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05.10.13 / Mabrey’s Birth

Mabrey Larew was born March 30th, 2012, at 5:00 a.m. on the dot, weighing 7lbs 12oz and measuring 21″ long. She has taught me how to live fearlessly. This is the story of her birth.

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During week 34 of my pregnancy with Mabrey, I suddenly became fearful.

My last pregnancy {with Everett} had ended with an intense precipitous labor and delivery. 48 minutes start to finish. It might sound desirable but I wouldn’t wish that kind of labor on my worst enemy. I had no control, no down time, no vision – literally, I couldn’t see. What I did have was a hellacious kind of pain that makes my uterus itself curl up in the fetal position just thinking about it now. Fortunately, everything turned out okay even though babies born precipitously are at risk of complications from moving through the birth canal so rapidly. Everett was healthy, perfect.

When I unexpectedly found myself pregnant three years later, I was told I was at risk for another precipitous labor. I figured I had nine months until I needed to worry about it so I filed the idea of precipitous labor away in the back of my mind behind “holy cow! we’re having another baby.”

But by week 34, the fear of precipitous labor had climbed its way to the forefront of my thoughts. What if I’m home alone with the boys? Will I scare/scar them? What if Steve is at work? What if I don’t make it to the hospital on time? {Everett was ten minutes shy of being an in-the-car, on-the-highway birth.} What if this baby doesn’t fare so well? All of these what if’s.

I mentioned something about it on the blog and asked for suggestions to help me mentally during labor. I received many comments and appreciated them all but one really stuck with me. It was Kara Sue {Kara Sue, if you are reading this, you are my hero} who said:

Have you read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth? I don’t remember taking specific breathing exercises from it, but the overall positive tone on unmedicated births, especially in the personal stories, greatly helped me through mine. The book made me feel very empowered, much more so than any hospital birthing class did.

Could reading a book – as opposed to actually learning a coping method – really get me through an unmedicated birth? I like any excuse to read so the next day I checked out the book from my local library. The librarian said “oh, this is about the midwife who delivers babies on a farm in Tennessee.” I froze. WTF? I am not giving birth in a barn stall.

It took several chapters to shake that WTF feeling. The majority of the book is a compilation of true birth stories attended by Ina May. Yes, the births take place on a farm in Tennessee but there are proper accommodations for delivery. Usually small cabins. No barn stalls. There are graphic pictures. It all felt a little hippie-ish and free-spirited to me at first. But by the end, I was empowered. I can’t explain it. Somewhere between page 1 and page 368, I discovered confidence. Confidence in myself as a woman. Confidence in my body. Confidence in nature. Confidence in the birthing process.

One of Ina May’s suggestions for pregnant women is to have a doula present during labor and delivery. Is a doula really necessary? I thought. I mean, Steve can rub my back and tell me I’m doing great. I’ll handle everything else. But the personal birth stories in the book kept coming back to me. Then I realized something profound. At nearly every single birth, the birthing mother was surrounded by other women. The women talked with her, laughed with her, breathed with her, pushed with her, sweat with her, swayed with her. The woman’s partner was usually in attendance as well for support but I couldn’t get over the women.

It wasn’t the same as having a mother, a sister or an aunt in the delivery room. No one crying and holding a leg. No one in charge of taking pictures. No one posting updates on social media. Okay, maybe social media didn’t exist when the book was written but you catch my drift.

That’s when I decided I needed a doula. I told Steve and he was a little weirded out but totally supportive, like always. Here’s the thing. Men {even male obstetricians} can read every book on pregnancy, labor and delivery but they will always lack personal experience. They do not and will not ever know what it is like to give birth. And my man isn’t all that comfortable with blood and pain {he once *almost* fainted at the podiatrist} and the fear of childbirth shows on his face no matter how hard he is squeezing my hand. That’s why I needed a doula.

The next day I found a certified doula on DONA.org. Her name was Janet. She was local. I told her my fear of another precipitous labor. She reassured me she would be present even if I couldn’t make it to the hospital. We met several times during those last few weeks of my pregnancy. Sometimes she came to our apartment. Sometimes we went to the park. Sometimes we met for lunch. She shared her own birth stories with me {one of which was a stillbirth}, recommended more books chronicling real life birth stories, helped me nail down a birth plan with my OB and gave me things to keep in mind during labor.

On Thursday, March 29th, 2012, I had a checkup with my OB. I was 4cm dilated but baby’s head was still high. I was due in one week. I had never made it to my due date with my previous children and I had an inkling that this baby would make an appearance over the weekend. The boys’ spring break started the next day so Steve and I decided to let them spend the weekend at my dad’s just in case it was the weekend. We drove them out to my dad’s, stayed for dinner and a movie then returned to our apartment.

At midnight I was wide awake in bed. Steve was sound asleep. I was waiting. Waiting for something. Anything. Then a mild contraction hit me. Then another. And another. They weren’t awful but I could tell they weren’t Braxton-Hicks either. I muffled my labored breathing during contractions with my pillow. I didn’t want to wake up Steve. By 1:00 a.m., I was contracting regularly but I could tell this labor wasn’t like my last one. It had already lasted fifteen minutes longer, the contractions weren’t as intense early on and I had down time in between them. While my doula wasn’t particularly worried about a precipitous labor again, she did think I would progress quickly and thought we should play it safe as far as leaving for the hospital. So I woke up Steve and told him I was in labor. I thought we should call Janet.

Janet arrived at our apartment at 1:30 a.m. My contractions were getting stronger. I was sitting on the bed with my legs bent under me. When I felt a contraction coming on, I instinctively raised up onto my knees, bent at the waist and buried my head down in my pillow. It felt so good to be on my knees blowing into my pillow during the contractions. Steve pressed into my lower back.

