Tomorrow we will have the full interview with Leigh Anne, a mother and advocate. As part of the interview I ask women to summarize their birth experiences. Hers were long (can't we all do that about birth?!) so I decided to post them today and do the rest of the interview tomorrow. These are amazing birth stories of pain and struggle, learning, growth, and eventually, joy and redemption.
Enjoy! (And check back tomorrow).
I love birth stories, so to introduce yourself, give us a brief synopsis of your births and how they effected you.
Hi, I am Leigh Anne DuChene. I am a natural parenting and birth advocate and educator. My birth experiences are what have led me to the birth profession. I specialize in traumatic birth recovery, VBAC preparation, birth preparation, maternal and pediatric natural health and nutrition, breastfeeding education, postpartum wellness, placenta encapsulation, baby-led feeding, and holistic parent coaching.
The birth of my first child, JP, was very traumatic. My first birth was a planned natural birth at a with a midwife. At 39 weeks I went into spontaneous labor. After 31 hours of labor, due to somethings that concerned the midwife that I am still not totally clear about today, we transferred to the hospital. I was put on pitocin, but chose not to have any pain medications. In retrospect not such a great choice, since I was already exhausted from 31 hrs of natural labor, and pitocin ramps things up a bit. After 6 hours on pitocin, I only dilated one additional centimeter, I never got pass 8 cm, I started blacking out with each contraction, and my heart rate and baby's heart rate were dropping with each contraction that was causing concern for the OB. So, a was advised. After 39 hours of labor my son was born via cesarean section, and I was emotionally broken.
The parts that were traumatic were that my first ever encounter with the OB I was transferred to was him verbally ripping apart my birth plan, and actually arguing with me over doing an episiotomy. I had on my birth plan that I did not want one, and he kept saying well that is just what we do here. I rose up in the middle of a contraction while on pitocin, and said, "If you cut me I will sue you! I am telling you I do not want an episiotomy." From that point on it was hell! He never spoke to me again, just DID things, and spoke to my husband and doula instead. On my birth plan I stated that I did not want an internal fetal monitor without my verbal consent and understanding of why it is felt necessary. Instead of talking to anyone about it, he says, "I am going to check you now," and proceeds to attempt to insert an internal fetal monitor lead without me knowing until he says, "It's not staying in. I need another lead." And I was freaking out asking what is he talking about, what is he doing?
My doula had to explain to me what he is doing, and works to calm me down. Thankfully the leads did not take at all. He said the baby's caput was too thick. I was relieved they did not take. I was never shown respect or spoken to like the educated birthing mother that I was. It was so dis- empowering! The cesarean itself made me feel like I was a failure, and I deeply grieved the loss of the vaginal birth I so much wanted. I literally felt like my child was ripped from me and that my birthing process was never completed. Which, in essence, is what happened.
Over the past 3 years, since JP's birth, I have spent much of my time healing emotionally, and supporting other post-traumatic birth mothers in their healing journeys as well. A year ago I decided I was emotionally ready to get pregnant and try again at a natural birth. We were pregnant very quickly. I spent my entire focusing on my emotional preparation for my VBAC. We planned a with a midwife. I felt uncomfortable laboring at the birthing center with my first, and always thought why didn't I just stay home to labor. So, that is what we planned and did with our second. I chose my own very VBAC-supportive OB.
I went to 43 weeks with this pregnancy, and in order to continue on with our home birth plans, legally, we needed my OB's clearance. So, at 42 weeks I had a BPP and a regular ultrasound done, the first ultrasounds of both of my pregnancies, and during the second visit for the ultrasound my OB said he felt I would have the most success and be safest to birth in the hospital with him. There was a lot of discussion that went on between my OB, midwife, doula, husband, and myself that pertained to his recommendation of laboring at home as long as I was comfortable, and just proceeding on with my home birth.
In the end, I was not emotionally ready to let go of my planned home birth and did not fully understand that what had just occurred meant that my midwives could not legally support me in a home birth. I was very torn-up inside. I had very little time to cope and get ready for what was to come for this birth. I spent 3 days in meditation and prayer, and doing work. I finally felt at peace. What was most important to me was a vaginal birth.
She wanted to do another c/s, as soon as she found out I was a VBAC mom. I literally told the nurse who relayed the OB's message to me to tell the OB, "This is my baby, my body, and my birth; and a Cesarean is NOT an option at this point. I will leave against medical advice and go somewhere else if I have to." My water was not broken and they said I was only 3cm, not even in active labor to the hospital standards, but was very much active labor in my book! My midwife called my OB and he said, "Get the hell out of there. I am calling the nurses station to give them my orders for her to be released."
He did and I went home, another 30 - 45 minute drive back home. My midwife and doula went home to get a shower, as I was doing pretty well. Then when we got home things hit hard and heavy. It was just me, hubby, and JP; and I was laboring in the tub for a long time. Then I started to shake, and I remembered experiencing this with my first birth just before I was given the local anaesthesia for the cesarean, and thought to myself, "This is transition!"
I crawled out of the tub, and was on my hands and knees over towels in the bathroom floor when the intense urge to push with every contraction began. I told hubby to call our midwife and ask her to get here asap. She arrived and said we need to get to the hospital. To make this, longer than intended, story short, I arrived at the hospital at 9cm and pushing.
The OB on-call had no choice but to deliver me! :o) If I had of stayed home just about 2 more hours I would of had my very uncomplicated home birth! It was a great experience though. I remember when my midwife told me (as I didn't hear the nurse the first time) that I was fully dilated and baby was ready, all I could say was, "Oh shit!" (LOL) What I was thinking was, "I did it! I am having my baby naturally the way God intended!" And by that thought I was just overflowing with glee and joy!
Pushing was hard, but so so enjoyable at the same time, knowing that I was birthing my child! He was 9lbs 7oz, and 20 1/2 in. long. My first was 8lbs 12 oz, and 21 1/2 in. long, too big to fit, yeah right! The OB from my first birth actually told my husband that the baby was too big to fit through my pelvis!
The other great thing about my second birth experience was that I got to keep my placenta. I ate some raw just a few hours after the birth. Yes, while still in the hospital, and it did cause a fuss among the nurses, but when my OB was called, he said, "Leave her alone. I told her she could have her placenta, and she is free to do what she wishes with it."
My OB totally rocked, even though he was not able to be at my birth. Then, on day 4 postpartum, I encapsulated the rest of my placenta to take as supplements, and still have a few that I am taking currently. I have not experienced any baby blues or after my second birth. After my first I had PPD pretty bad, and didn't realize it till I was already 6 months postpartum. My PPD after my first birth lasted for about a year after his birth. Then, after all the emotional and nutritional work I had done, things started greatly improving.
My birth experiences have affected me deeply and I feel that my healing VBAC experience along with a very enjoyable postpartum experience after my VBAC have really enabled me to connect with my first child on a deeper level, the way I wish I could have had I not been grieving and depressed. I feel like I am whole again, I have complete faith and trust in my body again!
I know that I did all I could, at that point in my life, to avoid a cesarean the first time, and I learned so much from the experience, that I felt prepared for my second birth, with the birth plans and emotional preparations I had done, for whatever outcome occurred, even if that had meant another cesarean. I felt at peace with everything, and I knew that if another c/s occurred I would have done everything to try to prevent it, and that it would not of been because I failed. I am SO thankful and grateful for my very healing VBAC experience. I continue to support VBAC mothers to become emotionally prepared for their births, and to feel at peace with the process no matter what.