Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What's next?

                                                          Someone told me I couldn't...

                                                                       .. but I did!

I'm giddy with excitement over this new shirt I got today from the Atlanta chapter of ICAN. They were selling them as a fundraiser and I just couldn't resist! My son is learning Latin in school right now and how could I not take the opportunity to promote something I am totally and completely passionate about?!

So what's next for me? My precious baby girl just turned 7 months old. It's hard to believe it has been over 7 months since I birthed my baby girl. I think I am still on an emotional high from it all. I wanted to share with you all what I have been up to since my VBA3C. I am currently a birth instructor in training with Birth Boot Camp. You can learn more about it here. So what have I been doing? Reading, reading, reading! I have a long list of books I have to read and videos to watch on natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting. I love what I am learning and am so excited to go to my training in November to learn more! Once I get through all of my prerequisite work, attend the training and pass the test, I will officially be a childbirth instructor! I am so excited that God has given me this opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge with other women. I have often looked back on my birth journey and wondered why it all happened the way it did. Why wasn't I successful with my first attempt at VBAC? Two reasons: 1. I was not educated 2. I was not given the opportunity (i.e. my OB probably never really intended on allowing me to VBAC!) Now that I have been through this journey and have been educated and have been successful, I want to share with other women what I know! I don't want any woman to go into her first birth uneducated like I was. I have a story to share, and I hope that it will impact women out there! With my first birth, I had zero education. I didn't bother to read anything. I didn't know about hospital interventions. When the whole day unfolded, I had no idea that I was just another statistic of an induction gone wrong. I just assumed that I was in the hands of a capable Doctor who knew what she was doing. I assumed that a cesarean was the only answer in that moment. I didn't know that I could and should ask questions! I want to arm women with this knowledge. I do realize that cesarean saves lives and thank God we have capable surgeons who are able to save lives with cesarean surgery. I am just tired of the broken system using and abusing cesarean surgery like it is the only safe way to birth a baby these days. I want women to realize that their bodies were created to be able to birth a baby and that they should not be afraid of that! Women have been birthing babies for how long? Why are we suddenly unable to do it without hospital intervention?

I could go on and on! This is what is next in my life. I hope to keep blogging and share more in the days to come. For now, I am just enjoying my life as a homeschooling Mama to four. Looking forward to the next chapter of this journey!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We did it!!!

It is with great joy that we announce the arrival of Shelby Morgan Westdyk, born on 2/9/12 at 2:59 pm, by a completely natural VBA3C!! When I say, "We did it," I want to be clear that it took a whole army to make this a success! I didn't do this on my own, although I am very proud that I was able to do it (despite wanting to give up several times!) My army included the strength that could only come from God, an amazing and supportive husband who encouraged me every step of the way, a wonderful doula who knew exactly what to do in every situation and helped me through so much, an amazing care provider who was not afraid to let me do what he knew all along I could do (and gave me every opportunity to get it accomplished!) and an amazing staff of nurses that supported my desire to birth naturally every step of the way. Yes, we did it! Here is Shelby's birth story (be warned, it is long!)

On Wednesday, 2/8/12, I went to see my Doctor in the morning for my regular exam. I was 40 wks and 2 days. He checked my cervix for the first time and said I was about 1-2 cm. I had been having some pretty frequent contractions, so I was happy to hear they were doing something. He stripped my membranes and sent me on my way. Said that he assumed I would go into labor in the next few days, but to come back on Monday if I hadn’t. Went to my chiropractor later that morning for an adjustment, and she mentioned that my belly looked very different. Contractions hadn’t really started yet, so I went to church that night. All night, I kept feeling like maybe I was leaking some fluid. I was also having some blood when I wiped and had lost some of my mucous plus. When I got home from church, I texted my doula to see what she thought. She said it was possible, but I should just decide what I am comfortable with doing… being GBS positive, if I am leaking, we wouldn’t want to wait too long. Since I wasn’t having contractions, and the leaking had slowed down, I waited it out and went to bed.

