#16: My Birth Story: An Almost Unassisted Birth

My Birth Story: An Almost Unassisted Birth

Baby Isadora, a few days old, in her big brother's homebirth shirt.

My Birth Story: An Almost Unassisted Birth

listen to the audio podcast here:

GDF16COVER

or read the full story below:

1) early September 2013

pregnantI gather the 3 books out there on unassisted birth and read up...or rather try to. Completely unimpressed. There is not a single “how to” in the whole lot. Just a bunch of why I should do it, why the hospital sucks, and other people’s stories, religions, opinions. If you know me, I am more of a pragmatic, step-by-step sort of person. And in these 3 resources, and their corresponding websites, I find nothing to that effect.

In this mad search, nearing my daughter's due date, I am then led to two resources that do lend me many positive tools...Grantly Dick-Read’s Childbirth without Fear and Dr. White’s obscure, yet awesomely simple and helpful, 1970 cold war era pamphlet titled “Emergency Childbirth.”

Though these resources provide a good start to understanding birth in a way that will allow me to do it myself, I schedule a meeting with Whapio, founder of the Asheville-based midwifery school, The Matrona.

2) Tuesday September 17, 2013

teahouseI meet with Whapio today at the teahouse. She teaches midwives to attend birth “undisturbed” - and courses are taught online and in person. She also teaches a course on unassisted childbirth (which she unfortunately isn’t offering this time of year). So, I pick her brain about the mechanics of birth, what to have on-hand for unassisted birth, what signs of emergency to keep an eye out for (which would mean transferring to the hospital), the variations in normal birth, pain, pushing, stages of birth, all of that.

I meet with her to gain that last chip of confidence I need to fully commit to an unassisted homebirth. To gain knowledge so I don’t bring harm to myself or my unborn child. And to gain knowledge that will ultimately be transformed into the first handbook for unassisted, undisturbed birth. (Again, if you know me, I have a penchant for creating tools to fill gaps of information - things that I couldn't find when I needed them, I strive to make for others.)

Anyway, I emerge from this 3 hour meeting a changed woman. I have confidence. In knowing so much more, I feel like I need to know less. I feel prepared. I go home and tell my husband and we agree that this is the way we want to do it.

We collect a few additional supplies, discard a few, and just wait.

3) Thursday September 19, 2013

coffeeDuring my daily one mile walk to the neighborhood coffee house, I’m having contractions about every 5 or 6 minutes. They continue long after I’ve ordered my single Americano, sat down to work on Go Diaper Free, and got up far too many times to pee. I joke with the owner, Amber, an Austin and Brooklyn transplant, that I might just have my baby in their Cafe. They think it'd be pretty cool and I sit down to more contractions.

Per Grantly Dick-Read’s 1942 instructions, I welcome each contraction and allow them to do what they do: gradually open my cervix so little girl can make her entrance into this world. With every what-feels-like-a-menstrual-cramp down below, and every Braxton Hicks contraction at the top of my uterus and belly up higher, I relax into knowing that these are the sensations that tell me my cervix is secretly opening down below. And I don't have to do a thing. Very cool.

Practice, practice, practice....

All the way home. Every 5-6 minutes. I stop each time I get one and relax my whole body. Walking during a rush hurts. So I stop each time. I take my time. When I get home, I lay down and take a nap. Contractions have now disappeared. Wasn't labor. Just practice.

I think Wouldn’t it be cool if Isadora is born on the anniversary of my late Filipino grandmother’s birthday, Luz...which is tomorrow?

4) Saturday September 21, 2013

She hasn’t come yet, and neither have any more contractions...but at about 3pm I call my husband David into the bathroom to see what just came out into my underwear. Sorry if this is TMI, but there is a huge ball of mucous sitting there, about the size of a quarter, sphered. It is white with no “bloody show” and I didn’t know quite what to think. So I show it to him, and we are both amused and excited that this could be my “plug” that has just come out.

5) Sunday September 22, 2013

kaiva

My lovely son.

My son POOPS in the bathtub. He is 3 and well beyond this! He scoots backward in the water, appalled, and says “Get it out!” I say “What is it?” And he replies, “I pooped!”

I am sitting on the toilet at this time, in no position to get poop out, but this is a certifiable emergency. As I get up, a bunch of *stuff* comes out of my yoni. Oh my! It’s white mucous mixed with brownish cream (again, TMI? Sorry!) and there is a LOT of it. I notice there is also a lot in the toilet, a lot running down my leg, and a lot still coming forth. I squeeze my yoni shut and waddle my big pregnant self to the bathtub, swiftly remove said poop from the tub with a scoop of my free hand, and plop it into the toilet.

I call in David “Help! Emergency here.” And he enters while on the phone with his mother. He’s explaining to her that we are going to do an unassisted birth at home, and she is freaking out. I show him what all just came out of me and he tells her and she becomes more freaked out, and I say, “You know, I’ve got this. Go on and talk to your mom.” So he complies, looking excited and amused yet again.

This occurs at 8pm.

6) Monday September 23, 2013, late night - Tuesday September 24, 2013, early morning

last chocolate

My last treat before the movie, before labor...liquid chocolate truffle.

We rent Life of Pi and watch it for a second time. It is very long and beautiful.

At 11:30pm I get myself to bed and David stays up to work on our new website design. I lay there for about 30 minutes and at the end begin to time the cramps I’m having. The iPhone...it’s so great...I use the lap timer and begin timing at the end of a cramp.

counting contractions

My iPhone and how I timed my contractions.

4 minutes and 53 seconds pass, then a cramp begins and I time it. 1 minute 14 seconds long. Then another break of 4 minutes 15 seconds. And another cramp lasting 1 minute 25 seconds. After 12 minutes of timing in this way, I realize that I might be in labor. I get out of bed and tell my husband that I can’t sleep. That it might be happening but I’m not sure.

I get out the picnic tablecloth with the flannel side and the plastic side, and all the towels, and lay them on the kitchen table. This is what Whapio (the woman who runs the midwifery program in town) suggested I birth on. I get out my paints. I figure I’ll do something creative for a little while. But, my body has different plans.

I ask my husband to get off the computer and turn his phone off. The cramps, now identified as contractions, rushes, whatever you want to call them, are very regular and I feel like I want electronics off.

I then ask him to clean the living room.

Such a wonderful husband...he complies happily.