I was having a lot of back pain like I did with my very first labor. My first baby was posterior, pushing up against my spine and tailbone. This pain was familiar. I got a little worried because after 15 hours of labor my first time around the labor & delivery block, my baby was literally stuck. He was facing the wrong way for his head to properly maneuver through the birth canal. He was under distress. My OB had suggested a “walking epidural” to help relax my uterus and get me on my hands and knees. One hour later, Layne was born vaginally sunny side up with a huge purple cone head and a low Apgar score. But he ended up being just fine. {I put a hat on him until he was a few weeks old and his head was no longer molded and bruised.} Still, I worried about delivering another posterior baby.

Janet was reassuring. She was vocally encouraging during contractions, her voice soft and kind. Knowing. In between contractions, she smiled and talked. An hour later, I started whimpering during the contractions. Janet reminded me to keep my mouth open and my voice deep. She suggested we head for the hospital. Part of me wanted to stay at the apartment in my bed. I was leery of my labor petering out and slowing at the hospital because of its cold rooms, hard beds, bright lights and constant prodding.

Steve dropped me off at the emergency entrance. I waited leaning against a wall while Steve and Janet parked their cars. The receptionist offered me a chair or a wheelchair. I declined. Sitting was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to move.

We all made it to the delivery room. It was 2:30 a.m. I was 6-7cm. I had the best nurse. She upheld my birth plan without criticism and I was able to move around without being hooked up to an I.V. or fetal monitors. She even turned off the bright lights. I worked through more contractions and more positions. I circled my hips on a birthing ball. I got on my knees in the bed. I stood and wrapped my arms around Steve’s neck, swaying. If I stopped moving my body, my mind would take over. This is what you wanted? This hurts. It’s going to get a lot harder you know. You can’t do this.

And then I would hear Janet. “You are so strong. You are doing good work. You have progressed so well. It won’t be much longer. Baby will be here soon.”

I was still having intense back pain. I asked the nurse if the baby was posterior. She said it was a possibility. I took that as a yes. At 4:00 a.m., I was nearing the end. I was tired. Really tired. I was having doubts. I was having trouble staying on top of the powerful contractions. The OB on duty came in and introduced himself. He was from my OB’s office but I had never met him before. He was short and reminded me of the dad on Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. He asked if I wanted to have my water bag broken to speed things up. He was on his way to an emergency D&C in 15 minutes and wouldn’t be able to deliver me until after that if I waited.

I thought he was an asshole and secretly hoped the baby would come during the D&C. I nearly got my wish.

Everyone says there is so much pressure at the end of labor but I say there is pain and burning and PAIN. Maybe a little pressure. My younger sister who is a marathon runner and not a mother once asked me about natural childbirth. I told her if she could run marathons, she could have a baby. She replied, “Yeah, but it’s not like I’m running marathons with my vagina.” So, I guess natural childbirth is like a triathlon for your vagina. And I was about to cross the finish line sounding like a dying cow.

I felt like the baby was coming any minute whether I pushed or not. I told Janet. Then my water broke. On its own. Not ten minutes after the OB had asked to rupture my membranes. Take that Rick Moranis wannabe. I was getting feisty. More nurses had set up shop in the room. Somehow I had missed all that while my vagina was sprinting. The new nurses were telling me not to push. To wait for the doctor.

Wayne Szalinski entered the room. I could barely see him over the delivery bed. I was already pushing. I couldn’t help it. It was the first time my back had touched the bed. It was so uncomfortable. The OB told me to move down towards him. In my head – not out loud – I cursed him. It wasn’t my fault he had short arms. I was squeezing Steve’s arm so tight. Janet said the baby had lots of dark hair.

Instant relief. The OB laid the baby on me with its crotch right in my face. “Congratulations, it’s a girl!” Well, yes, I can see that. Thank you, Mr. Obvious. I looked up at Steve. I will never, ever forget the puddles he had for eyes at that very moment. Janet was beaming.

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I couldn’t get over how cute, calm and alert our babygirl was. She didn’t cry. She was taking it all in – even lifting up her head to look around. I had always envisioned myself surrounded by a family of boys – big and little – and here was this girl. What in the world do I do with a girl?

Talk with her. Laugh with her. Breathe with her. Sweat with her. Push with her. Share with her.

Let her move freely. Remind her of her strength. Encourage her and tell her she is doing good work. Reassure her when she is scared.

Because even non-girly women need women.

images: Dana Miller

118 Comments

10.May.2013

So perfectly written …

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10.May.2013

Thank you so much for sharing Mabrey’s birth story. It is beautifully written! I’m expecting my first this August so I am enthralled by other women’s stories.

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replied on May 10th, 2013

Evelyn congrats! I read a book you might enjoy – Great With Child by Beth Ann Fennelly. Good luck with your little one!
Debbie

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10.May.2013

You are so right. Here in Germany most women go to the hospital to deliver their babies, but there are alternatives. I went to a “birthhouse” where there are doulas. No doctors. You just don’t need a doctor if everything is okay. If not, there is a hospital very close to the birthhouse and they can call in a docter within 2 minutes or so. But most women don’t need it. I had two women and my husband there when I gave birth to my daughter. No medication needed. No rupture of this and if you take this it will go faster but stop, this is too fast, another medication … blabla.;)
Jule

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10.May.2013

Beautiful story, I have been through something very similar. Thank you for sharing!

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10.May.2013

Wow, this is a very powerful story…thanks for sharing!

I have birth in a small town in Australia, and there were 3 other babies born the same day. The doctor was busy with an emergency csection, so the midwife team delivered him…such strong and reassuring women, I was so grateful for their calming and comforting presence!

