Monday, September 30, 2013

Guest Post: "Help Our Family Be Whole"

This post is one I feel strongly about, and I hope you will as well. The idea that so many families have to fight just to be recognized is heartbreaking. I asked Demi to write something for the blog in hopes that the readers of this site could offer support, if not monetarily then at least in spirit. Every family deserves to recognized and respected as such.
-Momma Friendly

Written by: Demi (biological mom)

We began our journey to second parent adoption to give our son, Tate, the safety net that is provided by having two legal parents. The process soon became more pressing as my parents become more and more pitted against my "lifestyle", believing that if anything were to happen to me they would raise Tate. Their plan is that they would still allow his mum, Alica (adoptive mom) to see him, but he would not live with her nor know her as his mum. 
This of course to us is a horrifying thought and already being not all financially well off we set up the donation page so that we could speed the process along. In our eyes he will always be our son equally, regardless of what people or papers say. Everyone that sees our family or comes in contact with us can see how much Alica has not only changed my life for the better, but loves Tate and I with her all. We ask that if you are a parent that you put yourself in our position. What if you needed a piece of paper to ensure that your child could not be taken away of something happened to your spouse? After you had raised, cared for, supported, and loved your child with all you had to give...It's not a good feeling and we don't believe anyone should ever have to feel this way. The fact that we have to take this step at all is insulting and we hope for all LGBT families that one day soon this will no longer be necessary. The love and support that we have received this far is inspiring. It lets me know that even though I may have lost my old family I have gained a new one along with a strong positive community with a kind and open-hearted support system. 

Thank you for taking the time to read and get a peek into what we are going through.
The link to our donation site is: 
Anything and everything helps and is very much so appreciated. 

Sending love to you and yours, 
The Hobson family

Friday, September 27, 2013

Gestational Diabetes - How is it diagnosed? (2/3)

How is the test administered? A one-hour test screens for (but does not diagnose) gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). If your blood sugar levels seem high after a one-hour test, you'll have to come back for more gestational diabetes testing.The best method for diagnosing gestational diabetes is taking a glucose test (glucose tolerance test). The test measures how the body reacts to a large amount of glucose (sugar).

According to The US National Library of Medicine: "For this test you will drink a glass of water that contains 50 grams of dissolved sugar. You do not need to fast beforehand. One hour later, blood will be taken from a vein in your arm to determine the blood sugar level. If the value is below 7.5 millimoles per liter (mmol/L, about 135 mg/dL), the results are considered normal and no more testing is done.
If an elevated level is found in the glucose challenge test, it is still not considered a final diagnosis. It only serves to determine which women will be offered a second and final test. This second test, called the oral glucose tolerance test, is more involved. For the test, the pregnant woman must fast beforehand, which means not eating or drinking anything but water for at least eight hours. The first step in this test is taking blood. After this the woman drinks a sugar solution containing 75 grams of glucose. Blood is taken from an arm vein again after one hour and after two hours. If any of the following three blood sugar values is exceeded, gestational diabetes will be diagnosed:
  • After fasting: 5.1 mmol/L (92 mg/dL)
  • After one hour: 10.0 mmol/L (180 mg/dL)
  • After two hours: 8.5 mmol/L (153 mg/dL)" 
Testing for Gestational Diabetes can be done as early as 8 weeks in women that have certain risk factors, and is done routinely on all women at about 28 weeks gestation. Interestingly, however, not all women NEED to be tested for diabetes during pregnancy.
According to

"One of the most intriguing recommendations is that a woman may not need laboratory testing to screen for GD if she meets all of the following criteria:
  • less than 25 years old
  • not a member of a racial or ethnic group with a high prevalence of diabetes (eg, Hispanic, African, Native American, South or East Asian, or Pacific Islands ancestry)
  • a body mass index (BMI) 25
  • no history of abnormal glucose tolerance
  • no previous history of adverse pregnancy outcomes usually associated with GDM
  • no known diabetes in first-degree relative
Women who are at a higher risk for GDM usually have one of the following risk factors:
  • age
  • ethnicity
  • obesity
  • family history of diabetes
  • past obstetric history"

 Before testing, you should eat normally for the few days prior. Women used to be told to eat less carbs or sugar in the days before their test, but that could just make your body react more aggressively to the glucose in the drink, giving a false higher result. If you are opposed to drinking loads of sugar water and various other chemicals, you can arrange to eat a specific breakfast and have your blood drawn at an interval following your meal instead. Many doctors frown upon such a request, but it is your right to request it.  
My own experience and advice for others that are deemed "borderline" like I was: I demanded a retest and that one came back ok but they were "concerned", so I compromised and told them I'd do my best to follow a GD diet and I'd monitor my sugars for a couple of weeks to "put their minds at ease". I figured I could use healthy eating guidelines anyway (though I did still have my daily vanilla ice cream cone) and when monitoring was all good, they left me alone. They insisted I get urine/ketosis sticks and keep a food log which I was meant to fax to them, but I did neither because EFF THAT, THEY'RE NOT MY MOMMA.

I had a bit of a rebellious streak during my pregnancy as you can tell ;) But honestly, I think it's a fair compromise and it'll give you AND the doctors a chance to see how your sugars are doing in the real world over time, rather than just once during a lab test. And then I think no matter what happens, everyone will have peace of mind that they're making the right decision on how to proceed; whether your sugars really ARE high or not. This was something I did in order to appease my doctors because I had one slightly elevated level on my test but otherwise showed no symptoms, but you can also request to have this several-times-a-day self-monitoring in place of the glucose challenge. Again, your doctor might fight you on this request, but as I mentioned previously, this is the best way to get a REAL WORLD view of your glucose metabolism, which is much more accurate than a one-time lab setting.

In the next last post on GD, I will discuss the various ways that Gestational Diabetes can be treated if you are, in fact, diagnosed with GD after your tests. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Plus Size Babywearing (2/3) - Stretchy Wraps, Mei Tais, Woven Wraps

As posted in the title, in this video I talk about stretchy and woven wraps, and mei tais.

Here are links to the things I mention in the video:

Infantino Sync


In case you can't see the video above, you can see it directly on YouTube here

Monday, September 23, 2013

Guest Post : "Jellybean’s Arrival (VBAC)"

When I learned I was pregnant with my second child, I was so excited and thankful. I immediately began planning for my VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). With my first child, I had a scheduled cesarean section for various reasons: Borderline high blood pressure, high optic nerve pressure, and an unusually shaped pelvis that wouldn’t be able to birth a baby. My asthma and obesity further complicated things and my OB/GYN felt that a planned c-section would be the best option for both of us. I was young and somewhat scared of childbirth pain, so I went along with the plan. My first child arrived in 2003 at 6 pounds, 6 ounces.
I began seeing a local OB/GYN for my second pregnancy in the summer of 2010. There were bumps along the road and various things caused me to heighten my guard. I learned that my local hospital banned VBACs, so I began searching for another way to have my VBAC. I don’t think it truly hit me that I was going to have to have a repeat c-section until the OB/GYN began discussing the date of the scheduled c-section.

Bethany and Heidi, a couple of wonderful homebirth midwives and I finally connected in December 2010. I wasn’t sure if I would be a good candidate for a home birth because my “problems” in my first pregnancy were still problems in my second pregnancy (aside from the high optic nerve pressure). Some friends of mine had been successful with home births, but I was still a little apprehensive. I continued to read information online and I purchased Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Following a friend’s advice, my husband and I watched The Business of Being Born and that was a turning point for us. We were both convinced that we needed to pursue a home birth as long as Bethany agreed. After some discussion with her, we hired her as our midwife.

