It is a mother’s right to share her birth stories. It is empowering and cathartic. Its a memory, good or bad that she doesn’t want to forget. It is a treasure she can share with her children and grandchildren. These are mine. Adeline, ZoraJane, and Vivian.
I also share my stories to show mother’s that birth and pregnancy doesn’t have to be like its so often portrayed on TV and the movies. The mother as the victim of pain and disgusting fluids and “circumstance” has become the norm partly because that’s all we see and hear about. I didn’t know any other way with my first. Later I’d been exposed to birth in a different light. First with a friend in another state sharing his and his wife’s story. It was that glimmer of birth as beautiful that brought me more stories and more education of a happy natural birth. Its the kind of labor and birth that looked nothing like the scary experience that so many people think is normal. In the expanse of human history that out-of-control birth story is short compared to the natural positive birth stories of human babies. I hope to give at least a glimpse of what it can be like when the parents educate themselves and choose to make their experience an enjoyable one.
Adia’s Birth Story -12 yrs in retrospect
Zi’s Birth Story
Adeline and I tried to prepare for a natural hospital birth by watching You Tube videos. But other than them being drug free, we couldn’t see what was so natural about them. Most still consisted of the standard back lying position with nurses holding down the knees, glaring lights, and a doctor coldly instructing when to push. One video we liked was a home birth with a supportive partner and midwife. She moved around as she pleased taking advantage of different positions eventually giving birth on her hands on knees on a mattress on the floor. Candles provided light and relaxing chanting music played in the background. Despite my trust in my Midwife and Doula a part of me wanted to walk into the woods, build a den and do this thing by myself. I wished for something primal or at least away from anything medical. Although I’d been working on my fears I still had reservations about a hospital labor and birth.
Our tentative plan was to get a hotel room in Rapid once I noticed I was in labor. Then we’d go to the hospital as close to the last minute as possible. If I happened to pop out a baby before we could make it to the hospital than so be it. That was the plan.
During my last appointment my blood pressure was high-even after resting-and the swelling was going beyond normal. I’d also begun to have bloody show which is common in the last weeks of pregnancy when the cervix begins to dilate and efface. At least the ultra sound showed she wasn’t breech-something that was still difficult to tell through palpitation alone. We finished our errands and visits in Rapid and then headed home where I was supposed to get bed rest and continue to monitor my blood pressure.
Bed rest is not easy! Sure I like a good nap, vegging out in front of the tv, or losing myself in a book for several hours. But I was restless. I wanted to finish cleaning and organizing the house, get some meals prepared and frozen, shop for a few more items I’d want or need for when the baby arrived, and I still needed to pack an overnight bag.
Two days after my appointment my blood pressure wouldn’t go down so I called the clinic. The OB instructed me to go to Rapid right away for some monitoring, lab work, and 24 hour pee test. I kept kicking myself for even calling in the first place. I felt like it was a waste of time. I knew my blood pressure was high due to my swelling, lack of sleep, and my refusal to stay bed ridden: not because of pre-eclampsia. I finished baking my chicken, showered, had Adeline pack a bag of stuff, and packed my overnight bag because I didn’t know how long I had to stay for testing and it would be 8:30pm before we even got to Rapid. Two hours later when Josh got home we left for Rapid. We checked in through the ER, lied to the nurse about Adeline’s age so she could join us, and were taken to maternity. It was a roomy labor and delivery room with a desk, daybed, sink, and tv on one side beside the hospital bed. A larger part of the room had monitors, cabinets, a bathroom, a baby warmer, and lots of floor space. I was hooked up to machines to monitor my blood pressure, blood Oxygen, contractions, and the baby’s heart beat. The nurse had me lie on my left side facing the homier side of the room where Josh and Adeline sat. She showed us how to read the monitors, set the blood pressure for every ten minutes then left the room.
Despite some joking around, the fairly comfortable atmosphere (for a hospital), and attempts of hugs and reassurance, Adeline was visibly shaken. I think a mix of hunger, boredom, seeing me hooked up to machines, and the lie made her uncomfortable. Because she was so nervous we reminded her that she had the choice to stay somewhere else when we came back for the delivery-that she’d have a few days to think about it some more and to see how she felt later into the testing.
