family wellness

Sharing my birth stories

Yesterday, my baby turned three and tomorrow my eldest, Tom, will officially be an 8-year-old. Their birthdays are making me incredibly nostalgic. I’ve been going down the rabbit hole looking at all their baby pictures. It’s also made me reflective about motherhood and childbirth. Hearing others’ birth stories was so helpful and empowering for me. So, I wanted to share my birth stories with all of you.

I grew up with a mom who gave birth to all three of my younger siblings at home. I saw how empowering the experience was for her and always knew that having a home birth was something I wanted for myself. However, as you’ll see in the video below, I learned very quickly that childbirth doesn’t always go the way you’ve planned. In fact, all of my kids’ births were wildly different than I had imagined. Regardless, the biggest lesson I learned through all three labors was how important it is to have people you trust and can rely on in your corner to cheer you on and make decisions on your behalf. For me, that was my midwife Sally Avenson, my doula Carrie Kenner, and my husband Jared. (And a special shout out to my dear friend Alia for support and Jasmine Bay for comfort and pain relief.)

Sally and I made this video about my birth experiences in hopes that it might shed light on homebirth for other people out there who are curious. I’d love for you to watch it and let me know about your birth experiences. Where did you give birth? And how did it go?

I’ve also compiled some helpful resources below for anyone who is pregnant or hopes to be someday. Regardless of where you give birth, it’s good to arm yourself with as much information as you can!  

 

 

MY FAVORITE CHILDBIRTH RESOURCES: 

 

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Known as “the mother of authentic midwifery,” Ina May Gaskin has been teaching fearless childbirth since the 1970s. This book is filled with birth stories and practical advice, including how to lessen the pain of labor without drugs, and how to feel safe and comfortable in any birth environment. It’s a great read—whether you are hoping to have a home birth or not!

The Business of Being Born

 This 2008 documentary by actress and former talk show host Rickie Lake examines how the American medical system handles childbirth. While it definitely pushes home birth, the documentary does show that emergencies can happen: The documentary’s pregnant director, Abby Epstein, has to have an emergency C-section. The film raises a lot of valid questions about the way mothers are treated during childbirth. And it highlights the importance of informed consent and how to be your own advocate. 

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two

This book from Dr. William Sears is great because it encompasses everything from preparing for a healthy birth to potty training and temper tantrums. 

Birth Partner 5th Edition: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Partners, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions

If you want to give a book to your partner to help them learn how to best support you during pregnancy and childbirth, this is a good one. If anything, it can get you talking about key issues, including epidurals, C-sections, and breastfeeding.

The Panic-Free Pregnancy

This is a great book written by a respected OBGYN that helps to separate fact from fiction on all the lifestyle questions pregnant women face about exercise, diet, travel, medications and more. 

Expecting Better

This is another good read to ease anxiety around pregnancy and childbirth. Emily Oster is an award-winning economist who digs into all the research on common medical advice given to pregnant women. Surprise: A lot of it is wrong! The good news is that there’s a lot less to worry about than you think and all of her research will help give you some peace of mind.

 

In the end, it doesn’t matter how you give birth. Whether it’s at home, a birth center or a hospital. The truth is that you have to be open to things changing at any minute (that happened to me with my first birth transferring to the hospital). The end goal is the same no matter what: to have a healthy baby! 

 
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15 Comments

  • Lily Wood

    This made me cry. The raw and beautiful truths you shared made so many emotional connections to me as a woman. We are strong, our bodies are incredible, and you’ve really captured that. Thank you from me, a strong and independent girl, and all other women/mothers out there ❤️💪🏻

