September 13, 2010 (10:37 am)

My Birth Story

by Kristen Suzanne

Let me start with the following: If you’re pregnant, you might want to skip this post. That said, it was a lesson for me and might be for you if you find yourself in a similar situation.

When I was taking our Hynobirthing birth prep classes, we learned that it’s best to only listen to positive and happy birth stories. In fact, we were given a pin to wear that said, “Only happy stories please. My baby is listening.” It makes sense. The last thing any pregnant woman needs to hear is yet another hard or sad or terrifying birth story (depictions in ALL movies are already bad enough), as these will cause fear, which will impede labor. After all, I knew from reading and YouTube that not all births are painful. It is possible to have one without pain. Heck, some women orgasm with it! Especially birthing at home, right? The ability to walk around, wear my own clothes or be buck naked if I want. Eat, drink, dance, etc. A pain-free birth, although rare, may be possible. And a low-pain birth is also possible.

In telling my story, I don’t want to turn pregnant ladies off because I think the story is still a good one. Good not only because I have a healthy and happy baby, but also good because I learned a lot that might be useful for expecting moms.

Not every part of the story is good and happy — my total labor from start to finish was about 31 hours, and almost nothing went as planned. Here we go…

Everyone, who follows my blog, knows I planned a homebirth. “Plan” is the operative word here. Actually, even though that was my first choice for my birth, my birth plan also included a backup plan in the event I needed to transfer to the hospital (with separate plans for hospital vaginal and C-section deliveries). I wanted my desires known in any situation. I tried to imagine all of the major scenarios, and documented my preferences ahead of time, so that I would not be forced to make difficult decisions under the duress of labor or in an emergency.

The first signs of labor began a full ten days after Kamea’s expected due date. It was Thursday evening, 8pm. I was at my mom’s watching TV, when I started dripping water. It wasn’t a gush of water, just some dribble. The dribble came every 20-30 minutes and I’d have to change my clothes. I wasn’t feeling any contractions, but Greg and I decided that we should start the 45-minute drive home because it looked like things were finally going to start happening. As we drove home, I started to feel small, light contractions, which I timed. I texted my midwife and she told me to time them for an hour and see how many I had. When an hour had passed, it was around 10pm and I had about 10. My midwife said I was in pre-labor and told me to get some rest. But, heck, it was hard to rest with all of the excitement… after so much waiting, my baby would be here soon! Not to mention, the contractions kept coming. They were easy to get through however.

By 1am, I was having 16 contractions per hour, at which point my midwife said she was on her way. I called my mom and doula and they headed over as well.

I continued to labor, and labor, and labor… it wasn’t too bad either. Kind of fun actually. We had the lights off except for the soft orange glow of the salt lamp. I had my soft ambient birth music playing. It was lovely. In addition to my husband, I had a whole crew of women there to assist me: My mom, mom-in-law (a retired nurse), Shell my midwife, Shell’s business partner midwife, an apprentice midwife, Leigh my doula, and Leigh’s business partner doula who is studying to become a midwife. There was a houseful of professionals. Greg called them my “tribe” and said the village men should be standing outside the palisade with spears to keep the lions away. (In the absence of lions, he took pictures.)

It was awesome being home and surrounded by so much experience, knowledge, and love. But in hindsight, I’m not sure it was best to have so many people attending my birth. I seemed to enjoy it at the time, but I wonder if having so many eyes on me was a little unnerving and possibly delayed my labor. Despite this, there were times it was great. Fun even, like a slumber party. At one point, my midwife had to leave to tend another birth, and it was fine because I had the others there to support me.

I remember being excited for everyone to arrive… I thought it was going to be a like a fun party — we had all kinds of food and chairs and pillows — but I noticed that my labor slowed down once it wasn’t just Greg, my mom and myself. I have read many times that this can happen in the hospital because of the bright lights, rotation of doctors and nurses, etc. But, I didn’t expect it with my own birth team, in my own home. It did though, at least for a little while my contractions slowed.

The hours started getting longer. And longer. And longer… and before I knew it…. many hours had passed. The leaking had started twelve hours before, which is important due to the dangerous risk of infection if a woman’s water is broken longer than 24 hours.

But during that time, I was cruising right along, doing my hypnobirthing techniques, handling the contractions… and then, something changed. The labor became very painful. Like I’ve never felt before… excruciating. It was Friday morning… turning into Friday afternoon and I was experiencing hour after hour, wave after wave of excruciating pain that was becoming impossible to handle. I was actually shocked at the intensity of the pain because I consider myself to have a decently high threshold for pain. The hypnobirthing techniques? LOL. Not a chance. I tried going into a tub of warm water… didn’t help. I tried different positions…. didn’t help. I don’t want to belabor the point, but it was fucking agony. So painful that I began to fear something was going terribly wrong and that I might die. It was then that I started contemplating going to the hospital.

What had started as a lovely beginning to my home birth was turning into a nightmare. My homebirth was becoming so painful that it was tarnishing my memory of my baby’s birth and that scared me. I was sure my body was filled with stress hormones because the pain was so scary, and I wondered what that was doing for my baby.

As my intuition continued to scream at me that I needed to go to the hospital, I hate to say this, but I was afraid to tell my birth team. Afraid of looking like a wimp, of letting them down, or of making them think they had let me down. Finally I got the courage to say it. (With the benefit of hindsight, I realize I should never have felt ashamed for wanting to go the hospital… but my homebirth had meant so much to me, and such a radical change just takes time to process.)

My instincts told me that something wasn’t right. My midwife and birth crew tried to talk me out of transferring, told me that everything I was feeling was normal. My husband looked worried though; he knew how badly I had wanted a home birth and that something was probably not right. At this point, my midwife checked my dilation and found that I was only… four centimeters. FOUR! After all of those hours of unbelievable pain and I was only at four – turns out my intuition was right. In that instant I knew that I had to go to the hospital, end of discussion. Knowing that I might not even be halfway there, with many more hours of hell to go, was all it took for us to switch to “Plan B.” My midwife, too, seemed surprised by my lack of progress. She quickly went from “let’s talk about it” mode to “which car should we take?”

She fully supported my choice to go, but technically speaking, this was not an emergency transfer. This afforded an opportunity to consider different options. I had earlier toured a nearby hospital as part of our backup plan. But with this being a non-emergency, we opted to transfer to a hospital that was much further away (45 minutes instead of 15 minutes to the nearby hospital), but much friendlier toward homebirth transfers and midwives. And most of all, it had much lower C-section rates. At the time, choosing an extra half hour before I could get pain relief seemed like insanity. But in the end, I’m so glad we made this decision.

Once at the hospital, it was another agonizing, screaming hour until I was in a labor room, where I could finally get some pain relief, which by then was an incredibly easy decision. It’s hard to describe how I felt through all of this other than to say that I was in a bizarre state. I felt detached, like the pain was cutting part of me out. At that moment, my concern was for getting my baby born and helping me do it. Two days before, I would never have dreamed I’d accept drugs for pain at the hospital, but when new information presents itself, you have to be flexible. My overriding concern at this point was to have a vaginal birth, not a C-section. And that would require all of my strength.

After being relocated from triage to my very comfortable delivery room (which was big enough for the whole team!), receiving pain medication… everything was better. I was able to relax a bit. I was able to be myself again. I was able to focus on my baby. I was relieved.

We now believe that Kamea had been presenting with her elbow in the up position, which would explain the slow progress and extreme pain.

The hospital was concerned that my water had been broken, by now, for over 24 hours, so they gave me antibiotics (as well as 2 days’ worth for Kamea after she was born – which I was okay with, given the high risk of infection in hospitals).

One by one, each item of my Plan B birth plan got nixed. (Like my husband tells his clients, “You don’t make plans to know what will happen, you make plans so that you can make good decisions when the time comes.”) In my delivery room, they strapped me to machines, but I didn’t care. They gave me oxygen because Kamea needed it apparently. We found out that I had meconium in my water, meaning we would need to clamp the cord immediately after birth, as opposed to my original desire to clamp after it was done pulsing, but that was not to be. (I’m still a bit sad about that.) Also, my placenta was messed up because of the meconium, which meant that I wasn’t able to do the things I wanted to do with it. (I had three things planned: I was going to try some raw in a smoothie, have some made into chocolate by my midwife, and have the rest encapsulated. Bummer… I couldn’t do any of it. But, the hospital did give it to us so I could bury it in my mom’s backyard.)

Anyway… back to the labor. It progressed, still slowly, but it did nonetheless. I have to say, we had an amazing staff. In spite of my previous concerns about hospital births, this experience largely proved me wrong, and tells me that not all hospitals are the same… in fact, far from it! At the hospital, I started to relax, get rest, and I was able to eat. Yes, eat. The hospital did allow that… in fact, my doctor actually brought me food! At home when I was laboring in pain, I had no appetite, I was tense, and I wasn’t able to relax. I would not have lasted the whole 30-some hours at home, and I know in my heart if I had waited at home, I would’ve transferred due to exhaustion and pain, which would’ve likely resulted in a C-section. As it was, my timing for transfer was perfect in that I was still in a great position to have a healthy vaginal delivery. My labor was still long once I was at the hospital (about 12 hours more), but it was more manageable. There isn’t much more to detail about it other than to say that when the time came for pushing, I did that for about an hour. It was hard work, but it was without pain. By this time, the epidural had mostly worn off. But it was the contractions that had hurt, not the pushing itself… that was just hard work. And, when Kamea finally came out… that part wasn’t painful at all. It was super cool.

