My baby was completely stuck for an hour of pushing and I didn’t know what to do! I’m back with the story of the unassisted home birth of my 6th (and final) baby, Marilyn. I share all the super-juicy details, and why I made some of the decisions I did during the labor and birth. Tune in to hear it all, and be sure to check out the show notes afterward for my list of home birthing supplies!
You Will Hear:
- Plans A and B for my third unassisted home birth
- Why I ultimately decided not to transfer to the hospital
- What I finally remembered after an hour of pushing that helped me get my baby out within minutes
- What we learned after her birth about why she was stuck!
- My encouragement for mamas who have had difficult births and want to try again with a better (for them) outcome
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- Go Diaper Free Podcast
- Brave New Birth Book
- Blog post - My Unassisted Birth
- The unassisted waterbirth of our 5th baby: Full Birth Story - Podcast #50
- My Birth Story: An Almost Unassisted Birth - Podcast #16
- Home birthing supply list - Amazon
- Welcome Marilyn Ruth to the world! - Instagram Live
- Easy Start Guide for EC - Free Download
- 3-day Primer for Starting Potty Training - Email Series
- Go Diaper Free Book
- Tiny Potty Training Book
- Go Diaper Free Store
- Tiny Undies Store
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
EPISODE 247: Marilyn’s Birth Story
She was completely stuck for an hour of pushing and I didn't know what to do. Hi, you guys. I'm Andrea Olson. This is the Go Diaper Free Podcast. This is episode 247. You can find the full show notes including the transcript of what I'm about to share with you at godiaperfree.com/247, including any of the resources I mention in today's episode. But yeah, you guys, I've missed you so much. I'm back for just this episode, and a couple others here and there. And today I want to talk to you about and tell you Marilyn's unassisted home birth story.
Marilyn is my sixth baby. She was born in February of this year, and she's my final baby. I thought about the kind of birth that I wanted throughout the pregnancy. And my partner is actually, this is his first time being a dad, so he had a billion questions about, “Oh my goodness, you're going to give birth how? Without a midwife, without a doctor, in our tub?” He was kind of freaking out. But I told him, "You know what? I've done this twice before. One with Cooper and once with Twyla, and I got this, don't worry.”
And there's an EMT and a fire department right across the street, just in case something bad happens. So anything that you need to transfer for, or that I needed to transfer for, for any of the three major things that could go wrong during childbirth, which are all listed in my book called Brave New Birth, which you can get on Amazon by the way. All of those reasons, you have 15 minutes to get to the hospital. Well, since we have EMTs across the street that could also take me to the hospital, which is less than 15 minutes away, that was my plan B backup. And I totally felt confident as, I'm going to labor as much as possible here at home when this baby comes. And if I can do it at home alone, I will. And if I decide I want to go to the hospital, I will. I mean, I've definitely done that a couple of times too, if you guys have heard any of my birth stories before.
So anyway, today we're going to go over the birth story. We're going to go over why Marilyn was stuck, which we didn't find out until after the fact. And it's a really good juicy story. So let's get on with it. I do have some notes here because, man, it's not very fresh in my mind anymore. It's been five months. She's already like, yeah, she's an early crawler. It's nuts. She is on a mission, this girl. But I did make some notes a day after because I wanted it to be fresh on my mind. There were a couple of amazing ways that I feel like God intervened in the whole process to make the birth exactly how it was, and it was amazing.
So Cooper, he's now eight years old. He was also born unassisted. Very chill kid. He got sick with a 24 hour bug, and threw up at school on Thursday. And I was like nine days overdue at this point. So the next day, he did not go to his dad's house for the weekend, but all the other kids did. So we almost had an empty house. My other son, who's almost 13, went to his dad's. And usually my babies have been waiting until all the kids were at grandma's or wherever they are, they're not in the house. Because some babies like to come when all the kids are in the house. Some babies like to come when nobody's at home. Some babies like to come in the car on the way to the hospital. You never know. It's not necessarily you that starts labor. It might not be your body, it might be a combination of your body, the baby's hormones, and all the things.