For the next 2 hours I have regular cramps and I work thru each of them with grace and calm, just as Grantly advised in his tome written 70-some-odd years ago. I just relax and let them do what they're doing.

I ask hubby to fill a tub and I get in. The pain is beginning.

Now, Grantly said there is no pain if you don’t fight it. So I try really hard to relax. I end up clawing at my husband’s arms and my deep groans and words turn gradually into screaming and “No!!”’s. It’s kind of humiliating. I feel like I’m losing control.

Now, in Grantly’s book, this would be what he calls that desire for “escape”...which would indicate transition. But I am so in the zone that I can not identify up nor down. I can only get up and shake a little here and there, try to walk, try to breathe, try to relax, and then scream and growl and claw my poor husband. He sits solidly and is there for me. Quietly closes the front windows so as to not indicate I’m being too loud, but to make sure the neighbors aren’t bothered or alarmed. Brings me water and ice and makes sure the towels come with me. He is great and I see that he passes the imaginary test. I truly trust him.

I tell him “Honey, we are not having another baby. I’m sorry. I’m not doing this again.” He says “Ok.”

I try the tub again but I just can’t keep it together any more. I try the toilet again. The pain is unbearable and I am totally fighting it, even though I know I shouldn’t. I sink into the she-wolf inside of me, fully becoming the character. Fully expressing this pain, resistance, and the deep feminine ferocity that we all possess deep inside.

I’ve thrown up twice already and go to do it again in the kitchen sink. He cleans up after me.

Now we’re in the hall and I’m on one knee and I feel into my yoni. Not too far but I touch it. I am disappointed to not feel a head. I wish I knew what was happening, but all I can say is this:

“I feel like I’m in the way. Like I’m keeping her from coming out.”

Retrospect is always 20/20, isn’t it?

My husband and I both now realize (2 weeks later is when it occurs to me) that this statement was my body’s way of saying “it’s time to push.” But given my last birth experience, when I wanted to push far too early, and ended up pushing for 4 painful hours...well, without 3 midwives here to coach me this time, I didn’t feel up to it at all. It’s been an hour of this screaming and contractions about 1-2 minutes apart. I am starting to be afraid, feeling in the way of the process, and desiring a way out. In retrospect, I could have pushed at the top of the 3rd hour. I was likely fully in transition, and likely fully dilated, at that time. I did *such* a great job in Stage 1 of Labor that this was almost certain...but only in retrospect. But in the moment, I don’t know, and I just persist until I tell myself I can’t do it any longer. I feel again...no head. Lots of pressure, but no head.

I try to call a friend, but she doesn’t answer. She did an unassisted birth. She might know what to tell me. But she doesn’t answer. I have no one else to call...I don’t think anyone would be awake anyway. It’s just me and him. Which is how I want it, but now I feel stuck.

The fear of what might happen if I turned those screams into pushes overwhelms me, and I ask David to take me to the hospital. To get them to take this baby out of me no matter what it takes. Visions of c-sections, of epidurals, of any kind of way out provided by modern medicine, overwhelm me with hope of this soon ending.

Again, in retrospect: transition. Time to push.

But my body doesn’t say, “Bear down; push! Time to push!”

It just says “Ouch! Tighten up! Scared!” My husband, being supportive as he is, grabs the keys and gets me outdoors. I stand in the driveway and scream so loudly I am certain everyone in the neighborhood will wake up. Thank god my son isn’t with me tonite. I so wanted him to experience the birth, but I feel malequipped and am certain I’d be scaring him if he were here. Plus, it’s 3:15 in the morning! He is sleeping soundly down the street. That is good.

I finally make it into the car. I tell my husband to call the hospital and tell them we’re coming. 3 times in their conversation they pause for my 30 second-long scream. It is excruciating and I can hardly sit on the towel underneath me. I grab his arm. Luckily the hospital is only 10 minutes away. 3 contractions later, we arrive. I have one in the doorway and the nurse looks at me, confused. David says “she’s in labor. Where do we go?” And she snaps into the present and says “Oh, yes, this way!”

I sit in the wheelchair and the woman seems to not know where to go either! I am a little miffed.

So we get into the delivery room. It is dimly lit, comfortable, and there are 3 or 4 nurses there who are really nice. They pull my skirt off on the count of 3 and I hop onto the table. I want to be on my knees but end up on my side. They are trying to check my dilation but I’m mid-contraction. I squeeze my yoni shut, and tell them "no," until it ends, screaming all the while. They quickly check and say “She’s fully dilated. She’s a 10.” And I think...

No shit. No wonder. I could have pushed at home, damnit.

The British nurse, oh how I love her voice, says, “Ok darlin, you need to turn those screams into pushes.” Again, it dawns on me that I could have done that at home. But I didn’t know. She wasn’t there to tell me. David didn’t know.

So I lean into her voice and close my eyes. She counts to 10 for me each time and tells me to stop pushing when the contraction ends.

They get me onto my back and push my legs in. This is how I birthed Kaiva, but on my bed. I am afraid because I pushed 4 hours for him like this. But they assure me it’s happening now. I lean more closely in to the British nurse’s counting, to her voice, allowing her to guide me into letting my baby out.

At home, I was keeping her in. Here, I could let her out. I felt safe.

(Surprisingly...as I hate hospitals and have such a strong bias against birthing in a place like this!)

But this is my team now and I accept them. David holds my left leg and tells me I’m doing great. They keep trying to monitor the baby with the fetal monitor, but luckily they never strap it on, and the heartbeat is strong despite all I know about the tendency for it to go up and down during labor and birth...so that’s good.

I flip over onto my knees, quicker than the nurses say they've ever seen, and the OB says I can stay there if I want but that I did better on my back. David says “she’s right” and I obey, as much as it hurts.

But pushing feels great!

So, about 2 or 3 more contractions of pushing and I feel the head coming out. I don’t reach down like last time. I just close my eyes and focus on meeting Isadora. It’s pretty amazing.

It doesn’t hurt until her head is coming out, and with that I just lean into the Brit’s voice. It passes.

I feel the natural pause between her head and body coming out but the stinking doc is pulling her body to get her out. I remind them not to take her from me. They agree.

She pops right out and everyone is excited. As almost an afterthought (albeit a very important one), I say, “Don’t cut the cord yet!” And the doc says, “Sorry, already clamped it.”

Ugh. Really?

I am disappointed but they lay my daughter on my belly and she gets her lungs about her. It takes her a while and they really don’t do much to her. It’s pretty low intervention.