Because of the long interval from water breaking to delivery, and its risk of infection (to both Mom and baby), the protocol was to keep us in the hospital for a few days for observation. During this time, I had a wonderful experience with every single person (except one formula-pushing NICU nurse who told me Kamea was hungry and wasn’t getting enough from my colostrum. What a guilt trip to put on a first-time mother!).

For the past year, from my reading and many stories I’ve heard, I’ve been hard on hospitals. What I’ve learned is that not every hospital deserves that. Phoenix Baptist was amazing. They explained in detail, slowly, the different options I had through every step of the labor. They encouraged breastfeeding. They answered all of my questions. They were patient with me. They accepted my birth team (all of them!) — and even collaborated closely with my midwife, who served as my staunch advocate through the entire process. They treated me with the utmost respect. They respected my birthplan (whereas other hospitals in my area roll their eyes at such things.) They didn’t pressure me with anything (except the one nutty NICU nurse). The attending OB even said something in front of his staff that just amazes me, “We doctors could learn a few things from midwives.”

What I’ve walked away with is this: I had the chance to experience part of a home birth, as well as a hospital birth. I suspect that if Kamea didn’t have an elbow up digging into me, my labor would’ve progressed faster and wouldn’t have been as painful. But, she did. And, as her mom, I made decisions that I didn’t expect to make, but at the time, I was completely happy to make them. They felt right in my gut. And, the other thing I learned… don’t be afraid of the hospital if that’s the route you need to go yet you had planned to birth at home. It’s wise to choose a hospital that is midwife-friendly, if possible, otherwise, be sure to have your birth team there to advocate on your behalf and help you navigate the system. I knew they had my back at all times, were watching every little detail, and were making the hospital staff answer any question that came up.

A brief word about Hypnobirthing. Did I find it useful? Maybe… it’s hard to say. Perhaps it helped calm me and relieve some pain and I would’ve been in an even worse situation without it. On the other hand, I tend to be a vocal person and sprinkle f-bombs like they’re pixie dust. I didn’t say much of anything during labor, other than some low zombie-like grumblings on the advice of my birth team, because I was trying to do the hypnobirth thing and just breeeeeathe. Maybe if I had been more true to my f-bombing self, I would’ve felt a tad better. But then again, no amount of cussing would’ve brought Kamea’s elbow down if that’s what was going on.

Perhaps Kamea was indeed presenting in a way that caused me great pain or contributed to such a long labor. But I also sometimes wonder if the labor was protracted because she just wasn’t ready to come out. Three days prior to my water breaking, I took measures to “support labor starting.” I underwent two “aggressive” acupuncture treatments. I now wish I hadn’t done that. I wish I had let Kamea come on her own time. I did it because she was almost two weeks past due, after which my midwife technically isn’t allowed to do the delivery. Because I wanted a home birth so badly, I was willing to try and speed things. I can’t help but wonder if this contributed to my long labor. Maybe Kamea wasn’t ready and therefore maybe it took longer than it would have if I’d just let her be.

On the other hand, Kamea held out just long enough to be born during a lunar eclipse… which is pretty cool… so maybe she was just waiting for that!

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  • Lmontiero78

    Thank you for posting this and for the warning! What an adventure you all had! I am 36 weeks and my husband and I just completed our Hypnobirthing class. My instructor would probably be scolding me right now, but I had to read your story. Knowing that each birth is unique, I felt that there would be no harm in learning. And I always learn something great when I read your blogs. I am planning a water birth to accompany hypnobirthing, however, I have back up plans as well. Your story is actually comforting to me. It’s good to hear that not all hospitals are the same and you listened to your body and were right on!! I was also re-considering whether to have so many people at my home birth. After reading about your experience I think may go with my instincts and stick with my husband, midwife and midwife in training. Thank you so much for sharing and congrats!!!!! Kamea is adorable!

  • Lauren519

    Hey Kristen, after reading your warning I hesitated to read this. But I am so glad I did. Reading your story actually made me feel better! I am trying not to be strict about anything (besides what is on my birth plan). But the meds things is always on the back of my mind. Mostly because if I stress my body out too much during labor a Crohn's flare will most likely occur. So I plan on seeing how things go, and not being so strict about taking the epidural. I feel a lot better about that decision after reading this. I am having a hospital birth and I feel my hospital is very similar to yours. I talked with my doc about having a birth plan and making sure the baby is by my side all the time (except for in an emergency) and his words were “A birth plan is great, ANYTHING to make you feel more comfortable during labor is great.” He also said “The baby stays with you all the time(unless an emergency) and the hospital is really big on breastfeeding and all that bonding shit” LOL, he has a potty mouth..which makes me feel comfortable because growing up in an Italian family it's all I know! HA HA! But anyway, I just wanted to say thank you because I feel your story helped me feel less pressured about certain things. I am so happy for you and Greg, Kamea is such an angel. Hugs! XOXO

  • rachael

    Thanks for sharing your birth story! It sounds like you made great decisions for you and Kamea. I also had a great experience with my hospital birth, and totally agree they aren't all bad :)

  • sarah lo

    Hmm your birth story is almost exactly like mine. 36 hours, my son was posterior, had to relinquish all my previous plans for the birth. Hypnobabies helped me for maybe 18 hours until, you know, the agony made my spirit want to leave my body. I was also lucky to have an ectremely supportive hospital nearby, and I have no regrets with how everything turned out. Had I not had a midwife, I would have almost certainly had a c-section for failure to progress. At hour 35, baby turned enough for me to start effectively pushing, and he made it. Congrats to you for following your instincts and doing what you had to to protect you and your daughter. I completely get it. She's perfect, enjoy it!

  • Kat

    Thank you for sharing your birth story. You are such a strong person to be able to speak up for what you needed even when it is not what you wanted! Probably good practice for listening to your instincts for the rest of your relationship with Kamea. And how fortunate that you had a supportive hospital to work with you and your birth team.

  • Melissa

    Thanks for posting this! I was unsure if I wanted to read since I am due in December; however I've read that you should be informed of all birthing situations. I plan on having a hospital birth and going all natural (Bradley Method). It comforted me to know that someone like you, who planned on the homebirth and natural birth, ended up with pain meds. I would love to go without any, but as you know, things can happen and the meds are necessary. This made me feel better that if I had to end up choosing to get them it would be okay. Also, the portion on not having many people around you when you were in labor only magnified the fact that I only want my husband with me. I too feel that too many people can be distracting. I also plan on staying at home as long as possible so I can “goosfraba” before heading the hospital. I have high hopes of the cord not being clamped right away and breastfeeding as soon as possible but am also flexible to the idea that may not happen. I also know that the Bradley Method classes may or may not work—but I'm willing to pay the price for a little more peace of mind since this is my first child. The best we can do is to plan for what we would like but keep in mind that plans change. I'm glad you and Kamea were safe and both are healthy. I know hospitals can get a bad stigma, so I am glad you had a positive experience. PS I stumbled across your blog sometime ago and love it. Although I'm do not follow a vegan or raw diet, it's intriguing to read. I have also enjoyed your posts regarding cloth diapers. My idea is to cloth diaper–but that seems to a whole other adventure! :-)

  • Ag

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thanks for sharing. :) I like how you put it “the agony made my spirit

    want to leave my body.”