While the hours passed we discussed where we could grab a bite at that hour, watched some comedy channel, and checked the monitors. Josh and Adeline kept me informed about my decreasing blood pressure and the occasional contraction they noticed on the screens. The sound of the heart beat was lulling us into relaxation. About 2½ hours later the OB dropped by, checked the charts, and gave us the okay to be discharged. The nurse went to prepare a take home pee test kit and to check if the Deadwood hospital could do those labs to save us another trip to Rapid. I stayed hooked up to the machines. Several minutes later I felt fluid leaking from my nether region but I wasn’t sure if it was the pee I’d been holding. A few minutes later I felt a pop and a more substantial amount of fluid rushing out of me. My nurse came back and confirmed that my water did break-we laughed about it because she’d just finished doing what was necessary to get me discharged and now I had to be checked in. I called my mom to tell her that Josh would be bringing Adeline to her house. The midwife was called. It was midnight and I figured it would take several hours for active labor to begin so I decided to wait closer to morning to call my doula. By the time my midwife arrived the contractions were close and intense and I was slipping into my dreamy coping-with-the-pain place. I had Josh call my mom to come get Adeline because I didn’t want him to be gone for the half hour plus it would take for him to take her. As the nurses rushed to finish checking me in I continued to slip into myself-Josh had to answer several of the questions they asked so I could breathe through the contractions. Finally the questions were done, Adeline was comfortably with my mom, the monitors were removed, and the lights were dimmed. I tried lying on my side, walking around, sitting on my hands and knees on the bed, and thought a bout taking a shower. My midwife suggested I call my doula but by then I was too far in my own place and just shook my head no. Finally I just leaned over the raised bed facing the comfy part of the room. My midwife reminded me to breath slow and moan low. Josh was beside me-not in my way but not out of it either. He didn’t coach-he knows to let a mother just be from his experience growing up on a farm. I leaned on him, puked in a bag he held, squeezed his hand and almost bit his thumb before I realized I should maybe bite the blankets instead. For most the labor I leaned over the bed with my head buried in blankets and hair. I squatted through contractions with little rest in between. I was primal-moaning, humming, breathing, swearing, and sweating. The only face I occasionally caught a glimpse of was Josh’s-everyone else was behind me and I stayed in my head.
Two hours after my water broke I felt her there ready to be pushed out. Only toward the end did my midwife have to encourage me to push because I was so tired. Josh only left my side once when a nurse convinced him to see the head-he only peeked briefly-he wasn’t all that interested in seeing the ickiness of it. As I made the final pushes I remembered all the pictures I’d seen of the yoni depicted as a blossoming flower and tried to imagine my own body opening to allow a human through. She gave a small cry before she was fully out and seconds later she was in the midwife’s hands. Josh stood by her holding her hand while they did their thing (she was a little floppy). I stripped off my gown-although it was already nearly off hanging from my neck and arms-no modesty-and I climbed into the bed. Only a few minutes later my baby was brought to me.
For all the fears I had about a hospital birth I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. My nurse was so friendly and supportive. Other nurses came up later impressed with what they’d witnessed. My midwife let me do what my body needed to do and intervened only when my ego got in the way. Plus I didn’t have to clean up any of the mess. I assumed my home would be the only place I could have an ideal birth. But I discovered with the right support, keeping informed of all my options, staying educated on all things pregnancy and birth, and trusting in myself I could have an ideal labor and delivery even in a medical setting
Pippi’s Birth Story
I believe that we get out of life what we expect but I must expect the unexpected. For the most part I also expect that everything will turn out as it should. For Pippi’s birth I had a few plans of action worked out for a few different scenarios-as I often do-but it still happened in an unexpected way.
Of a few things I was certain: I knew that giving birth in the hospital would be okay if Becki Harris was my midwife. I knew that I wanted a drug free labor and birth, a hands-off approach from the nurses, and freedom to deliver in any position. Of course that’s what I got.
I had some concerns-I wasn’t sure what to do with ZoraJane during the process-she’s not accustomed to other people caring for her in my absence and she needs my booby or a car ride to got sleep. I also wasn’t sure where I was going to deliver. With ZoraJane my water broke unexpectedly and I delivered two hours later-but I just happened to be in the process of getting released from the hospital after some testing when it happened. I knew that if my water broke with Pippi and labor started hard and fast afterwards I wouldn’t be up to riding an hour to RC. So I planned for a potential homebirth. The problem with that is we’d have to do it ourselves and we really felt more comfortable with some assistance. I didn’t want the nearest local midwife because I didn’t “click” with her plus I didn’t agree with some of her political beliefs. I wanted MY midwife but she only works in the hospital. In the event of a hospital birth, Adeline felt comfortable watching ZoraJane if someone else was there to help her so we asked my mom to be available to hang out with them in a nearby hotel room or the hospital.
I’d been having mild contractions for several months-nothing to be concerned about. In fact the whole pregnancy I had no physical concerns. I think I was too busy chasing after ZoraJane to really worry. I was thankful that I was pregnant during the warm months though because I was able to get out of the house to be active and be surrounded by nature and my friends.
The weekend it happened Josh’s dad was staying with us. He’d come to the hills to attend a wedding but told Josh that if he was needed he’d stay longer. When Josh told me that my heart really warmed toward Lloyd. I think that combined with seeing the way ZoraJane was really digging hanging out with her Grandpa gave me the okay (subconsciously) that I had no concerns left.
