husband, Jared, and I never really talked about how we were going
to have a baby. We didn't realize there were choices, we just figured
we'd have it how my sisters and mom had their kids, using an epideral.
When I got pregnant, the dr. office gave me the option of using a
midwife. I decided to try it. This did not mean I had to go natural,
they offer epiderals as well. When I met them, they were wonderful.
I felt so welcome, loved, and important. They offered the birthing
classes from Terese. I happened to know Terese from church, so we
were even more than happy to take them.
I give you that history because it wasn't until Terese's class that we
really considered a water birth and going natural. I really didn't
want to at first, I just thought I would take them for information.
The classes prepare you for all types of things that may happen
before, during, or after birth. Just because you choose an epideral
does not mean everything will go pain free and smoothly. There are
many times it does not work or kick in until later. Her classes help
prepare you for all types of situations that can come up in birth.
I bought the book Terese offered in her class and started to read it.
There were times I left the class overwhelmed by it all. But as I
read the book, took the classes, talked to Teresa and the midwives, I
started to really think if I should do this for myself.
Jared and I had the most wonderful experience. Which is not very
common in a first birth. Jared was taught how to be a coach and was
very supportive and involved the entire time. He was really part of
the pregnancy and birth.
I never felt pressure to go natural. I studied for myself and
realized all the benefits there were. I am one who gets queasy in
hospitals and around needles. This birthing experience was very quiet
with just me in a "hotel" type room. It was very peaceful. I
even have an episiotimy and everything went so smoothly. I had such
great women by my side supporting me the entire way through!
Terese was our Doula during the birth. She was a constant companion
with encouragment in words, touches, and even wiping my forehead. She
allowed Jared to stay by my side while she could take care of other
things that go on, as well as that extra support we appreciated. My
midwife never left my side. There was no feeling of anxiety, hoping
the doctor would come and catch the baby.
After the birth, Terese went and got us some much needed food. I
realized after she left that she would have been there for Jared and I
because of how selfless she is. She cancelled her birth class to help
us and wasn't even expecting us to pay. I'm not saying she does it
for free, and we of course paid her, but I wanted to point out how
much she really loves doing what she does and how much she cares! She
really has a gift.
Thank you Teresa. We miss you so much. We have moved away since and
are seriously considering flying back to Teresa when we have a second
You will benefit greatly when asking Teresa to be a part of your birth!
Jared, Sarah, and Audrey Hillam
I began having contractions the day before my delivery starting around
2pm or so. I didn't know it was real labor - I thought I'd feel more of
the Braxton-Hicks type contractions, but boy was I wrong. Since I was
mentally ready to give birth, I did some acupressure points and other
natural things to speed up contractions and walked around, too. I don't
know if it helped, but that night I couldn't get to sleep; the contractions
were so bad and then at 3am, I woke up my husband to help me keep track
of them and told him to call out of work.
My water broke around 5:30 am or so, which I didn't realize at that time
exactly. I called my doula, Teresa Fischer, and told her what was happening
and she came over and helped me through my labor. I also called the midwife
on call (it was Roxie) to let her know to expect me sometime that morning,
so I just continued to labor at home. I used so many positions and tried
eating, as I was VERY hungry, but I was so very tired (not having any
sleep the night before), but so wanting to have the baby.
The car ride to the hospital was 20 min. and it felt like an eternity!
Apparently I was going through the last phase of transition in the car
- not a good place for it.
When I got to the hospital around 9:45am, Roxie checked me and seen that
I was fully dilated and ready to push out the baby. I went into the tub
for pain management and began pushing. It felt great in the tub and didn't
want to get out. My condition and my baby's condition was stable so I
was able to try and have a waterbirth. I pushed and pushed and after taking
Roxie's advice to feel my baby's head, that gave me so much more motivation
and determination. Then... at 11:20am on the morning of Thursday January
19, 2006, my son - Drake Agostino was born!
I immeditately fell in love with him and although we didn't know his
gender throughout my pregnancy, we knew he was a boy - I didn't even have
to look between his legs. He was so beautiful! The birth was beautiful!
To know I did it the way I wanted to, without medications, and to have
such a healthy adorable little boy, feels tremendously rewarding!