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10.May.2013

This is a lovely story. I read Ina May Gaskin when I was pregnant with my first and I too found it so empowering. I have recommended it to many friends, with the warning that it’s style might not be for everyone but what it taught me, anyway, was that my body was intended to do this, that each person’s labor experience is different, but most importantly that labor/birth is like an athletic event: you have to be in the right mindset. I had both of my babies at home, with midwives attending, in Canada, and I wouldn’t want it any other way! I’m so glad you found a wonderful doula.

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10.May.2013

I am a real sucker for birth stories (I find every single one beautiful), but this one is extra beautiful. Nice job, mama!

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Beautiful.

I took a childbirth class with a midwife that was wonderful and empowering. It made me not fear labor and while I had a difficult one (posterior, large baby), I am hopeful that my next one will be much easier. It really is something our bodies were meant to do and have been doing for, well, ever.

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10.May.2013

Thanks for sharing! I had a doula at both G & G births and it was a wonderful experience!

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10.May.2013

Beautiful story! You are so right. Women do need women!

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10.May.2013

Thank you for sharing your story; and what a wonderful story it was! I also had a natural birth and Ina Mays “Spiritual Midwifery” helped me get through it. That lady really knows her stuff when it comes to natural birthing. Thank you for helping normalize it as well. I think that the more stories available about birthing helps us women learn that it’s natural and we can do it.

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10.May.2013

Incredibly well-written. Mad props for the vagina sprinting metaphor. If you’re into fiction (I’m not at all, but I enjoyed this book), I highly recommend The Red Tent. Great story about a group of women supporting one another, literally and figuratively, in exactly the way you describe so beautifully here.

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replied on May 10th, 2013

I read The Red Tent my senior year of high school. Even after going to an all-girls school, it still made a significant impact on my life. I am from a family of men/boys and my female interaction was at school. It gave me a totally new perspective on female relationships that has continued to help me over 10 years later.

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10.May.2013

Beautiful, powerful, real. Just what bringing a new being into the world is. Thanks for taking the time to set down your experience in a way that’s comfortable for you and likely helpful to others. And what a cutie your baby girl is!

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10.May.2013

I’m on the night shift, showing this amazing story to my mid wife buddies…all in tears! Thank you so much for sharing your personal, special story, fears, strength and Dr and vagina marathon analogies!! Thank goodness for chicks who’s body sets the pace not wanky Dr’s or hospital time tables!

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10.May.2013

Wow! Beautiful story, made me tear up reading it. Thank you for sharing the story of Mabrey!

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10.May.2013

What an amazing story! She’s adorable! I also read the Ina May book and loved it.

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10.May.2013

I read the same book, and it truly did stick with me through my labor. I, too, had a natural birth with my first (a son who is now 8 months old). We are trying for #2, and I will again do everything necessary for a natural birth. It’s the worst and best pain I’ve ever felt in my life. It’s beautiful to read this. Most people didn’t understand and thought I was “crazy” for not “taking advantage of modern medicine”. I believe in my heart that the greatest gift I could give to myself and my son was to have this experience. Thank you for sharing.

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10.May.2013

“Because even non-girly women need women.” Perfectly spoken. I could not agree more. Your story and insight strengthen my resolve to go natural for child birth when the time comes (and to look into getting a doula). Amazing story.

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10.May.2013

Beautifully told. Happy Mother’s Day!

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You totally managed to make this so touching but hilarious at the same time. The dying cow part had me laughing out loud. That is TOTALLY what I sounded like when giving birth. I went into child birth deciding that I was going to do it all natural – I had no idea what was ahead of me, but I knew that for some insane reason I wanted this challenge and I wasn’t going to give up on it. I too read Ina May’s book and had a hard time getting through the beginning part, but then it clicked….it’s really just about trusting yourself and your body and believing that you can. we hired a doula for the birth of our daughter and it was the best decision we made. I remember being in the shower in the hospital and she came in, and she turned the lights off and set up candles…at the time (while I was making the dying cow noises and my husband was freezing his ass off since I kept shoving him out of the shower) I thought she had lost her mind trying to set the mood in the horrible hospital bathroom. BUT…it totally worked. Something about turning off the lights and making it feel less like a disgusting bathroom made me want to stay in that shower a bit longer and not give into the drugs. I would have never thought to do that on my own. Anyhow, sorry for the insanely long comment, but thank you for sharing your story!

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10.May.2013

What a beautiful story!

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10.May.2013

I loved reading your story. I was surprised that our labors have been so similar–my oldest boy was posterior too and it was a pretty long, traumatic experience. My second boy came like a rocket–no time for epidural, and I was just relieved to have made it to the hospital in time. Now I’m pregnant with #3 and I can’t help but feel terrified when I think about having a repeat of that whirlwind experience. I’m afraid I’ll be setting up my tent in the hospital parking lot during month 9 :) Maybe I’ll have to read that book you recommended too!

Also, unrelated to your birth story, but do you have any good sources for maternity clothes? It seems like any pregnant photo I’ve seen on your blog I think to myself, “Oh, that’s such a cute shirt”. I’d love to know where you shopped!

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10.May.2013

your story is beautiful and empowering! we don’t have any children yet, but we the time comes, i sincerely hope for natural births. i am committed to seeking out the support of women, such as doulas as you’ve mentioned, who can help me with this goal. your story is encouraging!! thanks for sharing and happy mother’s day!

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beautiful. and i also have puddles. =)

happy mother’s day dana!

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10.May.2013

“even non-girly women need women” so true. somewhat hard to accept.
This story really touched me for a variety of reasons. I had a natural birth with a very caring midwife and found it to be a satisfying experience. How quickly those memories fade as my boy is 4.5 now. You make me long for a baby girl!
March 30 is a great day for a birthday (it’s mine too)!
Happy Mother’s Day!