At 4 am I woke up to intense cramping. I wasn’t sure if they were contractions, but felt like I had the worst period of my life. I got up because I couldn’t sleep anymore and went to the bathroom. More blood, and more mucous plug. Started timing my contractions. Sure enough they were contractions, and already 3-5 mins apart! I timed them for an hr and then woke up Steve. I told him I was pretty sure I was in labor and was going to call Katie to let her know. Called Katie and described the contractions and pain level. She told me some things we should be doing and to keep her posted, since I wasn’t in a lot of pain yet from the contractions.

I called Katie back around 7 am and told her that I was definitely having more intense contractions and more bloody show. This was becoming more and more real! She suggested I take a shower while she got everything situated with her sitter at home and prepared to head out my way. While I was in the shower for only 10 mins I had 4-5 contractions that were pretty intense! I called Katie back and said I was ready for her to head over. Contractions were about 3-4 mins apart and lasting a minute each. At 9:25 am, just before Katie walked in the door, my water broke! I was sitting on the floor and just felt a gush. Katie arrived just in time for the real intense contractions to start!

Katie was still concerned with the position of the baby (still posterior) so we did quite a few different positions and exercises to try to get the baby move into place. I joked that I couldn’t believe I was paying her to torture me!! All kidding aside, some of the positions were not fun, but it was worth it if it was going to move my baby into a better position. I was really surprised though, that I wasn’t experiencing the intense back pain that I was expecting with a posterior baby. I credit that to having chiropractic care the last month of my pregnancy!

By 11 am, I was pretty certain it was time to talk about going to the hospital. Contractions were really getting intense, and my water had been broken for an hour and a half. I had to be there within 4 hrs of it breaking to get my first dose of antibiotics for testing positive for GBS, and I had a 30 + minute car ride to the hospital. By 11:30 am, we got in the car to leave. The car ride was pretty torturous. I thought I was going to throw up several times and the contractions were intense. When I stepped out of the car, my water gushed straight down my leg! Pretty gross! Katie joked, “Hope those shoes weren’t new!”

Got checked into the hospital pretty quickly… arrived at 12:15 pm. Dr. C. came in pretty quickly to check my cervix, and gasp, I was ONLY 3-4 cm!! I thought at this point, surely I was over 5 cm. I felt pretty defeated that I couldn’t handle contractions at 3-4 cm dilated. Thoughts started swirling in my mind, “Can I really do this without medication or an epidural? Am I really in for a long hard back labor ahead now? If I’m on a time clock now that I’m in the hospital… will I just end up with a c/s anyway?” Katie and Steve never gave up on me! They kept telling me how great I was doing, and that everything was going to be fine. They prayed with me and encouraged me to press on. That really helped!

The nurses were trying to get an IV in one of my arms but were having a hard time finding a good vein. I think they spent a good hour trying to get that IV in me! It seemed like forever… especially since my contractions were about 2 mins apart at this point, and so intense… they had to wait every time I had a contraction to continue trying to stick me! Once they finally found a good vein (it took 3 nurses to try!) they gave me the antibiotics. The nurse checked me, and I was only about 5-6 cm at this point.

My contractions were getting more and more intense, and I began to beg and plead for pain medication. I told Katie and Steve over and over again, “I can’t do this… no really, I can’t do this anymore.” They kept telling me I could do it, because I WAS doing it. I didn’t want an epidural, just something to take the edge off, because the pain was just so horrible. Katie put rice socks on my back and belly to ease the pain, and that really started to help a bit. I began to think that maybe I could do it… every time I began to say I couldn’t do it, Katie would quietly pray in my ear, thanking the Lord for every contraction that was bringing me closer to my baby! Honestly, every time she prayed, the pain was more tolerable! It was truly amazing to have the support of a Christian like Katie, who understood my pain too, since she had also had a natural VBAC after 3 c-sections!

I began to feel the need to have a BM. First Dr. C. checked me again, and I was 8 cm, 100% effaced, +1 station. I was getting closer, but not quite there! I was definitely in transition, and feeling the need more and more to have a BM. Katie took me to the bathroom and said we could also try getting in the warm shower to see if that would help. As I sat on the toilet, I began to push, and I screamed so hard that Katie knew I wasn’t just pushing out a BM, I was pushing a baby!! She told me to stop and screamed for the nurse to get things ready immediately and get Dr. C. back in right away. They quickly whisked me back to the bed and Dr. C. came immediately to check me again… sure enough, I was complete! Just 5 mins after he said I was 8 cm, and only 2 hrs since arriving at the hospital! I seriously went from 3 cm to 10 cm in just 2 hrs!

