Being on the other side {Homebirth of Indy}

I'll start by saying my birth was fucking awesome. For months I told myself it was going to be extremely difficult and painful, just because I wanted to expect the worst. But, what I experienced was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. It was the craziest natural high that I didn't even know was possible. I wish more women could say they enjoyed their births as much as I enjoyed mine. When you're pregnant you hear a million horror stories, and everyone says "get the drugs, don't be a hero". Of course it was painful & intense, but so incredibly worth it. There's seriously nothing like it. Giving birth truly shows you just how strong you are, no matter how you do it, natural, epidural, c-section, home, or hospital.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission.

I thought about this day long before I even found out I was pregnant. After having the privilege of attending several births over the past two years, it was finally time for me to attend my own.

Prenatally I followed all of the advice I give my doula clients. I got routine chiropractic adjustment & acupuncture, did squats and kegels, drank raspberry red leaf tea, took evening primrose oil, etc. I'd like to think it all helped me have a smooth pregnancy in labor. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't. But, it certainly didn't hurt.

My due date {April 10th} came and went. Everyone was anxious/excited besides me. "Is the baby here yet?"/"Any signs of labor?" HOLY SHIT did I want to turn my phone off. I was in no hurry for my baby to come, I was enjoying quality time with my dog and sleeping in until 2 in the afternoon. My thoughts were: why should I be so excited about extreme sleep deprivation & being a human cow? From being a doula I knew how stressful the postpartum period could actually be and again I anticipated the worst, just in case.

Saturday, April 18th, I woke up and went to the bathroom several of times like I had been for the past few weeks. Around 5:30am I felt a little crampy, but went back to bed. I remember the sun starting to rise and I couldn't sleep so I just sat in bed uncomfortably and tried to find a comfortable position. Johnny woke up (kind of) and asked if I was okay, I told him I was in early labor, but he could continue to sleep.

7:01am the "cramps" were getting more intense & I had to pee again. I told Johnny to call his boss, today was the day. I texted Morgan (doula) & Tammy (birth photographer) and said,"Morning mamas! In early labor... Having ctx for 2 hours, nothing major. I'll keep you updated when I head to my grandma's house." I went upstairs to pee and GUSH, my water broke all over the floor. It wouldn't stop, it was all over and I had no towels to clean up. I texted Johnny & said "Bring me up towels, my water just broke all over the floor." I texted my midwife and got in the shower. The hot water felt great, the cramps were gone, but I knew I couldn't stay in there too long. I got out of the shower and there were no damn towels. I called Johnny twice, no answer. I ran downstairs only to find him dead asleep still. "Wake up! We need to go!" As soon as I got out of the shower and to my bedroom, I was in labor land. My contractions were strong and close together.

"Water broke half hour ago, ctx are close together. Heading to my grandmas now, I'll let you know when I'm there." -8:15am

"There like super close, every 2 mins, maybe closer." -8:25am. I put on a robe & slippers. Told Johnny to get my hard boiled eggs out of the fridge and went to the car. I was totally dreading the drive to my grandma's house in Philly, but I was so excited to get there. He quickly packed up the car with clothes and stuff for the week, our dog (Roofus) & beer. The car ride was hell, I could not wait to get into the birth tub. I sat in the car in hands and knees and I just remember Roofus' hot nasty dog breath in my face the whole time, EW.

I quickly got out of the car and waddled my ass upstairs to that tub. Tammy & Morgan were already there and the midwives assistant (Wendy) was on her way. I got in the tub, which wasn't even done filling up and sat inside. FINALLY! I was in my beautiful birth space, this was really happening.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

Several of people were coming in and filling the tub with boiling water from downstairs and Morgan sat with me as Johnny brought in all of our stuff from the car. He set up our record player and all I wanted to hear was Dark Side of the Moon. My contractions were coming strong and consistent. I couldn't believe I was in labor, it still didn't feel real. When Wendy arrived she checked the heartbeat, which was perfect & mentioned that the tub had to be hotter, so I got out and went into the shower as I waited for the birth tub to fill up with the hot water.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

