#76 | Birth Story Mini: Tara's Empowered Birth After Late-Pregnancy Loss during Covid

January 25, 2021

After losing her first baby in utero at five months, Tara and her husband became pregnant again and quickly realized they were with a large group of rotating obstetricians who didn't feel quite right for them. After switching to a midwifery practice and preparing with HypnoBirthing, Tara had a beautiful birth amid COVID protocols, but not without some obstacles along the way, including dehydration, meconium and a hospital transfer. With the support of her husband and midwives, and getting creative with various positions during a 3-hour pushing stage, Tara birthed her baby in what felt "almost like a romantic experience" due to the care she received, music and essential oils. Tara describes her birth as having felt like a true victory after peacefully moving beyond all the unforeseen challenges they encountered along the way.

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View Episode Transcript

Hi, my name is Tara, and I am a new mother to a newborn girl named Elise. My birth story actually starts with my first pregnancy, which was a pregnancy loss. I had a baby girl, who we found out about five months in hadn't developed kidneys and wasn't going to make it to term. And during that experience, I just remember being so displeased with the medical system. And feeling like I was constantly responding to what medical professionals were telling me I needed to do rather than being given all of the options. And like I was always a step behind in the process and not in control. And there's so many, I just felt very heavy handed. And so I knew if I was going to become pregnant again, I wanted to be more in control of the experience. And I just felt very affirmed that if I was in charge, and I was able to really dictate how the how the delivery went and feel like I was the one making decisions that it would be the best experience for me. So with that in mind, my husband and I talked it over and thought about switching practitioners, and we found a local midwife practice. And I felt immediately affirmed in that decision as well. Because when I walked in the midwife was just so able to weave my prior pregnancy loss into this next chapter with my new baby. And she really said that she believed the first baby was going to help with this baby's delivery. And it was just so beautiful how I was, I felt like I was able to talk to her about that experience. And it felt cohesive. And when I went back for my next appointment, she remembered that experience that was very different from the prior medical practitioners that I had, where it felt like a new doctor every time and they were always asking me. So wait, what happened with your first pregnancy, and I had to relive that story. And just felt like, very hurt by having to continually retell that over and over. So as my pregnancy progressed, I was in my second trimester. And I was realizing that I really didn't have a lot of information about labor. And what labor even was, I hadn't had many women in my life share with me their birth stories, and I didn't know much about the process. So I went into the hypno birthing class, really feeling like, Okay, if I know I need to take charge and controlling this, I need to do the work and do the research. And I did every night, I dedicated an hour to either meditation, visualization, my prenatal yoga, or reading my HypnoBirthing book. And I felt so prepared going into my labor, just feeling like I know, I've got this and I can do this. I know it might be hard, but I feel like I have what I need to get through the experience. So I was 14 weeks and five days, and I was waiting for those signs I hadn't met, water hadn't broke yet, and I hadn't had contractions start. And on that day, 14 weeks in my fifth day, I started to feel those contractions and I was so happy that my midwife had reminded me that when you feel those contractions, try and get some rest, go to sleep, if possible. So it was 10 or 11 at night, and I remember just calmly going to my bed and lying down and going to sleep. And though I woke a couple of times in the night in the night due to the pressure, I was able to get a good seven hours of sleep. And I woke up at 6am and at that point, I turned to my husband and told him you know my contractions had started and I think we should start timing them and see where we're at. And so we did that and I felt like it would be helpful to go and see my midwife and see how dilated I was.