    • Terri Davis

      I don’t know where to start, I had my first born, a boy at 19 years old and screamed for 4 days while an incompetent Dr kept turning the pitocin on and off. He was born with the cord around his neck too but came out my handsome blue eyed, blonde superhero. I lost him 8 years ago two months before he turned 40. I was told to not have any more children but couldn’t stand an only child so 5 years later was pregnant again. Took Lamaze classes and practiced to Wheel of Fortune everyday. I was huge but my (again) incompetent Dr said I was just fat. When my water broke I was on bed rest because of my blood pressure. The nurse took one look at me and said I was having twins! Xrays confirmed, so the next full day I labored and worried and wondered how was I going to take care of two babies. My daughter was born first weighing 6lbs 13 oz. My son was born 45 minutes later weighing 8 lbs 2 oz. Two full size babies and I could pee again…I nursed them both, rocking one with my foot in the bassinet while nursing the other. I had a 5 year old and twins. At 9 months I found a knot on my youngest son’s neck and thinking he fell, they were in walkers already, took him to the Dr. It turned into an emotional ride with me and Toddy alone in San Francisco and my daughter at my brother in laws while my mom watched my 5 year old. She’d just had a hysterectomy so couldn’t lift. I stayed in San Francisco 3 months while we tried to save him, but when I was told they were out of ideas but could try experimenting I chose to bring him home to pass. No more needles, no more fear, for him, just home in his bed with morphine and me. Telling a 5 year old his brother is going to Heaven is ….no words. I’m sorry for the long story and I shortened it a lot, but all this to say I wouldn’t have missed birthing my children for the world. I may not have had one very long and I may have lost, unplugged my oldest, but I loved them with all my heart and I will always love them and my grown amazing daughter who travels the world. I couldn’t have had my children at home, you were blessed. Peace, Terri

  • Michele Sloan

    Beautiful. Mine is not captured at all. I was under stress of new marriage, mother dying, taking care of hubby, dad, mom and house. Not me. Got toximia, induced 12 days early. His cord wrap around his neck as his head was coming out they saw and he and I had a drop in heart rates. Having a baby pushed back up is awful. Emergency c section. We both came out great. My 8.5 lb bundle was beautiful. However, I swore off childbirth and never had another. It was to much. But to get him I would do it all again. Now I have a 12 year old granddaughter.

  • Sarah Simmons

    Thank you for being so candid with your own stories. We need more of that so new moms can be better prepared.

    My first kid gave me all kinds of trouble during labor and the delivery (3rd degree tear despite the nurses doing all they could to prevent it and oxygen levels that kept dropping), and despite the second going markedly better and the amazing care I received both times, I still have nightmares from both occasions. I love my children, but I don’t think I can handle giving birth a third time.

  • Kerri Reed

    Thank you for sharing your experience🙂

    You are truly an inspiration to women everywhere!

    I had my mom with me when I gave birth to my son because my husband had died in Iraq.

    I labored in the hospital 10 hours. I used hypnotherapy. It worked well. He was born with the cord arou d his neck and he stopped breathing.

    They got him breathing again and he just graduated high school🙂

    I hope to meet you someday!

  • Sherry

    THANK YOU for sharing your stories with all of us! You are incredible, and I’m sooo impressed and amazed by both your mom and you having your babies at home (mostly ;-))!

    I have to tell you, though, as I was thinking about my own kids’ births, it dawned on me how freaking much older I am than you and Jared! LOL!! I was basically no longer a teenager when the two of you were born, and y’all weren’t yet teenagers when my kids were born, so some of the choices in our smallish west Texas town weren’t exactly the best.

    When my older daughter was born, in 1990, we could only use a “birthing room” if we were absolutely *positive* there would be no drugs used, etc.; otherwise, you got a regular room until you were taken to the delivery room. I was planning on having an epidural if possible, and once they gave me pitocin (b/c I was having no contractions even several hours after my water broke), I was soooo ready for that epidural once I could have it. She was tiny (5 lbs, 10.5 oz, 17.5 in), but full-term and otherwise ridiculously healthy.

    Bizarrely, it wasn’t until my 2nd daughter was born, a little over 3 years later, that I realized just how awful pitocin *really* is. Labor hurts, right? But with a first one, you obviously have nothing to compare it to. My second daughter was a good bit bigger (8 lbs., 4 oz, 20.5 inches), but labor was waaaay easier with her, anyway. AND the same hospital then had birthing rooms where you could stay in the same room the whole time, regardless of how the delivery happened.

