagined that labor would begin at home in the middle of the night, and that Aimee would join us and we would all make the decision to go to the hospital together. I listened to many, many hours of The Birth Hour podcast throughout my pregnancy, so despite my planning I knew that everything going accordingly was unlikely! 

Very early on I knew I wanted to aim for a non-medicated labor. I liked the idea of working with my body’s own pain-relief abilities. I’ve never felt very comfortable around babies, and wanted help from the bonding hormones I heard were triggered during a natural delivery. Once when I was explaining my desire for an unmedicated birth to Chris, I used a Lord of the Rings analogy (not surprising to anyone who knows us). Many have asked why Frodo and Sam couldn’t have ridden the eagles to Mount Doom right from the beginning. Why go on such a long and difficult journey? (There are several good answers that I won’t go into here, much to everyone’s relief!) Without the journey and its dangers, there would be no story. When it came to birth, I wanted the opportunity to face the pain and, what’s worse, the fear of pain as part of my journey.

After that 40 week appointment when I got scared, Aimee and I stayed in touch more or less daily. At this point my goal was to get labor started on its own as I desperately wanted to avoid induction and the “cascade of interventions” that I believed would make it much harder to have a natural birth. The 40-week ultrasound revealed that our baby was in the occiput posterior positon, meaning she was “sunny side up” facing my front. Aimee explained that position can indicate a slow start to labor, back labor, and other less-than-ideal birth situations, so I researched ways to encourage baby to flip over. I started off with bouncing on an exercise ball and trying my best to always lean slightly forward. Aimee also suggested a massage, and two days after baby was due I had a lovely massage with Adrian Ward and she gave me a sheet to take home with some pressure points to work on. Chris helped me with those, and in the meantime I drank double-strength Red Raspberry tea and ate pineapple. We joked about it being Labor Day weekend and the perfect time to have the baby, but no signs of labor were forthcoming!

That Sunday, my grandfather arrived in town on a cross-country motorcycle ride that had been planned before we told him about my pregnancy. He stayed with us on Sunday night, and on Monday we explored some of Birmingham together. With my mom, grandpa, and in-laws, we had a houseful for dinner that night, and to celebrate my in-laws’ anniversary we had cupcakes from Publix and watched Father of the Bride Part 2. During the scene where Steve Martin’s daughter Annie is in labor, I remember  my mother-in-law saying “you chose this movie!” But it just felt like the right thing to watch, and it’s always been a favorite of mine. As it turns out, that was the last movie I saw before giving birth myself.

Tuesday morning was our 41 week appointment, which started out with another ultrasound and the good news that baby had indeed flipped over and was now facing my back. We celebrated that and were not too discouraged when doctor checked me and found out I was not dilated any more than the previous week. Aimee had prepared us to ask good questions, and when we decided to schedule an induction for Thursday morning, September 7, it felt like our choice. When we got home and Chris had gone back to work, I researched what happened in history on September 7 and was pleased to discover it was the birthday of Elizabeth the First. I texted Chris “that’s good enough for me” and took it as a good sign that even though things were not going according to plan, all would be well.

Because I was not dilated enough for the induction, I was instructed to come to the hospital on Wednesday the 6th at 4:00 so I could be prepped. That afternoon I walked to mom’s house to have lunch with her and grandpa. The night before I had been lying awake praying and thinking, and the idea came to me to ask grandpa to give me a ride to the hospital on his motorcycle. Earlier during his stay, he told us the story of getting my grandmother to the hospital in Germany when my dad was born. It involved an army ambulance breaking down and grandpa having to flag down a passing car, which turned out to be the military police! My dad owned motorcycles too, and though he died two and a half years ago, when I had this idea it seemed like a special way to include him and his dad in the birth of their granddaughter/great-granddaughter.

When I asked grandpa if he would mind taking me to the hospital that afternoon, my mom was none too pleased and asked if it was OK with my husband! I had asked Chris about it first, and since he and grandpa were fine with the idea there was nothing to stop us. As grandpa said, “I don’t know as we need your permission!” Maybe as a mother I would feel the same in her place, but compared to what was ahead of me, a 10 minute ride on a Harley Tri-glide didn’t seem frightening in the least. So that was settled, and after a good talk and prayer with mom and grandpa I walked back home to find Chris working in the yard.

I set about doing my final packing for the hospital, when I started to feel something like cramps. It was about 2:00 and I started timing the contractions. I began texting Aimee updates and was excited and relieved to see more signs that labor was beginning on its own. The contractions continued, but I wanted to stick with my plan to ride the motorcycle and I made Chris promise not to let on that I might be in labor. So I put the helmet on, got on the bike none-too-gracefully, and grandpa and I set out following mom and Chris driving our Hyundai.

It was a perfectly beautiful fall afternoon, and the fresh air felt wonderful as we rode through Homewood. At the intersection of Greensprings and Lakeshore, we stopped at a red light and a couple young guys admired the bike but tactfully didn’t say anything about the huge pregnant person on it. The rumble of the engine felt great on my back, and I felt so peaceful. I had no idea I was only about eight hours away from holding my daughter, but sensed this was a good start to the story of her birth.

Once we arrived at Brookwood, we spent a bit of time in the waiting area, and I was glad for all the childbirth classes we took since by that time I was very comfortable around the hospital. Before too long we got settled in our room and met our nurse, Kerri Ann. We had brought a laptop and selection of DVDs thinking we may have a long night ahead waiting for the induction, but my contractions continued to progress. I got changed into a hospital gown, and we started trying to watch an episode of West Wing. Dr. Stradtman checked me and confirmed that I was indeed in labor and there was no need to proceed with the induction.

Chris would help me by counting aloud through each contraction; sometimes we would count together and sometimes I just listened. I would look at and squeeze a Weeble toy that my dad had had during his cancer treatments and remember him saying “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” Around 7:30 my water broke. I went to the bathroom to change and realized the pair of the fuzzy socks I’d brought from home were ruined. The amniotic fluid had meconium in it, which meant a respiratory specialist would need to be present at delivery to make sure baby’s lungs were clear. As I continued to labor, Chris gave me sips of water from a fancy bottle he’d just purchased at the hospital gift shop. We decided to call Aimee and ask her to join us, still having no idea how long I still had to go. At one point I threw up, and right after that Aimee walked in the door around 9:30. She just took it all in stride.

From that point I don’t know exactly how events strung together. Both Aimee and Chris were calm and matter-of-fact, and helped me feel like I was doing hard but normal work. Aimee paid attention to the noises I made during contractions and encouraged me to make low pitched sounds rather than more frantic sounding higher ones. I leaned on this advice through almost every contraction and, while it was a little embarrassing, the groaning helped me do something in response to the pain. I was connected a monitor that allowed me to move freely while the hospital staff could keep an eye on how baby was coping.