Throughout the rest of my pregnancy, Bethany and I were in constant contact. She gave me her cell phone number and told me to call or text any time with questions. I was also able to email her. We communicated at least once a week, sometimes several times a week. I saw her for my prenatal care and she monitored the same things the OB/GYN had been monitoring: blood pressure, fundal height, fetal heart rate, weight, urine protein levels, group b strep status, etc. Bethany explained everything to me in a very calm manner and my questions were answered to my satisfaction. This was a completely new level of prenatal care for me. I was used to being in and out of the OB/GYN’s office in 30 minutes or less and my appointments with Bethany usually took 30 minutes to an hour.
My water broke on Thursday around 6 PM, at 40 weeks, 6 days gestation. Labor started slowly and did not become “regular” until nearly 24 hours later after lots of walking and stairs. I called Bethany around 3 AM Friday and she came right away, along with Heidi who would be assisting her for the delivery. Bethany assessed baby and I. Her experience told her that it would be awhile before baby arrived. After several hours, we discussed our options and decided to try some natural things to encourage labor and Bethany and Heidi would leave for a few hours. Bethany shared a contraction timer with us and instructed us to call her when the contractions became three to four minutes apart with regularity.
Contractions picked up and we called Bethany to return around 6 PM. My pregnancy was now 41 weeks gestation and she wrote “looks serious” in her notes. She and my husband supported me through the contractions. A few hours later, Bethany called Heidi and told her it was time to come. Heidi and Bethany took turns encouraging me to breathe through my contractions and applying a cool washcloth to my head and neck. Blood pressure, fetal heart tones, and my temperature were monitored closely throughout my labor. Around 2:30 AM, I felt pushy and Bethany declared that I was complete after a quick cervical check.

Baby was now 41 weeks 1 day gestational age and he would be arriving soon. I pushed in various places and positions: standing, sitting on the couch, sitting on the birthing stool, leaning back against the couch, and side-lying on the couch. Baby’s head emerged with the cord around his neck. Bethany quickly unwrapped the cord and baby’s body came in the next minute. I had just birthed my 9 pound, 2 ounce son!

For me, the right choice was to birth with a Bethany and Heidi. If we’re blessed with more children, we will do the same again.

Story reposted with permission from Megan Brust, original author. Megan is a mother of 2 and a VBAC veteran. Megan is a Birth Doula in Springfield, Oregon. Find out more about her services at her business page, Abundant Life Birth Services

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Share Your Story - Supplements while TTC

I'm researching using supplements while TTC...if anyone has any insight or would otherwise like to write a piece for me to feature on the blog with your journey and/or success story, I'd be honored to share it on my blog!

Please email me at MommaFriendly {at} gmail {dot} com if you'd like to share your experience, tips or information regarding supplements (or anything, really) to help increase fertility.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Plus Size Babywearing (1/3) - Slings

I did a three part series on baby wearing for plus size women in particular, but this is information that is general enough for women (and men) of any size to benefit.

In this video, I feature pouch slings and ring slings. I give descriptions and demonstrations of both, along with my opinion and experience of them.

In case you can't see the video above, you can see it directly on YouTube here

Thank you.

I have to say, it's really humbling and truly an honor to be able to share all these stories of strength through pregnancy, labor and even trying to conceive and dealing with loss...I'm speechless that so many of you are willing to share with me and to allow me to share with the world. Thanks once again to all the brave, beautiful women that have contributed their experiences to the blog, and to those that have committed to do so.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gestational Diabetes - What is it? (1/3)

This will be one of a three part series I'm doing on gestational diabetes. It seems to a be a topic that has been coming up a lot lately in the forums/groups I belong to, and what I'm finding is that a lot of women are being told they have it or being threatened that they will develop it, but no one is really receiving proper information regarding what it is, how it's diagnosed or how to treat it.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

According to the American Diabetes Association: "Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. Based on recently announced diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes, it is estimated that gestational diabetes affects 18% of pregnancies."

Basically, your growing baby needs glucose to grow. Your body errs on the side of "too much" rather than "too little" so the baby doesn't go without. As the placenta grows, the hormones it creates may interfere with your body's processing of all that glucose. This is why testing tends to be done later in the pregnancy (if no other risk factors exist) because the placenta is larger as the pregnancy progresses.

Non-Caucasian women, and women that are overweight pre-pregnancy, are likelier to develop Gestational Diabetes.You are also likelier to develop it if there is a history of diabetes, gestational or otherwise, in your family. Granted, it's not to say you WILL develop GD if you fall into any (or all) of these categories, your chances are simply greater.

Some of the risks of having Gestational Diabetes are macrosomia (baby growing too large), which could mean a broken clavicle or collarbone upon vaginal delivery, among other complications. This is why doctors are quick to induce as early as 39 weeks when the diagnosis for GD is present, or even elective c-section.

AGAIN, let me be clear...the doctor will be quick to suggest (or even insist) upon these interventions, but they may not be necessary. Also, ultrasounds are not, have never been, and are not meant for measuring your baby, and they are usually off by 1-2 pounds either way, so don't be alarmed if the doctor decides your baby weighs 10 pounds solely based on ultrasound...but that's another topic for another post.

Women that have had GD are likelier to develop Type 2 Diabetes later in life, but many of these cases are because the women studied may have had undiagnosed Type 2 Diabetes before pregnancy, and GD may not have been a factor.

Most of the time, GD can be kept under control by diet and exercise, and only in extreme cases will an insulin regimen be please, do not worry right off the bat that you will need to inject yourself several times a day until you've spoken to a specialist about the severity of your case! Stressing about it will do no one any good, though I know that is easier said than done.

On the next post, I will write about information, evidence and resources surrounding testing for Gestational Diabetes and how it is diagnosed. The last post in the series will be about treatment options. I'll also talk about my own borderline GD diagnosis during my pregnancy and what I went through as far as testing and treatment. If anyone would like to share their GD experience, whether just the testing or actual treatment if you were diagnosed, please email or comment. Also, please let me know if you have any specific questions and I will try to answer them in an upcoming post or at least point you to resources that can help.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Share Your Story - World Milksharing Week!

World Milksharing Week is Sept 24-30, 2013! I'd love to have stories to share on the blog that week about how milksharing has affected your life, whether as a donor or as a recipient for your little one! Please email me (the address is at the top of this page) l if you'd like to contribute a post to the blog! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Just made one. Follow me? :)


A bit of a most of you know by now, I'm in a part of the country where VBACs are incredibly difficult to achieve because of different policies and laws in place against it. There's only a handful of OBs that will even ALLOW TOLAC, in only a handful of hospitals (this is in the entire metropolis of over a million people), AND you have to pay the OBs a $1500 retainer for showing up at your TOLAC, whether it ends in VBAC or CBAC.

Well, I just found out one of those handful of doctors was pregnant herself, and with all the OBs she knows, with her knowledge of the best hospitals, with the professional courtesy she would have received... guess what she did for her TOLAC?

She had a home birth...with a midwife.

Goes to show the state of the birth community/industry here.

::feeling discouraged::

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Guest Post: "Homebirth after 3 c-sections- my journey to the birth I never knew I could have!"

My Homebirth: Vbac after Three Cesareans

I know my birth story needs to start with my first birth. This is going to be long, it has taken me forever to write it and I could still add much more. Sit back, relax and enjoy the stories LOL

  I was young, just 15 when I found out I was pregnant. I started going to the ob that was recommended to me by my step mom and did what they told me to do. I gained 85 lbs and that was really the only bad thing with my pregnancy. I never looked up childbirth nor did I take any classes. I just waited to go into labor. As soon as I thought the braxton hicks were real my mom and I went into the hospital. Three times I went in, was kept 12 or so hours each time, and then sent home.

 Nobody ever explained what the real contractions would be like, so every time the braxton hicks were normal I went in. The fourth time I went into the hospital the ob came in and said "OK were going to make you have this baby". I was just 38 weeks and didn’t know any better. She said they could induce me and well… I went along with it excited to see my little one and never knowing the risks of being induced or even thinking it wasn’t a good idea. So we started with cervadil, it didn’t work so they used pitocin, and then more cervadil.

