Here are some birth stories from Nashville area families we have served over the years.
Babies Born After Bradley Method Training &
Doula Assistance in Nashville
Beautiful birth video provided by Kalimana Film Stories
Beautiful birth video provided by Kalimana Film Stories
Betsy Donlon – Bradley Method student, 2nd all natural birth
We were so grateful to have another beautiful, natural birth, and we know we owe so much of that to Jeannie’s instruction! After having a wonderful yet challenging natural birth experience with Mollie, I spent a lot of my pregnancy with Jack feeling worried that I could not do it again. I had moments of strength in remembering the reasons why I am passionate about natural birth, but they were followed by moments of thinking, “Wait, how am I going to do this again?”
I was able to reach some peace through my prenatal yoga class where we would picture our ideal birth and connect with our baby. It helped me to think about birth as an experience that my baby and I go through together, along with my husband. It also helped me to think about birth from my baby’s perspective rather than how I might want to make it more comfortable for me.
On Tuesday, December 10th, I went to my doctor’s appointment and found out I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. With a due date of December 30th and a graduation date of December 14th, I felt surprised by the baby’s rapid progress. I asked my doctor if she felt that the baby would stay in at least until my graduation was over. She said yes. So the rest of that week I tried to keep my activity level low (although Wednesday and Thursday I spent the day with not one, but two toddlers). Saturday came, and it was a full day, with a breakfast, the graduation ceremony and a small party at my parents’ house. I did not feel any significant contractions, but I was fully aware that the baby was coming any day.
On Sunday, we got up and went to church at 7:30am, had breakfast at my parents’ house with our cousins and met some friends at Cheekwood to see the Christmas trees. While I was feeling tired and physically exhausted, I still did not feel any major contractions. We got home around 2:00pm, and I told David I was going to lay down for a nap during Mollie’s nap. At that point, I started realizing I was having contractions pretty regularly, and I wrote them down. They were about 10 minutes apart, but only slightly uncomfortable. I let David know about 3:30pm that I had been having contractions that were 10 minutes apart. He proceeded to Google “false labor” and suggested that I might be dehydrated. I was noticing the contractions getting more intense and coming about 7 minutes apart, and then about 5 minutes apart. At that point I knew I was in real labor and I started to get my bag together for the hospital in between contractions. I told David to call my doctor, and the doctor on call told us to stay at home until the contractions were about 3 minutes apart. I was no longer able to walk around easily between contractions, so David had to take over packing the hospital bags for me and also Mollie’s bag. I would tell him when I was going through a contraction, so he could be unified with me, but he was unable to sit with me for all of them. Around 6:30 pm, Mollie woke up and David was working hard to get her ready to be dropped off at her grandparents’ house. I think he was outside buckling her into her car seat when I had a contraction that also made me feel the urge to push. I remember yelling for him but then vaguely hearing that he was outside. I started to get nervous that this baby was really coming like NOW, so I told David and we tried to hurry. We got to David’s parents’ house around 6:45 p.m. and I was in total focus mode and could not even open my eyes to say anything. I turned the air conditioning on full blast (keep in mind, it was December 15th) and rolled my window down. We started going toward the hospital, and David made a joke about stopping at Sonic. Meanwhile, I started praying out loud, “Jesus, please keep this baby in.” David responded by saying that the baby was staying in and everything was ok, but he later told me that he also felt nervous we might deliver in the car. With each contraction (that seemed to be coming almost constantly now), I was trying to use that energy to hold the baby in. It felt backwards from what my body wanted to do! It was awesome to be together with David for those contractions and have him coach me and offer them for our special intentions.
We finally arrived at the hospital, and as we were walking in, I had another contraction. So, we stopped and waited it out. When we got to the registration desk, the lady asked me to have a seat (which basically felt impossible, because I really just wanted a bed) and David answered all the questions for me. I was still very focused and quiet, just keeping my eyes closed and trying to breathe through the contractions. Suddenly, during one of the contractions, I thought the baby was coming out, and I yelled, “the baby!” at which point my water broke all over the hospital chair and floor. Oops. I said sorry a couple of times, and the lady said it happens all the time. She got on the phone and said she needed a doctor and nurses. So I had to transfer to a wheelchair (oh, so easy) and they decided I needed to skip triage and go straight to a delivery room. When we got there, my nurse was the only one there and she said she needed me to put the gown on and get in the bed so she could check me. I was still feeling that this baby was coming any second, and I greatly wanted to get in the bed, it was just a much more challenging task than I thought. So, it took me 5 minutes to get in the bed and get checked, but the nurse quickly got on the phone and said she needed a doctor because she had a patient who was complete. My nurse quickly got an IV in me. Within a few minutes, the doctor on call came in, Dr. Presley, and asked if I wanted to push now or try to wait for my doctor to arrive. I had already been wanting to push for about an hour, so of course I said I wanted to push now! Sweet Jack’s head was out in the first push and his body in the second push. Actually, Dr. Presley just asked me to relax and I tried to, but it was very difficult. Our baby came out, and both Dr. Presley and David announced that it was a boy, and what a joy that was to hear! We immediately declared that his name was John Joseph and we would call him Jack. He was born at 7:58pm. We were in the delivery room for about 10 minutes before he came. David got to cut the cord. He was with me through everything, and we were so happy to welcome our son into the world. My doctor did make it about 5 minutes after he was born to help with everything.
