It Takes a Village – Preston’s Homebirth
hospital birth experiences this was a no brainer actually! 🙂 It was probably my most painful and empowering
Here are some additional photos of Preston’s birth day that I took while in my comfy bed, and some that my husband took too!
The Birth of Solange
Some thoughts about the birth of Solange.. I’ve been meaning to try to describe my thoughts and feelings about the experience, to help me coupe with all the emotions that came with it.
About a week ago I had my so much wanted HBAC. With the help and support of my team (Gelena Hinkley, Sandy Lo, Dawna Doula) my baby girl was born at home, received and blessed by her family, and a very much transformed and accomplished mommy.
Before we conceived Solange, I knew he/she wanted to come to the world in a particular way. Maybe because it would influence her journey or maybe to give me the gift of feeling what a natural unmedicated birth feels like. Perhaps to fill in the emptiness I felt when my previous birth unfolded in a c-section, due to my own lack of information. I like to think it was her gift to me. I believed, if able to birth naturally I would heal a great deal, and even the perspective of my previous birth experience would positively change.
At 40w2d I went into intense prodomal labor, with real labor kicking in on 40w6d. Exhaustion was one of the worrying factors, but the body becomes your ally as long as your mind and soul stay strong. Labor went very fast at certain stages and seemed to take forever in others, as she positioned herself and lowered into the birth canal. The beauty of this experience is that there is nothing else there other than you, your baby, and God. So if the process takes a certain amount of time, there is probably a reason why. I found that listening to my body and my baby at each stage was critical. Even if it didn’t make much sense… It worked for me and it helped me progress because that is what my body needed. The whole idea of a home birth is so you are in contact with yourself, having an experience no one has written for you. An experience that will unfold as your earthly being and your soul needs it to grow.
It’s a growing experience.
Still a week later, when it’s all quiet and peaceful, I can hear and see myself through the birth of Solange. I see myself through the process, and I have come to understand the meaning of each stage, which lessons needed to be learned to advance to the next level, what ties had to be broken and which feelings, reborn.
I realized that as much as I thought I was ready and as much as I thought I believed in my body, when the labor started and as I walked through it, I had to give into the feeling that what was happening in me was much bigger than anything I had lived before.
I learned I had to disown the birth as “my experience”, I learned that the journey wasn’t mine, but through me. I learned to give myself to my child, fully, before she was born. My feelings of fear, pain, the “what could go wrong” feeling, I had to let go. Mine and those of the others around me. I had to look at their faces and let it go. I surrendered to the power and trust I found within.
The most amazing and puzzling sensation I still hold, is that as much as I look back, I would do it all over again, just as it was. I do not fully understand it, it amazes me! But I will so do it all over!
I had my dream birth. I realized after all that the dream birth is the one that happens and you allow to happen, not necessarily the one you plan for. I remember the smell, the lavander, the love, oh gosh the love! I felt so loved by all of the ones that attended my birth, how they respected my body, my intuition, my desires and those of my child. I appreciate so much the guidance, the help to walk my own path and not theirs.
My husband, my support, how much he gave during the process, battling fears and shielding the heaviest of emotions, to allow the miracle to happen.
That miracle unfolded itself in the most magical way. Being a VBAC I had to make peace with the fact that a transfer could have been a possibility, specially after 5 day of intense prodomal labor. I had to make peace with the fact that I could have ended up with another c-section and my birth would have still been the perfect birth. It was in that moment that I questioned: why? Why am I doing it this way?
All I knew was I wanted my baby to finish her journey, to complete her transition to this world as she had started it. I let it to God, and my Doula. An army of angels surrounding us, a lot of trust, and true purified intentions welcomed Solange, my daughter.
I have learned an eternity bringing my daughter to this world. It was a transformational experience for me, and for my family. A true bonding journey, to seal the union as one of the heart and soul. Forever.
Happy BIRTHday Hadasiah!