They wouldn’t let me walk the halls or even take a shower so I laid in bed... Waiting and waiting for my labor to pick up. I finally hit 3 cm and the ob came in and said she could break my water and she did. Everything was supposed to pick up after that happened and it really didn’t.

Throughout the three days I was in the hospital before he was born the ob was so busy I had barely even seen her. She had almost every birth on the floor all three days, it was ridiculous. Everyone was having a baby accept me!

On the evening on the 28th they came in and said, "Your bp is to high, his heart rate is deceling, and you need to have a cs. Your labor isn’t progressing!" I don’t remember them checking me past noon that day and of course that’s when I had my epidural because they said "Oh.. if you don’t get it now you won’t be able to later". They said at noon, I was still 3 cm. When they got me rushed in for an emergency c-section my mom went in with me and it was the worst experience. I know they gave me the epi before they started, but I felt the cutting the left side of my stomach. I told her and she said "OH no it’s just pressure.". I had to convince her that I could feel the knife. She stopped and they gave me more in my epi and then it’s all a blur from there. I wound up with a hernia from her cutting crookedly.

I remember once they got to the baby, they had to tilt to table with my head to the floor.  The doc got onto a stool to pull him out. Of course that gave them suspicion of possible cpd since his head was stuck!... Now I know his head was molding; but no... they didn’t want to admit I was further then 3 cm because it was 6pm and my ob wanted to go home! I truly believe it was a matter of patience and I had been induced to long.

Because of the cs I had a horrible disconnect with my son for the first month it was hard for me to call myself mom to him.. I never remembered seeing him after he was born, not until after recovery. While I was in the OR I remember seeing him in the incubator but never kissed him, touched him, I don't even remember seeing him after he was delivered. It was the worse experience I had and I always thought oh the ob did the best thing and he needed to get out blah blah blah but in all reality if I wasn’t induced, I know it wouldn’t have ended in a unnecessary csection.

Of course knowing it was unnecessary didn’t come till this pregnancy.

Fast Forward 4.5 yrs Mike and I were ready for another baby and I took the advice of a friend and went to her ob. A new doc that I thought would understand and even suggested vbac to me. I went through my pg again with no problems even barely gained but 30lbs.

The paper the ob gave me on vbac was simple and of course stating the risks but I still wanted to try. He explained to me that vbacs are great but the risk is much higher past 39 weeks and would allow me till then to vbac.

At the time I was working, in school full time, and pregnant. I didn’t do any research on my own just waited for labor to start. Going through my pregnancy just so busy with everything; I never thought to research vbac more, the docs know what they are talking about right? 39 weeks is term in their book and I was having Braxton hicks with my first at about 37 weeks, so I thought I had a chance.

38 weeks 4 days I am getting desperate. I wanted my vbac so bad I tried castor oil. Apparently it wasn’t enough because it didn’t do anything for me, but I went in to the hospital with the irregular contractions that I was having, in hopes it would progress into my vbac. The ob told me we know we aren’t inducing since you had that with your first and it didn’t work. So relax and get some rest we will see how you’re progressing in the morning and go from there. The nurse came in and told me to take this pill it would relax me and let me rest so when its go time in the morning I won’t be exhausted. At the time again.. No research and I wasn’t really natural minded. I took the pill and slept all night.

The next morning I was still 1cm and my contractions stopped. So, the ob came in and said we can have a cs today or Tuesday. Well of course, Tuesday was my father in laws birthday and my first son was born on my sister’s birthday so I said today. We were already in the hospital, I was sick of being pregnant, and really thought I was broken. My contractions stopped and my dilation was the same. So off to the best cs in my life, it was nice and calm. I was more ok with the cs I had with Mark. I chatted with the ob the whole time during my cs. When they pulled him out, he had the cord around his neck once. He was brought over to me and I remember seeing him being held up and then Mike holding him next to me. It was great that it wasn’t a rush, horrible experience like with Ryan. The ob even got rid of my little hernia that I had on the left side where the first ob cut me when I told her I could feel it.

I thought my recovery was better than with Ryan but still I hated that I had another cs. At that point I was done, I really believed that I didn’t work; I was doomed for cs when we had more kids. I didn’t have trauma from this cs like I did with Ryan, but it still made me feel like a failure.

December of 2007 my 3rd child was due, I got pregnant one month after my period came back and knew exactly when we conceived. This was going to be repeat cs because nobody gives you the ok to vbac. I never knew vbac’s after multiple cs were possible. I wish I would have done research!  I went my whole pregnancy with complications that could have been prevented. During my pregnancy they changed my due date and it was originally December 5th and because of his size “they knew my due date was wrong” so it went up to Nov 24th and again I was wrong.

 I was stressed more then I can explain due to job, responsibilities, and extra family members living with me. It got to a point where I would come home from dealing with the stress and lay around and do nothing. Didn’t want to play with my kids, go outside and walk, or even clean my house. My husband did it all he was superman while I was pregnant with Evan. I eventually got a blood clot from the lack of movement and started having to get injections of lovenox. I did what the ob told me to!  Twice a day I had injections, it was the worst thing for me. I even passed out and stabbed myself with the needle trying to give myself the shot.

The last 3 months of my pregnancy were filled with stress, shots and no energy! I eventually got fed up with the family situation and we moved. It ended up being 1 week before he was born and during that whole week I was sooo busy working on getting the house unpacked and organized. It was the most work I had done my whole pregnancy it seemed.

Nov 12th, My mom came into town to help; and we were working extra hard to get the last few things finished of the babies. I wasn’t eating the way I should have been, not drinking enough water, and had I known all these things played into early labor; I wouldn’t have called the stupid hospital! I noticed that evening I was having contractions that I thought were real. I never had real contractions before, and so, I called. I realized I was having leg cramps, back pain and the contractions. We didn’t think oh.. drink some water and take a bath maybe you have just done to much. Nope, we called the hospital and they said your clot could be moving get in here ASAP. So we did, but it was 2 hrs later because we had to get the kids situated and then drive 40 minutes to the stupid hospital. They were calling me all the time telling me to hurry up, and we were, but still 2 kids to drop off, hospital bag to get ready...ect...  It takes time!

 When we got in they said oh yeah you’re having little contractions, and I was 1 cm dilated. They told my husband you cannot be in the O.R. at all because the risks with her clot moving. They knocked me out all the way. It was horrible I have no recollection of anything accept waking up in the hall.

When they wheeled me into the hall, my mom told me that my husband in the NICU with the baby because he had black hands and feet and wasn’t breathing well in the nursery; so they moved him to the NICU. They told us it was a good thing we came in or he wouldn’t have made it! I didn’t need any extra blood and everything was fine besides the rushed cs. Also because of my clot they told me they needed to cut my external incision as a classical and my uterus would be cut horizontal like the others. He said this would decrease the risk of infection for my incision and it would heal faster. Honestly at the time I didn’t question I was uneducated and didn’t know I could question the people who are there to protect and take care of me. I had no idea I could say "No! I want my husband in there no matter what!" I want to be awake no matter what could happen, and I really wish I would have been more educated, because it could have been so different.

Because of the due date change he was really just almost 36 weeks, and they charted because of the new due date he was 37 weeks. He was on a ventilator and in the NICU for 11 days. They wheeled me past the NICU and into my room. Once they got me transferred to my bed, I asked when I could see him. They said "OH! They could have wheeled you in there, but now you can’t since you’re on the regular bed". I asked to go onto the OR bed again and be taken to see him but that wasn’t possible. Again didn’t fight the hospital and say "I want to see him NOW!"  My aunt went to Walgreens and printed pictures for me to have since I couldn’t go see him. It was horrible being stuck waiting to be with him.  I didn’t get to see him until he was 12 hrs old. Once I was able to go in there I couldn’t touch him because they said he can’t handle the interaction. At 5 days old I was finally able to hold him. I always asked and begged them but nope! He was a whole day old before I could even touch him, and of course, I now know that is the biggest thing babies need is their mothers touch.

