Braxton’s birth story, unedited. | Toledo Birth Photographer

This is my birth story, written for me.  It’s to get it out, before I forget, even though I’m sure there’s some already lost.  I hope to someday rewrite this and make it a prettier package, but for now, it’s ugly and raw.  But, at least it’s written.

All Images are Copyright J. Wagler Photography

Written July 19th, 2013- One year after our original EDD (estimated due date)


A note to Braxton, if he ever reads this ugly version:  Worth it.





Braxton Dale Walther Short

Born at 5:45pm, Saturday July 28th, 2012

8lbs 5 oz, 21.5 inches



Braxton~ Inspired by “Braxton-Hicks” contractions.  I had so many, the name became familiar and it was the only name that we kept coming back to.


Dale- This middle name was important to pass on to Brian.  It is a shared middle name between Brian, his father, and his grandfather.


Walther- This is my maiden name and when my father is gone, the name will end.  It was important to me to see it go on and honor my dad and his family. Braxton is lucky enough to have two middle names, which are rich in family love.




To start at the beginning would be to start with Izzabella’s birth.   We had educated and prepared ourselves in all the ways we thought we could and still, our natural birth ended in a c-section.  I had been told by my OB that I would likely get one, and all my “birthy” friends told me I needed a new OB because it wasn’t technically possible for him to know such a thing without a trial of labor, which is true.  However, “he was such a great guy”, so we stuck with him and eventually sealed our fate.   After that, we did everything we could to grow our understanding of birth and pregnancy, VBACs, etc.   I could spout out facts like some kind of library and I was engulfed in the “Natural Childbirth Community”, a large group of women looking to “reclaim birth.”  We were all very supportive of one another and spoke only of positive things, because “Your mind will give up 100 times before your body does.”   So, if I wasn’t already a birth junkie, this pregnancy made sure of it.


We knew we wanted a VBAC and our previous OB had said he’d be “willing to let us try”, but we also knew he had no faith in my body whatsoever.  Knowing that, we took him out of the equation.  (He was also about a two hour drive.)  There are no hospitals in the area that allow for a VBAC, simply because they are all so small that they don’t have an anesthesiologist on staff 24/7, which is the requirement.   Anyway, after becoming so enlightened on the matter, I knew that home birth was often safer than hospital birth.  And so it was.  We began the process of looking for midwives and connected with B right away.   We were thrilled, however, our friends and family (co-workers, neighbors, strangers, you name it!) were not so thrilled.  We decided to do dual care for the first half of the pregnancy and that helped ease the stress for some, especially since our Dr. approved of the home birth and would be available to us if we needed to transfer.


Throughout the pregnancy, I began to realize that people liked to attack, argue, be right (even if they weren’t) and just plain stick their noses where it didn’t belong.  I learned I had to defend our choices and our parenting skills.  (No, we weren’t going to kill the baby by birthing at home, thank you.  No, I didn’t care more about giving birth than I do my baby, but how kind of you to think so.  No, I didn’t realize that it mattered more if this baby died than my last because this one is a boy, and the other is a girl, but good to know your thoughts on that….)  I began to realize that some of my “loved ones” weren’t very loving and that I HAD to defend myself.  I had to be a die-hard birth junkie who believed that this was right because if I didn’t believe it, they sure weren’t going to.  And I did.  I totally believed, with 100% certainty that a home birth was the right decision for us.  Brian did, too.  (This was a joint decision, btw.  He wanted this as badly as I did.  Also, I still believe a home birth was the right decision.)


So, we carefully choose our birth team.  Rightfully, the people who didn’t completely support us were not permitted at the birth.    We did want to have a live feed online for select family to watch if they wanted to.  I wanted people to understand that birth can be beautiful, comfortable, sometimes even painless (and for a lucky few, enjoyable.)   Our birth team included me and Brian (obviously), B and her mom (our midwives), my mom, and Jackie (our photographer and dear friend.)  Izzabella had been prepared for all of this, in case we wanted Brian’s mom to bring her at the last minute to see the baby enter the world.


Our EDD came and to my mom’s shock, we had no baby.  He had been posterior the entire pregnancy and we did every single thing we could to get him to flip.  He would go anterior every now and again but only stayed for a day or so.  My babies always liked being PO and I just accepted another back labor and I grew to look forward to giving birth to a PO baby.  I liked the idea of seeing their face, looking right at me, straight from the moment they enter the world.