My little Hadasiah turned One today! Its bitter sweet. Its the last time I will celebrate a first birthday of any of my children. This little angel was the last one to claim my womb for 9 months. She has moved on through her first year of life beautifully and with SO MUCH SASS! As special as birthdays are for the kids, its hold a completely different emotion for mom. It instantly takes me back to my preparation for their entrance. Preparing my body and mind and our home. HADASIAH’S Birth Story: Her taking residence in my womb was not anticipated. I welcomed the positive pregnancy test around 2 am when I had to pee. “Sure, why not… lets take it for the heck of it, it will be negative anyways” Yeah right! I waited…. and followed up with 2 more because one was not good enough for me at 2am. I felt a drop at the pit of my stomach. “Shit. Son of a B. CHRISTOPHER!!!!!!” I yelled from the bathroom. I was still on the toilet. Go figure he doesnt wake up so I come back to bed and smack him. ” Hey. your not going to believe this…. Christopher, Im pregnant.” YEP, that got his attention. After he asked why the heck I took it at 2am he said ok well…. were having another baby. Get some sleep, well chat in the morning. OMG REALLY?? LOL . I couldn’t sleep. My mind started spinning of a million different things. But I knew I wanted to welcome our baby into this life, at home, like her brothers. I shopped around midwifes to find the best that would mesh with me.Gelena Hinkley, took the cake right from our phone conversation. Throughout my pregnancy she was wonderful, always a phone call or message away when I had my anxiety attacks and always checking in on my health and well being. She made our house visits fun for Jaiden and Tate who made it clear they wanted to be involved in the birth. The night of January the 8th. I was having contractions. Nothing crazy, I was able to sleep and take the kids to the park during the day on the 9th. I remember sitting on the slide watching them play with their friends and Kerri Franco saying ” OMG girl, your having another one”. haha. That night my contractions were more intense. I was sleeping on my hands and knees * not very comfortable and not really sleeping. I was pretty exhausted, I didnt expect to having contractions for so long. The morning of the 10th I woke up exhausted and run down. My midwife came over to check me I was not really progressing and my labor was stalling. I was running a slight fever. I was just so tired. With my patience running low and my nerves all haywire and a little concerned ( my other labors were all of 5 hours) I wanted this baby OUT! Luckley God had brought me the perfect midwife, with the help of some homeopaths and lots of reassurance and a plan B , I was able to get a good few hours of sleep. After a few hours contractions kicked in and at around 4 pm were no longer bearable in bed. I moved my rear to our bathtub and I was NOT moving, I mean… we did plan for a water birth lol. My midwife came not long after with her assistant and lactation consultant Sandy Lo. Who, might I add is another God send! They pampered me. While Sandy held my belly with putting light pressure on it during contractions, Gelena poured water over my belly. It was amazing, My kids were right in there helping, pampering and being apart of they process of giving life to the world. My husband knew this is what I needed and stood back and documented the whole thing. After lots of pushing and one trip to the toilet because I had to pee. I was being scolded lol… I had to get out of the water if I wanted that baby out. So, after much procrastination, I plopped my large pregnant body onto the toilet to let gravity help getting this baby out during the rest between contractions. * Might I add this is the first birth that I did not resist the contractions. That I let my body welcome them and it was a much better experience with allowing my body to open. I was much calmer throughout my contractions as well. Pushing was another story!!… So, im sitting on the toilet to where my bottom was at the edge of the seat, here comes another contraction. One push, the bag of waters is still intact. Second push, the flood gates open and my water breaks, out comes her head, Third push and she is out! Hadasiah was put right on me. First thing I did was check the sex, you know, because sometimes the ultrasound is wrong. YEP, Its a girl! She was covered in beautiful vernix and so sweet. I walked my baby righ to our bed. Everyone gathered around. My friend Enez Nicole Boeh was so gracious to come and keep my kids in check while I birthed. My bed was full. I looked at chris and said ” your scheduling your vasectomy.” It was beautiful, I was surrounded by love, support and my family who stood by all of my demands.
The Ruiz Family Story
Milani is almost 5 months old and I am FINALLY sitting down to write her birth story.
Most friends and loved ones know my history. Mike and I got pregnant in 2012, and I had an early miscarriage at 6 weeks in August of that year. In October, I found I was pregnant again, but miscarried again at about 10 weeks in December, after finding out our baby had stopped growing at about 7-8 weeks. That year was a tough one for us, but we kept our faith in God and his plan for our lives, and just a couple of days before Mother’s Day in 2013, I found out I was pregnant again. The only person I told that early was my mom, and she gave me a journal for mother’s day along with a note that said “I hope this is your best mother’s day”. That day I started journaling about my pregnancy even though we hadn’t told anyone yet.