  • Schlokari

    Wow….thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I thought that you had your baby at the hospital b/c the blanket was the same one they had at our hospital. Our birth stories share many commonalities. I also planned a home birth, did hypnobirthing, was only 5 cm dilated after 27 hours of contractions that were 3 minutes or less apart, and ultimately decided it was time to go to the hospital. After two days of pre labor cramps, my midwife decided to give me herbs to see if my body would go into labor and within 30 minutes my contractions were three minutes apart. She was actually worried she would miss the birth…HA, HA!! Anyway, after 25 hours she decided to break my water and see if that would help. By this point, I had about 2 seconds in between contractions and I just wasn't progressing. I had been up for three nights and never tried to rest once when I was in hard labor b/c it was impossible for me to rest between contractions. I told my husband and midwife that I felt it was time to go to the hospital, and they tried to talk me out of it, but I knew that I needed to go. My husband kept telling me I was almost there, which made me laugh b/c I was only 5 cm dilated. It took 45 minutes to get to the car b/c I had no break between contractions. Once I got to the hospital, they rushed me up VERY quickly and gave me an epidural. The doctor said that since I had been in labor for so long that he would try to see if the epidural would allow my body to relax enough to progress, but that he would probably have to do a C-Section. I looked at my midwife and said…NO!! My body did relax so they had to give me Pitocin to speed up my contractions. After 2 1/2 hours of being at the hospital, I was 10cm Dilated and it took less than 20 minutes to push my baby out. I had been in labor for over three days, but only 30 hours of hard labor (I use only loosely here :) ) Ella had her hands balled up into fists on each side of her cheeks and that is why she just wasn't coming and my body was so tense that she just couldn't get anywhere. I always tried to be open to the possibility of a hospital birth in case that was my story, but I was very surprised at how amazing they were to us. Ella never left my side except for a bath and to weigh her, etc. Nobody gave me a hard time about any of my choices not to vaccinate, etc. There were lactation consultants always trying to help me with nursing and I honestly felt there was no judgment. I had no birth plan, bag packed, nothing….because I was so convinced that the birth would take place at home. I would suggest packing a bag just in case b/c my husband threw some clothes in a bag and when it was time to leave the hospital, I had to squeeze into a tight sweatshirt and pants that he packed for me….LOL. It was not a pretty sight!! I have to say that even now (1 year later) when I think about the birth, I never feel scared about feeling that kind of pain again. I knew it was going to hurt like hell, but I also knew that it would end soon enough. I don't look at my story as a scary one for pregnant women to hear b/c I am actually thankful that I got to experience so much of the birth naturally, and in the end I had a beautiful, healthy baby girl that brings me endless joy. However, I do often have these little conversations in my head about trying the birth again, but without the herbs, or trying this or that differently just to see if I could have birthed her at home. Thanks again for sharing your beautiful story!!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thank YOU for sharing, too. It's funny, I told my husband to have a

    bag packed just in case we had to transfer, but I never packed one for

    myself! Lol. Same reasoning. And… Same thing here… Getting to the

    car was painful and seemed to take forever.

  • Dana

    Kristen, thank you for sharing your story. I am due any day and have been working on hypnobabies, we have tried acupuncture and other natural induction techniques. I would not be concerned that you're acupuncture was the wrong thing to do. I don't know what the difference would be since you said it was 'aggressive', but my chiropractor told me that the beauty of acupuncture is that it works with the energies of the body and if the energy of the baby and my body aren't ready then it will not do anything my body and baby aren't ready for. The baby will still come when it is ready. The acupuncture may help encourage just a little bit. Our children teach us so much about life: forgiveness, acceptance, patience and mostly love for ourselves and for others. Blessings on new mommyhood!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thanks for commenting. :) My acupuncturist used bigger needles and

    hooked them up to a pulse machine thing and he said this would make it

    more aggressive. He's a faculty member at the naturopathic college

    here and has been doing acupuncture for about 30 years, including many

    years in China. I guess I don't know why someone would do it if it

    didn't help support labor starting. If the energies weren't ready, and

    it wouldn't do something the body wasn't ready for, then what would be

    the point?

  • Vegmom

    What a great story..

    When I arrived at our Birth Center with the Midwife, I was happy and cheary and bouncing on the exercise ball.. contractions 6-8 mins. apart and water broken and smiling, and calling everyone to share the news… We were FINALLY there… so excited… At one point the midwife told me that until I got “serious” we weren’t progressing… BOY was she right.. at that point I’d been in labor, 36hrs, and still happy as can be :-)

    I delivered in a Free Standing Birthing Center, and was in labor for a total of 48hrs I think… Most at home and 12hrs at the Center. Once things got serious, the rest is a blur…My young one had me in unbearable pain as well. The tub, the walking, the squatting… NOTHING helped.. Like you, I wouldn’t have found hypno to be any help. He took 5hrs of pushing coming out. And when he finally came out, he was upside down (hence the back labor) and his hand came out first. Literally waving at the Midwife and my Mom and Hubby… Everyone started laughing, and I remember SCREAMING…. WHERE IS HIS HEAD!! ha ha…

    Anyway, needless to say, I UNDERSTAND the pain you are speaking of. Because he presented himself in that same situation. We did get him out before the 24hrs of water breaking though, or I would have been transferred as well…

    At our birth center they did offer meds (not epi though) And when I asked for it, they said I was in transition, so we pushed through without. In hind site, I can’t say I would ever put my mind or body through that again. But our vitals were also still good, or I would have demanded a transfer. We also tested water for the green stuff and were good there. Again, I wouldn’t have hesitated to transfer if there was any risk. And like you, I had a plan B.

    Oh and he was a full two weeks late according to the midwife..but I think he came out just on time for his own needs. He is Age Seven now, and STILL does things on his own time, in his own way…. haha.. Even his teachers tell me this at his school….

    I didn’t comment that story before because you wanted only happy ones. :-) I can say, at the end, mine was very happy as well… I had a healthy baby boy. But the story of getting him there, was quite a difficult one.

    So glad to hear that all is well, and it sounds like with any risk to you or baby that you made some GREAT decisions. Also how absolutely wonderful of you to post that things don’t always go as planned. But it can still go well….

    You are amazing…

  • Bandora

    Thanks for sharing your story, it is very powerful and it resembles mine in many aspects. I also had a planned home birth and had a long and painful labor that slowed down at times due to baby’s position and slow decent and also had to transfer to the hospital (in my case it was an emergency resulting in a C-section). I also had the nurse trying to push formula.

    Reading your perspective on things validated some of the lessons that I integrated from my own experience and reminded me to focus on the positive aspects of the lessons to be integrated for whenever #2 decides to come.

  • Miho

    I really liked this post. I don’t comment too often, but this one, I had to tell you that I give you two thumbs-up.
    I’m not pregnant, and that’s not going to happen for a long while (only 18, here!), but it gave me a really good idea of what pregnancy and making different choices were all about. Very good post!! :) And thank you!

  • Tricia Swenson

    Hurray! I was waiting so long to finally read this! I remember thinking during my labor that I would never judge a woman again for choosing to go to a hospital and have an epidural. Thanks for reminding me of my resolution! I am choosing to tell myself that it will be easier the next time around….if I EVER let it happen to me again. Heh, heh.
    I agree about hypnobirthing…I think it would be so nice if everyone could have one of those births- especially their first time! I was a little confused at something in your post…you said that you first went into labor a couple weeks before your due date and at the end you said she was almost 2 weeks overdue. So maybe you can clarify that for me. :)
    I've decided the best rule to go by about women having babies is every woman is entitled to own the choices surrounding her labor and delivery of her children. I can never judge another woman's birth story (even the pain-free ones!) and apply it to myself. I can only judge myself, my body, my birth. I hope to remember that!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Let me double check my writing. The labor didn't start until almost 2

    weeks after my given due date.

  • Nicole

    What a lovely story for both you and Kamea!! We were at wonderful hospitals for all 3 children. When I had the twins at UCSF I begged and pleaded for a c-section and they refused (induction was over 2 days and things were not moving along). They said the girls were going to be smaller than our son (who was 8 lbs 12 oz) so I would just have to let them come. They finally did, when I relaxed and all is well. I agree, not all hospitals are bad and the caliber of nurses and doctors is vital to a good experience.

  • Samantha

    I am so happy you posted this, and while I'm not happy this is exactly how it happened for you, this story finally helped me get past my guilt. I'm actually crying right now. My daughter is 20 months old and while we didn't plan a homebirth I wanted a natural, no drugs, no PITOCIN Birth. After watching the Business of Being Born I was terrified of all that stuff. Our doctor said we needed an emergency ultrasound 2 weeks before our due date being she was measuring small, and when we got to the hospital they told us our amniotic fluid was dangerously low and we would have to give birth that day….”Um you mean NOW?!” But I'm not in labor! That means getting hooked up to every machine, the Pitocin every hour, everything. I was devestated!! The whole labor I just pictured the drugs ruining my organic little baby inside. I was so unhappy and wanted to get the whole thing over with as soon as possible. But of course it took hours and I was just so upset, angry, and I felt so guilty. Like maybe I did something wrong. Did I walk too much or not drink enough water? I was so sad, I still am.
    But reading your story and seeing that things didn't go as planned for you, but you've moved on shows me alot. I think birth is an amazing process, and it's great that some people can orgasm through it etc. but in the end it is just to get the baby out. And if you have to do it in a hospital, or a car, or have a c sections, it's OK. Sometimes so many women make it like if you don't do a medicine free home birth, your not really being a 'woman' and having he whole 'experience' But as long as you have a happy healthy bay that's all any mother could want!
    And we know that much more for baby number two :)

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Hi Samantha,

    I'm so glad you commented. You have an amazing story and you're one

    amazing mom! It makes me happy that my story has helped you. – thank

    you for letting me know. :)

    I hear ya on the #2 birth. I'm actually looking forward to that, when

    the time comes, because of the knowledge and experience I have under

    my belt now. It's like the whole thing, pregnancy and birth, will be a

    totally new experience even though I've been through it.



  • GirlonRaw

    I wasn't sure whether I should read this or not but I am really glad I did. It was definitely worth the wait and thank you so much for being brutally honest, and thoughtful with your sharing.

