Anissa Ballesteros is here today to share her two birth stories with us. For her first baby, Anissa had planned and prepared for an unmedicated hospital birth but her baby was breech so she ended up having a cesarean. When she got pregnant with her second baby, she knew she wanted a different experience so she hired Karly and planned a home birth. Anissa shares about how difficult her cesarean birth was for her and how healing and positive her HBAC (home birth after cesarean) experience was.
Transcription by Karly Nuttall:
Ali: Hi and welcome to the Birth Kweens podcast, we’re your birth kweens. I’m Ali.
Karly: And I’m Karly.
Ali: We have a birth story for you kweens today. We have one of Karly’s past client, right?
Karly: Yeah, very recent
Ali: I love it. Yeah, with a little one Anissa is on the line, Hi!
Ali: how are you?
Anissa: I’m good, I’m good, how are you ladies?
Ali: Were good, thank you for doing this!
Karly: So good, so glad that you came!
Anissa: Yeah, thanks! I’m excited to share.
Karly: Anissa has not one, but two birth stories, you know how we like to cram ‘em in. But as often happens, one birth story relates to the other in a really significant way.
Ali: Yep, totally, and I think too, we’ve done this before where we have a guest that one or the other of us knows really well or was at their birth and the other one knows almost nothing so it’s like kind of: “Guys, I’m listening to this birth story with you right now, which is great”
Karly: It’s news for Ali.
Ali: So, Anissa, maybe just tell us a little bit about your family, how old your kids are, a little background.
Anissa: Well, I was born and raised in San Diego. My husband is from California, he’s from the bay area and we have a 2 year old son, Jimmy and we have a, I guess 2 ½ month old daughter named Gianna and Karly was my midwife for Gia and I would say my birth stories are kind of like a yin yang for a way to describe them. One of them was really, really tough and I’m really happy that the second one kind of made it all better.
Ali: “Aw, good.
Karly: Sometimes they’re like that. The second baby or the second birth kind of comes in and makes you feel like birth is alright! It can be pretty cool.
Ali: Yeah, I’d sworn it off after the first one, haha!
Anissa: I keep saying, too, that she’s tricking me because she’s been really easy and like, really good and I’m like, no, no, no, she’s tricking me. We’re not going to have any more, I’m done.
Karly: And she’s tempting isn’t she? She’s like…”look at my luscious hair”.
Karly: Her baby Gia has the most gorgeous hair, it’s so cute.
Ali: Nothing is better for me on a baby.
Anissa: She did come out with a lot of hair. Yeah, it’s funny, too, because I keep putting bows on her but I recently realized big bows are because a lot of babies are bald. Gia’s not bald and the big bows look funny on her.
Karly: Her hair basically swallows up the bow, it’s like, “see ya later!”
Anissa: Yeah! Yeah, I was like, “why do they make these? They don’t fit right”, and then I’m like “oh yeah…a lot of babies are bald”.
Karly: Not your babies. Not your babies. Ok, well do you want to start off by telling us a little bit about your birth with Jimmy and how you decided where you were going to give birth and we’ll just go from there.
Ali: Yeah, and the prep stuff, like going into it, how did you prepare and what did you want? I’m always curious about that.
Karly: And was it a planned pregnancy?
Anissa: Well, it was kind of like a “if it happens it happens” and I think I was 24 when we got pregnant, and Gabe was 27 and we were ready and we were ecstatic when we found out. It’s just kind of like that whole starting a family is exciting and I…. my mom had started to mention: “look into natural birth.” Maybe that’s an option for you if you want to do it. She had some back issues after having her epidural with my brother.
Karly: I didn’t know that!
Anissa: Mmhmm yeah, so she said maybe look into natural birth because she didn’t want me to have to go through some of the back issues she was having. And so we started looking into it together and we did hypnobirthing classes and at the time Gabe was still waiting on a transfer down from the Bay Area because we were living in the Bay Area.
Karly: He was in the military at the time?
Anissa: No, not anymore. He was working for CalTrans so he could have transferred but they were taking so long and so basically all of my pregnancy he was in the Bay Area, and I was down here working, and we had bought a house down here, so I was living in the house. And we were doing hypnobirthing classes and my mom was like my partner, so it was kind of funny. We looked like we were a lesbian couple in there.
Karly: It’s like when there’s a big age gap in couples and it’s like “oh is this your dad” “no, it’s my boyfriend”. “Is this your partner? No, it’s my mom!”
