#46 | Sandy's Secret Home Birth

September 2, 2020

Some things are best kept to ourselves...when Sandy and her husband decided to have a home birth, they also decided to keep their decision just between the two of them. This is a beautiful birth story of trusting ourselves, the parents
of the baby, to know what is best for our desired birth experience.

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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). We are always happy to hear from our listeners and appreciate questions for our monthly Q&A episodes. To join our monthly newsletter, text "downtobirth" to 22828.

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View Episode Transcript

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

My name is Sandy Beyerly and I live outside of Boston Massachusetts and I want to tell today about my first daughter's birth, her name is Emma. And when I was around 30 weeks pregnant, I had a change of heart. And what I mean by that is I originally was going to a big practice of obgyn. And there was, I think, nine to 11 doctors there. Every time I went for my checkups, I honestly couldn't remember any of their names or what they look like. And I felt like I was meeting somebody new every single time. So I did not feel a really strong connection to any of my providers. I went to the birthing class at the hospital that was being offered. There was a woman and her husband, who were talking to the birthing instructor about that movie, the business of being born that Ricki Lake did. And I said to my husband, Mark, at the time, I was like, You know what, you need to write that down. So we went home And we rented the movie A few days later. And through the entire movie, I just, I think I cried through most of it. And I felt really emotional. And I connected with everything the movie was saying. And I just looked at Mark and I said, this is I think the way that I want our birth to be. And I wanted at home. And I was shocked by his immediate support of my even question of saying, Hey, could we maybe try to do this at home and not go to the hospital? Because I thought he always played by the quote unquote, rules, and always did thing, quote, unquote, the right way. And I was always told or I always believed, for some reason that the right way to have your birth was in a hospital. You know, we live here in America, and that's just what women do. So I assumed that was my destiny as well. So we watched the movie. Like I said, I was crying. I was in tears. I was like, let's look up. Let's look at To this, so I got his permission, I should say, to start researching and getting because I'm someone when I get excited about something, I kind of make a decision and I let my emotions sometimes rule the day. And he's very opposite. So I'm kind of driven with my heart and he's more driven with his head. So for me to just get excited about something was nice, but it really wasn't enough as a couple for us to make any big decisions. So I googled homebirth, Connecticut, and what came up was HypnoBirthing of Connecticut. So I looked into this not knowing what HypnoBirthing was at the time. And I just felt overwhelmed by what I was reading. It looked like these women were having these amazing experiences having births anywhere, whether it was at a hospital at a birthing center or at home using these hypno birthing techniques. So I started to do a little research and you know, was just looking out there of what is HypnoBirthing HypnoBirthing. And I emailed Cynthia. And she, I think immediately called me within like a half an hour. So Mark and I signed up for her classes every single time after class, Mark and I were just elated. We were smiling, we were excited. And we felt really comfortable with our choice. And we knew that if we were physically able to that we really wanted to pursue a home birth. So I asked around as well. Okay, now, who do we have come to our house and deliver the baby because this was so literally all new to us. I felt like being in Cynthia's classes was empowering and exciting. But at the same time, I felt almost overwhelmed of Wow, I have now have so much to learn about what this process of birth looks like. Because I just thought, you know, hey, the doctors know what to do. When you go to the hospital, if the baby you come home, and then you learn it all as you go.

So what you were experiencing in that state of like, Oh my gosh, there's so much to do, yet you're excited, you're overwhelmed. What you were experiencing is the great degree of responsibility that must accompany having your best birth. Because if we don't go through that effort, we give birth by default. But when you say, Gosh, I want to do this differently. I'm feeling this I have and you saw you had, you're in a big class of couples, you might have been the only home birthing couple in that class. But whatever the case, it is this feeling like wait a second, if I want to do this on my terms, I now have a much greater responsibility. I have to know research. I have to educate myself. And I can relate to that feeling that you were feeling like, I don't know where to begin, because that is part of the process. That discomfort is part of the process that gets you to the other side.