For a while I leaned over the bathroom sink and ran warm water over my hands every time I contracted. I also sat by myself, with the door mostly closed and Aimee and Chris out talking in the main room. This was how I wanted labor to go, with life happening around me and no one fussing over me every minute. I don’t know how long I was in the bathroom, but when I came out it was hard to walk and I got down on all fours right there on the floor. Aimee said afterwards that she thought I had gone through transition (generally considered the most intense phase of labor) there in the bathroom. I said I felt something hard. Aimee asked what it was and I said “baby’s head?” like I didn’t believe that was possible yet.

Not knowing how long the contractions would continue and how much worse they would get was the hardest part for me. Aimee encouraged me several times with “that contraction is over. You’ll never have that one again.” I was more or less on all fours again, this time on the hospital bed, when I said I didn’t think I could do it. Aimee said that’s what she often hears right before the baby arrives. Someone checked me, and I couldn’t believe it when I heard I was about 9 centimeters and it was almost time to push. I got scared again because I was sure pushing would hurt worse. Dr. Stradtman was there, and soon they put an oxygen mask on me because baby wasn’t responding well to the contractions. I remember being afraid that I would throw up while wearing the mask, but I didn’t. I have a clear memory of locking eyes with Chris like he was a rope I was holding onto to keep myself from drowning.

Soon everyone was telling me to push. Remembering what I’d learned about September 7th being Elizabeth I’s birthday, I asked what time it was and they said 11:40. I didn’t want my daughter to be born too soon and miss having September 7th as her birthday. I remember Dr. Stradtman saying that this could take a while and feeling discouraged. Someone asked me what pictures I wanted taken but I didn’t answer—I was too focused and at that point couldn’t imagine wanting any pictures of this gruesome process! Soon doctor was asking permission to do an episiotomy, which was something I had wanted to avoid but knew that it was the right decision in the moment. Then it seemed like no time at all until I suddenly saw my baby. She was born at 12:21 a.m. on September 7th. My first impressions were that she had a lot of brown hair and looked like Chris’s dad! They handed her to me and she almost immediately began to nurse. I felt such a combination of relief that labor was over and disbelief that this person—all 8 pounds 9 ounces of her—had been inside me! Aimee took photos of those first moments and stayed with us until we were feeling settled. I don’t think she left until after 2 a.m., and I was so grateful for her dedication to us throughout that night.

One thing I’d spent a lot of time on during pregnancy was assembling a labor playlist on Spotify. I called it “Chapter 1: I am Born” after the David Copperfield quote I’d recently seen on Etsy. The first song Chris and I remember hearing after our daughter was born was Bruce Springsteen’s “The River.” All Bruce’s music is special to me because of my dad, but that song in particular is one of my and Chris’s favorites. Later I found out that while we were preparing for the motorcycle trip to the hospital, my mother in law had been to Walgreens and decided to get a Coke – a rare treat. She reached into the case and without knowing it pulled out a bottle with my dad’s name, Randy, on it. She saved the bottle, and I have it in the nursery as a reminder of how God brought about every detail of baby’s arrival in a beautiful way only He could orchestrate. He even included my dad.

I have such fond memories of our entire stay at Brookwood, from the little things like the plastic cup full of graham cracker packets to the overall cozy feeling that settled around the three of us in that recovery room. It was there that we not only introduced our daughter to her grandparents and saw her anointed by our rector, but that we finally, hours after her birth, decided on her name.

Welcome, Elanor Alice! Your story has a wonderful beginning.

First baby, natural birth!

My husband and I were surprised to find out that we were expecting our first child. Timing was less than ideal because we were both working full-time and in graduate school. As soon as reality set in I began doing all that I could to prepare for pregnancy, labor, and delivery. It had been a long-time dream of mine to have a natural childbirth, and after a friend recommended Gentle Childbirth Services to me I knew I wanted to learn more. My husband was skeptical at first. “I was worried about the money and I thought they [doulas] were crazy” were his words. As a medical professional, research and evidence-based practice is important to me, so I spent hours researching the evidence behind doulas and natural childbirth. Surprised by my findings that supported these topics, my husband agreed to at least meet with a doula.

We read the online bios and were drawn to Heather. We were drawn to Heather because of her emphasis on education and knowledge and the fact that she had birthed six children. After meeting with Heather, it was clear that we wanted her to be with us throughout our first pregnancy and delivery. She made me feel calm and empowered. I knew I could trust her, and I knew she cared deeply about our family. My husband was comfortable around her and was surprised at how “normal” she was.

After each prenatal appointment I always looked forward to getting Heather’s encouragement and advice. My pregnancy was fairly easy with no major issues. Before we knew it we were 37 weeks pregnant with our first son, Harrison. I was already dilated and Harrison was already engaged, so I was convinced he was going to arrive before his due date. I was antsy and nervous. Heather was able to provide such a peaceful and calm milieu during this time.

I was 39 weeks and 6 days. I had tried everything to get Harrison to make his arrival—long walks, spicy food, etc. I was so discouraged and frustrated, often wondering what I was doing wrong. Heather reminded me that the Lord’s timing is perfect, that Harrison was safe, and to trust in my body and its ability. She was available 24/7 for my questions and concerns. This was priceless.

I was 40 weeks pregnant. It was 2:00am on July 28, 2017- Harrison’s due date. My husband had to convince me that I was in labor. “You can control your bladder, Anna. That was your water breaking- not urine,” he said. I was in denial until the contractions started. We timed each contraction on a contraction/labor app. I sent Heather screen shots of each of them. It was 4:30 and I found myself nervous. I wanted to know how Harrison was doing and if I was making progress. Heather, my husband, and I decided it was time to head to the hospital.

We arrived to Brookwood at 5:00am. Heather arrived at 5:30am. Dr. Kennedy was there by 6:30. I was 6cm dilated.

The labor was rough. I spent most of my time in the shower with Heather and Evan adjusting the shower head depending on where my contractions were the worst. I spent 40 minutes of each hour laboring in the shower. The other 20 minutes I spent on the monitor so we could keep track of Harrison. Heather was so kind and gracious to my nurses. I had 2 nurses- one was training. When the contractions were bad, Heather would gently remind me to lower my voice and to breathe. I would have held my breath the whole time if it wasn’t for her.

It was around noon. I was exhausted. I had spent the morning going back and forth from the shower to the bed. I tried snacking on Popsicles and Gatorade. I required oxygen for a time period because Harrison’s heart rate was low. Heather and my nurses were an advocate for me and for Harrison. We made position changes which allows Harrison’s heart rate to normalize, which allowed me to continue with my desired natural childbirth.

Dr. Kennedy arrived around 12:30. I was 8cm dilated. I wanted medicine to help me rest, but Dr. Kennedy and Heather both encouraged me. They reminded me of how close I was to delivering Harrison and how strong I had been all morning.

