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A Frog, A Polar Bear, And A Bullseye On My Bottom (Levi’s Birth Story Part 2)

on December 3 | in My Birth Stories | by | with 69 Comments

To read part one of Levi’s birth story click here

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Four Hours Later . . .

Yes FOUR, Daphne gently asked me if I would like to get up and try polar bear pose, which is what shifted things into gear with Micah. My response?

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How about some of that elephant stomping you did at Micah’s birth?

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Will you try to eat something?

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How about some Labor Aid?

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Here’s Heather, writing “mama says no no no no no no no.” Okay, maybe not.

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Now, I generally try to be a cooperative person, but the suggestions that usually help mamas progress don’t work for me. I did eventually sip a little labor aid, but anything I ate just came right back up. As for moving around, something about the angle of babypotamus’ head made it just too painful. I’d pretty much resolved to never move again, then WHOOSH! Halfway through a sleepy contraction my water broke.

Knowing that babypotamus’ head would sink deeper into my pelvis without my waters intact, I heaved myself into polar bear pose in hopes that he/she would realign. No one captured this lovely position, but lucky for you Daddypotamus snapped a photo during Micah’s birth.

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Aren’t you glad you didn’t miss THAT? Ha!

Dr. Jeremy stopped by for another adjustment, and then I hopped on the birth ball for a bit. My midwife must have taken that as an encouraging sign that I was ready to get up and move, so she asked me to try some walking. I responded by getting on the couch and going back to sleepSo cooperative, right?

Riding The Rails

Now here’s where things switch tracks. With my first two births I was coached through transition and pushing. I trusted external voices to guide me through, and I loved that experience. This time, though, something inside me took over. I saw the path ahead – my body was following the exact same course it had with Micah, and all I had to do was ride the rails to the end.

My contractions were totally inconsistent and I was still laying like a lump on the couch, but I felt transition hit. Working through every contraction without a sound, I dared not breathe a word to anyone. If I was wrong I just didn’t want to know.

After awhile I felt a little restless, so I got up and went to my room. Daniel followed me and everyone just let us be. I did a few belly lifts to help myself dilate and felt things shift again, so I  waddled to the birth pool and sat down.

I felt disoriented, unsure of what to do next. Five little candles flickered in the velvety darkness. I leaned toward them and then – BOOM – I was on my hands and knees.

I had not decided to do that. Something within me was moving me.

GRRRUUUUMMMPH!

[Uhh, did I just push my baby's head out? Yes, yes I did. Wow, that was EASY! Hmmm, the birth photographer and videographer are not here. I suppose it's not practical to wait for them to arrive before I push again? Uhh, uhhh . . ]

HARRRRUMMPGH GRRR UGGGGGH!

And with that, it was over. Two pushes. Two glorious, instinctual, painless pushes. It all happened so fast no one had time to put gloves on.

I moved like lightning to find my baby, whom Heather had already scooped from the water. He was in my arms in an instant. Wide, liquid eyes stared up at me – fully aware and calm, beautiful beyond words.

After a few minutes I remembered to find out what you already know – we had a BOY. A gorgeous, perfectly pink, 8 pound, 22 inch long little brother for the potami. Katie immediately jumped in the pool with Daddypotamus and I to meet him, while Micah took a look and then asked to watch a movie. :)

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Random Reflections

One of my heroes, Ina May Gaskin, once said:

“Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”

Now in general I agree with this statement. We are far too often told that our hips are too small, our babies are too big, and that birth is too painful.  We are bombarded with completely unrealistic, scary birth scenarios on TV. Though there are exceptions, most of us can have a natural birth if that is what we desire.

But here’s the thing: I think my body may actually – sort of – be a lemon. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my body. I was told that I might not be able to carry a baby to term, and instead my body has protected, birthed and nourished three. I am grateful and happy to feel comfortable in my own skin.

That said, my mom just happened to mention after Levi was born that she has a hip malformation that may be congenital. Now she tells me! 

Because I am breastfeeding I am not going to have an x-ray done to confirm, but my guess is that the reason all my babies have been asynclitic is that there is no other way into my pelvis. After talking with my midwife, Daphne, it’s my best guess that polar bear pose does not cause baby to disengage and re-engage as I first thought. More likely it opens my pelvis in just the right way to let my babies through.