Everything happened so quickly that David didn’t get a chance to let our families know that we had arrived at the hospital and the baby was coming soon. Our parents came within the hour and we told them all together what his name was. They were all so joyful. Mr. Donlon weighed him since my dad got to weigh Mollie. He was a whopping 7 pounds, 14 ounces. He measured 19 inches long. My wrestler!
I feel so grateful for such a wonderful birth experience and the amazing support of my husband through it all. He was such an active and encouraging coach. He believed in me, he pushed me to remember that this is what my body was made to do and this is connecting me with women all throughout history, he protected the space for me so that our baby could be born into a warm and loving environment. This experience just made my love for him grow that much more. What an awesome husband and heroic dad.
I truly think that our preparation through our class with Jeannie Casey in the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth as well as my prenatal yoga classes really helped us to stay focused on the beauty of natural childbirth. In the moments that were very challenging, I was still able to think about things that we had learned in those classes, and I am so thankful for that.
Betsy Donlon, Nashville Bradley Class Student
I feel that the timing of Jack’s birth happening so quickly was God’s way of encouraging me to stay committed to my passion for having natural childbirth. By doing basically all of the laboring at home, by the time we got to the hospital, any kind of medical intervention was not even an option.
My body will probably never be the same, but I am ok with that. My heart will never be the same either — I have so much love for Mollie and Jack. I wouldn’t trade these two precious ones for anything.
Bethany Todd – 2nd all natural birth Vanderbilt Midwives
I wanted to share my birth story with you, especially since it was so incredible! As you may remember, labor with Georgia wasn’t too difficult, but the four hours of pushing with her was pretty traumatic. Well, this time around, Travis and I really prayed that things would be better, and wow, did God bless us beyond what we had hoped for!
Around 2:00 a.m. on August 2nd, I woke up in the middle of a strong contraction. I had already had a couple episodes of strong, consistent contractions, but this seemed different, so I had Travis start timing them at 2:15. Although they were still about 10 minutes apart, the contractions were fairly consistent and continued to strengthen. After they started getting closer together, we decided it was probably best to head to the hospital. We left for the hospital around 4:15, and by that time, my contractions were 2 minutes apart, peaking at about 45 seconds. I was a little concerned that they weren’t effectively dilating me since they were so short, but we soon found out that that wasn’t the case!
In triage, Bethany Sanders (the Vanderbilt midwife on call) notified me that I was 8 cm, 100% effaced … we were in disbelief! (Very, very grateful disbelief!) I didn’t realize I was already in transition, since my contractions had been bearable; it was just before finding out my progress that I had the thought of, “Whew, not sure how much longer I can ride these out.” That should’ve been my clue that I was most definitely in transition! The hospital staff quickly got me up to go to the L&D room. I wanted to walk so as to help keep things going. I had a few contractions along the way, and then right before we reached the room, I had a double-peaked one that about took my breath away. Another clue that things were definitely progressing! Once I got in the L&D room, I stood, leaning over the bed, swaying my hips – with the help of my amazing coach! – to help deal with the pain. After only 5 minutes, the contractions turned into the need to push, and I literally felt my body pushing the baby out. It was incredible: I never had to actually push or bear down, my body was doing everything for me! What a huge difference from Georgia’s delivery! Bethany asked me if I was ready to have this baby standing up, and I readily agreed. Barely 10 minutes – and 3 contractions – later, our sweet Caroline was born (my water breaking just as her head emerged)!! I could not believe it was done! Only 3 hours start to finish! I distinctly remember thinking, “THIS is how God designed us to have babies!” I was able to relax and let my body do what it was made to do, and the end result was just beautiful!! You would have been proud of your Bradley class grads.
By the way, I used essential oils during pregnancy and labor with great results. My family and I continue to use them daily to stay healthy and treat any symptoms that come up.