When they hand her to me, Isadora pees all over my leg. Twice! (Ah, the EC begins...we of course cue along with her. "Psssss...")

Then they start on my placenta. Wow. Oh the pain! The doc kneads and pulls and pushes and I think I actually hit her hand off me at one point, telling her to stop, that it will come on its own accord.

David calms me down and says, “You wanted to come here, so they are going to do what they do now.”

He’s right...and for the moment I feel like a failure.

I feel like a failure...EXCEPT it’s only 4:14am when Isadora comes out, and I did it without intervention, drugs, or c-section...my birth, as I wanted it, would be very quick and all natural. Those things ended up happening! However, out of principle, I wanted it at home, but it was my choice to come here. I needed coaching.

I am fighting the feeling of failing by telling myself, “Wow, I was only here for 30 minutes til she came out! A 4 hour labor. That is nice.”

I look at my daughter. I don’t feel like a failure for the moment. She is perfect.

born

My new baby...idn't she lovely....

I hold her, nurse her a little, feel the incredible post-birth cramping that only comes with a second (or subsequent) child, feel the doctor pressuring the placenta out. I get her to lay off for 15 minutes so it can come out naturally. She does. Finally I birth the placenta and to my surprise they allow us to keep it, to take it home with us.

I get to hold my daughter, skin to skin, for a good hour til they ask if Daddy can come to the middle of the room where they’ll take her weight, height, and a little blood from the heel to test sugars. He does, she hardly cries...it’s all good. I rest and relax like in the French book (Bringing Up Bebe).

I trust him. I somehow trust them. Except this doctor. Geez.

So I decide to cut through the mistrust and talk to the doc as she examines me. “No tears,” she says and I am happy with that. I had no tears with Kaiva but this was much quicker. My body came through after all.

I then share with the doctor that I teach infant potty training, or elimination communication, and that this is pretty cool that she peed on me. I have all sorts of energy and feel very chatty all of a sudden. I like that there are 4 women in the room with us and I take advantage as if it’s social hour (but it’s really 5am!).

Very much to my surprise, Dr. Wang says that she was born in Hong Kong and that her mother did infant potty training with her and her brother, and that the only thing she didn’t like is that her brother was out of diapers before she was! I ask her by what age she was trained.

The doc says “Oh, by 1 year old I was out of diapers.”

I lay there, holding my baby, satisfied, knowing that this is all for a reason. I ask the doc a few more questions...did they wear split pants (not sure), how long did it take with her brother (11 months - she was jealous that he finished sooner than she did)...and then I sort of revel in the irony and coincidence of it all. The synchronicity.

I am in a hospital.

The delivering doctor was ECed as a child in Hong Kong.

We get transferred upstairs at around 6am, right before dawn. The room is cozy and has a beautiful view. They never take my baby from me. They honor my request to get me out of there within 12 hours. Somehow, it works out.

Every 30 minutes someone interrupts our sleep. I wish I were at home! Leave me alone already. The nurse, the food, the photographer, the other nurse....blah blah blah.

I take a shower. I enjoy 3 somewhat fresh, free, and served-to-me meals. I don’t have to lift a finger. I get all sorts of free things like pads, disposable underwear, diapers. I don’t have anything to clean up.

I let them take care of me. Pamper me, even.

I call in Ibuprofen when the cramps get bad. I keep everyone on schedule with “I will be leaving in 12 hours...let’s make that happen.” Pediatrician. OB. Everyone comes and goes, comes and goes. We don’t invite family or friends. We text the parents. We post to Facebook our little girl’s arrival. But mostly we snooze. Hubby on the couch, me in the bed, baby in our arms or the bassinet.

Deemed healthy, we leave at 5pm that night.

Not bad for a hospital birth!

I feel waves of the grieving process inherent with most births...the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s...the if only’s.

Bargaining, sadness, anger (mostly with myself for my own ignorance), acceptance, denial. The usual 5.

I tell David, “Well, I guess I don’t need to write that book on Unassisted Birth anymore, huh?” Feeling like a failure again. Sad. Disappointed. But somehow also pleased with myself for such a quick and healthy birth.

Oh, the juxtaposition of the success and failure of birth. My.

parentsHe says, much to my surprise, “Yes you can. And you should. There are two things we didn’t know early this morning that we now know it would have been useful to know. Number 1, how to check for full dilation. Neither of us knew that. And Number 2, how to know when to push. Was it evident in what you were feeling? When you wanted to escape? And if we knew you were dilated, could you have pushed? How would you...turning the screams into pushing like the nurse said? Now we know all of that. You didn’t have the urge to push, you didn’t know you were ready to...and now we know two keys to the puzzle. These are things women need to know to do this. And you wouldn’t have learned those two things if you didn’t go through this.”

I sit there, totally impressed by this man. He is right. And furthermore, the fact that I didn’t have a fully unassisted birth...well, that just makes my story more realistic, people less attached to some unreal expectation of the “perfect birth.” This is a really, really good thing after all.

I agree to write my book anyway. To collect the information that was missing from my toolbox and give it to the people who have always held this wisdom in the past: the women.

And then I say to my love, “Darling, I do want to have another baby with you. And this time, I will know just what to do. He’ll come out in just an hour or two and I will know when and how to push him out.”

We smile, we embrace, we catch our baby’s first poop.

first poo

We tell the nurse and she’s disappointed it’s not in the diaper. Hah. Oh well.

Over the next 2 weeks I have doubts, regrets, feelings of failure and disappointment. But I also have feelings of pride, success, happiness, and acceptance.

My birth was 4 hours. It was half painless, half painful (but the pain is now something I can see as purposeful). I was able to work through 3/4 of the labor at home with the man I love. Had I been in the hospital the whole time, I know I would have caved in to offerings of intervention. I would have complained. I would have allowed intervention. I was able to labor at home...to push for 30 minutes at the hospital was a good exchange for this valuable time at home!

Yes, it could have been just 2 hours. It could have been 95% painless, 5% painful. We could have spared 12 hours at the hospital and had the perfect homebirth, unassisted and undisturbed.

But we didn’t.

That is not the reality of it.

That is not what happened, and therefore, that is not what was meant to happen. This was what was meant to be. This was perfect.