We went to see my OB at 8 weeks and had an ultrasound, and there she was, a perfect little gummy bear with a healthy heartbeat. I am a want-to-know-it-all, so I also purchased my own doppler to use at home. At around 10 weeks I was able to hear her little heartbeat on my own at home.
At 12 weeks we had our down syndrome screening, and we sweet talked the US Tech into letting us video the ultrasound. You could see her jumping around in my belly, and it was amazing knowing there was a little life growing healthy in there. Everything was developing perfectly and I was having a very normal/low risk pregnancy. I felt so lucky, I never even threw up! Nausea & tiredness, yes, but no vomit thankfully.
At 15 weeks we found out we were having a girl, and gave her the name we had been saving for over a year, Milani Andrea.
From my first pregnancy a year before, I had begun to read and learn about childbirth, and the process a woman and her baby go through during pregnancy. I read everything I could get my hands on about hospitals, c-sections, natural birth, drugs, side effects, hormones, etc.. and after all that reading, I decided I wanted a natural, drug free birth. When I mentioned it to my OB, she advised me if that was what I wanted, then I needed to stay home as long as possible when I was in labor. I knew once I went into the hospital, I’d be on a time clock.
After thinking about that for a long time, and discussing it with my husband Michael, we decided to explore the possibility of a home birth. I figured (and I can be pretty stubborn), if I was going to do all the hard work (laboring) at home, I may as well push the baby out at home too. I met with a couple of local midwifes and doulas, and we felt totally connected with Gelena our Midwife, and Dawna my Doula. I transferred my care between 16-20 weeks, and we started to plan for our home birth. I alternated from warrior mama status to scared to death, and came to terms with the fact that all my feelings were valid, even the fear. A lot of what kept me sane was reminding myself that my body was made to do this. Millions of women do this. If we couldn’t, humans wouldn’t be here. lol. It became my mantra.
As the weeks went by, everything continued normally, I continued to grow and so did the baby. As I got closer to weeks 39 and 40, I remember texting Dawna a couple of times letting her know I’d had some mild cramping, but nothing steady. I’d had a few of what I think were practice contractions, but nothing too painful. During the last few weeks, I began using evening primrose oil, walking, sex… everything I could think of to get labor going. I’d been suffering terrible back aches and almost nothing helped. I remember telling Michael to remind me of those weeks if I ever said I wanted to get pregnant again, HAHA, the joke was on me.
40 weeks passed, and I thought I was never going to have the baby. Once 40 weeks passed, I knew I was on a ticking time clock, because I knew at 42 weeks I’d lose the ability to stay home. At my last check (around 39 weeks) I remember Gelena saying my cervix was thin and effaced, so I was feeling positive. It was a Friday night at 40 weeks and 5 days, and I had decided I was going to try eggplant parmesan to try and get labor going, and we were at John the Baker, an Italian restaurant (who also catered our wedding). My mom and I had walked around the mall that day, and I was pretty tired.
We had just finished dinner when I felt the baby move in a weird way and a popping sensation. I knew immediately what happened. What had happen was…. My water broke. In a restaurant, just like the movies. I made it just to the bathroom in time for the big splashdown. It was 9:30pm. I walked out, laughing (and leaking water as I laughed) to tell our entire table of my parents, cousin, brother and his girlfriend that my water had broken.
On the way home we called our midwife, and she said to go home, try to sleep, that she’d check in on me around 1:30am. I thought that was nuts, how would she know it would take me that long? Midwives are amazing in that way. My mother in law came over, but I don’t remember talking much with her, and my mom and dad came too (to drop my mom off). I kicked my dad out when he suggested it wasn’t too late to go to the hospital. I tried to sleep but that wasn’t happening. The contractions were just too uncomfortable so I got up, tried watching some tv, listening to music, sat on my yoga ball. Nothing really helped. I remember vividly thinking I felt like a train. And the train had left the station. It was like when the train slowly pulls away from the station and starts chugging slowly, but then gets faster and faster until it’s going at full speed. That’s how I felt.