I felt for a while that I failed as a mother because I could have changed all these things had I been educated and persistent.

After 11 days we went home, he was great at breastfeeding which I was so worried about. On Christmas Eve when he was 6 weeks old he stopped breathing and we ended up with another hospital stay; of another 11 days. He was transferred an hour away to a children’s hospital. He had bradycardia(low heart rate), rsv(infection a preemie  gets) and acid reflux. They put him on a heart monitor, and we had that for 8 months. All because the stupid doctor changed my due date and he was super early. Had I known my stress and dehydration causes bh contractions I would have taken a bath and drank a ton of water before calling. He wouldn’t have been so early if they would have said oh its bh go home your ok… but no… they see a reason to charge even more on a delivery and they jump at it!  My ob had one of the highest cs rates in the area. Of course I know this now, but not then! But, ok I am done, as I really could go on and on, which would be 20 pages long if I included everything!

Fast forward 3 yrs and we find out were expecting again!  Hoping for a girl and since my best friend had passed away the month before I really had a feeling this was a girl. I just knew, still had doubts. But I knew it was meant to be! I fully planned on calling my ob and making an appointment knowing it would be another cs. I was talking with my friend on the phone and she knew I hadn’t made any appointments yet but she said why don’t you vbac.  Are you crazy?? Why could I VBAC? I started explaining all the issues and problems my body had going into labor with my first, and how I was broken and that my labor had stopped with my vbac attempt. See I can’t do it! She got sooo mad at me for saying I couldn’t do it. It really made me mad that she knew I could VBAC, but I knew I was broken and couldn’t VBAC! So I argued with her about knowing how broken I was; and why this would never be something I could do. At that time she also mentioned the new ICAN group about 45 minutes from my house. I told her I would look into it, but that I didn’t think I could vbac because I’ve had 3 cs and they were all needed.

In my eyes at that time I still was saved by the ob’s for giving me c-sections after my son couldn’t handle the labor; and of course because my labor stopped with my 2nd.  Oh and my 3rd had they not cut him out then he wouldn’t have made it because he had such a hard time handling the outside. This was the ridiculous things I thought in the beginning of my 4th pregnancy.

After I got off the phone with her I seriously started researching. She made me so mad telling me I shouldn’t be negative and I can VBAC… who was she to tell me I could vbac? She never had a cs before, and never had experience with vbac. I wanted to prove her wrong even though I started thinking... What if I could vbac? Research brought me to ICAN, youtube and various birth videos in which most I would sit and bawl my eyes out. If other woman felt broken and then vbac’d maybe I can do this. I found every vbac video and story especially vbac for multiple cs online, went to the ICAN meeting and talked to people, and learned I could do this! I knew I couldn’t attempt this without my husband and we talk about everything. I made him read the articles, research, studies, and birth stories right along with me. It was amazing the support he had for me to vbac.

Knowing we couldn’t vbac in a hospital I knew the perfect person to call. I have been a long time member of a natural parenting group and knew several women who had homebirths, and knew of a homebirth midwife in our group, and several doulas. I called the only homebirth midwife in my area, she told me to get my medical records and we would have a meeting. We could go over how my previous births were.  This showed me where the hospital and ob’s really lied to me. Had I not been induced I wouldn’t have needed the cs, a vbac after 39 weeks is perfectly ok, but the ob didn’t say that! So 2nd cs it was. Nobody says a vbac after multiple c-sections is ok so Evan was repeat cs after they told me my due date was wrong when I knew the dates he could have been conceived. Then, them saying best we got him out when we did or something could have happened. UHHH He needed to cook longer people! Look at all the problems we’ve had since!

This brought up a lot of hate for my previous ob who I thought was great, until I started researching for this baby. It was hard for a while; knowing that had I been more educated, or researched with the boy’s pregnancies, I could have prevented this, but at the time I was busy working and school, so I was never online. I didn’t even own my own computer till after Ryan was born.

I know everything happens for a reason and I have always said that and I convinced myself that the c-sections were needed but I still felt broken. During my pregnancy I started going to the ICAN meetings in our area and eventually I became an ICAN Co leader when the group leader needed to step down. It is a support group for c-section mamas hoping for vbac or even woman wanting to prevent a c-section. I was really hesitant because I never had a vbac. Just 3cs and I felt "What if I didn’t get my vbac, and I was a co leader? How would that look?" Something felt out of place for a while with that but I didn’t want our group to get canceled. OK, OK, I can go on forever about this, but I should start on Julianne’s birth.

My pregnancy with her was amazing really; the only issue I had was the SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction)  and I went to the chiropractor weekly for that. I gained the least amount of weight from all my pregnancies, walked the most and ate the best. This was a great experience not having medical interference during my pregnancy. My due date was Feb 15th and we changed it a bit to match the conception dates. I would have been given a Feb 12th dd from the ob. Our midwife talked with us about everything that could happen and all the testing that is typically done. She told us it was our choice to choose which testing we wanted. She made me feel so confident in myself to have a natural childbirth and made childbirth seem so normal. Makes me think why oh why do the ob’s encourage induction and pain meds because the midwife model of care is so different. Being so natural minded since Evan was little I changed my thinking on so many things. Having a natural unmediated childbirth was something that I never feared about once my midwife had confidence in me. She explained that a woman’s body was meant to give birth and left unhindered it does work. That was something that took a while for me to swallow because for 10 yrs I was broken. My husband never understood the broken part of my feelings but when you’re told oh you don’t dilate or go into labor on your own what do you expect? I never thought that I could work had they left me to go into labor. That even though I made it not a big deal was a big hurdle to get over. Knowing and trusting in my body and in birth. I trusted my husband and midwife so it was just on me to trust that I CAN birth a baby without interventions.

Throughout my whole pregnancy I scoured for birth stories of other woman like me. I found so many stories on message boards and videos on youtube. I would spend my hours in the evening reading and researching. Something I never did with my other pregnancies and It built my confidence and trust in myself to see other woman who had gone through similar situations with even more c-sections then I had.  We went on through the pregnancy preparing, eating healthy and exercising.

Everyone asks me didn’t you worry about complications and rupture... What would you do if you had a problem? I never worried about the risk of uterine rupture or possible complications but I did feel as though I spent so much of my pregnancy explaining why we have chosen to have a homebirth and why it is better. Nobody believes you or when they do it is after you fight your way through it. Everyone is so brainwashed by the medical fields and horror birth stories. It is hard to explain why even after 3 c-sections I could have a vbac and the risk of rupture isn’t as high as the ob’s or hospital’s say. We always had a plan if we needed to transfer but that was never good enough. Thankfully I didn’t have to plead my case with my mother much more then telling her what research I found. I was so excited to be able to have her at home and not get cut open again. The recovery will be amazing and I was excited just waiting to have my baby.

Around Thanksgiving my husband had to choose his vacation weeks for 2011, he knew he wanted to pick 2 weeks during the time we were having the baby but since this was all natural we knew we couldn’t pick a date for sure. We went with 42 weeks because natural childbirth typically happens around 41ish weeks. Feb 20th was the original start date of my hubby’s vacation. I really put it in my mind that I will be about 42 weeks when I have her. I didn’t want to get to my due date and be disappointed in myself for not working… I prepared myself enough during my pregnancy knowing post dates is ok but never thought I would be that late. The 21st was the date I guessed for myself, my hubby thought the 26th. This of course was just our fun in guesstimating when I would have her and she will come when she is ready we knew that.