I labored in various position for the next 4 hours—yoga ball, standing, swaying, sitting up in bed. The contractions had eased up. I felt in control. The lights were dim. Heather was at the foot of the bed. My husband was to my right, holding my hand. When a contraction would come Heather would breathe with me. I followed her pace and rhythm. My focus point was either on Heather’s eyes or on the blowing leaves outside. I tried as best as I could to relax my whole body. I allowed my right hand to be my “outlet.” All my pain and frustration and strength went into squeezing Evan’s hand, the rest of my body was relaxed. I had IV fluids for a time period because my muscles were cramping.

It was 4:00pm. I was 8.5cm dilated and feeling the urge to push. I was frustrated. It felt like my labor had stopped. The nurse felt like Harrison was turned funny, which was why I wasn’t progressing. She called Dr. Kennedy to come down and attempt to manually turn Harrison. Heather suggested that I lay on my left side and push. I pushed like this from 4:00-4:30. This turned Harrison! When Dr. Kennedy arrived there was no need for her to turn him. At that moment I couldn’t have been more thankful for Heather.

It was 4:30. All of the assistants and nurses and NICU nurses arrived in my room. Heather kindly reminded me that this was it. I was about to meet Harrison.

Harrison was born at 5:05pm. 9 pounds 12 ounces. 21 and ¾ inches long. 14.5 hours of natural labor. APGAR score of 9. The experience was surreal. What a precious and valuable gift Heather and Dr. Kennedy were—to me, Evan, and Harrison. I look forward to many more pregnancies, deliveries, and birth stories with Heather. All glory be to Christ!

Preterm Delivery, Healthy Baby!

This was our first pregnancy. My husband and I were so excited and thankful! I have a connective tissue disorder and we were nervous about how things might go with pregnancy and delivery. We had longed to start our family, but had to wait until now due to a major surgery I had a couple of years earlier. We thank God for this healthy chapter in our lives, a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy boy.

Our amazing friend and doula, Aimee, was an invaluable part of our team and helped us to know the questions we needed to ask, as well as the possible scenarios to discuss with our doctors. She also researched my condition thoroughly, and asked us questions to understand it better. Aimee was very thorough in learning about my specific risks in childbirth. She also asked us how we were doing physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. She was a great listener and we never felt like a question was too silly to ask her. She is very smart, caring, and compassionate, as are others we have met through Gentle Childbirth Services. They have a rich knowledge of childbirth to help counsel and guide clients through the journey of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.

There were two main risks we were told we had with labor and delivery due to my condition. These were rapid labor and premature birth. I started having contractions at 32 weeks. We went to the hospital and were able to get things slowed down. They gave me the steroid shots for our baby and I was sent home on bed rest. The next evening, my water broke and we headed to the hospital knowing this was it. The next time we came home, we would be parents! We had called our doctor and Aimee and she headed to the hospital to meet us. Things progressed quickly, especially since I was 2 cm dilated and 90 % effaced when I was sent home on bed rest. They progressed so quickly that we thought we might not make it into a delivery room before our baby was born.

Our team consisted of Jon and I, my mother, Aimee, and the medical staff. Aimee brought a sense of calmness to our lives during such a new, scary, and exciting time. This was even more evident on this night, the night our son would be born. As soon as Aimee walked/ran into the delivery room, I felt a calmness invade the room. My body was already pushing due to the rapid labor and I had no idea I had already progressed so far. I was wondering how much harder it was going to get, thinking I was much earlier in labor than I was, until I realized my body was pushing already. We knew we were having a natural birth unless there was an emergency, so seeing Aimee come in was so reassuring. She spoke with my mom and husband and rushed to my side. Our wonderful nurse and doula communicated perfectly and helped me so much! Since I was 32 weeks and 5 days along there was a lot of people in the room. Mostly, I remember just a few voices. The doctor, nurse, Aimee, and Jon are the voices I remember the most. I especially remember Aimee’s calm and encouraging voice, as well as her telling me that I was about to meet my baby when he was being born. That helped me focus on Eli and the task at hand.

When Eli was born, we all rejoiced and the doctor led a prayer. Since Eli was healthy for a preemie, I got to hold him a few minutes before the NICU team took him to get him checked out. Aimee stayed with my mom and I while Jon went with our son Eli.

Parenthood is amazing! It is the hardest and most wonderful job ever and we thank God that we have friends like Aimee to guide us as we started this journey!

First baby, Unexpected Induction

My birth story was nothing like I expected but everything I prayed for: compassionate nurses that are natural birth friendly, wisdom in every decision made, encouraging labor atmosphere/ no fear, energy for labor, husband and doula (Aimee), effective communication between us and staff, and baby delivered successfully vaginally.


My water started to slowly break Sunday afternoon and I expected to be in active labor that night. My body did seem to start labor that night with contractions 2.5 to 3.5 minutes apart but surprisingly stopped abruptly. When labor had not started Monday afternoon, I started different techniques: nipple stimulation, husband activities, walking, and swinging. When nothing worked, I started to have extreme anxiety about my baby getting an infection. After speaking multiple times with my doula, the nurse, and husband, we decided the best thing to do for me personally was to go to the hospital.  My anxiety was high, I could not rest and while I now realize my baby would have been ok, at the time, I needed to put my mind at rest and get checked.


On our way to the ER Monday night, my contractions immediately started and I knew then that fear had stopped my labor and just the peace of going to get checked had allowed the contractions to begin again. We arrived at the ER and test results were positive for amniotic fluid, so I was sent to labor and delivery. Atmosphere was very important for me and having this nurse (who I learned had natural birth herself!) helped me to relax and have confidence that I would be taken care of until Aimee got there. When the physician arrived, he was not happy with my progress. Being worried about infection, he wanted to start Pitocin. After giving me an hour to make progress and failing, we agreed on a slow Pitocin drip to mimic natural labor. This was the part I had not expected, but I thanked the Lord for every contraction at this point because I knew the alternative was full Pitocin. I was so grateful for the effective communication, and that the physician met us in the middle with a slow Pitocin drip.


The Pitocin started my labor nicely, but also caused me to have one contraction from Pitocin followed immediately by my own body’s natural contraction and then a rest. Contractions at first were really easy for me to relax through because they were similar to my extreme menstrual cramps. Once the contractions started getting past that point, counter pressure (that Aimee showed my husband) and the peanut ball were the most helpful. There was a point where the peanut ball no longer helped and I no longer wanted cervix checked in fear of discouragement from no progress. I started different positions: leaning over bed, hands and knees, squatting, birthing ball and deep “oh” sounds. Some positions worked for me but caused my baby’s heart rate to drop, so we did what worked for baby. My husband still applied counter pressure which was still helpful and continued through each contraction until I started pushing. Aimee helped me get up to go the bathroom frequently, and during one restroom break I felt the urge to push. At this point, Aimee encouraged me to get checked and I had indeed made progress (although I honestly can’t remember my measurement). Pushing is when my deep “oh” sounds turned to screaming. Screaming was getting me nowhere and Aimee suggested I turn all my screaming energy towards pushing. Once I did that, major progress started and my husband could soon see my son’s head! I loved pushing because it took away the pain from the contraction. I felt my son’s head of hair and was encouraged to keep going and push harder. The doctor eventually asked if I wanted to grab my baby. I found his arms and lifted him into my arms! All the pain was worth it, seeing my healthy baby staring at me.