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10.May.2013

Those last few lines really got me! My youngest is also a girl and I went into labor with the assumption it would surely be a boy – when I was wrong, I was happy but scared at the same time. Your words are very reassuring for what women can do for other women (and girls too!).
I always love reading your blog. And this story was so beautifully written. Happy Mother’s Day!

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This is the most lovely thing I have read in a long time. Tears rolling down my face right now. You should feel really proud of yourself — and what a beautiful reward.

I am 7 months pregnant right now with our first (also a girl). I have read the Ina May book and will be delivering with midwives and a doula here in Canada. I flip flop from feeling really empowered (usually after I have read a new book, chatted with my caregivers, or gone to my prenatal class), to feeling scared again — like I won’t be strong enough. Your story has come at a really nice time for me. So thank you.

xo.

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10.May.2013

Why all the hatred towards the doctor? Totally ruined the story for me.

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replied on May 10th, 2013

Ditto! What’s with the harping on the size of the doctor? If he was unlikeable it’s one thing (I don’t like Rick Moranis either), but his stature is certainly not something he chose or can change.

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replied on May 11th, 2013

I’m short. I don’t dislike short people. During the hardest part of my labor, the doctor’s height is what I noticed physically about him. That’s just how my mind was working. Here I am about to give birth and my mind is comparing the doctor to Rick Moranis. Weird, I know but true. Honestly, the doctor was probably taller than me ;)

It wasn’t the doctor’s height – or lack thereof – that was a turnoff for me. It was that he walked right into the room while I was transitioning and bluntly asked me if I wanted an intervention without having met me before or asking if I had a birth plan and what that birth plan was. He also made me feel like I was putting a kink in his schedule when he told me I would have to wait until after his D&C to deliver unless he broke my water to speed things up. How did he know that breaking my water would guarantee a quicker delivery? When I was actively delivering and the doctor told me repeatedly to move closer to him, I felt like “hello! I’m a little busy here! Maybe you could come to me!”

I didn’t hate the doctor. There was a big difference between the way he made me feel and the way Janet made me feel during my labor and delivery. I am so happy Janet was there.

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replied on May 13th, 2013

Plus, it is keeping it real isn’t it? During my second childbirth I think there was a time during my transitional labor where I pretty much hated everyone, so kudos to you for only being annoyed. :D

I remember during my first childbirth (the 36 hour one), one of the nurses was so impatient with her questions and so rough with her examinations that by the third time I started to cry when I saw her come in the room. I felt like she was pissed at me because my water had STILL not broken, and I felt like she was trying to break my water with her fingers because her exams literally hurt worse than the contractions I was having. On the other hand my delivering doctor was wonderful. I would have asked him to hold my hand if he wasn’t, you know, busy down south. I am sure both nurse and doctor were excellent and experienced, but some people you click with and some people you just don’t.

Your story really made me wish I had taken the leap and engageed a doula. :)

replied on May 13th, 2013

Haha! I guess HH should be happy the doctor was the target of my annoyances during delivery – and not him!

replied on May 13th, 2013

I had the same type of Dr for my first birth, and second birth was with a wonderful Dr. You are allowed to hate on a Dr that doesn’t treat you with kindess and respect.

10.May.2013

I get so teary reading birth stories – even of people I don’t know. My baby (youngest of 3 girls) isn’t quite 9 months old yet and, even though it was painful, I just wish I could go back that far to her birth. I hate how fast it goes. Thanks for sharing with us!

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10.May.2013

I’m a ways away from having kids, but reading stories like your make me feel empowered to one day become a mom (as opposed to being flat out terrified). (Total aside: I once saw the Vagina Monologues and the monologue was about giving birth. The actress mentioned stitches and the girl in front of me said in a loud sharp whisper, “What?!” She’s in for a surprise!)

What you said about having other women around reminded me of the book The Red Tent. It’s about Dinah, Jacob and Leah’s daughter in the Old Testament. I think you’ll enjoy it!

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replied on May 10th, 2013

Two words in response to “stitches”: perineal massage. Google it. The only stitch {yes, one stitch} I got was after Everett’s precipitous birth because he came so fast. Any woman who asks me for pregnancy/labor advice, I say perineal massage. Sorry if it’s TMI but I think at least women should know about it then they can choose do it/have their partners do it/not do it.

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replied on May 13th, 2013

The only time you shouldn’t do perineal massage, as I understand it, is if you are positive for GBS and do not want the antibiotic drip during labor. It could spread the GBS and make it more likely for your baby to pick it up.

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10.May.2013

What a wonderful birth story. Doula’s are amazing, I recommend them to anyone and everyone. I’m so happy you found Janet and had such a wonderful birth, well except for Rick…

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You are so lucky you found a doula! I wanted a doula or midwife for my first (and only) pregnancy but couldn’t find one. I was able to have a natural birth and it wasn’t easy. Very, very painful. I used breathing techniques from meditation/yoga to help me get past the pain. Pushing was such a relief from the contractions! It was funny because I went in thinking there is no way I’m ever getting an epidural but the pain got so bad that I told them I needed one immediately. They called the Dr. and then checked me and said “Ummm…sorry but you’re too far along and need to start pushing”. I was so scared and did not think I would be able to do it. I pushed and pushed and was so afraid of peeing or pooping on them (sorry TMI!) but I knew I couldn’t take anymore so I let go and pushed so freaking hard and she came out! If I do have another one I’d like to try it naturally again. My Doctor told my best friend that my labor/birth was about the best it gets naturally so I was pretty lucky! Thank you for sharing this story. It’s not easy giving birth but oh so rewarding!

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10.May.2013

This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. And I feel the same way about women needing women. We’re so much stronger together, don’t you think?

