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Valerie’s VBAC | An Israeli Birth Story

17 Feb

I met Valerie while I was touring Europe with a band the summer of  2oo2.  She sat across from me at a dinner party and spoke her perfect English with her ever so charming Swiss French accent.  She was so sweet and quirky and funny – I just couldn’t help myself, I loved her.  As fate would have it, Valerie and I became the best of friends. In 2003, Valerie met and married her husband, Youval, where they settled outside of his home town of Tel Aviv, Israel.  In June of 2011, Valerie gave birth to her second daughter and her fourth baby. It was a successful VBAC. I asked Valerie to share her story with us and she’s done a great job telling us about her birth.  Keep in mind as you read this that English is just one of the four languages Valerie speaks.  I’m seriously impressed by this mama (and proud of my friend) and I think you will be too. You’ll read about how she found a new care provider at 42 weeks in her pregnancy who supporter her birth choices, she labored in a birth pool, she pushed for FOUR HOURS and gave birth to a 10-pound-baby. Amazing! Enjoy ~

Valerie, her husband, Youval, and their four children.

First of all, I am so thankful to have four wonderful kids. I must say that I have learned so much about birth through my own experiences, but still feel that I have so much to learn.  I always hope that my next birth experience will be better, but we’ll have to see. :)

I always have babies that are big, more than 9 pounds/4 kilos. My first two births were natural births, but my third birth didn’t go well, and I had a c-section.  At the hospital here (in Israel) there is a “protocol” that if the water has been broken after a certain amount of time and after 2 hours of pushing they don’t give any further chances to the mother and require a c-section. So that’s what happen with my third birth.

Valerie makes one gorgeous pregnant mama!

When I became pregnant for the fourth time, I knew I wanted a VBAC. I prepared by reading a lot about VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean) and I was definitely optimistic that I could succeed with a VBAC!

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Reflections on Noah’s Birth. Part 4

7 Feb

Read Part 1 Here ||| Read Part 2 Here || Read Part 3 Here

I made a promise a long time ago to write out my reflections and thoughts regarding my son’s birth, and ten months later, I’m finally getting around to it.

Peter, holding Noah for the first time!

Here is what I do remember.

I struggled and still do with how fast my labor was.  In case you’re reading this for the first time, I arrived at the birth center in raging labor, with contractions right on top of each other (convinced I was in transition) and my midwife let me know I was four cm.  I honestly thought I would have to leave and get an epidural because I had no idea how I would manage if the contractions worsened.  The good news is that the pain of the contractions never got worse, only the pressure below intensified.  I should mention that we arrived at the birth center somewhere between 5:35 and 5:45 and I was 4 cm when we arrived and I birthed my son at 6:13 pm.  That means that active labor, transition, pushing  – and kablamo – babe in arms was less than 45 minutes.  That’s crazy fast.  CRAZY!

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Noah Luke’s Birth Story. Part 3.

20 May

Read Part 1 Here ||| Read Part 2 Here ||| Read Part 4 Here

Sometime around 5:25ish we left for the birth center, I got in the Odyssey and leaned over on the seat, pressing my face into the bottom of the chair and rocking through contractions.  I remember Peter telling me, “Don’t worry, no one can see anything.”  I didn’t have a clue what he meant by that, and at the time I didn’t care. Apparently my butt was up in the air and my lovely, attractive depends were there for anyone who looked through the windows of our car to see.  Contractions were raging through me, at less than 30 seconds apart and more than 90 seconds long, I was in labor land.  He kept saying, “Hang on, we’re almost there, the traffic is really bad, but we’re close.”  Apparently driving down Locust Street in Denton at 5:30 isn’t exactly traffic free.

Somewhere near around 5:35 ish (no one knows for sure) we arrived at the birth center.  I stepped out of the van and had two HUGE contractions.  A low and loose primal sound came out of me, while I leaned over onto the back of the car.  Patty, who works at the birth center in the office, my friend and fellow birth assistant, later told me she looked out the door and saw my butt up in the air and my depends hanging out for all the world to see, and thought, “that right there is a woman in serious labor.”  Jean was right by my side and led me into the birth center.