Anissa: Exactly, exactly. So yeah, it was neat to have her in the hypnobirthing classes with me and I even kind of almost got home birth as an option and my husband Gabe kind of was like “uh this is our first, maybe we should be in a hospital in case anything happens”. He was the one that was a little bit more wary. But I got a doula, like I said, we were doing the hypnobirthing classes, I was already in the mindset, like, I’m gonna do this, I wanna have a natural birth. And the hospital that I was gonna birth at had a midwife program and I was like, “oh that’s perfect, I want a midwife, I don’t really want to see the OBGYN. I’d rather just go for the midwife.” And so they set me up with a midwife and I started seeing her. So fast forward, my 34 week ultrasound, the midwife looked at Jimmy and she was like “uh oh” and I was like “what do you mean ‘uh oh’, what’s ‘uh oh’?”
Ali: God that’s like…what could be a worse thing to say when you’re doing an ultrasound of someone’s baby? Like Please! Get your bedside manner together!
Anissa: Yea, oh my gosh, but yea she was like “oh well he’s breech so we’re going to have to schedule you for a C section”. And I was like what are you talking about? Hold on, you sound way too calm. That’s not the plan! And she said, “Well, your options are that you can do a cephalic version at 36 weeks, but, with the disclaimer that if the baby doesn’t respond we’re going to have to do a c section at that time.” And I remember feeling flush because, remember, Gabe wasn’t going with me to appointments because he was in the Bay Area so I just went cold and was like “oh my gosh” you know what I mean? This is not the plan!
Karly: You’re like “We’re too far into this game to change the plan!”
Anissa: Exactly! Exactly! And 36 weeks, a C section? He’s got time to cook, you know? Nothing is wrong! So, after the 34 week ultrasound I was so determined, I’m gonna flip this baby. So I started asking around. I started at the hypnobirthing classes. They had always been saying breech is a variation of normal. Breech is fine, your baby is fine. The baby can flip even when you’re in labor and so I first started with acupuncture. I was going twice a week and she was doing…I forget what it’s called…
Anissa: Yes, thank you, yes, that’s what she was doing, and I was doing Spinning Babies where I would lean over on the couch and try to make room for Jimmy to flip. And then I even went as far as seeing Nicole Morales and she literally- it was the most amazing experience ever-she had me in her office. There was a couch and she put this ironing board up against the couch and she had me lay upside down and she had Jimmy up and out of my pelvis, and she was like “this baby is flip-able, you’d be a good candidate for a cephalic version”.
Ali: I wanna jump in real quick. For people who don’t know, Nicole Morales is a really amazing midwife in San Diego and body worker and Spinning Babies queen. She’s incredible and we actually…I can’t remember the episode number, but we had her on to talk about breech because she’s like the breech queen. So if you wanna hear more from her, go back and find that episode. Sorry to interrupt.
Anissa: No, that’s ok. Yeah she’s amazing, especially for breech babies. So at 39 weeks I did the cephalic version. I reluctantly called and I was like “ok, I’m ready to do this”. So I went in and on the day that I went in they said that I didn’t have enough fluid and they were like “ok, you’re going to meet your baby today”, and I was like “what are you talking about?” I didn’t have the car seat, I didn’t have clothes, I wasn’t ready, and they did a C section! And on the table I just remember crying my eyes out and the anesthesiologist was like “are you ok? Are you in pain?”
And I was like “no, I just don’t want this”. I was not ready.
Ali: That’s devastating
Anissa: Yeah, and it was just really hard. And side note: up until after this birth, I wasn’t able to tell that story without crying. It was so hard.
Karly: Yeah, you know, I think that sometimes people underestimate the process that birth is and that the labor is actually a pretty important part to get you prepped get you into a different mindset, and then you can kind of come out of it feeling like “I’m ready to have a baby, I’m ready for the pregnancy to be over”
Ali: Or at least knowing, even if it’s a scheduled cesarean. It sounds like the part that was hard was feeling like the rug was pulled out from under you.
Karly: And maybe you wanted to gestate him longer because you said you were only 36 weeks or were you 37 at that point?
Anissa: No, I finally did it at 39 weeks.
Karly: Oh, at 39! I was gonna say, that seems weird that they would do a c section at 36 or 37 weeks for that. But ok, so 39 weeks. So, you’ve got Jimmy…. Continue from where you left off.