 On February 8th I started having contractions they were different then the Braxton hicks and having never been in real labor before I thought this was it. It was starting and I was excited. It continued until the 12th it was off and on contractions with cervical pain. At that time my husband took his vacation early because I was having such a hard time sitting comfortably and taking care of everything because of the spd. We really thought it was going to continue progressing. Even though it was not 42 weeks I had already been having off and on bh contractions so I convinced myself this was it. Mike took his vacation early and then everything stopped.

So, as much as we didn’t want to sit and wait for her to come that’s what we did. Days would go by with no contractions.. Everyone kept bugging us and asking anything yet? Have the baby yet? It was so frustrating to know we jumped the gun and he started his vacation early. We kept busy walking and doing things, getting the house finished and actually spending time together. It was really hard as the days past to wait. My due date came, went and went and went…… I was really emotional because I knew my baby and I were fine. Never once felt that she wasn’t ok. I was reassured that all the time from my mw and doula but just knowing you’re late and having that fear in the back of your mind was hard. ‘What if I really was broken? Why do I, of all people have to be so late? Why did we have mike take his vacation so early, how could I have not known and now his vacation is over and wasted. Even though it wasn’t it was just the fleeting thoughts, but it was emotional going day by day.

Mike and I played so many hands of rummy, and dice it was great. I had fun with all the game nights, but waiting was so hard. I waited 10 yrs for a girl, and now she doesn’t want to come see us; that’s how I felt sometimes. I knew when she was ready she would come. I did start losing my mucus plug but not much.

I was 42 w 3 days when I started asking what we can do. I didn’t want to intervene because of the interventions that led me to the cs in the first place. I looked into every natural induction method and just sat and talked about it. It was so emotional because we waited so long for her and knew everything was fine, knew post dates was ok and I really thought I prepared myself for post dates but realized at that time I didn’t. I was hesitant on doing anything at first and my mw talked about doing a stretch and sweep which is stripping your membranes. She only considers this after 42 weeks which I already was. Mike and I talked about it and he had already used all 3 weeks of his vacation, and was back at work. We both wanted her to be here with us so bad we figured it couldn’t hurt. It is a small intervention, with small risks, but we wanted to see if it would help me progress and while she did it I had a couple menstrual type cramps and that was the first time I felt that kind of contraction. She said at that point I was 2-3 cm and 90% effaced. We didn’t do any vaginal exams during my pregnancy so this was the first time I knew how dilated I was. I was excited and also felt that I should have been more dilated but it was ok. The next day I got a reflexology massage that is supposed to induce labor if you and the baby are ready. Only had a few contractions that night it was March 5th  I was 42 w 4 days and got the ok from my mw to get the massage. We were talking to the baby everyday telling her to come see us but she just wasn’t ready yet. I trusted my body and knew that she was fine.

 At this point I was so late I started getting cranky on my facebook and posting messages that I typically wouldn’t. Like that was great.. So funny!  Also made sure to post studies about post dates and the birthwithout fear facebook page became my home. I could get reassurance I was doing what I was supposed to waiting for her to come. Mrs. BWF was also going through post dates at that time. She had her babies between 42-44 weeks so I stalked her page waiting. Waiting for her labor to kick in thinking reading about her would start mine. LOL silly I know.

Sunday morning March 6th I woke up at 7am and stood up out of bed and knew something was going on.  My water had broken or was leaking. I called my mw and said it was a partial rupture and I would keep leaking but everything is fine. "Keep hydrated and do regular things". I sat at the computer to post on my secret message board that I didn’t tell anyone about. I wanted to have someone to talk to about this on and off labor but I had so many people texting or calling asking when I was going to have this baby that I refused to post anything about my impending labor on my facebook. I got up from the computer and a huge gush of water came down. I was like "Oh WOW!" I had never experienced that before so I was really excited. I knew labor was coming soon! I was so glad to have my chux pads with me because I did not want that in my carpet! LOL

I didn’t have but maybe one or two contractions that whole day. My mw came and told me typically it can take 24-48 hrs for labor to start naturally if not messed with.  Everyone thinks; Oh My GOD! My water broke! I have to rush to the hospital right now! Just because your water breaks doesn’t always mean it’s going to be soon. It doesn’t always mean you’re going to get an infection, especially at home. The risk is the vaginal exams which my mw doesn’t do unless she thinks it’s necessary. So we waited...

Monday came and went... just some small contractions during the day but at night I would have good contractions. I would get up every hour to use the restroom, and notice I woke up from menstrual cramp type contractions. I never experienced these with the boys so it was all new to me. I made sure to talk with my doula who explained the difference, and Tuesday morning told me I could take a shower since I didn’t get much sleep. In the early stages of labor it can help slow down the contractions enough to get some rest. I showered at 7:30, ate something and was able to sleep till 10:30. I didn’t wake up with contractions but I did notice them throughout the day maybe like 20-30 mins apart. They weren’t the bh contractions anymore.

Come 2:00 I was so tired and I just wanted to sleep, I lay down and it would hurt worse! I got up and called my doula, she suggested a bath it can slow things down like the shower did so I could rest again. At that point my hubby and I figured if the contractions were going to stay this way; maybe the kids can go to my mom’s for the evening and play, and then come home right before bedtime so Mike and I can rest. My sister also lives with us so she went with the boys.

I had gotten in the tub at 2:30 and talked on the phone to my friend Kelly. She was coming from 2 hrs away to watch the twins for my mother so she could be here. Kelly told me she didn't think it would be too long, so she was to come up now. If she stayed a day or two its fine, but she really thought it would be tonight. I put it in my head it was going to be a 3 day labor! I was thinking, "I’m 3 weeks late!", so I would figure, labor would be long and I wanted to anticipate it; so I didn’t get discouraged.

It was about 4:45 when I started noticing the contractions were more often. I was on the phone with my other friend Angelina and she noticed I had 3 contractions in 15 mins. It was weird they would be 5 mins apart then I would have 3 in a row at that point they were stronger; but I could still focus on other things. Mike got home from dropping the kids off and helped me out of the tub. He was going to make us steak and broccoli; since I had been eating so much all day I had never been so hungry! I just kept eating. I was excited about steak! I called my doula to come at 4:45 right before I got out of the tub. She said she was about 40 minutes away and would be leaving now. I got dressed and remember eating something after I got out. She came about 6pm and at that point some contractions felt like they were one on top of the other. I also started noticing back pain. I really had to go deep and started making weird animal noises. My mother came over at that point and I remember thinking why are you here so soon? I didn’t think she needed to come over at that point since it was going to be a long labor. Kelly told her to come and she kept the kids and my sister was there to help. She had my 3 boys, my mom’s 2 boys and 1 sister plus my other sister who was helping. I don’t know how she did it LOL. My mom did bring my oldest son so he could go to school in the morning. He walked in the kitchen trying to talk to me about something but I was still leaning over the kitchen table moving my hips and moaning. He never questioned me on why I was making such weird noises he just knew the baby was going to come and he stayed in his room the rest of the night watching tv.

I never expected to be a person to get that loud and moan in labor but the vibrations from the moans made a huge difference. It felt good to be loud and also my doula suggested rotating my hips like doing the hula hoop. My doula, my mother and Mike would take turns putting pressure on my back while I was having the back labor. I stood in the kitchen for a while and tried to eat the wonderful steak and broccoli that Mike made but it wasn’t happening. I was just having such intense contractions. I made my way to the chair to rest for a bit. I was noticing the contractions even more; one on top of the other. I think Mike was already filling up the pool which in hindsight I should have had him do that in the afternoon, when I first noticed contractions. I could have been in the pool during the back labor and I think that would have been amazing.