In any case, Cooper had a bug. He was puking on a Thursday. So Friday, he did not go to dad's. So I was like, “Well, I'm getting pretty past my due date,” and this is my sixth baby. I thought I'd be two weeks early like I was with the last two. Of course I was wrong. I figured this baby wants to come when all the kids are gone, and I was wrong. So Cooper is still at home, kids are at their dad's. Friday night comes along, and I'm like, "Honey, I'm going to TJ Maxx. I need to get a birthing ball. And I want to take a walk and I'm restless, and I just want to get out of the house."
So I went to TJ Maxx. Of course, went in to spend $10 on a birthing ball and ended up coming home with a birthing ball and $100 of other crap that I didn't need. And I took a long walk in the store. I used the shopping cart to kind of lean on because I was super huge pregnant, you guys. I'd gained 45 pounds. Everybody was probably looking at me like “What is this whale doing at the store right now? Is she going to give birth on our linoleum floor?” And I was like, no, no, no, baby's not coming anytime soon. I get home from this shopping trip, find out that the birthing ball is way too small. It was tiny. I went through my stash, checked it all out. Didn't really feel like sleeping, so I did an internal self-exam. In this exam I was like, “Well, I'm not dilating. I'm not even close. My cervix is still there. This baby isn't coming anytime soon.” So that's what I thought.
At 4:00 AM Saturday morning, I woke up to mild contractions in my lower belly. And I was like, whatever. I was starving. So I ate a bowl of granola and some Greek yogurt and all this stuff. I went into my studio, which is here behind me if you're watching the video version of this, and I wanted to take my final belly growth picture. Because I haven't released it yet, but I have this transformation of my belly with these pictures taken by my photographer over the nine months of being pregnant. Super cool. So we're going to do a belly transformation video soon, just showing the pictures. And I wanted to take my final picture. I was like, “Oh no, the last picture was taken at eight months. I didn't. I canceled last week for the other one. I didn't feel like taking pictures. I feel like a giant cow.” So I set up my camera and I took the picture. And as I'm taking the pictures, I'm having contractions. You guys, it was hilarious. Now they were only 12 minutes apart. So I went back to bed. 5:00 AM, 7:00 AM, 5:00 to 7:00 AM I slept, and I kept having six to 12 minute intervals between contractions. And I was like, “Oh boy, I think it's on.”
So I started to track it with my lap timer on my iPhone. And I've done this before. You start at the beginning of the contraction and you end the minute the contraction’s over. You also time the distance between the beginning of the contraction and the beginning of the next contraction. They were coming every six minutes, so I called my mom, 7:00 AM, I said, "Hey, drive here." Actually, I didn't call her because I didn't feel like talking. I texted her, 7:00 AM, drive here, she's in Charlotte, takes two and a half hours. She started on her way, because I thought, “My goodness, what am I going to do? I don't really want a child in the room. I don't feel like that. I don't want to have to tend to anyone's needs. What do I do?” So from 7:30 to 9:30, I had labor. I had my baby by 9:30, but obviously some things happened between then and then that I'll talk about now.
But I only had two hours of labor ahead of me, but I didn't know how long it could have been. And in the past, my mom has come and has been with the kids and whatever, and the timing was always a little wonky. So I was like, "I'm just going to let you know when I'm in labor, head here, but don't come into the room. Jordan will be in touch, my partner, and will tell you what we need to do.” But my biggest thing, the reason I do unassisted births, is because I know that the body, you dilate really fast when you're not being watched, when you have privacy, and when you have safety and security, and when there aren't a lot of people in the room. The more people in the room, the less quickly you dilate and the less smoothly the labors tend to go. And so anyway, I didn't really want my mom there during the birth, but I wanted her to head over just in case I needed her. I told her to stay nearby so that we could let her know if we needed her at home yet or not.
