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In honor of my baby boy’s first birthday, I have finally posted his birth story! And what an amazing story it is! Today, I am able to look back on both of my sons’ births and feel so empowered. I’m so thankful to God and my birth team to have been given the knowledge and power to set in motion something I wanted so badly for myself and for my babies. 

After the birth of my first son, Rylan, I was traumatized. Part of me hates saying that because truthfully, it was a great birth. He was happy and healthy and I was able to have the natural delivery I worked hard for. But because it didn’t go “as planned” (what births do?!), I was traumatized by the fact that birth was bigger than me. Although I did end up delivering him naturally, without an epidural, it was more painful than I ever could have imagined and the whole time I felt like my body was “fighting” delivery.  You can read more about that birth here, but all that to say, is that I was not ready to have another child any time soon, if ever.k

Fast forward a few years later, and the idea of another child didn’t seem so bad. I had no idea how I’d get through labor and delivery, but I decided I’d cross that bridge when I got to it. However, God had other plans. We ended up having two miscarriages before finally getting pregnant the fourth time, which finally stuck.🙂

Soren, ~20 weeks gestation

It was a long journey. The miscarriages took a toll on me emotionally and then made for a long and stressful 41 weeks. Every day I thanked God for the opportunity to be pregnant and prayed to carry this child for one more day. (I get teary-eyed recalling those feelings!) I had to reframe my thinking and really take it one day at a time in order to stay sane.In the end, God was in control, all I could do was to concentrate on the things I did have control over, which was taking care of myself.

“Sweet baby, we are so ready for you. It is safe here and we can’t wait to meet you. We will wait until you are ready but we are all so excited to meet you!”

I listened to my birth affirmations and tried to relax. I told my husband I was going into the office tomorrow. He asked me not to, and I compromised by telling him I’d see how I felt in the morning. 

I woke up the next morning probably sometime around 3-4 am. I didn’t look at the clock because it didn’t really matter. I was tired of looking at the clock every. single. time. I woke up to pee just to find out how little sleep I was already getting. I was surprised this morning, however, at how much my lower abdomen hurt. I chocked it up to being almost 41 weeks pregnant (everything hurt anyways) and went back to bed, only to have the strangest dream.

I was on the moon, surrounded by some fellow Trainer friends of mine. I was grimacing, and they asked if I was in labor. “Maybe” I said, through clenched teeth. I was fearful they were going to be upset with me for being in labor, and having to find a way to get me back to Earth. What an inconvenience I was being! They asked if I would like to go back to Earth to be with my birth team and I said “yes!” and they put me in a rocket to head back to Earth… then I woke up.

It was 5:20am. It felt like the baby was pushing (spoiler alert!) his butt against the front of my belly, which was a new sensation considering I had an anterior placenta this time and most movements were muffled.I was wide awake and wondering if this could be the start of something. I wasn’t sure if it was a contraction or not, so I decided to hop in the bath. One of the ways to tell if you’re having “real” contractions or not is to change what you’re doing – take a bath, take a walk, rest, relax, eat, etc.  So I hopped in the tub and, googled “what does a contraction feel like” because I felt so different than I did with Rylan’s labor. 

I texted my doula, Stacy, at 5:30am to let her know what was going on.

“Pretty sure I’m having real contractions 😉. I’ll keep you posted. I haven’t woken Juan up yet. Going to try to keep resting.”

I turned on my birth affirmations and tried to get my game face on. Holy. Shit. 45 minutes later at 6:15am I texted her back.

“Yep they’re real!!! I’m wide awake haha.”

She advised me to keep resting. At 5:50am I texted my midwife, Amy, and prayed she was available for this birth (the birth center we used had four different midwives available).

“Maybe today’s the day?! Having contractions. I’ll keep you posted!”

I tried hard to relax in the tub, but I couldn’t rest – my baby was on the way!!!I got out of the bath and went upstairs to wake up the boys. Juan was sleeping in Rylan’s bed that night so I woke them both up.

“Rylan, do you want to wake up in the dark today?!” (His current favorite thing). “I think we are going to have a baby today!” He shoots out of bed… “Yes Mommy!!”

I went downstairs and started cleaning the house, making Rylan’s lunch and making breakfast. I wasn’t sure how much time I would have and I just needed to get a few more things done. It could be imminent and in that case I should hurry—or—maybe this would continue all day and I might as well get some stuff done in the meantime? Well, it was a nice plan, but I couldn’t continue for very long. About 45 minutes later and the contractions were really picking up – and I realized I might want to relax. Where did I leave my “labor game face”? Oh yeah, I couldn’t put it back on until I knew Rylan was taken care of. That’s a “multip” for you! Stacy’s recommendation was to “inhale peace and joy, exhale expectations.”

“Really, take a good bit to enjoy the transitions o a family of 4. Spend an extra few min with Rylan. This birth will happen in the proper space and time. Love on your boys. Take a hot bath and talk to your baby. Tell your baby what you want for this experience. Hold the space. Find the calm. Step into labor with joy.”


It was a beautiful message! Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to really read and take action on it because the contractions were starting to take my breath away. I had “technically” started labor less than 2 hours ago and I already had to sit down, close my eyes and just breathe during them.