There were many times I wanted to quit but only two times that I said it out loud. If it was not for Aimee who I looked to during these times for her facial expressions, I would not have been able to complete natural birth successfully. Seeing her remain calm helped me know that everything was ok and I could continue even though I didn’t feel like I could. 

On the night you were born

On the night you were born
For my daughter, Ruth
-Christina Terrell

Despite my gynecologist gently joking that he’d never known anyone stay pregnant forever, I was convinced I would. While it was exciting to know I was creating your life, I felt miserable overall like a prisoner held hostage in my own body. At any given moment of the day, you could find me shoveling Oreo Blizzards into my mouth or crying in the bathtub while listening to Velvet Underground. I was a walking (err, hobbling) parody of a pregnant woman. The last few weeks were especially rough as I piled on the weight I’d avoided gaining during the earlier months. (Your Dad had to heave me out of bed in the mornings. Talk about a loss of dignity.) Worse, I started to grow increasingly anxious about the things that could go wrong. What if your umbilical cord was choking you or you had a foot growing out of your chest? What if you were stillborn? What if it hurt real bad and I couldn’t handle it? What if you had a penis AND a vagina? What if I died? What if, what if, what if…I wore your Dad out with hypotheticals. He patiently repeated the same words he’d been telling me since we found out about you: Everything’s gonna be fine, Gink.

Determined to have an un-medicated, non-induced birth and give you your first shot at autonomy, I gently toyed with a few old wives tales thought to thin the cervix and get things going. I took Evening Primrose Oil capsules with every meal. They gave me hot flashes and nightmares. I ate pineapple so often that the acid roughened my tongue.  I kept going to prenatal yoga and walked the dogs ‘til I felt like your head was going to pop out between my legs. You were due Monday, February 16th, but I often referred to this date as arbitrary assuming since you were my first born you’d be a little late. I think I remember reading somewhere that only 5% of women give birth on their due date. Also, my doctor was on call that day and always a pessimist I figured there was no way things could be that convenient.

It was unseasonably warm on Valentine’s and I took Billie to the river for her birthday while your Dad was at work. She swam in the Cahaba and made friends with a large pit bull named Max. Max’s owner asked me when I was due. “Monday,” “What are you doing here! Go home! With my first born I walked two miles and a lady told me to go home and take a shower and I’d go into labor,” “Did you?” “I did.” Max got to playing too rough and I hoisted my heavy body out of the river spot via tree swing rope, ate a Big Mac and disgusted with myself climbed back in bed. I just didn’t think you were ever going to come.

The next night, I was lying in bed with your Dad and the dogs when something felt a little off. At this point, I was overly honed into my body assuming any and every weird feeling could be the beginning of labor. You can imagine my excitement when I went to the bathroom to see a clear, odorless liquid running down my leg. I called your Dad into the bathroom and asked him to examine it. He thought it was my mucus plug. I thought it was my water releasing. We consulted Google and still unsure, went to bed. Around two in the morning, I started to feel cramps radiating from my back to my stomach. I remember smiling and telling myself to get more rest. At five, I woke up to pee and saw my bloody show! I was basically dancing back to the bed, again forcing myself to rest more. By 7:30, the contractions were coming on strong. Contractions aren’t something you can explain. You can read about them and imagine them and wonder if they’ll be like your period cramps or like eating bad Mexican food, but no matter what you can’t know them until you are having them and once you are having them, they are impossible to miss. I crawled on all fours on the heated dog bed and rocked my torso on the exercise ball. When they would get  intense, I’d shove my face into the corner of the room and my mind would take off, visualizing a variety of scenarios. In a lot of them, I saw you as an older child, frolicking next to me. We were at a farm and you were giggling and petting goats and then we were in Italy, cruising around on a river in a boat shaped like a goose. I also imagined a roller coaster, cranking up and up and up and as the contraction came to an end, the carts would fly down hill. I closed my eyes and breathed through each one, excited that the time was now and determined to have a positive birth experience.

 In between contractions, I downloaded an app to time them and crawled in bed, gently touching your Dad on the leg. I wanted to let him sleep longer but this was real! This was it! We were going to meet you! Our daughter! And on your due date, no less! “I’m in labor,” I smiled. He later admitted to not fully believing me. I tried to hold off on texting our doula, Kelly, but excitement got the best of me and I went ahead and told her I was in the throes of contractions. She started to make childcare arrangements and by ten she was in the bedroom with us, complimenting my breathing and how calm I was handling everything. This gave me a much needed confidence boost. Look at me. In labor yet cool, calm and collected. Go on, brush your shoulders off.

The hours spent laboring at home feel fluid and weird, like time was stopping and simultaneously moving faster. Your Dad made me a grilled cheese sandwich and poured me a glass of wine. The dogs were confused and I felt annoyed by them but I still wanted them near me. Kelly explained how changing positions could speed things up, but warned me the change would be jarring and might be more intense for the first few contractions. They definitely were. I walked around the house and upstairs to say hey to the cats, pausing to lean over onto counters, tables and couches as a contraction waved over me. Speaking of waves, I had a lot of visions of the ocean. I also thought about your great-grandmother and envisioned myself a variety of female animals birthing. I was a cat having kittens. I was a mare delivering a filly in a cozy, old barn on a rainy day.

Around two, Kelly suggested that the intensity and timing of my contractions made her believe I was dilated enough to get in the birthing tub. Zak excitedly packed the rest of our things into the car and I hobbled outside, placing my knees in the passenger seat and holding on to the back of the chair. Every minor bump we hit spurred awful, painful contractions. I tried not to get mad at your Dad. I knew it wasn’t his fault, but I wanted very badly to cuss him because it felt like he was purposely hitting every single blemish on every single road. In hindsight, I’m happy it happened this way because I was able to keep my progress while changing environments.

Walking into the hospital, everything was so cold, white and sterile. The girls at the front desk almost looked like they were disgusted with me. I was ushered into the room with the birthing tub and soon met an awful, rude nurse who clearly was not interested in working with a natural mom. She checked my tonsils via my cervix and determined I was dilated to nearly 6cm and effaced 90%, which cleared me for getting in the tub. But first, she made sure to rudely talk to me during contractions, insisting she couldn’t take my pre-registration paperwork I had completed online nor would she accept the printed copy that I had brought with and instead demanded I answer everything verbally. I remember Kelly taking up for me and saying that I completed everything beforehand to avoid being asked these questions. I slid into the tub and tried to ignore her. I swear the contractions hurt worse when she was around. I had high expectations for the tub and while it felt good, it wasn’t as immediately relieving and relaxing as I had hoped it would be. I labored in it for probably two hours, but maybe twenty minutes, as at this point in the day, time was completely irrelevant to me. The shower was actually much better and I braced myself on all fours on the bench and let the insanely hot water wash over my back. I most definitely had a back labor and it worried Kelly that your head was in a bad position, but luckily you were cooperative.

