Trees of Transition

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Molly’s Birth Story!


I did not expect our baby girl to be born on Christmas Day because she was due December 16th! Her due date came and went, and I kept taking walks and enjoying my two year old, Joel, and husband, Stephen. Then my Mom and a family friend, Judy, came on December 20th to help and be ready for when the baby decided to come. During these days of waiting, I had to come to grips with the fact that this was a different pregnancy and would be a different labor than with Joel. I was happy that I had given birth before, but I was expecting it to be similar to Joel’s labor, and I had to set down those expectations.

I kept doing prenatal yoga, walking at the mall with Stephen, eating spicy Thai food, but no baby. On December 23rd, 2019 my midwife said I could try drinking some castor oil and see if that would start labor (if the baby is ready to come, the oil just helps start labor). She advised to do it after a good night’s sleep, so after I talked with my husband we decided that I take the oil on Christmas Eve.

All the bottles of Certified Organic Castor Oil at Whole Foods said to not eat it, but it IS edible– it just doesn’t taste like much (it’s like eating a teaspoon of thick oil, so that’s why I put it with juice. Some people might get diarrhea or throw up after they take it, but I didn’t have any of those reactions). I bought a bottle of organic castor oil, and took 1 1/2 teaspoons in the morning with some orange juice and then another 1 teaspoon dose four hours later and then another 1 teaspoon dose six hours later around dinner time.

In the afternoon, my mom and I had taken a two mile walk and had talked in a deeper way than we had in the days before. I think that help me relax more. At church’s Christmas Eve service, the last song was “Silent Night,” and I had been singing that every night to Joel for months. As the chords on the song started, I felt myself relax in a deeper way than I had for a long time. Tears washed down my face as we sang that carol. We picked up Joel from his class and took a family picture, and headed home, I took my last dose of castor oil, and labor started around 7 PM!

So around 7 PM, while I was going to the bathroom, contractions started in a pretty strong and consistent way. Mom set up a Swedish candle chime, and Mom and Joel were enjoying watching it when I came out of the bathroom, and I told them that contractions were happening consistently. I started timing them, and they were about four minutes apart.

Around 7:30pm, Stephen and I put Joel to bed together; we had sung to him, read books with him, and told him he would see his new sister soon!

After an hour or so, I called the midwife to let them know that labor had started. Jenni told me to keep on timing the contractions for another hour and then call back. So I lay on the ground looking at the Christmas tree and working through the contractions and talking to my mom and Judy.

When I called back Jenni around 9:30 PM, she said to come in and meet them around 10:30pm at the birth center because my labor was continuing! Then we watched the end of It’s A Wonderful Life which is my favorite part of the movie, and we finished packing our bags and got in the car.

Mom stayed at home with Joel, and Judy came with us to be our support person and photographer.

The birth center was in an office building, and our cars were the only ones at the place! I walked up to the birth center because the contractions weren’t too strong yet.

Grace, the student midwife, was leading the birth, and Jenni was a midwife who was overseeing Grace. Our birth attendant was Patty. At 7 AM the overseeing midwife switched to Candace, and the birth attendant switched to Nina. Grace stayed the whole time!

So we settled into the room with the windows and that had the big “breathe” sign on the wall. Around 11 PM, Grace checked to see how much I had dilated, and I was 5 cm already! So she sent us to the stairs to do lunges. At the bottom of the stairs there was a crack in the doors that let in cool air from outside, and it felt really refreshing to breathe in the cold, moist air. Stephen did a great job coaching me and showing me how to do different kinds of lunges. We laughed while we lunged up and down those stairs!

We went back to the room and rested for a while on the bed, and then did one more round of stairs. Maybe around 2 AM they checked me again, and I was 7 cm dilated. They got the large, round tub ready, and I got in and just relaxed in there for a while but also did some squats during contractions. Stephen kept feeding me nuts, fruit jelly candy, beef stew, Shaklee Performance Drink , and water. Then he laid down on the bed for an hour and a half and got some sleep; I fell sleep for maybe 15 minutes in the tub in-between contractions. Patty put on a diffuser with Clary Sage Essential Oil , and the contractions weren’t very hard, so I could really relax. The hot water in the tub felt so good—I liked lying with my back to the side of the round tub and my head leaning against the edge.

Patty would come in every hour and then every half an hour to check the baby’s heartbeat, and Grace would come in about every hour or so to check in and see how we were doing. They were encouraged by how well we were working together!

When it turned midnight I started saying “Merry Christmas”! Stephen played Christmas carols over the speakers for me all morning and until Molly arrived.

In the morning around 8 AM, they checked me, and I was about 8 1/2 cm dilated. I tried the peanut ball between my legs on the bed, and went in the tub some more. Then mid-morning, Nina suggested I try some squatting with this cloth rope attached to the wall during contractions so I did that a little bit, and sat on the Birthing Ball which felt really nice.

Around 11 AM we talked about breaking my water to help speed up labor. So I was in the tub a little bit more, and then I felt ready that we could break my waters, and we did that around noon. The contractions were already starting to get stronger; there was meconium (Molly had pooped) in the water, but because her heartbeat was strong the midwives were not concerned.

Pretty soon I started having strong contractions (and feelings of “I don’t want to do this anymore!”—which means baby is nearly born.) I started feeling the urge to push, so I got into the tub and started figuring out how to work with the pushing contractions. For the birth of my son in a hospital, I had to hold back the pushing contractions because they said my cervix wasn’t fully out of the way; holding back pushing contractions is the hardest thing I had done.

I did not have to hold back these contractions this time, so it felt a little strange to learn how to manage them and let them work; they are powerful! So I asked for help from the midwife to know how to count with them and how to push down at the right time. Stephen was holding my left hand, and Judy was holding my right hand during the pushing contractions. Stephen was putting a cold cloth on my forehead and on my breastbone, which felt so nice. I didn’t want my arms in the hot water of the tub.

