Over the past 14 years Sweet Pea’s Studio has provided a space for new families to find their way through the pregnancy year.  We have been fortunate enough to have our students share their stories and experiences.  Here are some of them;

 

Dear Sweet Pea’s…..

Thursday, August 11th at 41w & 3days, we met our newest addition!

I had very mild contractions sporadically throughout the morning but went about my day. Had fun swimming with my daughter and her 2 cousins in the morning. The nanny got there around noon & I zipped off to pick up Brian and head to a 1pm BPP ultrasound (biophysical profile for a post date pregnancy, the midwifery practice requires this to continue in their care after 41wks).
I’d let my doula know about the morning contractions and she said to do some walking but not wear myself out.
The ultrasound was mildly uncomfortable since you have to be on my back but I rolled to my side during a few contractions. Looking back, we probably should have just canceled the appointment but I wasn’t convinced this was real labor.

We headed to an indoor mall to walk where it was cooler. They also had a movie theater so we thought we could take in a show (Bad Moms was playing! Haha) if we were there for awhile. Contractions were happening more frequently at this point but I was able to walk & talk through most of them. I checked in with the midwife and she said to let her know if anything changes or if my water breaks. (For the record, my water didn’t break until baby was coming out)

About 4:30, I was getting uncomfortable and wanted to be home. We went home and packed up Mabel to leave with the nanny (for possibly an overnight?). I was preparing for another day or so of labor.
At the suggestion of my doula, I got into the bathtub with a glass of wine. This would have stopped false labor.
Labor didn’t stop, it picked up in intensity.
While I was coping, it seemed time to “call in the troops”. I was so hesitant to do this since my first labor was a 2+ day affair and I didn’t want anyone to come over too soon or get impatient.
My mom came around 6pm and made me some food and started to get set up for the midwife and other people to arrive. I was able to eat some food but it was uncomfortable to sit down and I spent a lot of time leaning on the counter or kneeling while resting on a padded bench or the bed. At this point, I was already vocalizing to get through the rush.
The midwife arrived around 7 with my doula following shortly thereafter. There was also a midwife assistant who came over.

For home births, the midwife acts in a ‘life guard capacity’. They are very hands off and just let you do your thing. They take the baby’s heart tones and your blood pressure every half hour or so but otherwise just stay out of the way. It was my doula that was by my side, made sure I was drinking, going to the bathroom. She was full of affirmations for me & breathed with me as well as offered suggestions for positions to try.

Around 8pm, things were getting very intense and I got into the birth tub (really big – probably a 6′ oval shape) set up in our living room (we are in a pretty small 2 bedroom apartment & it was the only place it fit!).
The feeling of weightlessness eased the discomfort of the contractions & it seemed easier to rest between them. About 20 minutes after being in the tub there was a subtle shift in the feeling of the contractions. And I started to feel like I needed to push. It seemed like it would hurt though so I spent a few contractions not pushing & trying to hold it in. Obviously that wasn’t going to get a baby born. At 8:49, the most powerful sensation overtook me and basically forced me to push and I said something along the lines of ‘I can’t hold it in anymore’, turned over onto my back and pushed baby out into the tub. Leah, my doula, said ‘there’s baby’ and the midwife & assistant rushed over to catch her and put her on my chest. They had warm towels ready to place on top of her. At some point they held her up so I could determine if this new little one was a boy or a girl.
Holly, the midwife, told me to go ahead and push the placenta out when I felt ready and we waited 8min until the cord was done pulsing to cut it.
After delivering the placenta, the birth team helped me out of the tub and into my bed.

They gave me an hour or so with my new baby during which she latched for the first time and I hydrated and had a snack. Then they came into my bedroom and did a newborn exam. Willa Mae Bedwell was 7 lbs. 11 oz. & 19.5 inches.

Nobody ever checked me to see how “far along” I was: I listened & responded to my body and it was truly amazing.

Thinking of all the sweet pea mamas – Teresa, Erin, Courtney & all the others: have your best birth and enjoy those newborn snuggles!!!
See you at baby & me yoga!

Xoxoxo,
Emily

Baby Willa Mae
Baby Willa Mae

Mama Emily and Baby Willa Mae

 

 

Thank you again for the wonderful Wednesday night ritual that was your prenatal yoga class.

I learned so much from the birth stories I read and heard in your studio. Passing along mine!