At 2:25 pm, I began to actively push. It was, quite honestly, the most painful experience of my life… but honestly, the pushing part was easier than dealing with the constant painful contractions. With the contractions, you don’t know how long they are going to last… you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. With the pushing, you know the result will be a baby! There were several times during the pushing, that I had doubts that I could continue. I even said a few times, “I can’t do this!” Dr. C. just looked at me and said, “You can do this. You ARE doing this!” He was truly amazing… calm, and amazing. I even saw him praying several times while waiting between pushes. From start to finish, I pushed for 34 minutes!! I felt the dreaded “ring of fire” as the baby’s head came out, and suddenly, she was here! I couldn’t believe it! She was really here, and she came out of me, just like that! I seriously felt like there were trumpets playing and the angels were rejoicing with me! She never quite turned completely to an anterior position. She wasn’t completely posterior, but came out a little bit sideways. Only had a small tear that didn’t even need stitches.

Steve was truly amazing the entire time. Katie stepped back quite a bit for the pushing to take pictures and let Steve be a support to me. He kept encouraging me, telling me I was doing great, that I could push just one more time, and she would be here. I did it, I really did it! I had a natural VBAC after 3 c-sections. When most Doctors in this country wouldn’t dare let me try it… my Doctor did, and he never doubted once that I could do it!

She was beautiful, and perfect. Steve got to cut the cord and they immediately put her on my chest! I got to hold my baby immediately!! I had never experienced that… tears were flowing from both Steve and I. The nurses were all amazing. They encouraged me the entire time I was pushing. Just an hour before I had begged and pleaded to have pain medication… somehow that just never happened, and they never pushed me to take anything. They completely honored my birth plan and stood by my side the whole time, telling me that I could keep going, and that I was going to do this!

Shelby Morgan was 8 lbs 10 oz and 21 ¾ inches long! Big baby girl, that I birthed myself!! Lots of dark hair, and just adorable in every way. I couldn’t be more in love!

I am just giving God all the glory for this VBAC. I am proud of what I accomplished… but so thankful that God gave me this opportunity. I don’t regret how my previous births went. It happened that way for a reason. Now I have this amazing opportunity to share with women that it can be done. Maybe, just maybe, some Doctors out there will start being a little more supportive of women trying for a VBAC after multiple c-sections. Truly, looking back, not once did I even think of the possibility of uterine rupture during delivery. It never even crossed my mind. I did not have fear. I doubted that I could do it without medication several times… but I even forgot about that once it came time to push. Total labor and delivery was 11 hrs from start to finish. Only 30 mins of pushing. 1 hour after giving birth, my baby girl was latching on and nursing right away! It was an immediate bond. So incredibly blessed and thankful for the amazing support system: The right care provider (Dr. C.) the right doula (Katie), an amazing husband who encouraged me the entire time and amazing nurses who cheered me on. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation!

That evening, our friends the Murrays came by to visit with the rest of my children (since they were taking care of them while we were in the hospital.) It was such a joy to have all 4 of my children in one place!

48 hours later, we were headed home! And this time, I was not in unbelievable pain from major surgery. I actually got to walk out of the hospital with all four of my children and husband! So incredibly thankful and blessed!

If you would like to read the blog post from my doula Katie, here is the link to her blog:


Monday, February 6, 2012

Ramblings of a 40 week pregnant woman

So I've made it to the monumental day, my due date... I've never made it this far. I've never been given the chance to make it this far! But let's be clear, a due date is not an expiration date, and I'm not even technically "over due" until I reach 42 weeks... that's right, 42 weeks! I realize I'm in for the daily questions, "Is that baby here yet?" I know everyone means well, and it's okay! But it could be days, even weeks before this baby comes. Most Doctors won't give you that chance to just go into labor naturally. For some reason this magic number of 40 weeks freaks them out, even though the average baby comes at 41 weeks + 1 day!