On Thursday the 26th of July, we had another prenatal.  I was a day shy of 41 weeks and had been having irregular contractions.  We had a feeling that this would be our last visit, and even joked about going in labor on the way home.  I don’t think we even scheduled a follow up visit for a few days later because we knew we wouldn’t make it.   We went out to eat and timed our contractions throughout the meal.  They were so irregular!  But they wouldn’t let me enjoy my dinner, either!  I welcomed them with excitement.    We didn’t get much sleep that night, so on Friday, Brian took off of work.  We thought this might be it anyway.  We spent some time with Izzabella and then took her over to Brian’s parents.  We wanted to do everything we could to keep the contractions going and kick labor from “early labor” into “active labor.”  We went to eat Mexican food, and walked (waddled) the mall.  While there, my life-long friend, who was also pregnant and due 3 weeks after me, called and said she was now laboring in the hospital.  The race was on.  (But, not really, she labors quickly and we still didn’t have consistency.)  The mall closed and so we went and walked at Meijer.  Oh, I forgot that around dinner time, we called B and told her what was going on.  She explained that the consistency of the contractions weren’t as important to her as the strength and length.  They weren’t painful, so we continued to watch them to see how long they lasted.  We had also called Jackie, and told her what we thought was happening.  She lives about 3 hours away, so she decided to come to town for the weekend.  (Thank The Lord it was the weekend and she has family, right across the street from my home!!)


The evening continued on at home, and I remember bouncing on my birth ball, while watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics.  I took one more “pregnancy photo” which dates “41+1.”    I was so excited, I already had my bikini top on.  I shared the photo on facebook, but I didn’t share I was in labor.  It was a bit funny to watch the comments roll in, and I loved that I was home, smiling away through those contractions while everyone asked “when are you going to have that baby?  Looks like you’ll explode any minute now!”


Around 10pm, we told my mom that she should probably come.  We weren’t sure that anything would happen that night, but it would be that weekend, so just in case….  She came in a hurry and eventually even Brian’s brother, Corey, came over.  I believe that was quite late, but he wanted to help during labor and we didn’t have any orange juice (which I couldn’t live without), so he brought some to us and decided to stay.  (He was more than welcome.)


At about 2am, we all decided to finally try to sleep.  This was probably a mistake to stay up so late, but I hadn’t been sleeping well for weeks anyway and my adrenaline was pumping.  I tried to sleep and couldn’t really.  A little bit after 4:00, I woke up in pain.  I was a bit surprised and fell back asleep.  The next contractions came, four minutes later, and woke me up again.  Four minutes later, more pain.  This meant it was happening!  Active labor!  I woke Brian up and told him and we decided to get the birth tub filled.  All the commotion, everyone was awake again and it was actually a good time.


Yep, smiling through labor! LOVE water labor!

Yep, smiling through labor! LOVE water labor!

I got in the tub at 5:30 and it felt great, so did I.  We didn’t want to call the midwives or Jackie yet because I knew I would be a long laborer and I wanted the sun to at least come up before I woke them.  We called them at 6am and, according to what was written down (I don’t remember many numbers from this whole thing, so all the stats are from notes and hospital files), I was contracting about every 4-5 minutes, lasting for 60 seconds.


B and her mom arrived at about 7:15 and Jackie was right about the same time!  I was feeling a bit sick, but I thought I was hungry, so I ate a “labor popsicle” that I had prepared ahead of time.  B wanted to check me out, so to have a reference point and I was pleased to learn that I was 8 cm with a bulging bag of waters!  When I had Izzabella, the most torturous part of labor was being stuck at 6 cm for 6 hours and being past that was so encouraging!  I was going to do this, my body was not going to fail me this time.  Labor had been so enjoyable and peaceful.  I was surrounded by people that loved me and cared for me.  The sunlight was pouring in through the window in the front room, where I was set up to give birth.  It was going to be a beautiful day.  I had posted confirmations throughout the room.  “Your body was meant to do this” and “Impossible is just a word” would flash across my digital photo frames; I looked at them when I had weak moments.

Prayer changes things.

{Prayer changes things.}  Working through a contraction in Active Labor. , 419-231-1174

Around 9:45, my mom noted that I was saying “I can’t do this anymore.”  I don’t remember saying that, but I do remember being excited about it and reassuring myself.  Saying that is the big signpost for the Transition stage, so I knew I was almost done!  My midwife checked me again and sure enough, I was 9.5 cm at 10:10 am.  My water hadn’t broken yet, but was bulging so badly we thought it might break if I squatted or pushed.  Squatting didn’t do the trick, so I tried pushing at 11:24.  That didn’t work, either.


