Dave, Liz, Olivia and Davis live on a farmette in Weyers Cave with horses, chickens, dogs and a bunny. We love to garden and spend time outdoors. Dave is an electrician and Liz is an insurance adjuster. We love living life in the Shenandoah Valley.
I feel like a warrior princess.
My first child, Olivia, was born in April, 2007 at the local hospital. I labored at home for a bit, but as soon as I started throwing up I went into the hospital. In hindsight, I was still in early labor, but as a first time mom was not aware of that. I had a long labor full of fear and intense pain. I had no idea what Pitocin was, but they kept administering it. I had not educated myself beyond reading Jenny McCarthy’s “Belly Laughs” and a class at the hospital, which made me feel awkward and uncomfortable. I did not understand what was going on with my body during labor; but when I heard another woman down the hall screaming, I decided I no longer wanted to do this, as if I had a choice at that point.
I did know I did not want an epidural. I had Googled it and learned it could have negative effects on the baby. So I was sure that I would not get one of “those.” But after 34 hours of hard Pitocin enhanced contractions, the doctor strongly encouraged the epidural. I conceded and instantly fell asleep. After two hours of sleep, the nurse woke me because I was groaning in my sleep and they discovered I was ready to deliver. I only had to push for around 20 minutes and a happy, healthy, bright pink and beautiful girl was born. Although I was able to have a vaginal birth; I was traumatized by the whole experience and decided I would never have another child. My hospital experience left me with fear, anxiety, stress and depression. I felt out of control, confused and untrusting. Although I understood I had a healthy pregnancy and birth; I did not feel that way. And since I had PCOS; that decision was made even easier through years of infertility. So I continued through life, happily, with one child. My motto was “One and done!”
Nine years later, we discovered our daughter had been praying for a sibling earnestly; without our knowledge. She was blessed with an answer to her prayers when we announced that, unbelievably, I was pregnant. While Olivia was ecstatic, I was filled with dread and fear. Then, I realized I could take charge of this pregnancy and birth. I decided to read anything and everything I could about natural birth. My grandmother had delivered 10 children, most of them at home. She had never told me it was a traumatic horrible experience. She had since passed away and I could not ask her all the questions I had; so I was left to talk to lots of other women and reading.
A friend of mine had delivered at Brookhaven a few years prior and I remember being jealous of her glow and happiness postpartum, so I made an appointment to meet with the midwives. I instantly felt at ease with them and loved the long talks and straight answers over the course of the pregnancy. I utilized the library at Brookhaven and read many books, one of my favorites was “Birth Reborn” by Micahel Odent, and of course, “Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin was another favorite. I researched every step along the way and made informed decisions about ultrasounds, DNA testing, UTI’s, gestational diabetes and other suggested pregnancy tests. I truly appreciated the information given by the midwives, with the complete freedom to make my own informed choices about my body and my baby.
I was active during my pregnancy. I lost a lot of weight, as my PCOS became inactive during pregnancy. I felt really good, after the first trimester, and took hot yoga and cardio yoga classes regularly. I ate well and took whole food, plant based vitamins. I told myself I was preparing my body for “battle.” I worked with a therapist to confront my fears from the prior labor and as I neared the end of the pregnancy, I felt a calmness come over me. I knew I had prepared myself and that I was in good hands this time around.
On Mother’s day, May 8, 2016, I felt something was different. I was 38 weeks along and the baby felt like he (DNA testing had revealed I was pregnant with a healthy boy) had dropped a few days prior. By Monday morning I was having regular contractions. I continued going through the day in a surprisingly normal fashion, just taking “breaks” when the contractions came. That afternoon I stopped by Brookhaven and Maya checked me and I was already at 3 centimeters. I was so excited to be that far along. I went home with instructions to eat and rest. I called my mom, who lives in West Virginia, and she decided to make the Labor aide Recipe, and head up to my house in preparation for the arrival of the baby. I went to bed at 9:30 p.m. that night and actually slept for three hours, with contractions still continuing. They were more intense; but I did not resist them and was able to rest through them. At 12:30 a.m. I awoke and thought I had peed myself, but then realized my water had just broke. The contractions stopped for a bit after the water broke, so I began doing yoga poses to try to keep the momentum going. I was not excited at the thought of spending any extended amount of time without all my amniotic fluid as a cushion. By 2:00 a.m. the contractions were very intense. I could not talk through them and I felt myself going inward. We contacted the midwife and headed to Brookhaven. By our arrival around 2:30 a.m. the contractions were coming hard and fast. I remember getting into whatever position came into my mind. I felt like I changed positions every couple contractions. Time became a blur as I was most definitely in active labor at this point.
We chose the Willow Room and began to fill the tub. The warm water was a welcome relief. I remembered that I had to relax and to keep my mouth loose. I liked the dim lights and quiet respectfulness of the midwives and assistants. I moaned and hummed and maybe even roared a time or two as the contractions became more and more intense. I felt at one point that I could not go further, but I had no other option and mentally settled into the realization that I had to find it within myself to keep going. Transition came and I quickly realized I was at the grand finale of the process. I felt the baby crown and then recede back inside. I laid back in the water and let the contractions bring our sweet boy into the arms of his father. Time seemed to disappear, the earth appeared to shake and convulse and then; just like that, it was all over. Instantly, the pain was gone and as my eyes came back into focus and I became aware of the room around me, a beautiful, squiggly, bright pink, little boy was being laid on my chest. I could not believe I had reclaimed my womanhood. Fear of delivery no longer had power over me. I had conquered my biggest hurdle in life and had the best reward to show for it. We were home a few hours later and I felt great. I was so happy to be in the comfort of my home getting to know this new little boy, undisturbed.
I am even more proud that my 9 year old daughter was able to witness such a beautiful and powerful delivery. I can only imagine the strength it will bring her when it is finally her time to bring new life into this world.
The midwives and assistants are rockstars! And I still feel like a warrior princess!!