Gabrielle's Birth Story
It's interesting, you know' The reaction I got from some people when I
told my birth story, it's interesting, and very telling. It reiterated
what an important experience birth is in the life of a woman, and the
feelings that appear to be carried around years and even decades later.
When the naysayers told me 'you won't want a natural childbirth when you're
in it, just get the epidural, trust me' found out that I did indeed have
a natural childbirth, there were always reasons. Maybe, they said, it
was because my labor progressed nicely and certainly had I had a 23 hour
labor I would have caved. Probably true, but I didn't, 10 hours water
break to after birth delivery. Those who wanted a natural childbirth but
wound up with an epidural lamented that since they were induced, they
just couldn't. Truth be told, had I been induced, I certainly may have
wanted it, but I wasn't, my water broke at work, five weeks early. Worse
were the poor souls that had unwanted cesarean sections, they just said
how lucky I was. And this is true, I was, For me labor progressed just
like it was supposed to; water broke, contractions started, puked at 8
cms (transition) at 10 cms moaned how I just couldn't take it anymore
and then pushed until my beautiful girl was born and hour or so later.
Haven taken a course to become a doula, I have listened to, watched and
read all about birth, customs, attitudes and feelings towards. How birth
became institutionalized in America, but that message didn't become so
clear to me until after I gave birth and so many then shared their birth
stories with me, stories that you don't hear until after you go through
this right of passage. So it was interesting to see that so many women
I knew carried around some degree of regret about their births. With all
of these stories I became more appreciative of being blessed with such
a wonderful birth. And I do feel lucky, because those who know me know
that my life doesn't usually play out like that. One of my good friends
tells me all the time that my life is like a series of 'I Love Lucy' episodes
(the episode here being my water breaking at work and me scurrying around
w/ a shawl tied around my waist-how happy was I not to have worn a skirt
that day! That is typical Jenn Gurdak!)
The thing is, I can't chalk it all up to luck because I made some well-thought-out,
choices along the way that led me to January 26th, 2006, 7:34 pm holding
my new baby thinking how I can't believe I just did this. I didn't just
go into my healthcare directory and pick an ob/gyn,. When I took a childbirth
class for my doula training, the teacher mentioned how great the Hackettstown
Midwives were. Then I took a breastfeeding class with Lisa she was so
upbeat and in love with her job that I knew I would be changing practices
shortly. So when I took that pregnancy test, I called the midwives. I
did a little dance with Roxy when she assured me that I was, indeed preggers!
While many of my friends chose to give birth at Hunterdon or Morristown
I wanted to have faith in my local hospital and made the conscious decision
to stay in the County. Even though I had been through a childbirth class
and doula training, I knew it would be different when I was actually pregnant
and I really wanted my husband to have some knowledge about what he was
in for. He fought with me, but we went to the one offered by the midwives
and met Teresa Fischer, our future doula. So yes, I was lucky, but I also
made the choice to surround myself with good people, a good hospital and
some knowledge. And here is my birth story and why this was all so important
because I can't honestly say had I gone somewhere else that my birth would
have been quite as good.
Ok, as I said, and still can't believe, my water broke at work at 9:40
am. Let me repeat that AT WORK There I am in the work bathroom, forcing
myself to look down, make sure it really is just water, thinking 'I can't
believe I am having a baby today, I had 4 weeks off coming to me!' I can't
get my husband, John, on the phone because for the first time in 7 years
he walked out and said 'don't bother calling me today, my phone isn't
charged' (should've been my signal right there-eh?) Now it made sense
why my prenatal yoga class didn't feel so good that week, or my pants
were 'pinching' me that morning. Ah-ha! So I wrap that blessed shawl around
me, wipe the tears and creep back to my cube to get my cell phone. Finally,
half way in the parking lot I get a signal and call John,-yep, it's true,
his phone isn't charged.(I had a side thought that although he didn't
charge his phone, he did shave that morning and that made me inexplicably
happy-hormones?') . Then I call the practice and Cindy asks me what makes
me think my water broke, I tell her, through my tears, that I know this
because it just keeps pouring out of me. 'Ok' she tells me, 'drive to
the hospital and meet Roxanne, but she informs me that since I am five
weeks early, I might have to go over to Morristown'. So I cry harder,
because I really want to have my baby with Roxy at Hackettstown. Drats.