Not long after midnight on Sunday, March 13, I started having strong Braxton-Hicks contractions. They came at regular enough intervals that I laid in bed all night positive I was in early labor, until I took a shower that morning and the contractions stopped. They came back off and on throughout the day, so my husband and I spent that Sunday making last-minute preparations – cleaning up the apartment, finishing packing, practicing our route to Prentice and going on what turned out to be our last lunch date before becoming parents. (One day I’ll tell my son about how he gave me Braxton-Hicks contractions at the Nutella bar at Eataly.)

Contractions – the real ones – started early the next morning. I slept upright on the couch because it was too painful to lay down. I was feeling contraction-contractions, but also intense, painful downward pressure that came at such uneven intervals I wasn’t sure I should be counting them as contractions. Around 1 p.m. Monday, I called my doula to ask if that was normal, and she advised me to check in with my OB. The OB told me to head to triage, just to be on the safe side. My birth plan called for laboring at home as long as possible, so I was pretty sure we’d be dropping in at Prentice and heading back home, but my husband and I brought our hospital bags just in case.

So much for the plan! I checked into triage around 2 p.m. at 3 centimeters dilated, and by the time the tests were completed (everything was fine), the idea of getting back in the car at rush hour to go home sounded far worse than the idea of laboring at the hospital.

Though I was open to the idea of pain medication at some point, I was aiming for an unmedicated delivery. At 5 p.m., the nurse said if I decided to stay, it was possible the doctor would want to speed things along using Pitocin. I got ready for a fight with the doctor. But then the nurse came back and said that, as it turned out, the doctor on call was fine with allowing me to stay and putting me on “expectant” status – letting me labor without intervention. So I decided to stay.

I believe I was 4-5 centimeters dilated by the time I got to the delivery room. The contractions were regular and intense at this point, and I was working my way through all the comfort measures I could remember until my doula arrived – walking around, hip circles, half-downward-dogs.

At some point it became clear that labor was progressing the most when I was sitting upright in bed. I also used the yoga ball; I took a hot shower; I sat on the yoga ball in the hot shower and it comforted me so well that my contractions all but stopped and I got out to move things along. Counter-pressure was a lifesaver; I had my husband rubbing my shoulders so hard for so long that he was genuinely concerned he was going to hurt me.

I had heard you tap into your animal brain as labor progresses, so I was expecting it, but not that it would happen quite how it did. At some point, I got into “the zone.” It wasn’t that I wasn’t feeling pain, but I was experiencing it in a meditative state. My doula, Brit, told me not to fight what was happening in my body – to just let it happen. (I’m forever grateful to her for that advice; it’s a big reason I was able to get through without pain medication.) I was sitting on the bed with my eyes closed, and every time a contraction came I would shake my head and murmur to myself over and over “let it happen, let it happen.” My contractions were being tracked on a monitor that was also tracking the contractions of other women on the floor; my husband said that while other contractions were erratic, mine were flowing like waves.

I stalled out around 8 centimeters, and again around 9. I knew I had to pull myself out of the zone if we were going to get things moving. I got up and moved around some more and tried some new positions.

As it got closer to time to push, I was as scared as I have ever been. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I could do it – it was that I knew I had to do it, and after more than a day of labor I didn’t know where that strength was going to come from. I told my doula, I’m really scared about pushing, what do I do? She said don’t worry, you’ll get a rush of adrenaline to help make it happen.

And it did happen, through sheer force of will and the all-encompassing desire for the pushing part to be over. After 20 minutes of pushing (I can’t believe that was only 20 minutes), using a squat bar installed over the hospital bed, I gave birth to my son.

Harrison was born at 3:49 a.m. on Tuesday, March 15. My screaming stopped just as his screaming began. They put him on my chest and I couldn’t believe how good he was. He had a perfect face, a full head of dark hair and pouty little lips. He started rooting around immediately, trying to breastfeed.

18 days later, we still think he’s pretty good. 🙂

We hope to see you at baby and me yoga in the near future!

Annie


 

“First off, I wanted to thank you and all the amazing women at pre-natal yoga. I felt like I learned so much at the classes during the course of my pregnancy and felt like it was such a great way to prepare for labor. William James Harriman was born on Thursday, February 18th at 4:45am. He’s been such a joy and is the best cuddler! Once my due date came and went with not a single sign of labor or my body prepping for labor, I was trying to mentally prepare myself to not be disappointed if I had to be induced by the 42 week mark. On Wednesday morning, 5 days after my due date and the day before he was born, I was feeling some cramping and light back pain that seemed to come and go but I didn’t really think anything of it. When I got home from work around 7pm that night the cramping and back pain had slightly increased.  I told my husband that I thought maybe they were contractions but wasn’t really sure. Everyone told me if I was questioning if I was labor I wasn’t, so I assumed this wasn’t the real thing. Either way, we tried timing them and found they were consistently 7 minutes apart. Over the course of the next few hours the back pain and cramps got significantly stronger but I was still in denial I was actually in labor. I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled the next morning anyway so I figured I could ask the doctor what I was experiencing at my appointment.