I walked into the labor room and saw they had lit candles, the tub was already filled and Enya was playing (yeah, we changed the music quick).  A sigh of relief filled my heart.  Okay, I am in my safe place now…let’s have a baby.  Jean checked my blood pressure, my temperature, my heart rate, and the baby’s heart rate.  Everything looked good.  After that she had me get up on the bed to check my cervix.  I was just 4 cm, baby was at -1 still and I was 80% effaced.  “WHAT?!” I thought to myself.  I pounded my fist about three times on the bed and said, “Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t! I thought I was further along than that.”  Jean agreed saying she thought that I was further along too.  Patty was right next to me on the bed holding my hand and said to me, “Don’t worry, Joy, you are going to go quick.”  I remember thinking, “Don’t feed me that line, Patty!”

For a moment my heart sank.  I thought that if I was already feeling like I was in transition and this was only the very beginning of active labor and my contractions were already this HARD and INTENSE, then there was NO way I could do this. They better take me to the hospital and give me an epidural because I cannot make it if it gets worse.   The truth is, I got really scared and started to lose my focus.

So, I knew I had a decision to make.  I got off the bed and put my game face on.  I had Peter put on some music, music that we listened to together the first weekend we met (True Love Waits Christopher O’riley plays Radiohead), and I began to pace the room saying to myself, “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.” During contractions I held on to Peter and pounded his back through the peak of them and literally yelled out my vocalizations, still low sounds, but LOUD sounds.  I remember at one point I yelled and lifted my head up to the ceiling, while I clung to Peter and shouted, “LORD, LORD, LORD!”  I had to say that because what I wanted to say was the “F#CK!, F#CK, F#CK!”  (yes, I typed it, sorry, but that’s what I wanted to say, but I didn’t, aren’t you proud of me?)  I remember thinking, I’m loosing it.  This is me loosing it.

Around that time, Lynne the co-owner of the birth center, my friend, employer and fellow birth assistant, came to me and asked me if I wanted to get into the tub.  I was leaning over the bed and before I could answer a contraction raged through me.  I grabbed her hand and held on for life.  Just as one finished another came rushing through me again.  Lynne was eye level with me and her presence was peaceful and calm.  I said to Lynne, “I’m only 4cm, I shouldn’t get in the tub, it will slow me down.”  She said, “Don’t you want to slow things down just a bit to cope better?”  “Yes, I do, good idea.”  Before we moved, I asked Lynne, “Please tell me, is he OP?”  I was concerned that I was laboring like this because my baby had turned back to OP.  Lynne said, “No, He’s still ROT.”  The relief that washed over me in that moment was tangible.  Now I knew I could do this. So as fast as I could, I changed out of my clothes and got into the tub.

When I got in the tub, I asked Peter to put Emmylou Harris’ Angel Band on, the same album that I listened to while laboring with Zoe. I turned to my left side in the water and clung to the back edge of the tub while I pressed my forehead into the cool ceramic of the tub.  I talked myself through each contraction, again saying, “I can do this, I can do this, my body is created to this, I have nothing to fear.”  And then as the contractions came, I vocalized the word “open” through the contraction and imagined my cervix dilating and my baby dropping down.  I knew my body had quite a bit of work to do yet if I was still 4cm.  So anything that I could do to relax and trust birth was needed.  Saying “open” as cheesy as it sounds helped me cope.

Breathing through a contraction

I was burning up - transition is hard work! Peter is keeping me cool.

Clinging to the edge of the tub

Just them my Mom arrived.  I remember hearing her say, “Oh wow, you have her in the tub already?” Lynne mentioned that the goal was to slow things down a bit to help me manage.”  My contractions spaced out just a touch enough to give me an ability to catch my breath in between them and soften my body in the water. However, with my next contraction, I felt the urge to push and at the peak of it, loudly grunted out the words,

“Involuntary pushiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!”

Patty tells me that she was in the hallway when she heard me yell that out through my contraction and couldn’t help but laugh.  I laugh now when I think about it, too. Who says that in labor?  Leave it to a doula to identify her stages of labor while laboring!  :)

I can do this...I can do this...I can do this

The power of a mother's touch in labor, while Jean, my midwife looks on.