Rylan breathing with me through the contractions

At this point, I hadn’t said a word to the family about what I needed during the contractions because I hadn’t needed to. I just quietly sat down on the couch, closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. Without a word, Rylan came and sat next to me. He took my hand in his and started breathing with me through the contractions. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced and probably my favorite part of the labor/delivery experience. It filled me with a love I can’t explain and a freedom and permission from him to go ahead and birth this baby. Without saying a word, he said so much to me. I felt his support, which was so important to me, and he made me feel loved, strong and empowered for the birth ahead. (Words straight from my birth affirmations – turns out those really do work if practiced!) I hope that Rylan forever knows how much he did for me in that moment.

It was 8:07am. I was supposed to have a chiropractor appointment at 9:15am, but did not want to go. I told Juan and Stacy that I was starting to feel a little nauseous. The contractions were intense, but currently only 30 seconds long.The time in between varied depending on what I was doing. Every time I moved, it would trigger one, but if I stayed still, I could catch a break. Stacy encouraged me to make the chiro appointment happen – not exactly what I wanted to hear. They were painful, and I used that word. She helped me reframe my thoughts —

“They’re a different “P” word – Productive.”

*Ding* Lightbulb moment! She did such a great job during both labors and all my pregnancies with positively reframing my thoughts. I had such a difficult birth with Rylan, and I really feel like my mind and body fought the labor and delivery. With Rylan, it wasn’t until I shifted my thoughts and words from “my back hurts” to “it’s just my baby” that I was able to make progress and be in the game.

At 8:11am I texted Amy again.

“Ok…we are gonna have a baby today!!! Are you available?!”


I was beyond relieved when she told me she was! Meanwhile, Juan was getting Rylan ready for school. At some point, very quickly, I shifted from being in a happy place to needing absolute silence and stillness during contractions (it got real pretty fast). I would give the boys a 3 second countdown and then they literally had to stop talking and stop moving. It was like everyone was frozen in time in 30 second intervals.The stress level in our house was increasing. Juan was yelling at Rylan to find his shoes, get his things, etc. and it was freaking me out. I told everyone I need everyone on their best, happiest behavior. Juan asked if I wanted to come with him to take Rylan to school, and then we could just head to the chiropractor. And to any normal, reasonable person, this is a great idea. However, I was in full-blown labor, and it was the worst idea I had ever heard. I gave him a look like he was out of his ever-loving mind.

“Uhhhh NO. I want to you take Rylan to school right now, and hurry up and come get me.”

I waited on the stairs, tucked into a tiny pregnant ball, right by our garage door for Juan to get home. I was not having fun. We got in the car and headed to the chiropractor. But past that, I wasn’t sure what to do. I asked Stacy if I should labor at home or at ABC (Allen Birthing Center), where we were going to have the baby. The contractions were “super frequently” according to my text message – apparently correct grammar had gone out the window already – and very intense, but not quite a minute long. 

I walked into the chiropractor’s office a few minutes late and a little hunched over. The girls were all standing at the front desk.

“We were wondering if you were going to show up today, we thought you might be in labor?!”

“I’m in labor” I replied under my breath. I think everyone smiled and did a little “hooray/OMG”, I’m not really sure. Things got fuzzy from here. I walked back to Dr. Dasha’s office, waited for a contraction to pass, then hopped on the table. She barely got a partial adjustment in before I needed a break for another contraction. It was the fastest adjustment of my life, but it took me about 15 minutes to walk from her office back to the car – and it wasn’t far. I had to stop for a contraction while walking, then I needed to pee – so I stopped in the bathroom. Had a couple contractions while in the bathroom – one of which was spent on my knees with my head on the sink, before I made it out. 

The ladies at the desk asked my husband…

“You’re taking her straight to the birth center, right?”

“Oh yeah” Juan said, indefinitely. I remember being kinda mad – I didn’t want to spend all day at the birth center! I thought we would go home, watch some re-runs and just chill for a bit before heading there. But I was in no position to argue. 

Juan grabbed my phone to respond to Stacy, who had asked if she should meet us at home.

“This is Juan,” he said, “We are headed to ABC. Leaving the chiro now. They are about 1 min duration and frequent like every 3-5 min. No real pattern but duration has increased over the past hour. Getting more painful too.”

While in the car, I jumped back on my phone to attempt to talk to her myself.

“It’s me. Hi.. omg…”

That’s about all I could muster, as if I was actually speaking. Thankfully, Stacy was halfway to the birth center already. We exchanged “love yous” and that was the last text messages we sent. I beared down for the remainder of the 20 minute drive to the birth center. Every. single. bump initiated a contraction. Sometimes they were back to back, with only 10 seconds in-between. Other times I got a 30 second break. It was rough, and with every approaching contracting all I could think was —

Oh please, not another one!

Finally at the birth center, I walked in and saw one of the sweetest ladies on Earth, Josephine, at the front desk. All I could think was “does she know I’m in labor?” In hindsight…duh… of course she knew! It was strange to be there, in labor, during the middle of the day when there were people going about their normal day. I slouched my very pregnant body onto the couch, quite uncomfortably, to wait for the next set of instructions. Juan asked if I wanted to move but I couldn’t. I couldn’t sit, stand, lay, nothing. Everything just really sucked, honestly! There was another girl in the waiting room, very close to her due date. “I have to admit, I kind of envy you right now” she said. I told her…

“I get it, and I was you yesterday—but today, I’m not so sure I want to be me!”