In the end, I wanted coaching. Needed it. And I needed to learn a couple more things that have been lost in the absence of birth wisdom...to share with others, as is my natural inclination. If it hadn’t happened this way, I would not hold the potential to help others nearly as much. So, for this purposeful event, I am so grateful. I see the deeper reason that the Universe has put behind it, and I appreciate that.

holding hands

I have a beautiful 4 week old daughter. Despite being in the hospital, I was able to preserve her umbilical cord and prepare her placenta through dehydration. Yes, she didn’t have the full benefit of minutes or hours of an uncut cord, but I also didn’t have her taken from me, drugged, or otherwise distressed.

I suppose it’s all a trade-off in the end.

And another lesson learned: tell the husband these things, ahead of time..."I do not want the cord clamped immediately”...just in case. Have a back-up plan, a hospital plan, without believing you’ll end up there. And if you do, there’s a reason. But with the proper preparation, we can all have the birth we want. It’s my aim to translate this birthing experience of mine into something helpful for the greater community. Wish me luck.

And thanks for listening to my story.

xx Andrea

If my almost unassisted birth story has affected you in any way, or inspired you to share something similar, or any thoughts at all, please leave a comment below.

NOTE: Please be sensitive with my and others' stories...they are very personal after all. :)

[If you'd like to follow our starting Elimination Communication from birth with Isadora, please visit our blog. I'll be starting that series next week.]

Andrea Olson

About Andrea Olson

I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 3 children (5, 2, and 5 months) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day.

72 Comments

  1. Jackie on October 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Wow.. You are brave and amazing. Congratulations. She is gorgeous!

  2. VA on October 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Nice story and congrats. Was there a reason you didn’t want to have a midwife at home? That’s what I’ll be trying for in December (my first birth was a complete 180 from what I had wanted/planned, but that’s life).

    • Andrea Olson on October 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      Yes, actually, I felt that with my first homebirth that my 3 midwives were wonderful but they also made so many suggestions that I felt like my birth was being “managed” and this time around just wanted a less crowded, more intimate experience with just my husband. Not to mention the cost of a midwife! But it is worth it if you have one that you are happy working with. I loved my midwives…and I am happier doing birth by myself, honestly. :)

      • Sandra on November 1, 2013 at 12:56 am

        What a great story, a beautiful name and precious precious baby girl!! Thank you for sharing your story; you’ve inspired me to write my own!

        I had a doula at my birth and have to say I share your sentiment of feeling like my birth was overly managed too. I wasn’t really given the opportunity to go inside myself during labor and was constantly following her commands and cues. I hope to do it differently next time around.

        Also thanks for your Emergency Childbirth reference. I definitely felt that overwhelming desire to escape! Boy was It was such a strong, overwhelming feeling- it would have been helpful to know that was coming. I will surely read this before my next child. Maybe it would’ve helped me manage what was happening better. The last 2 hours of my labor was very similar – lots of screaming, feeling too like I wasn’t able to control anything and the same desire to be saved.

        Thanks again for sharing!

        • Andrea Olson on November 1, 2013 at 5:19 pm

          I’m so happy that my story helped you as well, Sandra. Thank you for sharing part of your experience, too. It’s so interesting how this part of labor tends to happen and some of us don’t know what to do in that situation. Escape could really mean let that baby out! :) I’m honored to read your experience!

  3. Sara G on October 22, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Wonderful story, very realistic and true. Thank you so much for sharing, once again.

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      You’re so welcome – thank you for bearing witness to it. :)

  4. Kt on October 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Great job Andrea! Thank you for sharing. I love reading birth stories. Perhaps a doula would be a good fit for you. I had a doula that labored at home with us for two days and one night and then several hours at the hospital with my midwife. I couldn’t have made it through all the home labor without my doula’s gentle suggestions, reassurance, and support.

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      Yes, Kt, I considered a doula…perhaps if I met the right one I would definitely be open to that. Then again, my husband served as a pretty good one. LOL. Thx so much for sharing your story, dear!

  5. Joanna on October 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Congratulations!!! As somebody told me – in the end the most important thing is you’ve got your baby and you are both healthy.

    I had good birth experience. It happened twice at home. Everybody kept telling me I was crazy. No hospital? But the truth is during labour and birth hormones work much better when not disturbed by medical conditions and fear and in familiar calm surrounding. During birth I was assisted by the team of two midwives and my husband. For the first time I screamed a lot but I gave birth at home and me and baby were fine. For the second time I was wiser and ready to welcome contractions as something getting us closer to the baby. It happened just one year ago (my second daughter just celebrated her 1st birthday last week) but I remember that wonderful day when she was born very clearly. I had great wise experienced NHS midwife who guided me through the labour and birth. She did not put hands on me at all just only telling me what was happening and how I should react. When my body said bear down and push the midwife advise me not to push. Apparently while birthing the head it is the woman’s body which does the job by contracting muscles. When I felt I needed to push the secret was to chant or to blow imaginary feather in the air. And it worked. I delivered the baby in squatting position by fire place in our sitting room without any drugs. It was powerful. And it should be done like that because women’s body it designed to do it naturally. I think it is good to trust the power of nature and have good wise coach too.

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Yes, Joanna, I totally agree. Nature and a coach’s wisdom, together. I wish we were taught, during pregnancy, what your midwife knew: “She did not put hands on me at all just only telling me what was happening and how I should react.” Very valuable and I’m so happy you had her there to help you! xx Andrea

  6. Rita on October 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Your birth story sounds so much like mine. We planned an unassisted birth at home. I reached a point where I was getting worn down from the pain and couldn’t tell how far dilated I was. I was afraid I had begun pushing too soon and had caused my cervix to swell. We went to the hospital to find that I was fully dilated and ready to have a baby. In hindsight, I know I was in transition when I reached that breaking point at home. The only major difference between our birth experiences is that I pushed a lot longer at the hospital than you did! I arrived around 1:00 and my baby girl came just before 4:00 am. I’m so happy everything turned out okay for you, and I don’t think you should feel like a failure at all. Even though I did NOT want to give birth in a hospital, I have no regrets about what happened. I made the decisions that were right for me in the moment. Of course, it helped tremendously that the hospital staff was mostly very polite and respectful of my choices. I’m currently expecting baby #2 and am planning a midwife-assisted homebirth because I now know that I need someone (other than my husband) for support and encouragement. Again, I’m so happy everything turned out well for you!