We decided to break the water at 11:35.  I sat on a birth stool and we broke the bag just enough to have a leak, which was still like a flood.  I had so much fluid!  Everything was fine and we all got a good laugh from it and after a few pushing contractions, we decided to continue on with the second bag of water.  This contraction, I felt a bit off and tried to communicate that maybe something was wrong.   The words were, “It hurts.  Like, dizzy hurts.”  They said, “huh?” and I said, “I’m out. Out!”  Just like that, I had a seizure.  (I’m known to have them, especially during medical procedures or talk.  We were prepared for this possibility.)  I did, however, give everyone a scare.  The worst part about my seizures is that they are extremely exhausting.  It only lasted a few seconds at most, but it’s tiring and stressful.  I had oxygen and went into bed, where I would have loved to just sleep. It was 11:50 am.  It was nice to be in my bed, where at least I wasn’t fearing anything.

Resting for a few minutes after the seizure

Resting for a few minutes after the seizure.

I was in capable hands and the only thing I was afraid of was having the energy left after little sleep and now a seizure.  At 12:12pm, I was pushing once again.   At 12:25, we had +1 station, which was great news to me.  Izzabella never made it that far, so I knew I could do this.  This was different.  I had a midwife that was going to help me with the right position to deliver my baby, right?

Surrounded by a great birth team!

Surrounded by a great birth team!


I had moved into the birth pool and at 2:04, I was +2.  We were trying every position we could.  They were uncomfortable and a bit difficult to do, but it was what needed done.  I eventually had to get back out of the tub and did some pushing against the wall, as well as a few other positions.   I was so eager to get back into the water but they all said something like, “Do you want to get in the water, or do you want to have a baby?  If you want to have a baby, we have to try this.”  Well, the water got rid of the pain, (and stopped the shakes) but I wanted to have that baby, so I was going to do anything I could!  At 2:56, I went to the bathroom and decided to stay there.  Pushing on the toilet was really helping and his head was coming down. We were getting prepared and the MW was getting a bit afraid that we might have a baby in the toilet.  I was so exhausted that I leaned my head against the wall during the breaks and just focused on not having another seizure.  (This meant staying positive, not being afraid, and staying awake.)


B couldn’t get a really great idea on Braxton’s position.  We went back to the bed.  One contraction she’d say “That’s the way!  He’s coming!”  and then she’d be saying he went right back.  It was a rollercoaster for everyone.   I was losing my energy.  I was starting to see what was happening.  Everyone was waiting on me to give up.  I wasn’t going to.  I believed I was going to welcome my baby into this world.  I was going to reach down and pull him up onto my chest and listen to his first cry out to the world.  All the things I didn’t get with Izzabella, I was going to have them and so was my baby.  I looked at B and told her I wasn’t going to quit.  I believe our conversation lasted a few contractions, but it’s a bit blurry.  All I remember is telling her, “If it’s not going to happen for me, YOU HAVE to say the words.”  I was not going to go because I was tired or sore, or because I didn’t have faith.  I was going to go because a medical professional told me I needed to.  She didn’t want to tell me, I could tell.  She said something along the lines of “You could try to push a little bit longer, but I don’t think it will get you anywhere…..”  I don’t remember the word for word after that, but basically that she no longer believed I could push him any further.  She thought maybe my tailbone was “locked” in some way and causing problems.  We had tried everything.  Brian and I laid in bed and sobbed.  It was 3:48.  I decided that while they were calling the hospital, I would get into the bath and try to stay comfortable.  Brian came in with me at first and we just bawled and discussed what would happen.    It would be similar to Izzabella’s birth.  He wouldn’t be allowed in the OR because I was going to be put under general anesthesia.  Once the baby was born, he was to remain with him and hold him, but nobody else was to meet him.  (Other than the birth team, and even they were under orders not to hold him before me.)   The first two hours of a newborn’s life are shown to be one of the strongest bonding times in life.  We wanted that bond to be with us, the parents.  I had planned on the benefits of delayed cord cutting and was upset that my body’s crapiness had caused another baby to lose those benefits.  I felt terrible that I wanted a gentle entrance into the world through the water and now my baby would be ripped out of it’s comfort zone by strange hands, brushed off with a towel, suctioned, and passed from stranger to stranger under bright lights, in a freezing OR.  So I sobbed for what I was unable to give my baby, for being less than a mother than I had promised myself and my baby.  For making Brian miss another birth.  It was my fault that I had to be put under anesthesia and he couldn’t witness the birth, and I still hate that I took that from him and from our babies.  The only people that were welcoming them to this world are people that don’t know them.  It’s a far cry from the birth we had expected, surrounded by loved ones.   I had mourned this with Izzabella’s birth before she was ever born.  This time was different.  My expectations were so high, I didn’t even pack a bag for the hospital, for “just in case.”