Oh, certainly. It was one of those moments in your life where you're like, wow, ignorant. was such bliss. And now that I know a little bit more that now I have to know a lot about it. If you want to do something well and you want to be informed, this process now takes time. The best thing was I just started talking to other women about their experiences. And I wanted to know, okay, if I could have a home birth, what was the criteria? And was I eligible for it? So that was the first couple of things. You know, there's like a checklist of things that you want to make sure that you are in a healthy fit state of your pregnancy that the baby is doing really well that I wasn't at high risk in any way. So I felt very comfortable once I sort of checked all those boxes of Oh, I'm a perfect candidate for this. All right now, physically, so now mentally, and my up to this challenge because a lot of people I think, consider it a challenge. If you know you're going to be Going into this unknown situation. And for a lot of people I know they talk about pain management, and they're like, Oh my gosh, you couldn't have an epidural or you wouldn't have anything to help you with the pain. And I was like, well, I've never experienced it before. But I think I'm a strong cookie, I think I can do it. So I started doing more prenatal yoga. And just by doing that, I was talking with other pregnant moms. I mean, from taking Cynthia's class, I started to kind of have a little bit of a network there as well. And really, I felt this process brought Mark and I are so much closer as a couple. Because we really had to trust one another. Because now bringing another being into our world, and we were responsible for that. And I felt we were up to the challenge. However, we decided to keep the fact that we were having a home birth secret from most of our family, and almost all of our friends. Since this was the first time I was having a baby, and I was really excited, and Mark and I were now on the same page, this is the way we wanted to pursue the birth by doing a home, I actually wanted a home waterbirth specifically. So I sort of felt, in some ways isolated and alone among my peers and my close knit group of girlfriends that were all kind of having babies at the same time. So I had to find almost a whole nother community of people who were also kind of thinking along the same lines that I was when it came to this. So that was unexpected in some ways, I guess. I don't know because I'm someone who I will shout everything from the rooftops I will tell my next door neighbor, everything that's happening in my life at any moment and to keep this big thing Secret was very hard at times, but also in some ways, kind of like Mark. And I was like our inside joke kind of thing. Sandy, what did that do for you in not telling people? What was the reason for it? Is it that you didn't want to hear their opinions? Or was it the feeling like what if something goes wrong? I don't want the judgment. And I'll keep the whole thing a secret in the end if we have to go to a hospital, like what was going on?

So Mark, and I decided to keep it mostly a secret, because we had been so informed at this point about home birth, especially a water homebirth. And we were fearful that people would judge us. And people would assume that the worst is going to happen and then judge us as parents of thinking that we're doing something that's totally off the mainstream and that we are putting ourselves or our baby in any kind of unnecessary risk. And we knew we were not doing that. We knew that we were prepared and ready for anything and I didn't want to kind of burst that little happy bubble that I was in with people questioning my motives blaming me for something, or making me feel guilty for making a choice that I really felt was the right choice for me.

You didn't want to have to explain yourself, it seems.

I did not want to have to explain myself to anybody. No, just as I wouldn't have to ever have to explain why I fell in love with or why I chose to be with my husband, Mark. I mean, it just, it is it happened. It was a feeling and it's not something I should ever have to defend myself from or about. I mean, I didn't want to be on the defense going into a home water birth and I felt confident and I felt excited, and I felt ready. And I did not want anybody to take that away from me.

And unfortunately, it does require for many people a whole lot of explaining and it takes a lot of time. You have to, you know, they want to go through every scenario and every question and I love your approach. You just knew what you wanted to do, kept it to yourself and kept all your power that way.

