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
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The story of my third pregnancy is very unique, so let me start at the beginning. Four months after my son, Kaleb was born I started ovulating again. Same thing happened after the birth of my daughter. My husband, Mike and I decided to try natural family planning; although we were pretty sure we were done having children. One day, I realized that I was a couple days late in menstruating. I mentioned this to Mike. That night he did not sleep well because he kept wondering if I might be pregnant. (It is very unusual for me to be late; my cycle tends to run like clockwork.) The very next day, he purchased a pregnancy test. Prior to taking it, I really didn’t think I was pregnant. So next came the test…yep I was pregnant. Shock #1. It took me several days to let it all sink in. And it took me even longer to accept God’s plan for my life. I remember calling my friend Brooke just sobbing and then I felt guilty for sobbing.
See, I’m a person who needs to have control. Both my daughter, Hannah and my son, Kaleb were planned down to the day and it only took one try for us to conceive. I knew what worked best in my schedule and with my plans but now God had totally messed with everything. After several months, I was finally able to accept the new responsibility that God has placed in my life.
I also struggled with the aspect of being pregnant again so soon. After four months, I finally felt like I was getting back to normal. I was back to my original weight. I was getting back into my yoga practice. I was looking forward to a little more freedom and a little more sleep. I was also not mentally prepared to be pregnant again or to give birth again—it was still all too fresh in my mind from my son. Not that my experience with my son was bad but I just wanted to be “normal” for a little bit.
We did not tell our families for quite awhile because we were adjusting to the idea of a third child so soon ourselves. Our son would be only 14 months old when this baby would arrive. We finally told our family through a picture. Hannah drew a picture of our family and then she drew an extra person. I labeled them all and then put ??? next to the 5th person. Our family was totally shocked. Shock #2. When we started telling people they were shocked as well. Shock #3. I had several people say, “Aren’t you still breastfeeding?” And I would answer, “Yes, but you can still get pregnant.” I was amazed at how many people still think you can’t get pregnant if you are nursing. I nursed my daughter until she was about 14 months old. However, with my son I barely made it to 6 months. Nursing and being pregnant was draining my entire body, I physically could no longer do it. Another thing out of my control—not my plan.
My first 2 labors were really fast. One was 6 hours (Hannah’s birth story) and the second was 5 hours (Kaleb’s birth story). I had both of these births at Morning Star Birth Center in Menomonie, WI. I loved the care there, I loved my birth experiences; however, I really wanted to try a homebirth this time. Unfortunately, I lived outside Morning Star’s radius for homebirths. So that led me to search for a new midwife that would do a homebirth. This is when I came across Women Care from Winona, MN. Mike and I met with LeAnn and Brenda and decided this would be a perfect fit.
My entire pregnancy was very similar to my other ones. I didn’t experience any morning sickness, I was gaining the same amount of weight, and I didn’t have weird cravings. At my first prenatal, we noticed I was a little bit bigger than my projected number of weeks pregnant. However, I had only cycled twice prior to conceiving so we weren’t sure if I was on a 28, 29, 30, 31,or 32 day cycle. Therefore, my due date was always a little questionable. We finally settled on February 18th, 2011. LeAnn did discuss having an ultrasound done so we could more accurately nail down my due date. However, we have never had an ultrasound done with our children and didn’t feel the need to really nail down the due date. We felt that the baby would come when it would come. And, we felt that no matter what abnormality an ultrasound showed us that we would still love and care for this child the same way, so why get one done. Now this is an area of control I don’t struggle with. I didn’t need to know that everything was 100% ok and I didn’t need to know what the sex of the baby was either.
About week 36, I mentioned that I felt a lot bigger. My maternity clothes were no longer fitting so I was wearing Mike’s shirts. My fundal height was only 1 to 2 cm different than with my other kids. However, my circumference was a lot different. At 37 weeks, I measured my waist at 42 inches. I was 39 inches with my other two kids the day I went into labor (and with both of them I went 2 days overdue). Everyone just kept telling me that a person is bigger with their third pregnancy.
On the mornings of February 1st and 2nd, I started to have some irregular contractions. I only had sporadic contractions for a couple of hours in the morning on these days and then they would go away after lunch. I thought I was experiencing early labor, which I never experienced with my 1st two pregnancies. My girlfriend, Stephanie had experienced early labor for weeks with her third child. I emailed her and told her what I was experiencing. She said she would start praying for me now because early labor was very frustrating and exhausting for her.