Anissa: Yeah, that’s ok. It’s just kind of like we hit the ground running. It felt like it was really hard to breastfeed him. It felt like it took forever for my milk to come in. It’s just…all these little things that felt like it was so rough. Oh and of course, you know…C section…My hat’s off to the moms that do multiple C sections because the recovery is intense. Like, I just remember not even being able to turn over in bed. You don’t realize how much you use your abs until you can’t use your abs.
Karly: Yeah, until using your abs inflicts great pain. It’s hard for so many reasons. You can’t laugh without being in pain. A lot of times when people are trying to nurse the baby the baby will kick on the incision. There’s a lot of stuff about that that can be pretty uncomfortable.
Anissa: Yeah, so I felt like…I don’t know, I guess I just felt really defeated after it. I felt like nothing went as planned, and granted a lot of times, well, most of the time it doesn’t go the way you’re planning. It’s a surprise.
Karly: For sure.
Ali: It will surprise you no matter what.
Anissa: Exactly. And I totally understand that, I just felt like it was very forced for something that wasn’t…he wasn’t…I don’t know…his life wasn’t in danger, you know? I was ready to go home, go into labor, and if I needed to go into the hospital. Or go normally, when I would have.
Karly: Mmhmm…and did you feel like you missed out on the opportunity to just see how your body experienced it and see what your body was going to do?
Anissa: I think that’s what it was. Because for me I was ready to feel the contractions, I had taken the hypnobirthing classes. I was just ready for that part of it, you know? And not even being able to experience it, not even knowing what a contraction felt like after my first kid, you know? For me, I felt robbed, I guess.
Karly: Like you’d skipped a step. There was a step in the process and that step was gone.
Anissa: Yeah, so fast forward to Gia. We got pregnant at the end of last year and we were really excited. You know, we’d always known we wanted our kids to be close in age. And it was funny because I was so hesitant to even make a first appointment with the doctor. With Jimmy it was like, I called right away. As soon as I peed on the stick, I was like “when can I come?” and they were like “Wait, wait, not yet”. And this time with Gia, people were asking me “have you seen a doctor yet?” I think it was almost 2 or 3 months already and they’re like “Have you gone to the doctor?” And I’m like, “noooooo, I don’t know what I’m gonna do.” So, I started looking into midwives at that point. I was like “you know what? Let’s just look into this as an option, let’s see where it goes, you know?” And so, Karly came up through a Facebook group where I just kind of went in and was like “alright, who was your midwife?” and everybody posted. And I looked at her website and was like “aww ok, I’m gonna give her a call”. And I told Karly my birth story with Jimmy, and it was amazing, we just kind of clicked. She was just so understanding, and she just told me that I was a really good candidate for a VBAC because I didn’t go into labor so when they sutured me back up…what did you tell me Karly?
Karly: So, my friend who is a CNM told me this because…well, I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret: I’m always going to tell you the positive aspects of your situation. Haha. Because for me, if somebody’s has labored and maybe got to 10 cm but the baby was posterior and then they had a c section, I’ll be like “you’re a great candidate for a VBAC” and in your situation, too, my friend is a CNM and so she assists sometime with C sections and she sees the uterus when it’s open and she said she feels better about people doing VBACs when they haven’t had labor because the uterus is still very thick. The lower uterine segment thins out during labor and so to her it seems like a more solid suture job, like it would be a more solid scar and all of that. So, she was just like “It makes me feel more comfortable if they haven’t labored” so that’s the version I told you!
Anissa: Well, that was great because I was like “cool, we’re doing this!”
Ali: You needed somebody to believe in you, right?
Anissa: Yeah, I think that’s what it was. I had it in the back of my mind that this was what I wanted but I think because of what she told me: “you’re a great candidate” I’m like, “cool, we’re doing this!”
Karly: It was true, I didn’t tell you anything that was untrue. You were a great candidate.
Ali: And for anyone who’s listening, most people are great candidates for VBAC. Especially if you’ve only had one cesarean. So yeah…for what it’s worth. If you need that person to believe in you, it’s us!
Anissa: Yeah! And that’s what I needed because I know that not a lot of hospitals will even let you do a VBAC and that’s what I didn’t want to hear. And I think that’s why I kept putting off even that initial doctor visit. Because I didn’t want to hear: “no, probably better for you to have a C section. It’ll be easier”, or you know…And I feel bad because I have some friends too that I feel like for lack of a better word, they get tricked when they go to the hospital and they’re like “oh yeah, you know what? It’s just going to be a lot easier for you to do a C Section.” You know?