Brian got out of the tub and helped get some important calls made and guide my mom in packing a few essential items.  (I’m not sure what, I didn’t have any clothes or even a toothbrush.)    It seemed as though my birth team took turns sitting in the bathroom with me, helping me through my contractions.  They seemed so much more painful now; now that they weren’t bringing a baby out.  I lost control of the pain, of what was going on.   I was broken.


I hear we were home for about an hour after our decision was made.  It wasn’t an emergency.  We just knew it wasn’t going to happen, why delay it?  The hospital was getting ready for us, and luckily, my mom had her van ready “just in case.”  I was able to sit on my hands and knees with pillows, since she had the chairs out.  This was the best way I can recommend for a hospital transfer.  I was able to sway with the movements of the van, and still push through contractions enough to help that “need to push” pain.


Upon arriving at 4:50pm,  the nurses were waiting with a wheelchair and I thought about refusing it but I knew they’d push me a lot faster than if I tried to walk.  By this time, my pelvis was so “open” that I couldn’t hardly sit and I felt like the baby would fall right out.  I sat half in the wheelchair, mostly leaning to my side and trying brace myself for any bumps.  I remember the nurse was concerned about my robe being a bit open and I wouldn’t have cared if I was naked at the time.


We got into the room and I felt a bit comforted by the fact that I had photographed a birth in the same room once before.  They immediately hooked me up to the fetal monitor and they were amazed that my contractions were so strong and I was just sitting on the edge of the bed.  I had been pushing for so long, but somehow, sometime, I lost the urge to push and went back to relaxing/breathing through the contractions.  I didn’t know that was possible.   It was really irritating having these people asking me about my mother’s maiden name and insurance forms while trying to get through this.  I wanted them to just get on with it already.   A lot of people came in and out of the room and I was introduced to each one of them.  I now realize that a lot of HBC (homebirth Cesarean) moms don’t get that luxury of knowing who is there.  I didn’t care at the time, but I’m glad now that they were kind enough to tell me who they were and what part they’d have in my surgery.  (It was no longer a birth, but surgery with a long list of risks, which they went over in detail, asking with each one, “is that ok with you?”  As if I had more options.)

Preparing for surgery.

Preparing for surgery.


At this point, my birth team was still there and I was grateful for that as well.  My midwife could have easily left me and instead she came forward and answered all of my medical questions, so that I could just breathe.  I was given all kinds of medications for the section, and I started telling them what I wanted done (or didn’t want done) with my baby.  I wasn’t able to tell them everything that I wanted; I knew I had to pick things that were the most important to me.  I made sure to tell them I wanted my placenta and I didn’t want it covered in chemicals, so I told them I was “ingesting it.”  They assumed eating it, which is what my hospital files say.


The OB that was doing my surgery came and while going over the risks again, we talked about the anesthesia.   We talked about the process of it and I was reiterating that I had PTSD and that medical things can make me seize or panic.  He told me that there was a possibility that it wouldn’t work properly and I would be awake and feel them cutting me open.  I told him, “no, that can’t happen, I’ll seize.”  I tried to tell him that he had to do everything he could to make sure that didn’t happen.  Could it really be that hard to make sure I was “out” before he cut me?  But, he kept saying, “oh, it could happen!”  I started to freak out.  I wanted to back out, but I couldn’t.  This baby wasn’t coming out.  I was panicking.  They got concerned with the baby.  His heart rate wasn’t doing so great anymore.  They suddenly decided I was an emergency.  After sitting there forever, filling out paperwork and answering question after question, after they had said how good we looked on the monitor.  The very thing that made us “an emergency” was the OB causing me to panic.


Somewhere in there, I checked out.  I don’t know what happened.  When I was going into the OR with Izzabella, I remember when Brian was told to leave.  He bent forward to kiss me and we both realized that he couldn’t, because of his mask.  At that moment, I’ll never forget thinking that I could die in that surgery and we couldn’t kiss or even touch.  It’s a moment I’ll never forget.  This time, I don’t remember saying goodbye at all.  There’s a word for it.  Some kind of amnesia; where the person protects themself by forgetting.  I think that’s what happened.  That painful moment from Izzabella’s birth was locked in my memory and I couldn’t handle another one, so I didn’t.  I don’t remember leaving the labor/delivery room and going to the OR.  I don’t remember saying goodbye to anyone.