    I love that you’ve created this opportunity for us to share our stories together, and you shared your own so beautifully. THANK YOU again! <3

  • Sabrina Travers

    First, thank you for sharing your experiences. Second I have two girls of my own. I had no idea what to expect with my first and was not in tune with my body like I am now. I have a difficult ending to my pregnancy, ending up on bed rest with gestational hypertension. I was induced a week early cause it wasn’t improving
    It was a long 24 hours between the pain and the anesthesiologist messed up the epidural and dropped my blood pressure and the babies heart rate. I was very close to a c section which I didn’t need once they took the epidural out, everything resolved. I birthed her naturally pushing for an hour, then the hospital stay was a horrible experience. I didn’t get to bring her home for a week and it triggered PPD/PPA badly. I battled it for a year when I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter. Her pregnancy went great, her delivery completely opposite of my first. I armed myself with a new OB and different hospital who were completely amazing and supportive of whatever my birth plan was. I told them it was to to get my baby out safely, that’s it. She was born within a few hours with only 3 pushes. My body healed quicker, I was more active with her pregnancy. My girls are now 3 and 5. Part of me wants another but my husband had a vasectomy done, we’re done. But I still mourn it a little. Thank you for being so personal and sharing your stories of your kids births. I for one appreciate it and I’m sure many more do.

  • Kim Jacobs

    Furstly, thank you for sharing your experiences with childbirth! Every woman, every birth is unique. My first child was born 43 years ago, ironically on the date in between your eldest and youngest (18th March). My second (and yongest) was born in 1980 so he is turning 40 this year.

    Things were very different back then. Home births were frowned upon and my two were born is Maternity Hospitals, with midwifes. Both were born minutes before the doctor arrived. I was very young when my first came along, and quite naive about the whole experience so pretty much handed control over to those who, I thought at the time, knew what they were doing. My first birth was actually quite traumatising in that I needed an epesiotomy and the midwife wouldn’t do it, but then had to or I was going to tear. She literally caught my daughter as she was about to shoot off the end of the table! I had such a bad experience trying to establish breastfeeding that I gave up and bottle fed, and when my son was born I didn’t even attempt to do it. That’s something I regret to this day. I wish I had been more empowered, more supported and more knowledgable as women are today.

    I was more relaxed when my son was born, and felt like I had more say in the matter. I had no pain medication and a relatively short labour. I felt more in control and it was a much calmer experience. With my first I had a 72 hour labour, with my second it was less than 12 hours from whoa to go.

    Regardless of the process, it’s ultimately what you do next with your kids that shapes them into caring humans. I hope yours grow up to be half as thoughtful, kind and loving as mine!
    xoxoxo

  • Raghda

    I am not married or a mom but your story make me cry, moms are heroes, and my own mother is a real heroes love all mothers❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Karen Avgerakis

    I had my daughter after 10 years of infertility treatments and 2 miscarriages. Due to my 37 years of age, I was considered high risk. My body did not provide enough hormones to maintain a pregnancy on it’s own so for the entire pregnancy, I gave myself four injections a day. My amazing husband learned to give me the injections too! He was by my side each and every step of the way. I had my daughter in the hospital and was on a Pitocin drip. I did not want an epidural but wanted to try and have her naturally. After 24 hours and 1 minute of labor my daughter was born healthy and everything I could have dreamed of. We are blessed beyond measure. She is our only child and is 20 years old now. She brings us joy and so much love each day.Thank-you for allowing me to share.