We chuckled before the next contraction hit. I loved how respectful she was that during my contractions, she would stop talking. No one wants to have a conversation during a contraction. Well, maybe some women do, but not me! I’m a redhead – I have a low pain tolerance – so this was TOUGH. There was another midwife there asking me questions during the contraction—I couldn’t help but wonder if she had lost her mind. Clearly, she’s not a redhead. 🙂

Amy was finishing up with a patient and was going to meet me upstairs, in one of the birthing rooms. In the meantime, the other midwife had me come back to be checked.

“PLEASE don’t be a 1!”

As in – do not tell me I am only dilated to a “1” and therefore nowhere near delivery time. Flashback to Rylan’s birth, I had been in labor for about 9 hours when I got to the hospital, they checked me, and I was a 1.5! We expected me to be much further along so the news of a 1.5 cm dilation was devastating to me. She got me up on the table and I tried to lay back. “Ouuuuuchhhhh!” I groaned as they tried to lay me back on the table. It hurt so much, that I tried to stop them and sit back up. “You just need to lay back for a minute then you can come back up” they said. OMG… changing positions in labor is PAINFUL! She checked me quickly… “please don’t be a 1, please don’t be a 1…”

“How about a 5?”

… she said. Yessss!!!!! I was elated. This is happening. TODAY! No more being pregnant. No more stressing every day about whether my baby was healthy. This was all going to end TODAY! 

I started my way up the stairs with Juan’s help. We stopped at the bottom of the staircase to have a contraction. I rested my head on the railing and I felt a hand on the small (not so small, haha) of my back. “Guess who’s here” Juan said!

“Stacy!!!! We’re gonna have a baby today!!!”


I was so excited!

Before shit got REAL!

We finally got upstairs and I had a seat on the birth ball. I was still smiling and laughing outside of the contractions. But all that was about to change.I stood up to take off my hooded sweatshirt and my whole world shifted. It was like the baby decided he was ready, at that very moment. 

My memory gets a little hazy from here. The pain was majorly intensified and I was a very unhappy camper. We went into the bathroom to get me changed into one of those super sexy Depends so that I could move around freely without, well, making a mess. I sat on the toilet for a while but that hurt too much, so instead I sat on the squatty potty in front of the toilet. I was feeling pretty nauseous now, so that was a good place to be. Stacy dropped some peppermint essential oil into the water of the toilet, and the nausea subsided for a bit. We contemplated hopping in the shower, but that seemed like too much work. We chilled in the bathroom for a while before that peppermint oil wore off and there was no more putting off the vomiting. Ugh. I HATE throwing up. However, I knew it was inevitable and I knew once I could get through it, it would be finished. It’s also a great milestone because it typically signifies transition, which is hands-down the HARDEST part of labor, mentally, physically and emotionally. Three upchucks later, I was done and ready to move on. 

Being one of the coldest Decembers ever in Texas, the room upstairs was still pretty chilly. Combine that with hormones flying all over the place, and I started to get the shakes. The warm birth tub sounded like a great idea, so I hopped in there. Unfortunately, I was wrong. 

The pain and pressure was so much more intense in the tub. This same thing happened with Rylan as well, but I wanted to believe it would be different this time. Something about sitting on my bum and the um… area… where a baby was supposed to come out of, seemed wrong. I wanted to reposition myself but I couldn’t. Every time I moved, the pain was so unbearable, I just couldn’t. I started shaking my head sideways and saying “no, no no”. I did NOT want to do this anymore. What the hell were we thinking? Why did we want another child? Why did we want a natural birth? Who does this? We are crazy! Juan was holding me from behind, Stacy was next to me and Amy was in front of me.

“You need to start shaking your head “yes yes yes””

Stacy said. Ugh. I knew she was right. I have never shook my head “yes” and so vehemently meant “no” before in my life! But I agreed.

“Why are you saying “no”?” Amy asked, “what are you feeling right now?”

I told her it was because I just felt SO MUCH PRESSURE. She asked if I could try applying a little counter-pressure to that pressure and see what it feels like. I told her “no.” Apparently she also told me I was in transition awhile ago, and I also told her I was not. I guess I’m argumentative while in labor, haha. She asked why I didn’t want to apply counter pressure, and I told her it was because it just hurt so much. After continued debate, I finally conceded and applied a little counter-pressure. “How did that feel?” Amy asked. 

“Well, it felt better when I applied the counter-pressure, but it hurt SO much worse after I let go!” 

She smiled. Why was she smiling?! I didn’t understand what was going on. Amy and Stacy were smiling, maybe even giggling a little and I wanted to die. These people are crazy! They are perfectly calm and acting like this is normal! I made it clear to my birth team that I wasn’t going to do this again. I wasn’t going to have Rylan’s birth, where I tell them for hours and hours how much this hurts and I don’t get any relief.

“I need something to take the edge off. You guys have to do something” I kept saying. “I want Nubane (painkiller) and a nap.” 

Amy calmly said that if I wanted Nubane and a nap I would have to get out of the tub, and she would have to check me first to see how far dilated I was.

She said “I think you’re a little past Nubane sweetie.” 