I got to a point in the chair where I seriously felt high. I asked my doula “am I high??” I would look around and felt really drunk!  She said it was my hormones from the labor; at that point I was able to sleep between contractions. I just needed cold rags and water. I felt like everyone was standing there staring at me but they knew more than I did that the time was soon. They seemed to space out and I could sleep. She said maybe 10 minutes of rest and I would pass out and snore even.

After a bunch of cold rags and some cool drinks I got up to use the restroom. I tried but it was torture for me… when I sat on the toilet the contractions were so intense I couldn’t relax to go pee.  It was the worst thing to sit on the toilet having contractions because it seemed that the pain wouldn’t go away at all. I know some woman like sitting on the toilet in labor but that was not me!  I did notice my bloody show more than I expected but still normal. At that point I think my doula was on the phone with my midwife, or maybe before when I was still in the chair relaxing. I am unsure when she called, but I remember being in the bathroom leaning against the sink having contractions, and then my midwife showed up.

I got in the pool. That stupid thing took so long to fill up it seemed that I really wish I would have done it sooner. As soon as I got into the pool it seemed the back labor went away. My husband was right there next to me and at that point my mom took a couple pictures. I still thought it would be a long while LOL. I wanted my birth video taped but didn’t want them to tape me for 3 days so I never said anything about it. Once I got in the tub I wasn’t in there to long before I felt that I should push. I tried to not push with it, but all I felt was the need to push. I’ve never experienced this before and I didn’t want to push too hard but I couldn’t control it. I always thought you push once and have a break. Not for me, it was push 3 times, and then a break. I kept slipping around in the pool and I really wasn’t feeling the position I was in, so I tried to move and get into a better position but I just wasn't getting comfortable enough. My midwife wanted to get heart tones. I moved around and we tried. She also suggested a vaginal exam because of the bloody show in the pool; she wanted to get heart tones on the baby’s head right away to make sure everything was ok. It was just a few chunks I actually didn’t realize it was blood. I thought I pooped like everyone says you do in labor. She couldn’t feel heart tones and she messed with my stomach and the baby wouldn’t kick.

The whole time I was in labor I was more focused on the labor. I didn’t notice her moving at all. My midwife said "Let’s get out of the pool because she needed to get heart tones". I stood up and still was pushing it seemed like all the time when this was going on. I was able to get out of the pool and laid on the bed for heart tones but I had to push. Kept pushing and pushing... We did get heart tones and they were perfect! I just didn’t feel the baby move, I remember feeling her move in the tub back between 2:30-4:30 but that is it. That is also the last time I was able to pee, I tried several times but couldn’t. Once I was on the bed I actually felt like I was making progress with the pushing. My midwife said every time in the pool I was pushing the baby was staying down, she wasn’t coming down and going back up like most babies do.

I ended up staying on the bed, the pushing urge was so intense, I just had to stay there and push. My doula held my leg back, and my midwife did the other. My hubby stood at the end of the bed right there by me. I seriously thought I would be pushing forever. It was only about 20 minutes on the bed. As soon as they could see the baby’s head peaking, I made my mom take a ton of pictures and show me after each picture. I couldn’t believe the baby’s head was right there! I was so into pushing I didn’t think of the pillow that could have gone behind me so I could feel her head, but that’s OK I had the pictures. I kept pushing and the head came out. I had no idea her head came out until they said her head is out. My mw said wait till the next contraction and let your body push on its own. She told my hubby to come over and catch the baby. It was the next push, just a minute later she came flying out! It felt like a big flip and flop! It was amazing.

She was out and I just wanted to see my baby. It felt like forever from the time she came out till the time they laid her on me but it wasn’t. We planned on immediate skin to skin contact and nursing from the start. I did tear in 2 places and had a bit more blood than normal, especially because of the tears. I never felt a gooey, juicy, baby. It was great to hold her and she was wide awake right away. I remember thinking OMG she is so tiny compared to what we expected since I was 3 weeks post dates. Her butt was tiny but her body was so long. We had her start nursing within minutes as they worked on cleaning me up and getting the bleeding to stop.

I delivered the placenta pretty soon after it seemed like 10 minutes later. The bleeding wasn’t slowing and I took some herbs to help with the bleeding, as well as the nipple stimulation to get the hormones going so I could stop bleeding. I was more worried about bleeding too much. I wish I wouldn’t have worried about it but of course I had to think, I had a vbac but I tore myself! Why did I do that? Why did I push so hard and fast? I laid there holding my baby so excited that she was here, looking at her but still thinking… why won’t  I stop bleeding. Even though they said it is ok never said let’s go to the hospital or anything but I was paranoid. I had a wonderful pregnancy and a homebirth after 3 cs but I am going to bleed to death because I pushed too hard. Uhh it figures. I think back now and I wish I wouldn’t have worried about it at all. I know my mw knew what to do and everything was fine but I was consumed in what I did wrong. Maybe I made myself so anal about the delivery because I didn’t want to screw it up. I felt at sometimes the boys births were my fault because I was uneducated on birth.

I got up to try and pee. At this point I think it had been 7 hrs since was able to pee last. She was born at 10:35pm and I still hadn’t been able to. It burned so bad, and it was because of the tears which didn’t get stitches or anything. My midwife said they would heal the one was a hematoma and seemed pretty bad. My bones and body hurt so bad it was like a massive work out that I did not prepare well for. I thought besides your vagina hurting your body would be fine but nope not mine it felt like I had been hit by a bus or two. LOL

The baby was amazing she nursed right away. My mom made me some eggs and cream cheese toast. I also drank a bunch of juice and water. It had been since 5ish that I had anything to eat and I felt like I was starving. It was about 3 hrs later before we cut her cord and found out she was 8lbs.8 oz and 21.5 inches long, her head was 14.5 inches long and she came out in military position. Her head was perfect and didn’t even have a crown from molding or anything. She nursed this whole time which was so amazing to have her with me, skin to skin and nursing. She knew exactly what to do right away. I was never able to nurse my boys right away and they were always given a bottle the first day accept Evan. I knew our bond was going to be different. Made me which I could have that with the boys. I know shes my first girl so that makes it different too but from just hours after birth if I got up to use the rest room my hubby or mom would hold her and she would cry that she wasn’t laying on me or nursing. She nursed all night. At first I felt so exhausted and was afraid to co-sleep with her and ask our midwife if I could lay her in her co-sleeper. She suggested 48 hrs of skin to skin contact to regulate her body temp and breathing. So she can get acclimated to world since what she was used to was so different. I really was worried at first I would be too tired to sleep so I was going to lay her in there but she never wanted to stop nursing. When she did I laid her in the co-sleeper once for about 10 mins. She was sleeping and I was happy to be able to lie on my side. I was never able to sleep in my bed right after a  cs because it would feel like my stomach was ripping open to even attempt to lay down flat. Using my stomach muscles this time was so different. They were sore but like I did a ton of sit ups nothing compares to a cs even with my tears. After about 10 minutes she wanted to nurse again and at this time Mike was already passed out from having a exhausting day. I woke him up to prop my pillows and get me some more juice. I turned the tv on and prepared myself to sleep propped sitting up so she could nurse all night. She nursed seriously almost non-stop, I just sat and stared at her and smelled her. I never had a gooey baby to smell right away. I always smelled my boys after they were already cleaned up. I don’t know if I will ever let her out of my sight for too long LOL

I really do look back and think ya know if I would have thought my labor wouldn’t be so soon I would have done things differently but I had no idea. I was preparing for a long labor since I was so late and everything took me longer during this pregnancy. I never wanted to be on my back but it felt so good when I was on my back I never wanted to push differently. I wish Mike could have fussed with the pool earlier but we didn’t think it was going to be soon so I never said ok fill the pool. I just labored like I was waiting for it to get worse. It never got so unbearable I couldn’t handle it. I did have back labor for a good 6 hrs I think. She went posterior and I could feel her hands on each side of my cs scar. That was the most intense part of the labor was the back pain. I think it would have been so unbearable had I not had my doula and mom there to rub my back during the contractions. I also wouldn’t have moved my hips and helped her move down like my doula said. The pool again looking back just didn’t work for me, I didn’t feel I was doing enough in the pool and the slipping really irritated me. All I wanted to do was keep pushing but I was worried about slipping and sitting on the baby if she started coming out LOL again unrealistic but things that pop in your head. Especially as crazy as I am LOL. I am so thankful to have been able to experience all this. Holding her right away was wonderful she was so slimy and my hand went right to her butt I seriously couldn’t believe how small it was because she felt huge in my belly!  Mike was able to catch her and he never expected that since we were fully planning a water birth. We never talked about what if we weren’t in the water. We just said if it doesn’t work for me we will move. I never ever wanted to be flat on my back in my bed. I know for me that was the position the hospital sticks you in, and I wanted nothing of that. However for me and this birth it worked and was a great pushing position. I never thought once I got in that position I need to move. It felt great to push and at that point I wasn’t even noticing contractions just the need to push. That surprised me for sure but that’s how she needed and wanted to come out I guess.

