Positive Birth Stories
Women can overcome the fear surrounding labor and birth by hearing or reading Positive Birth Stories. I have asked a number of my Bradley Method® and Prenatal Yoga students to write their experiences down to share with other couples. Most of these stories on my blog http://prenatalyoga.wordpress.com are stories of natural birth. A couple of them are not, but these mothers were able to turn their baby's birth into an empowering experience and bring their babies into the world in the best, safest, and gentlest way possible.
"Women need to hear positive birth stories. Sadly, women who have positive, transformative, challenging but amazing births usually don't tell their stories. They may think it's not normal, or may not want to make other women feel inferior. Women need to share their birth stories, both positive and difficult, and when they're difficult, we should examine why and what could have changed. These stories have the power to transform how society looks at birth, to dispel the myths and relieve the fear." Debra Pascali-Bonaro
From the very beginning of my pregnancy I visualized the blossoming life within my womb as a flower. Months later, during my second and third trimesters, this visualization transformed into me seeing my pelvic floor open as a beautiful flower would, slowly unfolding into full bloom and allowing my baby to easily descend into the world. This is one reason we decided to name our beautiful little flower, Dahlia. I was 5 days past my "estimated due date" when late on Monday afternoon, December 7th, Michael and I were overcome with a quiet sense of determination to birth this baby in the natural, unmedicated way that we both intended. After visiting my OB we were feeling quite unsettled. Here I wasn't even 1 full week past due when he threw out all of the big, bad, scary birthing words like "medically induce", "increased chances of a C-section" and ,"You may just end up finding out the hard way that your baby is too big to deliver vaginally." YIKES! Feeling unsupported and misunderstood by our doctor, Michael and I remained confident that my body and my baby would choose their own perfect timing for birth. There were still plenty of tricks up our sleeves for holistically encouraging this process along. We sped off to the most generous and knowledgeable of acupuncturists, Jeneanne Padan, to receive my 4th session in two weeks for all of the natural labor induction points of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Immediately following the acupuncture we walked laps around the mall, as it was a cold and stormy evening outside. We walked until I literally had blisters on my feet! We followed that with a bowl of very spicy Asian chicken soup; and I then relaxed in the bath while Michael ran to the market for some castor oil that I planned to drink early the next morning. Before crawling into bed I drew the several labor induction acupressure points on my own body with a marker. Over the years I have manipulated these pressure points for countless women to help induce their labors and now Michael would be able to find the points with great ease on me. We spent a few hours intermittently hitting the different points with my various massage tools and I was quickly aware that the energy within my body was shifting. Not wanting to jump the gun or alarm Michael I decided to drift off to sleep while still able. Four hours later, I awoke at 2:30am with contractions. Unsure if these were the infamous "Braxton-Hicks" contractions of false labor or the actual real deal, I labored through them on my own for 3 hours. I was constantly transitioning from the birthing ball, to the bed, to my favorite resting yoga poses, to the toilet (I never needed that nasty castor oil after all!) By 5:30am I was in need of Michael's assistance through massage and the guided relaxation visualizations that my Aunt Sharon, a Clinical HypnoBirthing Therapist, had taught us. At 7:30am we decided to put the first call into my doula (professional labor assistant) and dearest friend, Carrie Lou, to give her fair warning. I showered, which gently improved my comfort level, as the contractions were growing increasingly uncomfortable in my lowback and hips. While Michael snoozed for the next two hours, I tried my best to relax in our nursery rocking chair, imagining what it would feel like to hold and rock my baby, as I timed my contractions. They would jump around from consistently 5 minutes apart to 7 or 4 minutes apart, all lasting about 1 minute or less. The intensity of sensation was building quickly and by the time Carrie Lou arrived at 11:30am I was ready for a change of scenery. We strolled through Kit Carson Park, stopping occasionally to labor over a picnic table or under an oak tree. The cool clean air and the rhythmic walking stepped things up a bit, forcing me to lose my breakfast and all of the fluids I had so dutifully been hydrating with. At this point I had been laboring for 10 hours and had no idea how much I had progressed or how long this "long haul" would actually take. Once we arrived back home from our walk I needed a break, both mentally and physically, so