BIRTH STORIES - MEET MEGAN
Close your eyes and breathe deep
Breathe in peace, breathe out pain
Imagine your feet
Standing on the dirt
Think of yourself as rooted
Think of your place in the earth
How did you come to be here?
Through generations of women named
A maternal lineage
That brought you to this place
Think of their birth stories
What you know, what you believe to be true
Realize that their births carry deep wisdom
The memory of joy and transcendence
Each birth is a powerful experience
Each birth traces down to you
Understand that your birth is your own
This story is yours
It will be different from all others
Like the swirls in your thumb
With a unique pattern
Unfolding with each breath
This story belongs to you
This story is an opening
It is the end and the beginning
May this story be without fear
May this story bring you home
I am thrilled to be launching the very first Eden House birth story. (YAY!) My hope with this series of posts is to shine light on the very fabric of life, and the wondrous women who facilitate it. I think we can all glean, grow, and find inspiration from storytelling. All of these stories will be woven together with themes of surrender, faith, courage, and the understanding that birth is a body, soul, and spirit phenomena; and when harnessed in it's fullness, truly and miraculously transforming.
Let's get started.
Meet our first mama, Megan Taylor.
I met Megan online through social media and I was instantly intrigued by her perspective on life, and more importantly the beginning of life - birth. Her heart bleeds community and togetherness. She believes in sharing wisdom and experience, so that we can all become greater rooted in the one and only Truth. We hope you find her story inspiring, as it is one of courage, surrender, and trust in the midst of the unknown and unplanned.
-Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Hi! I'm Megan Taylor. I'm a wife, mama of three little ones, a doula, and I volunteer with an organization that serves teen moms in my area. It's extremely rewarding work!
I've had three births, but I'll primarily be focusing on my last birth, the birth of my twins.
-What were your beliefs about birth prior to this experience and how did they influence your choices of where and how to give birth?
For my very first birth, I was convinced I was prepared to have a natural, unmedicated hospital birth. I had read all the books and blogs a girl could read; so I was totally prepared, right? Wrong! Labor was SO much different than I ever could have imagined! I ended up with an epidural and talk of a cesarean before I was finally able to push out my son. Ultimately, that experience taught me that I definitely needed people on my team that could help encourage me and remind me that my body was doing exactly what it needed to do. With my second pregnancy, I decided to hire a doula to support my husband and I in our (mostly my) desire for an unmedicated birth. I wanted to be able to move around freely and allow my body to do the work. At 15 weeks, we hired our sweet doula, Melanie. We were planning another hospital birth, but with midwives this time around. However, I found out at 19 weeks that my baby had unfortunately passed away in the womb and I would need an induction to deliver her. That experience was extremely difficult, and we grieved the loss of our baby girl. Just a few months later, we were pregnant with twins! I knew I wanted a different experience with this birth. After much research, we found a fantastic midwife with experience in twin and breech delivery, and decided to deliver at a local birth center.
-Did you have to face any internal or external opposition during your pregnancy? (Fears, doubt, illness, etc.) And if so, how did you overcome?
I was very fearful throughout my twin pregnancy. It was hard to trust the design of pregnancy and birth. I felt like my body had failed because it couldn't keep my daughter alive (from my previous birth). I wondered how on earth it was now going to grow TWO babies. I had so many moments with God where I admitted that I was having trouble trusting Him. I prayed a lot, and when I didn't know how or what to pray, I had so many friends and family praying on my behalf. As the pregnancy continued, I felt more assured and at peace with God. At 20 weeks we found out we were having a boy and a girl. At this time I was still seeing an OBGYN, but I soon began rethinking my choice of care. Especially, after I learned that twin vaginal delivery was something that not a lot of providers were comfortable with. And if they were, it was only under their strict guidelines: both babies had to be head down, delivery would have to be in the OR, I would have to have an epidural in case an emergency cesarean was necessary, and if baby B flipped after baby A was out, they would deliver him via cesarean. This was a lot to digest. There seemed to be so many "what ifs?" On top of that, I began to fear that the babies would come early and need NICU time, since this seems to be really common with multiples. So at 27 weeks, I decided to transfer care to a midwife that was not so strict in her protocol. My husband was very supportive of this decision. My midwife is known for taking some of the more "challenging" cases, and she is well versed with twin and breech birth. As long as my babies didn't come before 37 weeks, I could have them at the birth center. I felt so much more comfortable with the care I received from my midwife. She spent so much time with me at each appointment, addressing the babies' growth, my nutrition, my feelings about the pregnancy and coming delivery, etc. She was very attentive and helped me believe that my body could do this. Which is just what I needed! She, along with my husband, supportive community, and God are what carried me through the waves of doubt and fear that would come up.
