Graysen @ 2 Weeks Old!!

Professional photographs of our handsome boy! Love all the details of these pictures! 

Graysen's Birth Story: Doula's Perspective!!

Dear Graysen,
               This is your birth story told from the view of your mommy’s doula.           
               Thursday night the 26th of March I got a text from your mommy saying that her contractions had begun again. They had been stopping and starting for a few days now. Your momma was tired but not losing hope of a natural labor. She was almost 41 weeks and just plain ready to meet you, but she wanted to meet you on your time table. She was so patient, even in the face of family members telling her to get an induction. These contractions were anywhere from 8-10 minute apart and were painful. She labored like this through the night into Friday, then all of Friday and then again through the night into Saturday.
               I started texting with your mom a little before 8am on Saturday morning. She told me about how hard her night was and that every contraction woke her up and that she was feeling pretty weary. Your daddy needed to go into work that day because it was so busy and they needed the help. Your mom was fine with him going in but it was hard to let him go because she didn’t just want to labor all day in the house alone. She thought that this might be the day she’d like me to join her. I told her when she said the word, I’d be there as soon as I could!
It was just after 10am that I arrived at your home on Saturday morning. Your mom opened the door with a tried smile on her face. We hugged and I dropped all of my bags and headed straight to the kitchen. Your momma needed some energizing breakfast, so I made her some scrambled eggs. I accidently used Vanilla Almond milk so they tasted quite sweet, but your mom was kind and ate them ;) I put on some music and we praised Jesus together as she had contraction after contraction. They were definitely coming, they just didn’t want to progress just yet. I pottered around in the kitchen a while longer while your mom tried to relax on the couch and breathe deeply through her contractions. She was doing an awesome job.
               I came over to your mom and started massaging her feet while we continued to listen to music and chat between contractions. I tried to massage the pressure points on her legs, by hook or by crook we were having this baby today!!! Your mom said a few of the contractions got pretty intense for a little bit, this was a step in the right direction!
               We set up a bed on the living room floor for your mom to lay down on for a little bit and get some rest. The contractions were pretty uncomfortable in this position but she labored through them. When we were sitting up they seemed to be coming every 3-5 minutes but when she laid down they spaced to around 5-6 minutes apart. It gave your mom some time to truly rest in between the contractions.
               Your mom needed to use the restroom so we used to time to change positions and try the inversion. This was a little before 12:30pm. Your mom got into the position really well and held it for a good 30 seconds. I told you! We were trying anything and everything. We next sat your mom on a step stool to widen her pelvis and that’s when your grandma called checking in to see how things were going and if your mom could explain how to open the new stroller. Your brother and sister were heading to get ice-cream, they were pretty excited about that!
               Around 1pm we moved to sitting back on the couch. Your mom enjoyed this position a lot! I made us both some peanut butter toast and we settled in to watch Kara Tippetts memorial service. During a contraction I would turn the iPad down and then after it was down I would turn it back up.
               2pm hit and things seemed to be getting more intense. The contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes again and lasting a full minute now. Could labor be progressing?! We sure hoped so!
               As 3pm approached your mom was on her hands and knees going through the contractions and these ones were beginning to take her breath away and were lasting a good minute and a half. At this point we asked your daddy to come home and join us. He was quickly on his way.
               Your mom headed for the restroom and began laboring on the toilet, straddling it backwards. She seemed to enjoy this position and the contractions seemed very strong.
               Your daddy arrived home around 3:20pm and started gathering things up as it didn’t seem like too long before we’d be leaving for the hospital.
               Your mom was interested in trying the bathtub for some relief before we left, but after having a few really strong contractions where she felt like pushing a little bit during them, she changed her mind. We grabbed the final items and headed for the hospital at 3:40pm.
               We arrived to triage at 4pm and got taken back to a room fairly quickly. At 4:18pm your mom was found to be 5cm dilated, 75% effaced and you were at -1. This was terrific progression from the day before and getting to 5cm at home was awesome, as this is the longest part of labor. They admitted us immediately.
               We got settled into our new room by 4:35pm and Lisa, the nurse, got a heplock placed in your mama’s arm. Then she went to find us an exercise ball to labor on.
               Jolene, your mommy’s midwife arrived while Lisa was gone. Jolene set up some essential oils and calm filled the room.