On the morning of February 3rd, I had to teach a Fit City class (an exercise class for people 55 an older), I just prayed that I didn’t have contractions like the previous mornings. And interestingly enough, I did not. That evening, I had just gotten home from running some errands in town and was playing games with my daughter and husband when I had a couple of contractions—very similar to the ones I had the previous mornings. This was about 6:15pm. At 6:30pm, we were down stairs watching Wheel of Fortune and the contractions were coming on a regular basis but they weren’t very long. Mike asked if I was ok and I said yes. At 6:55pm, we decided to call LeAnn and let her know that I was having contractions. We decide to start timing the contractions and LeAnn said she would get back to us in a little while. The timing of the contractions was all over the board. Some contractions would only last 30 seconds and then the next would be over a minute and then they would be back down to 30 seconds. They were only a couple of minutes apart though.
Now, I need to set the stage for what is also happening during all of this. Both of our children were up and Kaleb was getting a little testy because he was tired. Our pellet stove had just gone out and Mike needed to clean it before he could start it again. Now this might not seem like a big deal but our bedroom is downstairs and often very cold. The pellet stove is essential to heating up our room and our bedroom is the room I planned to birth in. We also needed to start getting things ready for the homebirth if I really was in labor, which meant changing sheets and getting out our supplies.
At about 7:15pm Kaleb wanted me to cuddle him but I didn’t even want him around me. Mike decided to take him upstairs to bed. Normally he goes to bed at 8pm. Hannah kept asking me if I was ok and we just said “Momma might be having a baby tonight.” A few minutes after this Mike started stripping the bed, and I walked into our bedroom to help. I had few contractions while lying in bed; they seemed to be getting more intense but not necessarily longer than before. At 7:25pm, I told Mike to call LeAnn because she needed to be here. Immediately after this, I was standing up near our bed and had a huge contraction. During this contraction it almost felt like I needed to push (I think I did push a little) and my water broke. I was still wearing all my clothes and was afraid I was going to get the rug under our bed wet so I started to move off the rug. I told Mike I had to go to the bathroom, which is just a couple feet away from our bed. ( I didn’t mention to him that I felt like I had to push—because that just seems a little crazy.) I was just about to go to the restroom when I had another contraction. This time I stood up and said “Mike the baby is coming.” I reached down and felt the head and gently glided the baby out. Mike immediately grabbed a towel and the baby started to cry. He also got some blankets wrapped around me as I sat on the toilet. Because of the coolness of the bathroom he had to get our space heater and he cranked it up. Shock #4—I just delivered my baby all by myself.
Mike immediately got on the phone with LeAnn to find out what we should do. Now, we did have a sheet titled “What if your midwives don’t make it” but do you think either of us thought to look at the sheet—of course not. LeAnn said to keep the baby warm, skin to skin and just wait until someone got there. However, the baby’s umbilical cord was rather short and I couldn’t bring her up to my torso, so just blankets had to do. After a couple of minutes I said Mike, “I wonder what time the baby was born at.” (Thankfully to cell phone logs we were able to go back through the phone calls exchanged and find out the time of the baby’s birth—7:31pm. ) I sat on the toilet for what seemed like forever. Mike called LeAnn again to ask about the placenta. He wanted to know what he was suppose to do if I delivered it. She told him to catch it. During this call, I started to have a contraction and I stood up so Mike could get the placenta. However, when Mike felt it something didn’t seem right. And then came Shock #5—the biggest of them all. Mike was still on the phone (but by this time he had set it on the floor), “It is another baby.” So Mike delivered baby number 2. I sat back down on the toilet holding not one but now two babies who were wrapped in towels. Mike and I were just stunned. We had NO idea we were having twins. As I waited, I just had to call someone because NO one was going to believe this story. I called my mom. I basically said something like this, “Mom, I don’t have a lot of time. I went into labor. Our midwives didn’t make it so I delivered the baby. And then Mike delivered the second baby. We had twins. (She started crying.) I am not joking. I’m totally serious. Please call Mikes’ parents for us. We are all fine, we are just waiting for the midwives. We will call again soon.” Shock #6!!! A couple minutes later Mike started getting some texts from his dad.
Hannah was around during all of this. We can’t remember exactly what she was doing but she was around. We did ask her to get some towels for us, which she did. I also remember that when I was holding them she wanted to touch the babies but was afraid. We just assured her that she could touch them, which she did. At this point, I wasn’t even sure if they were boys or girls but Mike said they were both girls. Thank goodness one of them was a girl because Hannah wanted a sister so bad!