Oh the pressure! But look at my rock star husband 🙂

I wanted to get out of the tub, but didn’t want to move. I felt so defeated. Why could we not just teleport my body somewhere else! My thoughts started to wander, and I started to lose control a little bit. I contemplated asking them to transfer me to the hospital, but then I knew my pain would not be any different regardless of my location on Earth. I did NOT want an epidural, and if I went to the hospital, I was facing interventions that we were trying to avoid. I was proud of myself for being able to talk myself out of that option and come back to the present moment. I also felt like I HAD to remain in the present moment, and I HAD to remain in control. I wanted to lose it. I wanted to cry and scream and just lose it, but every time I started to let go of my patience and control, the pain escalated. It was so important for me to stay calm.

“What time is it?” 

It was 11:30am. I was so upset by this answer, but I can’t really tell you why. We got there about 10am and so it was shocking to me that we had only been there for 90 minutes. In my mind, we were going to have to be here all day in order to have a baby (Rylan’s birth was 22 hours in total), so in my head, this was just the beginning of a marathon day. 

Finally, I was able to get out of the tub. It took a few contractions, but I got out. I wanted to get to the bed, but I couldn’t make it that far. (Note, it was about five feet away, haha.) I sat on the birth ball, that’s as far as I could go. I was complaining about a backache and wanted to try the tens machine. (I had back labor with Rylan and it was MURDEROUS, I did not want to go through that again). They hooked me up to the machine and it was on a little too high because it shocked me.

I jumped and yelped. “Sorry!” they said and smiled. I’m sure it was funny, but I wasn’t laughing. We tried different strengths of the tens unit but for some reason, it sent intense shooting pains down the sides of my body, through my hips, after each contraction. Tens units are better used at the beginning of labor it turns out, and I was way too far in for it to be beneficial. Since that whole thing sucked, I decided to get on the bed. I jumped onto all fours. Okay, no, that’s a lie. I did not “jump” in any sense of the word. I carefully put one leg on the bed, had a contraction, then put another leg on, etc. etc. There was no “jumping” of any kind happening. Once on the bed, I buried my face in the pillow. I just wanted this to end. This sucked. I didn’t want to do this anymore. I did not want to be pregnant for one more second. I tried to cry, it didn’t work. I just wanted to cry and cry and cry.

Amy asked me… 

“Do you want to try to push a little?” 

“No” I said, without any hesitation. “Um, why not?” She asked again… as if I was here to hang out at the birth center, and not to have a baby. “I don’t want to push because I don’t want to push for hours.” Apparently I was much closer to having a baby than I realized. She said, 

“I think if you start pushing we can have a baby really soon.” 

But “really soon” wasn’t descriptive enough for me. I needed to know exactly how long I would have to push for. Should I start pushing hard? Or just maybe a little? Oh what to do!

Amy checked me… 

“You’re a 9!” 

Oh. My. God. I’m a 9!!!!! Does this mean I’m not going to have time for my nap?! Ugh! I was actually a little disappointed that I was a 9, because there was no nap happening (and no Nubane either!).The only way I was going to get a nap, or a rest, or a break from these freaking contractions was to push this baby out. 

Here… we… go…!

I finally decided to push a little so I could stop being pregnant. I pushed with all my might and then, the STRANGEST thing happened. My body starting pushing too.It was insane! I would push, then my body would overtake me, and push even harder than I ever could. It’s called the Ferguson Reflex and it was super cool! I pushed a couple times, and making sounds I can only describe as “scream-grunting”. I was so embarrassed, I kept thinking about the poor pregnant people downstairs in the waiting rooms and how they were probably terrified of the sounds I was making. Turns out, after talking with Stacy and Amy, those women were elated for me, because what they heard, were beautiful sounds of a baby being born. Now being on the other side of delivery, I totally get that. Man, how crazy is perspective?! 

I pushed a couple times and Amy would say “great job” but there were no measurable words coming out. Nothing that said “he’s approximately 65% out, and if you push 2.5 more times, he will be here.” I needed something more descriptive, but couldn’t ask for it in the middle of my scream-grunting, nor would she probably have been able to give me what I was asking for. My waters were still in tact up until this point, and with another push, I felt the bag of waters pop. It was kinda cool, actually. It was especially awesome that the waters hadn’t broke until now because I was GBS positive with this pregnancy, and had declined the antibiotics unless the birth team deemed necessary. Since the waters broke less than 30 seconds before he fully arrived, I was able to avoid the antibiotics, hooray! 

I still had my head buried in the pillow and was praying,

“Please God let this be over, please just let this be over.” 

At this point, I could feel his head coming out. They instructed me to slow down, and just apply counter pressure to keep from tearing. I did as they instructed, and then pushed again when we were out of the clear. I could feel his shoulders come out (or so I think…). One more time, and I felt the whole rest of his slimy little body pop out. Head still buried in pillow, my words turned to 

“Oh my God please cry, please cry, please cry.”

Praise the Lord, he’s here!!!

Amy and Stacy were reassuring me that he was fine, he just wasn’t crying yet. In fact, they said “he/she/he/she is fine” as to not let me know the gender. so I could see for myself. I thought that was really special. A few seconds later and I heard it. The most wonderful, beautiful sound in the whole entire world. My sweet, sweet double rainbow baby, was crying! I think it was about 4-5 pushes in total and he was out. 