We did it was even the day that I went into labor. I didn't even want to tell anybody I was in labor, because I didn't want any added pressure put on me that day of I don't want people calling and checking in on me constantly. And I know people would mean well. And I wasn't trying to push anybody away at all. It was just, I wanted to feel I had to really be in my own mind and in my own body. And I didn't want to have to constantly stopping concentrating on myself to respond to others, if that makes any sense. And we just we decided to tell people after she was born, the Hey, she's here she's born and then we actually wrote up our entire birth. And we shared it with everyone via an email, like it was our beautiful little secret. And I have no regrets. And most of the people who know us really well, I think, I don't think anybody was upset or disappointed. It ended up being a beautiful surprise. At the end of the day,

I completely agree with, you know, not sharing outside of those who need to know that you're in labor, keeping that to yourself, and then it's just, you don't have any of that energy interfering with the process.

It was a lot harder to do the second and third time around when I had my second and third because the expectation was already there. Oh, you do home monitor bro. So they're all going to be like that, right? less pressure in some ways, because everybody knew that Mark and I were successful the first time around. So when it came time to have my other two, it was sort of just an another expectation of Oh, yeah, they don't go to the hospital unless they really need to. So the day I went into labor, it was August 5 2011. And ironically, it was national relaxation day. I was like this is so meant to be I just all the stars were aligning. Um, so Mark was able to work from home that day. And I basically just hung out in our condo and it was air conditioned. And I was comfortable. I had my feet up all day. And I just I started to feel the surges throughout the day, my membranes released probably around like 930 or so in the morning, and I contacted my home birth midwife, and I let her know how I was feeling what was going on. But I was talking to her and I was like chipper. Oh my gosh, I'm so excited. This is great. This is it. And she's like, wow, okay, Sandy, you're in early stages of labor. And I can tell by, you know, the tone of your voice and the fact that nothing was, you know, really bringing me down at that point. I was just kind of excited. And I also in the back of my head, I knew there was something called false labor. So this could be Who knows, maybe this was false labor and I could be in this state for hours or days, I don't even know. So I didn't want to get too too excited about it. So I just listened to my HypnoBirthing CD, and I just kept relaxing and trying to remain calm. I kept hydrating really well, and eating a lot of great food. And I think I sent mark to Whole Foods and I said, hey, look, I really want like some spicy Indian food and some vanilla frozen yogurt. And so that was like non traditional because when you're in the hospital, and I don't know, cuz I know never have never had a hospital birth, but I've heard from the grapevine. If you have a hospital birth, sometimes they don't really let you eat a big meal. So I was sort of basking in this and enjoying every moment and smiling like as much as I could and just excited to me, our little girl who is about to Join us. In total, I would say my surgery started around like 330 in the morning, that night, and they were kind of mild, they would come in groups of two, and then they would kind of go away. So I could still, you know, walk around, I was talking, I could talk on the phone, if I wanted, I was fine. And then that night, around seven are one of our midwives we had to at the time, one of them came over to where we were, and she checked me and she said, okay, you're, you know, I wasn't as far as long as I thought I was. And I was like, oh, okay, so this could be a while. She's like, oh, it could be a couple hours. It could be a day or two. I mean, you never know. And I'm like, okay, so I just kind of like trying to let all of that go and just relax through it all. And she said, if you can, you know, just enjoy yourself. Watch a funny movie, play a board game. So we went downstairs and we were watching American Pie was on TV at the time. And usually I would laugh hysterically through that movie. But I think something sort of just changed in me. I felt I could no longer laugh. And I felt like I was really starting to go inward. And I was like, Okay, I feel this is what we call a transition, I think, and I can feel it coming and I'm like, almost a different person. Now, because I'm focusing, I couldn't focus on the outward, I could only really focus on the inward, right. Luckily, we turned off the TV, we went upstairs, I was like, let's try to go to bed and it was maybe around like nine o'clock at night or so. And I feel like an hour or two later, I was just really feeling uncomfortable. The surges were coming a lot harder and faster. And I remember just like okay, relax the lower half of my body. So I was like on a birthing ball, just rotating my hips relaxing into it, but for some reason I needed somewhere for My kind of that extra stress to go. So I remember just kind of grabbing the bedsheets and like ripping the bedsheets like off the side of the bed like or like I'm gonna relax half of my body, but the other half is gonna feel this and I'm gonna like relax into it. I don't know, it was just such a weird feeling this feeling of like, you don't know when the next surge is going to happen. You don't know if it's going to be a mild one or a little bit more intense. But at the same time, I just kept breathing and relaxing into it as much as I could and then around like 11 something at night. I just looked at him and I was like, you got to get on the phone and call the midwife.