As we started to get ready for bed around 10pm that night, the pain was getting significantly stronger and I was struggling to get comfortable. Eventually I had to start pacing the hallways everytime a contraction came and I knew without a doubt I was in labor. I went back to timing them again and was finding they were coming every 5 minutes and lasting about 45 seconds each. The doctor had said I should call once my contractions were 5 minutes apart lasting for at least a minute each. I figured since I hadn’t hit the one minute mark yet I still had a ways to go. I didn’t want to be told to go the hospital and get turned away because I wasn’t very far along, like I hear happens to so many first time moms. Also, I assumed I’d be laboring for quite awhile so I wasn’t in a hurry at this point to get to the hospital. I continued to labor at home, pacing in the hallway, breathing and eventually moaning through the contractions. My contractions were now coming 3-5 minutes apart but still not 1 minute in length. It didn’t take too much longer before I got to the point where I felt I couldn’t handle the pain on my own anymore and wanted to call the doctor. I always planned on getting an epidural and knew getting to the hospital was the only way I’d get some relief. After speaking with my doctor and struggling through contractions while on the phone with her, she said to go ahead and go in and see how far along I was.

At midnight we headed to Prentice and the drive to the hospital was tough. Sitting and laying down was very uncomfortable but I knew I didn’t have any other option so I tried to breathe through the pain and relax and enjoy the few shorts minutes of relief between contractions. When I got to the hospital, I paced around the waiting area trying to deal with the contractions while they checked me in . I had reached the point where I did not care how I looked, acted, or sounded to anyone, I was trying to focus on making it through each contraction. When I was called back to the triage room, my husband later commented that he was surprised when they asked me to change into a gown that I just stripped down naked with our door wide open. I was in my own world at this point. In triage, the nurse checked my cervix noting I was 5.5 cm dilated with a bulging bag of water. I was so happy they weren’t going to tell me to try to walk the hallways to progress more because at this point I was getting very little break between contractions.

I was admitted into labor and delivery unit and immediately asked for an epidural. We had to wait awhile for the anesthesiologist to administer the epidural as there was an emergency he was currently attending to. I was trying to breathe through the contractions but wasn’t sure how much longer I could handle the pain. My husband kept asking what he could do to help but all I wanted was no one to touch me or talk to me. We waited almost 45 minutes to an hour for the epidural and at that point I was 7 cm dilated. Once the epidural was administered I felt like I could finally relax and not focus on how much pain I was in. My water broke shortly after the epidural was administered and the doctor that checked me said I was already 10 cm dilated. We were now just waiting for my doctor to arrive but things had progressed so quickly that they weren’t certain she would make it in time. Luckily, she arrived before I had any urge to push and explained to me how to push and use the contractions to help. My husband was going to count to 10 out loud while I pushed with each contraction. Even with the epidural, I was able to feel myself pushing and felt I had good control over my lower body. Part way through one round of pushing my husband quit counting at the sight of seeing the baby’s head start to come out. The doctor had me reach down and feel the baby’s head – it was hard to believe he was almost here! After 10 total minutes of pushing, William came out screaming and I felt like it was a complete out of body experience. He was immediately placed on my chest and I couldn’t believe after 9 months plus a very long 6 days after my due date that he was finally here. I barely even noticed when the placenta was delivered and the doctor stitched up a 2nd degree tear. He was able to start breastfeeding before I was moved to our recovery room and has been a great eater ever sense. I spent the next few days at the hospital just staring at him in my arms and have been smitten ever sense.  He has been more than worth all the morning sickness, aches and pains of pregnancy, contractions, and tearing to get him here. I look forward to bringing him to Mama Baby yoga and hope to see some familiar faces!

 

Thanks again for everything!”