Lynne said, “Good! Let me check where baby is at!”  Lynne let me know that baby was sitting at +2 station!  YES!  That’s what I’m talking about!  Jean was there right next to Lynne and asked to confirm my progress.  I was curious to know as well, so I had Jean check my cervix. Jean let me know I was 8cm dilated. I remember her saying, “Joy, you’re going to have this baby soon!”   Now that was good news.  I was ready. They encouraged me to follow my body’s urge and to push lightly at the peak of my contractions.  This felt really good, and actually lessened the intensity of the pain and pressure of these fiery contractions.  About two more contractions passed when I literally roared through my next contraction.  I remember hearing my mom say,  “Oh, that sounds like she’s ready.”  Jean checked me again (I wanted to know), I was complete and ready to push.  Jean said, “Your baby is siting right there, Joy. Go ahead and push!”

Just after they let me know baby was +2 and I was 8cm. They're staying close by.

Jean, my midwife, watching patiently.

And that’s what I did, I sat up, brought my chin to my chest and bared down.  I won’t lie, I was feeling scared and a little intimidated. This was happening so fast. This was not how imagined it would go.  But I pushed through my fear and my pain and knew it was time to bring my son into the world.   My bag of waters was still intact and I remember as I was pushing I felt it burst open.  I actually thought that I had birthed Noah’s head because it hurt so bad. I popped my eyes open to look down to see what was going on and I was annoyed, what you mean that was just my bag of waters, that HURT!”  There was just a touch of meconium when the bag burst open, it wasn’t enough for Jean to feel concerned so she kept me in the tub.  In fact, she didn’t even mention it to me.


The hard work of pushing!


Another big push and I was crowning.  Oh my Jesus in HEAVEN.  That hurt so very bad.  I actually had to stop for a moment and pant through the pain…which is exactly what you should do when crowning.  My body did it instinctively and I think that’s pretty cool.  His head came out easily, with one more push, his shoulders and body left mine and Jean swept Noah up out of the water and placed him in my arms.

He's here!

I did it!



Getting a closer look.

Introducing Noah Luke Kusek

Noah Luke was born at 6:14pm on April 13th, 2011, after 4 hours of total labor and less than 45 minutes of active labor and with just three pushes. And the song that was playing when my son entered the world was, We Shall Rise. Indeed, we shall.


Read Part 1 Here ||| Read Part 2 Here ||| Read Part 4 Here


Noah Luke’s Birth Story. Part 2.

19 May

Read Part 1 Here || Read Part 3 Here

At around 1:30ish my mom and I left Inanna Birth Center and headed home.  As I stepped out of my car taking a few steps towards my house, I had a light contraction.  I didn’t think much about it because it knew it was normal to experience cramping as a result of having your membranes swept, but it was strong enough to give me pause.  I stopped for a few seconds and simply breathed through it and then headed inside.

By 2pm the cramping intensified and they were coming in waves fairly regularly.  I had my mom begin to time them for me.  Three minutes apart and anywhere from a minute to 90 seconds long.  The pain was tolerable. It wasn’t enough to make me feel that I was in real or active labor yet.  I actually considered that this was possibly another false start and tried to focus on other things, like putting my daughter, Zoe, down for her afternoon nap.

Once Zoe was asleep, I decided that I should help things along since it was the middle of the afternoon, after all.  I pulled out the ball and began to rock through the contractions on all fours while leaning over on the ball.  The contractions were still coming every 2 to 3 minutes and continued to keep a momentum of a minute to 90 seconds long.  Really things weren’t changing too much, however, it did seem like they were getting just a touch stronger (or was that my imagination?).

Laboring on the ball in early labor.

Early labor. Breathing through a contraction.

At around 3pm, my mom asked me if I wanted to call my sister in Austin and tell her to come. The plan was to contact her once I knew I was in labor and she would make the four hour road trip from Austin to Denton so that she could be present for Noah’s birth.  I told my mom to wait, because I still wasn’t convinced this was the real deal.  I had experienced so much practice labor the last few days, that I didn’t want to have Alysa come all this way for a false alarm.  I suggested that we wait and see what was happening around 4pm before we made any phone calls.