  • Julianne Pattershall

    Thank you for your story, your children are beautiful. I have two wonderful boys who are my whole world but getting them was no easy task. I had had a sever uterine infection and was told while dating my husband that we would never be able to have children. I was crushed but we decided to put it in God’s hands and try anyway.
    When I was pregnant with my oldest it seemed like one thing after another went wrong. At 12 weeks gestation we lost his twin and I had to take two weeks off of work as they feared I would lose him too. At 7 months pregnant my mom, who was my best friend also, threw me a baby shower; the very next day she passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. At this point I was put on bed rest and spent the next two months crying and watching Disney movies. I continuously had early labor stopped until my Blondie bear came 3 weeks early after 25 hours of labor and my midwife showing up drunk. He was a big baby but had weak lungs and spent 9 days in NICU. I was iffy on whether we wanted more children but he was always lonely and eventually my husband and I decided to try for another baby. Two miscarriages later and I got pregnant with my special little bit.
    Being pregnant with a 2-3 year old is no easy task and again I started having a lot of trouble with trying to stop early labor. By 7 months I was again put on bed rest which turned out to be impossible with my 3 year old climbing the walls. By mid December I was in constant “inactive” labor which just means you have tons of contractions but no dilation. After three weeks of that hell I was checked at my doctor’s office and was 6 cm dilated and told to get to the hospital. I live in MA and a blizzard was just starting that day so it took two hours for my babysitter to get to us and an hour and a half for me to drive two exits on the highway to get to the hospital. When I got there they were about to do a shift change and the midwife who was present wanted to go home and tried to refuse to admit me. After saying that there was no way I was leaving unless she wanted to be held responsible if I delivered on the side of the highway in a blizzard she changed her tune and checked if the next shift would take me. Just a few hours later my itty bitty little guy was born. He was over a month early but perfectly healthy. He has Autism but is the sweetest child ever.
    My boys are now 9 and 6, and though I am forever grateful for them, my birth experiences were so awful I ended up getting my tubes tied as I know I can’t do it again.

  • unecatastrophe

    Thanks for sharing these intimate moments and experiences with us!! I always thought to give birth to my kids naturally, but my chance to this was taken away by a serious heart situation of me. So my son was a premie (in hindsight: a great thing for my body!) and had to be delivered by c-section (or that would’ve been my last experience on earth…), under general anesthetic so without conscience or my husband there !! So my tiny baby was in the incubator and I couldn’t move to see him at first and I got a post-natal breakdown on top! It was SO not how I planned it to be…! But my baby son did awesome, the strenghth and will to get home and the “kangoorooing“ and the special care nevertheless made it a very special and intense experience in the end.
    When my daughter was born I already experienced a miscarriage but strangely never has a single doubt through pregnancy that it would all work out with her. She only came 3 weeks early and as I had to have a c-section again at least I was awake and could see abd nurture my baby directly afterwards. That was so much more than the first time that I really experienced it very intimate and intense even under these circumstances.
    I heard people pitying me for all this trouble, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat as it is the most unique, natural, overwhelming experience and completed me!

  • Dave

    I was reading your post and it got me thinking about childbirth and women’s health issues. My daughter had a her daughter at home with the aid of a midwife and a doula. She found it to be a very rewarding and intimate experience. She has gone on to study the eastern medicine’s approach to women’s health. I thought that you and maybe some of your followers might be interested in checking out her site and information at moonessence.life. She has done video consults with clients both inside and outside of the U.S.

  • Elizabeth Wilson

    Thank you for sharing. I had all three of my sons at home as well. There are a lot of misconceptions about home birth out there, so I’m glad you are helping shed some light. My boys were all big 9+ pounds each with my last one over 10. Our bodies are amazing and can handle a lot. It was incredible to just let my body tell me to push and stop. My husband helping deliver our babies instead of be on the side. I feel very fortunate to have those experiences. You’re right about a certain strength and empowerment. I hadn’t heard about acupuncture for pregnancy and birthing so thanks for teaching me something new as well.

  • Tami

    My pregnancy, even though high-risk, was wonderful.

    My birthing experience was horrific.

    I wish I had done things similarly to the way you did.

    Dr. Sear’s book was my bible.

    I breast fed my son until he was 11 1/2 months old.

    And nows he’s 21 and 6’7″ tall…lol.

    My Sam is named after his great-great-great grandfather, Ulysses S. (Samuel) Grant.

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