 

Once I got out of the shower, I came back into the bedroom and threw up all over the bed. ALL OVER. Usually I'm not grossed out by throw up, but it smelt disgusting, like no other throw up I've ever smelt. I knew this was a sign things were progressing though, so I remained optimistic. After I labored for a little longer, Wendy asked if she could check me. "Watch me be 1 cm dilated", I thought to myself as she checked me (which wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it'd be). I was 5cm, and baby was doing good with a strong heartbeat. It felt good knowing I was 5cm and this was the real deal. I continued to labor on the bed for a little where Morgan did the hip squeeze on me and it felt AH-MAZING. Then I got back into the tub, which was SUPER hot after it was all filled with the boiling water. Johnny got in with me and I would not let him take his hands off of my hips.  It was hard to get comfortable at this point, no position felt good. But, that hip squeeze was EVERYTHING.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission  All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permissionAll images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

In between contractions I felt great. I could hold conversations and was fully aware of what was going on around me. I told Johnny to put on our Ravi Shankar vinyl which was incredibly relaxing. Although, as soon as a contraction would come on, I would moan & grunt "Fuuuuuccckkkkkkkk this" & "Nooooooo". Morgan encouraged me to say "Yes" instead of no, and at first it felt really ridiculous and strange. But, it did make a little difference. I remember Johnny putting on the Rolling Stones vinyl we had, and every song made sense to me. Especially 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction'. After Karen (midwife) arrived and monitored me for a little, she suggested I get up and go to the bathroom.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

I LOVED the bathroom. I didn't leave it for the next 4 1/2 hours. The toilet felt amazing. Never would have thought that the toilet would be my favorite place to labor. Johnny massaged the back of my neck and I relaxed as much as I could in between contractions. As one would come on I would stand up and moan REALLY, REALLY loud. It's true, your body knows exactly what to do. I thought that I for sure had to be in transition. I could not fight the urge to push. As much pain as I was in, I never once thought "I can't do this." I just let my body take over and exactly what it was meant to do. I kept thinking about how smoothly everything was going.

Wendy suggested the birth stool, which I hated at first and immediately got off and went right back to the toilet, but it eventually grew on me.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

I asked Karen if I was close and she said to check myself. I stuck my fingers up there and didn't feel anything. OH MY GOD this is going to take forever I thought.

 A little later, I asked what time it was because I was now really feeling the urge to push. This baby was bearing down. It was around 2pm, when Wendy checked me again. 10cm!  I was ready to officially push! My contractions came and went and I pushed with them & the breaks in between were like ecstasy. I pushed and pushed and pushed.

I had been pushing for at least 1 hour at this point and it was just Morgan and I in the bathroom. Johnny was napping on a chair outside the room with Roofus. I looked at Morgan and said, "I would never want to be numb for this. I can't imagine having an epidural." I was in the most intense part of labor & couldn't imagine how I would push if I were numb. Although it was painful, it was nothing that my body couldn't handle.

 

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All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

I pushed and pushed and pushed. It was now almost 5pm, I checked myself again and I felt the head! I wasn't crowning, but I knew I had finally made noticeable progress. YES! Finally! The end was near. Karen and Wendy came back into the room soon after and everything got real. This baby would actually be here soon. I kept grabbing the hand held mirror to see where the head was at and boy was it close. As the head came closer to crowning my vagina felt dry like a freaking desert. I wanted a constant flow of olive oil squirted on it. At this point they woke up Johnny and told him to come back into the bathroom.

I tried hands and knees, the birth stool & finally side-lying position.  Side-lying seemed to be the most effective position so Karen had me stay like that. As the head started to crown I so badly just wanted to push the whole damn thing out, but I knew I couldn't so I continued to ease it out and push only with contractions. What an incredible feeling! The ring of fire was INTENSE, but also really awesome.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

I was pushing with every ounce of energy I had left in me. My ass! HOLY SHIT, MY ASS! I remember saying, "Jesus f***** christ my asshole feels like it's going to rip open!" just before the head came out. As the head came out it was such a huge relief. I felt another gush of whatever amniotic fluid was left and Karen kept saying, "Mama you gotta push, you gotta push this baby out. You've been doing such a great job!" But, I was literally giving it my everything and all of a sudden she had me turn over and into hands and knees. What a crazy feeling, switching positions with the entire head hanging out of me.