-Describe the day leading up to your labor. When did you realize that “the time had come?” Were you expecting it? How did you feel in those moments?
I was so determined to make it to 37 weeks so I could have my birth center delivery. When 37 weeks came and went, I was so surprised! And also so done being pregnant. I had an appointment with my midwife and she asked if I wanted her to strip my membranes. I said yes, and she told me that if it worked, I should be in labor within about 24 hours. At that point I was about 2-3 centimeters dilated. Spoiler alert, it didn't work. I lost some mucus plug and my contractions definitely picked up, but they would come and go and didn't have any rhythm to them. At 37 weeks 5 days, on January 10th, my contractions were coming about every 6-7 minutes and definitely growing in intensity, but they still weren't as strong as I thought they should be. I was using the breast pump to try and get them stronger, and was even able to store some colostrum that would come in handy later on! I had been texting with my midwife throughout the day and she mentioned that she would be at the birth center late working on some paperwork. She said I could come by and she would check me to see if things were progressing. She mentioned she could strip my membranes again as well. It was about 6pm and my husband would be at work until 8:30. My mom was in town, so I left her with my son, threw my labor bag in the car just in case, and drove myself to the birth center. When I arrived, my midwife checked me and I was still 3 centimeters, but my cervix was very soft. She swept my membranes again and that alone progressed me to 6 cm with baby A's bag of waters bulging! I was not expecting to stay at the birth center, but my midwife was not comfortable with me leaving at that point. I called my husband to come and meet me. From there, we both got settled into my labor room continued the journey of delivery.
-Describe how your labor progressed and your thoughts and feelings associated with it. Was there anything that surprised you? What was the most challenging aspect of your labor?
I was taking a tincture every 15 minutes that would make my contractions stronger, closer, and more productive. Once my mom and husband arrived, we played cards and took walks around the birth center and the parking lot. This part of laboring down took hours. I had learned that if I was going to succeed with a natural birth, I needed to ignore the clock and just focus on the moment. I used walking, leaning on my husband, swaying, sitting on the birth ball, and leaning over the bed to cope with contractions. After a few hours, baby A was low enough, and we decided to have my midwife break her water to see if that would help things along. When my water broke with my first pregnancy, it seemed like just a slow trickle. If that was a slow trickle, then baby A's water was a flash flood! It gushed everywhere and just seemed keep on gushing and gushing. I packed depends underwear to labor in once my water broke, and those things were no match for this amount of fluid! The next few hours were filled with more laboring, more disgusting tincture, and this growing feeling that I would never have these babies. At one point, I realized I had a mental block. I wanted to get to the pushing part, but I was so afraid. I was afraid it would really hurt. I was afraid I wouldn't be strong enough. I was afraid something would happen to my babies. I had such a hard time believing, after my miscarriage delivery, that I would actually get to take home live, healthy babies. I asked my husband in that moment to pray with me, that I would overcome my fear and trust in God's goodness. Right after that, peace came and things picked up!
-Describe the delivery and immediate postpartum. What were your thoughts, feelings, sensations, most memorable moments?
So this will be in two parts since I had two babies.