I remember laying on the operating table and looking at the ceiling tiles.  A friend, who is a surgery tech at another hospital, had told me how her job is to look things over and make sure everything is good before the surgery.  Once, she had to stop a surgery because the ceiling was open and things could have fallen into the man’s body.  So, I laid on the cold table, thinking, “at least they have a clean ceiling.”


One of the men tried to insert the catheter.  I was very swollen.  I was, of course, still having incredibly painful contractions and was strapped to the table.  The man couldn’t do it and started to freak out, hollering at other people “I can’t do it, I can’t do it!”  I wanted to yell at him to stop and find someone who could, but I don’t remember if I did or not.  I hope he learns someday that panic spreads.   He acted like I wasn’t even there, despite the fact that he was working on my most.. umm, private, area.


I woke up from surgery with the most intense pain I have ever felt in my entire life.  You know how in cartoons, like in Road Runner, you see them jump straight up, high into the air?  I felt like that.  Like my body was literally going to jump straight out of the bed and slam against the ceiling.  I grabbed ahold of the bar and squeezed and tried to not hit the ceiling.  I don’t know if I was screaming, but I know I’ve never felt like that in my life.  After the contractions I had just experienced, I thought I knew pain, but I was wrong.  There was a man standing beside my bed, looking at a computer and I asked him why my pain meds weren’t working.  He told me I hadn’t been given anything.  I didn’t understand.  Maybe he thought I had a spinal, since that’s the norm?  I don’t know.  I thought I heard him wrong.  I kept asking him.  I thought I must be drugged, be dreaming.  This couldn’t be right.  If it was right, wouldn’t he ask me if I wanted something for the pain?  I had just been sliced open and had my insides cut apart, taken out of my body, sewn up, and put back in.  Wouldn’t that be a good reason for some pain medication?  I asked for something.  Morphine or anything that would work quickly.  He didn’t see the urgency.  I felt it working and it was a strange feeling.  I felt like my body was coming down from the ceiling, slowly.  I could start to relax my body and let go of the bed.   As I sit here typing this, I have to convince myself to write down the next part.  I hate it so much, I feel just terrible.  What kind of mother am I?  I was in so much pain, I don’t remember asking about my baby.  Was he ok?  How big was he?  I didn’t know because I didn’t even think to ask.  I was in so much pain and shock that I had forgotten I just “gave birth.”

Brian, meeting his son for the first time. I wish he didn

Brian, meeting his son for the first time. I wish he didn’t have all those other people involved in this moment…


I don’t know how long it was, but eventually Brian was able to bring him in to me.  I was really surprised that he came with mom (who did video on her phone, which we can’t find), and Jackie (who, of course, took photos.)  This was a huge blessing to me because it wasn’t allowed for Izzabella’s birth.    I remember being told he was big.  8 lbs 5 oz and 21.5 inches long!  He was bigger than his sister by a LOT!  I hollered out, excited, “I told you he was long!” because I could always feel him at the top and the bottom of my belly.   I don’t remember much else, not even a bonding moment.  I know that I immediately nursed him.  It was extremely important to me and it was a right that I was denied when Izzabella was born.  (It was too much of a hassle for the nurse in the recovery room, she wanted me to wait until I got to my next room.)   I went through all the motions, but there was still that disconnect that often happens during c-sections.

Our first time meeting, with immediate skin to skin breastfeeding! He was hungry!

Our first time meeting, with immediate skin to skin breastfeeding! He was hungry!


The OB came in and told us how the surgery went.  He told us that my uterus was thin in some spots and it could have torn.  (This is what happens during labor, but he made it sound abnormal and scary, “wrong”.)   He claimed that if I would have went much longer with contractions the way they were, it could have ripped.  He said that I should never have a baby again.  He told us that my bladder had been injured, stuck to my uterus, and that it had a hole in it about half a cm long, but he repaired it with a few stitches and it would be fine after about 2 weeks of using a catheter.   He was telling us these things that were scary and made himself to be a hero.  He hugged us and we loved him.  A year later, I look back and realize this man is…. I don’t have words.   Yes, I had an injury on my bladder.  However, it wasn’t because I was broken, it wasn’t because of my birth.  It was because he cut it with the scalpel.  Before I was even able to have the cesarean, I had a surgery to repair his damages.  All this, in detail on my hospital records, which I’m sure he assumes his patients don’t read.   His fear made family think we were near death, and text messages saying so by dramatic family members were spread around.   His comments about never having a baby again were told to me in what should have been a joyful moment of meeting my son.  He could have waited an hour, or even told me the next day.  The part that really upsets me is that we talked two weeks after the birth and I asked him about it again.  He told me, “oh, if you want to have another baby, go ahead.  Just schedule a cesarean.” There was no truth to the things he told us in the recovery room that day, but the fear that he had instilled into our families was strong and we knew we didn’t want to go through this again, so we had decided not to have any more children.  Decisions like that are never good when made under harsh circumstances.