A new nurse, this angel of a woman named Jeri, came into our room and informed us she would be taking over the night shift. I immediately loved her. She was so sweet and nurturing—definitely a breath of fresh air after the other homegirl. Kelly and your Dad had been offering me Gatorade constantly throughout the day and it worried Kelly and Jeri that I couldn’t urinate. Kelly said sometimes a cervix wouldn’t dilate with a full bladder. I kept going to the bathroom and sitting on the heated toilet seat, enjoying the few moments of privacy it afforded me. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I looked like a monster, but in a good way. I looked tough. I was tough. I just couldn’t pee is all. Your head was making me feel like I had to boo-boo, so I abandoned the pee efforts and went back to try new positions. Some of the contractions were incredibly intense and your Dad became skilled at alternating a heating pad on the small of my back while I was in the thick of one and then cooling my upper back off with a wet washcloth as soon as it ended.

He and Kelly massaged me with almond oil and reminded me to relax my jaw when I clenched it too tight. Dr. H sent me some popsicles and I remember greedily slurping down a lime flavored one. I also snacked on granola bars and crackers throughout the labor to try and keep my energy. Jeri asked when my water broke and we explained that I had the small trickle but never a big gush. She examined me and said you were still wrapped in the amniotic sac and asked if she could have Dr. H break my water. I was terrified of the amniotic hook (it looks like a crotchet needle!) but agreed. As soon as he broke it, I felt a HUGE wave of relief.

Around this time, with my face pushed into the back of the hospital bed, I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t do this,” but I refused to verbalize it. I felt like saying it would make it real. I also remembered reading other women’s birth stories and how this was a common feeling to have at the later stage in labor. Then I thought…oh my, are we nearly done with this? I also didn’t want to ask questions like that though. The only thing that mattered was the exact second we were living in. But gah, it was getting hard to keep this up. I pushed the thoughts away. I told Kelly I wanted to get back in the tub. Jeri said she didn’t know if I could because she believed I was dilated too far. (At the hospital where we had you, you can labor in the tub, but you can’t deliver in the tub. You can get in after you’re dilated 4cm but you can’t get in past 7cm.) She asked if she could call Dr. H in to check me. I agreed but tried not to get my hopes up too high. I thought I heard him say 9cm, but I couldn’t believe it. I asked them to repeat it. Nine! He said he was ok with me laboring down or practicing pushing. It was really almost time to meet you!

Up until this time, I had used just about every part of the room to labor. I’d been in the bed inside my body pillow, on exercise balls and peanuts, in the shower, the toilet, the tub. I’d done squats while bracing myself on the bar that pulled out of the bed. I’d leaned against your Dad, though I kind of hated this position and felt like I was going to break him. I’d been on all fours, I’d been on two feet and now they were suggesting I get on my back. “Heck naw,” I thought to myself, but the suggestion was actually really good. It wasn’t laying flat on my back like you see in movies, but instead, the bed folded into an upright reclining position and I was able to rest my back against the top part in between waves. My bottom half was positioned at an angle to make it easy for you to slide out. Here’s the part I loved most though—the way my birth team supported me during pushes. The bar at the bottom of the bed was pushed up and Kelly stood across from me and draped a twisted sheet over it for us to play tug-of-war. As the urge to push came on, she and I would tug as Zak would help lift my legs back and Jeri would place her fingers inside of me, encouraging me to try to push them out. In between urges to push, I would pull your Dad down to me and we would kiss. His kisses were like a drug, filling my body with oxytocin and allowing me to envision my vulva opening like a sheela na gig. This became a steady routine. Tug and push then be rewarded with kisses. And here’s something worth mentioning: I definitely didn’t expect pushing to feel good, but oh my goodness, it did. It hurt too, don’t get me wrong, but it hurt in an amazing way. I had envisioned it would be worse than the contractions, but it’s a totally different sensation all together. This gave me a boost, along with the positive reinforcement I was getting from your Dad, Kelly and Jeri who kept telling me how strong I was and what a good job I was doing. Around this time, Jeri told me she could see your head and that it was covered in hair! This wasn’t much of a surprise considering I was plagued with wicked heart burn nearly the entire pregnancy, but it was exciting to know you might look like all the visions I had of you: tiny, covered in vernix with dark hair. “What color is it?” “It looks dark.” I smiled to myself.

We continued our pushing routine. At one point, they told me you were trying to make your way down on your own, sans contraction. You were trying to help get here sooner! I really appreciated that! Not much later, I overheard Jeri tell Kelly she thought it was nearly time to call the doctor. I was so excited to meet you, but I still couldn’t believe this experience was close to over. I just couldn’t let myself get my hopes up that it would be over soon because I worried something could easily snag and cause it to drag on longer.

Dr. H came in the room and asked Jeri to turn off the “French fry light” overhead. I was grateful. Earlier in labor, I had asked to wear my eye mask but it was short lived. He began to vigorously massage my perineum, telling me how tough I was because even women with epidurals sometimes complain about it. I accredited it to your Dad rubbing my perineum with coconut oil at home every night for the past two weeks. Unfortunately, I still ripped and gave myself a second-degree episiotomy. I felt myself split and it was so painful, I was sure it was you who had slithered out of me. I even looked down to see you, but you weren’t there. Luckily, I tore the push right before you made your appearance because it was seriously uncomfortable. Your Dad leaned forward to kiss me again and said “Just one more!”

I didn’t know if I could believe him or not, but I wanted so desperately for it to be true. I couldn’t wait to hold you, meet you, to stare into your sweet little eyes. Sure enough, on the next push, there you were—dark haired, tiny, and covered in vernix, exactly as I’d pictured you. I immediately burst into tears. You were crying. Your Dad was crying. Kelly and Jeri and Doc were crying. Doc thanked us for reminding him why he got into his profession to begin with. We were all crying happy tears, telling you hello. Eager for our skin to touch, I held you on my chest and you immediately latched on to my breast. And that’s the story, Baby Girl, of the night you were born and the moment we first met.

Second VBA2C - with TWINS!