    Love you SS xoxox

  • Stephanie

    My grandmother had 5 children in the 1930's at home, and though she said it was easier with each, she swore she would actually die from the pain of the first two. She said she was screaming for hours and was in such agony that she'd gone into a detached, trance-like state (which sounds like something you mentioned). No meds, no fancy hospital – just a midwife and her sisters to help.

    She swore childbirth was truly torture and wondered how she survived it. Her favorite saying, “They don't call it labor for nothing.” :)

  • Jen

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I really enjoyed hearing about it. Even though it didn't turn out like you expected, it sounds like it still turned out really well and of course now you have a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Congrats!

  • Alissa Bogutz Custer

    I fully appreciate your comment about the fact that you think maybe part of the issue was having so many people present and having to “perform”. My first was at the hospital, all the interventions, etc, yucky birth in general. My second was at home with S but happened so fast that it turned out I was entirely alone until he was crowning, at which point my husband showed up to deliver. Turned out it was great that way – no one to perform for, no one to complain to, just labor and me. And I had to do it myself. I'm due again in about 5 weeks, who knows how long this might be, but I'm planning on being alone with hubby, kids, and hopefully S will make it this time. No plans for anyone else to “help” simply because I know how nice it was to be alone with my birth process. I hope you will consider a home birth again with your next if there is one, each one can be such a different and rewarding experience.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Hi Alissa,

    I think you're right on… being alone with your labor would have been

    a better experience for me. But, you don't know what you don't know,

    eh? I will definitely try it again (homebirth) next time, with fewer

    people, and see how it goes. I'm very excited about the idea.

  • Travel Raw

    Kristen, This was a really impressive story filled with many important lessons – the first of a lifetime that Kamea will teach you. Thank you for being so honest. I admire your willingness to be flexible in response to changing circumstances. That too is an important part of life. Glad the end result is a happy, healthy, beautiful baby!!

  • Ubluem

    Kristen, I too have been waiting to read your story. You write so articulately. My oldest child is now 32. I recall having to write my birth story for my Lamaze teacher, and I recall, as plainly as if it were yesterday, writing that I would never do that again. I had my son in a hospital, with no IVS, but I did have some demoral to relax me. It did make me a little “out of it” at the time of the birth and I decided then and there that I wouldn't have it again. My son weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz. after about only 7 hours of labor. 3 years later, I had a beautiful baby girl. Labor was long, but I walked around a lot at the hospital. She too was rotated and didn't want to come out, but finally, she did. Pain for this birth was much much less than the first, even though my labor was much much longer. I think the moral of most women's stories is that the first birth was the most challenging and the next births were much easier after that. Thanks for sharing your story. Kamea is just gorgeous!

  • Renee (@lifefiend)

    Similar to me & Alice! At 41 weeks, I tried to encourage labour via natural methods, too… I wouldn't do that again, either! I transferred to hospital for pain relief (gas, later epidural) after 20+ hours active labour having not progressed. By 38 hours, contractions slowed, heart rates were beginning to drop, still at 6cm, and I was assessed for C-section. Alice was absolutely stuck! She twisted and turned during labour, but was tilted incorrectly. But a C-section was in the Birth Plan, as a last resort, so it DID go to plan, even if it went a little too far… But everyone was healthy otherwise, thank goodness! And the hospital midwives and surgeons were all great (except for the doom-&-gloom OB we saw briefly at discharge, but we'll pretend that didn't happen).

    Well done to you and Kamea! It's damn hard work.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I have high hopes for the second time around. :)

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I hear ya. ;) I'm so glad I planned for all scenarios.

  • Maggie

    Gosh, I'm so glad everything worked out. The importance of having an advocate can't be over stated. Hospitals are required some times, they just have to be held accountable. Good work Mum!

  • Kateisfun

    I've been so excited to read this! It sounds like being prepared for anything really made a difference in how you felt after the birth; good for you! What I love about your story is that it shows the hospital and the interventions being used as they are meant to be – when they are truly needed and/or desired by the woman, as opposed to “this is the way it's always done”. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story.

  • Teamhendrix

    Thanks for this Kristen. Reminds me that we need to explore our back-up options and just educate ourselves. Your experience echoed my first birth in several ways (the hypnobirthing slowed my contractions!–and when i was actually pushing, I almost threw something at the cd player to shut that woman up). But the real reminder for me here is to trust my gut, always, without fail, and without exception. Thanks for your story.

  • Amy Bizzarri

    I think I chose the happy medium and would recommend it for others: A midwife delivered my baby girl at a hospital. I felt safer knowing that I had a great medical facility as back up, but the midwives supported my desire for a natural birth. I laboured with my husband, alone, in a quiet, softly lit room, and my baby girl was born after only two hours of true labour! I felt safe and connected to the entire process. It was a joy!

    BUT of course, it hurt like hell! It always does!!!! (It's my second baby – so I've been through a natural birth twice…). At one point, I was SCREAMING for meds, but I'm so glad my husband urged me to hold and and helped delay the arrival of the epi team. A few pushes later….out came my beautiful girl!

  • Tiffany Washko

    Two things struck me after reading this… first the thought that something was wrong because of the pain. I think natural birth supporters kinda give the impression that the pain is no biggie. Uh.. no. With all three of my births there times during labor when I felt the pain would split me in half and kill me. It is a pain like no other, that is just the way it is. But the second thing that struck me is tied to this… the first baby is the worst, at least in my experience.

    With my first baby my body had never gone through this process and I was rocked by how bad it hurt. At around 4 centimeters I was in so much agony it was unbearable and I got an epidural. The epidural numbs you enough to make you have to push for a long time. If you can't feel the “ring of fire” when the baby crowns.. you were numb, trust me. When you can feel everything then you can make the right muscles work and the pushing is easier and faster.

    With my second and third births I went natural and unlike the fist time the pain was manageable until transition. In fact it was almost pain free. But when transition hit I screamed like a banshee and that ring of fire made me push both out in under 10 minutes. I truly believe that the first birth pain is so horrific because it is the first time.

    I also had all three of mine at a hospital. That is where I felt the most comfortable and all three were great experiences. ;)

  • Joanna_Steven

    Thank you for posting this. I'm having a tough time at the hospital, tomorrow I'll be up to my 3rd ultrasound even though I'm fine (it would have been 4 but I was much stronger in resisting the bullying in my early preg – they thought I was having an ectopic pregnancy). I'm not mad at them, they're doing their job and trying to avoid lawsuits, but I'm mad at myself. I really did not want any medical-whatsoever but my family was worried so I did it. The good thing is that the team is really nice, the hospital is very open minded, and well, that's really the only option that will work for me (even though I'm disappointed much of the magic has been stolen from me) and for my family (who thinks I'm nuts for not wanting a hospital birth). Plus, the hospital is 10 minutes away from my house by foot, so I can labor at home in the beginning. Your experience shows me that whatever we do, some things can happen and there's not much we can do about it, we can only do what's best for our baby given the circumstances, and I really think you're doing what's best for Kamea. Seeing you so happy gives me some assurance that when it's my turn to give birth, and if some things don't go as planned, I won't be all depressed that I “failed” my baby in a way. I tend to be very hard on myself :( Thank you Kristen.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    You can never fail if you're doing what feels right in your gut.

    You're going to be such an awesome mom – your baby is so lucky to have


  • Frugal Babe

    Kristen, I'm so glad that everything worked out in the end, and you have a beautiful healthy baby girl. You did it, even if it didn't go quite the way you had hoped. I'm sure that your extensive preparation beforehand made a huge difference, and it's great that you were able to go to the better hospital. Your comments about hypnobirthing made me laugh. My husband and I practiced hypnobirth techniques while I was pregnant. We would go through the exercises while I was relaxing on the couch or in the bathtub… seemed great! I had heard all sorts of stories about people having low-pain or pain-free births, but I'll admit, I was skeptical. Our son was turned backwards during labor, and I ended up with 45 hours of excruciating back labor. I love the idea of low-pain births, but mine was so painful I was sure that I might die or split in two at any moment. I liked your description of sprinkling f-bombs like pixie dust :) I do that too, only not around people other than my family. So my husband is used to my potty mouth, but my midwives certainly weren't. My midwife actually wrote something in my chart during labor about the f-bombs :) I did try a bit of hypnobirthing during labor, but cursing seemed much more appropriate.
    So glad that your hospital experience was so good. Sounds like the extra time to drive to that hospital was well worth it, and now you know that it's a good option if you ever need to do it again. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Brooke

    I sincerely want to thank you for sharing your birth story. It just reinforces my belief that the universe does not like us planning future events. It wants us to be prepared, but we aren't supposed to know what the future holds. The future protects itself by making us change our plans and forcing us to adapt. The universe also presents us with opportunities and situations that are optimal for us at that moment in our lives. Your birth story is a great example of this and I learned a great lesson. Kamea has not only taught you new things (and will continue to), but she has taught other people to go with the flow of life and be grateful for what you have ;-)

    Thank you again for sharing your wonderful birth story!