The shoulders were stuck & the body wasn't coming out with my pushes alone, so she manually had to stick her entire forearm into me and pull him out.  Another crazy feeling! Having the entire body plus my midwifes arm up my vagina... As I felt the shoulders and body and then legs come out of me I knew it was all finally over. I FUCKING DID IT!!! Immediately I felt a insane rush of emotions. I looked at Johnny and asked him if it was a boy or girl and Johnny said, "It's a boy!" I instantly started crying and he did too. Another magical moment!

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

He needed to be resuscitated and his shoulder was a little banged up since he did have a pretty severe shoulder dystocia. But, I knew everything was going to be okay. Karen just kept calm & said, "Talk to your baby mama." It took a bit, but then he finally let out a cry and I held him in my arms, skin-to-skin.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

After the birth, I felt complete euphoria. I had blood ALL OVER me, my ass felt like I shit out a bowling ball, but NOTHING could bring me down from this high. It was such a surreal moment in time. During the "golden hour" everyone had left the room (besides Tammy because we have these beautiful photos, but I really had no idea she was even in there with us), Johnny & Roofus had joined the baby and I in the bed. Everything was perfect. I immediately started sobbing because I was so beyond happy. This was our family. This was love.

Roofus wasn't originally in the plan to attend the birth. But, just a few days before my due date I saw photographs from a home birth and a german shepherd just sitting next to the mama in the birth tub and it was beautiful! Roofus was my baby, I couldn't NOT have him there and I'm so happy I changed my mind. He stayed by my side the entire time and was even in the room as the baby was born. Roofus was an important part of my birth team.

My birth was the perfect example of how a birth team works together. Everyone did their thing and together they created an incredible experience for both me and Johnny. An experience I will definitely never forget. I have a whole new level respect for birth work and cannot wait to attend my next birth as a doula!

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

Anyways, Karen called Justin (my chiropractor) to come out and check/adjust the baby. So he came out and offered the birth team adjustments, it almost felt like a party at this point. Everyone started cleaning everything up, Johnny gave everyone beer, we had the record player playing good music. This was a real birth day party.

After the baby was adjusted, it was time to take his measurements. Justin bet that the baby was 9lbs 4oz, and I thought he was joking. NO WAY IN HELL did I have a 9lb 4oz baby... I thought at MOST I would have a 7 1/2 lb baby. They put him in the sling and said he was 9lbs exactly. HOLY FUCK! My jaw dropped, I was in serious disbelief. How did 5'0', 100lb (pre-pregnancy) me have a 9lb baby? If I would have known he was going to be that big I would have said see you at the hospital after I get my epidural! (Kidding) But, now I was even more in shock that I did it! I could NOT believe it... (Still can't and it's been 6 weeks)

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All things considered, my birth was pretty "easy". Actually, let me rephrase that! Giving birth is not easy in any way shape or form. It was both physically and emotionally challenging. It was a trip, that's for sure! But, for giving birth naturally to a 9lb baby with a severe shoulder dystocia as a first time mama, I'd say it went extremely smoothly. I wouldn't have changed a damn thing.

This is oxytocin. This is home birth.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

Credit to Tammy Bradshaw Photography for all of these beautiful pictures. I've found these photos so inspiring that I am seriously considering becoming a surrogate. If you are considering a birth photographer for your birth, do it! I will forever treasure these photos, they are absolutely priceless to me.

The pain free birth of Aubrie Jean 12/30/14

This is the last birth story of 2014. I'll start by saying it has been an incredible year, filled with incredible births and families, including the Michelet family. 