This possible defect may be the reason I’ve had such difficult births, and though I don’t think it’s necessary to label things either way I will say this:

I still believe in fairy tales. Even **if** my hip is a “lemon” due to a defect, my birth team is the collective fairy godmother that helped to transform me into the best I had it in me to be. In another setting I might have been pressured to seek intervention due to “failure to progress,” but their wisdom, skill, compassion and PATIENCE gave me the opportunity to have the birth I wanted.

Thank you to my midwife, Daphne, for giving me the freedom to rest and do things my way.

Daphne measuring Levi – Katie C. on far right

Daphne measuring Levi – Katie C. on far right

Thank you, Katie C., for being there for the potami. I never imagined that my condition for hiring a mother’s helper was that it be someone I could give birth in front of – kind of a tall order for the first interview but you have been an incredible gift to our family.

Thank you, mom, for coming early to help me nest, and for staying with us while I recover.

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Thank you, Heather, for being my insta-friend and amazing doula. Your support was so needed!

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Thank you, Dr. Jeremy, for coming not one, not two, but THREE times to care for Levi and I. Without your help the outcome would not have been the same – I am convinced of that.

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And of course, thank you Daddypotamus for being the guy who read fairy tales for me, and who helps me write our story every day.

That, dear friends, is the story of the littlest potami’s birth. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you. ♥

Welcome, Levi Austen!

For more information on maneuvers that can help with asyncliticism, please see this incredibly helpful article from Spinning Babies.

Also, HUGE THANKS to Alana Rasbach Photography and Amelia Hambrook Photography for the photos!

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69 Responses to A Frog, A Polar Bear, And A Bullseye On My Bottom (Levi’s Birth Story Part 2)

    • Michelle says:

      This has got to be the most amazing story I have read in a long time!! I think I cried thru the whole thing!!! Thank you so much for sharing!! Congratulations to the Potamus Family!! God Bless you all!! :o)

    • kristi says:

      Lol! You have an amazing sense of humor, and a great perspective on birth. Beautiful story <3

    • Holly says:

      I have read this whole story through three times. You are such an inspiration~ I think I want to have a home water birth and I am not even pregnant again! :)

  1. Congratulations, again! Such a wonderful thing you let your body do your body’s thing and although another long labor, it worked out quite pleasantly. My labor was 38 hours from the very beginning until Baby’s recorded time of delivery. My birth team hung in there with me all the way and I love them (for more than just hanging in there) :)

  2. Rama says:

    This is so great to read. I am moments to days away from birthing and the anticipation this time around has been tough. I’m so done and so ready. Birthing tub has been sitting in our living room for two weeks and I keep thinking ‘tonight’s the night.’ Nope. I didn’t do anything textbook last time around. I went straight to transition and straight to my knees, it was incredibly intense, but then the pushing came and it was magical. He was out in 2.5 hrs. Crazy. Not at all what I expected. A little nervous about the intensity this time around, but it’s all worth it, right?! Thank you for sharing your story. I am reminded I can do this and will do this and it will be brilliant! -Rama, Freshly Grown

    • Kaely says:

      Rama we will be praying that your birth goes well and your anxieties are quieted.I am soothing my 12 week old as I write this, and you are right it’s hard but so worth it!

    • Sarah L says:

      I’ve been there, too. Three times. It is scary, but you can do it. Just ride the rails to the end, Sweetie. You can do it!

  3. Leah says:

    Such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Loved reading about Levi’s entrance into this world! Way to go, mama! You are a superstar! XOXO

  5. Laura Stephens says:

    Wow what an inspiring story!! It’s really neat that you just knew what to do. What a huge inspiration. Congratulations!!! You did awesome!

  6. Leah says:

    Beautiful pictures! Beautiful story! Beautiful family!! Thank you for sharing :-) I’ve been so excited to read this and it did not disappoint!

  7. Mira says:

    Great birth story, I enjoyed reading it! I got a question: how much was this birth cost all together including midwife, dula, and chiropractic services? I realize it’s a bit private question, but it could help us greatly deciding if we want to have home birth or not. Your story seems amazing because you got lot of people to help you. This is what I liked about hospital stay, nurses helping you all the time. At home all you get is midwife, for me it doesn’t seems enough… anyhow we are considering all the options at this point. Thank you for unsparing me to even consider home birth!