Jamie and Damon Schoepke – Cesarean Birth Centennial
I went in for 41 week ultrasound this morning. The ultrasound tech said that Joey had dropped a little, but that the amniotic fluid was very low, considerably lower than the week before. When she heard this, Kimberly our midwife, wanted us to immediately come to her office for a non-stress test. When we arrived and they checked, I was dilated 1cm and having contractions already. I just couldn’t feel them. Due to the low amniotic fluid, Kimberly told us she was going to consult with the doctor at Centennial Hospital and that I would probably be admitted to the hospital and induced. I was, of course, crushed since we had planned to have Joey at home.
At about 1:30, Kimberly called us and told us that the doctor recommended that I be induced. She wanted us to go to Centennial around 4:00 and meet her on the 5th floor since he had already admitted me. We packed our bags and got to the hospital around 4:30. Kimberly was already there and we went straight to our room. They hooked me up to a fetal monitor and an IV with fluids. They said they couldn’t do anything else until after 9pm since I had eaten at 1pm.
Their original plan was to start cytotec at 9:00 and then switch to pitocin later on once contractions had fully started. However, when they checked everything out around 8:00, the contractions were too close together for them to do the cytotec. After waiting to make sure I was regularly contracting, they started me on pitocin at about 11pm. They started it at 1 on a scale of 1 to 30 and shortly after, the contractions started in earnest. At about 1am, they raised the pitocin level up to 3 since it seemed I was “stalling” and not progressing like they wanted me to. After this, I started having very strong contractions. The only ways I could get comfortable were either standing and leaning over so my head was on my crossed arms on the bed or leaning on Damon while he sat on the birth ball. Sometime later on, they turned the pitocin level up to 5 as I couldn’t seem to get past 5-6 cm. Every time I tried to sit down or push hard, Joey’s heart rate would drop.
Somewhere around 1:30am Damon called Jennifer, the midwife’s apprentice since it seemed like I was progressing. She came shortly thereafter and helped coach me through breathing through the contractions. During this time, they had turned the pitocin off for awhile and then put it back to 3. My water finally broke somewhere around 5:30 or 6:00am. My contractions were really close together and feeling stronger all the time. They checked and I had only dilated to 6-7 cm, however, Joey still hadn’t dropped very much at all. They decided to give me an epidural to help ease some of the pain I was feeling and see if this would help me progress as not much had changed in the last few hours. This was probably around 9am.
Now, this is the part where I knew that God was definitely with us. Damon had been snacking on peanuts, cashews, a couple granola bars and not much else all night. When the anesthesia tech came in a little after 9 to give me the epidural, he had me do breathing to help me keep still while he put the needle in. Damon was panting right along with me when, suddenly, he went pasty white. Within 30 seconds, they had him in a chair, 3 more people came in the room, and someone brought him some juice. Josephine, our nurse, took Damon’s place on the bed next to me while he recovered and I settled in to wait for the epidural to kick in. A few minutes later, around 9:15, our attending physician, Dr. Celaro, came in. She looked at the monitor and saw that Joey’s heart rate was still dropping with every contraction. She checked me again; still 6-7cm and he hadn’t dropped anymore. She told us that even though I wanted to do it naturally as much as possible, it was her recommendation that I get a c-section immediately for his safety. We were upset, but agreed with her. At this point, Joey’s health was more important than anything else.
Charles, the anesthesia tech, said that if the epidural hadn’t kicked in by the time I was in the OR they would have to knock me out completely and that Damon wouldn’t be allowed in the room for the operation. Josephine told Damon to run to the cafeteria and get something to eat since he was still somewhat pale and it closed at 9:30. She said she would stay with me and not let them start anything until he got to the OR. As he left, they wheeled me up. Damon got to the OR shortly after 9:30, feeling marginally better after some food. They checked me out and I was completely numb from the chest down. Damon held my hand while they got started. I felt some pressure and heard someone say “In about 15 seconds we’ll have a baby.” Sure enough, about 15 seconds later, I heard Joey’s first cry!!
He was born at 9:47 am on May 1, 2012 weighing in at exactly 8 lb and measuring 20 ½ inches. Since the epidural barely had time to kick in, practically none of the epidural medications got to him. He came out bright eyed and bushy tailed and continues to be that way now 🙂 Almost everyone we talked to the first week couldn’t believe how alert he was. They told us later that when they had opened me up, they found that the umbilical cord was wrapped completely around both Joey’s body and neck. Each time he had started to drop, it would contract around him, which caused his heart rate to drop.
C-Section at Centennial Hospital Nashville
Since we had to end up having a C-section, we had to stay in the hospital for 3 days post delivery instead of the typical one. Damon stayed with me the entire time, only leaving to get food a few times a day. Our experience turned out to be completely different from what we planned, but we are so pleased with the result; our perfectly lovely little boy.