Allison


 

“Wanted to send you and the yoga ladies the good news… my husband Mark and I are excited to announce the birth of our daughter, Mia (Mee-a) Alyda (A-lie-da).
After some gentle encouragement (walking, spicy food, acupuncture), Mia came into this world on Wednesday, June 12 at 9:39pm.
Labor started slow and easy… I woke up Wednesday morning at 2am to mild contractions. Since I’ve had them before, I figured it was just more “getting ready” contractions, so I hoped in the shower, texted my Doula, and grabbed some food before returning back to sleep.
I woke to my husbands alarm a few hours later, noticing the contractions were still there. I told Mark that he should work from home, just in case. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, just so I didn’t get my hopes up. ‘Go with the flow’ I thought.
The contractions started picking up a bit in their intensity. It felt like ‘waves’ of strong period cramps. I continued having them throughout the late morning, noticing they were between 8-12 minutes apart. Since I could talk through them, I simply stayed in my bedroom to relax as much as I could, remembering my Doula saying to rest up as much as possible, with the mindset that I’ll need all my energy later.
 The contractions seemed to remain steady throughout most of the morning. Around 1pm, my husband suggested I try different positions, in hopes to help labor progress. I switched from an upright-sitting position to hands and knees (one of our yoga poses!) and that’s when things really took off… and when i consider true “labor” to begin.
I went from contractions every 8-12 minutes, to contractions every 2-3 minutes, lasting 30-45 seconds. I didn’t know the timing anymore, as it was too hard to pay attention. Oh my, did they get intense! I could no longer talk through the contractions. Mark told his work he was done for the day (and week!) and focused on helping me through each wave as it came- pushing on my back and reminding me to breath in and out long deep breaths. We tried a quick bath soak, in hopes to help slow down the contractions and try a new position. My husband notified my Doula and midwife. I remembered that once contractions hit 5 mins apart, lasting for 1 min for at least an hour (5-1-1), my midwives recommend to start making the way to the hospital. After I heard him tell my midwife just how quick the contractions were, I just remember thinking, “we should go to the hospital, I don’t want to have this baby here!”
This is shift in the labor process – from now on – where I only remember ‘snap shots’ of the day.
We met my Doula outside just in time to hop in the car. I didn’t think she realized how far along I was in the process, as I greeted her with load moans and cries.
We arrived at Evanston hospital around 5pm. I remember opening my eyes and seeing the wheelchair greeting me at the door. I sat. My mom and sister ran into the hospital, screaming “She’s having a baby! Quick quick! She’s having a baby!” You know, one of those movie-like panic moments.
We got a room and got situated. I was 5 cm dilated. I was a little disappointed hearing the number, just thinking that I was only half way there, and knowing the contractions were only going to get more intense. Boy was I right.
I was whaling. With each contraction, I used my breath to make long, drawn out, loud sighs. It allowed me to control my breathing. It also allowed my husband and Doula to know the ebb and flow of each contraction. I tried a variety of positions, but mostly tethered to the bed. There was no way I could get on the floor, stand, or move around…I felt like my legs and arms weren’t strong enough to support me. We tried side lying, sitting upright, hands and knees. With each new position shift, the contractions seemed to get more intense.
Labor progressed very FAST! Though, my sense of time was totally out the window. Within 3.5 hours of getting to the hospital, I dilated to 10cm. I literally focused solely on each contraction…taking it one at a time. At one point I felt a gagging reflex, and ended up vomiting. At another point, I remember feeling something ‘gush’. I found out later it was my mucus plug and water breaking on its own. I kept my eyes closed throughout the entirety of labor, give or take a few gazes into my husband’s eyes.
 I started to feel the urge to push, though at the time, i didn’t know it was the ‘pushing reflex’. I gave load grunts and noises, so the nurse called in my midwife. I was just under 10cm, with a little cervix left. The nurse told me not to push because I wasn’t totally there yet. After she said that I was determined! I distinctly remember focusing on the next few contractions and mentally repeating to myself “OPEN”, “OPEN”, “OPEN”. That must of did the trick. I was pushing 20 minutes later.
I pushed for 50 minutes. In the middle of a big rain storm that shut down schools and streets, Mia was delivered naturally (no drugs!), coming to us happy and healthy! Weighing 7lbs 11oz, measuring 20.25″ long, Mia has blue eyes and brown hair. And she was worth every contraction, every push, every tear, every bit of my energy.
If I could give one bit of advice to soon-to-be mama’s, would be to take time to mentally relax. As you progress towards the end of pregnancy and especially if you go ‘past’ your due date, you’ll begin to receive a lot of outside feedback. “Have you had that baby yet?”. “Whow, you’re past your due date, when is that baby coming?” etc. Take it in stride. Don’t focus on the pressure put on by them or yourself. I thought I’d work right up to my induction date… I’m glad I didn’t. Tuesday, I sent out an email to my work and HR, saying that I changed my mind, and wanted to take a few days off leading up to my induction date to relax and take the pressure off. I sent out my work out-of-office response at 5pm on Tuesday and 7 hours later, Wednesday AM, labor officially started. I really feel like it was the mental release I needed. Take time for yourself. Let your body and mind prep. They are intertwined and dependent on each other. You’ll need them working together during labor. After experiencing it firsthand, our bodies and mind can do AMAZING things, including the beautiful and trying process of giving new life. Open up and let it happen.”
Jessica