I then call my inlaws and ask them to track down my husband. And here's
my favorite phone call. My girlfriend and I were due at the same time
and had gone through the last 8 months and all it's drama and happiness
together. We had gotten into the habit of calling and saying 'are you
in labor', well imagine the message I left on her cell phone-yep, I'm
in labor over here -having a baby today!
Now although Cindy said I could drive the hour from work to the hospital,
I had a work car and it just didn't feel right, I was too freaked out.
So I skulk back upstairs and grab one of my coworkers and drag him into
the hall. 'Listen, don't say anything, but you have to drive me to the
hospital, my water broke' Through his look of shock, he finally grabbed
his keys, laid a plastic bag on the seat (a lot of water was still coming
out!) and off we went. Then all of a sudden, there it was, a true contraction.
'Look at that I thought, no kidding' Five minutes apart, clockwork.
We get there at 10 am, and it's me and my coworker. They hook me up to
and IV (how good did it feel to peel my sopping wet jeans off') Slight
contractions at 5-minute intervals, I can do this, Yahoo! I'm calling
people, chatting w/ my coworker, life is good. Roxy is down the hall delivering
another baby, but I'm fine, so far, not so bad. My in-laws arrive at noon
and as my coworker is leaving he notes that I have progressed on the pain
scale hanging in all the rooms, I am definitely becoming a frown face
he tells me, and, on his arrival at the office, all my coworkers while
they eat the baby shower cake that I was missing!
During those two hours Roxy came in and did an exam, at which time water
was still shooting out of me, but I thought good, I'm losing weight already
and I'm 2 cm dilated. The best was that during my office visit three days
before Lisa determined that my baby was at least 6 lbs so when Roxy called
over to Morristown the nice angel of a neonatologist decided it would
be ok for me to stay at Hackettstown - YAY! And my inlaws finally got
my hubby on the phone- double YAY!
When he got there at 2 pm, things were kicking into gear. 'What was I
doing'' he wanted to know with a strange little grin on his face. The
nurse had taken my monitors off awhile back and I was bouncing on a birth
ball. Roxanne came in, having just delivered a little girl and said for
us to walk the hallway and she would do paperwork from her other birth.
Boy, did John show up in the knick of time, there it was, the dreaded
back labor. He had to push on my lower back with each contraction and
yes, he had to do this for the next 5 hours. He was amazing, he did what
I said without saying anything back, just like he learned in childbirth
class and completely unlike him! He was definitely my rock that day and
again, why it was so important for him to have gone to that class, to
understand what a woman needs during labor and what he could do to help.
By the end of it, he was so pro-natural birth that I was shocked (did
he not pay attention to the reason I wanted to be a doula?)
At some point Roxanne thought it would be good for us to get in the tub,
although being early I couldn't have a waterbirth I could labor in there.
So we did this, in the small tub and John pushed on my back, Teresa (who
was also down the hall helping the other woman through birth and stayed
for us) gave me water and kept me hydrated. I believe Roxanne took pity
on John and decided we should move to the bigger tub since it was now
cleaned out and my poor husband was having a tough time reaching my back
to push on it. So our little entourage moved down the hall and I got nauseous.
Oh boy, that was a worse feeling for me than labor I was seasick and hating
it. But then I threw up into the tray that Teresa pulled from nowhere
and got myself into the luxuriously big tub. But there was no luxury and
the contractions were rolling on top of each other, John was pushing with,
he later told me, all his might and he's a pretty strong guy, but if he
let up the pressure I couldn't deal. He kept going, wrinkled fingers and
all. The straw for water appeared and I drank.
And here's where it gets fuzzy for me, so John has filled in details
because I make him tell me about the birth like it's a children's bedtime
story that I want to hear over and over. In between contractions I was
sooo mellow. I mean it, at one point, I remember laying with my head on
the tub and wondering to myself if I was still alive. I really wasn't
sure I was breathing because I was so tranquil. Bizarre yes, but I guess
that's what gets you through, letting yourself relax like that. Then it
happened, I bellowed that I just couldn't take it. Roxanne checked me
and low and behold, 10 cm, just like they said it would be, she wanted
to know if I felt like pushing. I really didn't have any urge to push,
but ok, let's go for it. I'm all about being done at this point. I was
in some major pain, but I kept thinking, how much longer could it be now?