So Jordan would come and go, he'd go get me some water. My son, Cooper, who is my most empathic, and I swear it's because he was born unassisted, he would rub my back and say, "I'm taking care of you, Mama. I've got you Mama." He'd rub my back and he was so sweet to me. So whenever Jordan would leave the room, he would rub my back. Now, mind you, I have a really deep, awesome tub that I got on Amazon, half off. I'm not kidding, when we remodeled the house, when we first moved in here. I was in my tub the entire labor because that's just where I wanted to be. I got out to go to the bathroom, but that was it. So Cooper would rub my back and be all sweet. He didn't need anything, he didn't have any questions. I think he tried to ask a question one time and I was like, "No!" And he got it. He was seven, you guys, it was amazing.
Halfway through labor, I felt that my bag of waters needed to be popped. I felt it inside my body. I reached inside, and I was like, “Okay, there's the bag.” With Branson, I transferred to the hospital, they popped it for me, I had him in 30 minutes. And I was like, “Wow, I wish I would've YouTubed how to do that, how to pop my own waters.” And I'm not recommending this to anybody. This is not medical advice, this is just my experience. I'm not giving you guys advice of how to do it yourselves. But what I did is while I was pushing really hard in a contraction, I poked it with my fingernail, and my bag of waters popped. I was imagining scratching it. I just had this weird imagine like a dream, seeing myself do it. So it occurred to me, and I decided just to do it.
So I had a pause there that comes after your waters break, and then the contractions got really intense, right? Then I felt the head. So this is a matter of 10, 15 minutes after popping my waters, there was the head. Now at this point, I am older than most of you, probably a lot older than most of you, and I have had a lot of babies, sure. But my body, man, this was tough on my body. So I decided, I'm nine days overdue, or 10 days or 11 days, I just want to get this baby out of me. So I decided to start pushing without contractions helping me. I was getting impatient. I was like, “Why is this taking so long? It's already been an hour. Both of my other unassisted births were 75 minutes. Why is this taking so long?” Which is silly when I think about it, but hey, that's what was happening in the moment.
The word stuck kept recurring in my mind. And I'm like, “Why do I keep seeing this word stuck?” Because you're in this liminal space of just “What?” You're not quite in your normal right mind. So then I was thinking, “Well, do I transfer to the hospital? Is this baby really stuck?” And then I was like, “Oh, heck no!” See, I am one, and you can hate on me for this if you want to, but please don't leave a review that says that I'm so anti-whatever. But I don't like to wear masks. I have asthma. I have avoided hospitals and doctors for the last few years. Our local hospital was still requiring masks. So if I would've transferred, I would've had to wear one, during labor, they still were doing it. And now they're not finally, thank God. But I was like, “Just for that reason alone, I'm not transferring to the hospital because I won't wear one, and then I'll get kicked out, and then they won't let me have my baby, and there'll be all sorts of messes.” So I didn't want to have that complex.
So I was like, “I'm just going to make this happen.” So I was doing warrior yells. You guys, I was in a one knee down, one knee up kind of squatting position the whole time. And I had my legs so far apart. I was spread all the way, almost doing the splits in that tub, just trying to make room for this baby to come out. And Jordan is younger than me, so he's a fan of Dragon Ball Z, or he used to be. He said that the yells that I was letting out were just like Dragon Ball Z. So if you know what I'm talking about, yeah, funny. I was like, "I'm not going to the hospital!" And I didn't feel like there were any emergencies. I wasn't gushing blood. I didn't have poop and meconium coming out, et cetera. So I definitely was healthy and feeling good.
And in my book, Brave New Birth, you'll see that I studied to become a doula just so I could do my own home births, and my own unassisted births, so I'm pretty educated on the topic. But yeah, I was like, “Dang, I got to get this thing out.” So her head was sitting in the edge of my vagina for so long, pushed a long time. I stood up and arched my back a couple of times. I was just going with what my body wanted. And then I had pooped in the tub and there was also blood in the tub. It was my poop, not the baby's. Jordan had tried to refill the tub during labor and it didn't work. Because I was just like, "I don't want the water to go away." So it wasn't super dirty, stinky, or anything, but it was just a little bit... I wish looking back I would've had a little net. But anyway.