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replied on May 17th, 2013

I loved the women needing women comment also. My first child my Lamaze teacher (and practicing doula) tried to tell me that I could have a baby all on my own. The rest of the class agreed with her while I didn’t. Being a student of history I knew I could but I was never ment to do something like this myself. Long before doctors it was women helping women.

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10.May.2013

Yay! Thank you for sharing! I loooove birth stories!

Just curious, what made you want to share this today?

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replied on May 10th, 2013

Honestly, I was just waiting for when it felt right to me. It wasn’t on the blog schedule for any certain day. I didn’t have a plan in mind of when to share. I just sat down last night at the computer at midnight and the words came out.

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10.May.2013

I rarely write comments on blog posts but I wanted to thank you for sharing and to let you know that while this entire post is very touching, one line spoke to me: women need women. My eyes are still swimming with the tears that sprung up while reading that. I have a 3 year old strong, beautiful and willful daughter that challenges me night and day. I’m also recovering from a recent miscarriage. What both of those things have taught me most is that women need women. I couldn’t endure my tough days as a mom, or the lonely moments missing the baby that never will be without other women. Sometimes I forget that, I think sometimes we all forget that. Thank you for the reminder. Happy Mother’s Day to you and to all of us. XOXO

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replied on May 10th, 2013

Yes! Women need women! Even self-proclaimed tomboys and those of us who rarely shower, wear heels or dresses need women. Women don’t need each other to criticize, gossip, belittle, one up, analyze, judge. It’s all about support, encouragement, inspiration and sharing our experiences for the good of the whole.

This might sound strange but the most inspiring story that Janet shared with me was of her stillborn baby. I cannot imagine living through something like that. But hearing Janet’s story and seeing the strength, love and loss in her eyes as she told her story made me realize that no matter what happened, there was a way through anything.

I am so sorry for your loss, Jamie. My heart goes out to you.

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10.May.2013

I am at 37 weeks with my first child, and we are planning/hoping to go natural as well, with hypnobirthing and (hopefully) a doula. I started my doula search late so we are meeting with someone today and hope we will click. Thank you SOOOOO MUCH for sharing this. I’m trying to stick it out for my last few weeks at work, and I’m just dreading my baby coming early. I am also not a “girly girl” so your reassurance that women need women was just what I needed to hear. Thank you!

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replied on May 12th, 2013

I did hypno-birthing with both my deliveries. The first was almost 19hours long and it got me through, drug free( except for the Pitocin). With the second the delivering doc got the head out and I did the rest.
BTW, I would like to give a little shout out to the delivering docs out there. I am one, and most of us care a great deal about our patients. we sacrifice time with our loved ones to help other meet theirs. This morning I skipped the breakfast in bed my kids had planned to go deliver a sweet little girl.

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10.May.2013

Gorgeous! I loved reading this. I will have to check out that book. We are 13 weeks along, and I just met with a doula yesterday and couldn’t quite explain to my husband why it would be worth the extra money. But I just really clicked with her, and can’t really imagine having a birth without her now.

Thanks for sharing!

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10.May.2013

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

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10.May.2013

Thanks for sharing – I love reading birth stories!

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This was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing!!

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10.May.2013

Ah, man. You made me cry at work. :) Beautiful and funny story. My first labor sounds a lot like your first labor. 36 hours of back labor followed by a baby in distress, emergency C-section, low apgar, but a perfectly fine little boy at the end (and he had the super cone head as well).

With that one all I felt was pressure, lots and lots of pressure. My second birth was different from the very first contraction. I was like, holy crap! What the hell is this? PAIN. Aparently that is what a normal birth is like lol. It HURT! But 8 hours later I had a vaginal birth, and a very healthy little girl with STRONG lungs.

The pictures of Mabrey are adorable. I always forget they come out so tiny and precious.

Happy Mothers Day to you, and to all the other moms out there!

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10.May.2013

What a beautifully written post. My eyes welled up at the end. That baby girl is so blessed to have a mama like you:) Thank you for sharing your life with us. I have been revisiting the boys bedroom reveal pics as I get ready to do a little remodel on my 12 year old’s room and they continue to give me inspiration and bravery that I too can make a space my family would be happy to rest and play in. Thank you.

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10.May.2013

Awesome birth story!! I loved reading it!

After my vaginal delivery at the local Birthing Center (not a hospital, so there are no drugs) our little boy came out really alert, calm – not crying, just taking it all in. We sat for 45 minutes looking each other over while the student midwife tried to stitch me up. If I ever had it to do over again I would choose to go all natural again. Mom and Baby are both happier that way!

Happy Mother’s Day!!

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10.May.2013

What an amazing story. I am so happy that you shared it. I have been considering a natural birth, maybe at home, maybe at a hospital, and hearing your story has only solidified that desire for me.

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10.May.2013

What a blessing her birth was and that Mabrey has become in your family. She is a doll.

Not all of us are blessed with such smooth birth experiences, even when trying natural labor with midwives and doulas. My first birth was 38 hours (24 natural but stalled at 4cm after my water broke, so I finally gave in and let my midwives give me meds to help things progress to avoid a c-section), and my 2nd son was born by emergency c-section after 26 hours of laboring when he went into distress after my water broke at 10 cm and my midwife knew he wouldn’t survive if we tried to push him through the canal…. she saved his life by calling in an OB to operate.

I love birth stories and just seeing all the ways that miracles happen, whether things go according to plan or according to wishes… or not. When things end well with a healthy mom and healthy baby and a new little person gets to bless their family with their life, I feel like we just make peace with the other stuff that doesn’t compare to the journey ahead.

Thanks for sharing your journey with us all.

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replied on May 10th, 2013

Oh yes! One of the most difficult things I’ve learned as a parent is that things {birth plans, morning routines, outings, meals, etc.} rarely go according to plan. Having Janet by my side wasn’t a guaranteed natural birth but her presence, knowledge, encouragement and personal experience was comforting, reassuring and beyond helpful – no matter the outcome. Every labor, delivery, mom and baby are different. Thank goodness we have doulas, midwives, WOMEN!, nurses, partners, doctors, birthing centers and hospitals to cover all the bases.