    • Rachel says:

      Depends on where you live– cost of living factors affect cost of birth assistants, too. For me in Oklahoma, total cost for midwife was around $3k out-of-pocket– MUCH cheaper than our portion of our firstborn’s hospital birth after insurance. Some midwives do not require all the tests that an OB would as well. I can’t explain it fully, but it was worth every. cent. to be at home– compared to the “circus” hospital birth with 6 strangers in the room besides the dr., the home birth was me, hubby, midwife, then BABY! So intimate, special, even sacred in a way. If you feel home birth is right for you, GO FOR IT!!

  8. Melissa says:

    Congratulations on a beautiful healthy baby and mama! Such a beautiful story, loved it!

  9. Susie says:

    Wow, that is eerily similar to my own birth story. If his position was weird, we didn’t know, but it seems possible. I had a really rough, long early labor and once things finally got going it was so, so easy. Transition was a breeze compared to the first 18 hours. Also lots of vomiting, the tub stopped my contractions completely, and while pushing I could not have moved from all fours for anything. The shower and being completely isolated we’re what got me through. People being around seemed to shut me down; I needed to be totally alone. I also was certain at several points that we’d transfer because I was just too exhausted.

    Congratulations!

  10. Molly says:

    I think I have a similar birth defect. 46 hour labor with my first baby and 3 hours of pushing. 14 hours of labor (Gentle Birth Formula helped so much) with my next but, another 3 hours of pushing. Both babies came out asynclitic. My mom had 3 for 3 c-sections because of failure to progress and both of my sisters had 3 for 4 c-sections between the two of them for the same reason. I am the only one that studied natural birth, avoided interventions, etc. of the 4 of us. I truly believe that prayer, belief in my body and my helpers (husband, doulas, midwives, nurses, friends, etc.) are the biggest reasons I have been able to have 2 natural births while they had none. But, I am NOT looking forward to another 3 hours of pushing again with the next one!

    • Molly says:

      As a side note my first baby was 6 lbs 10 oz and my second baby was 8 lbs. 3 oz. Size didn’t seem to matter in making labor/pushing any easier.

  11. Lisa C says:

    I love your birth story so much. If I have difficulty giving birth this coming February, I am going to try to remember the stories like this one, to keep me going.

  12. Kali says:

    Fabulous story with the most perfectly birthing fairytale ending. Congratulations!

  13. Rachel says:

    Aren’t midwives a blessing!! I had a posterior cervix with my second baby; my midwife knew tricks to make it shift. Baby was born about two hours later. If I had been at a hospital, I doubt any dr. would have done the same– I probably would have been diagnosed as “failure to progress” and sent to surgery for c-section. So thankful for a beautiful home birth!! Congrats to you, Heather– you also out-smarted the medical world and accomplished what they would probably say was not possible. Blessings to you and sweet Levi!

  14. The amazing thing is that you may have something wrong with your hip, and you gave birth naturally!!! That is really wonderful!!! You wrote a wonderful story!

  15. Camilla says:

    Huge congratulations to you all! Thank you for sharing your beautiful birth story. It will be my turn for the second time in July. Hearing other women’s stories is so powerful. Enjoy your babymoon!

  16. Jadie says:

    Your birth story was so encouraging to me! I loved it :) congrats on your sweet baby boy.
    Btw, that picture of your two olders children with the new baby was so sweet and made me tear up a bit.

  17. Danielle says:

    What a beautiful story!!! I enjoyed hearing and seeing it!!

  18. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story of Levi’s birth with us. And congratulations to your family on your new addition.

  19. Carrie says:

    Thanks for sharing! So wonderful, congrats to you and yours. :-)

  20. Navjeet says:

    Beautiful strory! I had tears in my eyes and an open heart at the end. Welcome Levi! Enjoy the journey! So much love to all of you.
    .

  21. Halima says:

    I love this story! It is so beautiful. :) Way to go, Heather!!

  22. Sarah Stepney says:

    I loved your story. Nuff said!

  23. Beth says:

    I love the photography in this! And each time I read one of your stories, I am again convinced that when the day comes, I want to do a homebirth.