Yeah. So the head would not come through. I was hesitant to really let her come out because of the poop water. And also, I didn't want to tear, because I've never torn. So then I asked Jordan to stand... Or I didn't ask him. I meanly told him, "Stand me up!” Twice, and then “Put me down!" So he's lifting me out of the water and putting me back in. I pushed, I tried to wait for the contractions, the contraction came and it helped. So I started to remember, “Let the contraction help you, push during the contraction. You'll know to push by your body.” So finally the contraction came, and I pushed. And the head was out. Cooper walked into the bathroom, he saw her head sticking out. Jordan didn't because he was behind me, and he saw the rest. He saw the whole birth. What a gift for this child. He was so happy! The rest of my kids were like, "Thank goodness we weren't there." But Cooper was like, "It was so beautiful. I'm so glad." I mean, this has impacted his life, I'm sure.
I didn't get the urge to push her body out, and I was starting to get worried. And I was like, "Jordan, just catch her." And I braced myself. And I was like, "Stop pulling her." And he's like, "I'm not pulling." He wasn't even touching her. And I thought, “Oh, well, she's turning, but it's so slow. Surely she's just moving into position.” I was worried about the poop water, but then her head was turning. And then I thought, “Well, do I need to pull her shoulder and hook her arm like I've heard?” Finally there was a little movement, and I stopped worrying, and I pushed without much contraction. And then another contraction happened, and I pushed there because I had the urge. And that's the thing I talk about a lot in my book, Brave New Birth, and that I learned from my mentor, is that you'll know and you'll feel that urge to push. And when we push without that urge, then we can cause prolapse, which I did. I caused an anal prolapse for a little while. There's also pelvic floor issues that I'm dealing with now because I was pushing without contractions. But I was really just, I'm old and tired, I just want to get this baby out.
Then the contraction came, and I pushed her body out. She was purple and she was limp with white hands and feet. She was making a growling noise occasionally, so I knew that was a good sign. That means she is starting to transform from a water mammal to an earth mammal. I blew in her face a couple of times just to show, “This is how you breathe.” Jordan and Cooper were oohing and awing, and I was just focused on getting her started up, which is just an instinct, and also what I've learned in doula class.
I got her started up, but basically she started. Part of the heart that closes up, there's all this biological stuff that happens, there's a process. It could take from one to 15 minutes to get the breathing going on land. And at the end of it all, she was crying, which is a great sign. And then we relaxed in the bathtub. And then I realized, “Oh my God, it's so dirty.” She was exhausted, so was I, so we moved over to my bed, which was ready. And I believe in the show notes, godiaperfree.com/247, I'm going to have some link to the list of what I had on hand for the birth and everything, and what I actually used. And if that's not there the moment that I record this, then I'm going to record that later so that you have that. But there's also lists in the book, Brave New Birth, about what I had on hand.
Now we get to the final moments of why was this baby feeling stuck? Why was this so much harder than my other ones? Why did I have to push for an hour? And we weighed her on the scale I had. You guys, she was two full pounds heavier than any of my other babies were! Nine pounds, 11 ounces. And we were like, “Whoa, okay. That's why it took so long.” Measured around her head, one full inch bigger than all the other babies I'd had, and bigger than the average. And that's why it took so long, why I felt like she was stuck, why it was so much harder. And you know what though? It was also God intervening and saying, “You know what, this is your last baby, for reals.” That was dang hard, never doing it again, but it was such an amazing experience. I'm so grateful for everything I've learned up until this point. Having my sixth baby as a free birth and having that with Jordan as his first baby was such a bonding experience. Nobody intervening, nobody checking on me every 30 minutes afterwards. Yeah, I took her to the pediatrician for a checkup, but I didn't do it for a couple weeks. And everything I'd learned in my doula class, studied with my mentor who teaches hundreds and thousands of midwives how to be midwives. I felt like I had gone into it pretty educated, and also prepared with my plan B, in case it didn't work out.