Anyway, I was moved to our room and family came to see the baby.  Everyone wanted to know his name and we didn’t know.  We had been waiting to decide.  We thought that when we had him, we’d have “that moment” and just know.  But, we didn’t get “that moment.”  We were so tired and stressed, and then drugged, that we couldn’t think clearly.  He continued on as Baby Brother, which is what we’d called him in my belly.

Braxton, waiting to meet mommy. All the "new baby" is washed away already.

Braxton, waiting to meet mommy. All the “new baby” is washed away already.


Day 2,  the family came again and still a lot of “no name yet?”  It was especially hard when Izzabella came to visit.  She had no idea why I was in the hospital or even what the hospital was.  She was told I had a boo boo and that she had to be very careful not to hurt my belly, and she was afraid.  She cried sometimes, and it broke my heart.  This wasn’t want I wanted for her.  She had never spent the night away from us before, and we didn’t even pack her a bag.  (She was only supposed to be gone for a few hours.)  She was still nursing, and I think she was a bit confused who this little baby was that was suddenly getting her “nurse-a-nurse.”  But, she loved her brother and was so tender with him.  I’ve never seen a two year old be more soft and gentle and loving with a baby.


Our new family after getting out of recovery. Sibling love at it

Our new family after getting out of recovery. Sibling love at it’s finest!

The next day brought changes.  It’s mostly a blur, but I know there was a lot of fear.  I wasn’t allowed to have visitors that day.  The nurses noticed I was pale and looked tired.  My blood count was dangerously low.  I needed a blood transfusion.  They didn’t know what was going on.  My belly was still huge, probably the same size as it was before birth.  It hurt so badly that the nurses couldn’t touch it.  There was a bump that stood up on it.  They suspected internal bleeding.  Someone came in with an Ultrasound Machine and it was weird to not see a baby in there.  They did, however, see fluids that they couldn’t identify and we began praying that they wouldn’t need to go back in and fix a bleed.  We were hurried down to get an MRI and it was a horribly painful trip.   They ruled out going back for surgery, but were never able to determine exactly what had happened.  Their best guess is that I had internal bleeding from the surgery and that it had fixed itself by the time they found out.  That really doesn’t make much sense, looking back on it.   But, I’d like to note- “supporters” used this as more fuel for their anti-VBAC and anti-home birth thoughts.  The truth is the opposite.  My complications were caused by having a second cesarean.  The risks increase with each section, but you rarely hear negative things about sections (vs. VBAC).   If I had a third c-section, my risks would be even higher, with more complications.  Of course, people don’t talk about that.


I was in the hospital for five days.  It’s amazing how different it is to have a baby in the hospital when you weren’t supposed to.  People don’t send flowers or balloons, or bring gifts for the baby.  We didn’t get visitors, just immediate family.   “Friends” on Facebook would comment, “hey, I see you’re at a hospital.  I though you were giving birth at home”, instead of “congratulations, he’s beautiful!”  (ok, we had that, too, but so many more people were just interested in what happened and not that we were ok.)


The day we came home, I remember getting ready to walk in the front door.  It was a really happy time with Izzabella.  We video taped the whole thing, meeting the cat and all.  This time, I was scared.  Every painful step towards door felt like I was getting ready to get punched.  Waiting behind the door was that beautiful space, complete with all of the encouraging words all over the living room.  “Your body is not a lemon.”  “Have faith.”  “Impossible is just a word.”   I felt like that room was a crime scene that should be taped off, and I didn’t want to see it.  To this day, I thank God that my parents put everything away and I didn’t have to come home to see those things.   Having something be so much a part of you that you believe it 100% isn’t always good.  These phrases come back to haunt me and I shudder every time I hear someone else in the Natural Childbirth Community being told these things.   We need to be optimistic and encouraging, but we also need to prepare for the worst.  This same community of women that had encouraged me during my pregnancy don’t want to hear things like that, so women like me are turned away.  We’re silenced and shunned because we ask, “Is my body a lemon?”   Women only want to hear VBAC stories where the mother was “successful” because she “had enough faith.”  Did I not pray hard enough?  Often enough?  That’s what their messages say.