So I pushed some in various positions amazed at how little I cared who
saw me naked at this point. I had been so worried just a few hours ago
that I didn't get my pedicure, wax my bikini line or pack my bathing suit.
Roxanne then wanted to know if I wanted to get out now, or wait until
the head entered the birth canal.
'WHAT?' I was going to feel a head between my legs? I was so freaked
out, but really couldn't speak so just climbed out of the tub and flopped
face first on the bed. John later told me that everyone was standing to
help and I just flew past them into bed. Roxanne gave me a beanbag to
lie on and John tried to take over for water duty, and spilled it on the
blanket covering the beanbag, which was fine by me as it was nice and
cold and I kept my face right in it. 'Head between my legs?' I couldn't
get past this, which really shows that in labor woman are not using their
rational mind because I had read so much and I knew this, but not right
then. So, there I was pushing on all fours, sure the whole hospital was
hearing me scream (Afterwards, John remarked at how calm I was, he said
I was really just quietly moaning, go figure). All I kept thinking was
how, in childbirth class, Teresa told us to just listen to the midwife,
push when she tells us and let the head rest there (see further proof
that I knew about the head in the birth canal thing, but wasn't in my
logical mind!) and that we probably wouldn't tear, but that if we just
kept pushing we probably would. Well, even in my mindless state, I knew
I hated stitches so I listened. When the baby's head descends you can
feel it and it's so bizarre to just sit there like that and not be pushing,
but it didn't hurt, it was just freaky. This also proves why it was so
important to have taken a childbirth class during my pregnancy, I didn't
remember anything I had read or learned earlier, but my teacher's voice
was loud in my head.
And yes, everyone is terrified of pooping, me included. Well, I did,
I just knew that if I kept worrying about it, my pushes were being wasted
and I was working really hard. So I gave up worrying about it and let
me tell you, pushing got a lot more effective, she was born about 10 minutes
Then, with one final push during the last contraction, I was on my side
at this point, out she came. It was so easy once that head was out! John
does a great impersonation of Roxy, of her ducking out of the way when
all the guck shot all over her and was right back in there to catch the
baby, he can't get over it and has so much respect for her being just
so superb at what she does.
I had told John from the beginning that this was his experience too,
that if he wanted to leave or was grossed out it'd be fine. That he didn't
have to cut the cord or do anything else. Well, lucky for me, he stayed
because I needed him pushing on my back. And, much to my surprise he did
cut the cord. He later told me that when Roxy told him to look at the
head, that was it, he couldn't peel his eyes away if he wanted to. He
wasn't disgusted at the chunks of stuff in the water that my doula was
scooping out, he didn't get horrified at the pooping and even told me
right after that I didn't, bless him (he fessed up later) he didn't gag
when who knows what shot out of me along with our daughter, and HE CUT
THE CORD! Who knew?' His mother is still amazed. I am still impressed,
I was worried about him not being able to handle it or being uncomfortable
and he turned out to be my superhero of the day!
He tells me that when they handed the baby to me I made some weird comment
that neither of us remembers. I think it was along the lines of 'I don't
know how to hold a baby' So there she was, this gorgeous blue, slimey
wonderful baby (yes, good think we went to those childbirth classes!)
It was a great experience, from the birth to my stay in the hospital
to all of the support after, all of it. I had so much trouble breastfeeding,
but I never doubted that we would get it, the two of us. And we did, it
took a month, but I had support, from the hospital to the midwives to
the nurses to my doula to my husband and it does make all the difference.
And new mothers, we worry, and I told Lisa this when she visited me the
next two days. She was so calm about it and she said she didn't listen
to her babies breathe all night because all that worrying and sleeplessness
wouldn't change anything anyway, but that their little bodies were brand
new and probably worked better than ours. John and I still remind each
other of that. Still, when I get all wrapped up in worry, I go back to
our conversations and am put at ease. So yes I was lucky, but I also chose
to have certain people around me who have a specific philosophy about
life and birth and I believe that made a difference. And regrets? NO CAMERA!!!!!!