Ali: It’s gonna be a lot easier for you (the doctor) to do a C section!
Anissa: Exactly! Exactly!
Ali: I always feel the need to say these disclaimers, but, choosing a C section or having a repeat C section…there’s nothing wrong with that. The thing where there’s the problem, for me, I think, and for us is when somebody is coerced or pushed into it or not given a true choice.
Anissa: Yes, exactly. That was my whole thing. I didn’t want it to be deceiving in any way. If you lay out all the options and you get to make your choice, that’s all I wanted. I just wanted to be able to make my choice and then go from there. But yeah, so anyway I started seeing Karly and I just felt so comfortable. I felt like she, you know, I didn’t feel rushed. You go to the doctor for your prenatal appointments and they’re like “ok, do you have any questions?” and you’re like “yeah, I had a million questions before I got here but now…”
Ali: They have one foot out the door when they’re asking that, yeah.
Anissa: Yeah, exactly, exactly. You maybe have 10 minutes that you actually see the person that’s caring for you. And with Karly it was totally different. We would talk about comparing my pregnancies, even just what I was experiencing. Anything different from the last one, anything I was worried about. A, b, c, d, e, f, g, all the way down.
Karly: I’m pretty casual. We just hang out for an hour, chit chat about whatever comes up.
Anissa: Yeah it was awesome. And that was amazing in itself because I have a 2 year old so I was like “ok, I’ve got to go to my prenatal appointments” But little do you know that it’s also a chit chat session.
Ali: “I’m gonna need a full hour, it’s a very important medical appointment.”
Anissa: Hahah exactly!
Karly: Really it’s more like a stitch and bitch, great place to come complain about your husband if you’re having any problems, haha.
Anissa: oh yeah, especially when you’re pregnant everything is bothering you.
Ali: Ok, so you guys are doing your prenatals, you’re having your stitch and bitch…
Anissa Yeah! So, I think it was around 31 weeks and it was maybe a day or two after I had seen Karly, I felt the baby. I didn’t feel her flip, but I felt something different, and I just started feeling kicks down low instead of where I had normally felt them up by my ribs. And so, I texted her and I said, “you know is this something I should be worried about?” And she said, “yeah can I see you tomorrow?” So, I went in, and she felt her and sure enough she had flipped. She could feel her little head up by my ribs. And she kind of, you know, pushed on her a little bit, and wiggled her around a little bit and she’s like “mmm do you want to see if we could try to flip her?” and I was like “yeah! You don’t have to ask me twice! What do I need to do? Want me to spin on the floor? Want me to do a head stand? What?”
Ali: Do you have that ironing board? I’ll do anything!
Anissa: Whatever it takes, we’ll do it. And so, she did. She super gently pushed on her a little bit and then started wiggling her around and she flipped her and it was amazing. I was ecstatic for the rest of the day. I can’t even describe the elated feeling I had that we flipped this baby. And yeah, after that she didn’t flip back anymore.
Karly: I’m so glad!
Ali: That’s amazing. Oh my gosh, that’s surprising actually.
Karly: It happens a lot for me, actually.
Ali: Oh, does it?
Karly: Yeah, and especially in your situation because you’d had a breech baby and that was an issue. I didn’t want it to be something that would be triggering you if we could do something about it then. You know, I didn’t want to send you home without at least trying it if that was what you wanted, too, just because I don’t want you to go home worrying about it. I find that if a baby is not head down by 33 or 34 weeks, they’re still really small and some babies will not budge but some babies move really easily and then they’ll go head down and stay there.
Ali: There we go. And you were only 31 weeks when you did this, so she was even smaller?
Karly: And with you, I probably wouldn’t have done anything with somebody who hadn’t already had a breech baby but since you had, I was like, well there’s no harm!
Ali: I think it’s worth mentioning for people listening that most midwives, I mean, plenty of midwives will do palpation and probably see if babies could move, but most don’t do a full version or external cephalic version where they turn the baby later on in pregnancy in the office, just to set expectations.
Karly: Yeah, I don’t try it when they’re like 36 and above. I think I’ve really only tried it up until 34 weeks when they’re just little babies.
Ali: Anyway, so she stayed down…
Karly: We had a baby that was head down.
Ali: Was there anxiety about “what if she turns back?” or did you really get to enjoy that relief? Or what was the rest of the pregnancy like in that sense?
Anissa: Um, yeah I guess….
