Where do I begin? I feel like a birth story could really begin anywhere. Conception, or as you become educated, finding your birth team, but for sure before labor starts. Each birth story is unique and powerful. Each story has a purpose and is full of strength and determination.
I have two girls who have completely different birth stories! There is no common trait.
Raelynn was born on 12/08/2017. We induced on the sixth and they took her by emergency c-section on the eighth. I went into labor completely uneducated, without a birth team, and felt we really allowed the doctor to suggest and make all the decisions. This ultimately lead me into the surgical room after 30 hours of labor. I felt defeated, hurt, robbed, and sad. I didn’t feel empowered at all, I felt weak.
I found Coastal Doulas, Bonnie specifically, four weeks after giving birth. She invited me to attend a new moms’ group. There she helped walk me through processing my labor and delivery. She walked me through my feelings, helped me discover strength in what I felt was weakness, and changed the verbiage I used to describe how Raelynn came into this world. I began to feel empowered.
Fast forward two years, I found out I was pregnant again. I knew immediately I wasn’t having a baby without Bonnie, and I wanted a VBAC. My husband on the other hand, took a little convincing. I began to research the good, the bad, and the ugly of VBACs. I asked Bonnie all the questions in the books. At the time we were extremely unhappy with our previous provider and Bonnie directed me to one that was VBAC friendly. Sam still was not convinced about the VBAC, and for sure had no idea what a doula was and why we needed one. Bonnie took time to come over to our house to explain the ins and outs of what she provided and why she thought I would be a good candidate for a VBAC.
We took time to process and digest, ultimately moving forward with Costal Doulas, Bonnie, and our new provider. This was the best decision we could have ever made. Bonnie didn’t just start working in labor, but during my entire pregnancy she was by my side. I had her to answer questions, cry with me, laugh with me, and push me to keep going. She talked me through moments of fear and frustration, and encouraged me as I planned out my labor experience. She educated Sam and I so we knew what to expect, to prepare for all the decisions I might have to make throughout the process.
I walked into labor knowing that no matter what happened we were remaining in control and my goal was to delivery a healthy baby no matter what.
Azlynn cooked four days past her due date, I was doing all the things to spark labor. Walking, curb walking, bouncing, pumping, sex, tea, and finally the midwives’ brew. I went through false labor, or what I thought was labor, and Bonnie rushed to my house and slept on my couch just to put me back to bed and tell me I was fine. (She’s a saint)
On my birthday, 2/25, Azlynn was finally ready. I decided I would try the midwives’ brew one more time. I went on a 3.5 mile walk in the morning, rested, then decided to drink the stuff. Nothing happened. I decided to go to Target with a friend and BAM. things began to happen. I had a big bathroom break and contractions, little ones, started flowing.
I kept shopping because Bonnie had prepared me for this – Distract, Ignore, Move on. Keep going with normal life till you can’t anymore.
Naturally I bought a few things because first, it was my birthday, and second, I knew I was about to have a baby so the likelihood of Sam giving me a hard time about spending money at Target, was very slim!
When I got home, I ate a little something, and sat on the ball. I began to bounce, rocked my hips forward, and boom, my water breaks. This was the turning point for me! I immediately called Bonnie and felt completely out of control. I was using words like “this hurts worse than ever, they are very bad!” Bonnie quickly redirected me “Your contractions are strong, intense, powerful. You can doing this. Stay focused, rest, and have Sam update me.”
About five minutes after getting off the phone with Bonnie I knew I was no longer in distraction mode. Things had shifted and I was in labor, this was it, here we go.
I quickly got into the hot bathtub and had a friend begin to distract me with whatever conversation she could think of. We talked about family, clothes, friends, etc. My two year old came in during this time frame and they tried on shoes together in the bathroom, told me all about her day, and gave me a huge hug and kiss.
About that time, a hour in, I knew Raelynn had to go and I needed to concentrate. Contractions were hard, powerful, strong, and intense. I needed to focus and breathe through them. I stayed in the tub for most of my labor. When I got out I would sit on the ball and roll my hips. I don’t know how many times but I asked my husband (almost every contraction) when Bonnie was coming. I even tried my best to fake the timing of my contractions because I wanted her there faster, that in the end backfired on me.. Haha, I had misunderstood this one part about when Bonnie needed to come.
About three hours in my contractions had become closer in timing and were way more intense. Bonnie arrived and jumped right in to support us. She suggested different positions to make me more comfortable. Directed Sam in ways he could help me, and gave me the strength to keep going. She changed my mindset, reminded me of my goals, and held me through the pain. She told me to listen to my body, and be one with the baby. That’s what I did. My body told me not to get out of the tub. My body told me that the position I was in was doing work. Bonnie supported that, she made suggestions, but continued to tell me to listen to my body. I was doing so well that I didn’t know how close I was until my body began instinctually wanting to push.
Sam and I knew we wanted to wait labor at home as long as we possibly could before going to the hospital and this was something we had already discussed with our provider. We understood that when having a VBAC, the hospital can have stricter rules in place. I knew water was my comfort in any pain and the hospital had put that off limits in a VBAC. For that reason and many others, I knew I couldn’t labor there. We knew we would cut it close, we didn’t know it would be this close. Haha!.
At that point Bonnie looked at Sam and said “we are going”. Sam ran down stairs and began grabbing the last minute things we needed to put in the car. This is when I was hesitant. I didn’t want to get out of the tub, I didn’t think I had the strength to endure my contractions out of the water or in the car. Bonnie pulled me right out of the tub and didn’t give me a choice. She threw clothes on me, walked me down the stairs, and told me “Do not push, keep breathing.” So naturally….. I pushed. 😵😬
They shoved me in the car and we were off. Sam and Bonnie remained calm, they held me through the car ride, and encouraged me that we would get there and everyone would be safe. We pulled in, they jumped out, and had me get out of the car. Of course, because I’m Jessica, I fought them. “I can’t get out, I think the baby is right there.” Bonnie peeked in the top of my pants and sure enough she could see a tiny bit of hair. The two of them put me in a wheelchair and we were off.
Running into labor and delivery while Bonnie was telling everyone the name of my provider, that I was a VBAC, and that the baby was coming now. We rushed into a room where I was told to lie down on the bed. I refused. I was told multiple times to get on my back and I said, “NO”. Something before this birth I never knew I could say.
A random doctor rushed in to catch the baby who was in the hallway and had heard I was a VBAC. When he saw my provider’s backup doctor walk in, the random doc stepped back while the other doctor prepared to deliver. Before the backup doctor could get fully ready, the random doc rushed back over to me.
I had climbed onto the table on all fours, took one more push, and pushed that baby out. The doctor literally had to lean in quick to catch her. From the moment we pulled into the parking lot 9:21pm it had been just seven minutes. Azlynn was born 9:28pm. Surprisingly, none of it felt out of control. Everything had been planned and all of it now felt empowering. In that moment Bonnie gently reminded Sam and I of our options. She guided us through what was important to us so that we were able to advocate for ourselves and for our baby. We had done it.
We celebrated, cried, and soaked in every moment. We had accomplished our goal – a VBAC and a healthy baby girl delivered our way!
** Pictures taken by Alyssa Hurd