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Our midwife came as fast as she could. She was there I think within about 30 minutes or so because she lived that far away. And I'll never forget she checked me and the tone of her voice was so calm and so loving and she just said, Wow, Sandy, your attention meters. Your baby's head is right here. Wow. We're ready to meet her and I'm like, Oh my gosh, I got that far that fast. How long was that? No idea. So that was from like, six Seven o'clock at night to like 11. So within four hours yeah Wow. So but I didn't know first birth I'm like is that is that fast is that slow? Like I didn't have anything to compare it to. But going from like zero to maybe one centimeter dilated to 10 I was like Oh hey, that's what I was feeling that's all that like inwardness I was feeling was definitely something was happening that's why the movie wasn't funny.

Yeah definitely I just want to comment on the movie because you said you couldn't laugh and I can hear the old anxious me before I ever gave birth and came out the other side of it like oh my gosh was it so bad that you couldn't laugh and I think you you started to explain that really well in that you couldn't relate to anything outside of your skin you couldn't engage with the movie was why you couldn't laugh right like you weren't responding to the movie. Is that more accurate to say then like, how would you Is that how you would describe what was going on and that is totally it. I just had that feeling of this is not the time to concentrate on anything. But myself, like the emotional the it's like the emotional highway is full of what you're dealing with. There's no room for anything else to get on the road with you emotionally. So it's like me, my body when I'm dealing with,

Oh goodness, it was like driving into a tunnel like you, you literally have tunnel vision, there's no other option, you have to go straight and you have to go through. And it might be a little dark. But you know that this is the way that you need to go. And nothing is going to distract me at this point because it honestly it can't. And that's sort of how I felt, you know, this was the tunnel that I had, this was my journey. This is the one direction I was going in and I was not looking for anything around me. I was just kind of going straight forward. So I mean, I really had to focus inward and just concentrate on myself in my own body in that moment. So I met Mark had asked me a question I'd have been like, I don't, I don't care. Just figure it out yourself. You know, like I could not even handle Other people, or anything else in that moment? So, the midwife did come she checked me. And I she's like, you know what, let's try to use the bathroom. And I really wanted a home waterbirth. So at this point Mark had already set up the inflatable birthing tub in our bedroom. He was just adding, I think a little bit more hot water to the tub at the time. So he was busy with his, quote unquote, job that he had to do. And I went into the bathroom to the bathroom, and I was by myself and I remember standing up and my legs just started quivering, like shaking. And I sort of crouched down and I just remember looking down and I just saw, like, you know, drops of the clear liquid just kind of flowing out of me. And I didn't have any control over it. I couldn't stop it from happening. And I just remember going oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Because here I am making a little bit of a puddle on the floor of my bathroom which is not how I ended. Having my baby.