The biggest things for me were losing my fear of birth, of complications, of pain, of not being in control and being surrounded by strong, encouraging women. Of course, I feel extremely lucky for each of my very different birthing experiences and healthy babies. I’m so happy to hear that your babies were born healthy. Happy mother’s day!

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10.May.2013

Such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing!!

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10.May.2013

Beautiful birth story! I can’t imagine labor without a doula. The hospital I had my two babies at has volunteer doulas on call for free. They were amazing both times around. My husband’s advice for all expectant fathers is to “get a doula”. Ha!

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10.May.2013

Such a great story and so well written! I read all of Ina May’s books and decided to do a natural birth at home with my first. Labor started with my water breaking and was intense from the start. I labored for 30 hours before transferring to the hospital. Turns out I had a little stubborn baby boy who’s head was tilted to the side and kept bumping against my pelvis and just couldn’t get out. I talked the doctor into trying a vacuum extractor before doing a C section and at the 36th hour of labor he finally came out. Next time we want to try naturally with a doula in the hospital. Reading this story is so helpful to know that your doula was a huge help. Thank you for sharing!

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10.May.2013

That was incredibly beautiful! I especially love how you ended this post. That’s what I hope I have with the daughter that is currently doing kartwheels in my uterus.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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10.May.2013

Oh my gosh! I’m so happy that my recommendation was helpful to you — I certainly don’t know what I would have done without that book. What a beautiful birth story and beautiful baby!

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replied on May 10th, 2013

Thank you Kara Sue!

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10.May.2013

I really, really recommend the documentary The Business of Being Born (on Netflix). It talks a lot about the birthing industry and the disappearance of midwives. I also thought I wanted drugs, bad, when I give birth but after watching this I think I would consider home birth.

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replied on May 10th, 2013

My doula gave me The Business of Being Born to watch! It was eye-opening.

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replied on May 10th, 2013

If you watch “More Business of Being Born” they go down to The Farm and talk to Ina May. She’s still delivering babies. She’s amazing.

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10.May.2013

Thank you for sharing. You have a gift with words. As an uber fan of your children’s names I was wondering if you had a boy name chosen for if she had been a he? Care to share?! Adore your blog, too!

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replied on May 10th, 2013

We had mental lists of girl and boy names before Mabrey was born. After discovering she was a she, we chose Mabrey by a landslide. Other girl names on the list were Iris, Lucy, Maeve and Elise. Honestly, we weren’t ecstatic about our boy list. We had already used our favorites – Layne & Everett. Some boy names we came up with were Leo, Trone {family friend name}, Bryson {my dad’s middle name is Brice and Bryson City NC is one of our favorite places to visit} and Knox {trendy but an ode to my maiden name Knotts}. Of them all, we liked Leo best so I guess if Mabrey had been a boy we would have used Leo. “Layne, Everett & Leo” has a nice ring.

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10.May.2013

What an absolutely beautiful story. On its own, it is wonderful and adoring. However, in the light of your last experience, what a redemption! I am so moved and so happy for you.

I am a long time reader (the sliding door in the bedroom, long time), yet have never commented before. This, however, was particularly special to me. Our Nora Lindsley was born with an extremely similar but at-home story only 4 days after Mabrey. We journeyed through pregnancy in tandem without me declaring, because, what’s one more reader pregnancy, right? ;-)

I can’t imagine your joy, your ecstasy to welcome Mabrey just the way you did. Thank you, no THANK YOU for sharing your story.

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10.May.2013

Beautiful, Dana! I am crying. I had two beautiful planned home births with an amazing midwife. I am so glad you discovered that your body is made for birth. Now you can share this with your sweet girl when she is a woman and having babies. I want my daughters to know that they are beautiful and strong creations of God made for giving life.

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10.May.2013

I love birth stories. I can only imagine how surprised you were to meet your little girl! I had a long labor but thanks to my husband, a team of nurses at a local birth center and a very experienced midwife, I was able to have the birth I had planned (well, I didn’t plan it to take 30+ hours but otherwise it was according to plan). After our M was born, I had lots of thoughts of becoming a doula or midwife. It was such an amazing experience.

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Dana, that was just lovely. I love Ina May…. she is just astounding. Have you read anything by Naomi Wolf? She’s another favorite of mine – her book “Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood” was a life-changer for me. She also recently came out with a new book called “Vagina: A New Biography”, which I need to get my hands on.

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replied on May 10th, 2013

I’ll be looking her up next time I’m at the library!

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10.May.2013

What a well written story, and yes, Ina May’s book is amazing! I read it when I was pregnant with my son and it was incredible. I also watched Rikki Lake’s documentary “The Business of Being Born,” I know most people either loved it or hated it…I was in the “loved it” camp.

Gorgeous baby by the way!

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10.May.2013

I’m crying, beautiful story and beautifully written. Its Mothers’ Day here (Australia) tomorrow, so Happy Mothers’ Day to you.
Have you seen this? Found it this morning at 4.30 am when I was up with my little one.
http://youtu.be/Xa-7jtvi7J4

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10.May.2013

Ah… tears in my eyes, and I am so not a softie! But your story is so similar to mine (minus the precipitous labor). My first was born vaginally, but posterior as well. Total nightmare. He kinda had horns–we called them cupcakes–from all the freakish head molding. Determined not to go through that circle of hell again, I hired a doula for my second birth and had a very similar experience to what you describe here. Best decision I ever made. When I think of my first son’s birth, I have no emotional reaction… but when I think of that natural, unmedicated, Clan of the Cave Bear arrival of my second son with my doula by my side, I get choked up every. damn. time. Beautiful story you told.