Every birth story I’ve read, at some point, time turns into a blur, and I was no different. Time seemed to fly by, and before I knew it, it was like 1-2am. I remember getting in the shower, down on all fours to try and get more comfortable as contractions got closer together. At that point, I stopped timing them because I couldn’t concentrate. I asked (TOLD) Mike to call Dawna (our doula) and ask her to come over, and check how far Gelena (our midwife) was. Everyone was on their way. I labored quietly by myself mostly, and felt most comfortable walking around.
I remember Dawna getting to our house while I was in the shower, and at that point, all modesty was gone, funny how that happens too. The midwives, Gelena and Shannon, arrived shortly after too and started setting up the birthing tub. Gelena checked me when she got there and I was barely dilated, although she said I was really thin and something was holding back a little. After a while, I think around 3-4am, I got in the birth tub. Of course, our apartment ran out of hot water so everyone was boiling water on the stove to fill up the tub. I got in for a while, labored in there for a while, but didn’t stay in long. Gelena checked me again and I was around 4-5 cm, and I couldn’t believe that was it after what seemed like hours of really strong labor. t remember feeling super uncomfortable, and everyone suggesting I get out and try some different positions. I got out, walked a little, sat in my room a little… Sitting on the edge of my mattress helped, but mostly nothing helped ease the pain, it was just something I had to keep breathing through. Thinking back on it, I think of course its hard, my body was trying to evict a baby!
Around 5-6am, (I won’t sugar coat it) I started to really feel painful contractions. Its was the kind of pain that I thought “I cannot take one more of those” but somehow I just kept going, taking them one at a time. I feel amazing that my body would somehow adjust, and there’d be one really strong painful one, where I’d think I couldn’t have another like that, and then I’d have 2 or 3 less painful to give me a break. Several times at that point, I said I wanted pain relief. I wanted to go to the hospital, not because I was afraid or even tired, I just wanted drugs. Not gonna lie. This is where my amazing support team kicked in. Everyone took a turn reminding me why I wanted to do it drug free, how happy I was going to feel in just a little bit. I would tell Mike to please get my hospital bag and let’s go. Dawna would tell me let’s just try one more. She also helped explain hospital procedure to me, and that because of check in procedures, and other protocol I wouldn’t get pain relief right away. I gritted my teeth, whined a lot, and kept breathing.
I don’t know what time it was, but at some point, I’d been laboring on the toilet for a while (those stories are true too). I seemed to feel comfortable sitting there, leaning back I guess, and stayed. I remember telling Dawna I knew I could do it (drug free), but I didn’t WANT to anymore. LOL. (What a big baby)… And Gelena tried to get me to let her check my progress one more time. I kept saying no, because it hurt when she would since my contractions were really close together and painful. I just wanted to go (to the hospital). I remember having the conversation with her where she promised me if I hadn’t progressed, we’d go to the hospital… It was dreams of drugs that let her check me one more time. When she did, she let me know I was almost complete, baby’s head was close, I could push, and if I left, I’d probably have the baby in the car. Not in that order, but it’s all jumbled up in my head.
Hearing I could push was like flipping a “game time” switch. I had started to feel “pushy” but I didn’t know that’s what it was, I thought I just had to throw up (which I didn’t end up throwing up at all, thankfully). It’s the same “I’m about to throw up” stomach cramp, except pushing down. I got back in the birth tub. It felt SO GOOD to push with each contraction! I pushed for a little while on my back, without much progress, then Gelena suggested I get on my knees and hold the side of the pool. I remember holding on to Dawna for dear life and just wondering if I could really do it. A few pushes later, and a LOT of pressure, I heard somewhere far off, that her head was out. Gelena told me to keep pushing, and I remember saying “I can’t”, of course they knew I could, and one push later, I felt the Mila’s body come out, and Gelena saying “take your baby”. It was 8:22am.
Lifting my daughter up out of the water was the (second) MOST amazing moment of my life (second to my wedding day). I felt incredible. The pain was instantly gone, and I was treasuring my accomplishment and my new little baby. She came into the world surrounded by so much love. She barely cried, and just blinked up at me with so much wisdom in her eyes, like saying “hey mom.. there you are”. She latched on right away, and I needed a couple of stitches because she had a hand up near her face, and was a little tilted coming down.