Everybody knows that having a baby is life-changing.  Some would say that giving birth (no reference to the baby) is life changing.  To me, this entire experience has changed who I am and what I believe.   I’m a mother, obviously, but some of my identity is lost (or changed.)  I’m still a “birth junkie” and maybe always will be.  I’m just a birth junkie that will never witness her own births.  I’m still a home birther!  I believe that it is safer to give birth at home, under the right circumstances.  I believe we made all the right decisions and did all the right things.  I know so many people who would love to tell me, “I told you so,” but the only thing anyone would be right about is that my body will not birth my babies.  Did Braxton or I almost die?  No.  Not at all.  I’m sorry our family got so scared with the game of “Telephone”, but the “emergency” wasn’t what it was made out to be.  (Otherwise, we certainly would have rushed a lot more than we did.)  Would I have died if I hadn’t had a c-section?  Unfortunately, probably.  But, I had a good midwife that was able to see that we were moving into the territory of needing more than she could offer.  We were stubborn enough to try for a birth that would bring our babies here peacefully, but responsible enough to “give up” when told.   I appreciate that surgeons can step up when needed and I feel there is a time for that.  I still also feel that pregnancy is not a disease, but a natural event.  A right of passage, for some.  I do not regret any decision we made and I would make the same decisions all over again.


I thought this song would be amazing to have playing in the background, while a baby was born in the water.  It gave me strength and was calming.  I never got to listen to it while in labor, but the song still fits.  I’ll include the lyrics, but if you’re not familiar with the song, listen to it sometime.  It’s beautiful.


Washed By The Water by Needtobreath



Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

Daddy was a preacher
She was his wife
Just tryin to make the world a little better
You know, shine a light

People started talking
Trying to hear their own voice
Those people tried to accuse my father
Said he made the wrong choice

Though it might be painful
You know that time will always tell
Those people have long since gone
My father never failed

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

Even if the Earth crumbles under my feet
Even if the ones I love turn around and crucify me
I won’t never ever let you down
won’t fall, won’t fall, won’t fall as long as you’re around me

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water








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  • Guest

    Thank you for sharing your birth story. I think the birth community needs to figure out how to balance encouraging mothers who need the confidence that can be found in reading birth stories and affirmations, with the reality that some mothers/babies truly need some of the additional assistance that can be found in the hospital. I struggled with whether I was a homebirther after my first birth, which ended in the hospital. Then I figured, eh, screw the NCB mindset that proclaims that a “successful” homebirth is defined only by where a baby is born. My midwives made the right call for us, just like it sounds that yours did. THAT is a “successful” homebirth to me. Your story needs to be heard. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • ashleyshort

      Carriee0222, I think you are right on. It is very difficult to balance. We all need encouragement, to hear and believe we can do what we haven’t done before. The issues arise with the statements that 100% one way or the other. Ex: “Your body can do it, the only thing that needs convincing is your mind.” Well, that’s encouraging to those that want to VBAC, etc., but what about those that try and can’t? What if our minds ARE convinced, and yet, it didn’t happen? The NCB community doesn’t want to hear that it’s a possibility that we can’t ALL give birth on our own, and it’s a fact, we can’t all do it. As a women who has been through that situation and went on to tell about it, I can tell you that I’m silenced by most of those women. What hurts is that I know that many of them will go on to have c-sections or traumatic births and will wish that they had the mind state of: “wish for the best, prepare for the worst.” As it is, though, I’d be happy to see people honoring women’s own feelings about their birth experiences and own their own experiences. Too often, we are told we should(n’t) feel this way or that way, and we need to learn to take a stand and own our feelings- they are ours to feel!

      Also, I’m guessing you noticed that I said I’m still a homebirther. You, my dear, are a homebirther! 🙂 It’s NOT about where you give birth. I’m glad you had midwives that were able to make that call for you. (hugs)ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey Ely

    I know its not the story you wanted to write but its still a beautiful story. You had the best intentions and that is what truly matters. My first birth was horrible. I was induced, had an epi all the bad stuff…. only because that’s what everyone else I know did and I knew of no other way. I did not have a C section but really close to it. I was traumatized for a long time would lay in bed at night and couldn’t sleep thinking how robbed I was of what should have been a beautiful thing. At that time breastfeeding was the most important thing to me and little did I know because of all those drugs I allowed them to give me it almost ruined that for me and most women would have given up but I was determined and pumped for almost 9 weeks but I was a horrible pumper so she needed half formula 🙁 No help at all from LC at the hospital they only made it worse. It was not until I went to my first LLL meeting that one week later we were pump/bottle free and she was 100% nursing.