I was still on all fours on the bed, and Amy said, 

“Stay there, I’m going to pass the baby to you like a football.” 

All I could think was… “like a football? he’s so slimy!!!” She carefully passed him through my legs and I grabbed him from under my body. I picked him up, raised him up towards my face so I could see his face and check out his… manhood! 

“Oh my God you’re a BOY!” 

I screamed! We were a little shocked, because only one person guessed it would be a boy, everyone else on Earth guessed girl, so we assumed it was a girl as well.

I turned over and laid back on the bed. 

Finally!!! It’s over and he’s here! And he’s HEALTHY AND BEAUTIFUL!!! 

41 weeks, 6 days, my double rainbow baby

It was amazing. I was still in shock that he was here and it was only 1:26pm. Wow, that was FAST and intense! I layed there while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing, which is best for baby. In the meantime, and during his time laying with me post-birth, he popped on me FOUR times. It was the most poop Amy, Stacy or Krisha (nurse) had ever seen. If that’s TMI – you should have stopped reading a LONG time ago! 

We spent as long as we could at the birth center (about 5 hours) before we headed home. It was so nice after the birth. Everyone just hung out, talked, and laughed. Stacy ran and got us Chipotle, we called the dentist to figure out what to do about his tongue and lip ties, and got breastfeeding established. I was at home, on our couch, by 7:30pm that night, just 6 hours after Soren’s birth.Juan asked me on the way home which birth I would rather have, Rylan’s or Soren’s and I told him I couldn’t pick, because they were both sooo hard! in hindsight, Soren’s was probably “better” because it was faster, and less back labor, but it was so much more intense than I anticipated. Regardless, I’m done having babies. 🙂 

It actually didn’t take too long after the birth (maybe a couple weeks) before I looked back at Soren’s birth with such pride. I am SO grateful to God that He gave us a healthy baby and a labor and delivery I can feel empowered by. God guides moving ships – and that I was! Birth is definitely still bigger than me, but I learned so much in my time before this birth. I did as much as I could to prepare myself mentally and physically and to let go and accept the way the events were going to unfold. It is so difficult to really and truly do that, and I feel so awesome about what I was able to accomplish with the help of SO many people. It was truly a team of people that helped empower me of the years that made this birth possible, and I am so thankful to them! 

Soren Arturo Villamizar was born Wednesday, December 27th at 1:26pm at Allen Birthing Center. He weighed 7lbs, 7oz, had a head full of beautiful dark brown hair and pooped on me four times. 🙂

As I sit down to write this, my sweet baby boy is 5 days old (posting at 3 weeks). It has taken me this long to be able to process and come to terms with everything that happened during the last few days of my pregnancy, labor and delivery and the first few days postpartum. Now that I have, I want to share that journey with you, in hopes that I can help other Mommas and Mommas-to-be.

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, I was dead-set on having an epidural during labor. After a tailbone injury many years ago and a spine doctor telling me it was going to break again during labor, I hadn’t really given it a second thought. That and labor terrified me, so if I had the choice of whether or not I could experience it with less pain, I was going to opt for less pain. Or so I thought.

The Bradley Method

My LWBF partner in crime, Holly Alexander, had highly recommended my husband and I take the Bradley Method childbirth classes. Bradley Method classes are also known as Husband-Coached Childbirth classes and focus on natural childbirth. I spent a few months debating on whether or not to take the classes, because I knew that if I did, I would end up wanting to go natural. After much discussion—and a conversation with the instructor where I explained that me taking these classes was in no way me committing to actually going sans epidural in the end—we ended up deciding to go forward with them. I knew that they would teach us what I would experience during labor and delivery, and being so health-conscious and Type A, it was important to me that I know what was happening to my body in order to best handle the situation.

We went to our first class, and it was awful. I cried the entire way home. It was overwhelming and uncomfortable. The lady’s house smelled like cat pee. I couldn’t breathe. When the instructor asked the class (approximately 8 couples) who was going to go natural, every woman raised their hand. Except for me. I talked to a coworker whose wife was a Bradley Instructor for years. He strongly encouraged me to find a different instructor, one that would be a better fit for me. Now in panic mode because most classes were full, I called an instructor closer to our home and during a time slot that was a better fit for us too. She had one opening.

We went to our first class and it was a completely different experience. It was fantastic. The instructor was personable, down to earth, and also happened to be a Group X instructor, so we immediately had things in common. The other couples in the class were warm and welcoming. This was a much better fit.

The Process

When we discovered I had a bun in the oven, I was actually without an OB-GYN. I had fired my last one because he rudely told me that I probably wouldn’t be able to conceive without medical intervention. You can read that story here. So I called friends, got recommendations and interviewed SEVERAL doctors trying to find the right one. I ended up switching care providers twice before finally deciding on who would deliver our baby. Or so I thought. (Are you seeing the pattern here?)