Karly: We talked a little bit about just knowing where she was, because you knew she had changed position because you were the one who had told me. You were like “oh I feel her feet in a different spot” and so I think we talked about what to look for and you always felt her in the right spot after that, right?
Anissa: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and then I think after we did that you told me not to do the inversions anymore.
Anissa: Yeah, I don’t know, after that I just felt so good, and she probably felt better. I don’t know, my hormones were better, something was better. She was like “I’d better stay like this, because if I turn around my mom is gonna freak out.”
Ali: She’s like “all this joy, this pure joy injection I just got? We’re gonna keep this.”
Karly: Yeah “I’m doing something right this time”
Anissa: Yeah, exactly, I’m trying to think if there was anything else that we did after that. No I think that was it. It was just so smooth. The pregnancy was so smooth, and the birth was amazing. Like, oh my gosh!
Karly: Let’s get into that!
Ali: Yeah. Well, what was it like mentally preparing to labor when you’d had a baby, but you hadn’t labored, and how was your mental game getting ready for this and going into the birth?
Anissa: So, it was kind of like I guess…like hunting for something that you don’t know what it looks like. I kept asking Karly what it feels like because I never had a contraction, so I was trying to picture, ok, is it going to feel like I have to poop? Like, I don’t know to be waiting for, I guess. I don’t know. It was crazy. So, I started getting contractions on the Thursday before she was born and it was, I don’t even know how to describe it. It was literally like they say; your stomach tightens up a little bit, and then nothing. But it was not anything consistent. So Friday I asked Karly if there was anything that we could do to speed it up and she said “well, you have a few options.” It was the herbs, castor oil, which she was like, “you will throw up and you will have diarrhea”, so I was like, “no”.
Ali: It will not be enjoyable for you.
Anissa: Yeah, exactly
Karly: I think I always tell people it’s the act of a desperate woman or person.
Anissa: So, she said you could also see your chiropractor, so I said “oh, that’s perfect” so I texted my chiropractor. I was able to see her the same day. And like, almost within 30 minutes of leaving I was like, “ok, I think this is labor”. My stomach was contracting and then it would stop and then 30 minutes would go by and then I would get another one. But it was really never consistent. So, I was texting Karly the next morning and I think you called me too, but I was trying to figure out why I would have a contraction and then it would be like 14 minutes and then I’d have another one it’d be like 6 minutes and then I’d get really excited and then I’d have another one and it was like 8 minutes. It was just all over the place. And so, she told me that once they were about 1 minute in length and really strong, as long as it was…what did you say? 3-7 minutes apart?
Karly: Mmhmmm some people don’t ever have really consistent, regular contractions. I’ve had people where even in transition they’re still every 3-8 minutes apart. There’s a lot of variety to be had in the way people labor. So, we were more focused on intensity of the contraction and how long the contractions were lasting.
Anissa: Yeah, that was me. And it’s funny now thinking back, I wonder if I would have had a home birth anyway, even if I thought I was going to have a hospital birth because they never really got so consistent that I would have been like, “ok, it’s time to go”, you know?
Karly: I think that when you were getting closer to pushing, I think they were pretty consistent. I don’t remember noticing huge gaps or anything.
Anissa: Well, but by the time I was pushing, like you know what I mean, I wouldn’t have been like “ok, maybe we should go to the hospital”.
Karly: “Maybe I should push this baby out in the car on the way” [laughter]
Ali: Let’s just do this here, how about that?
Anissa: Exactly, I would have been like that lady that had her baby, did you see that one, where they caught the baby outside of the hospital?
Karly: Oh, I think I’ve seen 10 like that, I don’t know, haha!
Anissa: That would have been because the only reason I even knew they even tell you, ok, I think you should come over now was because I was talking to you on the phone and in contact with you. That doesn’t happen when you’re at the hospital. I don’t know. Just another reason why my home birth was perfect. Anyway…
Ali: So, when you got there, Karly, it sounds like the contractions were consistent, but what was it like for you to experience the contractions?
Anissa: So, I feel like because of my hypnobirthing classes and because, I don’t know, I just wanted it so bad, I was like, this was what I wanted, and this is what I’m doing. So, I would feel the contractions, but I would breathe through them and almost, I don’t know, it’s such a dream now looking back because I had the eye mask on, and I don’t know, it was just so serene.
Karly: You really went into labor land. You were just disconnected, altered state of consciousness. Yeah, you really got into the zone, and you stayed there until the baby was out.