Having her at home was amazing. A few minutes after having her, we walked to our bed and did the rest of the after-birth stuff. It was so comfortable just being able to nap in our bed as a family. The amazing feeling afterwards completely eclipsed the pain I had during labor. It was ALL worth it. I loved the experience so much, and now, 5 months later, I would definitely do it exactly the same way again.
P.S. – I didn’t mention her much, but Shannon assisted Gelena helped SO much also, monitoring my vitals, making sure things were going well, and supporting and encouraging me. I will forever be so grateful to our entire birth team and amazing husband, my mother and mother in law who all supported my desire for our home birth.
Beyond Mommying’s Story
Doodle’s birth was perhaps the easiest of my three, yet somehow also the hardest. All I wished for coming up to labor with him was that it would be uneventful and shorter than with Sugarplum. When thinking about and processing how my labors go, I pretty much have to ignore Honeybun’s labor since I had a ton of interventions so therefore did not have a normal labor for myself. But the similarities between Sugarplum and Doodle are enough to be able to confidently know how my body brings forth my babies. (a more detailed recount of Sugarplum’s birth can be read in “The Best Laid Birth Plans”)
My contractions with Doodle started Wednesday, 2 days before my due date. I’d been having pretty strong but not real regular contractions all day. By the time I set out to make dinner they were definitely regular, though I didn’t time them, I was just focused on not letting my parents know they were happening (I didn’t want to cause any false hopes as I’d been having periods of regular contractions for over a month and wasn’t sure it would last). By 9:30 contractions were stronger and every 10 minutes and I was pretty sure it was the real thing. I called my midwife to give her a heads up and she suggested trying to sleep and to let her know if anything changed.
Hubby and I laid down and I slept about 45 minutes. I was awoken by an extremely strong contraction but the next one didn’t come for 34 minutes. I was NOT going to let labor get away again so I got out of bed and rocked on my exercise ball, squatted and did everything I could to get things going again. Within an hour I was back to every 10 minutes. By 2:30 am the contractions were so strong I felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin so I called my midwife again and she decided it was time to check me out.
While waiting for my midwife to arrive, I had major anxiety that she would come and I’d barely be dilated (I was 1-2 cm at my 37 week check) as with both girls I was only 1-2 when I arrived at the hospital. Luckily, I was already to 6 cm!
I spent the next few hours alternating between being in the tub and standing leaning over my bed (which is about waist high). I was having a lot of pressure on my hip bones but very little back pain or other discomforts aside from the intensity of the contractions (which I have never experienced as “painful”, the sensation of contractions perhaps needs its own post!).
The one thing I learned from my birth experience with Doodle that I didn’t expect is that I’m a screamer. When I delivered Sugarplum I screamed but I thought it was just because she came so fast (3 contractions and she was out) and I felt paralyzed by the contractions. Well, turns out that’s just how I get my babies out. When the pushing contractions started with Doodle all I wanted to do was get the hell away from it. I wanted to literally climb up the wall and suck him back up inside me. I knew, though, that I didn’t want things to become prolonged and I just wanted him OUT! The only thing I could do to maintain the downward pressure and ensure things moved along was scream, LOUDLY. Unfortunately this was a bit traumatic for the girls so Grandma took them out of the room.
My midwife insists I only pushed for 10 minutes though it felt like an eternity before he started crowning, but I know it only took two pushes to get him out from that point. I felt his head emerging and started screaming at hubby he was coming and to get the girls. By the end of that push, baby’s head was out. One more and I had a baby in my arms (after my midwife had to remind me to take him out of the water, I was so relieved it was over all I wanted to do was collapse!). The girls missed the actual birth but were there to see him as I brought him in for the first snuggle just after 9:00 am.
Poor Doodle must have had a traumatic time at the end (his heart tones were good throughout) because he was completely blue and though trying to cry just couldn’t get it out. That too felt like an eternity as I frantically asked if he was okay. Luckily all it took was one puff of air and he pinked up and started breathing just fine.