In the Bradley Method classes, many topics are covered, some of which discuss the chain of events (also referred to as the domino effect) that tend to occur when delivering at a hospital. There are so many rules, regulations, hand-tying and other things that happen in hospitals that make having a natural childbirth there nearly impossible. Typically, once you get to the hospital, you’re on the clock. Not progressing fast enough or Doctors are ready for shift change? You get pitocin. Got pitocin? Well, in a hospital they don’t start you on a slow drip, they’ll crank your dosage up to get you contracting and get that baby out. Good luck enduring that sans epidural. So now you have an epidural. But wait, they’ll need to insert a catheter first. un-anesthetized. Baby is posterior? You get a c-section. Oh did you want a say in this? Sorry about your luck.

All this sounded awful to me, and I wanted no part of it. The problem is, if you ask your care provider if they are “okay” with you going natural, they will probably tell you that they are. What happens in the delivery room, however, is another story. I was so appalled by the lip service I got when talking to care providers. It wasn’t until I dove much deeper that I found out that the likelihood of my care provider being on board with me going natural was slim to none. So it was time to switch care providers AGAIN. I was now 7 months pregnant and again, in panic mode. Fortunately, my doula (a doula is a birth coach, also our Bradley instructor), pointed me in the direction of a midwife. Midwives believe that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes and they seek to eliminate or minimize unnecessary interventions. Well, shoot, this is right up my alley!

The Birth Plan

My husband and I met with the recommended midwife and she was fabulous. We were perfectly happy with her and felt confident in our decision. She also had two doctors who backed her up, should anything “go wrong” and she had privileges to deliver at a natural-friendly hospital, which we wanted. Despite the risks we were taking delivering at a hospital (domino effect of medical interventions), this was our first birth, and we didn’t feel comfortable at a birthing center, which is where most midwives deliver. The hospital we selected was unlike others in that they are very “natural-friendly”, so we felt confident that our birth plan would be followed barring any medical emergencies.

During one Bradley class, we all created a generalized birth plan. We had little yellow strips of laminated paper that each had a short phrase on it. Things like “the use of pitocin”, “use of forceps/vacuum” and “access to water” were all things that were discussed, and we ranked them in order from most to least important. Our class’ birth plan looked something like this.  It was strange discussing the order of things like the use of pitocin because I knew I REALLY didn’t want that, I just assumed I wouldn’t have to cross that bridge. My husband and I then went home and wrote up our own birth plan that we would share with our midwife and the nurse staff at the hospital. It looked something like this:

Melissa Villamizar Birth Plan

Thank you so much for your help with the birth of our first child! We are extremely grateful! Please direct all questions to my husband, Juan, so that I can focus solely on my labor.

Before/During Birth:
• Water Birth—Would like access to the tub.

• No intervention—Would like a drug-free birth, please do not offer me pain medication. I would like to progress naturally, without the use of pitocin.

• No mention of visitors—Visitors will be welcome a few hours after birth so that we may bond with our new child.

• No separation—At least Juan or Melissa with baby at all times.

• Delay cord clamping

• Dark/dimly lit and quiet room—Please refrain from conversation.

• Bath—Use patient’s bath products on baby, be cautious of eyes, product is NOT tear-free.

• Save Placenta—We will be having a funeral home pick up our placenta, as we would like to encapsulate it.

After Birth:
• Minimal interruption—from nurse staff and visitors. Only enter room when Melissa is awake.

For Baby:
• No Vitamin K, No Hep B, No Circumcision

Thank you all so very much! 🙂

 

Ready For Baby

We had everything ready to go by about 37/38 weeks. The birth plan was complete, bags were packed, we had been practicing our relaxation techniques as much as possible, etc. I was ready for the baby…sort of. A baby’s normal gestation period is anywhere from 37-42 weeks. I hadn’t really thought about carrying to 42 weeks, I figured our perfect little angel would come at or around his due date. Our midwife estimated that would be the case, so we had no reason to think otherwise. I was quite disappointed when my estimated due date, August 27th, came and went. But hey, that’s okay—first time moms tend to carry until 41 weeks. Especially those with boys. Then 41 weeks come and went. Once again, I’m entering panic mode.

My midwife would only let me carry until 42 weeks. At this point, I was scheduled for an induction at 5am on September 10th. An induction. With the use of PITOCIN. I had devoted so much time and energy to these Bradley Classes and to preparing myself mentally and physically for a natural labor. To think that I might be robbed of the opportunity to experience spontaneous labor and a natural childbirth was making me sick to my stomach. I had a healthy pregnancy. I have a healthy baby. What is wrong with my body? I had a meltdown on Saturday afternoon. This wasn’t fair. Why is this happening to me? I cried to my husband and told him that at this point I couldn’t remain positive that our son would come prior to the induction date. Mentally, I needed to start shifting my mindset and preparing myself for the induction. I needed to be okay with the way my baby was going to enter this world, and this shift in thinking was going to take a lot of work.

Where is This Baby?

I tried everything possible to induce labor. On Saturday afternoon I saw a massage therapist for a CST massage (cranial sacral therapy). She was totally awesome and a little strange, making it even better. She had seen me for all of 20 seconds before asking me if I had ever had an injury to my sacrum. Crap. She did some feeling around, some energy work, etc. and spoke to the baby a bit. She said the baby is having trouble engaging because my tailbone was in the way. As weird as all of it was, I believed every word. I tried not to stress. She moved my tailbone with firm pressure, and I could feel the baby snuggle down lower and begin to engage, which was pretty cool. It was a great session but unfortunately, by Sunday, my tailbone had shifted back to it’s incorrect position and the baby was once again posterior. Ugh. Sunday I went for my second round of acupuncture, which went well. The acupuncturist told me it was a great session, that my body was much more open and receptive to the treatment. He felt the baby was ready and that I was right around the corner. However, I didn’t get too excited, as I had been hearing this for weeks now.