  • saraL

    Hi Kristen, thanks for sharing your story! reading was like dejavu for me. I planned to deliver in the hospital with my doctor which I always felt the need to defend which sucks, she is a fabulous doctor and had worked with my doula lots before, she was excited about hypnobirthing since it has really taken hold in my little community. for ME hypnobirthing was a croc and a huge waste of money although you can't know that until it happens LOL. I tried no drugs but same as you it just wasn't happening, backbending contractions lasting 5 minutes with 10 second rest for several hours scared me (at 3 centimeters). not that I could tell you what happened, I was so out of it. the result, i went through 3 tanks of gas. I was asking for more painkillers during pushing but afterwards my doctor told me she could have given me some but she thought I was doing so well she wanted to hold off. (not what people say is a typical doctor move) I am so happy you are healthy and happy with your decisions. you really are so smart. congrats!


  • Kristen Suzanne

    Hi Sara,

    I sure wish more doctors were like yours. Lucky you! I learned so much

    through my experience… One of many lessons to come as I navigate

    motherhood. :) xoxo

  • bitt

    Kristen, you are so amazing a brave! I am in awe of you! What an experience. Thank you so much for sharing it! I think you kept an eye on the big picture and the fact that you were flexible worked out best for your baby. My sister just had a baby too and her birth plan did not go as planned at all. In fact the doula could not even make it! In the end the baby comes out and if she/he is happy and healthy, you move forward from there.

  • Anais

    I agree with you. I had my baby girl 3 weeks ago, and I did acupuncture to get things going, and regret it since I think she wasn't ready and we rushed things too much. My daughter took 36 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing. She presented with her hand next to her head, which explains the excruciating pain and lack of progress for many hours. Me too, I thought about going to the hospital. We didn't because my fear of hospitals was stronger, and once my midwife arrived I felt very safe. Besides staying at home, though, nothing worked out as I had it written down in my birth plan ;-) But we have a healthy little baby which is what counts!

    I wanted to thank you for sharing your story and for being so honest, it made me cry. Most people only tell their story when it's beautiful and easy, but I do think labor is mostly hard and painful work, and only few of us can witness ecstatic and orgasmic births. I don't agree with one of the commenters who said the pain you witnessed was probably normal for having your first child. My first baby was born after 8 hours of easy labor, I didn't expect it to so intense but it was manageable and almost painfree. Now my second was a hard one. What I'm saying is that birth can't be planned and we must learn how to be flexible, which you did a great job on. Great job and congratulations again for such a beautiful little baby!

  • Leslie

    Thanks for sharing your story. I had a very similar experience believe it or not, and the hospital that I had my daughter in was very respectful of my wishes. I feel very fortunate to have been able to go to that hospital that had a supportive staff. You have a very good attitude toward what happened and the decisions you made and I really respect that. Your story helped me because sometimes I feel like I failed not going through a completely unmedicated normal birth, but your story made me realize that the decisions I had to make are okay because I look back on it and I have good memories of her birth and a healthy baby. Thanks!

  • Bluedingo

    Thank you for sharing your birth story. I am 37 weeks with my second child and was hesitant to read it because I am practicing Hypnobabies. I knew that regardless of the situation you would have a positive story and outlook because of your personality and beliefs. As I read, I kept thinking to myself that the most important thing we do as mothers is respect and trust our instincts. Deep inside you knew that something was not right and you had the courage to trust your instincts. As a mother, every day we are “told” how we should be raising our kids and what is “normal” and it is often difficult to trust that you are doing the right thing for YOUR child despite what our pediatrician, the experts, friends, and (hardest of all) our mom's say. I am sure you will be a great mother as your birth story has shown that from day 1 you are practicing intuitive parenting not afraid of trusting yourself and your child's needs. God Bless your family.

  • Katielbarlow

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I am expecting a baby in January and planning a homebirth. It's important for me to hear about the happy stories that worked out exactly the way they were planned as well as the stories that did not go as planned because I really want to be prepared for everything so that I can make the right decision when the time comes!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Exciting! Wish you the best!

  • Cmobinns

    I have a somewhat similar birth story which happened one week ago when our beautiful son, Eli, was born. I was 42 weeks and 5 days and felt like the baby wasn't moving around as much as usual. I went into my midwife's office for an NST and the results were not good. His heart rate was low and he wasn't responding well, even when they banged a pot with a spoon. My midwife said he had to come out and we would have to go to a hospital to do it. I was shaking because I was so upset and scared for my baby. I had planned a homebirth as well and was so disappointed that I wouldn't get to experience that, especially a water birth which I had wanted. But of course my baby's health was the most important thing. We decided to go to the hospital nearest to our house, where my mom is an L&D nurse. The hospital is not known for its natural birth friendliness, but I knew my mom would be an advocate for me and I was so lucky to have her. We had to go directly to the hospital and my mom got me some clothes and my iPod from our house. Once I got to the hospital the baby was doing great and the NST looked fine. The doctor even said I could go home if I wanted. But that just didn't feel right. I know that my baby hadn't been moving a lot that day and there was a reason for it. I decided to be induced with Pit. After a few hours I asked them to stop the Pit so I could get in the shower. They did and my labor continued naturally from then on. I was able to have the natural childbirth I had wanted, though in a very different way than I had planned/visualized. I also used Hypnobabies which I do believe helped a lot, though again in a different way than I had imagined. I also had back labor and needed someone to put extreme counter pressure on my back during contractions. My mom, doula, and husband switched off on doing this. I definitely wasn't one of the silent birth ball birthing mamas. I made noise, lots of it while pushing. I do not believe that breathing the baby out was effective for me. I did require coaching for pushing and appreciated it, as I made much better progress when given cues on where to push/ direct my pushing energy. All in all, it was an amazing experience but also much different than I had imagined and like you, I had to listen to my instincts and choose a hospital birth over a homebirth this time around. The hospital staff were wonderful as was the doctor, I know this had to do with my mom working there but it was still a great experience. The nurses were all very supportive of breastfeeding and also did all of the tests, etc in our room as well as honor other parts of our birth plan. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Congratulations on your son! And thank you for sharing your story with

    us. :)

  • Regina

    Thank you for sharing. Personally, I don't want “Happy Birth Stories Only” because the LAST thing I need is to believe it's all good, all “just some pressure” and a bunch of women telling me it was so joyous and bearable and then for me to feel like I've failed somehow when I think there must be something wrong with me because I don't perceive it that way. Accurate expectations are a good thing, IMO. I can personally count on two hands the women I've known who had birth plans that included completely natural child births with no pain medications to be offered and I can honestly count on one single finger how many turned out that way. I know women have done it since the beginning of time BUT they had no alternative. It's really really really really really really hard to have an option out of pain offered and turn it down, no matter what your ideology. It's innate to avoid pain whenever possible. So please do not ever be disappointed in your response to the pain. You did EXACTLY what MOST women do – MOST by a VERY LARGE margin. And you had a safe delivery and a healthy baby as a result. What could be more successful than that? :-)

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Good points. :)

  • Teresa

    Very interesting birth story. I truly believe that everyone's body responds to labour in their own way. Acupuncture, eating a certain way, exercising, etc. does nothing when it comes to labour. A few years ago when I had my baby, I was overweight, did not exercise, ate just okay and I had her in less than 3 hours without pain. Labour is just something that you cannot predict. What's important is the treasure that we receive after labour, that's for sure ! Amazing birth story, Kristen !!!!

  • Katie

    Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I had been looking forward to reading it, since I was pregnant at the same time as you and also took a Hypnobirthing class to prepare, though I planned all along to give birth in a hospital with a doctor attending. I had my baby girl on July 20 and, though my labor was quite different from yours, like you, I found that it was not at all what I had expected. I too learned the lesson that you can prepare as much as you want in life, but you have to be ready to throw those plans out the window! My labor came fast and furious — 6 hours from start to finish, despite this being my first child. It was so fast that I really didn’t have time to get into the “zone,” mellow out and practice my hypnobirthing techniques. They helped me in the early stage of labor (which only lasted about an hour!) but when the contractions came on strong, I felt like there was nothing I could do but tense up and let the freight train ride through me — relaxation was totally impossible!

    I thought it was interesting that neither of us found the hypnobirthing techniques that useful in the throes of labor. But for me and maybe for you, the confidence that the classes gave me allowed me to at least approach the birth with a sense of peace and very little fear, and that in itself made the time devoted to it worthwhile. It’s also interesting to me that you would have preferred a shorter labor, while I would have preferred a slightly longer one. I feel like the lesson is that we have to honor the experience we had and be so grateful that our babies came out healthy and unscarred….

    I also want to say that it sounds as if you did have an extraordinarily painful birth, not only because it was long, and that Kamea’s elbow probably was in the way. I think you will find next time that the pain, though awful, is bearable — I never felt like I was going to die, and looking back, I can laugh about all the screaming I did (including while walking into the hospital–LOL) and some of the things I said. And they say it’s always easier and faster the second time around, which bodes well for you.