The rest is history. We now have our sweet little boy. And yes, it was definitely quicker than Sugarplum’s 21 hour labor though with both my contractions never got closer than 7-8 minutes apart until the pushing stage. In contrast to Sugarplum’s labor, however, which started with my water breaking, I have no idea when my water broke with Doodle. As I got close to pushing my midwife and I started wondering if my waters were still intact. I’ve always thought having a baby born en caul (still in the sac) would be cool but by that point the thought of having to push out something bigger than just baby (who turns out was nearly 9 pounds on his own!) was a bit unbearable. Luckily I didn’t have to make that choice, when I was checked to make sure pushing was safe, the sac was broken.
Courtesy of: www.beyondmommying.com/blog/2013/05/20/a-birth-story/
Home Birth Services
“I want to tell everyone out there how amazing my home birth experience was. Gelena was with me for every appointment and the entire labor process. I always felt secure in her hands. My entire family will never forget the dedication and compassion that we received. We highly recommend Gelena to anyone!”
Heather M. 2015
“We spend most of the year traveling but knew when we found out we were pregnant that we wanted to have a home birth. We searched in Hawaii, Los Angeles, Portugal and Florida for the perfect midwife. We finally found her and it was Gelena!!! No matter where I was and am in the world Gelena gets right back to me. I would not have been able to give birth to my 9 lb 14 oz baby without the support of Gelena and Sandy. Two of the most amazing women I know!!!”
Nicole & Garrett M. 2014
“This review is a little late, but I just have to say that it was a breath of fresh air when I met Gelena. After 30 weeks of seeing two different OB’s, and them scaring me away from my ideal birth, I decided to see a midwife. I noticed the difference as soon as I met with her. She was intuitive, caring, professional, knowledgeable, and PRESENT. Her classes were so helpful, I learned all the things that were never discussed or addressed with my OB’s. Anytime I texted/called her, she would reply within the hour, if not immediately. She would come to my house almost every check up and devote an hour our needs. I feel like we got to know her on a more personal level, and in the short time between meeting her and giving birth, I felt like I could really trust her. I resulted in a c-section, but if it weren’t for Gelena’s presence at the hospital, I would have lost my sanity. She was calm, positive and professional the whole time, which really grounded me. Many people can be technically qualified, but her personality is what won my husband and I over.”
Andrea R. 2014
“We feel extremely blessed to have found the women at Peaceful Pregnancy Pathways. As someone with severe anxiety, they have sat with us for hours answering ALL of our questions thoroughly and talking us through our concerns, repeatedly at times. There is a great feeling of intimacy that we get that we never had with my OB/GYN, and we couldn’t be happier. We will definitely be coming back again and again with each pregnancy!”
Rob & Kellye – Baby Sophie 5/13/12
“My birth was a wonderful experience! Victoria Marie was born on 10/01 and was 8lbs 20 in. I was having contractions that were 3 to 4 min apart since midnight but we didnt go to the hospital until 4am. However, my contractions started to slow down so they gave me the pitosin around 10:30 am. Those contractions were HELL but the breathing exercises helped A LOT. My husband was very supportive throughout the entire labor and delivery and i kept bitting his hands (hahaha). My mother and mother in law were also there and they were in charge of rubbing my back with the oil you guys gifted us!
Because of your classes, we learned all the breathing techniques and details about procedures that definitely needed and used at that time. We felt so prepared and ready to bring our baby into this world and would like to thank you for all the GREAT information you provided us. I will recommend you guys to all my girlfriends.
Thank you for all you and Christa taught us!”
VC & JC- Baby Victoria 10/01/11
I was a week away from having my first child when I decided to look into encapsulating my placenta. I had heard about it a few months earlier and had even done some research about it, but hadn’t actually made any arrangements. After the birth of my first son just 19 months ago, I suffered from post-partum depression for a few months. I didn’t want that to happen again and was intrigued by this whole process. After an internet search I found a P3 and liked what a personal touch the Web site had. After a brief phone call to P3 I knew I had found the right company to encapsulate my placenta – they were friendly, attentive and very informative. Thank you for all the personal attention before, during and after the birth of my baby girl – you never made me feel like “just another client,” instead I received phone calls, text messages and two home visits to drop off my pills and tincture.
The pills are magic! I am so happy that I decided to encapsulate my placenta. I wish I would have known about it with my first child. I have had more energy this first month of my daughter’s life than EVER before! I’m also feeling extra great. I am recommending to all my pregnant friends that they do this as well as have a tincture made of their placenta. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!
*Feel free to email us for references from past clients.