while Michael and Carrie Lou enjoyed a late brunch I took some alone time in the bath tub. I reveled in the calming effects of hot water, steam, and eucalyptus aromatherapy. I was even able to successfully shave my legs during labor! Feeling refreshed and ready for the next phase, Carrie Lou and I began to manipulate the labor induction acupressure points very deeply. I willingly bruised myself with all of the pressure we were applying! The points helped to re-intensify the brief respite my contractions had taken during the bath. Within an hour I was exhausted and chose to lie on my side in bed so that Carrie Lou and Michael could give me deep massage during the "surges" or contractions. This is when I moved into a more active stage of labor, I could no longer carry on a conversation between surges. In order to release the immense energy thundering through my body I began to loudly chant OM with each breath. Michael joined in. His voice and his calm, reassuring eyes helped keep me fully focused. We worked this way for over an hour at which point my body began to slow down, signaling to me that it was time for another change of scenery. As Carrie Lou rested her overworked hands, Michael joined me in the shower since I was no longer interested in being alone. Feeling the warm water run over my body helped me to move inward to an even deeper meditative state. Thank God for NON-water-saving shower heads! The water pressure coming out of that shower felt like a fire hose and I was able to experience the same release of tension Carrie Lou's massage had provided me. By this time, maybe 6 or 6:30pm, relaxing music, candles, and low lighting had played a major role in my comfort level throughout the day. As I returned to the peaceful sanctuary of my bedroom I was greeted by one of my best friends and trusted confidants, Ashley, whom also happens to be a Labor and Delivery RN. She quietly comforted me and began to observe the process of my laboring. With Carrie Lou at my back, Ashley feeling my belly throughout each surge, Michael locked in eye to eye contact with me, and little Dahlia dancing within my body, my birthing team was finally complete. I felt centered and fully prepared for the task at hand. The thunder storm rolling through my body raged on and quickly built up an unmatched fury. My "go-to" coping mechanism was chanting. Over time the vocalizations changed from OM to "HOOOOOME!" I was calling out to my baby, helping to guide her home to me, into my arms. It was after another hour of progressively laboring like this that we all agreed to have Ashley check me vaginally, this way we would know how many centimeters I had advanced since being 1.75 cm dilated the afternoon before at the doctor's office. Honestly, I was nervous and hesitant to have Ashley check me. I was fearful that I would have worked so hard, for so long only to discover that I had barely advanced. My contractions, while requiring a great deal of inner strength and focus, still seemed inconsistent and milder, or more manageable than what I had expected. Ashley calmly warned me that, while she could tell the surges I was experiencing were very strong, the timing of them didn't seem close enough or difficult enough to dilate me to 5 or 6 cm, which was the pre-appointed time I had envisioned moving to the hospital. As Ashley sterilized and prepared to check me, I mentally prepared myself for the possible heartbreaking let-down of finding out I was a measly 2 or 3 cm. I needed to accept the realization that my "long haul" may continue on for hours upon hours, if not days! Wearing a face of pure disbelief and amazement, Ashley announced to us all that my cervix was so soft she could barely feel it and that with my bag of waters intact, I had progressed to 6 or 7 cm!!! This was the inspiring resurgence I needed. I narrowly escaped a breakdown of joyful tears from the exhilarating news. I literally jumped out of bed! I can remember directing everyone where to go, what to grab, and whom to call. I was so pumped! I felt completely in control of my body and mind, a moment of clarity where I was in total acceptance of the fast approaching, most challenging part of my journey. The actual birth was upon us! With my birthing team and parents in tow, Dahlia and I were escorted and protected by a caravan of loving support. The incredible energy of loving support quickly expanded ten-fold as I used the driving time to send out a text message chain to our near and dear loved ones, asking for positivity and prayer. It helped to focus on my phone as opposed to the road or Michael's driving. Carrie Lou sat behind me massaging my neck and shoulders. The time was 8pm, yet for me, time had slipped away long before. Everything was Infinite. Transitioning into the hospital was not easy. Procedures and protocol don't wait or stop for laboring women. That being said, Pomerado Hospital is a lovely facility and Michael and I found much of the staff to be more than helpful, kind, and supportive. (The really great nurses helped make up for the not-so great ones.) My most intense moments of labor took place lying in the hospital bed as I was forced, against