Last Friday I hit rock bottom. I had gone through several days of stop and go contractions... 1 hour of 8-15 mins apart, and then hours of nothing. I was so beyond frustrated by this. When I woke up \Friday morning, I was a blubbering, crying mess. I couldn't stop crying! Through tears I emailed my doula Katie and just poured my heart out to her. I was tired of the teasing contractions and wanting them to just keep going. I was also suddenly feeling the pressure of being faced with the decision of whether or not to induce before my Doctor goes out of town. Katie called me as soon as she read my email! She talked me off the ledge... she told me that this is all very normal, that my body is just preparing for the real thing. I wasn't even at my due date yet, so there is no reason to worry why it isn't happening yet. She also encouraged me to not even think about inducing yet. She even said that it may be okay if I choose not to induce at all and just trust God's timing of it all. She said even if I go into labor during the few days that my Doctor is gone, there are several very supportive Doctors that are usually on call for Dr. C. that would most likely allow for my VBAC without a struggle. It made me feel so much better about it all. I don't want that extra stress and burden. She encouraged me to listen to some praise music, pray, and just relax. So I took her advice... I put on a Selah album and started doing the dishes as I listened. A song came on, that stopped me in my tracks. It's called "Hold on." Hold on, just a little bit longer, hold on... if you think you can't make it one more day, just hold on! I mean seriously?? Could those words have been more tailor made for me right at that moment? I just stood there and cried some more, but this time tears of joy! Thankful that I know that it is all in God's hands, and I can hold on just a little bit longer... it won't last forever, eventually this baby will come out!!

On Saturday, I woke up in the best mood! Amazing what a difference a day makes... but I was determined to not be discouraged, to know that these "practice" contractions are not all for nothing! They are warming up for the real thing!

Last night I had consistent contractions throughout the entire Super Bowl! I timed them the whole time, ranging from 6-15 mins apart, but generally between 6-8, lasting about a minute each. I was encouraged! I went to bed... slept for about 2 hours and was woken up by some intense back pain and more contractions. These were about 5-6 mins. apart! I couldn't fall back asleep, so I got up and ate a bowl of cereal and timed my contractions. Finally, a couple of hours later, I was able to go back to bed and fall asleep. I slept mostly the rest of the night. Either the contractions slowed down or just weren't intense enough to wake me back up. I am still encouraged, even though they have slowed down this morning! They seemed more real than ever last night.

So these are the ramblings of a 40 week pregnant woman... I am getting excited and nervous for the real thing to start up! I will keep you all posted.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A few minor set backs

38.5 weeks and still going strong!

I have to say, that all in all, this has been a pretty easy pregnancy. Aside from some morning sickness the first trimester (first time I had ever really had it with any of my babies!) and some unwanted aches and pains (especially at night), I can't really complain... I've just been trucking along. Each Doctor visit has pretty much been the same... check the heartbeat, everything sounds good... you look great, baby sounds great, you're on your way!

The past few weeks have been a little bit of a different story, as I have encountered a few bumps on the road to my VBAC.

My first bump in the road started a few weeks ago when I started visiting a chiropractor twice a week. I met with my doula Katie to go over some things and discovered that the baby is sitting posterior. This basically means that her head is down (yay for that!) but the back of her head is on my spine instead of facing out toward my belly. The best position for birth is anterior, head down and back out to my belly. Good news is, she seems to still have room to move around. I am constantly feeling her little bottom out to my side, which makes it seem like she is trying to move out to the anterior position. Hopefully the chiropractor visits will help her turn. I am also doing some exercises from the Spinning Babies website to help her turn around.

This isn't a huge cause of concern in my journey to a VBAC. It could just mean a much longer, harder labor, if she stays in the posterior position. Not the most ideal when trying for a natural delivery... but we will make it work! The chiropractor adjustments should also help ease the pain of labor, especially with back labor (which is normally caused by a posterior baby!)