    I admire you very much for being willing to throw out your birth plan and honor your body’s messages. That must have been extremely difficult when you were surrounded by people who were expecting you to have a home birth. I’m so glad you had a positive experience at your hospital and that you were willing to share with others the fact that a hospital birth doesn’t have to be sterile and that MDs can be kind and supportive.

    Thank you for your courage, strength and humility!

  • Jesse

    Thank you so much for posting this. I just gave birth to my son, Sam, on 9/6, and things did not go the way I'd planned, either — in fact, I ended up with an unplanned C-section.

    You did the right thing, and congratulations on having such a beautiful, healthy daughter!

  • Tararoseconnolly

    Wow, thanks for posting this! I had a baby two months ago, and like you I practiced with hypnobabies (tried not to listen to negative birth stories) and planned for a birth center birth (homebirth was my first choice but we dont have any midwives in the remote town I live in, so we had to have the baby in a nearby city) I FINALLY went into labor 13 days past my due date, but when my water broke there was meconium in it and I had to transfer to the hospital. Thankfully my midwife had a deal where she could be our attending physician at the hospital, so she delivered our baby anyway:) Your birth story was really similar to mine–my little girl was also presenting wrong, with her head tucked into her shoulder and the shoulder coming out first. I will NEVER forget the pain of those contractions, and as my labor progressed excruciatingly slow I seriously felt like god was ripping my body apart. Maybe like other people said, it is not like that for subsequent babies, or if baby starts out in the right position. But OMG–by 5 centimeters I was begging for an epidural lol. As far as the hypnobabies, maybe that helped me earlier in labor, but once it was on I never went to my happy place. Having our baby in the hospital was, nonetheless, a very positive experience. Because she shifted positions during labor–twice–I got to have a drug free birth like I wanted (but if she hadn't moved when she did the midwife was even going to advocate for an epi to help relax things so the baby could move into position) and even though they had to clamp the cord right away because of the meconium when they finally gave her back she started nursing right away, and I think we are pretty bonded! But my birth experience did also open my eyes to the fact that not all hospital births are evil, and I will never, NEVER judge anyone for electing to have pain management in their birth. So I appreciate you being willing to share this, even if it didn't go how you expected. We all live and learn, right? and it will just make us that much stronger and prepared for the next time (although I still can't wrap my head around doing this again yet -lol!)

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Hi Katie,

    Thank you for sharing details about your birth and for your thoughtful

    comments about my experience. XOXO, Kristen

  • Tara Hook16

    Kristen, Thank you for your honest story. You are a wonderful mom and person. I couldn't help but think of the saying “We make plans and God laughs” while reading this. Baby Kamea is a lucky girl

  • Joanna_Steven

    Thank you :) It's so nice to have real people around with real birth experiences. Watching natural births on YouTube does make us think that it's not such a big deal, right? ;)

  • Dkloosterman

    Thank you for sharing your story! You've learned so much and your genuiness and honesty will help others too….You did Great and the line you share about 'needing to be flexible when new information presents itself' is so very true…so glad you followed your instincts!….I really don't know anyone whose first birth proceeded how they envisioned, typically subsequent births go much smoother due to the mom knowing what to expect and less of a learning curve, increased confidence etc…this was very true for me…I'm glad to hear your excitement about another birth….the most important thing is that both mama and baby are well after birth…after that, there is a whole lifetime to enjoy! :) Deb

  • Deb

    p.s. so glad to hear you had a good hospital experience, for you and to be able to share with your readers….there certainly seems to be a trend with hospitals becoming more mom/child friendly…some with special wings for labor and welcoming rooms etc….we have a hospital like that in town (my experience was good even before the new labor wing) and I know of others in nearby cities as well, but it is good to research them ahead of time…so glad you did! Deb

  • Pure Mothers

    oh yeah, and I felt really prepared with 12 weeks of Bradley Childbirth Classes. My friends who used Hypnobirthing all ended up with some drugs. Not to say that it doesn’t work for some, but all in my Bradley class who didn’t end up with C sections (most had natural) used no drugs.

  • Rose

    I am pregnant (with my first) and I am glad I did not skip this. I have heard way worse! I believe this is a very positive experience because, in the end, the baby was healthy and you still had a vaginal birth. I already have a rigidly structured birth plan and a fear of pushy doctors so it's great to know that even when everything goes out the door, things can still turn out alright!

  • Pure Mothers

    What a story! My labor was 36 hours. Got to have the planned home birth (no stuck elbows) just a long labor. Did you read the Mothering Magazine article a few months back about Mayan Womb Massage? So interesting. For women with tilted uteruses (mine) labors are longer and with this massage it loosens the ligaments to put the uterus in a more normal position and it results in shorter labors. Perhaps you have a tilted uterus too. Good to know for baby #2. I want to get this massage. :-)

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I don't recall that article but interested in checking it out. Thx ;)

  • Kristen Suzanne

    That is interesting, too. And, it's 12 weeks? Wow! Hypnobirthing was 5

    weeks. I think hypnobirthing has helped me in everyday life, which is

    nice, just not sure about it helping me with childbirth.

  • Elainie

    Well all that matters in the end is a healthy baby! And you got yours.
    I had a long labor with my last one (3 days or so) compared to my usual under 4 hour and in one case one hour total labor and birth. I got really worried my body wasn't working, the baby was posterior (no surprise- almost all of mine have been and my firstborn was born sunny side up). But I have had *things go wrong* at each of my births.
    First birth (twin- homebirth) I was overdue and at 42 weeks my midwife induced me by breaking my water with an amniohook. Something I would never let happen these days and lucky first twins head was very low otherwise that could have been the end. But it put me in full blown labor pronto and I've only ever had back labor. That birth went fine but I ended up getting shots of pitocin to stop my hemorrhage after I had blacked out.
    Second birth I told my midwife I felt my baby was in distress a few days before labor started- lucky his labor/birth ws the fast one as he had mec all over him.
    Third birth- I tell my midwife early on in the pregnancy the baby had cord around her neck- I go to therapy to resolve this and hope for the best- sure enough she is born with cord wrapped 3 times around her neck. Last birth I tell midwife early on in pregnancy I am scared the placenta is going to come apart early. Sure enough I manifest it or it was precoged and although he was born safe within my birth plan (in my tub) I can't help to think what if it had been worse. With birth one just never knows- we can visualize happy healthy thoughts and easy labor birth but we can never be 100% sure.

  • Elainie

    Oh and yeah, I took hypnobirthing the last pregnancy- I wanted nothing to do with it when I went into labor!

  • Lisa Clark

    Hi Kristen. I really like this story. It was worth waiting for. I am glad that you did everything you did to benefit you and your baby… That is why I am sometimes worried when I hear women giving advice to avoid any doctors and their labors went fine without them and their kids have never seen a doctor. I don't feel they are doing what is BEST for their babies. No one can tell you what to do because everyone's experience is different. If I didn't go to the midwives I go to and get an ultrasound..I probably wouldn't know I have placenta previa. If I had an at home birth and it was still an issue at that time there is no telling what would go down. I choose to be prepared for all options, even medication, and a c-section if necessary..and I see why anyone would want to avoid that. I learned the same lesson in my pregnancy as you did about the birth. You can plan all you want..but when circumstances you didn't even think of come up..sometimes you need to change course and take routes you never thought you would. I had this wonderful plan of how to deal with my pregnancy, my diet, and so on..but I ended up being so incredibly sick I didn't know what to do with myself… All those wonderful things I planned didn't work at all. I had to reevaluate and do what was best at the time for baby and me.

    It is good you had the hypnobirthing..even if it didn't work. It doesn't hurt to be prepared. I have been putting off taking any classes, but now I'm really looking into it. I want a class that isn't one way or the other about medication because I want the option of both. You never know what will happen..and just because you may need doesn't mean you are less strong than someone else who didn't. It means your experience was different. Women who have natural births sometimes are just lucky to have an easy birth.. things progress easily.

    Even though you said people who are pregnant should avoid reading this, I read it anyway. I feel it helps me to feel confident that it is OK to ask for help.. it is OK if things don't go as planned. I already have heard the worst from my mother anyway..complaining she wasn't allowed to get an epidural with me and all that went with it. I'm immune.. HAHA.. But again thanks for sharing your story and I think you are very brave and very smart for all of the decisions you made..even if they weren't the original plans.. :) :)

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)

    Kristen thank you so much for sharing your story! Due to me losing faith/trust in my midwife in my 2nd trimester, I went back to my traditional Ob/Gyn. And in the process said goodbye to a homebirth, hello hospital birth. The hosp that I delivered at has a reputation for being super C–sec and intervetion happy. I had neither. I sat in a chair in the corner, labored, told them, she's coming out, hopped up on the bed, pushed, and she was out. It was really intervention-less. I feared, as you did, that in giving up a HB i was destined for all kinds of battles, fights, etc w/ hosp staff and had none. So glad you had a great hosp experience, all things considered.