Jake's Birth Story
As I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, I felt inspired
to write down my own experience of my son's birth. I wanted to be able to
look back and remember this wonderful experience as if it happened yesterday
and to also be able to share this with my son, Jake.
It was Thursday night. February 20, 2003. I was crawling into bed with
Jason and we started talking about the baby and our thoughts about when
he was going to come. I half jokingly said, 'What if he comes tomorrow?'
Jason responded with, 'He can't come till I get my hair cut, so anytime
after tomorrow night.' I didn't think my body was telling me I was ready
yet even though I was at two centimeters, 80% effaced, and spotting all
week, but I had this feeling that tomorrow was the day. I woke up at 10am.
When I stepped out of bed I felt a Braxton Hicks contraction. I thought,
'Well that was normal.' I had been getting them for at least a month every
morning. My sister Michelle and her kids were coming over to help me clean
and get the house ready for our new little one. As I got ready for the
day I continued to feel these contractions. I finally decided to time
them just to get some practice for when he really was going to come (thinking
that I had at least another week). They were 3-6 minutes apart. That continued
for another 4 hours. As my body was opening for the baby, Michelle and
I continued to clean and make room for the baby stuff. Jason called just
to chat and I told him I had been feeling these Braxton Hicks contractions
all morning, but that it was probably a false alarm. So he decided to
stay at work. As I was having a contraction, that was the beginning of
the series of stronger ones, Michelle told me to swing my hips. I did
a little, but it was too uncomfortable for me. She kept saying swing more
till I finally turned around and told her to shut up. When the contraction
was over I told her it just wasn't comfortable for me. She, after having
2 natural births, was understanding with my outburst and continued to
clean. I was walking around, moving things to make room and still getting
these rushes so I decided to take a rest. Just as I sat down, Jason walked
in the door. He said that he just had to be here with me. I think having
Jason there helped me to relax because soon after that my contractions
started getting more intense. I tried different positions that we had
learned about at our childbirth class but for me the only position that
felt bearable was sitting Indian style on the bed with my back straight,
putting the weight on my arms and closing my eyes while I rode the wave.
We called Teresa, who was my doula, childbirth teacher and sister, to
let her know what was going on. I didn't feel that it was time to go to
the hospital yet so she suggested that we go get something to eat. I remember
walking on the sidewalk, passing a woman carrying a child, having a contraction
and thinking she knows what I am feeling right now. By the time we had
gotten back from the grocery store I was not hungry and feeling each rush
coming a little closer each time. I was on the phone with my mother and
she was telling me how excited she was. It seemed like I was interrupting
every one of her sentences so I could put the phone down to concentrate
on my contractions. I felt calm. I felt I was doing ok. That's when my
water broke. I felt somewhat disappointed. I had been taking vitamin C
pills to try to keep the bag from breaking, hoping the baby would be born
in the bag. My body felt relief while my mind was feeling the disappointment.
It was about 7-7:30pm when Jason had gotten off the phone with Teresa
the second time. She said she and Mercedes, my niece, would come over
as soon as they finished dinner. I looked at Jason and started crying
and said, 'I just can't do this, it hurts to bad.' He came in to give
me a hug and tell me what a wonderful job I was doing but a contraction
came rushing in and I didn't want to be touched and I wanted it quiet
and as much as I felt like quitting I knew I had to continue this contraction
the same way I did with the rest. Sit in stillness and feel the rush come
in and slowly leave my body and stay relaxed. It didn't seem long after
that, that Teresa and Mercedes arrived. They tiptoed in my room and when
my contraction was over I looked at Mercedes. She had this beautiful smile
that said, 'I am so excited to be here and I am ready to stay up all night
if I need to.' That smile continued the rest of the night and each time
I caught a glimpse of it, it somehow gave me more energy. They came in
and sat on the bed with me, talked to me and were still through each contraction.
We decided it was time to call Roxie, my midwife. Jason made the call
to let her know we were on our way. It seemed to take forever to walk
to the car because I kept having contractions. Jason was there to help
me. I hung on to him through each rush. When we arrived at the hospital
a feeling of overwhelming fear came over me. I started to cry, and then
a contraction came to remind me to stay relaxed and calm. When I got to
the room Roxie checked me, I was almost at 10 centimeters.