Then I encountered the next bump in the road a couple of weeks ago I am not sure if I have shared this in my previous posts or not... but my Doctor's wife is very ill and lives in a different state as she is in a special treatment facility for her illness. There was always a possibility that he could be out of town when I go into labor, visiting his wife. I can't fault him at all for this. I can't imagine only seeing my spouse once a month for a few days! A couple of months ago, he told me that his wife was in town through February... a huge sigh of relief at the time. A couple of weeks ago, I found out that she had to go back early. Dr. C. told me that his next scheduled visit with her would be February 16th, which would put me at 10 days past due. This isn't the most ideal situation, but also not the end of the world. I would like to think that my baby would decide to show up before then, but we really just don't know! I had hoped to not have any time constraints on this pregnancy, but now that may not be the case. I am left with two decisions, if she doesn't come into the world before then: 1. induce or 2. wait until he gets back and pray I don't go into labor while he is gone. I really don't trust anyone but Dr. C. to deliver this baby! He has been doing this for 30 years and knows what he is doing. I don't want to chance that I will get a Doctor who will fight me tooth and nail to just have the repeat c-section. I am just praying that I will not be faced with having to make this decision. Dr. C. is convinced that she will come before then any way, but said we would discuss options as the time draws near. I trust him completely. I know that most Doctors will never induce a VBAC patient, but I know that Dr. C. knows what to do in this situation safely.

Finally, at my 38 week appointment this week, I learned that I am GBS positive. (Group B streptococcal) Basically, this is an infection that can be passed down to the baby when the baby moves through the birth canal. Because of this risk to pass it down, it is standard procedure to give the mother antibiotics through the IV when in labor. The risk of the baby actually getting it is very minimal (even smaller than the risk I am taking with a VBAC) but can be very serious if the baby does get it. There are several reasons why I am upset with the news. One, because I had proactively been taking probiotics to keep from getting GBS... yet I still tested positive for it. Two, I really wanted to wait and labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital. If I take the antibiotics, I may have to go in a bit sooner than I had hoped. Three, there are also risks to the infant with taking the antibiotics... it can cause respiratory issues as well as yeast and thrush (which could hinder the nursing process.) It is possible to retest at a later date and have it come back negative, but I am running out of time! It is also possible to decline the antibiotics... I just need to decide if it is a risk worth taking or not.

Again, these are all just minor set backs... I know it is still all in the Lord's hands! I never expected this to be a cake walk, that is for sure!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Regrets (If I could do it all over again)

37 weeks!!

First of all I'd like to say that I really don't have any real regrets in life. I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason, and even though I believe I have made many mistakes in my life, I'm not sure I really regret it. My mistakes have shaped me into the woman I am today... and for that I am thankful.

That being said, if I had the opportunity to do it all over again, start fresh... go back to when I first became a Mom, there would be a few things I would do differently. I wanted to share some of them with you all. When I first started on this journey and even considered trying for a VBA3C, my first thought was that it was crazy! I didn't think any Doctor would even consider me as an option for a VBAC, so why even think about it? As I began to dig a little bit further, and learned that it was a possibility, I was more than thrilled! When I began to pray about it and seek the Lord's wisdom in pursuing it, I sort of made a pact with God. I told Him if He gave me the opportunity to go down this path, I would make the most of this special gift. That is when I decided I would most definitely start a blog and share my experience with others. I realize this was a risk, considering I still don't even know if this VBAC would be successful. But I strongly believe that my story can and will have an impact on others, whether I end up successful or not. I especially have a heart to reach those first time Moms out there who are just starting out with their first baby. There are so many things I wish I would have known, wish I would have done differently. So that is what this post is all about!

1. I wish I had done my research. I was shocked when I first learned I was pregnant. Steve and I had only been married 6 months. I was on birth control at first, and my birth control had just run out right before Christmas. My OB at the time wouldn't just refill my prescription without me scheduling my annual exam. Since it was Christmas, and I was very busy with Church stuff going on, I decided to wait until the first of the year to schedule something. Well, I was a little bit too late! I learned late January, that we were expecting our first child! I didn't really know what to expect, and I didn't really take the time to figure things out for myself. I didn't read any books, and I certainly didn't look into the options of birthing.

To those of you newly pregnant, I highly recommend that you read as many books as possible! And please don't just read "What to expect when you are expecting!" It's an okay enough book, but you need to read all different sides of birthing possibilities. Don't just go into this birth thinking that you know how you want things to go, and expect that it will all just fall into place. Be aware, be informed. I have mentioned it before, but I highly recommend Henci Goer's "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth." It is a must read for every first time Mom. Yes, it is very pro-natural birth, but it is very informative when it comes to understanding what really goes on behind the scenes of a birth.