  24. Hannah says:

    Heather, thank you so much for this imperfect birth story. How like my own. I was in active labor for 65 hours with my first. Yes, you read that right 65 hours. I was desperately hoping and pleading with God for baby number two to be faster. And it was, by 20 hours. 45 hours is still WAY too long to go through contractions every 4 minutes :-P Still I have two beautiful baby girls birthed in our home, but the process has left me at times angry with my body, not willing to get pregnant again, and or looking longingly toward a c-section. Last week, God gave me this verse: “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” I want to have more children, but I am leaning hard into Jesus for the strength and comfort to do so. And I am going to get my hips x-rayed before we try for baby number 3 :-)

  25. Cory S. says:

    This was incredible! Thank you so much for sharing. All of your pictures were wonderful but I especially love the one where your husband is loving and encouraging you in the water. Beautiful :)

  26. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful story! I am pregnant with my third child but planning for my first natural/homebirth. I love to read all of the amazing birth stories I come across, they are truly comforting.

  27. Bethany says:

    I’ve savored each and every one of your birth stories right down to the last word. Congrats on Levi’s arrival, you have such a beautiful family!

  28. Wonderful story, Heather. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Becky says:

    Yay! You made it through! :) Congratulations! Now you get to snuggle and recover! :)

  30. Heather says:

    Such a beautiful story. Congratulations on your perfect baby potami! :)

  31. Jen says:

    You make me want to give birth again. No, seriously. I am 40 years old, have three children, and was OK with being done…. until this week I started questioning my resolve to be DONE. Reading this today is pushing me over more to the “Maybe I will”, side. Pregnancy hasn’t been roses and sunshine, but my 2nd and 3rd births (hypnobirths) were incredible. And I’ve always wanted to have a water birth…..

    Gorgeous potomi, btw. Beautiful family, beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

  32. Lovely story. And some incredible photos of the new little guy. Absolutely beautiful.

  33. cheryl says:

    thank you so much for sharing your birth story…so very beautiful….and so real…

  34. Karen Wood says:

    WOW!!! congratulations!

  35. *Tear*. Love little Levi’s story – congratulations Mama!

  36. Carrie says:

    Well written. You inspire me. Way to stay true! Congratulations to you and your family. Beautiful pics!

  37. Anna says:

    Oh Heather, you are so beautiful! Your Family is gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Such a feast to read it, tears in my eyes. God Bless you and yours. and yes, congratulations!

  38. Such a beautiful story; I was mesmerized.

    Congratulations on a beautiful baby boy! Hope your fairy tale is long and beautiful!

  39. Melissa says:

    Congratulations to you and your beautiful family!! :-) I loved reading this story. Made me wish I would have hung in there a little longer during my attempt at a homebirth(that turned into a c-section). By the way, I have a Levi too! :-)

  40. Melissa says:

    Beautiful birth story and congratulations on sweet baby Levi! He is precious! This makes me excited for my water birth in May! I love the black sports bra you wore in the tub.. what brand is it/where did you buy it? Thanks so much! Enjoy your new little blessing!

  41. Laura says:

    Made me cry.. so beautiful, just so beautiful! Congratulations! For the first time in my life I’m not scared to death if I think of giving birth to another human being. Thank you for taking that fear away, might need this courage one day!:)

  42. Trish says:

    Congrats! What a beautiful story and baby! You are so blessed! I am glad you had Katie there to help, she is so wonderful! And Jeremy is THE BEST chiropractor I have ever had. He reminds me of Jesus bc he is so kind!:)

  43. Amanda says:

    Simply beautiful! To know then what I know now I’d do it all differently! ♥ This should be shared and shared some more to inspire more women to listen and be in tune with their bodies.

  44. Lydia says:

    Well done, Heather. Even after 5 treasures, I still get teary *every*time I read a birth story. These Blessings are Miracles – gifts from the Father of Lights. Congrats!

  45. Meghan says:

    Oh, this made me cry. The whole process is so amazing. Takes me back to those days in awe. Thank you for the memories and congratulations on your new addition.