On Sunday Josh and Lloyd were in the backyard preparing to grill. The girls and I were hanging out in the house. I’d just blown up the exercise ball in case I needed to labor on it in case of a homebirth. I was watching TV -excited that the newest DOCTOR WHO was going to be on and sitting on the ball. I felt a small pop and a little fluid. As I rushed to the bathroom Josh was coming upstairs so I asked him if wanted to go to the hospital. Once in the bathroom though I wasn’t sure-it could easily have been pee. I threw on a sundress (just in case) while Josh and his dad put away the food. While changing more of my water started breaking so I knew it really was happening. I had no contractions so we didn’t rush too much to leave. It’s funny, I don’t remember much about Adeline or ZoraJane at this time. I think I was already starting to focus inward and Josh’s Dad really stepped up and started taking care of the other girls. We lay chux pads and towels in the front seat of the Durango (Lloyd’s vehicle) because we thought it would be roomier and more comfortable to labor in. Lloyd and the girls drove Josh’s truck to RC. I didn’t have many contractions on the way there and the few I had were very mild-but I did leak a lot. Internally I was a little panicky because it was REALLY time to start caring for another baby- but I remained calm.
We all hung out in the labor room and my contractions slowly started increasing in pain and frequency. I could tell the nurse was not used to the kind of delivery I planned. She tried explaining to me what she was going to do about monitoring and vaginal checks. I just smiled and nodded because I knew once my midwife (Becki) arrived I wouldn’t have to “fight” for my right to do it my way. Fortunately it didn’t take her too long to show up.
The contractions intensified. Lloyd, Adeline and ZoraJane relocated to the waiting room and my midwife left to change. I walked around and labored. I cried. Mentally I wasn’t ready to take care of two babies but my body was ready to give me another one. By the time Becki got back I was nearly ready to push and she told me to go ahead when I felt the need. I assumed the position-standing facing the side of the bed. Josh stood beside me and my Becki was on the floor behind me. I grasped the blankets and squatted into the contractions. I hissed through a contraction for Josh to stop kissing me-I needed my space as my body felt like it was expanding and ripping into a million pieces. I felt the ring of fire and was strangely comforted. The pain disappeared as her head emerged. I screamed as I made the final push to bring her into the world. Three hours after my water broke with only about an hour of intense labor and I met the new human who chose us for her family.
Becki (and I think the nurse) helped me get untangled from the cord so I could hold my baby. Josh and I sat on the bed and I nursed her. When the cord stopped pulsing Josh cut it. Becki found it to be tied in a knot from Pippi swimming it into loops and then swimming through them. Several minutes later the family came back in to meet the new member: Vivian Pippilotta Houchin Morrison
Q’s Birth Story
I had a home-birth. Its not brave its not crazy and its not trendy nor cool. I just did what nature intended in the place that is most comfortable. I’m just one of millions of women around the world who have been doing it since the beginning of humankind.
Saturday night I took a few minutes to try to connect with higher source. I asked to be be filled from within with strength, support, and love. Nearly to tears because I felt so empty and didn’t know if I could truly deliver a baby. But I was interrupted and went about the rest of the night trying to relax and get the girls quietly to bed. Fortunately they both went to sleep in the room I wasn’t panning to labor in. To get some space I went to the tots room (the labor room) and slept on the queen bed by myself.
At 2am I woke with a strong contraction that was different from the hicks I was having all third trimester. I hadn’t had those kinds of contractions pre-water breaking with the other two natural births so I wondered if maybe this one was different and I would labor first. I considered telling Adeline to go to bed because I thought I might deliver that day. But I went back to bed. about a half hour later I felt the very distinct feel of my water breaking. I woke Josh, called the midwife, and my mom. I didn’t know if I’d need her to watch the girls-I hoped they’d sleep because they can be really needy wakers. But the middle of the night turned out to be a good time to give birth.
This birth was a little different than my previous two natural births-and miles away from my typical hospital birth. With the last two it took about an hour after my water broke for intense contractions to start but this time it took only about twenty minutes. I walked around, leaned on the door frame or the built-in during the hard contractions. Having freedom to move how your body wants is a key to a birth that progresses with ease. My midwife suggested the birthing chair and I agreed. I’d stood and squatted the entire intense labor and delivery with the other two but I don’t think I’d have had the physical strength to do it this time. All my pregnancies were different but this was the hardest on me physically and the second hardest mentally/emotionally. Half was spent in constant nausea and the second half had deep aches in my lower abdominal muscles that intensified as baby grew. My core was just not strong. With the chair I was able to squat with support and breathe that baby down. My midwife was an amazing guide-when I felt like I was losing control I looked at her and she was a calming presence that gave me the strength I needed to let the baby descend. She didn’t coach, she didn’t demand, she didn’t intervene. When I was ready to push I turned around with my knees on the floor…then V(almost 3yrs) woke up. I feared she’d freak despite knowing she generally has a fascination with bodily functions -she’s been insisting for weeks that she wanted to “see the baby come out”. Had it been during the day and from a fully awake state, I’m pretty sure she would have watched with fascination. But being newly awake and not present during the whole process she instead buried her face in her daddy’s neck and stayed that way til daddy cut the cord.