               Around 5:15pm as you mom was going through a contraction leaning over the bed, she began to feel like she needed to poop. This was a great sign!! You were nice and low and Jolene gave the go ahead for your mom to begin pushing when she felt like it. So with most contractions your mom pushed. She got onto the bed in the hands and knees position around 5:45pm. Your daddy was doing an awesome job massaging your moms lower back during every contraction. Your mom was experiencing a lot of back labor, but thanks to the TENS unit and the back massage the contractions were manageable.
A few minutes later your mom switched to the birthing stool to try pushing on there. She had a lot of power while pushing in this position. We stayed here till about 6:10pm and then moved to straddling the toilet again. Your dad was awesome, he had his apron on should your moms water break on him and he was spinning the wash clothes like a pro to keep them cool. We didn’t stay in the bathroom long and by 6:20pm your mom was back pushing on the birthing stool. She was feeling pretty tired now, so during the breaks she would lean into your dad and rest. It was sweet.
               There didn’t seem to be a lot of progress being made, so Jolene was curious what the cervix was doing. She checked your mom at 6:35pm and found that your mom was 8cm dilated with a somewhat thick lip of cervix hanging out on the left side. Your mom’s bag of water was still very much intact. It was a strong one! Jolene asked your mom to see if she could rest for a while and hold off on the pushing till she dilated a little more. Your mom did exactly that and got a small dose of fentanyl and slept for a little while.
               The contractions spaced a part for a little bit and your mom got some good rest, but eventually they began to pick up once more and your mom needed to start groaning through the contractions. At 8pm Jolene asked if she could break your moms water to see if that would help bring you down right on the cervix to help dilate it. She was now 9.5cm dilated and you were at 0 station. You were so close to being born!!
               At 8:30pm your mom was now complete and the active pushing began once more. Jolene was worried about how tired your mom was feeling so she kept her in bed to push, even though she kept saying this was her least favorite position to push in but it seemed to be working for your mom.
               Let me tell you sweet boy, over the next 2 hours and 45 minutes your momma pushed with all of her might and never once gave up. She would say the most innocent things in between pushes like “Holy Tamole” and “Good Gravy”. I just smiled and looked on in pride. Your daddy never left her side and worked as hard as he could to massage her lower back to bring some relief to the pressure. Your mom kept asking if we could slowly turn the TENS unit up.
               As the time progressed during the pushing stage, Jolene grew more and more skeptical that you were OA and that you were indeed OP causing the prodromal labor, early desire to push, back labor and long pushing stage. Your mom was pushing so well but you were coming down the canal so slowly and once you were crowning you actually got stuck!
               I could see the cogs turning in Jolene’s eyes trying to figure out what should be done to deliver you. Your dad was very eager for your mom to change position, something needed to change, we were coming up on almost 3 hours of pushing. Your mommy was exhausted but as I said, she never said she couldn’t do it. In fact I heard her say “I can do this” multiple times while she pushed. The nurses brought in a mirror so your mom could watch her progress. By the time you were crowing we could all see you have a lot of dark hair!
               All at once we all decided to try the pushing bar. The nurses quickly got it installed and before we knew it your mom was squatting and pushing with all of her might and there your head was, finally moving down and out! At 11:16pm on Saturday the 28th of March, your 6lb 9oz, 21 inch body entered the world. Your mom leaned back on the bed and you were placed directly on her. You were looking pretty stunned and weren’t crying much so you were taken over to the warmer to be checked out. You began to cry a little over there but they could tell that you were working hard to breathe so they put a Cpap machine on you to help you along. They decided you needed to be taken to the NICU for further monitoring, so your mommy got another quick hold and a few kisses of your sweet head and away you went with your daddy and the nurses.
               I stayed with your mom while Jolene stitched and cleaned her up. Your mom was on cloud nine, so thankful that the labor was over and she was at peace even though you were gone. She knew you would be just fine.
               Around 12:30am your dad came back from the NICU with good news that you were already doing so much better but they would continue to watch you through the night. He was feeling hungry and wanted to run over to King Soopers to grab some snacks and drinks for the remainder of the stay in the hospital. So soon after your dad and I said goodbye to your mom so that she could get some well-deserved sleep. It had been 52 hrs since the contractions started coming consistently. Your mom was EXHASUTED. We couldn’t have been prouder of her stamina and grace through your birth story. God showed up in mighty ways and I know your parents will always speak of His goodness to them through your birth.
               Graysen Clark Spiers, welcome to the world sweet boy, we are all SO excited that you are here.