” Our daughter Joan was born April 14 and it’s been quite a journey so far.

Joan was due March 30 and I planned to deliver her at Evanston Hospital with the nurse-midwife team. About a week after her due date I felt some light contractions, but they didn’t progress. In week 41 my midwife scheduled me for an induction the following week. I was terrified of being induced and did everything I could to get labor going. It was a very emotional time—I was upset because I believed firmly that my body was made to give birth, and I felt that my care team was essentially telling me it wasn’t—that I needed drugs to make it happen.  I wanted labor to occur spontaneously even though I was 42 weeks.
My induction was scheduled at 8:00 on a Monday morning.  I woke up with a horrible feeling of dread, but shortly thereafter someone from the hospital called and said there wasn’t a room available yet.  They called that evening and we arrived around 7:30pm. I was having fairly regular contractions but they were still of the early labor type. I was 1.5 cm dilated. They set me up with an IV to start me on antibiotics because I’d tested positive for Group B strep.
Around 10pm my midwife told me it was time to start some Pitocin. I told her I was very worried because I have several friends who had been given Pitocin and ended up getting either a C-sections and vacuum extraction. I did not want either.  I did not even want an epidural unless I had an especially long labor and reached a point of serious fatigue. She reassured me that I would be given a low dose to start.
The night was a blur. I remember throwing up a lot.  I remember asking for something to help with the pain because I was tired but couldn’t sleep. The midwife gave me a pain medication called Diladid (I think that’s what it’s called?) that helped me sleep for a while. I had no sense of my progress, really—they weren’t doing any vaginal exams because of the Group B strep thing.
The hardest point was when the Diladid started to wear off.  I was still really woozy (it’s strong stuff) but feeling the contractions. The nurse and my husband swayed with me through the contractions. I asked for an epidural several times, but the midwife put me off and I’m very glad she did (that said, I don’t judge anyone for getting an epidural—I think it’s a decision each woman has to make individually).  She would say things like “the Diladid is still strong in your system, we don’t want to give you anything else just yet” or “Gaye [the next midwife on shift] will be here shortly, let’s wait until she arrives.”
Gaye arrived around 7:00am and somehow got me walking up and down the hallway.  She wheeled my IV stand and supported me on one side and my husband supported me on the other. I’ve never walked so slowly in my life.  I started to feel an urge to push but I thought, “no way, I can’t be there yet!” But the urge got stronger and stronger.  The room with the bath had become available and they were filling up the tub for me.  But I never ended up using it because I just got on the bed on my knees and started pushing. That was the most amazing part. I would feel a contraction coming on and focus on breathing and pushing. When the contractions subsided I would feel the most incredible feeling of strength and power—as in, “I CAN DO THIS!” and within a half hour or so the midwife caught Joan and passed her to me.  Joan was born at 10:48 am.
The first two months were incredibly hard because I was determined to breastfeed, but Joan had difficulty latching and getting milk out effectively. This led to all sorts of problems—engorgement, cracked nipples, a baby who wasn’t gaining weight and was understandably hungry and frustrated. We supplemented with formula, which I didn’t want to do but seemed necessary. It was so, so, difficult, but we got through it and now Joan is a champion eater and we don’t have to supplement. We were fortunate in that the Evanston hospital has some great resources for moms—the free breastfeeding support group Thursday mornings, and I also went to a support group called Beyond the Baby Blues for two months.  Now everything has stabilized and we are both doing great.  So my message to other mamas and mamas-to-be out there is: don’t be afraid to reach out for help.  Don’t feel you have to face the challenges of motherhood alone.  There were days when I had no idea how I would get through it but I did.
So that’s my long story…planning to come to Mom & Baby class.  See you soon!”
Helen