my wishes, to be monitored for nearly an hour. It was during this time that I came to the edge of feeling like the contractions were "unbearable". The interesting thing is that I was bearing it. In fact, I was totally handling it. It was only my mental self that was ready to check out. So that's when I traveled even more deeply within, to a whole other plane. I no longer knew the separation of self or ego. I felt as if I only existed on a soul level. My vocalizations shifted from a low "HOOOOMME" to a higher pitch"AAAH". I imagined the birthing room filling up with Spirit. In my mind's eye I saw angelic beings surround me and join in lifting up my voice, moving the furious energy within my body up and out instead of down and out. Aware that it wasn't yet safe to begin pushing, the use of my voice was the only way I could manage resisting the powerful urge to push. I think it's important to clarify here that I never registered this intense experience as "pain". The best way I can explain it is as if all of the world's natural disasters of earthquakes, tsunami, thunder and lightening, wind, and fire were physically manifesting in my body, rolling through me like a catastrophic storm. Somehow, I don't have a negative association with these sensations. Each wave of this perfect storm brought my baby closer to me. I am so grateful to the Universe for pressing its power through my body and being via natural childbirth. Moving on, once the nurses were satisfied with my initial intake and monitoring I was finally released from their seemingly forceful grip into my own personal pool of tranquility, the birthing tub. It was here that I completely let go and internalized. Abandoning the loud vocal tones and instead invoking a calm, quiet stillness. I was no longer beckoning for a deep, constant pressure massage, preferring a light, energetic touch. I found myself traveling even deeper within to my womb. Connecting with my daughter and asking her to join me on the final trek to the summit of this mountain. While in the tub, my contractions, which only moments earlier were stronger than any energy I have ever known, were now slow, mellow, and fascinating for me to explore. I felt at peace, a true sense of oneness with all things. A cool confidence washed over me. I knew that, like ALL women, I am innately equipped for natural childbirth. I sensed that within moments I would be moving through what I believe to be the most sacred rites of passage. I curiously wondered if I had reached the beginning of the "transition" phase of labor. I was undeniably feeling the tell tale sign of lower bowel pressure but I wasn't experiencing any of the other typical symptoms. My contractions weren't right on top of one another, they weren't unmanageable, and I wasn't feeling helpless or uncontrollably emotional. In truth, I had a contraction once every 10 minutes while in the tub and instead of being immensely painful they were pleasant and interesting to me! On being examined after my peaceful solitude in the tub I was more than 9 cm dilated, my waters had broken, and it was finally time to prepare the room for the actual birthing. A hectic rush of nurses and equipment, entered into our calm and collected environment but my focus and relaxation did not waiver. My many years of working in the realm of birthing babies, receiving massage, and practicing yoga and meditation all contributed to my preparation for this personal journey. The empowering approach of the Bradley Method childbearing techniques and deeply relaxing, creative visualizations of Hypno-Birthing, which Michael and I practiced religiously during pregnancy, assisted me in letting go fully to the natural rhythms of my own body. Most important was the support I received from my perfectly appointed birthing team, as well as my own mother, that carried me through the most intense and confusing moments of the pushing phase. Receiving an unending supply of encouragement from these beloved people in my life created the perfect environment for me to reach my most deeply desired goal. In the end, it didn't matter that a flustered nurse was obnoxiously barking numbers and orders at me like a cheerleader, that I suffered a tear as Dahlia's second shoulder and body exited mine, or that my OB left without ever acknowledging Michael or I with a simple goodbye. After a total of 22 hours of laboring and 40 minutes of pushing, without a single burning "ring of fire" sensation, my body opened up and released Dahlia Rae into the world at 12:17am on Wednesday, December 9th 2009. She was beautiful and thriving and perfect. I felt overwhelmed with joy and with pride, as well as shock. I genuinely devoted myself to the birth I had envisioned and I fully manifested it. I couldn't believe it was all over, I had done it! Deep within me, I had always known I could. Dahlia Rae McGaugh was 8lbs 9ozs at birth and 19ins long. She was born with strawberry blond hair and the most perfectly shaped head I've ever seen on a newborn. My pregnancy and birthing unfolded like a flower and now Michael and I have the prettiest blossom to show for it. She is deeply loved and we are deeply moved. ￼ ￼ ￼ ￼