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      Rita, I am so happy to see how your first birth taught you how you’d like your second to go…with support from a midwife and your husband. And thank you for sharing your story, too. Were you the one who emailed that to me? I think I remember it, if that was you. Anyway, “I made the decisions that were right for me in the moment.” YES. Good for you!!! I feel the same way…now. xx

  7. Vicki Hibbins on October 22, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am in the UK and had a wonderful home birth with a doula that I hired and 2 midwives provided by the National Health Service. It was interesting reading about your need to escape during transition – I asked for aliens to beam me up! However I didn’t need to try to push it just happened. It was involuntary like sneezing. It’s amazing how our bodies work!

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Like sneezing! Oh, my…I wish my body worked like that. It’s amazing how different we all work. And aliens!! Yes, that would have been a nice alternate way out, indeed! Thanks for sharing part of your story, Vicki! :)

  8. Audra Kring-Miles on October 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    LOVED…LOVED your story!! Made me cry (happy tears)…I wanted a home birth for my little girl in March of 2012 here in the USA, but had already checked into midwives and most insurances won’t pay for “unconventional” practices like that. The cost would have been about $3000 upfront! So, I wound up being in the hospital for 18 hours before birth, with an epidural that only worked on half of my body (can you say useless?), and a fever during labor..alas baby and I turned out GREAT…after a stint back in the hospital for jaundice 3 days later. If I am blessed enough to become pregnant again..HOME BIRTH is my birth plan!!
    CONGRATS.. Loved the story and pics!!

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      Audra – thank you sweetie! And thanks for sharing part of your story. Yes, the cost and crazy reasons that insurance doesn’t cover homebirth in most states (um, it’s illegal for midwives to deliver at home in 26-odd states!!??!! Crazy.)….totally a barrier to having the births we want. It’s so unfortunate. I wish all the best for your next birth experience should you be blessed with another baby…xx Andrea

  9. Miranda Gonzales on October 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I’m glad to read this. Every birth story I read in preparing for my son to arrive (he’s 1 already!) talked about the urge to push, your body takes over and does it for you, pushing feels like a relief, on and on. I had a midwife birth in a hospital, no pain meds, mostly just my hubs and I working through it together, but in the end, I never felt the urge to push, none of it. I needed labor and delivery nurses holding my legs and the midwife telling me what to do. I felt like my body didn’t work. Now I know someone else had a similar experience, and what I could try if I have the same situation again.

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      Awesome, Miranda. I am grateful for the story you’ve shared. I think your body did work, just in a different way. I want to find out what various ways each woman’s body *does* tell them to push…and how we can translate that in labor, depending on our own body’s language, if that makes sense. I just really appreciate you sharing your story! Thank you

      • Miranda Gonzales on October 25, 2013 at 9:48 pm

        Awesome! I don’t know of anything like that right, so that will be helpful to many women I’m sure!

  10. Sheila on October 22, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Oh, please do write that book. Some of us would really like to know all you learned! I have heard that you can check dilation without feeling inside, something about a red line that appears between the anus and vagina? With my second birth, I declined all exams but the midwife somehow knew it was time for me to push anyway. Next time, I’d like to remember that feeling and know it’s time all by myself.

    Anyway, it was a beautiful birth story and I think it happened just the way it was meant to. What a lovely baby.

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 10:34 am

      Thanks for the encouragement, Sheila! I will have to look into this red line business…sounds interesting! I think I know the feeling now and will remember for next time, and I’d bet there’s a bunch of indicators we can scrape up to give women a whole range to choose from. Thanks so much for sharing!! xx Andrea

    • nila on October 24, 2013 at 5:52 am

      I took a midwife course and it said the red line at the top of the bum crack was an indication of dilation. As well as the bum cheeks spreading apart, I think. I did not have a red line ever in the whole birth of my son on 10/24/2013, my midwife was looking for it, so I guess it’s not an indicator for everyone. But in both of my labors(birthing times), the bag of waters broke as an indication to start pushing. However, the baby will be born without any intentional pushing because the uterus is going to push it out.

      • Andrea Olson on October 28, 2013 at 10:35 am

        Thanks for sharing Nila – and congrats on your brand new baby!! Yay!! Good to hear your perspective. I wonder about the baby being born without any intentional pushing…I feel I was ready and needing to push for about an hour and a half…would my uterus really have just pushed it out on its own, or was it trying to tell me to help? Kind of like when you have a big bowel movement and your body says (in whatever way it communicates) to help the sphincters push it out. Thoughts anyone?

  11. jill on October 22, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Amazing

  12. Emily on October 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Way to put yourself out there, Andrea. Thank you for sharing your raw, real story. I hope that folks will read and share your post with care and respect–we all make choices that others disagree with–but it takes a lot of courage and humility to be up front with choices that we ourselves may have struggled to accept. Good for you for seeing beauty and hope in the face of the unexpected; what a gift for you as a woman, and for your family!

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      Thank you for your kindness, Emily, I’m glad you enjoyed it…I hope the same for the reading and sharing! <3

  13. Kaylie on October 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    That’s a beautiful story! It makes me want to do it all again and I never thought I would say that.

  14. Gemma (Australia) on October 22, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing Andrea. I love hearing/reading birth stories. There are too many painful/sorrowful experiences out there surrounding births in our western society (nearly always involving intervention in hospital). Due to this,and the fear it invokes in women preparing to birth, I think it is really important to share as many positive stories surrounding birth as possible. When I say ‘positive’ I don’t mean that everything goes according to an ideal plan, but just having a positive/thoughtful attitude to however it happens and looking at the feelings that come up and why and trying to overcome anger and guilt relating to the experience (as you have done above so articulately). There seem to be women who don’t wish to revisit or relive their experience because it is too painful, which is sad. Wouldn’t it be great if we could shift the focus from fear and inevitable pain to learning, growth, wonder, acceptance and giving women more hope, strength and courage as they approach birth.
    I have experienced birth in a birth centre (natural, 12hrs) and at home with a private midwife (natural, 2.5hrs). Both were great, hard but wonderful, and I found that reading a lot about labour and birth (both physiological and stories) helped me to realise that I could influence my experience hugely just by the attitude that I cultivated as pregnancy progressed and the mental ‘tools’ I used during labour.
    Thanks again for sharing and your EC work (we are having much success with ECing our second baby, more so than our first and a lot of that is thanks to your wonderful information and support). And now that I’ve read your birth story and made these comments, I really need to get back to finishing writing my birth experience for my second baby – which was now 5 months ago! I need to capture the experience before it grows any foggier in my mind!