    After my daughter I had multiple miscarriages before my son (well I have one before my daughter but they had me convinced it a very common thing and will likely never happen to me again). I found out I have a blood disorder and will need to be on a couple different drugs including Lovenox & Heprin heavy duty blood thinners. So because of that they (they being the medical community) Had me feared for my life that I was going to bleed out after birth because of these blood thinners. I had talked to the DR about not wanting a IV because one medical intervention leads to another…. and he informed me I may need a Hep loc because odd are I will have bleeding issues and need a reversal medication for the Heprin. I might have listened more to my crunchy friends and Doula to try a homebirth if it was not for the fear mongoling. Before his pregnancy I was on the blood thinners and had a ectopic and they had me rush to the hospital feared that if it rupture before they could get to it in time I would bleed out so this was always in my head feed the fear. So I decided to use the birth center and get my water birth/ natural birth in the hospital but be in a different area with a room more like a hotel rather than a hospital room.

    I woke up in at 1:30am and had a strong urge to use the bathroom so I went and tried to lay back down and bounced right back up because it was not comfortable. around 3:00am I called my doula to come help me figure out if I was in labor. I had a tummy bug about 4 weeks before that and it all felt the same. My doula got here a little after 4am. she was not even in the door yet and asked for my call sheet. She made a phone call to the after hours and they were having the midwife on call, call us back. The widwife called us back and all I remember hearing was “oh about 1 minute or less apart” WHAT omg I had not realized this. I remember commenting to her about being told in labor you get breaks but I was not getting a break at all from this. So I woke up my husband and we took the long 20 minute car ride to the hospital. We got into triage and they told me the birth center was full but they are trying to see if they could move someone out so I could have my birth in there but they need a an hour or so to get them moved and clean the room. About 5 mins later my water broke so they sent someone to get a regular room ready and get a birth pool filled. my body started pushing on its own and they took me to the regular room where about 15 people all stood around starting at me… My doula kicked them all out. About 15 minutes later he was born. I remember the whole time telling them I had just had my last heprin shot about 6 hours ago so its not past the 12/24 “out of your system” time. And they just said oh that really doesn’t matter there is such little risk of bleeding out with that… UGH REALLY????
    So NOW they have the birth center room ready and asked if I wanted it for my PP stay. I said no its ok because I was told I could probably leave in a couple hours so no need to keep moving around and hogging a room and making another mommy miss the birth she wanted. Well 30 HOURS later and fighting I finally got discharged 🙁 My birth was wonderful but it was masked with the horrible 30 hour stay and being bothered all the time and the noisy people beside me who had twins and invited everyone and there brother to the hospital (and the nurses made an exception for them on visiting hours so this went on ALL NIGHT LONG.

    So long story short I would have had a great fast homebirth but once again fear tactics from the medical community got into the way. OH and my insurance was horrible at the time when I was 30 weeks pregnant they changed everything and he cost me $7,000 out of pocket. I know most people choose a hospital birth over homebirth because its cheaper but in my case it would have saved my family $5,000.
    IF I can talk my husband into another baby I will be seeing my OB just to get my 9mo script to lovenox and then leaving for a home birth.

    I am sorry both of your births did not go as planned. Its a great thing both babys are fine and the DR did not ruin your body any more in surgery. I think this is something a lot of mothers mourn. But I also think this “god” image given to Drs most people really do believe they saved them when in fact they only saved them from the mistake they made in the first place.ReplyCancel

    • ashleyshort

      Lindsey, Thank you so much for sharing your story! I’m sorry that you, too, didn’t get the birth you want. I know the medical community likes to fear monger and I’m so sorry you had to experience that personally. I’ve had my share and it’s no fun, especially when everyone around you buys into it and makes the fear stronger. 🙁 I do hope that if you have another, you can have the birth your heart desires. If you’d like, I can refer you to several midwives… all more affordable that $7000. 😉

      I do hate to “correct” you, but I feel that I have to say it… the Dr. DID do more damage to my body during surgery. He sliced my bladder open and I had to have surgery to repair it. I wore a catheter home from the hospital, attached to my leg, for about two weeks. So, I technically had two surgeries- one was completely his fault. To add to that, he lied about it in the recovery room. Most Drs. don’t think their patients will go request their surgical notes, so they tell them whatever they want. 🙁 It’s sad that they have that kind of control over our minds and our bodies.

      Anyway, thank you again. Your words were brave and kind. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Lindsey Ely

    Oh sorry I wrote that wrong. I mean its a good thing he did not hurt / Damage you any more than he did. He could have easily killed you but in his eyes he is god because you made it through surgery and he “saved” you.ReplyCancel

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