At this point, I started to feel pushy, and when my midwife checked me, I was almost complete with a little lip of cervix still in the way. I told her that this same thing happened in my first labor, and my doctor was able to move it out of the way as I pushed my son's head down. We decided it was time to start pushing and see what happened. The plan all along was that I would push baby A out and then immediately my midwife would reach in and grab baby B's feet, who was breech, to make sure he didn't flip sideways. We would then wait for my body to start to push him out. My expectation, and her experience, was that this would all happen pretty quickly. Sounds like a good plan, right? But pushing out baby A was way harder than I expected. I puked a lot, which was awful. I tried for a long time to push on the bed, on my back and side, and was tiring out quickly without much progress. I moved to the birth stool with my husband behind me for support. I pushed on the stool for a long time and eventually baby A finally started crowning! She didn't have her head perfectly tucked like she should have and she had her hands up by her face, which is why it was so hard for me to push her out! My husband moved out from behind me to prepare for the delivery and my mom took his place as my support. My husband's job was to hold baby A and do skin-to-skin to keep her warm while I pushed out baby B.
At 5:30 am on the morning of January 11th, I finally pushed out baby A, Elaine.
I tried to hold her to my chest, but her cord would only allow her to reach to my belly. I just stared at her and couldn't believe she was mine. We clamped and cut her cord and she was handed over to my husband so we could see what was going on with baby B. My midwife tried and tried and couldn't get a handle on both his feet. He had sort of shifted and folded himself so that he was presenting both feet and head to be born at the same time. Obviously that wasn't going to work, so my midwife had me move to the bed so that she could try to manually manipulate him into a better position. This was the most painful part of my delivery by far. I had to flip over and get on my elbows and knees as she reached inside and moved him around. Another one of my midwives had to come stand right in front of my face and help me breathe, because in this moment I was losing it. I had never felt pain like this. My midwife was able to get him into a good breech position for birth, and now we just had to wait for contractions to pick back up and move him down.
We waited for a long time. I nursed baby Elaine and that would help stimulate contractions. I took more of the dreaded tincture. I got a catheter to make sure my bladder wasn’t in the way. I got an IV bag of fluids and some soup to help get my energy back up and make sure I wasn't dehydrated. I slept a little. My contractions were still about 10 minutes apart and painful enough for me to need to breathe through, but not strong enough to do much. A chiropractor came in and adjusted my pelvis to make sure the alignment was good for baby B to descend. Nothing was really working. After about 8 hours of this, we decided that it was time to transfer to the hospital for a cesarean. I was devastated by this, but also just so tired and ready to meet my baby boy. We decided that even though his heart tones were perfect and he was handling labor well, there must be something we couldn't see that was keeping him from descending normally, and my uterus was exhausted and wasn't producing effective enough contractions on its own.
My husband installed Elaine's car seat in my parents' car and they took her back to our home to wait. She was just 8 hours old and I was so sad to be separated from her, but we didn't want to take her to the hospital to wait and she couldn't go in the operating room anyway. They were able to feed her the colostrum I pumped the day before, so she got plenty to eat while she was away. I was so thankful for that!
My husband drove me to the hospital with both of my midwives following close behind. The drive there was so surreal. I had just delivered a baby, but I was still pregnant. I was exhausted and borderline delirious. I didn't even really feel like I was in labor anymore and we joked on the way about just going home to sleep for a bit. I didn't really get cleaned up before I left the birth center. I was wearing a depends, my sports bra, a loose dress, and my Birkenstocks. I had blood on my legs, and since I hadn't delivered Elaine's placenta yet, her cord was still hanging out of me. I looked a mess! My midwife had called ahead and told Labor & Delivery to expect us and that we were there to see her backup doctor. When we drove up, my husband dropped me off at the door of L&D so he could go park our car. We beat the midwives there so I went inside to check in. They thought I was crazy, and I don't blame them! I looked like such a mess and the baby I claimed to have just birthed, I didn't even have with me! They got me all checked in and started to monitor baby B until my doctor came in. My husband and midwives came in too, but the midwives were not allowed to stay for the surgery preparation. They waited in the waiting room until the delivery was over. Everything was so surreal and honestly felt like a dream. I was so glad to finally have a resolution for this never-ending labor, and I wanted so badly to meet this baby boy. My husband waited outside the doors while they wheeled me into the OR.