My contractions stayed at the same pace, and remained tolerable on the pain scale, meaning I could talk in between them and cope through them without having to give much thought to it.  I knew it wasn’t anything serious yet.  In fact, at this stage, when I wasn’t contracting, I was cleaning the living room, sweeping the floor and singing along to music.  I remember thinking that if I was going to have a baby today then at least I could come home to a clean house.

Around 3:45 I went to use the rest room.  It was then that I knew I was indeed in labor.  I had obvious bloody show. Bloody show is light bleeding that occurs as a result of a woman’s cervix dilating in labor. I came out of the bathroom, pulled out the bag I was planning on bringing to the birth center, changed into my “birthing outfit”  and put on a pair of depends.  There, I thought to myself.  Let’s do this….I am in labor.

Here’s a fun Facebook interaction that happened right around that exact time that I realized I was in labor:

The Mommypotamus:  Dear Joy, please have your baby soon so I can host another birth story bash. There are so many breathtaking stories to share, but I’m waiting for you. :)  

April 13 at 3:49pmJoy: pretty sure I am in labor right now.

April 13 at 4:50pm: The Mommypotamus:  SERIOUSLY??? Oh that is amazing Joy! Praying for beautiful birth and perfect positioning for your little one! Does this mean I get to be in your birth story???

Yes, The Mommypotamus, you are officially in my birth story! Around 4pm, I texted Jean, my midwife, to let her know things were cooking and texted my sister to come.  I also let Lindy, our good friend, know that tonight was the night we would need her to watch Zoe.  I turned up the music and begin to read some positive affirmations over myself for this birth.  And like a switch, when I finally recognized that I was in real labor, my contractions picked up intensity.

However, in between contractions I was still fine…texting and updating Facebook even.  I even decided that the dining room floor needed to be swept and did so in between contractions. Obviously, there was a part of me that wasn’t 100% committed to being in labor.  Which is why by 4:30 my contractions slowed down to five minutes apart and the intensity of the contractions lessened as well. I think this was a sign that I wasn’t allowing myself to really let go and surrender to the work of birth. Zoe had also woke up from her nap and was wondering what was going on with mommy. Around that time, our friend Lindy texted to see if she had time to go home and grab a few things before coming over to watch Zoe.  I told her sure,  she mentioned she would come by the house around six.

I remember going into my room to get some space, when all of a sudden the next contraction I had knocked me in the gut and took me apart from end to end.  I leaned over my bed and pushed out the pain with my breath.  The contraction had a nice bell curve to it, starting out small and peaking at the middle with lots of pressure in my lady garden and then slowly fading out.  Oh yes, this is it.  I stepped out of my room and my mom looked at me and said, “I heard that, sounds like you’re picking up.” I nodded my head, and was still trying to catch my breath.

The next few contractions were following suite.  I now knew without question we needed to leave for the birth center ASAP.  The pressure I experienced with these contractions was very intense, to say the least, and I began to wonder if I was in transition.  I needed help getting through these contractions.  It felt like a mac truck was barreling down through my body and trying to make its exit between my legs. Peter was right by my side.  I  held on to him for dear life and I vocalized as we slow danced together through each contraction. After the contractions ended, I asked Peter to call Lindy and tell her to come right away,  we needed to leave NOW –  this baby was coming quick.  That was approximatively 5: 15 pm.

Vocalizing through my contraction while holding on to Peter. Zoe doesn’t seem to be bothered.

Slow dancing through contractions with Peter.

Just then, Jean, my midwife, called to check on me.  I could NOT answer or talk on the phone, so Peter answered.  She didn’t even need to ask what was going on, because she could hear me in the back ground bellowing through my contractions, as I leaned over the dining room table.  She told him to get me to the birth center right away.  He let her know we were leaving just as soon as Lindy arrived.  The next contraction the pressure intensified and I told Peter, “We have to leave RIGHT NOW!”  My mom agreed to stay at the house with Zoe and wait for Lindy to arrive.  According to my phone we called Lindy, at 5:20pm to tell her to come ASAP. The plan was to have Lindy drop my mom off at the birth center, which is about a 7-10 minute drive from our house.  Good.  Shortly after that we were out the door and on our way.

Read Part 1 Here || Read Part 3 Here

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