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Yes! Capture it before it fades, Gemma! :) I never wrote mine for my first and yet I recall sharing with my midwives a bit of it…standing in that liminal space between life and death, not sure which I was experiencing…all I remember. Perhaps it’s never too late. I really appreciate your comment, too, and will probably come back and read it again and again as I embark on my birth project in the future. What you’re describing (so very articulately yourself!) needs to be shared. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could shift the focus from fear and inevitable pain to learning, growth, wonder, acceptance and giving women more hope, strength and courage as they approach birth.” Yes!!! And storytelling most definitely helps this. The whole *process* of bringing a story forth helps this. It heals. Not just for the person sharing their story, but for everyone with whom the story resonates. So thank you for putting all this out there. And you are so welcome re: EC…I am glad it’s going well! xoxo Andrea

  15. Becky on October 22, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I loved reading this story. The part that made me teary was this more general truth about birth, that I felt and feel so strongly, but never knew was shared: “I feel waves of the grieving process inherent with most births…the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s…the if only’s.”

    Thank you

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      Becky, thank you…I am so glad to resonate together. So glad. <3 Andrea

  16. Barbi on October 22, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    you write so clearly – and its so valuable to read your experience – particularly yr description of the grieving process….. which I feel Im still going through after complications in the birth of my daughter!
    There is some much variation and mystery in the birth process…. & you’ve given some really deep reflections!

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      Barbi, thank you for writing your comment. I’m not sure if you knew but the next big project on my mind besides the UA handbook is to produce a dance/performance piece on birth…because as you’ve shared, there are SO many women who are presently in the grieving process for their own births and, being a therapist, I really want to help in some way…perhaps by sharing stories in this way…normalizing things…stuff we all go thru but don’t really have an outlet for. It is so hard to process a birth…especially one with complications, which is the norm instead of the exception, unfortunately. I wish you peace in resolving yours for yourself…in time, it comes, I suppose. [And then sometimes goes up and down again when least expected.] Yes, so much variation, so much mystery….thank YOU for sharing, love. xx

  17. Alexis on October 22, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing! Your voice is so sweet! I can’t wait to read your unassisted birth book! :) Congrats again! She is beautiful!

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks so much Alexis…I’m glad hubby gave me a few hours to be able to record it. Can’t wait to share the UA book…thank you for the encouragement!

  18. Heather Lofquist on October 22, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    I don’t know if you felt it, but when it was time to push for me (drug-free birth – at the hospital), I totally felt the urge to push. They’d told me all about that at my Bradley Method classes and I didn’t know what to expect, but when it happened, I totally knew it.

    Also, I’ve done some research on the cord-clamping/cutting and too long of a time period before it’s cut can have negative consequences, and that the baby should be on the mother’s abdomen or lower (to ensure blood flows into the baby vs out of the baby – even though technically, the placenta is still pumping blood). They recommend 1-3 minutes (at 3 minutes, the baby has regained 90% of the blood).

    I don’t remember my placenta being an issue at all. I must have had a contraction and it came out. It was pretty fast after delivery.

    Don’t be mad at yourself for not going through with it all at home. Birth is a whirlwind and it can be scary if you don’t really know what is going on. I went into my labor intending to not have drugs, but the first thing I said was, “I don’t know…I think I might like an epidural!” My nurses were the ones who convinced me that it wouldn’t get any worse than it was and that I could totally handle it. I’m so glad they did. They also helped me push. I wanted to try all the different positions I’d learned in my Bradley classes and I really wanted to push while squatting, but I’m not sure I could’ve even gotten into those positions through my contractions and the things the nurses suggested totally worked for me. I went to the hospital at 6-7 cm at 11 pm and Isabella was born at 3 am.

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      Heather – thank you so much for sharing your story! I really enjoyed reading it and reliving it with you. I think 1 minute might have passed when the cord was clamped…I was so in that post-birth zone…so that eases my mind in that one area that is a big “what if….” So thanks. I didn’t really *translate* the need to push from what was happening to me…but now I can describe it. The pressure down below, the desire to escape, to be saved from this, to get out of the way of her coming out (that was the biggest one), the screaming, the inability to control anything…those could possibly be descripters of “time to push”! Got to sit with that one for a bit. I’m not mad at myself now but I definitely went thru the wave of ups and downs that comes with any sort of regret or second-guessing in retrospect. Today I feel good about it. Again, reading your story was wonderful- thanks! xx Andrea

  19. Sarah Zhou on October 23, 2013 at 2:16 am

    Congratulations Andrea! :)

    “Crunchy mamas” are so hard on themselves; it’s a victory, not a failure, that you were open-minded enough to choose the hospital. (I hate to see personal ideology get in the way of baby’s best interests.)

    I had an unassisted birth … accidentally. My now eighteen-month-old (literally) popped out over the toilet in our bathroom. From “please call the midwife now” to “too late” – half an hour. She didn’t make it, neither did the paramedics.

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Half an hour!!! Wow. That is so cool. And exciting. :) You are so right about how hard we are on ourselves. It’s so funny how “crunchy” can also equal “perfectionist” and “righteous” and “ego-centric” and “determined to maintain a certain identity.” LOL. Anyway…yes…personal ideology should not trump everything else, as every experience calls for a unique response, depending on the factors at hand, and the moment, all which are forever changing….. Thanks for sharing your story Sarah. xx

  20. Christine Powell on October 23, 2013 at 7:29 am

    I would love to read a book on unassisted birth written by you, I know it will be a fantastic how-to tool, can you have it done before my next birth? ;) She is gorgeous, congratulations! You did good xXx

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      I can try! What’s your due date again, or is there one yet? I get everyone’s dates and preg status all mixed up, there are so many of you gorgeous mamas! BTw…thank you! <3

      • Christine Powell on October 24, 2013 at 5:05 am

        Not due yet, and a newly single mom, so you have LOTS of time, lol :D

        • Andrea Olson on October 28, 2013 at 10:33 am

          Oh, whew. :) I will be working on it!

  21. Jennifer on October 23, 2013 at 10:19 am

    One of the main difference between humans birthing and animals birthing is the social aspect of it. I believe we are meant to give birth in the presence of other, more knowledgable women. There’s nothing wrong with getting coaching. Congrats Andrea and David!