This pregnancy definitely pushed me and changed my thinking on so many things. I really hope woman all over can become empowered to birth the way they want. To trust birth and understand that not everything is or has to be the way the ob says. I always trusted myself, my husband, midwife and doula. I knew we could do it! I never expected it to be this way nor did I expect being so late or my water breaking so early and no labor.

 My water broke 55 hrs before labor started and once it did start she was out in 8 hrs after 1.5 hrs of pushing on March 8th.I think 8 is her lucky number!  Julianne is her name she has 3 loving big brothers and. She is amazing and healthier than any of my boys were. My midwife and doula said there was no way she could have been 3 weeks post dates and even though we calculated my due date by lmp and conception dates. We must have conceived in the beginning of June instead of when we thought in May. She was covered in vernix, wrinkly only on her hands and feet but perfect! I remember looking back knowing when I first took a pregnancy test it was the end of June and the first test was very unclear. I am a nut about taking pg tests and if there was a slight line I would take another. For about 2 weeks I took a test every 3 or so days until it was a darker line. I always found out early with my pregnancies accept my first. I knew I could only 6 weeks at that time but looking back I must have been a little less than that. I always watched my cycles and at the time I conceived I really was having a funky cycle. It seemed like I tried to ovulate 2 times in May and noticed some again the first week of June. I guess that is when I got pregnant with her. Even though I wasn’t really 43 weeks, in my mind at that time I was post date and it was so hard. If you are going through the same thing just know your body and baby know when the time is right. Some people would suggest a non-stress test but I didn’t have any of that. I just waited and she would check heart tones when she came. Nothing felt off so we kept waiting. I still feel as though I was post dates emotionally because of the stress it put me though.
I hope sharing my story will encourage other moms to stand up for youself and find a care provider to support you, and have the birth of your dreams! I know people go unassisted in childbirth but I don’t think I could have done that. If it wasn’t for midwife and doula who were amazing, I wouldn’t have gotten the birth of my dreams and I would have had a fourth c-section.

Thank you for listening and reading through this I know it has been super long. It seems that it has taken forever!
Thank you Cindy and Robin for everything! You two are amazing!

I had a homebirth after 3 c sections! You can too!

Story reposted with permission from Janel Hyland, original author. Janel is a mother of  4 and a VBA3C veteran.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Guest Post: "My long, long, long story."

I've been overweight my entire life. At the beginning of this journey, I was 300lbs. I'm 5'2, so that's quite big. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 13. I was immediately put on birth control to control the symptoms of PCOS, as well as metformin. As time went on, I stopped the metformin because I wasn't trying to conceive as a teenager and thought it was dumb to try.  So at the time I became pregnant, I had been dealing with PCOS for 13 years. Most of those 13 years I was on birth control. About 6 months before I became pregnant, I was tested for PCOS again and it came back that I very obviously had mild to severe PCOS. I was put on metformin and aldactone. A few months later, I moved from Tennessee back to PA and stopped taking the metformin, aldactone, and birth control because I wasn't in a relationship at the time and wasn't able to get my medication because I no longer had insurance.

 I met the father of my baby in July of 2012 and we became a full blown couple in August of 2012. We used condoms, but weren't extremely careful. I wasn't worried because of my history of PCOS.  We broke up September 15th, 2012. Two weeks later (after he moved back to California to be with his family - I live in Pennsylvania. That's 2000+ miles) I found out I was pregnant. For about a week, I had been feeling tired and nauseous, but I just assumed it was from the stress of the breakup and PMS. My mom asked me if I could be pregnant and I told her "Well, technically, yes. But I highly doubt it". She asked when I was supposed to get my period and I told her it would be about a week before I could test, but I was sure my period was coming.

Fast forward to 4 days past when my period was due to start. I worked my 3-11 shift and decided to go to the drug store after work to get a test. I bought a two pack of digital tests because I didn't want any question about the lines. I didn't want to think I was seeing things when it was really negative. I got the tests and went home. Ate something as I always did and went to bed. Around 7am, I got up to use the bathroom and decided to take the first pregnancy test since it would be first morning urine. I sat the test on the sink and went about finishing up. I glanced down at the test less than a minute after taking it and it said "Pregnant". I closed my eyes for a few seconds and looked at it again. Still "Pregnant" I picked up the test and held it close to my face, staring at it. It didn't change. I turned the test every which way, still the same. Still "Pregnant". I took the second test out of the package and tested again. Same thing. "Pregnant" came up before a minute had passed. I started shaking and crying. I went to my bedroom and called my mom. At first I couldn't speak. She became panicked, thinking there was an accident or I was hurt. I squeaked out "I'm pregnant" through my gasps for air. All she said was "You're pregnant? That's not a bad thing!". She's always wanted me to have kids.

So, there I was: 26, 300lbs, major history of PCOS, just broke up with the father of the baby I was apparently carrying, living alone 2 hours from my family, working a full time, physically demanding job. It took me a little while to wrap my head around it. I took pictures of the test and looked at them because I was still in disbelief. A couple hours after taking the test, I called the baby's dad. We had still been in touch since we broke up, so it wasn't terribly weird talking to him. I basically told him to sit down where ever he was. I explained that I took two tests and that we were having a baby. He was in shock, as any man would be in his situation. He didn't talk for a little while. I was crying. I told him he didn't have to come back and that he didn't have to have anything to do with the baby if he didn't want to. I just wanted him to be able to make the decision. He decided he wanted to come back to help me out and be a part of his baby's life. He was back in Pennsylvania 2 weeks later. We decided at that point to work on our friendship because we wanted a healthy relationship (whether it be friendship or romantic) for the baby.

He came with me to my first real appointment at 8 weeks pregnant. The first thing I asked the nurse was "Do women as big as me often have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies?" She let out a little chuckle and said "I see women bigger than you every day that have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Don't even worry about that!" I knew then that I was at the right office with the right people. The doctor didn't mention it, she only suggested that I have an early glucose test because of my PCOS history. They tracked my weight like they would any other pregnant woman. They didn't treat me any differently. I ended up losing 10lbs in my first trimester due to my morning sickness. At 10 weeks, they found my baby's heartbeat and I cried. It sounded so perfect. I had my first ultrasound at 13 weeks and my baby looked perfect. I was worried that they would have a hard time seeing the baby because of my weight, but the ultrasound tech didn't seem to even notice.

Everything carried on as normal for a few months.  I wanted to have an all natural birth, but I also knew that things can happen so I decided not to get too used to the idea. The baby's dad and I re-developed feelings for each other and decided to make a go of a romantic relationship with the understanding that we need to make it work. If it ends, it ends for good. Either way, we needed to be mature and civil for the baby. We decided to move closer to my family for support and for childcare after the baby was born. I worked up until the day before we moved (I was 28 weeks), but wasn't able to get a job after we moved. The worst part was switching doctors.