Pushing him out took more tries then I was used to-again Jeanne was a gentle guide-telling me to reach under and feel him and how close he was-and so I did. To some it may seem icky but to a mom, being able to feel the baby even if its all warm and gooey, is encouraging and amazing. To know he’s going from living inside to entering this world into My hands is a feeling I’ll always treasure. The sweet sense of relief to be nearly done birthing and the rush of happy hormones is the most beautiful high I’ve ever had. I was so thankful he was out of me and told him so.
I’m fortunate to live in a time when they no longer strap a woman’s hands to the bed during birth (my mom’s time) or just as bad, drug her into unconsciousness (my gram’s time). Its odd to think that in my great grandma’s time home-birth was still a common thing. How quickly things can change and how quickly what’s thought of as normal, becomes ingrained in most of society-like my first birth experience and how it was a typical hospital birth. Full of overwhelming pain, chaos, monitoring, and medical intervention and control-all of which often does more harm than good. Sure there are exceptions but that’s when docs and medical staff and hospital should be used-and mid-wives are more than qualified to spot when that’s needed in plenty enough time to transport.
My choices were still limited. When I was pregnant with Z, assisted home-birth was still illegal in SD. I was fortunate to stumble upon the only (one of the only?) midwives who worked in a hospital. She helped(s) me and other women, despite resistance, to experience as natural a birth as possible in a hospital setting. With her I had two really outstanding hospital birth. But she had no control over some aspects-like monitoring and interference before and after she was there. While the experiences were great they were still not ideal.
I wanted a home-birth to avoid the hassle of going to a hospital with my other kids in tow-not quite certain who could care for them. I wanted to avoid the constant interruption and handling of my baby by staff after the birth. I wanted to not have to be away from my family (or them from me) for a night of sleeping in a stinky germ infested hospital. What I got when I chose a home-birth was my own home (of course). And who doesn’t feel most comfortable in a home they’ve cleaned, organized, decorated, and created happy memories. My kids didn’t have to be dragged to unfamiliar surrounding-or woken in the night to a confusing rush. A was just crawling into bed. By the time she finished her birth time tasks my mom was here to keep her company. She was welcome to view the birth but she thinks birth and pregnancy are “disturbing” and she is so not a baby/kid person. I respect that. Originally I was going to have my mom help out with the tots but I think she was more of a comfort to A. Z woke from a long peaceful night of sleep to the new sibling she’s been excited to meet V was able to be cared for by her daddy. So my kids, older and younger also benefitted from me having a home-birth.
By choosing an assisted home-birth I also was choosing the only home-birth midwife in the area. I was hesitant at first. I really loved my hospital midwife. I also enjoyed being able to show the medical staff of the hospital the way a normal, healthy, natural birth can go. Just a little bit of exposure can be eye-opening. I’d also heard that the home-birth midwife could be a little too medical and I wanted natural. After a neighbor told me her glowing experience with the home-birth midwife I started to re-evaluate my decision. I thought of who was telling me she was too medical (people who are totally comfortable having unassisted pregnancy and home-birth-which I’m not) and realizing that my hospital midwife was also more medical than many of my peers would be comfortable with-and I was totally satisfied with Her care. Plus I just felt really drawn to at least meet with the home-birth midwife. My instincts were correct-I was really impressed with her knowledge, personality, thoroughness, and respect for my experience of pregnancy and birth. Because of our visits, which were about an hour long each time, I felt confident she would be an excellent birth attendant as well. My instincts also proved to be divine intervention because soon after I switched, my hospital midwife broke both her arms and would not have been able to assist my birth-without her I would not have been at all at ease having a hospital birth.
Mothers need to take back control of pregnancy and birth. I could not have had the amazing experiences I’ve had if I’d not educated and continued to educate myself about pregnancy and birth from a natural perspective. Even a hospital birth, heck even an emergency caesarean can be a decent experience if mom’s take the time to learn there are options besides the over medical ones presented to them. I’m so glad I did and I’m thankful for being exposed to people who’ve had truly beautiful experiences.
Each birth got better. But despite some less-than ideal experiences they’ve all resulted in 4 of my most favorite people whom I feel honored to bring into this world and live with as they grow and become.
Welcome to this world and our family Quinn Alexander 8/5/2012.