    The huge team of women at my house would have stopped my labor dead in it's tracks as I am a “loner” when the shit hits the fan. I need to be alone. And in labor, I just wanted to sit in a chair in the corner alone, and do it alone. And I did.

    I could go on and on, but I think the realizations, lessons, and things that you have learned about life, yourself, plans, hospitals, Kamea, your inner voice…there are just SO many amazing things you've learned thru this all…that's parenthood for you :)

    Blessings on the birth, baby, and of course having the bravery to share this story w/ the world..thank you :)


  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thank you so much for sharing Averie. I, like you, tend to be a loner

    in certain instances. I might've faired better if I kept it as Greg,

    my mom, and myself for a lot longer. And then, later, only had my

    midwife and doula. In fact, my doula had just given birth herself

    about 11 days prior, so her newborn was there also. Not ideal because

    I worried about him, and her attention being divided, but I'm so close

    with my doula that I didn't want to do the birth without her. Oh the

    lessons learned through it all.

    Now I'm excited to have a second birth someday, because I feel

    empowered with knowledge and experience. :)

  • Tania

    Did Kamea have eye medication and Vit K injections and heal test etc after the birth? Struggling to decided what is really vital for baby and what is just more drugs/procedures for a precious baby Thanks P.S Really enjoyed reading about the birth You have given me lots of ideas to put in my birth plan for 'just in case' moments

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I did do the eye medication, but only because the doctor recommended

    it because my water had been broken so long and was worried about

    infection. I did not do Hep B or Vitamin K.

  • Jenny

    Hi Kristen,
    I am wondering how you feel about maca powder – specifically using it for fertility. I was thinking about adding it into my diet to help to conceive but I have found conflicting articles about when to stop taking it – to continue through the first trimester or stop right after you discover you are pregnant. What are your thoughts or experiences with it?

  • Sewmouse

    As Robert Burns said: “The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, gang aft agley.”

    Good on you for having had a Plan B – and probably Plan C and D as well. I've often been told that no 2 pregnancies or deliveries are exactly the same. I know my 2nd pregnancy (did not work out) was certainly different except for the constant craving for carry-out Chinese food.

    I'd tell you about my experience – but it was 28 years ago, when the world didn't have all the choices readily to hand like it does now, and it went far too fast and “easy” (as if).

    I don't think you've ever given Kamea's “Vital Stats” – how much did she weigh, how long, etc… Did I miss it?

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I might've written them on my other blog, in June.

    I also probably updated my facebook status with her stars after I

    delivered her.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I did not take it while pregnant. I didn't think it was safe since it

    messes with hormones. Taking before pregnant might be ok though, I'd

    just stop taking it once there was even a chance of pregnancy. Ask

    your midwife or doctor though. ;)

  • rachel

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing this story. It is important for women to know that sometimes our dreams for birthing our babies don't come true. I've had 3 three children and all of their births were not what I had hoped for…

    My first baby got stuck and after 3 hours of pushing, I had to have an emergency c-section, second baby had complete placentia previa and had to have a c-section, by the third baby, a c-section was just the only thing anyone would let me do. I still feel sad when I think about their birth stories…like I'm not a 'real woman'…. but I guess if I think about how many women used to die in childbirth hundreds of years ago, I realize I am lucky that I Iive in a time that I was able to at least get the babies out….even if it was not my ideal way. Three lovely, healthy, beautiful babies. So much pain and suffering, but, I would do it again in a second:)

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thank you for sharing. You are “ALL-woman” and you sound like an

    amazing mom. xoxo

  • Alex

    It seems to me like you MADE yourself believe that birth is only great thing, something smooth to go through, little pain and then you push your baby out as many women centuries ago. Well, that is not always the case. And to me trying to find explanation (the elbows) is ….. hhmm … I will leave it out as I do not want to offend by the lack of proper word. You know, most of the times is not glories, orgasmic experience. And yes it hurts like MF! Babies die, women die, during home birth and during hospital birth.
    And of course we had meconium in your waters because you were some many days overdue. Placenta usually starts to slow down (not always) 2 weeks before due date.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    The elbow/presentation was told to me by my doctors and midwife. I

    didn't come up with it.

  • Sarah Desai

    I know you warned pregnant ladies not to read, but I'm glad that I did. I've chosen to do a homebirth with a certified nurse midwife too. Your story kind of reminds me of my wedding. You plan EVERY little detail and want to feel in control, but in the end, the weather does what it does, the flowers come and might be different, the asparagus is broccoli and the beautiful shoes you picked out are unbearable. But at the end of the night, you have your wonderful husband and it was all worth it. I think it was good to read this. Thank you Kristen, and congratulations to you and your beautiful baby girl!

  • Michelle

    Hello there Kristen,

    I am so sorry that you were unable to have your homebirth, I feel like I know how important it was/is to you as I am a crazy planner/researcher/natural birth enthusiast too. I plan (as much as a person can plan anything) to have a home water birth (with a detailed hospital plan b) when they time comes and will honestly be very upset if it does not happen. I guess what I mean is your fantastic positive attitude aside, remember to embrace your right to grieve the experience you wanted, cover baby's ears and f-bomb away – or do anything else you think will help :)

    I did have one question and a suggestion. :) The question was what type of birth pool did you use (i.e. your bath tub or a special birth pool)? The reason I ask is because I've read that if the water is not at the seated depth of under your armpits with space to float then the maximum buoyancy which actually provides the maximum pain relief is not achieved.

    The suggestion was whether or not you had thought of using Hypnobabies in the future. I know you used Hypnobirthing but from what I have read Hypnobabies is quite different and is the only course to offer medical grade hypno anesthesia (like the kind used for surgery). In general, I hear fabulous reviews about it, especially if you can attend a live class (rather than the home study class) or chose to use a Hypnodoula and practice it to the letter of their instructions (exclusively, diligently and daily!)

    Even though I can pretty much guess, I'd love to hear exactly what you'd do differently next time (?) … However, I am certain you will fare fabulously not just with all your wisdom gained this time but as second babies are said to be easier and second time homebirthers have a very low percentage of hospital transfer.

    Anyway continued blessings and best wishes to you, baby Kamea (I love her name btw) and the rest of your family,
    Michelle :)

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Hi Michelle,
    Actually, as badly as I wanted a homebirth, I have no regrets and really no mourning. You see, the minute I think down that road, I immediately remember standing in my bathroom experiencing the most excruciating pain for so many hours and the relief in my soul I felt when I decided to transfer. It was a decision with zero regret so I don't need to grieve. I was grateful to have had some time at home and to experience part of a home birth.

    I used our big regular bath tub. I originally had ordered a rental birth tub, but my midwife said I wouldn't need it and that my tub would be fine. Perhaps what you say is true about the depth, but at the same time, I don't think the tub would've made that much of a difference with the level of pain I had. But, who knows. Maybe it could've afforded me a couple more hours at home. That being said, if I had transferred much later than I did, I might have missed my chance for a vaginal delivery… not sure. I will consider the rental for the next home birth, which brings me to the next part of your comment. What would I do differently? Well, I will still start with a homebirth and hope for the best. I will have my birth team arrive later so I can labor with just my husband and mom. I will have fewer people attend. Perhaps just the midwife and doula (and husband and my mom). I am not sure about birthing classes. I don't think I'm interested in hypnobabies, but might actually look at other options. Maybe the Bradley ones? Maybe nothing. I will probably rent the birth tub. I will drop f-bombs if I want and just do what feels natural while still keeping in mind some birthing best practices. Most of all, though, I'll feel empowered because I'll have already been through it. That alone will be of great help.

  • Alina

    Hi, Kristen, I'm glad I finally saw your birth story. Thanks for sharing it and being so open and honest about everything. When I saw first picture of Kamea on FB, I knew you ended up in a hospital but was glad to read the details. I think at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter where you give birth as long as you have a healthy baby. You did wonderfully during your pregnancy, eating so healthy and doing all the right things (and now with all the healthy organic things that you use), and I am glad you listened to your intuition and did what was best.
    For myself, I've decided to go with Hypnobabies – I've read tons of comparative reviews online and many women who did both, Hypnobirthing for the first birth and Hypnobabibes for the second, say they couldn't stick with Hynpobirthing for a long time yet had lots of success with Hypnobabies. However, in the elbow situation, both would probably be useless :)
    I guess when I give birth in March I'll know for sure if it worked :) First births are never easy simple because we have absolutely no clue what to expect, especially how it will feel. Elbows or not :)

  • Amanda

    Hi Kristen,
    Well, wow, that is an amazing story and crazy how much your story mimics my birth story with my 5th delivery that just took place 9/6/10. I too had so hoped for a home birth and was so extremely excited for it all to happen. I mean right down to having the best of the best midwife at my side with her apprentice, to too many on lookers watching me waiting for things to get started, my savior husband by my side and my other children. My water had broke on a sat night around 10:30pm. By Monday 12pm, still labor had not begun (really the main difference, labor never started for me and your's failed to progress) so we had to make that “what do we do at this point…wait or head in” decision, and the dreaded hospital was what had to happen at that point, with deep regret and devastation that my hopes for the perfect home birth were being “shattered”…so we headed in. To the 45min away hospital where my midwifes good friend and business partner delivered as a nurse midwife, so it was an easier transition and I was more able to stick to my “plan”. Well as my midwife had put it; it was what the baby “wanted” cause as soon as I got there I was only at “2″ and an hour and a half later my beautiful son Jackson was born! So moral of the story he was happy and healthy and that's what really truly mattered in the end. As you can relate! Well now with all that said, congrats on your beautiful angel and I am glad it all worked out in the end for you as well!
    Thank you for sharing! As well as the tips on the cloth wipes, your blog is new to me…thanks to my midwife, and I look forward to following your blog.
    With love and many blessing your way,

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Hi Amanda,

    Congrats on your precious baby! Thank you for sharing your story. I

    loved reading it. XO

  • Taryn

    Congratulations on your birth! Thank you for your heartfelt story! What a beautiful baby and a strong mama!