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      Jennifer, I really like this perspective you’ve brought. We are definitely different by our social nature and complex reasoning and thousands of other factors. Perhaps next time David can be my coach…we will work on that! :)

  22. alamasama on October 23, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    My boy’s birth was similar in a way. I wasn’t hung on anything but the less drugs the better and in the end I arrived at the hospital at 930am and baby was out at 957am..
    But I still regret being all that time in the hospital.
    So just breathe baby out next time.. and until then just know that you did the best thing and that it was all natural as you wanted it!

    • Andrea Olson on October 23, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      Thanks for sharing part of your story! And thanks for the encouragement for next time. <3 xx

  23. Mito on October 23, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    there is your dream birth and then there is your actual birth…it is the first death..the first letting go of mothering, this letting go of the dream and accepting who and what wants to come through you. Beautiful ,honest story. thank you deeply for sharing.

    • Andrea Olson on October 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      Kristen! Thank you so much for sharing such a true and moving sentiment. It is a matter of acceptance and part of the whole package…thank you for the reminder. Love you.

  24. Mrs. Shaffer IV on October 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I love your writing, it’s easy to read and makes me feel like we are talking face to face. Wonderful story! I love your positive outlook, I wish I could have shared this with SIL two years ago when she needed it after the birth of her first daughter but I’m sure she’ll still benefit from it now considering her first birth is still a pain to her.
    I was overall happy with my birth, not anything I was expecting but I have a healthy boy none the less. I figured since I’m young, early 20’s, my body be would be like “pft, birthing…I got this. I was designed for this!” Only to discover that nearly all my amniotic fluid had disappeared who knows where and Clyde needed to come out before it got dangerous for him. I was disappointed that my body wasn’t preparing for birth, absolutely nothing was happening just fluid disappearing. I went from amazon warrior ready to tackle birth to fearful westerner because of the stories I had read of others saying that with the medication and the rupturing of what little remaining fluid I had would rapidly cascade pain so severe and so overwhelming I wouldn’t be able to handle it like I anticipated. And not only quick intense pain but that it would also drag out my labor and delivery to miserably longer hours than if it happened naturally. I went from laughing the nurses away who asked if I planned on an epidural to clutching my husband for support while his dad held us both up for support and his mom told the nurses to give me an epidural. All in all I ended up on my back with drugs just the opposite of what I planned. I still feel like a woman even though I used drugs and didn’t feel the pain, I felt the pressure just no pain. I’m happy but I won’t be birthing any siblings for my son. I’ll leave baby making to the SIL. Congratulations on your beautiful girl, lovely new family and I hope your new book will have the same great success as your previous endeavors.

    • Andrea Olson on October 24, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, lady. I feel so moved by it. Is this experience the reason you will not be birthing any siblings? I am curious about that part…I can only imagine it is. Why does the body betray? What is the deal with things mysteriously going awry? I really feel for what you went through…the stark difference between your hope and preparation and the reality of what the situation ~needed~. I am very glad that Clyde was healthily born and that you feel like a woman from it all…that you felt at all…good for you. Sending a big hug and gratitude for your share! xx Andrea

  25. Stefanie on October 23, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    She is just gorgeous! Congratulations, Brave mama! Little man is growing into such a cutie too!

  26. bilingworm on October 25, 2013 at 12:26 am

    I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who pushed for 4 hours with the first baby! And I’m even more glad to hear that it didn’t happen again with the second! She is super cute – congratulations!

    • Andrea Olson on October 25, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      Thx! Super happy to “normalize” things for you! Yes…2nd waaaaaay easier. :)

  27. Jennifer on October 25, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Congratulations, your daughter is beautiful. I just want to recognize another gem that can be taken from Isadora’s birth story. You went into this experience better prepared than most. There are so many unnecessary but standard operating procedures that are incorporated into the “hospital experience.” Nurses and doctors have certain things they need to do and just go about doing them on their own timeline. With some things the timing is crucial, while others can wait. Knowing what those are and ASKING ahead of time to forego or delay them can improve a mom and baby’s delivery and immediate post-natal experience. I am anticipating my fourth hospital delivery and I learn something new with each one. By my third child I was finally able to hold him skin on skin and nurse him for a full hour (as you were Isadora) before they took him for their measurements, etc. But there are just so many things that so many people never know to ask. Your and Isadora’s story has also given me a few things to consider for my next one: like leaving the cord unclamped or to let the placenta well enough alone. This could be a whole other book! Thank you so much for sharing. P.S. I’m looking forward to EC-ing for the first time, come January.

    • Andrea Olson on October 28, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing your story. It is so nice to see your journey progress from baby to baby, learning pieces each time. Discerning which things are most important from what you learned last time. So nice! I’m glad that we were able to plant some seeds of thought. I look forward to sharing in your upcoming EC journey, too! :) xx Andrea

  28. Ellen Levitt on October 25, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Congratulations! I am so happy for you. You are amazing and Isadora is beautiful. What a powerful story. When I read the part that you said:

    “I try to call a friend, but she doesn’t answer. She did an unassisted
    birth. She might know what to tell me. But she doesn’t answer. I have no
    one else to call…I don’t think anyone would be awake anyway.”

    All I could think of was I wished she had thought to call me.

    Next birth if you find an unexpected situation arising, feel free to call, even if it is 3:00 AM. :)

    Lots of love to you,David, Kaiva and Isadora.
    xo

    • Andrea Olson on October 28, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Oh, Ellen! (My midwife for Kaiva’s birth!) What a surprise and an honor to see you in the comments. How I wish I had called you too! My number has changed since then so I thought maybe you, or most people, wouldn’t have known it was me…but now that I know you would have picked up I would have called anyway. Ah, well. I will definitely call you next birth if I need help…because you would be a perfect person to speak to in that situation. Perhaps I can convince you to consult on the UAC book too? :o) Love you Ellen

  29. Amber on October 28, 2013 at 9:41 am

    What a beautiful birth story! I would very much appreciate a book on unassisted childbirth and think that you are great one to write it! It is a topic I have been looking into a lot lately, so finding this post in my email was very exciting. Isadora is simply PRECIOUS. :)

    • Andrea Olson on October 28, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Thanks Amber!! I’m glad to know you’d appreciate something like this, so your note is very encouraging! :)

  30. Marlis on October 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Dear Andrea. Thank you for sharing your birth story. What a brave woman you are! I wish I’d be brave enough to do the same next time. You can read why below. Please write your book!