It was time to get into the tub. First I needed to answer a million questions.
I heard the water running and as I answered the questions I thought, 'Am
I going to make it to the tub?' Finally I was in the warm relaxing water.
I felt like my contractions were slowing down because it felt so nice
and calm in the tub. My body must have gotten used to it because the contractions
continued to get more intense. Then Jason came into the tub with me to
I remember lying against him thinking he must really love me to get into
this murky water with me. I don't remember when I started pushing but
I do remember feeling tired of pushing. Then suddenly it felt like my
pushing was actually accomplishing something and there was his head. Roxie
kept telling me to push during each contraction. At one point my body
told me to stop and hold it there for a second and I wanted to explain
this but instead I just told Roxie, 'No I can't.' At 11:09pm, she told
me to stand up. In just seconds my mind was saying, 'No I can't, I just
want to sit here, I don't want to stand up I just want to stop pushing.'
But instead I said, 'What?!' As I screamed Ouch Jason helped me to stand
up. Just then Roxie told me to take my baby. But I hadn't pushed him out
yet, I had thought. I slowly sat down and took my baby in my arms. I didn't
say anything. I just looked at him and thought, 'Wow, he's so healthy.
Now what do I do?' I kept telling myself to talk to him but nothing was
coming out. Then I said, 'Hey buddy.' (That is what Jason and I had been
calling him throughout the pregnancy.) He must have recognized my voice
because his crying got a little quieter. I kissed him and looked at Jason.
He gave me a loving kiss that told me, 'Look what we did. I am so proud
of you! You did so awesome.' I felt the joy and excitement through Jason's
I remember feeling gushes of stuff come out of me as the water turned
red but it wasn't until a couple minutes later when Roxie, Teresa and
Jason were helping me get out of the tub that everything turned black.
I don't remember how I got to the bed but suddenly I was there, laying
down and feeling cold. Then I had to push again to deliver the placenta.
It seemed to come out after 2-3 pushes. I just wanted to go to sleep but
Dr. Smith had to check me. As he stuck whatever he stuck in me, I screamed,
'Ouch!' and turned my head to the right. I thought Jason was there, holding
my hands and putting my head into his chest. It felt comforting after
what felt like sharp knives entering my body, but as I opened my eyes
I saw in the distance Jason and Mercedes holding our baby in the corner.
It wasn't till I was at home recovering that I realized it was my Dad
comforting me. He had passed away four months earlier but I knew his presence
was there. How could Daddy not come to comfort his child who was crying
The next few hours were somewhat of a blur. After everyone had left the
room, it was only Jason, our new son, Jake and the nurse, Diane. Diane
had just put Jake down in his bed. As I was lying there I just stared
at him. I wanted to hold him. We had been through such an ordeal and I
didn't even get a chance to tell him how happy I was that he had come.
A month had passed and I was really feeling bad. I didn't have the blues
or postpartum depression; I was feeling bad because I wasn't feeling that
love that mothers talk about after they have their baby. I was sitting
down feeding Jake as I was thinking about it when he stopped eating to
look at me and gave me the biggest, cutest smile. That is when I realized
I am falling in love. I continue everyday to fall in love with Jake. I
love to see him smile and listen to his coos. It truly makes my heart
melt. Then I think of all the steps that brought me to this point and
thank Heavenly Father for the opportunity I had to meet Jason and fall
in love with him, marry him and for the times we thought that we probably
won't get pregnant right away so we won't worry about trying to postpone
it. If that last step hadn't happened, there would have been many things
I would have missed out on that I am truly thankful for.
I am thankful for the care I had throughout my pregnancy. Though I did
not talk much or ask many questions at my appointments, my midwives Cindy,
Lisa, Annette and Roxie somehow helped me to feel more excited about having
a baby. Teresa helped me to feel prepared through my labor and delivery.
I am especially thankful for such a loving, understanding husband who
has become a caring, natural, loving father.
I thank Heavenly Father for such a wonderful experience and pray the
next will be just as comforting.