  46. Bethany says:

    Beautiful birth story! I was okay until I saw that picture of you holding your son in the tub…the look of joy on your face brought tears. In the movie, “Birth Story”, about Ina May Gaskin, one of the midwives commented that you can’t help but fall in love with a woman giving birth. She is so right. Being at a birth is incomparably amazing, but even just seeing your pictures brings up those same feelings of affection and awe. Thank you for sharing!

  47. Kiki says:

    What a wonderful, inspiring story! Each of your babies is a miracle! I had a bunch of people here in Texas praying for a smooth delivery. Thankful for answered prayers! Can’t wait to see all of you!

  48. Esther says:

    Congratulations Heather & family. This was a beautiful story and I’m so happy you have been able to have natural births even with a possible deformation — due to your amazing team. Thankful that it all went well and I thought your photos were gorgeous! (and your bedroom is super cute! :))
    XO

  49. What a beautiful story! Congratulations, you have a very beautiful family :) I’ve just discovered you page and I’m very glad I did. I consider myself a modern day hippie and since we are thinking about starting a family I’ve found myself researching hippie-mamas .. I love your page and your overall message. Very approachable and easy to follow! Thank you, and happy baby-moon :)

  50. Amy says:

    Congratulations!! The loss of google reader has been very bad for me; I didn’t even know you were pregnant, d’oh! The photos are BEAUTIFUL!

  51. Gudrun B says:

    amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    your story
    your insight
    your beautiful family
    all amazing!
    and you are so correct with your observation to let your body do what it needed to do!
    i am thankful you had a midwife wise to let you do what you needed to do
    many blessings to you all!!!

  52. Marsha says:

    I think this is an absolutely amazing story about how if we just listen to our body, things would go much better for us health-wise. AND, the health-care system would not be in the mess that it is in!!!

  53. Diane says:

    Thanks for sharing. It is such a beautiful story. I love life and birth. So amazing.
    Congratulations to you and your family. Many Blessings

  54. Ruth says:

    Oh Heather! Wonderful, funny blogging on such a happy topic! You are one uhMAZing women (now where did I get THAT from?!!) and it is an honor to have the blessing of your sharing the experience with all of us out here in cyber land. Thank you!!

  55. Kimlyn says:

    So, I just have to say this b/c I haven’t read any birth stories in a loooooong time. THIS story completely touched my heart. I have been struggling with the idea of another pregnancy. My first pregnancy was a huge rollercoaster of emotion and confidence b/c I was planning on giving birth at The Farm (you know the place) and ended up with a c-section. Talk about dissapointing, only a handful of woman under the care of The Farm midwives had to have sections and I was one of them. However, I did have a successful VBAC at another birthing center in NC 21 mo. later. That labor sounded very similar to all of your labors. I was thrilled that the midwives stuck with me and didn’t transport me “due to failure to progress”. (he was also misaligned). But I have mixed emotions about another pregnancy. I kinda feel like a “lemon”. However, your story makes that sound okay! I can still try to give birth the way I want and lean on my “fairy godmothers” to guide me ;) It just feels really good to read a birth story where a mother admits that her body doesn’t have perfect form but still has a success rate of 3 for 3! Thanks for sharing this intensely private life event and I wish you and all the Potami a blessed Christmas!

    • Heather says:

      Oh Kimlyn, I am so glad you commented. I was very nervous about posting the stuff about my hip because I don’t want in any way to be be perceived as undermining women’s trust in their own bodies, but in telling my story it felt inauthentic not to include it. I am so glad you found it encouraging!

  56. Brittany says:

    I cant help but admire the black top you were wearing. could you tell me where I might get one?

  57. Heather says:

    Hi Brittany, it’s just a basic black sports bra. I think I got it at Target about 3 years ago, but last time I was in I noticed that they still have something similar in stock.

  58. Izzy says:

    Thank you for sharing that beautiful story. It’s how I wished my childrens births had been.

  59. Beautiful story (and video too). I bet it’s really nice to see your birth from the outside (on video) as well as having experienced it yourself. I wish I would have thought to have a video done, but I had the opposite experience…and a crazy fast labor. I love how you just listened to your body and your gut instincts. It’s amazing how the most docile, sweet, women get primal and do whatever they need to do. COngratulations!

    PS I absolutely love your site and if I’m looking for information to refer mamas to, I usually stop by and see if you’ve researched and written anything and most of the time you have:)

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