When I went in I was only a centimeter and a half dilated. So I returned home and I knew that I really wanted water to be heavily involved in my birth I was strep B positive. So I knew that I might not be able to have a full water birth because of being struck be positive. But I wanted to go through most of my active labor in water, if it felt right to me, I just had the sense that, that I would, I would like that. So I went home and I took a really long bath, and it felt so good. And it really helped me with the contractions and kind of easing them for that moment. So I could really think through my breathing techniques, and I felt like I was able to kind of reorient myself, I had been tensing a little bit during the contractions, and I was able to kind of realize, again, and remind myself that when you relax into the contractions, they feel and do your breathing, it feels so much easier. So I was in the bath for an hour listening to meditative music, my husband was checking in on me. And I decided to get out of the tub and call my midwife. And I felt like the contractions were progressing. And the timing was getting closer and closer. And she encouraged me to come in when I felt it was time. So I decided to have a meal and literally make my way to the car. And we drove to the birth center. When we entered, it was attached to the local hospital. And I remember having to walk through the door. And it's COVID time and as she was taking my temperature, I was going through contraction. And she was concerned and asked if I needed a wheelchair and he said, No, no, it's fine. And we made our way up the stairs. And when we got into the birthing center, I was so pleased, I hadn't been able to see it due to COVID restrictions, but I had seen a photo or two in the midwife's office and walking in, it just felt so much like a little room in a home. And it had the bath it had the shower. And I immediately just tried to make myself feel comfortable. My midwife told me to feel free to use whatever I wanted. And I hopped in the shower, and I was in the shower for a good majority of my active labor in and out of there and just really breathing through my contractions and my midwife was so encouraging throughout the experience and just told me that I was doing this so gracefully. And just whenever she would affirm me, I thought so, so much better about how I was doing. And I continued to just do my breath work, I did the balloon visualization, I must have blown up 100 balloons during my active labor, and I was starting to feel more and more tired. Although I didn't feel overwhelmed by the pain. I just felt so tired. And my midwife checked in with me and asked if I had been able to go to the bathroom at all. And I realized that I wasn't really able to pee. And she said that that's a sign of dehydration. She took my temperature and had my temperature had elevated. And she was concerned. So they discussed with me they gave me some time to drink fluids. But I was still not able to, to urinate during the day. And so they said that's not a great sign. And we did end up deciding to do an IV of fluids of mineral water for me. And it made such a difference. I as soon as I had that IV and those fluids put in me I realized just how tired I had been in the dehydration. My lips are so chapped and my midwife had to remind me to not touch them because of COVID. And I just felt very rejuvenated and was so thankful that I did get that, that IV. And so at this point, I asked my midwife to check me and I was seven and a half centimeters dilated. And I still had my water intact. And she asked if I wanted to break it. And I remember thinking to myself, I really don't want any intervention if possible. I just want my body to play out this this labor how it wants to play it out. And so I said no no, and continue to labor and go through my contractions. The next time she checked, I was nine and a half centimeters dilated and I just felt this pressure like I wanted the water to break and it wasn't and she was saying that it might be helpful for progressing so that I could push and we did end up deciding I felt that then it felt more timely and she did break the water. When the water was broken, we found that there was meconium in it. And my midwife said that she, she did have thoughts that this might be the case because I was 40 weeks and five days. So at that point, we had to walk across the hallway to the hospital. And I did end up having to complete the rest of my labor there. And it was such a different experience. As soon as I entered those doors, I went and I got settled in the bed. And the nurse turns to me and asked me, what's your pain level like, and I remember being so annoyed, because I was not concentrating on pain, like I didn't want that to even enter my, my realm of thought, because it didn't matter. I was in control, and I was getting through it. And so I just brushed her off. And I said, it's okay. And just hearing the conversation swirl around me, people asking if I've had an epidural pitocin. It just felt like such a stark contrast. But I was so grateful for my midwives, they really advocated for me, and helped me to feel in control, even though I wasn't in the setting that I wanted to be at the end here. So I began pushing at eight at night, and I pushed for a good three hours. And I felt kind of lost in time at this point. I remember the midwife saying that she could see the baby's head and me thinking, yes, this is it, I'm done. Not realizing that it takes a while for a baby to crown. So the baby would continue to go, you know, to crown and then disappear. And we tried many different positions. And I felt like the most helpful was me, with both knees to the side kind of splayed in a butterfly position. And as I was pushing, during this point, my midwife put a mirror at the end of the bed. And it was so cool to see my baby's full head of hair. And see her so close to coming. And my midwife said, you know, tear up, look down, feel your baby's hair and see your baby. Now push your baby out. And though it didn't immediately happen, I was able to feel so regenerated, because I could see her so closely. And I just remember delivering her and Nina Simone was playing. And we were had essential oils diffusing in the room and my husband had been amazing had been given me sips of water and wiping my forehead with a wet washcloth. And it felt like an almost romantic experience, minus the eight medical professionals in the room. And when she finally I was able to deliver her, we immediately were able to do skin to skin. She had had the cord wrapped around her neck, but my midwife was so calm. I didn't even have a moment to be concerned before she had unwrapped it and I had completed delivering the baby. And again, my midwife really stepped in and was able to advocate and say, the medical professionals were very quick to take her away because of the meconium and check her. But she said we want her back on mom as soon as possible. And as I was doing skin to skin, they kept wanting to take the baby's weight and measurements and my midwife said they don't need that right now. They don't want that let dad have skin to skin, they can have that information later, they don't care. So we were really able to just take in our baby and enjoy her. And I just felt so good about the process. I remember at the end of the labor, literally raising my fist in the air in victory. And the nurse who is there I turned to me and just said I haven't introduced myself. My name is so and so. And I just wanted to say you're amazing. So it felt like such a victory, the whole experience and I was so pleased at how it had progressed and that I felt again like I was really in charge of this experience and able to listen to myself throughout.

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Between episodes, connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood.

You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). 

To join our monthly newsletter, text “downtobirth” to 22828.

About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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