I took a bath that night, the first bath the entire pregnancy. I lit some candles and I prayed. I knew that God had a plan for me and for the baby’s arrival, I just didn’t know what it was. I told him that whatever the plan was, I was okay with it, and I trusted that he would bring the baby here safely. I went to bed in tears, clutching one of my old stuffed animals and one of the baby’s onesies.

Is This It?

After everything we tried to induce labor, I think all God and the baby really needed me to do was let go. I woke up at 2:15am Monday morning with what felt like terrible menstrual cramps. Was this it? I attempted to go back to sleep, but it was impossible. I knew it had the potential to be a long day, so I grabbed a banana to help get my energy up. I waited a few hours and texted my doula and midwife. The midwife was not going to be able to make the birth due to a family emergency. I wasn’t panicking, but my doula expressed her concern. She asked me about getting a back up midwife to do the delivery instead of the back up doctors. I wasn’t really sure how to handle the situation, so I didn’t do anything. I was really focused on the strong contractions I was having. Knowing my husband would need as much sleep as possible, I waited a few more hours until my his alarm went off. I walked into the bedroom and let him know he wasn’t going to make it to work today. Gosh I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long—to be able to tell him I was in labor! Needless to say, he was excited!

And So It Begins…

The contractions started off lasting about 45 seconds with 5-7 minutes in between them. They quickly jumped to 2 minutes apart, or anytime I tried to change positions. By 8:30am, I started throwing up (I never vomit, so this was a huge indication that this was for real), and we decided it was time to go to the hospital. My doula met us there, and assumed I was in transition. I figured I was too. Sadly, I was only dilated to a 1.5. Oh dear, this is going to be a LONG day (and night…)!

I believe I was on all fours on the hospital bed when one of the back up doctors came into the room. I think I scared him. He mentioned to my birth team that I was definitely a “midwife’s patient” and that he was going to call in a back up midwife for me. THANK HEAVENS. The back-up midwife was truly the most amazing midwife ever. I felt very blessed. Everything does happen for a reason!

My Sneaky Birth Team

I labored in and out of the tub (a small indoor pool looking thing that was set up for a water birth), in various positions and places throughout the hospital. Nothing was providing any relief at all. I was having terrible back pain and it was absolutely unbearable. I think it was about 2 pm when I asked for an epidural. I couldn’t believe I was asking for it, but I also knew I couldn’t continue like this. This pain was unimaginable and I just couldn’t fathom it getting any worse and actually pushing a child out. My birth team put me off, asking me if I could go another 20 minutes. I said yes, and it turned into an hour. We repeated this for several hours. However, a few hours later, I was deadly serious when asking for the epidural. I was in so much pain I would have rather have been dead. At this point this whole birth thing meant nothing to me any more and I just wanted it to be over. I was so severely dehydrated, in so much pain and so defeated, that I just didn’t care. Please give me the epidural. My birth team said I would need two bags of IV fluids prior to the epidural. Fine, hook me up, let’s go.

My oh-so-tricky birth team apparently set the IV drip to the slowest possible setting. It took hours to get two bags of fluids in me. I found out later that they could have given them to me in as little as 20 minutes, but again, were trying to stall me from getting the epidural. Have I mentioned yet what a fantastic team I had? Even if I didn’t feel that way at the time. Thankfully, I didn’t have enough energy to put up a real fight, so they got their way. I was on only a few hours of sleep, no food (so much for that banana) and we’re 15 hours into labor with a posterior baby who is not at all interested in making his grand entrance into this world.

My Husband, My Rock

The IV finally finishes and I ask again for the epidural. Each time I ask for it, they look at my husband to make the final call. Thank God he knows me so well. He knew that I was serious in asking for it, but that deep down that’s not what I really wanted. I am so incredibly proud of him for being able to do this and to be by my side this entire time. I couldn’t have done this without him. Still asking for the epidural, they tell me the anesthesiologist is stuck in traffic. Seriously? Fine. But let’s discuss other options because I cannot go on like this. They say they can give me a low dose of pain meds to take the edge off, or I can wait for the epidural. As natural and anti-medicine as I am, it was tough for me to decide that I wanted pain meds at that point. Luckily they would wear off before the baby’s arrival, and this was one of those cases where the benefits outweighed the risks. I decided to go for it. It was a good thing I did.

I ended up taking a 3 hour nap, waking up for the contractions and falling back to sleep. During some of the contractions, my midwife would shake my hips back and forth trying to get the baby down. Talk about painful! Eventually, the pain meds wore off and once again I was back to asking for the epidural. The team kept telling me the pain meds needed to wear off and I kept asking. My doula finally looked me in the eyes and said, “Melissa, if you get an epidural, they will catheterize you. They will likely need to use pitocin since the epidural will slow things down. Do you still want an epidural?” I reply, “Can they give me the epidural before they cath me?” My doula: “You don’t get a choice, it’s whoever shows up first.” Having had a catheter once, about 25 years ago and being scarred for life, I knew I did not want a catheter. Fine. No epidural. This sucks.