    Did your midwife or doctor tell you not to ingest the placenta because of the meconium? I have encapsulated several placentas exposed to meconium using a vinegar rinse/steam according to the recipe in Cornelia Enning's book The Placenta: Gift of Life. This works very well and these moms have had no issues.

    Just something you might want to put on the blog in the event that other readers can benefit from the information. :-)

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I believe that was the only reason.

  • Lisa

    Congratulations!!! What a beautiful birth story.

  • Lenette Carus

    Kristen, thank you for sharing your story, I don't have kids yet but my husband and I are planning to and I am considering a home birth, your story definitely gave me some insight on birth and all of the highs and lows that go along with it. Blessings to you and your loved ones, you did a wonderful job bringing Kamea into this world!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thank you Lenette. Good luck with everything!

  • Faith Flores

    I can't believe I missed this when you posted it! I've been looking forward to reading your birth story. That said, I respect and honor you so much for being so honest about everything. Birth isn't a cookie cutter deal, none will be as planned or exactly as another's. Birth is unique and beautiful in it variety. Thanks so much for sharing yours :)

  • Janine

    What a great, honest story! I love to hear realistic stories. Its such an organic quality that some people lack. Thanks for the great post.

  • Jennifer Vanorden

    I read your birth story when you first posted it. First let me say thank you for sharing. But I must admit that I have been a little troubled about how things played out for you since I read it. I am a monther of 2. Both of by babies were born naturally; one in a free-standing birth center, and one at home. I had the same midwife for both. Labor with my first baby had quite a few similarities to yours. I started having regular, strong contractions about 130am one morning. I woke my husband up and he helped me thourgh each contractions using the Bradley method that we had learned. As time went on, my contraction started coming closer together. We kept in touch with my midwife throughout the process. After 8 hours or so, my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and they stayed that way. The hours kept dragging on with no change. Night time came and I was still contracting every 3-5 minutes, so I couldn't sleep. Around midnight my midwife asked me to come the the birth center. She checked me and I was only dilated to a 4 after 22 hours of labor. By this point each contractions had become very painful, much more so than earlier on. My midwife observed me for a few contractions. She told me that my body was caught in sort of a feedback loop, like a computer. My contractions were not very productive and I wasn't handling them well. Just like a computer, the best way to stop the feedback loop is to reset it. She offered me some choices. I could go to the hospital and have an epidural, or she could give me a shot of morphine. Both would allow me to get some rest and let my body “reset”. I didn't want to go to the hospital because I knew that with an epidural came a vareity of other, unwanted, inteventions. I opted for the morphine shot. After the shot my contractions slowed to almost nothing and I slept. About four or five hours later I woke up to a return of regular, managable contractions, 2 minutes apart, and I completed dilation in about 5 more hourse. My baby was born, at the birth center, without any further intervention or complications. He was born 34 hours after my labor first began.

    Failure to dilate with regular strong contractions is not unusual. It is called Dystosia. Here is a link to an article about it…

    As you can read in the article, dystosia occurrs in 8-11% of women, so it is troubling to me that you said your midwife was surprised that you weren't dilated past a 4 when she checked you. My midwife was not at all surprised. She was very confident that she had seen this many times before. What's even more troubling to me is that your midwife did not seem concerned that you weren't handling your contractions well and wanted you to continue on. What is her background? Is she a CNM or a direct entry midwife? When I was choosing my midwife this was of paramount importance, because I wanted someone whom I was comfortable with, and had a great medical background. I chose a CNM. She provided me with a list of her practice statistics upfront. It included how many birth she had attended, how many hospital transfers she had, etc.

    I am forever grateful to my midwife for intervening when I needed her to, and for giving me options that allowed me to stay out of the hospital. I know that she would have sent me directly to the hopsital if she felt it was necessary, and she would have respected my wish to go if I had chosen that. I trust her very much. With my second baby, she attended my homebirth, and I was equally impressed with the care she provided.

    I didn't comment here before because I didn't want to offend you. I know how very personal and emotional birth is, and every woman wants to be sure that she does the best thing for her baby. Given the circumstances as you described them, I think you made the right choice going to the hospital. I think if I had felt even for one minute that my midwife was not able to handle my circumstances, I would have gone too. I hope I haven't offended you. Would you consider a homebirth again when you have another baby? It really is a great experience.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Interesting info. My midwife had so much experience I'm surprised at your suggestions. It's certainly something to think about. I've never heard of giving a laboring woman morphine. Your information gives me something to think about. Hmmmm.

    I will definitely try homebirth again. I'm eager.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Also, they believe Kamea was ill-positioned causing great pain so your comment about being curious as to why my midwife wasn't more concerned about my distress/pain is interesting. It's making me curious, too. Thanks for commenting.

  • Jennifer Vanorden

    Morphine and other opiates can be used during labor in small doses. The main concern with morphine is that if the baby is under the influence of morphine at the time of birth, it can surpress breathing. For that reason, it is generally only given during early labor. Since I was only dilated to a 4 at the time, my midwife felt it was a good option. When my baby was born, he had no trouble breathing, and he climbed up my abdomen and latched on to nurse all on his own. Amazing!

    Glad to hear you'll try homebirth again!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Oh and a couple other thoughts…

    I had a doula (along with a few other women – details in the post), which might explain why my midwife wasn't more active?

    I had a pretty strict birth plan of anti-drugs which might explain why she didn't offer me morphine, although I would hope if it were available she would've offered it after I mentioned going to the hospital. Hmmm

    I was almost 2 weeks late as it was, so perhaps resetting wasn't an option?

    My pain was severe for what seems to be much longer than the high pain you had at the time you had it.

    I was so anti-hospital I didnt want a CNM.

    Even with comparing births, each one is vastly unique and there will never be a “oh you could've/should've” scenario because even if we both had done the same things there still would be differences.

    It's all good for discussion and data points though.

  • Jennifer Vanorden

    So interesting about the elbow presentation. My first baby was the same way. I did't really feel it until he had decended into the birth canal though. It was quite the experience to say the least. Painful, yes. But I would do it that way again in a heartbeat. I read below that you might consider a different birthing method than hypnobirthing next time. I did Bradley and loved it. It was a twelve week course, which seem like a lot, but it was very comprehensive. It covered everything there is to know about pregnancy and birth, many of the possible complications and how they are handled in and out of the hospital, and techniques for making pregnancy, labor, and delivery easier. There is another method called Brio Birth that is new. It is very similar to Bradley. It was actually started by some Bradley certified instructors who felt like the Bradley Method was due for an update. I don't have any personal experience with it, but it is worth looking into.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I'm considering Bradley but will check out the one you mentioned as well. Thx.

  • Jennifer Vanorden

    Agreed. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thanks for the dialogue. :)

  • Kamaralmt

    Big, big fan of The Bradley method. I felt really prepared for my 1st baby and used all the info for the 2nd as well. Both vaginal births with a CNM, one in a hospital (due to insurance coverage) the other a water birth in birthing center. Uber Practical and so much more than just 'how to have a baby naturally'. Consumerism, diapering, breast feeding, birthing positions, breathing, birth plans, jump starting labor naturally when appropriate, vaccines, circumcision, routine procedures done in a hospital if thats where you end up, etc. Just like Hypnobirthing the info is applicable to everyday life as a Mom. I am extremely blessed to have had The Bradley Method teach me and help me constantly learn as my babies grew. I find it really neat that 16 years later I'm still incredibly passionate about The Bradley Method. Here's to número dos for you three!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    Thank you!! :)

  • Courtney Wright

    I’m 22 weeks pregnant, and I don’t regret reading this. It has really helped me! Happy belated first bday to Kamea!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    I’m glad. Thank you :)

  • Robins

    I am 7 days Overdue and just curious at how much your angel weighed? I am scared of the baby getting too big in there lol!

  • Kristen Suzanne

    She was about 7 1/2 pounds