Also, Vagina Triathalon is a great band name. Dibs.

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Beautiful birth story and beautiful Mabrey =)

xo,
Katie
http://hellolittlebean.com

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10.May.2013

Loved this! Thank you for sharing the beauty of a natural hospital birth.
I also can relate to the fear factor. My 3 boys have all been naturally birthed (2 @ home) weighing 9 & 10 pounds. I am thankful for my midwife who talks me through the last 2months – encouraging me & instilling confidence – otherwise I don’t know how it would all go down. I love seeing her around town & knowing my boys know her. They call her affectionately “Baby Shannon” cause when she comes to the house… A baby comes!

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10.May.2013

Thank you for sharing your story. It allows me to experience a birth through your words even though I have not experienced giving birth yet. My hubby and I are fighting the infertility battle right now and I really hope we win. In the meantime, just reading your story reminds me what I am fighting for and why it is so worth it. Mabrey is perfect.

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10.May.2013

Thank you for your story. I had a doula at the birth of our first babe (an induction) and she missed the birth of our second because he came in less than 90 minutes. It makes a huge difference and I’m so glad she was there for both of us, even if she missed the little guy by 3 minutes. No kidding.
We’re having an unexpected third (like you guys!) and I don’t even want to attempt to get into a car this time around for fear we won’t make it. We’ll have to see how it goes.

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10.May.2013

“sprinting with my vagina” LOL! That is exactly what transition is like!
I love natural birth stories, well done mama! And I totally get what you mean about having women around. That’s what I loved so much about having midwives attend my two home births. Having them be there for me was so nice after my first birth in the hospital. Having someone there who really knows what your going through is so comforting.

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I *loved* reading this. What a beautifully written post. I don’t have any children yet, but I’ll be saving this for post for future reference. Thanks for sharing, Dana!

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10.May.2013

Thank you Dana. Such a great story, it made me tear up at work! I’d love to read her book, I’ve seen “The Business of Being Born” and it’s empowering. Thanks so much for sharing!

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This post made me cringe, laugh, cry, and then smile. Just like recalling the births of my own children.
Thanks for sharing this very personal story, it is amazing – as are you and Mabrey!

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11.May.2013

I was looking for HH to post defending his ALMOST faint :)

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replied on May 11th, 2013

Oh, there is nothing to defend! Another *almost* fainting incident occurred right after our first was born and HH was holding him in the nursery. He likes to tell everyone it was “very warm” in the nursery and that’s what made him dizzy ;)

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11.May.2013

My daughter was born the very same morning…2am in California. Oddly enough, I made the same type of marathon comment about childbirth to my sister, referencing my previous birth to my twin boys…I love your blog, how real and down to earth you are, and watching your baby girl grow knowing she shares a birthday with my own. Have a great day!

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11.May.2013

Hey,

Thank you for sharing your story. I am not a mother nor am I pregnant, but I am very scared of childbirth although I know every mother does it. Your birth story really opened my eyes about what it can be like when you are prepared. I must read that book you wrote about. Best wishes to your family from Finland! Love your blog :-)

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11.May.2013

What a lovely story! Isn’t it part of the wonderful world that only women “get it”. Every birth story is so different. Thanks for sharing yours!

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11.May.2013

I’m not a mom and don’t plan on being one any time soon, but I love reading birth stories and learning about pregnancy/birth. This is one of the most wonderful birth stories I have ever read. Thank you for you sharing, Dana!

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11.May.2013

So beautifully written, thank you for sharing it! It has so much great information on learning to be empowered and moving past fear after a scary previous labor. Gives me hope that maybe someday I’ll be ready to try for #2 after all. Thanks again, and Happy Mother’s Day!

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11.May.2013

What a wonderful post. Like you, my first delivery with my son was long, scary, and intense. I had a doula, but was restricted from moving around due to fetal distress and excessive monitoring. I’m currently 6.5 months pregnant with baby #2– a girl we plan to name Mabrey:) I needed to read your story this morning to help remind me of the strength we have as women and the fact that this birthing experience can be different. Thank you!!!

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11.May.2013

Thank you so much for putting your story out there for us all to benefit from. Sharing some of the details might not be comfortable, but very helpful for others of us in preparation for childbirth. I have had two c-sections (talked out of a VBAC on the second one by my dr) and I really want to see if trying a vaginal birth is an option for me this time. I would love to know what that feels like, maybe even natural! I’m sure, like you, I would be calling myself crazy towards the end. Your story inspired me, empowered me, and reaffirms the reality that women’s bodies were created for this. Love your blog.

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What an amazing birth story. You’re the second blogger to influence me in the doula department since I still have plenty of time to make those decisions. Thanks for the girl power :) it’s inspirational and ill come back for more of it when I need it!

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12.May.2013

Dana, I loved reading this. You have always been an inspiring woman and even more so now. I miss seeing you at work. Hope all is well.

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replied on May 13th, 2013

Aw, miss you too! I was just thinking that I need to bring you guys some food…then I saw you were on vacation and decided to wait until you were back. Couldn’t visit without seeing you!

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13.May.2013

Beautifully written.
I read Ina May Gaskin’s book when I was pregnant with my fifth child, it was recommended to me by my midwife. I was having trouble preparing myself for the upcoming birth (sounds weird by the 5th). I had hospital births for my first 3 kids and a home birth for the fourth and the 5th was a planned home birth. None of the births were the same, they varied in length, what positions were most comfortable to labour in, the only thing constant was that I tend to go inward and just want someone there…but not touching me or talking to me. Now this part is going to sound weird, but a story from that book talked about finding an animal mama in yourself and allowing that animalistic part of birth direct you through the process. I envisioned a mama bear (I can’t believe I’m admitting this) but omg it worked. It was a long birth, I kept going back to things written in that book, especially the mama animal thing, and all went well. Had an awesome birth. Would highly recommend that book too! Thanks for sharing your birth story.