So we pushed for maybe 20 minutes. I never was in any searing pain; the water helped a lot. I could feel the baby coming down this time (I don’t remember feeling any of that with my son). I felt her head come down and come out and then go back in. And then with the next push her head came out and stayed out. Grace said I could reach down and touch her hair, and at first I didn’t want to, but then I did and she has a lot more hair than Joel! It was fun to feel her hair. There were nice breaks in between the pushing contractions, where I could rest, drink some water, and get ready for the next one. Grace and Stephen had to remind me to not shrink back from the pain, and it go with it, and with receiving that encouragement helped me pull on my strength and God‘s strength to push Molly out.

So then her head was out and they were encouraging me that one more big push we get her out, and so I pushed giving it my all, and then Molly was here! She came up through the water, into my arms, and she started looking at us. We first noticed her right high cheek dimple and dark brown hair; and then she was crying, and we were so happy to see her!!! We got to do delayed cord clamping. She was purple and then really quickly turned pink; she was perfect! She was born at 2:10 PM in the afternoon on a foggy Christmas day.

We stayed in the water for about 10 minutes before they wanted me to move to the bed so that we could work on getting the placenta out. I let Molly start nursing, and she figured it out very easily. Her eyes were wide open, and it was so fun to look into her face. Stephen thought she might have dark hair, and she did!

About 20 minutes later I gave one push in the placenta came out, and we were careful about watching the bleeding this time (I had a lot of bleeding after Joel in the hospital). Nina pushed on my stomach a lot and got some blood clots out. And kept checking me every 10 minutes, and then we decided to get a shot of Pitocin to help stop the bleeding, and it worked! I have felt so much stronger this time because I didn’t lose much blood.

Stephen brought me a turkey pot pie to eat, he ate beef stew, and we just got to relax and enjoy Molly for a while. Stephen got to hold Molly and do some skin to skin during the two hour window right after birth. Then I had to get sewn up, because I had a second-degree tear and some stretching. So Grace carefully sewed me up.

Then Grace measured Molly and did her newborn checkup. Molly was 9 lbs. 4 oz. I did not expect her to be so close to her brother’s weight! She was nine days late, and a little smaller than her brother’s 9 lb. 8 oz. She was 21 inches long. Then I got to take a shower, which felt wonderful; then Molly and I passed our blood pressure checks. We had to have three of them that were normal before we can leave, and so we started to get ready to leave around 6 PM. Birth centers don’t have space for you to stay overnight, so it was wonderful to go home so quickly!

Midwife Candace knitted Molly a little Santa hat during labor! We took some pictures with her, got our placenta (which we planted in the back garden), and put Molly in a pink nightgown from a friend, and took her home!

When we got home, Adam and Anni were there with mom, and Joel had just went to bed. He went upstairs and would not come downstairs, so Mom put him to bed. We didn’t get to see him at all on Christmas Day, but Mom did some presents with him and got to be with him all day. Lorna was happy to see Molly, and Lenny was asleep. Adam cooked shrimp for all of us, and Ani had ham and cranberry sauce, which tasted really good. Molly was asleep, and then we took her upstairs and then I took my first sitz bath, and then we went to bed. Molly was a little fussy so I picked her up and I was trying to quiet her, and then three hours later woke up with her in my arms! And she quieted down and went to sleep.

In the morning, Molly was screeching when Stephen was changing her diaper, and Joel came into our room to see what the noise was. I was sitting on the bed and I could give him hugs and snuggle with him. Then Stephen brought Molly over for him to see and he gave her some nice pats and smiled at her. It was a great beginning to their relationship. I am so thankful for two children who are doing well and a wonderful husband who knows how to coach me during birth in an amazing way (the midwives said he should become a professional birth coach—he is the best!). Thank you God for these gifts!

I’m so thankful we have had this little girl in our home, especially during the past months of quarantine. What do I appreciate about our little girl? Her bright blue eyes that smile and twinkle a lot, her squeals of joy, and that she likes to be with me, her brother, and her Daddy. She is such a peaceful and joyful gift from God.

P. S. If you want to read Joel’s Birth Story, check it out here: Our 50-Hour Birth Story /// The Bradley Method Works

Copyright 2020

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~Mary Hope


Our 50-Hour Birth Story /// The Bradley Method Works

The transition from having a baby inside your belly to having a baby on top of your belly is an amazing and exhausting experience. My mom had four natural births, and I grew up on a farm around sheep giving birth to lambs every spring, so I assumed that I would do natural birth as well.

When I was six months pregnant, I came across more information about the Bradley method of natural childbirth (see more at: The Bradley Method Website), and my husband and I signed up for a class that ended on November 14. The empowerment I felt from learning how labor functions and how my body works during labor gave me strength to not hardly be afraid of the pain of giving birth to a child. Dr. Bradley believed that women can give birth naturally most of the time if they’re given support and good coaching; he designated the coach to be the baby’s father.

The Bradley Method gives you a lot more homework than most birthing classes. I had to watch my diet and eat lots of protein. I had to do daily exercises, such as Kegel exercises and pelvic rocks. My husband and I were supposed to practice relaxation techniques and labor rehearsals (these were harder to fit in because we were finishing up the floors in our home—going from old beige carpet to maple laminate floors; we did some almost every day.) We attended seven weeks of classes, up until our due date of November 7. Having to do all this homework gave me the mindset that I owned my birthing experience and could greatly influence it by my actions and attitudes instead of it being something done to me. Having to work together to prepare for the labor brought my husband and I closer together. We describe the labor as “our labor” not just “my labor.”

This was on Joel’s Due Date — November 7th — but he waited another week to show up. 🙂

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