Molly's note: Another week, another great birth story! This week it's a double treat as Tania shares the "back to back" births of her two beautiful children. Enjoy!
By Tania Reuben
I'm not one of those mother's that knew they wanted children their whole lives.
I grew up in an alternative environment - I knew if I ever did have children I was not having a home birth and about the drugs? Sign me up! So, how did I go from there to having two drug free births? Good question.
As my now husband - then boyfriend - and I got more serious. Wanting a family together became a natural progression and we planned to start trying for a baby soon after our wedding. During our engagement I researched OBGYN's carefully - knowing that this would be the doctor who would one day deliver our baby.
We were very fortunate - 6 months after our wedding we conceived. I waited 8 weeks until my doctor would see me - not believing the wouldn't see me right away to confirm the pregnancy - they wanted to wait 12 weeks!
My sofa and I developed a close bond during the first few months and much of my pregnancy. Sometimes my husband would to to work and come home to find me in the same spot. Flat on the sofa.
A few months in I was ready to think about the inevitable. This thing growing inside of me was going to come out. It was time to figure out how. Being a research junkie - I set to work.
My mother had delivered my two sisters and I drug free - I thought she was crazy. Yet, as a medical massage therapist I had heard her tell countless stories of mom's suffering from chronic low back pain following their epidural. Low back pain didn't sound good - and drug free was optimum for the baby. I decided to give it a try. I figured I was delivering in a hospital - so if I needed the drugs - I'd only need to ask.
I was supported throughout my pregnancy by one of my best friends, Eden, who - lucky for me - was a birthing doula. She was such an amazing resource for me.
I ultimately decided I was going to try hypnobirthing and found a local instructor - Alisha Tamburri.
Her Hypnobirthing class is more than just a class on hypnosis, it's a full birthing class and all I needed to prepare for the actual delivery. It was amazingly empowering and full of information that enabled me to take charge of our birth. Hubby went to class with me once, I didn't feel the need to torture him - knowing that he would be bored silly. One of my motto's for a happy marriage - don't push your husband into things he just isn't into - everyone will end up miserable.
It was in my birthing class that I started to realize I was not with the right doctor, or more accurately the large group practice that she was a part of wasn't right for me. It meant the odds of my doctor actually attending my birth were pretty low. I had also had incidents of phone calls not being returned and messages that never made it to the doctor. Nothing that was urgent - I was not a high maintenance patient - but it was still time to make a switch.
I was 6 months pregnant - looking for a new OBGYN. This time I had real help.
Tania's Tip - If you are pregnant and want a natural birth, don't ask your friends if they liked their doctor. Most women who have given birth will say they loved their doctor and they were the best. Instead ask an expert in natural childbirth - they will steer you to practices that really support natural childbirth and have higher rates of success.
So I turned to Alisha for her advice. She repeatedly recommended Debbie Franks. The trouble was, Debbie was a Certified Nurse Midwife and I needed a Doctor. She did work with two Doctors, but the trouble was they were both male - I needed a female doctor. I knew I didn't want a midwife - my mother had a midwife and I wasn't planning on following in her footsteps.
In hindsight I was also very misinformed as to what a midwife was and how much training they are required to have. Knowing what I know today I would urge any woman having a normal pregnancy to consider a CNM. The degree of personal care you receive is amazing.
Somehow, I decide to meet with Debbie. I left our meeting trying to figure out how I was going to talk my husband into allowing a CNM to deliver our baby. He flipped - why would we have a "witch doctor" when we could have a real doctor.
Never mind her 20 years experience, Yale Degree, ability to prescribe medication, hospital privileges, and to top it all off, if I went into labor in the middle of the night she would come to our home.
Fortunately - his mother was visiting and she told him that I was the one who had to deliver the baby - I should have whomever I wanted. He reluctantly gave in - but to this day still calls her the witch doctor! Thank you MIL!
The pregnancy continued along, nausea, dizziness, an unplanned move and renovation. Days after having the same hardwood floors refinished for the second time (longer story) with no ceiling in my kitchen I went into labor.
My mother was visiting - we were on baby watch. My water broke just before midnight. I had been in to the doctors office the week prior with braxton hicks contractions... so I figured it could very easily be nothing - I wanted to wait and see.
My mom talked me into having a bath and was timing my contractions. By the time I finished my bath they were 4-5 minutes apart. I called Debbie & Eden and started getting things together. Then I figured I should wake my husband before he woke up to a houseful of women and a laboring wife.
I also began to listen to my hypnobirthing CD on my ipod. It was around 2AM. There was a few problems. I couldn't figure out how to make my ipod work, my husband was stomping around and people kept coming to my front door. Debbie arrived and checked my progress I was around 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I never really felt like I made it to a relaxed state of mind. I paced around my living room trying to get comfortable and listen to the ipod. Not too long passed before they decided to check me out again - it may have had something to do with me dropping to my knees saying I didn't think I could do this - it was close to 5AM. I was 8 cm.
