The amazing Audrey Griffith, Quinn (10), Jude (7), Cyrus (5), Reuben (22 Months). Audrey also experienced miscarriages in 2005, 2008, and 2010.
Audrey was 17 when she got pregnant with her oldest, not yet married and had just graduated from high school. The pregnancy sped up the process a bit and they wed just a few months before Quinn arrived. Audrey planned to deliver at the hospital that her mother, she, and her husband had been born in, and where her grandmother had worked as a labor and delivery nurse for over 25 years. She thought that meant she was in good shape to have an easy birth when she was induced with Cervidil at 42 weeks. Within about 10 hours, Audrey was in active labor and chose to get an epidural at 4cms. Her water was broke the following morning and they started Pitocin. About six hours later, Quinn started to show signs of distress and they wanted to prep her for a cesarean. Audrey asked that they turn off the Pitocin, give her time, and oxygen and that was all that she needed. She was complete and ready to push but the epidural was so strong she wasn't very effective. They turned her epidural down but pushing wasn't making much progress so they offered her the choice of vacuum assistance or a cesarean. Audrey chose the vacuum and to tear naturally versus having an episiotomy and Quinn was born without complication about 10 minutes later. Audrey is grateful that her care providers gave her choices and she was able to participate in her care.
By the time, Audrey got pregnant with Jude they had moved to San Jose, CA and then moved back east to Huntington, WV to be closer to family. She decided that she did not want to give birth in a hospital but her husband was not yet comfortable with a home birth. They felt lucky to find an independent birth center that accepted their insurance and her pregnancy with Jude was long but uneventful. Audrey went into labor after one last lovemaking session at 41 weeks 6 days. She was 8 cms dilated when they arrived at the birth center and her water broke as she stood up. Audrey was Strep B positive but refused antibiotics as it was just too much to get the IV placed at that stage of labor. Jude arrived just 20 minutes later without any complications. Audrey had hoped to breastfeed again but struggled with pain and after developing mastitis in both breasts needed to wean.
When Audrey conceived Cyrus, her husband was on board with a home birth and they found an amazing midwife. She had a wonderful pregnancy and went into labor at 42 weeks and 1 day with the aid of castor oil. She felt much more prepared for the pain this time and had practiced some coping techniques to use. After receiving antibiotics for Strep B again, labor stalled but walking was enough to ramp things up a bit. Audrey's waters broke while pushing and just a few pushes later Cyrus was born without any issues other than some bleeding that was controlled with a shot of Pitocin. Audrey again attempted to breastfeed but switched to formula after three days.
In the winter of 2013, they conceived Reuben by surprise and chose to deliver at home again with the same midwife. This pregnancy, Audrey found that she focused a lot on self care, eating well, resting, exercising, and natural supplementation. Reuben was a very active baby and was flipped between breech and transverse in her late third trimester. Audrey used spinning babies techniques, went to a chiropractor weekly and did some Birthing from Within exercises and meditation to try and get him to stay head down and finally was able to get him to flip. She went into labor at 42 weeks and 2 days with the help of castor oil again. Audrey relaxed through early labor and then got in the tub to cope with pain when she immediately went into transition. She felt an immense amount of pain in her pelvis and switched to a birthing stool but couldn't get the leverage she needed to push. She tried laying in bed on her back to push and Rueben's head was delivered en caul but his shoulders became stuck. He began to turn blue and her midwife asked her to flip onto her hands and knees so she could perform a Gaskin Maneuver. Her midwife had to insert her hand to free his shoulder and arm from her pelvis and allow him to slip free. Audrey needed a moment to recover and Rueben required blow by oxygen to pep back up but physically they were both okay. Months later though she would start to process how traumatic the birth had been. Audrey had done a lot of work to prepare for breastfeeding but within 24 hours it was unbearably painful again. She called her midwife crying and she gave her permission to quit. Audrey says that two years later she is still grieving and working through her anger that she will never get to exclusively breastfeed a child.
Postpartum was very difficult for Audrey following Rueben and she began to realize that she was struggling and needed help working through some things. Audrey is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. She was molested by her babysitter's son at the age of four and the abuse continued via a half-sibling until she was 14. It was the PTSD that was triggered through Rueben's difficult birth that led her to dealing with her past. After 9 months of hard work, Audrey is finally starting to feel like herself, again. She's learned to extend grace to herself and is finding happiness she struggled to experience before. She's able to be intimate with her husband and enjoy herself, is feeling less triggered, more present with her children, and finding time for the things that she likes to do.
"It's not wrong or bad to take care of yourself and it doesn't have to fit anyone else mold! I am at peace with my body and I want to document it."