And having such a bigger baby as my sixth was like, “Oh, thanks a lot. This is really hard.” But this baby has been amazing. She's happy, she sleeps well, she's awesome. I swear, my three free births, I think the temperament of those three children out of my six, have been the most positive of all. And I'm just going to do a loose correlation between the two experiences. I thank God so much for this beautiful, safe experience for us, that we were able to just go to the edge, feel held by God and by Jordan, and by Cooper, and just do this together as a family. And I thank God for no longer being pregnant, and never being pregnant ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever again. Ha ha!
And then after I had the baby, I went live on Instagram. I'll try to link to that live because it's pretty cool, where I introduce you to Marilyn right after it happened. Because I didn't want to film the birth, but I definitely wanted to include you guys. You guys are my peeps, and I wanted to share the experience with you. But yeah, comment, let me know, what do you think about my story? Again, I'm not giving advice, this is just our experience and what happened for us, and I am so thrilled about how it's gone and how all of the births have gone.
And this is the other thing, and I probably should have said this at the beginning, so I apologize for not doing that. If this triggers any kind of trauma or issues for you because you had a traumatic birth experience, I want to tell you that this isn't meant to brag. This is meant to share my experience and also share hope for those who haven't had traumatic birth experiences, or who have and want to prevent one from happening. If you look into Michel Odent, and I reference him a lot in the Brave New Birth book, he talks a lot about how when birth is done in a private, safe, quiet, dark manner, it is much more straightforward, less interventions. If you've ever watched “The Business of Being Born,” Ricki Lake's movie, you'll know that interventions can often cause the traumatic birth situation and C-sections to happen. And then also, I have friends who've had C-sections because they had a genuine emergency. So there are a whole range of possible birth experiences. If yours was less than desired, I am sorry. If you want to try it again, and anything in this story has helped you, please comment about that.
But if you're having issues with trauma coming up from your past births, I highly encourage you to go somewhere like BetterHelp.com. Get yourself a therapist. I'm meeting with one from there soon just to keep my mom mindset going good and well, and also just to process with somebody. It's very important. So instead of negative comments to me about, "Oh, your birth is so great, what about us with traumatic birth experiences?" Well, those of you with traumatic birth experiences, I used to be a therapist. I encourage you to seek a professional's presence and witness you telling your story and processing it, and coming to some kind of positive gratitude like, I got a baby out of it, but it sucked. Or some kind of lesson you learned that you can apply to a future birth or something like that.
I love you guys so much, and I hope that we can celebrate Marilyn's birth experience together without the judgment and shaming in any direction. So please feel free to go to the comments at godiaperfree.com/247 and let's talk. What stood out for you about this? Do you want to celebrate with us? Did you have something of an epiphany happen from listening or whatever? Just come and talk with us there, and I thank you so much. I'm Andrea Olson, and this is the Go Diaper Free Podcast. Big thanks to Nicole who's been hosting for me, as I have a very full house now, and I hope you guys are enjoying, engaged. And I'm sending you lots of love.
If you're pregnant and having a baby soon, whatever, I just want you to feel encouraged, and to know that God has made you perfectly to make this thing happen. But we haven't been given all the biological information like how do we even do this? We aren't around birth a lot. We don't know what we're doing when it comes down to it, and some of us have varying levels of intuition around it. So again, if you need more information, get my Brave New Birth book from Amazon. I don't really have it on my other sites. It was just a fun project of mine to collect all of my information about unassisted birth. It can be applied to any birth. Just to help you understand what's happening and why, and what each thing means, so that you can go into birth feeling a little bit more equipped, right? That's my hope for you today. I love you guys, and thank you so much, and we'll see you next time. Thanks for tuning in!
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 yo) 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. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)