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13.May.2013

What timing, there was a story on Ina May Gaskin on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday!
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50146659n

Congrats. And the lesson of ‘Listen and Trust your body’ is an invaluable one.

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replied on May 13th, 2013

Oh, that’s so great! I hope more women hear Ina May’s message.

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13.May.2013

I almost forgot you hadn’t told us about Mabery’s birth. Thank you for sharing your experience.

I had my last little one 7 months ago at home (3rd boy) and I too had a hard time preparing since the first two were such different experiences (first was a marathon, hospital no-drug birth and second was a super fast, unexpected breech vaginal delivery). At least my third was more tempered than either and being home and surrounded by women really was great.

Love the “cow” comments…all my girlfriends who have done natural births with doulas and after reading Ina all “moo” also. ;)

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13.May.2013

Thank you for sharing your story. I too read Ina May’s book in preparation for the birth of my first child. It was incredibly empowering. My second child arrived an hour after getting to the hospital after laboring at home all day. Because of the book, I never felt that I wasn’t in control of my birthing decisions during that very quick delivery.

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13.May.2013

Dear Dana, I was seized with a strong desire to check your blog this morning and catch up. I gave birth to our first child, Elise Briony, 15 days ago and as you can imagine have not been keeping up with my blogroll. Well hey, my intuition was right on the money about needing to come read what you wrote – I was thrilled to find your birth story, very relevant :) I read Ina May’s book too, just the first half with the stories actually, and it was amazingly empowering though I was never wanting to deliver in a hospital. I also saw how important it was to have women around who you had a relationship with and I delivered at home with a midwife, her two assistants, and my husband. The labor was just under 6 hours and my girl was 7 lbs 10 oz and 20″ long. Blessings to you and your little girl! Thank you for sharing your birth experience.

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13.May.2013

so well written. curious why you decided to deliver with an OB opposed to a midwife?

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replied on May 13th, 2013

If I had read Ina May’s book earlier in my pregnancy, I probably would have delivered with a midwife. I was so far along in my pregnancy by the time I read the book that I had a difficult time just finding a doula. Most were booked. In fact, Janet was booked but had a backup doula partner {also certified} who could be with me if necessary. I met her partner a few times as well. I was really happy when Janet’s other expecting mama delivered two weeks before my due date :)

The other factors involved in delivering with an OB was that we were already paying the OB for the prenatal visits/delivery when I read Ina May’s book and weren’t sure how all that would play out with our health insurance. The OB I saw regularly was aware of my birth plan {and a woman}. I think I would have felt differently towards the doctor if she had been my delivering doctor. I wrongly assumed that all the other OB’s in the practice would at least glance at/take note of my birth plan if they were the ones delivering.

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Beautiful story.

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13.May.2013

Such a lovely birth story … thank you so much for sharing.

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15.May.2013

I really liked Ina May’s book, too. I’m due at the end of June and preparing for a vbac in a birthing center! I really need to stop procrastinating and start preparing with my Hypnobabies course.

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17.May.2013

Beautiful story! Thanks for sharing.

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18.May.2013

I cried so much through this. What a beautiful story!
I don’t have babies, I had a miscarriage and really have never met a man worth having kids with but if I ever do I will definitely do the doula thing. I have a chronic illness and joke that I would like a live in doula. ;-)

Women needs women. It’s a hard one for me, I’m not a girly girl either. But their are lots of us non girly girls that can all be there for each other!

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29.May.2013

Dana, I live in Dayton and have been researching doulas for my first child, due in early October. Was your doula Janet Ogden, by chance?

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replied on May 30th, 2013

Yes! I would highly recommend her.

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03.June.2013

What a great story! My 1st posterior, stuck baby ended up in a c-section and I had to fight for my vbacs with my second and third. I got “crunchy” and totally sucked up books on natural childbirth, hired a doula, etc. I love laboring in the tub and during my 3rd labor I found reading the delivery stories from Ina May’s book so empowering. Just relaxing and trusting my body made all the difference. So glad you had such a great experience.

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03.July.2013

Teary me at the end of the story. Sharing your story on my facebook with my friends

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13.May.2014

What a beautiful birth story, thanks for sharing. I must write the birth story for my daughter; I had midwives and delivered her at home. I used hypnobirthing audios, they really helped me stay focussed. That, and my amazing husband! Such an intense experience, so hard to prepare oneself.

I have suggested many times to women to use a doula; when I volunteered as a birth coach at a hospital a few years ago, the women I assisted would have benefited enormously from a doula. Generally, they had no one consistent and nurturing, just freaked out husbands, busy nurses and absent doctors (until the last minute!). I disliked what I saw so I vowed to avoid a hospital birth unless medically necessary.

I read Ina May Gaskin’s book many years ago, pretty amazing (and far out man, lol, love the hippyness). She and the other midwives really paved the way to reclaim a woman’s right to birth naturally. Even though I am in Canada, if not for their work, I likely would have been forced to give birth in a hospital and receive a lot of unnecessary medical intervention – great if you need it, not so much if you don’t. Instead, midwifery is quite common now and is covered by our health care system for low risk pregnancies.

Anyhow, I am reading back through your blog, enjoying it very much!

Cheers,
Alana

BTW, love your vaulted ceilings, I have vaulted ceiling envy, lol. If it wouldn’t cost us, like, a bazzillion dollars, I would do the same to our bungalow.

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20.August.2014

Beautifully written Dana! Thank you for sharing with us. :)

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24.August.2014

I have tears in my eyes. Beautiful.

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