VBA2C with TWINS? Everyone I talked to asked me crazy questions like "why not just have a repeat section with twins?" and "are you going to try to have them natural?" Well, I had my last baby naturally as a VBA2C so why not? See, I'm a great candidate - at least that's what I was told. With 2 vaginal deliveries before my 2 c-sections, I was told I was a great candidate to VBA2C baby #5 and I did -- all natural with the help of an awesome husband, fabulous nurse and a wonderful doula, Fredia Nelms. So, when I found out I was pregnant with my 6th child, I had no doubt I would VBA2C again. Then the ultrasound technician said twins and my heart sank. Would I find a doctor who would LET me VBA2C twins? So I went out searching for that healthcare provider who would let me birth these twins the way I wanted to. After consulting with one that I was happy with but not happy with the hospital, I discussed it with my husband, Ricky, and decided I felt it was best to return to my previous practice and ask the doctors there how they felt about it. After all, they had allowed me to VBA2C once so maybe they would again.

At my first visit with Dr. Ross, he brought up the discussion about VBA2C the twins and said he saw no reason I couldn't do it. I was beyond excited! Obviously he would need to discuss it with his partners to make sure everyone was ok with it, but I had hope! At my next visit, I was informed that all partners were on board with me attempting a TOL (trial of labor) with these twins!! I knew then that God had answered my prayers and all would be ok. My pregnancy progressed well and without complications. I had what the doctors considered a "textbook" twin pregnancy. No complications, worked up until I went into labor and really didn't feel too uncomfortable until about a week before delivery.

Labor started and stopped several times in the last week of my pregnancy however, at 38 weeks I thought the real deal was here. I was already dilated to 3cm at my last checkup and when the contractions started coming, they started coming hard and fast. I labored at home for hours and finally decided to head to Brookwood on Friday evening. When we got there, I was only dilated to 4cm but it was progress and I had hopes it would continue - and quickly since I was so uncomfortable. Boy was I wrong! I labored all night Friday night with Fredia helping me to get in different positions to encourage baby A to come down more, but by Saturday morning, things had fizzled out and it was time to decide what to do. So I walked, and walked, and walked the halls of L&D at Brookwood. By Saturday afternoon, I was 5cm and almost completely effaced. Since things were continuing to progress, Dr. Adcock was willing to discuss some "induction" options. Ricky and I discussed our options and decided to try to break my water and start some pitocin. Mind you it would be a tiny dose of pitocin but maybe that would be all I needed to kickstart my body and get things moving along again.

Around 9pm on Saturday evening, Dr. Adcock broke my water and started pitocin at the lowest rate possible. At this point, I was about 5.5cm and almost fully effaced. Labor wasn't nearly as unbearable as it was the last time. Maybe it's because I was better prepared and knew what to expect, I don't know. I progressed well and stayed pretty relaxed - even joking with Fredia, Ricky and Kelly (another doula who had come to help). Both Fredia and Kelly attempted many different positions to help the process and kept the mood light. Of course, that's until I got to around 8cm -- then it started to hurt! Dr. Adcock had been insistent on placing an epidural catheter to have in place in case an emergency arised and I needed an emergency c-section. See, by having the catheter in place, it would be easy for the anesthesiologist to just "turn the pump on" and boost me with numbing meds so I could be awake for the birth of my babies. This made sense and I was fine with that but really wasn't thrilled about the "test dose" they would have to do to ensure the catheter was in the right place. But by 8cm, when the pain was getting unbearable again, I decided we could do the epidural test dose and then turn the machine off. That might help my body relax enough to get my cervix complete and bring my babies faster. Around 1:30am on Sunday morning, the anesthesiologist came in and placed my epidural catheter. After he gave me the test dose, my blood pressure bottomed out and I blacked out. Once I was conscience again, I noticed the epidural was still running and asked it be turned off. My lower half was numb so I decided to try to take a little nap to get the energy I needed to finish what I had started. Fredia got me the "peanut" ball and put it between my legs and I took about a 30 minute snooze.

I woke up to feeling pressure and realized baby A was going to make his entrance very soon. Thankfully, I couldn't feel pain because of the epidural test dose but I could move my legs so I was pretty happy about that. I told the nurse I felt baby A was coming soon and she checked. Sure enough, I was complete and baby A was +2 or +3 station --- he was coming really soon. The nurse started getting things ready to move me to the OR. She was taking her time getting stuff done though and I told her then we weren't going to make it there. He was coming now! In the end, we emergently moved to the OR with the nurse riding the bed with me holding baby A's head in so he would not be born in the hall.

Dr. Adcock came in the OR. The room was packed with plenty of nurses, the anesthesiologist, my two wonderful doulas and Ricky right by my side. With very little pushing, obviously, baby A was born at 2:55am. At my last doctor's appointment, an ultrasound had revealed baby B had flipped and was breech. This wasn't a huge concern since she was baby B but Dr. Adcock was prepared for this. However, after baby A was out, he started feeling around in my uterus and found that baby B was vertex. She had flipped herself around again! Dr. Adcock broke my water and I started pushing. Once she crowned, he let me feel her head before I continued to push. Then, once her head was out, he unwrapped the cord from around her neck and let me pull her out. It was the most awesome experience ever!!! I pulled her to my chest and it was so surreal. She was born at 3:03am and once she came out, I realized that I DID IT! I had successfully delivered VBA2C TWINS! My birth experience could not have been more perfect.

My twins are now 8 weeks old and sometimes I still can't believe I did it. People ask me everywhere I go, "did you have a c-section?" I love the look on their face when I tell them that I did not have a c-section, that I went into labor and had them vaginally AFTER 2 previous c-sections. My husband tells me I am an example for others and it's amazing what I did. I guess I don't see it as amazing but merely that I achieved what I wanted! And knowing that these two little blessings have completed my family -- I feel good knowing I finished birthing my babies the way I wanted to do it! I'm beyond thankful to Fredia and Kelly for believing in me and helping me accomplish my goal.

A vaginal birth after FOUR c-sections!

VBA4C?!?  I mean, seriously, what crazy person attempts a vaginal birth after four c-sections?  What about the risks and possible complications?  Wouldn't it be easier to just have that fifth c-section?

So, why not have another c-section?  My husband, Gregg, and I may want more children.  We both agreed that having any more than five c-sections was just too much of a risk on my health.  
Honestly, the odds were not in my favor.  Wait, wait...I'm not talking about rupture statistics.  Through ICAN (www.ican-online.org) I was quickly made aware that the risks were definitely higher in attempting another c-section.  So what wasn't in my favor?  Almost every doctor in the area.  Almost every hospital in the area.  Except one...Dr. Davis and UAB.  This doctor and this hospital were willing to provide me the means to try for a vaginal birth.  But the odds were still against me.  For this vaginal birth to be a success so much had to be just right.  I had to go into labor on my own, baby had to be head down and not posterior, baby's heart rate couldn't decrease at all during labor, and lastly my c-section scar couldn't rupture.  None of this would be possible without the grace of God - so I prayed and I trusted He would have a hand over it all!