2. I wish I had chosen a hospital and OB more wisely. Let me just start by saying that I did ask around a lot for recommendations on an OB. But I didn't know what to really ask about. I finally settled on Dr. R. because she was recommended by a friend and the hospital was very close to my work. I figured it would be convenient with my many Doctor visits, and the hospital was supposed to be one of the best in the Dallas area. Yes, it is, but I didn't know to find out things such as: what is the hospital's c-section rate? What is my OB's c-section rate? To this day, I'm really not certain of Dr. R's c-section rate, but I would suspect it is pretty high. I learned after the fact (3 babies later) that my hospital's c-section rate was one of the highest in the DFW area (if not the highest) at around 28% as of 2009, and climbing! This is unacceptable, considering the World Health Organization states that there is no reason that any hospital should have more than a 10-15% c-section rate.

If you are a first time Mom, I promise you do not want to end up with a c-section unless it is a medical necessity! You can read more about the risks of a c-section on the following site:


3. I wish I would have listened to my Mom! When I first talked to my Mom about my pregnancy, she often would remind me that she had two natural births and encouraged me to consider it! I laughed, saying, "I don't have a high pain tolerance Mom. Besides, you don't get an award for delivering naturally!" Funny, I cringe when people say that to me today. My Mom was right. I should have considered it! The thought never even crossed my mind to consider it! Why would I go through all that pain if I didn't have to? Before giving birth to my first child, we took a class at the hospital. They taught us how to diaper a baby and some of the basics... but nothing about birthing. They asked for a show of hands who was planning on having an epidural, and every single woman in that room raised her hand! Let's face it, the majority of women today choose the epidural. I'm not saying that the epidural is always bad, but I do believe we should be more informed of the possible things that can go wrong with the epidural. For me, I truly believe that having the epidural was one of my biggest down falls. Epidurals are known to slow down the labor process. I had an epidural for 12 hours while I labored... and then once it came time to push, I truly believe it stalled my labor even more. I couldn't push, because I couldn't feel anything! It doesn't happen this way for every woman, but I do believe it happens often! Just consider it... God designed our bodies for birth. Pain can be manageable without the epidural. I realize I haven't experienced it yet, and I may chicken out in the end. I hope I don't! I will have my husband and doula by my side the whole time encouraging me to keep going... I do believe it is definitely possible to have a beautiful and wonderful birth, without the help of an epidural.

4. I wish I would have never agreed to being induced with my first child! This is hands down my biggest mistake. Please, please, please... if this is your first child, ride it out. You won't be pregnant forever, I promise! Unless there is a medical necessity, just wait! A "suspected" big baby, is not a medical necessity. Most of the time, ultrasounds are wrong on weight. Even if it is right, many women birth 10 lb babies without any problems at all! I was induced 3 days before my due date for several reasons: swelling and slightly high blood pressure, PUPPS rash and a suspected large baby. Carter was only 8 lbs 6 oz, hardly big at all. I could have managed through the swelling and rash. I should never have said yes! Who knows, if I had been given the opportunity, maybe Carter would have come on his own even within the next few days! He just wasn't ready yet.

5. I wish I had done more research on VBACs after conceiving my 2nd child. I really wanted to try a VBAC with Sydney, but I really didn't give it the very best chance. My OB certainly didn't either. I should have hired a doula, taken Bradley classes, read all the books and most definitely should have switched providers! If you are considering a VBAC, please ask your OB the hard questions. Ask their success rate with VBACs. I never asked my OB this. She told me she would support me in a VBAC, but she pulled the plug on me way too quickly. If you want a real opportunity to have a VBAC, you need to have all the support you can get, which starts with having a supportive provider.

This week at my appointment with Dr. C., I mentioned to him that I have been having some real contractions. I laughed, saying it's pretty funny that this is my 4th child and this is the first time I have experienced real contractions! He said to me, "Well you were never given the opportunity before." He is so right. Please get the support you need when trying for a VBAC! You will never regret it. Otherwise, you will just be on an uphill battle the entire pregnancy and delivery!

Again, this is just a "what if" post. I believe this all happened for a reason, and I am thankful for the opportunity to experience this! I just hope that first time Moms out there can benefit from some of the mistakes I made and make more informed decisions!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Let the countdown begin!