               Lots of love, Fiona Custer, Beautiful Births Doula Services

Graysen's Birth Day: My Emotions!!

There's nothing quite like imagining how I wanted my labor and birth to go with Graysen and then getting to experience it almost as I imagined and envisioned it. Both Alivia (her Birth Story) and Nolan's (his Birth Story Part 1 and Birth Story Part 2) birth were beautiful in their own way but they were not as I hoped or prayed them to be. I had wished for both of them to be as free of intervention as possible and if you know or have read my story, you'll know that was not the case for either of my first two births. I was left emotionally and physically drained with my experiences of labor and delivery before I had Graysen. For a long time, I felt so guilty feeling the way I did about the birth of Alivia. Of course, I was so happy that Alivia was healthy and doing well but it was not the birth I had hoped to have and I was really sad and upset about it. It wasn't until my pregnancy and birth with Nolan that I was able to and needed to deal with my unresolved feelings about my cesarean section with Alivia. I had a lot of fear going into a VBAC with Nolan because of what some people say and suggest about having one, and because I was afraid my body would not be able to handle a vaginal birth. I had not had a vaginal birth yet so it was new territory and that scared me. Although my labor and delivery did not go as planned, I'm beyond thankful that I got to have a VBAC.  Having a c-section was a hard birth, going 30 hours then getting an epidural was a hard birth and a lot had to do with the guilt I felt. Heading into the labor and delivery of Graysen, I had to deal with fear again- a different kind of fear. I knew my body could handle a vaginal birth, I had a successful one with Nolan, but I wasn't sure how I would or if I could handle and deal with a natural birth. I once again had to push away those fears and lean on God and my support system. My thoughts surrounding my c-section have changed quite a bit since 5 1/2 years and my feelings of having a birth with more interventions that I wished for almost 4 years ago, but I'm happy to say I know longer feel sad or guilty about my either birth!

I once held on to the fear that my body wasn't strong enough and I would not be able to endure labor without intervention. I was once afraid that it would hurt too much and the only way to birth is with pain medication. I was fearful of not "doing" birth right. This birth allowed me embrace my fears about giving birth. God does not want us to be afraid and that has been a very hard thing for me to overcome. Giving in to these fears meant I was not trusting in God and that he knew what I needed to learn, what I could handle, and how important it has been for me to go through all three of these very different births.

With Graysen, I still had doubts and fears and I was still scared at moments throughout my pregnancy, but I prayed over them. I vocalized my fears with friends and family and made them known. I pushed them away and received love: love that I needed to feel, love that released a feeling of freedom that I didn't need to have a natural birth to prove anything. Big love that emphasized that no matter what birth I had I was strong and experienced one of God's miracles. In the past, I always wanted a natural birth to claim the prize and respect that those seem to get with having a natural birth. In fact, I would judge others who didn't want one and had to get or rather choose to get a C-section or epidural. God knew my ugly heart in this area and gave me a taste of my own medicine! After experiencing both, I prayed to God to have my natural birth I so badly wanted with Graysen. Not because I wanted the trophy prize or the entitlement I thought I would get with a natural birth, but because I truly wanted it for me.

I created a birth plan but knew that if it didn't turn out how I hoped or prayed that it would, I would be just fine. You see, I realized that it was really never about the actual physical pain of giving birth that I was truly fearful of. My enemy was expectations and my fear was of emotional pain. For the first time going into a labor and delivery, I was able to let go of the fear of the pain I would have if I didn't get what I wanted or thought I should have experienced. I didn't focus on the "right" way to birth, but instead held onto the love of God and of my support team. I truly gave in to the experience instead of worrying how it would turn out or how others would react to my birth experience. I let go of the selfishness and ugliness that I held onto for so many years that was inside of me concerning birth . This birth I truly felt God work in me and heal my heart from the pain I had with my previous births.

If it wasn't for my support team, I don't know if I could have experienced the birth I had with Graysen. To my absolutely wonderful husband Ben, your love for me radiated through your constant hand holding, comforting smiles, and encouraging words! I especially remember and loved you comparing my birth to the incline (that you had just hiked a few days before) because it was a really good visual for me. I love you always and forever. Thanks for being the best husband and advocate for me and our kiddos. You really rocked your supporting role as husband and loved on me through those challenging hours. To my absolutely wonderful doula Fiona, my oh my, where do I start. You offered such amazing support over the weeks leading up to my pregnancy and more importantly with the labor and delivery. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God put you in my life so I could accomplish a natural birth. You were helpful and encouraging in every way. And, I couldn't be happier that we chose you to help us in our special day. You stepped up in ways that I didn't know I needed encouragement and said just the right things to help me stay positive even when I wanted to quit. To my absolutely wonderful midwife Jolene, I can't tell you how impressed I am with your techniques and patience. I'm so very glad Ben and I listened to our guts and switched at 30 weeks. I'm without a doubt and 100% positive, I couldn't have had that birth with the OB I had before switching. You were exactly what we needed for the birth I had hoped for. Thank you for allowing me to birth in my own time and for giving me guidance. Hands down BEST hospital birth I've had and it felt like a home birth. I'm simply thankful for these people God put in my life for this experience!