Late in October, I received a Facebook message on my business page from Brian, this was the first time ever that a dad was reaching out to me. We met that night at a nearby Starbucks and we immediately connected. Needless to say, they hired me on the spot. We quickly booked our prenatal appointments and maternity photo session since we didn't have much time to work with. Sheree was determined to have a completely natural childbirth, but also knew to keep an open mind. I was informed by both Brian and Sheree that she had an extremely low pain tolerance, like she could barely handle a headache. "She's a wimp." Brian told me & Sheree agreed, "I am a wimp." Still she wanted to try and have an intervention & drug free birth. She had been extremely active her entire pregnancy and ate a healthy diet. Her doctor was supportive of her desire to have a natural birth and encouraged her to wait at home as long as possible. 

Sheree was due on Christmas eve and Christmas eve came and went. I patiently waited for my the "I think I'm in labor" text, but I didn't get one until 5 days later. It was the day before New Years Eve and Sheree had called me and said she started having contractions earlier in the morning. I told her to get her rest and keep me updated. We stayed in touch throughout the day and things picked up in the early evening. Around 7:00 pm Brian asked me to head over, her contractions were lasting more than a minute and happening frequently. 

I got to their house at around 8:00 pm and I entered their amazing & calm birth space. Brian had gone above and beyond setting up their "birth room", he painted birth mantras on the wall, bought a 6 person indoor hot tub, set up candles and had a relaxing Pandora station playing in the background. Sheree was relaxed and in hands and knees over her birth ball. I just sat down and watched her breathe calmly through contractions and focus on her labor. Shortly after my arrival she got into the tub and labored in there for about thirty minutes. Sheree had been using the tub throughout the entire day and said it helped her relax. 

At 9:00 pm, she got out of the tub to go to the bathroom and her contractions were really starting to become more intense. She labored a little longer and then at 9:30 pm decided it was time to go to the hospital. Right after she got dressed and was getting ready to leave, her water broke. Brian ran upstairs, got her a change of clothes, they said goodbye to their fur babies and we left. 

At 10:00 pm they checked into triage at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees. She was still remaining calm and breathing through her contractions beautifully. An hour later, 11:00 pm, we were checked into labor & delivery suite #2, with a labor tub. Dr. Godorecci came in and checked Sheree, she was 5 cm dilated , baby was at -1 and in perfect position for delivery. As Sheree was hooked up to the monitor, the nurse prepared the labor tub for her. She got in as soon as she was done being monitored and stayed in their for as long as she could. 

An hour after arriving in her room, at 12:15 am, Sheree stared to sound like she was bearing down. Her doctor came in and asked what her pain was on a scale of 1-10, Sheree responded with, "I'm not in pain, it's just pressure." Yes! Sheree, who could barely handle a headache, was in active labor and said she was not in pain. She got out of the tub and was put back on the monitor as she waited for Dr. Godorecci, who was delivering another baby. She held onto Brian and they swayed back and forth together. It's truly a gift to witness two people, who are so incredibly and undoubtedly in love, getting ready to welcome their first baby to the world. She held tightly onto Brian and would squat up and down in between her contractions. She listened to her body and moaned as her baby made its way down. I was in awe of how beautifully she was handling transition phase, when I looked at Sheree I didn't see pain, I saw trust and love & it was truly inspiring. 

Around 1:30 am Dr. Godorecci came back into the room and checked Sheree, she was ready to push. Sheree got onto the bed and immediately started pushing. Not even 30 minutes later, their baby had arrived earth side at 1:56 am. "It's a girl!" their doctor said. Brian and Sheree looked shocked, although they didn't find out the sex of their baby, they were sure it was a boy. 

What an amazing way to end the year. The birth of Aubrie Jean (8lbs 5oz) was incredible to be apart of. Sheree is such an inspiration to me especially as I prepare for my own birth in a few short months. After hearing horror stories from friends & family and "just get the epidural" from nearly everyone, Sheree still chose to have a natural birth and she is certainly glad she did. They've already told me I have to be their doula for baby #2.  During our postpartum visit Sheree said that at NO point did she want drugs or think that she couldn't do it. She felt calm and in control of her body the entire time. Sheree and Brian it was great being apart of your journey and it feels great making new friends along the way!