The OR was exactly how I imagined it would be from all my Grey's Anatomy binging. It was really cold and bright. There was a lot of chatting among the doctors and nurses. This part all seems like a blur. I was introduced to my anesthesiologist and the doctors came in. A big male nurse helped move me onto the surgical table and stood in front of me while they placed the epidural. I had to bend over and hug him while they placed the needle in my spine, and I remember he was so nice and comforting and laughed at all my nervous jokes. Once the epidural was placed, my husband came in and sat in a chair up by my head. The doctors made sure I was numb and then the surgery began.
I didn't think to prepare myself for the possibility of a cesarean. I knew it was common with twins, but I guess I just overlooked it since I had worked so hard to find the right midwife and birthing location. I didn't know what the surgery entailed or what to expect at all. I started to get panicky about something happening to me or the baby. It was all very quick. I felt a lot of tugging and the doctors were discussing the best way to pull my baby out. He was breech and my uterus was so stretched and kind of tilted, so that made it a little more difficult.
At 3:32pm, exactly ten hours and two minutes after his sister, Samuel was born!
He cried and they had to suction him and brought him over to the warmer. They had called in the NICU team just in case, since they had never seen me before as a patient and didn't know the status of the babies. He was a whopping 7lb 10oz, and all they were are so surprised to see such a big twin. Elaine was 7lb 3oz, so they were pretty close in size. My husband held Samuel by my head as they finished the surgery and I remember feeling so happy and so exhausted. I couldn't wait for my little family to be reunited.
Samuel got to stay with me in the recovery room and he nursed like a little champ while we waited for our room to be ready. Our family joined us with Elaine and my older son, Hudson, as soon as we got in our room. I was exhausted, but so glad to see everyone. I am sad I missed seeing Hudson meet his baby sister. That happened at home while I was in surgery. He didn't do well at the hospital, so I actually didn't see him again until we got home about a day and a half later. But he was so sweet with his baby brother and sister, so it was fun to see that.
Postpartum recovery was much harder than I expected. After all, I had not planned on having a Cesarean. My midwife visited us in the hospital and continued care of myself and the babies until our 6 week checkups. She came to my home as well to make sure they were growing and breastfeeding well. I loved having that special care postpartum. C-sections are no joke! I had to keep up with pain medication for quite a while, and I didn't like that. I also saw a fantastic IBCLC to assess the babies' latches and make sure they were getting plenty of milk. She diagnosed tongue and lip ties in both babies and we had those revised when they were just over a week old. I'm convinced those visits with the lactation consultant were the key to our success at breastfeeding!
-How did your birth experience affect you body, soul, + spirit? Did it change your beliefs about birth?
I have done a lot of processing in the last year since the babies were born. I felt again like my body had failed me a bit, and that the cesarean birth of Samuel overshadowed the success of the unmedicated birth of Elaine. People would say, "at least you have two healthy babies!" And I get that. I'm so so thankful for these two little ones. But I still needed space to grieve the loss of the perfect birth I dreamed about and planned for so long.
This birth was really healing for me in its own way as well. I'm so thankful that my body was able to grow those two babies and that they made it here safely. I needed to see that after losing our daughter not even a year before. Having my husband and mom experience the birth with me was so special and has strengthened my bond with both of them as well.
I have this overwhelming peace in knowing that I gave my all to this birth and my babies! And that is enough.
In part of my processing, I wrote a blog on my website for Cesarean Awareness Month. You can read that here: Rooted Doula - Cesarean Awareness Month.
-What would your advice be to the current pregnant mamas?
You can do this, mama!
My best advice is to ask around and set up your dream birth and postpartum team. Take the time to invest in your birth. Pick the people you trust to collaborate with you and help you make the best decisions for you and your baby's care. I firmly believe the journey of birth changes us and we'll remember it forever, and it is so important to have our best cheerleaders right along with us!
-Any other thoughts….?