    My son is almost 4 month old now and I’m still grappling with the ‘what if’s’ of my birth. I gave birth at the hospital – who guessed… – but arrived there quite prepared with a lot of ideas and a sheet of paper stating that I do NOT want any interventions (short of any danger to the baby), that they should leave the cord unclamped for some time, leave the placenta well alone and some more.
    The midwife plainly refused the late clamping and it felt like she did clamp extra fast. Of course she insisted on pulling at my cord. AND she also refused to do any other birth than on my back on the bed. At the end she cut me like a piece of meat (even my midwife – who couldn’t attend the birth because of her own young kids – said that it was quite a huge cut) including a blood vessel and later nearly paniced when I fainted twice while still on the bed because of the loss of blood. I had to spend the night away from my baby on monitoring station and my hubby couldn’t stay either because they were crowded.

    But let’s start at the beginning. I felt (the first ones that I really identified) light contractions when I awoke in the morning. Because I was overdue I had to go to the hospital for a check-up later in the morning and was afraid that they would keep me there and chain me to a bed. I still felt like moving around. Luckily I managed to escape from the hospital for some more hours. I arrived in the delivery room at quarter to 3 pm and was allowed to have a warm bath. Very nice thing! But after that the midwife told me to lay down. She opened my bag of waters and ordered me to have 3 contractions on the right side, 3 on the left, 3 on … I escaped by ‘having to go’ to the toilet. Most of the time the midwife left us well alone (I guess she needed to attend another woman in the second room) and my hubby and me turned out to be a good team indeed, mostly standing or sitting on the delivery chair. All the times where there were just the two of us felt great. Actually, I loved my birthing experience, or at least every second the damnable midwife was not there. I had no trouble breathing through the contractions and I did feel the urge to push shortly before the birth. That was when I’d have loved some guidance on how far along I was and if I was allowed to push. But than I was ordered to the bed and convinced to take some oxytocics ‘because the contractions are not strong enough and I cannot get the baby out this way’ – guess she wanted to finish me before her turn ended. After that everything went wrong. But that I already stated above. My healthy, strong son was born quarter to 8 after 5 hours in the delivery room.

    • Andrea Olson on November 1, 2013 at 5:24 pm

      Hi Marlis – Thank you so much for sharing your story, so brave, so honest. I see a lot of positive things that happened during your labor, and things you would have liked to have been different. Too bad that midwife was in such a rush! But so great that you and hubby proved to be a great team. Thank you for the inspiration and I DO think you were plenty brave. What is any woman to do if they were in your situation? There wasn’t much even the strongest could have done to overcome your attendant (IMHO). Sending hugs…xx Andrea

  31. Andrea Reed on October 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story! It is so important to know that birth generally goes the way it is supposed to, for the growth of all involved. I labored at home with our first for a couple of days. Then “caved” and had an epidural in the hospital. Even though we had planned a “no drug” hospital birth. I walked in that morning and stated that no one was touching me without drugs first! In hindsight (funny thing, isn’t it) I could have had the baby at home as I was at 8 cm by the time we got there. But I can now appreciate that I got to put together more pieces than I had before, to understand better for the next time! Congratulations on your beautiful new addition to your family!

    • Andrea Olson on November 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks! Yep, I felt the same way when I walked in! But then I was too far along so it was really the pain talking, and they of course couldn’t act on it. I’m with you that it all happens for reasons of growth that we don’t know about…perhaps only in retrospect. Definitely more prepared for next time…I’m glad you have such a positive take-away from your birth!! It’s inspiring….xx Andrea

  32. Lindsey Penner on November 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I went through a very similar situation. We had “planned” for the birth of our first child, a girl named Charlotte, to be at home with a midwife. After 35 hours of labor, I had only progressed to 7 cm, but my water hadn’t broken and I was having what my midwife referred to as “pushing-strength” contractions, I was scared. I drank black cohosh tea to try and give my body a little more incentive to progress, but it only made the contractions worse. After a pow-wow with the three midwives who were now at my house, we decided that my body was just too tired after being up for two days to finish doing what it needed unassisted. Against my original plan, I decided to go to the hospital and opt for an epidural to help relax me and hopefully, allow my body to finish opening. When we arrived at the hospital and I stepped out of the car, I felt a warm gush of fluid and realized my water had just broken. I was rushed to the already-prepared delivery room, screaming the entire time. It was 4:40 am, by the way. So I’m sure it was pleasant for the other patients. In the moment, I had made peace with getting the epidural because the pain was so much worse than I could’ve imagined. I lay on the bed and the head nurse says, “the anesthesiologist is on his way, but lets see where we are.” I was so relieved that it was going to be over. I felt like my body was trying to evacuate all of my internal organs. She checks me and, to my horror, says “oh, she’s crowning! Next contraction, I want you to push.” I was terrified! But after twenty minutes of heavy pushes, and several “I can’t do this” moments, at 5:05 am, by beautiful daughter was born and the pain was gone. As soon as it was over, I felt horrible guilt. I felt like a failure because I didn’t give my daughter, my husband, or myself the birth we had all decided was best. She’s now seven months old and I’m still dealing with the guilt. I was so happy to hear your podcast and realize that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. I just hope that in time I’ll make peace with my birth story, and realize that it’s ok to not be super-woman. Heck, I may even decide to try again… but not for a LONG time. Thanks again, for your inspiration and education.

    • Andrea Olson on November 7, 2013 at 8:09 am

      Hello Lindsey – thanks for confiding in all of us with your story. It sounds like our pain and reaction to it, in the last hours of birth, were indeed very similar. I am certain we are not the only two. What’s interesting is that while I read your story I realized that we both had a huge success (and wonderful helping hands from the Universe) by not being given the medicine we wanted…our babies *wanted* to be born naturally and they both were. So, although not at home, we went where our babies *needed* us to go for them to be born the way they were MEANT to. I hope that makes sense, perhaps resonates. Thank you so much for sharing and I wish you peace in your memories of your birth, once the guilt has worked its way through and through. xx Andrea

  33. Amina Knuckles on December 18, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    My first was a virtually pain free, planned UC. My second was a planned midwife-attended home birth (and more painful).! I can understand liking having some coaching. You did sooo well! You did perfectly! A late congratulations on your daughter :).

    • Andrea Olson on December 19, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Thanks Amina! I appreciate reading your experience too. I’ve considered doing the next one with a midwife, but I suppose there are many ups and downs to consider for each birth experience. Thank you so much!!! :)

Leave a Comment