I had progressed 4 cm in an hour - time to get to the hospital. We arrived, checked in. They asked if this was my first baby.... they looked a little surprised as I told them my stats and that Debbie was right behind us. They moved a little faster.
I wouldn't take a wheelchair - I didn't want to sit - I don't think they liked that very much. Every time another contraction - oops I mean "surge" - came I would actually try to climb the hospital walls! On the elevator I discovered that I didn't like my husband's cologne. I think it took about 5 contractions to get us to the room where the nurse checks you - I was 10 cm. No wonder I was climbing the walls.
Every birthing room in the hospital was full so we used the surgical room which was very.... well... surgical. To be honest I barely noticed. Had we arrived a little earlier I might have gone with my plan B - but I was fully committed now. I think it was less than an hour before Julia was born. It was an intense hour, at one point her heart rate dropped down and they didn't think that I was going to be able to push hard enough on my own, they called for a vacuum, did an episiotomy (that was fun without the drugs! Ouch!) They didn't end up needing the vacuum, with the episiotomy I was able to push enough to get her out and presto baby! Julia was born around 6AM.
I wouldn't let her out of my arms - hubby was a little upset because he was making phone calls and couldn't t give out her vitals because I wouldn't let her go!
She was perfect and healthy. I on the other hand had no voice left - I think I gave my vocal chords a little work out - and may have fainted once or twice following labor and delivery. They wanted to give me an IV for fluids and I begged them to let me drink juice - I mean I had already gotten this far without needing a needle - surely I could drink enough fluids on my own to get me back to normal. After an hour or so I wasn't feeling woozy. No need for the IV. The vocal chords needed a bit more time.
All in all it was a pretty intense night. Funnily - whenever I tell the story - it just makes me laugh. Other "medical" experience that have been a fraction of that intensity have slightly traumatized me. I honestly believe the endorphins, hormones something in the experience alters our perspective on birth. It made everything seem very amusing.
Hubby was convinced the experience set me straight and couldn't imagine that I would want to deliver the same way again. So imagine his surprise 6 months later when I assembled the same team. I figured I did it once - I could do it again.
This time my in laws came out for the expected due date, much to the relief of my mother - who despite having three natural childbirth's of her own was quite traumatized by Julia's birth.
Preparing for Ben's birth - I was hoping that I wouldn't have to be in the hospital for the holidays. We were off to a good start when he obliged. Once the holiday was over, the pressure was on. We gave it a couple of days, then we thought we'd try the "what gets the baby in - gets the baby out" technique. Nothing.
We went to bed. At around 4 AM I woke up, wondered if I was in labor and started timing contractions. As I timed the contractions I set up the iPod and listened to my hypnobirthing, my contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart. I went downstairs, drank a full bottle of (recharge - natural gatorade - I wasn't going to get dehydrated this time), sat down on my exercise ball, and called the team. Debbie and Eden were on their way. I happened to notice while I was on the phone, that I really liked the way I could roll on the ball when the contractions came, it was very soothing - I decided to bring the ball with me.
A few minutes later Debbie called, it was raining and monday morning approaching rush hour in LA. My first birth progressed so quickly, she thought we should meet at the hospital.
We arrive, get checked in and moved to our birthing room, - a nice one this time. They examine me and I believe I was between 6-8 cm's. Hubby came back from moving the car, bringing with him a cup of coffee that I immediately banned from the room. I think I get smell sensitive when I'm in active labor.
The ball ended up being a godsend. I used it to support my head during contractions - on all fours. I would kneel in between and roll up onto the ball as the contractions intensified. They were like waves. The addition of a cool cloth for my face felt good to and also really helped.
We progressed like this for almost an hour. I remember Debbie telling me we could keep things as they were and it might be another hour or she thought if I gave one or two strong pushes I would break my water and Ben would be here in a few minutes. Things were going really well, but finishing in few minutes sounded great!
Before I forget - another thing I loved about the ball - the ball and myself ended up on top of the bed. Hubby was able to stand in front of the bed, hold my hands, and stabilized me, and he didn't have to be in the deep end - if you know what I mean.
The last couple of pushes did hurt. However, in many ways Ben's birth looked like one of the videos from my hypnobirthing class that I'd reluctantly watched with one eye open. The room was calm, I was calm, I had enough time to recover between contractions - which really helped in my ability to cope with each new one and most importantly, Ben was calm.
Ben's birth was remarkable. The first few day of his life we were tempted to call him Chill - he was such a relaxed, easy and calm baby.
I've come a long way from the woman that wasn't sure she wanted to be a mother. I can't believe how difficult and challenging parenting is. However, the amount of joy and love they have brought into my life is unlike anything I've ever known. I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I would take one or two weekends off a year if anyone was offering!
Tania is a wife and mother living in Los Angeles CA. She spends her days chasing her children, nights being chased by her husband and blogs about whole living with style @ Pure Natural Diva in all her spare time.