When you Believe in Birth
Updated: Mar 20, 2018
The way you birth matters. The team you choose to surround you and your baby on his or her birthday matters.
This is a story of belief and transformation; one that unfolded right before my eyes. This work is sacred. This is why I am so passionate about what I do and why I pour my heart and knowledge into these mamas. Birth changes lives. It changes hearts too.
"There are still moments when I think about my birth experience that absolute joy and thankfulness wash over me. I had dreamed and I had hoped, but in the corners of my mind I didn't really believe that it was possible. That I could birth my baby the way I'd dreamed.
The birth of my son three years ago left me feeling defeated and honestly traumatized both emotionally and physically. The cascade of interventions set him up for a tough introduction into the world and me with a fourth degree tear. The room was filled with fear and chaos. I didn't feel heard, respected, or like I had any options. I didn't get to hold him when he was born, we didn't have skin to skin, I first saw his face in a picture as he was taken across the room from me to a nicu team that had been waiting for him to arrive. I wouldn't heal from my own physical trauma for almost a full year after he was born. And honestly, I was sad. I was sad that I didn't have the birth I had prepared so diligently for. But I kept a lot of those emotions between myself and my husband. Because you aren't supposed to feel that way after having a baby. You're supposed to be thankful and happy that you brought your child in the world and it doesn't matter how they got here. I was told that over and over again as if I was selfish for wanting something different. I wasn't allowed to mourn the birth that I feel was stolen from me. I once read a quote that captured how I felt perfectly. It said, "Although the desired outcome is always 'healthy mom, healthy baby' I think there is room in the equation for a 'happy, non traumatized and empowered mother and baby' too".
I started researching Midwifery practices and doulas long before we found out we were pregnant the second time. I wanted to know my options and make sure my due diligence was done before we were on this journey again. For me, all roads led to See Baby. We weren't comfortable birthing out of a hospital because of all of the complications we endured in our first delivery. Using See Baby would allowed me to do so with a team of people that believed in birth and believed in shared decision making, but still allow us the reassurance of being in a hospital if the need for medical intervention arose. Never in my prenatal care did I feel like decisions were being made for me. I felt informed and involved. Respected and cared for. And all of my providers just seemed at peace with this journey. Peace that spilled onto my anxious heart at every appointment.
The decision to hire a doula wasn't one my husband and I were on the same page about initially. But even though he didn't understand, he desired a different experience for me than what I'd had before, so he agreed. Libby was the only doula we interviewed and knew immediately that we wanted her with us. One of the hardest parts of my first birth was feeling alone and isolated in the pain. Like I was in a different dimension all together, and no one was capable of understanding or helping me. I knew I needed that extra layer of support if I was going to attempt another natural birth. Even in our initial meeting, Libby was able to shed some light as to why things happened the way they did in our previous birth, how they effected our son's health, and how we can avoid them happening again. At our home visit I was having a hard time making concrete decisions on what interventions I did or didn't want. I started to cry and shared that I was afraid of committing to the birth I truly desired because I didn't want to be disappointed again. Libby held my hand, cried with me, and released me to have the faith that I really could have a beautiful birth experience. No matter what it looked like. Toward the end of my pregnancy I can't tell you how much I appreciated her encouragement, positivity and prayer as we passed our due date and I started becoming very nervous. I truly believe the team you choose to care for you and your baby is everything. It set me up to have an entirely different experience.