I went to a women's clinic in town and was severely disappointed. The female doctor I saw was horrible. She looked right through me. She ignored my worries about my blood pressure. She did mention my weight and I simply said "I've only gained (this much) and that isn't a problem." After two appointments like this, I decided to find a doctor in my hometown that is an hour from where I live. I'm so glad I did. I went to a new practice that had an OBGYN and a midwife. They were both so wonderful. Never mentioned my weight, but did address my blood pressure. It was only slightly elevated, but they didn’t want to take any chances. I was put on Labetalol twice a day to manage my blood pressure starting at 34 weeks. I had no real side effects from the medication, but it didn’t completely control my blood pressure. At 38 weeks, my doctor decided that inducing me no later than 40 weeks was the best option. This was because of my blood pressure, my family’s history of pre-eclampsia, and also because baby was measuring weeks ahead on every ultrasound since 33 weeks. Luckily, I didn’t develop pre-eclampsia.

I kept trying to bring labor on naturally. Walking, bouncing on a yoga ball, walking up and down the steps, and increasing intercourse (the boyfriend loved that!). I had a few contractions off and on, but nothing significant. So, at 39 weeks and 4 days, I began the induction process. They decided on Prepidil because I was already 1cm dilated and 75% effaced.  The worst part was that I had to stay in bed for 90 minutes after they inserted the Prepidil. It causes spontaneous contractions that, at times, are very painful. I was able to get out of bed and into a jacuzzi after the first round of Prepidil and it was heaven. My contractions evened out and I was handling them well. Sadly, they stopped a couple hours later. I kept walking and trying to bring the contractions back on, but nothing. I did this all day long with very little progression. At about 10pm, they offered to break my water and try another round of Prepidil. I opted for sleep because we had been up since 3am.  They gave me a shot of pain killers to help me rest.

The next morning, they checked me and I was still the same. We did another round of Prepidil. Same thing, eventually my contractions stopped again. I got to 4cm and they broke my water (Strangest feeling ever!). They also gave me some Cytotec. Nothing happened. I made it to 5cm and they said that it was time to try Pitocin. The baby was tolerating everything really well, but there wasn’t much we could do besides the Pitocin. At this point I was exhausted. I had been through about 36 hours of medications, contractions that weren’t doing anything, and plenty of cervical checks. I had heard about the effects of Pitocin and how strong the contractions can be and I decided that it was time to get an epidural. The anesthesiologist wasn’t very nice and it took a few minutes to place the epidural, but it was worth it. I got some relief from the spontaneous contractions and was able to rest. It was also worth it because I couldn’t feel the very uncomfortable cervical checks anymore. They placed a monitor on the baby’s scalp to monitor the heartbeat, and also placed an intrauterine monitor to track my contractions. The pitocin ran the rest of the evening and into the next morning. They jacked it up to the highest setting. My contractions still would not regulate. At about 4am, the baby’s heart rate dropped just a little bit, then again an hour later. My midwife and OBGYN told me that, if I hadn’t progressed any, that it was time to start thinking about a c-section. They checked me at 6am and I was still at 5cm. The baby’s dad and I talked with the midwife and OBGYN and because I wasn’t progressing, plus the baby was starting to show signs of distress, it was time for a c-section. What was nice was that it wasn’t an emergency. Yet. Luckily, all the doctors and anesthesiologists had just come in for their shifts and no one was in the operating room yet, so I didn’t have to wait. Within minutes of getting the order, everyone was in my room, calmly preparing me for surgery. My epidural was working well enough that we could use it for the surgery. Within 30 minutes I was being wheeled away. The baby’s dad joined me in the operating room, of course. All dressed up in those scrubs. There was a second anesthesiologist that was helping with getting me prepped. I called him “the nice one” because he was very friendly and was wonderful at keeping my attention. While he helped wheel me into the OR, he looked at me and said “I think you’re the calmest c-section I’ve seen in a long time!” My reply was simply “I’ve been at this for 48 hours. I’m ready to meet my baby.” He was great. He talked to me the whole time and kept the baby’s dad from looking over the curtain. It felt like an eternity, but eventually he said to me “She’s on her way out! She was very far down into birth canal.”

There was a lot of tugging and pulling and then there she was. They held her up and she looked so mad! They rubbed her a little bit because she didn’t want to cry, but she did a few seconds later. I lost it. I just started crying. They cleaned her up enough that she could open her eyes and made sure she was breathing okay, and then they laid her on my chest. I was so excited to be able to have skin-to-skin contact like that. She laid there in my arms for about 10 minutes and then I began feeling nauseous so I had her dad take her. I watched while they weighed her and finished cleaning her up. The doctor gave me some nausea medication and I actually dozed off on my own. I heard a nurse ask if they had to sedate me and the doctor replied “No, she’s just dozing off on her own! After 48 hours, I’m sure she’s exhausted.” I had to ask for pain medication because my shoulders were killing me. They told me that sometimes gas gets trapped and it’s a pretty common side effect. After that, we were wheeled to my room. We weren’t allowed visitors for an hour. It was just me, my baby and the baby’s dad. Luckily, the pain medication worked well enough that my shoulders quit hurting before we got visitors.

My midwife came to check on me shortly after I got to my room. I was holding my baby and asked her what the red lump on the side of her  head was – if it was from one of the monitors or what. She smiled and said “No one told you? That’s where your baby was trying to come down into your birth canal. Her head was tilted. That’s why she couldn’t move any further down and that’s why you only dilated to 5cm. She was never coming naturally with her head tilted that way. She tried, though. She was pretty far in there!” So, in the end, there was nothing wrong with my body at all. It was simply that my baby girl got a little confused and tilted her head just enough that she simply couldn’t move any further into the birth canal.

My boyfriend had to take care of the baby most of that day because I didn’t get out of bed until later that evening. He was great. Changed all the diapers and would bring her to me any time she looked hungry as I was trying to breastfeed. My pain was being managed well, but I was still exhausted. I basically demanded that they get me out of bed that evening into the chair. They told me that most women don’t get out of bed until the next day, but I was determined.

The next day was pretty rough since my epidural had completely worn off and I could feel my incision. I got up and was walking around, the nurses and my doctor were all surprised I was up. The baby was doing great, latching on like a pro. I went home 5 days after I was admitted.

The first night the baby was home, she screamed and screamed. The hospital had arranged for a home health nurse to come see us because the baby had lost quite a bit of weight in the hospital. Well, she lost even more in the 18 hours that we were home. I had to start supplementing with formula. My milk never came in. I cried and cried, but still tried to breastfeed her in hopes that my milk would come in. Once she started formula, she was a happy camper. She started gaining weight and all was well. My milk never did come in and she’s fully a formula fed baby now.

Two days after we got home from the hospital, I had increased pain and tenderness in my incision site. I called my doctor. It was infected. I don’t want to go into the gory details, but I had some very painful doctors appointments and three rounds of antibiotics. I also had to have home health come in to take care of the wound once a week while my boyfriend took care of it every day. This went on for a month.  I couldn’t see it, thank goodness! I didn’t look at the scar until it was completely healed. It’s nothing. You can barely tell anything is there. My boyfriend was amazing with the whole thing. He diligently took care of my wound, helping me heal physically and emotionally.  He’s also been a great dad. He loves his baby girl and I can see it in his eyes.

Through all of this - every painful and scary minute, having a baby was worth it. I’d go through it all again in a heartbeat. Anna Sophia is beautiful, healthy, and happy.

Guest Post written by Elise Shute, 27 year old momma to Anna, who is named after Elise's grandmother. Elise resides in Pennsylvania, is a pet mommy to a dog and two cats, and enjoys crocheting when she's not playing with Anna