My 5 year old son took this picture, thus the poor camera angle which makes me look like a whale! I'm really not that big, at least not as big as I have been in previous pregnancies! I am now 35 weeks and 2 days... less than 5 weeks until my estimated due date! The countdown has begun, and it is time to get serious! Over Christmas weekend, I had the lovely (insert sarcasm here) pleasure of having a stomach virus and began to have a whole lot of braxton hicks contractions. I tried to stay as hydrated as possible, but I experienced contractions for a solid 3 days. I went to see my Doctor last Wednesday, and he said that was perfectly normal. During that same visit, I shared my birth plan with him. He was pretty much on board with everything on the plan and was impressed that I kept it all on one page! I don't want to come across as too demanding, but I do feel that what I put on my plan was very important to me. If you are curious to know what I put on my birth plan, I'll put it at the bottom of this post.

Today, I went to my very first chiropractor visit! As I have mentioned in previous posts, some Chiropractors are Webster-certified, which is a special technique used for pregnant women. By going to these Chiropractor visits, I hope to ensure that my baby girl is properly positioned for birth (head down, not breech or transverse!) I am also hoping it will help with this unbelievable lower back and belly pain I have been having (especially at night while I am sleeping) and help with the actual labor process. If I am going to do this natural, I need all the help I can get! I really liked the Chiropractor I chose (after asking around for many recommendations) and am planning to go again this Saturday, and hopefully bi-weekly until I give birth. Honestly, I feel better today than I have in months! My body is not in as much pain as normal... here's hoping I have the best last month of pregnancy ever! I have always said that I absolutely love being pregnant, until I make it to the last month. The last month, I could do without. It is uncomfortable and painful during the last month.

This coming Saturday, Steve and I will also meet with our doula one last time before "birth day." She will go over some relaxing techniques with us and answer any more questions we might have. This is becoming more and more real! Within the next 4-6 weeks or so, we will have a new addition to our family! I am just trying to wrap my brain around this whole VBAC thing and not allow fear to enter into my mind. I have been gathering Scripture and quotes to think on, to remind myself, that I can do this, that God will empower me to do this!

My favorite quote is by Eleanor Roosevelt: "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

And my two favorite Bible verses: "Do not fear for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

"Shall I bring you to the point of birth and not give delivery?" says the Lord. "Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?" says your God. Isaiah 66:9

I know my God will be with me every step of the way. I also know that if I am not successful in this VBAC, it will be for a very good reason and not because it was more convenient for my Doctor. For that, I am thankful.

Here is my birth plan:

Westdyk Birth Plan

Mother: Caryn Westdyk

Father: Steven Westdyk

Doula: Katie Perez

I desire a natural, drug free birth as long as I am able, with as little intervention as possible

Please do not offer me pain medications or an epidural, I will ask for them if I need them


I would like to have the following people present with me at all times during labor and delivery (and during c-section if needed): Steven Westdyk (husband) and Katie Perez (doula)

If birthing equipment is available, I would like to use: Birthing bed, birthing ball, birthing stool, squatting bar

I would like to have no restrictions on food or fluids during my labor

I prefer to have a heparin or saline lock

If possible, I would like to have a nurse who has attended a natural birth

Pain Relief:

I would like to be able to walk around and move as I wish while in labor

I have prepared for this birth with Bradley techniques


I prefer external, intermittent monitoring

Second Stage Laboring:

As long as the baby and I are healthy, I prefer to have no limits on pushing

I prefer to have no episiotomy and risk tearing (unless I’m having a medical emergency)

To help prevent tearing, please apply: hot compresses, oil, perineal massage


I prefer to have the lights dimmed and doors closed for privacy during labor

As long as my baby is healthy, I would like my baby placed on my abdomen immediately

Please delay cord clamping until it stops pulsing, or for 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

Newborn procedures:

I would like to delay the administration of eye drops and Vitamin K up to 2 hours after birth unless medically necessary
No Hep. B Vaccine please

My baby is to be exclusively breastfed, please do not offer formula without my consent

If it is medically necessary to have a cesarean, I would like to be conscious

If my baby is healthy, I would like to hold her and nurse her as soon as possible