My son came at 37 weeks so I never anticipated making it all the way to 41. I'd been having weeks of prodromal labor and I was anxious and emotional. I'd had everything ready for weeks and I felt like everyday was groundhog day. At 10 pm on March 7 I started having random contractions. I ignored them at first because I'd had this happen so many times before. They started to feel a little different so I hopped in the shower just in case and then laid down to go to sleep. Around midnight I knew these contractions were definitely leading us to a baby, but I assumed we had a long road ahead of us as my labor with my son was 26 hours long. I called to give Libby a heads up and I tried again to get some rest. I just couldn't sleep or get comfortable so my husband suggested putting on some worship music. We prayed over my body and we prayed for our baby. I began to cry at the thought of leaving my son to go have our baby girl as we'd never been away from him before. I cried at the idea of him not being an only child anymore, knowing the next time I saw him our relationship would be drastically different. Within the hour my contractions hit a pattern and grew to an intensity where I was really having to work through them. They were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting 40-45 seconds. Although our plan was to hunker down at home, I decided it was time to call my sister in law to come and be with our son. Something about these contractions told me that we needed to head to the hospital. It was an hour drive and I really wanted to avoid going through transition in the car. By 2 am we were packed up and ready to go. While my husband got our things in the car, I crawled in bed with my son and held him. Between contractions I studied his sweet sleeping face and thought about how big he looked in this moment. I whispered to him that "he would always be my favorite boy" and thought to myself how sweet it was that I could always say that since our new baby would be a girl. I will treasure that last moment with him forever.
My husband and I didn't speak the entire drive. I put on worship music and got myself in a zone I was never able to attain in my previous birth. Driving to the hospital was a big fear of mine as that was the point I really lost control before. As we pulled up I felt so relieved that I'd made it there, struggling but still feeling on top of the contractions. I didn't feel like I was drowning in it. By 3:30 we were examined in triage and I was told I was 5 cm. After that things started to move really fast. I remember Libby arriving right as I started to go underneath the pain. Thank God! I'm not sure what I would have done without her reassuring presence in those next moments. The second contraction I had with her there my water broke and the pain with that contraction was like nothing I'd ever felt. The immediate pressure was too much to bare and I started to come completely unglued! I was still in triage trying to fight the fact that my body was pushing as they wheeled me into a room. Once we got into the room my midwife told me I was complete and it was time to have our baby. I was utterly confused in that moment as I had just been told I was only 5 cm. I asked about the birthing pool and was told we didn't have time to fill it up. I was discouraged for all of 10 seconds until the next contraction came and I knew I had to get her out no matter what that looked like. My head was spinning, and between contractions I remember floods of things going through my mind. I would lay back and close my eyes, letting the worship music playing in the room wash over me. Sometimes I'd turn to my husband and watch him quietly sing. At times I'd think, "I can't keep doing this. I'm at the end of myself". And other times, "I can't believe I'm actually doing this. I'm really doing it". It felt like an alternate reality all together.
After an hour of pushing and five hours of total labor, sweet Eva Mercy was born and put right on my chest. I was it a bit of shock as I didn't realize at all that she was coming. I didn't feel the ring of fire or any pressure different that what I'd been feeling up to that point. All I could say over and over again was "Thank you Jesus". I'll never forget my first glimpse of her. She looked so beautiful, wide eyed and peaceful. I can still see her face in my mind from that exact moment. I couldn't even cry because all I felt was pure joy. No one took her from me and we were able to have an hour of skin to skin before any interference. Because I was able to bond with and nurse her immediately I didn't feel postpartum anxiety immediately overwhelm me like I remember feeling before. Neither of us were physically harmed by unnecessary interventions. I only had a first degree tear which I couldn't believe! I'd been told by another provider that I would surely tear as badly again and I should plan for a cesarean. While I was pregnant I spent so much time praying and speaking truth over my body and birth. It didn't seem possible that it actually happened, that every little detail came to pass. This truly was the redeeming birth I'd so desperately wanted!
As I look back, I can honestly say that I wouldn't change anything. I'm sure now more than ever that how we birth our babies matters. It etches itself into our hearts and minds as mothers and we will never forget. It's not a matter of vaginal vs. cesarean or medicated vs. non medicated. Because interventions most certainly have their place. It's a matter of being allowed to take ownership of your experience. Of being believed in, being respected, and feeling completely safe during one of the most vulnerable points of your existence. I am so thankful I dared to believe that birth could be different. I am forever changed by it!" -Amber
"Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken." Psalm 62:1-2
If you interested in more information about having an Atlanta birth doula present at your birth, Please contact me, Havenly Birth, for more information.
Havenly Birth provides birth doula services and placenta encapsulation for all births within the metro Atlanta area including home births, Atlanta Birth Center, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, Wellstar North Fulton Hospital, Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, Dekalb Medical Center, Northside Hospital, Piedmont Hospital, and other area hospitals.