Anissa: Yeah, it was amazing. And then my mom, I don’t even know where she learned this, she brought the crock pot up into our bathroom and she filled it with water, and she put washcloths in it and then a drop or two of lavender essential oil. And so, every time I would get a contraction, she would wring out a washcloth and run it over to my uterus area, kind of like when you get menstrual cramps, and you use something warm. And that helped so much with my contractions. It helped to relax and soon as I would get one.
Karly: She’s a good mom.
Ali: Yeah, she’s got doula energy, a doula mom.
Anissa: Yeah, she was amazing, she was just rubbing me, I don’t know how many hours she rubbed me with almond oil, and she was just massaging me, it was amazing.
Karly: Her mom is really the best.
Ali: It was really special to have her there.
Anissa: Yeah, it was awesome, and then I think Karly got here at 7-ish and then I hopped into the tub. Well, not hopped.
Karly: Like a bunny!
Ali: Crawled. Crawled into the tub.
Anissa: Yeah, I got into the tub at like 9-ish and then that just flew by because she was born at 11:11.
Ali: Whoa! And what time did your labor actually start to where it wasn’t, you know, 15 minutes apart but they were like “ok, these are taking all of my attention, they’re intense, they’re regular”, when was that?
Anissa: It was probably about 5. 5 o’clock is when I think I called Karly and was like “I think they’re getting closer”.
Ali: 5 PM???? Oh my God!
Karly: Yeah, 6 hours of active labor! How’s that for a successful VBAC?
Ali: That’s what dreams are made of!
Karly: That is what dreams are made of. Anissa is what dreams are made of
Anissa: Hahah it was just. I’m telling you it was like the yin and yang because my first one was a nightmare and I think because the second one was so smooth, it kind of like gave me that closure of like, “ok I did it.”
Karly: It can feel healing and like you know what it’s like to complete the process and do the whole thing!
Anissa: Yeah, and I think I kind of deserved a good birth after that first. It was terrible!
Karly and Ali: You did!
Anissa: Some people probably have like “oh, yeah, I had a good birth the first one, and then I had a good birth the second one. But no, I had a terrible, horrible, fucked up first birth, and then the second was like, I couldn’t have asked for a better birth.
Karly: So, at the time of the birth, like when you started pushing, how were you feeling, um, were you still heavily in labor land and checked out or did you start getting excited, or something else?
Anissa: Um, so for the last couple, I just remember feeling this gray area, I don’t know. I just remember that part where the baby was kind of crowning, I guess? Where I was like “oh shit! I’m doing this, I’m doing this right now, I can’t believe it, there’s no turning back! This is gonna happen and I’m…this is happening. So, I kind of came out of labor land to be like “oh fuck, oh my god!”
Ali: Like, shit just got so real.
Anissa: Yeah, exactly, like “ok, this is it, this is why everybody is like ‘no, I’m not doing a natural birth’”
Karly: Like, suddenly this makes sense!
Ali: Pull. The. Plug. What are we doing?
Anissa: Exactly, exactly.
Karly: I dabbled and that was enough. I’d like to eject out of my body now!
Anissa: Yeah and remember afterward, you’re assistant midwife was like “you did so great! Not once did you say ‘I can’t do this’” and I was like, ”I didn’t know that was an option…”
Ali: That’s amazing
Karly: I love that response.
Ali: That’s such a good response because to be fair, so many people say that can’t do it and saying that doesn’t mean you didn’t do a good job. Most people say that that have unmedicated births, but it is always striking when someone doesn’t and that’s so funny that you were just like “yeah this is what we’re doing guys, does everyone else not know?
Karly: This baby’s not in anyone else’s uterus so I guess I’m stuck with it.
Anissa Exactly, exactly, like this is how I wanted to do this, I’m doing it. I’m doing.it. What’s the other choice? What’s the other option other than going to the hospital but that was already out the door. We were here, this baby was coming.
Karly: Oh, so out the door, and you know we never had to do anything like, I don’t know if I ever even asked you if you had to push because it was so obvious when you got the urge to push. And it was just very instinctual the way you pushed her down and out. And Gabe got to catch the baby if I remember correctly, and he was INTO that.