Time For Some Exercise

After the nap, the team got me up and wanted me to walk laps around the hospital to help use gravity to get things moving again. Walking through contractions = not fun. I was complaining about how much my back hurt during our super fun walk, when my doula looked at me and asked me why my back hurt. Confused, I answered, “Um, because of my baby?” She told me to start repeating “that’s my baby” instead of “my back hurts.” Apparently shifting my focus on something positive, like my almost-born child, was instrumental in my labor progress. I walked for about an hour before I tell them I will walk no more. We get back to the room and we check my dilation progress. I’m at a 6.

The team has me in various positions, and finally while squatting, some of my water breaks. (My apologies if this is too much information. If that’s the case you should have stopped reading a while ago!) In an effort not to alarm me, the birth team hides the fact that there is meconium present when the first bag of water breaks. The team kicks it into high gear to get this baby out. I get checked again and I’m at an 8, with a really soft cervix. The midwife asks if I mind if she manually breaks my second bag of water and dilates me to a 10. I couldn’t care less what she does at this point, please let’s just end this! I get to a 10 and they want me to change positions again. We head to the bathroom, which I’m dreading, because my contractions seem so much more painful when I’m in there! I’m sitting on the toilet and pushing with everything I’ve got. It’s so scary, because you’re being coached to push as hard as you can, but it hurts, and you’re scared about how much more it is going to hurt. They tell me it won’t hurt anymore, and I admit they were right. At some point you just “max out” on pain! I’m pushing for what seems like forever, I don’t understand why this baby hasn’t arrived yet. So many people filled my head with unrealistic expectations the entire pregnancy, one of which was “you’re so fit, you’re only going to have to push twice and he’ll be out!”. Um, yeah, for the record, that’s total crap. Being fit has nothing to do with how many times you’re going to have to push until your baby arrives. Especially a POSTERIOR baby with an inverted/deviated tailbone in the way. I’m pushing with everything I have, trying to remember that I stayed fit during pregnancy and that should pay off at some point, but I’m nervous, wondering how much longer I will have to push, because I don’t have much or any fuel left in the tank.

This Is Finally It

I kept asking my birth team how much longer this would take (as if they knew). My Type A personality needed some sort of tool to measure this whole process by. They keep telling me “I’m close.” After what I’ve experienced the last 22 hours, I don’t believe anything they say at this point. They are pretty intent on me getting this baby out quickly, and I hear someone mention that they’re going to call NICU. I try to stay focused but can’t comprehend why they would have to call the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in! What’s wrong with my baby?! They tell me that there’s meconium present, so when I push him out, they’re going to have to cut the cord right away and take him so that they can suction the meconium out of his lungs, ears, etc. That makes me want to cry but I have no energy or fluids for that matter, to even produce tears at this point.

My husband had been holding me from behind, so he came around the front side of me to watch our son being born. It wasn’t until I was able to see my husband’s face light up with excitement that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I reached down and could feel the baby’s head. Finally! I stood up, pushed a few more times, and then…it was…indeed…FINALLY OVER!

The Aftermath

After a brutal 22 hours of labor, our beautiful baby boy was here. I was in a complete state of shock. He was perfectly healthy and I actually did survive. I can say with 100% certainty that it is because of my husband, doula, midwife and nurse staff at Baylor McKinney that I was able to deliver this baby without an epidural.

As I sit here and tell this story, I feel proud. But it took me several days and several long conversations with my birth team in order to see myself as strong. I was traumatized by the experience and all I could focus on was the fact that I quit, asking for an epidural. I felt like I let myself and my team down. I felt the energy in the room shift when I asked for the epidural and I imagined everyone throwing in the towel. But they didn’t, and for that I am so grateful. My team reminded me that one of the most important steps in this whole process is putting the people in place that will help you be successful. Fortunately, a combination of my husband and I actively searching out care providers that would help us have the birth we wanted and of course, God being on our side, made that possible.

Had the back-up Doctors delivered our baby, I most likely would have ended up with a c-section. Thinking about that now scares me, but it also makes me incredibly happy, because we were able to change things.

I’ve been asked over and over if I would do it again. At 3 weeks postpartum, I can finally say yeah, I probably will. It’s a conditional yes, however. If my tailbone gets fixed, I will do it again. And I will pray my butt off for an easier labor! And definitely, no more than 2 kids. 🙂

Thank You

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations, I know it was lengthy. I want to thank everyone that supported me throughout this pregnancy, labor and delivery and let my husband know just how much he means to me. He completed me in a way I never knew was possible. I’m documenting this journey because I want to help other people that might have questions about natural childbirth. Even after a tough labor, I still highly recommend everyone aspire to do it. Natural childbirth is a woman’s birth right and too many times it is taken away from us. We are all capable of doing it and medical interventions should be saved for when they are really, truly necessary.

For those women that weren’t able to have the birth they wanted, I am praying for you. I pray that you can find peace and find comfort in the fact that your beautiful child is here on Earth, just the way he/she was meant to be. People say it doesn’t matter how your baby gets here, as long as he/she is healthy. But to those that worked hard for a birth they wanted, it is still a traumatizing experience, and I pray for peace for all of the Moms out there.

Peace, love and strength,

Melissa