When I started out on my VBA4C journey I was determined to do everything within my power to make it happen.  My first pregnancy ended up in a c-section because of mal-position and because after having an epidural I had no idea how to push out a baby effectively.  So, my first decision - this baby was to be born naturally.  If you know me, you know that pain is something I'm not a fan of and am also completely terrified of.  So, my second decision - hire a doula that would help me through the pain of childbirth.  I checked references and found the best doula (seriously, she is!) in all of Birmingham - Fredia Nelms.   

Armed with my doula and loads of reading and watching birth stories my pregnancy advanced.  I warned Fredia ahead of time that my babies come early.  Child #1 came at 37 weeks, child #2 at 37 weeks, child #3 at 36 weeks, and child #4 at 35 weeks.  I was certain we would be having another early baby.

Sure enough at 33 weeks the contractions began.  And they continued for 6 whole weeks.  It became a regular thing for me to be up all night with contractions 10 minutes (or less) apart for hours.  Several times I was sure "this was it" and would text Fredia.  By 38 weeks I was certain I was going to start screaming at her if she told me I was just having false contractions again.  Did she not hear me?  These things hurt!  They most certainly were not false!  Thankfully, she knew my body better than I did and advised me to rest instead of rushing off to the hospital.  Each time the contractions would fizzle out and I would mope around fat and miserable.

Friday night - July 18th.  I was just a couple days shy of 39 weeks.  (Did you read that??  39 weeks!  I'd never been pregnant that long!)  I had a horrible night of contractions.  They stayed 4-5 minutes apart throughout most of the night.  I sent my usual text to Fredia the next morning, and she once again told me to rest.  I wasn't too mad at her this time because she did add that "you will need the rest if you have this baby later tonight."  Seeing that word tonight was thrilling to me!  

I of course took my doula's advice to heart - and then promptly gathered up my family and headed for the zoo!  It was a wonderful day!  I think it was needed by us all.  That evening, after my heart was full of happiness from our day, I finally settled into bed at about 12:30am.  Within five minutes I felt 2 very distinct pops in the front of my belly.  I knew exactly what it was!  Within 5  minutes the contractions started and I was visibly leaking fluid.  I yelled at my husband, Gregg, who was fast asleep.  He helped me put towels on the bed so I could lie down and try to rest for awhile.  As soon as I laid down a contraction hit and, oh my goodness, it was horrendous!  I was immediately screaming.  

We sent Fredia a text at 12:50am, and after talking back and forth for an hour or so we collectively decided it was time to head to the hospital.  I was still screaming through contractions and had decided that there was no way I was having this baby without an epidural.  

Our friend, Denise, was called to sit with the kids so we could head off to the hospital.  She was a Godsend.  She was able to start counter-pressure on my back that immediately helped the contractions.  She showed Gregg what she was doing so he could take over.  I don't know what I would have done without the counter-pressure.  It was still horrible, but it would have been so much worse!

At 1:56am we sent a text to Fredia, "On our way."  This was immediately followed by another text, "I really think I want meds."  The contractions were no joke!

At about 2:15am we finally arrived at the hospital only to be stopped at the front desk so Gregg could get a nametag.  Seriously??  We were then told at triage to have a seat in the waiting room.  Again, seriously??  Keep in mind that I am still screaming through each contraction.  They finally got me back to triage at about 2:30am.  

They checked me and found that I was only 5cm.  Sweet Fredia had sent me this text on our drive up, "I want you to remember the number assigned to your cervix when you get there is not a reflection of how hard you are working or how far you have to go.  It's not the whole picture."  With that in mind hearing that I was only 5cm wasn't devastating.  Of course part of the reason it wasn't devastating was because I was certain I was going to be getting drugs in the very near future!

At UAB they require you to stay in triage until a room is available in labor and delivery.  And of course, a room wasn't available right away.  Oh, and guess what else, they can't give you drugs until you're in labor and delivery.  Didn't they know I was dying?  I literally was screaming for God to save me, help me, just make it stop.  This is only mildly embarrassing to me now!

At 3:04 am we were finally taken to labor and delivery.  Within minutes two angels arrived - Fredia and the anesthesiologist.  To my horror they both wanted me to be checked before I was given an epidural.  At this point the only position that I could handle was standing and leaning over.  I somehow managed to make my way into the bed to be checked. 

I was completely dilated!  Oh my gosh - I was complete!  I clearly remember Fredia locking eyes with me and telling me I could do this.  And all I could think was - crap, I have to do this!

I immediately went into a strange sort of primal mode.  The ridiculous screaming stopped and I focused on what I had to do.  For around 40 minutes I pushed and pushed.  I started on all fours at the head of the bed.  The doctor quickly got bored with my progress and left leaving just the nurse, Fredia, Gregg, and I in the room.  (So much for me being such a high risk patient!)  I'm not sure who suggested it but Fredia helped me get into a squatting position at the foot of the bed.  I pushed about 15 more minutes and started feeling the burning.  After the next push I could reach down and feel my baby's head.  I remember Fredia telling me I needed to breath through the next contractions - don't push - the doctor has to get here.  But it was impossible not to push.  This was the point where I learned that the "ring of fire" was truly no joke!  My next push his head came out and with the next our little Stephen Michael came out into the hands of the nurse at 4:06am.  I can still hear my husband saying, "Devon, you did it!"

My little man was put immediately on my chest!  I've had five children and this is the first time I've ever held one of my babies right after they were born.  What an amazing feeling!

It took me about 2 weeks to really wrap my brain around the entire experience.  I truly never thought I would experience a normal delivery of a child.  I always questioned whether my body could even do it.  And I surely never thought I would do it without an epidural.  But I did!  My body does work!  

One of the biggest things I struggled with after the delivery was the loss of my birth plan.  I had envisioned this beautiful labor experience.  I had a playlist all ready to listen to while I bounced on a birthing ball.  The fast, hard labor I had was almost traumatic in a sense.  It's taken me until now to accept that things happened just as they were supposed to - just as God planned.  If labor had lasted 5 minutes longer maybe I would've ended up getting that epidural which could have changed the entire outcome.  So many things might have been different.  But they weren't, they were perfect!

I know without any doubt that I couldn't have done it without the 2 hours of counter-pressure my amazing husband provided (I had the bruises to prove it!) or the awesome support of my doula!  I don't know if we'll have more children, but if we do I'll want both of them by my side once again!  And again, Dr. Davis and UAB were amazing.  They gave me a chance when no one else would!  

My husband tells me I need to be humble when telling my story.  That's a very hard request because I'm just so darn proud of myself!  With the help of God, I did what so many considered to be impossible.  I had a vaginal birth after FOUR c-sections!  And I did it naturally!  I rocked my VBA4C!