For about 10 minutes I just sat on the toilet with the babies. I couldn’t move anywhere until the placenta was out. This is when someone came into our house. We figured it was LeAnn but the strange thing was–the person was taking their sweet time. Mike finally went upstairs and noticed it was Erica,
the birth assistant. Mike finally said, “She is on the toilet downstairs” as she handed him her coffee. As Erica came into my view she stopped in her tracks. Shock # 7—she had no idea that I had delivered the baby myself and she didn’t know that I had delivered two babies. Our midwife had not been able to tell her prior to her arrival. Erica came into the bathroom and chatted with us awhile and made sure we were all ok, which we were. At about 8pm, I birthed the placenta and Erica caught it in a bowl. That is when we moved to the bed. We made sure that the girls didn’t get mixed up. Next, LeAnn showed up and was able to cut the umbilical cords. Upon cutting them, we discussed how we were going to tell them apart. Marker on the foot was discussed but then Erica mentioned painting one of their toenails, which is what we did. The girl with the painted toe ended up being Elsa Lynn Mroz, born at 7:31pm weighing 5 pounds, 10.5 ounces and was 18 3⁄4 inches long. The girl without the painted toe was….we weren’t sure, we didn’t have a second girl’s name. The only other name I liked was Ellianna, so we decided to go with that. Then they asked how we would spell it, I got a piece of paper and wrote out 4 different spellings and then Mike and I chose one. Next was the middle name, we had nothing. I told Mike it needed to be short and he said Ruth. Perfect, Ruth is my grandmother’s first name. So the girl without her toe painted was Ellianna Ruth born at 7:41pm weighing 5 pounds 13.5 ounces and was 19 inches long.
At one point during the exam of the babies, Hannah came downstairs with a grapefruit and said “I brought a grapefruit for the babies to eat.” It was so cute. She went to bed at about 9:15pm because she was getting a little too crazy and was a bit overtired.
I can’t remember when, but our second midwife showed up sometime. She came all the way from Iowa and was pulled over twice on that way to my house. She got off both times—they actually believed her story.
Ok, what story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Facebook. At 8:20pm Mike posted the following on Facebook: “Here’s one for ya, Christina and I just delivered twins. All by ourselves in our bathroom downstairs. Two healthy girls, momma is great. She got the first one out and I got the second. UNREAL. What an experience. Thank You God for your help! Contractions at 6, twins at 7:30. More to come when things calm down.” Shock #8—telling other people our crazy story. He told me about the post and then said you will have to read the responses because they are pretty crazy. Some people thought we were joking and some people believed us. (I later learned some people called my parents to see if it was true and my best friend called her husband because she thought we might be joking but the husband totally believed we were telling the truth.)
Around 11pm, I had an herbal bath with both of the girls. My midwifery team commented that there was no clean up—which was very rare. But they did clean my bathroom and put a load of towels in the washer for us. At 11:45pm, our midwifery team all said good night and departed our house. Mike and I were now proud parents of not one but two baby girls.
My friend Megan left me a voicemail that said, “I think Jesus is smiling a little bit.” And she mentioned that it might have been a blessing that I didn’t know I was having twins. She was right on both accounts.
Yes, Jesus was smiling because he really is in control—not me. And yes, had I know I was having twins I probably would have thrown myself a huge pity party.
As I finish this really LONG story you probably have some questions.
How did we not know we were having twins? We never got an ultrasound to start. Second, we never noticed Ellianna. Elsa was the one the midwives always felt and the heartbeat we always heard. She was basically hiding Ellianna. Also, we discovered based on how they were born that both of the babies hands and feet faced my spine. Now it made total sense why I never felt little feet or hands like I did with my first two pregnancies. The only thing that was unusual was my waist circumference. I also had this weird lump right under my ribcage that we could never quite figure out but the midwives thought it was a knee. It was really the back of Ellianna’s head. (Both of my midwives had never misdiagnosed twins before.) I do remember looking at Elsa when she was first born and thinking she was tiny—Mike even said the same thing. No wonder I didn’t feel the “ring of fire”, like I had with my other two births. Also, I remember glancing at my belly once and thinking…boy it is still pretty rounded, I thought it would be more flat and squishy.
Were you scared? Not at all. I have never been afraid of birth. I’ve always known it is something I can do. The only time Mike and I were a little concerned was when Ellianna was first born she didn’t cry right away, but she did after about 30 seconds.
There really is not a way to end a story like this but to say…God is totally in control of my life—I totally got the message God! And, this is one heck of a story!
By Christina Mroz February 2011
Prepare for the Safest, Healthiest Birth for you Baby. Read Ina May's Guide To Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
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