Oh, and you're living proof that I always say women apologize too much. What were you? Yes, I am. I apologize for everything. I'm hyper aware of it now. But at the time, that's just it. That's what came out was I'm so sorry. And my husband was laughing at me. He's like, you're totally fine. Don't worry about being supportive. He's like, how could you be apologizing at this moment? Um, so I remember I was able to get into the birthing tub and I thought, Okay, this is it any minute, she's just going to swim out of me like a little fish. I'm just going to relax. I'm going to take a few deep breaths, and then she's going to just kind of fly out. And it did not happen that way. For some reason, getting into the tub. I stalled my labor by about two more hours. So I stayed in the tub for about two hours. And I don't know if I was afraid to help her into the world. Or maybe I just thought or I assume that, you know, my body was meant to do this. If I just have to relax and not help in any way, and it'll just come out of me, I think that's what I was thinking. So at one point, and one of the midwives looked at me, and she's like, oh, and they knew how much I wanted a home water birth, and they knew they could see it that I was starting to feel defeated. And like, I was feeling let down. And I was trying to grapple with that emotion of like, okay, in my mind, now I built this up, it was going to be some great grand surprise, and it's not going to play out the way I had anticipated. And to not feel control, I think is what got to me the most. But then obviously, instinct kicks in as a as a mom and saying, All right, I need what's best for the baby. So if this position is not working for the baby, I need to change something. And luckily, I had really informed midwives and they said, you know, maybe this is not working. So they had me change position. And they said, okay, after this next surge, why don't we Get out of the water and try the bed. And I was like, Okay, yeah. All right, wave my little white flag. All right, I'll do that. And then the next surge came, and I don't know if it was my psyche, if it was my body if it was my baby or what, but all of a sudden, something changed in me. And they saw that and they immediately were like, Okay, this is it, breathe your baby down. Help her. So I did. I did. I gave a little help to her. And I couldn't believe it. This feeling of like, I don't even know how to describe it. I did feel what I call that sort of that ring of fire. Like it felt like my body was expanding beyond its capabilities. But as fast as I felt that, then her head came through, and then the rest of it just felt like jelly. And I was just like, Oh my gosh, there she is. And within like 10 seconds. They're like, receive your baby. Hold her and I did I scooped her up out of the water. I put her on my chest. And I was like, overwhelmed. At that point, it felt like it was so fast. And I was just crying. And I was smiling. And I remember hearing in my corner of like, my right ear, you know, the midwife getting the camera ready. And she just, she just was like, there she is. And she took a picture. And I still have this picture. And it's just, my entire life just sort of changed in that moment. And I felt so elated and so confident, and so happy that our daughter was finally here in my arms. And it actually did work out the way that I had wanted it to, which was amazing. And kind of surprising. But at the same time, I'm like, this is how it was always meant to be. And, yeah, so, Mr. Francis Byerly, she came on August 16 2011 and it was around three o'clock in the morning. So technically, I guess you could say started feeling sensations about 24 hours prior. So I was in labor about 24 hours give or take in total.

The midwives were only with me for the past the last like two, two and a half hours of the labor and obviously there for the delivery. They were amazing. They just laid us down gently on the bed after that, and they were telling us what to do and trying to help to get my daughter to nurse right away. I remember it took a long time for me, actually, to birth, the placenta like a lot longer than it should have taken. And they were always talking to each other, you know about what they should be doing. And they always kind of kept checking in on me. And then eventually I was able to burn the placenta. And it turned out that my umbilical cord was like over three feet long. It was like this enormous umbilical cord. Wow. And there was all these calcifications on the outside of it. So they showed it to me, it's like lying there in a bowl next to my bed, and they're explaining in it all in detail, but they're like, oh, that would be why I had all these guys vacations on one side. So basically, it was just like, adhering and sticking to the inside of me. I just didn't want to didn't want to evacuate. Um, but luckily they knew what to do and they knew how to care for me and I was happy and healthy. And yeah, I think Mark and I just sort of looked at each other and we were in all and all of these amazing hormones rushed over me. Everything was amazing. every bite of food I took was the best thing ever. I remember marketing is strawberry. It tasted like the ripest juiciest, most amazing strawberry I've ever had in my entire life. He got me a bagel from our local bagel place. It was like the best bagel of my life. Everything was just incredible. It felt like everything was right with the world.

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If you enjoyed this podcast episode of the Down To Birth Show, please share with your pregnant and postpartum friends.

Share this episode: 

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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