Anissa: Yeah, he really was, it was so nice to see how involved he was wanting to be with Gia. And I guess too- because he formed that relationship at the beginning too, with Karly – able to ask her whatever and it was more casual. But yeah, he actually wanted to catch her. He told me he wanted me to make sure to say he was playing the Om frequency because the Om frequency is when something is already created. That’s what he said. He related it too to the hypnobirthing classes because they tell you to hum through your surges, your contractions. And so all of my humming was getting deeper and deeper as the contractions were getting more intense and it was funny because it almost matched the frequency at the end when she was coming. It was so rad.
Ali: It sounds so beautiful.
Karly: It was, I mean, it could not have been any smoother, seriously. Most of the time my VBAC clients do great, you know, I’ve had a few but you always just wonder no matter who it is, like, how’s this gonna go? Is there gonna be a transfer? I mean, all of those questions were eliminated. When the baby was there, we were just like “wow, this was so smooth!”
Anissa: yeah, and the next day, even right after, she started nursing right away. I didn’t have a problem with my latch. My nipples didn’t even get that…I mean that could just be because they’re rubber now, but they weren’t in much pain. And even the next day I just, I felt like I had run a marathon, and I’ve never run a marathon before. And I relate it too to people who are like “you’re crazy, you had a natural birth in your house, I could never do that.” And that’s my reaction when people run a marathon. I’m like, “I can’t do that, are you kidding me? You’re crazy!” You know what I mean?
Ali: I feel the same way about marathon running and birth. The birth thing seems way more possible.
Anissa: Yeah! Exactly! And the next morning it was so crazy because it felt like every muscle in my body was sore and you don’t realize how much you use every muscle in your body until the next day. But I was up, I wanted to take a shower and I wanted to do things like normal. I guess that’s where, you know, a lot of people overexert themselves and they’re like “oh wait, maybe I should have not done that,” but I don’t know. I just felt like I was ready to go.
Ali: That’s amazing. You were comparatively speaking to the last time, right?
Anissa: Yeah, exactly and I think that’s what it was where I was like “wow, I feel great! I’m fine”.
Karly: Sometimes it’s even just a big difference between your first baby and your second baby. Some people even if they have a vaginal home delivery with their first baby, no epidural, all that stuff, a lot of times when they go on to have on to have their second baby, they’re just like “whoa! Recovery! so much easier this time.” But yes, especially when you had a full blown abdominal surgery to compare the recovery to? yeah, I mean your smooth and relatively short delivery for a first labor…
Ali: Yeah, very short. For a first labor? Like, very short
Karly: Yeah, which was awesome.
Ali: If I could put in a request, I would request your birth. Like, can I have Gia’s birth, please? I’ll take one, thank you. I’ll have what she’s having!
Anissa: And I’m telling you it’s a trick! It’s a trick. We’re a two-baby family, I wanna be done.
Karly: It is a trick but some people kind of get into that mindset where they’re like: “I’m gonna quit while I’m ahead. Had one good birth, let’s not tempt fate. We’re gonna stop right there.”
Ali: Yep, I’ve heard that. Certainly.
Karly: Yeah, but it just ended up being this sweet little way to kind of heal that trauma and those feelings of missing out that you had with Jimmy’s birth and Gabe got to be involved. I don’t think we even had to do stitches, did we? Did you tear?
Anissa: No, no. I was super lucky. I was convinced that I did though. Remember I was in that moment, and I was like “oooooh shit”!
Ali: I feel like everyone feels that. Yeah.
Karly: Especially when you feel that burning. You definitely associate that with tearing.
Ali: I mean, how could you not, right?
Anissa: In my head I had a slit now. Like, no more holes, just one long slit
Karly: Oh, that is so terrifying
Ali: I think though that a lot of people will be like: “the slit feeling? Mmhmmm, yep, yep!”
Karly: but the most important question is how does your vagina feel now?
Anissa: Oh, like I didn’t push out a baby. But, you know, it feels normal.
Karly: Good, great, there’s nothing better than normal. We’re so happy about a normal feeling vagina.
Ali: Healing, we love healing!
Anissa: Yeah, and you know, it’s funny, because when you think about weeks, you think oh it’s been 2 ½ months and it sounds like a long time but it’s really only be 9-10 weeks.
Karly: And it probably started feeling normal even earlier.
Anissa: Oh yeah, like I said, just total difference from the first time. Everything just went so much smoother with the second, with Gia. And I don’t know, like you were saying earlier it felt like it just has to do with going into labor and your body’s like…ok, your body knows what to do! Our bodies are made to procreate, obviously so my body just knew what it was doing, and I just went into autopilot.