A natural induction

I always heard “you never remember the bad parts about labor and delivery. Everything is erased the moment your child Is born.” For me that is not true. I remember every single second of our daughter Alice’s birth. I remember every....single...moment. I remember the waiting, the pacing, every contraction, every push, everything. Moreover, I feel incredibly lucky that I do remember. Because everytime I see Alice smile I remember experiencing bringing her into this world and the joy I felt through every painful second of her labor.

At 40 weeks my doctor checked me and shook his head. I was nowhere near ready to deliver Alice, and I was perfectly content to let her stay and cozy for as long as she needed. I did not want to rush her, and thankfully neither did my doctor. I had searched for a doctor that would be on board with a natural delivery, and Dr. Huggins was the ticket. He smiled at me and told me to come back at 41 weeks. There was no mention of induction. There was no talk of a C-section. I was in good hands.

41 weeks came and went with no change. I was still certain that Alice was healthy and strong and Dr. Huggins agreed. However he told me that at 42 weeks he would feel irresponsible if we did not discuss our options. I agreed and settled in for what I knew would be another full week. Sure enough I showed up, still pregnant, at my doctor’s office at 42 weeks. An ultrasound revealed my amniotic fluid had decreased and my placenta was well past its prime. Dr. Huggins hugged me and told me, “it’s just time”. Tears immediately welled in my eyes and I envisioned another induction experience like the birth of our 5-year-old son, Homer. Dr. Huggins knew how strongly I felt about being able to have an un-medicated birth so he suggested trying a balloon catheter first. My husband, Philip, and I were excited at the prospect of still being able to go into labor at home as we’d hoped. We left the doctor’s office with a little spring in our step (as springy as you can get at 42 weeks).

The balloon catheter went in. The balloon catheter came out. There was no progress. I was certain I would be sent immediately for a high dose of pitocin, encouraged to have an epidural...the works. Instead, Dr. Huggins suggested starting me at a very low level of pitocin. He wanted me to be able to go without an epidural if possible, and stick to as much of my birth plan as he could while ensuring the safety of Alice. We went through an entire day of pitocin with absolutely zero progress. I was exhausted. I had laid in bed, watching the clock move slowly, nervous that at the end of the day they would crank it up and throw me into the landslide of labor interventions. Wrong again. Dr. Huggins made a crucial decision to remove me from pitocin, allow me to have the night off, get some food, get some sleep, and start again the next day with the pitocin. I was shocked. Another day? Two days of this? I was surprised and overjoyed! I had never heard of going on and then off of pitocin. And where was this option during my first birth? I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Huggins was not about to rush this birth.

Alice was still thriving, and Huggins knew that if I continued pitocin through the night I would be too tired to endure the marathon that was ahead. So instead of staying the course of many a modern doctor, Dr. Huggins stop the IV, unhooked me, encouraged me to take a walk and to eat a fabulous dinner with my husband. Whole Foods pizza never tasted so good.

The next morning, bright and early at 6am, we started our second day of pictocin. My body had been warmed up, and a couple hours later my uterus finally decided to wake up and join the party. The contractions started very slowly. Dr. Huggins still wanted to mimic natural labor as closely as possible, so I was started on the pitcocin very slowly. As they increased the drip in small increments the contractions grew stronger. I wanted to get out of bed, to move my hips and let the contractions flow through me as I walked around. Unfortunately, I still had my trusty IV with me, so the walking IV pole became my friend, traveling up and down the hallways with me Philip. My husband and I entertained ourselves as much as one possibly can while wandering the same hallway back and forth for an hour. It was a good time for us. We knew what was ahead and our nervousness and excitement were bundled up in a tightly wound ball of anticipation. I tried to unwind that ball in my head with every step I took. I breathed. I listened to Alice. I felt my physical self in a way I had never experienced before. As I walked the contractions grew stronger. At one point I had to stop and brace myself with the hand rail with each rush. The waves passed over me and Philip and I started laughing again. I knew as long as I could talk and laugh we had a long way to go. Then the talking stopped. Philip looked at me (slightly scared) and asked if he needed to call Aimee. I shook my head, no. Two minutes later a contraction almost took me to my knees. I told Philip to call Aimee....NOW.

We slowly made our way back to the room and Aimee arrived. She was the most welcome sight I had seen all day. Her energy flooded the room and suddenly I knew that I could do this. I could push through these walls and get to the other side. Her calm gaze and reassuring touch told me that I was doing what millions of women had been doing for millions of years. This was what my body was engineered to do. I felt the confidence I needed to labor and deliver Alice.

The contractions quickly grew intense and very close together. I moved from the ball to the shower to the bed. I finally settled on the ball as my favorite place to ride the contractions. Aimee was with me the entire time. She kept telling me how great I was doing, and kept reminding me that I would meet my baby soon. This got me through the darkest moment in my labor. Each contraction was its own monster. And each time I felt myself sliding into a rabbit hole of despair Aimee and my husband were right there to pick me up again. At one point I felt this was my destiny, to be endlessly in the pain of labor. I knew I had to continue but I wasn’t sure I had it in me. And then suddenly I was there. Every cell in my being told me to start pushing. I was thrilled and terrified at the same time. Aimee gave me the green light and told me that if my body was telling me to push then I could push. I was on my knees with my upper body leaning on the ball and with the next contraction I felt my muscles work in a way they had never worked before. It was the most excruciating feeling and yet it felt so good. I felt powerful. Eventually Aimee told me that I could move to the bed and face the wall to push. I took her advice and somehow made it to the bed. I continued to push and Aimee’s voice in my ear kept encouraging me every minute along the way. And then suddenly things moved quickly. With a single push I could feel Alice drop and begin to crown. I’m pretty sure this is when I started yelling. Aimee told me to stop for a moment but I couldn’t. I had to keep going. My body was exhausted and I knew that if I didn’t push Alice out in the next minute I couldn’t go on. I was facing away from the rest of the room so I didn’t know what was happening behind me. With the nurse’s and Aimee’s approval I kept pushing and suddenly I felt Alice slide out. It was the most incredible feeling I have ever experienced. In the next few seconds a crowd of people flooded into the room and things got a little interesting.

What I could not see was that Alice was born without my membranes rupturing. My water never broke. Immediately after she was born there was a scary silence and lots of rushing about. Alice was suctioned and soon after she gave a loud cry. My heart finally started beating again.

They laid Alice on my chest and I tucked her inside my nightgown. It is a feeling I will carry with me the rest of my life. The way she looked in the seconds after she was born is forever in my mind. I felt high in the best way possible. I had experienced every single second of her journey into this world. I felt as though I couldn’t even concentrate on what people were saying to me. The world was spinning around us and I was completely lost in this little person in my arms. Aimee’s guidance during Alice’s birth was an invaluable gift. Her presence gave us the calm encouragement we needed to get through the most difficult moments. Looking back on the overall experience I know that the education and support she provided allowed us to have the birth we had hoped for. She was a constant source of emotional strength and humor when we needed it. I’m not sure I could have gotten through my labor as well as I did without her by my side.