Karly: Yeah, the hormones birth set a lot of other things into motion and those all worked perfectly this time for you. So do you have anything like advice that you want to say or something to wrap up those birth experiences?
Anissa: A lot of people ask me “how did you do it and my whole thing was just getting in the mindset. In my mind it was going to be this way in regard to the natural birth. It was just like: “this is how I’m going to do it, and this is how it’s going to be done.” When you leave room for doubt in yourself then you can’t do it. What do they say? Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.
Ali & Karly: Exactly
Anissa: Yeah, and so just knowing if it’s what you want to do then set your mind to it and do it. And the other thing too is I’ve been telling my friends, you know, talk to a midwife. Don’t be afraid to call a midwife, ask questions. If that ends up not even being your midwife, that’s fine but at least you’re going to have more information than you did even just going to the doctor or the hospital.
Ali: Totally. Home birth isn’t such a crazy thing.
Anissa: Yeah, especially with the current times and the stuff going on right now with the hospitals being overflowing and stuff like that. It’s just a really good time for hopefully a transition and more home births in general.
Karly: We definitely saw an uptick in San Diego, I know that.
Ali: Well, and there just aren’t the restrictions, not even close to the number of restrictions when you’re at home. There aren’t really restrictions when you’re laboring and birthing at home. And, you know, hospitals are not a bad place to give birth, especially if that’s what somebody wants or they need but it’s much more difficult to get the hands off supportive natural, truly whatever-you-want-you-get experience and we’ll intervene when we need to at a hospital vs. at home. Well, it sounds like you had such an amazing, healing experience and I know so many people are going to love to hear about this because I think it’s really relatable that you had, to have one of your experiences be really tough and traumatic and to find some healing in a future birth so thank you for sharing.
Anissa: Thank you guys, thank you for listening, and Karly for giving you the courage to share.
Karly: Oh, I’m so glad you did because everyone loves a VBAC story, and you’ve got a good one!
Ali: You do, yeah. Two breech babies!
Karly: I’m sure a lot of people will find inspiration from this. For sure
Anissa: Oh, thank you. I can’t wait to hear the final product.
Karly: Well, also thank you for having such a great birth. I really love being a midwife at births like yours.
Ali: Those are the ones where we’re like “oh I could keep doing this for a while”
Karly: I could do this forever!
Ali: Yeah, if they’re all like this I could do this forever!
Anissa: No, it’s funny, too, remember we were joking because Karly brings all her birth supplies in suitcases and afterward Gabe was like “they were ready to stay, like, I think they thought they were gonna be here for like a few days.
Karly: He thought those were clothes and MRE’s or something like that. A tent I was gonna set up in the back yard. Buddy!
Ali: And it’s like, your gear. Hahaha. And he’s like “it’s weird, she brought one of those hammocks she was gonna sling it across the backyard, I don’t know…” That’s so funny.
Anissa: He was all “I think he thought you were gonna be in labor for a long time”
Ali: You’re like “God, they really showed up with a lot of shit.”
Karly: No, It’s full of an oxygen tank and suturing materials, IV supplies, stuff like that. But I love that. It’s so funny when you find out later what someone was thinking. In the moment you think “this is just my norm, this is what do. Everyone recognizes this is my equipment, what else would I drag in here?”
Ali: I’ve never thought about that. That’s so funny because it is so normal to us. It’s hysterical.
Karly: Yeah, it’s pretty great.
Ali: He’s like “God, Karly’s pretty high maintenance. Did you guys realize this?” Meanwhile her supplies are like a pair of underwear shoved in the bottom of her bag and a granola bar. Those are her personals.
Karly. No, that’s really more like it. Maybe a toothbrush floating around if I’m really prepared.
Ali: That’s hysterical.
Karly: You can imagine…I’ve got a giant steak dinner in my suitcase.
Ali: Yeah…and a camp stove, she’s like…
Karly: ready to dine! Oh, there are so many opportunities for ridiculousness.
Ali: Yes, there really are. Well, we’ll let you get back to your sweet family but thank you so much, Anissa!
Anissa: Thank you!
Ali: And thank you all for listening to another episode of the podcast, we love you. Um, you know my spiel. Check out our website, birthkweens.com. If you want to order steam herbs or check out show notes or anything like that. We also have our Instagram at @birthkweens and our Facebook group the Birth Kweens podcast community, and you can also leave us a rating and review on iTunes if you’d like. Alright, we’ll talk to you next time, Bye!
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