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

Heather Dessinger

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

What kind of man totes The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe to his college Greek class? my husband, that’s who. You see, at the beginning of our romance I made one request: If you want to know me, read the books that make my heart come alive.

Oh sure, we talked about the great philosophers over lattes: Kant, Descartes and Kierkegaard. We discussed business and capitalism over Americanos, but he knew my ultimate secret: I believe in fairy tales.

I always have.

In fairy tales, “all creatures are revealed in the end as what they truly are – the ugly duckling becomes a great white swan, the frog is revealed to be a prince, and the beautiful but wicked queen is unmasked at last in all her ugliness. They are tales of transformation where the ones who live happily ever after – as by no means everyone does in fairy tales, are transformed into what they have it in them at their best to be.” (Frederick Buechner)

This is the story of Levi’s birth. It is the story of a lemon turning into a pumpkin. No, wait. It is the story of a pumpkin turning into a glass slipper. Let’s try that again. It’s the story of a lemon becoming a mother. Oh sheeh, I’ll come back to this at the end. Let’s just get on with it already . . .

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

PLUNK!

The last drop spattered across the shower drain with gusto. I hadn’t finished rinsing my hair, but that was the last thing on my mind. I checked the sink. Zilch. Went to the faucet in the kitchen. Nada. How does one have a home water birth without, um, WATER? And where was our water, anyway?

Out here between thither and yon there is no municipal water hotline to call when things go wrong. If you ain’t got water, you’d better find the ONE plumber that services your area pronto. Better yet, find his wife and tell her that you’re full-term and will be forced to drive to Nashville to give birth in a posh hotel if your midwives don’t have a place to wash their hands.

While that may sound appealing to some, the plumber’s wife will intuitively understand your desire to stay at home and talk her husband into leaving another job early to take care of you. Said plumber, when he arrives, will discover a not-so-princely frog has lodged himself in the pipe that feeds the spring that supplies your house. The frog will be dislodged, thus concluding a series of events that includes giving up indoor plumbing at 38 weeks pregnant, stowaway kittens in trunks and a general contractor moving in with you. Bless that woman.

Now, About That Due Date . . .

It came and went with as much fanfare as a slug crossing the street. Then on Wednesday the 20th – 12 full days after my due date – things started to warm up right around the little potami’s bedtime. Knowing I probably had a long road ahead (Katie’s birth was 35+ hours and Micah’s was 34), I sipped on a small glass of wine, took a hot bath and snuggled into bed, hoping for a good night’s sleep.

The thing is, it is **really** hard to sleep when there is a human being determined to exit your body. After waking during each contraction for hours, I got up around 4am, posted this photo . . . .

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and drew a warm bath, hoping to make it to 6am before waking up my doula.

I did not succeed.

Time Stamp – 4:28 a.m.

“Hey Heather, it’s Heather. Can you please come over?”

“Sure, I’ll start making my way. Can you tell me how you’re feeling?”

Uhhhh, OHHHHHHH, I’ll call you back in two minutes!” Click.

Now there are two things you need to know at this point:

1. Just to keep things interesting, we had two Heather’s and two Katie’s at the birth. Heather was there to care for me, while Katie – my mother’s helper – was there to care for Katie and Micah. Both of the Heather’s were pregnant, and of course neither of the Katie’s were. Weird, huh?

2.. Normally when a woman cannot talk through her contractions it means she’s pretty far along in labor. Not me, though.

As much as I hoped it was a fluke the first two times, there is something unique about my labors.

I Give Birth . . . In Reverse

Yup, REVERSE. You know how early labor is supposed to be like music, ebbing and flowing with growing intensity, building toward crescendo until – badow! – a baby is born? I do that backwards.

For me, transition and pushing a baby out are ridiculously easy when compared with the difficulty of early labor. The first time around it caught me by surprise. The second time I had a plan, which I then abandoned in favor of the Groundhog Day of labor. This time, though, I was ready. I knew my difficulties probably came from having a less-than-optimal pelvic opening, but that squatting during labor could increase my pelvic measurements by 25-30 percent.

My track record of throwing up for 12. hours. straight. at Katie’s birth? Most likely it was because contractions bounced off my narrow pelvic opening and went UP toward my diaphragm. Fortunately, I learned during Micah’s birth that having someone push my hips together would re-focus contractions in the right direction.

Someone like, er, my chiropractor, Dr. Jeremy Johnson, who stopped by and gave us an epic tutorial on pain management during labor. I actually insisted that they get a Sharpie and mark my backside so that Daddyptoamus would know where to press when Dr. Jeremy left.

I was pretty tired from being up most of the night, but after my adjustment I was ready to work.

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We climbed into the birthing tub, which felt uhMAZing.

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Maybe a little too amazing, actually, because after a few strong contractions things slowed to a screeching halt. Somehow – and I’m not really sure how because I was enjoying the break – Heather coaxed me out of the tub and convinced me to try some squats.

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Clasping her hands I lowered myself to the ground, waited for a contraction and then . . . . crumbled to the floor like Raggedy Ann. Squatting was perfectly comfortable when I practiced the day before, and the day before that, but now it was beyond painful. Good thing I didn’t hinge my entire plan for an easier labor on this one maneuver.

Er, oops.

Since I was already on the floor I crawled to my hands and knees – another position that is good for opening the pelvis – and worked through a few contractions with Katiepotamus . . . Dessinger30-websized Dessinger32-websized Dessinger35-websized

Then dove for my bed before the next contraction hit.

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Time stamp: 12 p.m.

Active labor time – At least 8 hours

Hours slept the night before – Maybe two

Daphne, my midwife, offers to check how dilated I am. I agree, but unfortunately the exam reveals nothing except that – just like my first two – this baby is asynclitic. If you’re not familiar with it, asyncliticism is when baby’s head is not aligned with the pelvis properly.

Asynclitic Posterior Doll
Image republished with permission from SpinningBabies.com

When babies are in this position, contractions tend to be two things:

1. More painful

2. Less effective

Sounds fun, yes? I crawl under the covers and close my heavy eyelids, falling asleep between contractions. Daphne props one of my legs up on a stack of pillows to allow my body to labor as effectively as possible and slips out of the room.

Though sleeping feels good, my body refuses to take a break. Every few minutes feels like a zero sum game: Rest a bit, use up the energy just stored to handle a contraction, rest, contraction, rest . . .

Despite having succeeded at this twice now, I was seriously doubting my ability to continue on. Like my other two births, it felt like a race toward the finish line while running on fumes. Did I have enough in my tank to make it to the end? I came very close to needing to transport due to exhaustion with both of my previous births, so nothing felt guaranteed at this point. I closed my eyes and worked through the next contraction . . .

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

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About HEATHER

Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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156 thoughts on “A Frog, A Polar Bear, And A Bullseye On My Bottom (Levi’s Birth Story)”

  1. Water slowed things down majorly with my first birth…and then with my second squatting (I squatted on a ball all through no. 1) was miserable. Every birth is different!

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  2. Your midwife’s name is Daphne?? πŸ™‚ Now that we named our 7mo old Daphne, I have been hearing the name all over..not too much, but definitely more than I used to.
    Looking forward to part two! And kudos to you for going through such long labors multiple times!

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  3. Aww, thanks for sharing! I love birth stories and I can’t wait to read the rest. Makes me excited for my birth in May!

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  4. Oh baby #5 was like that. I was in labor from Sat evening til 9 am Monday morning, he had actually pulled my cervix with his head when he was all crooked, eventually he straightened out all was well. Can’t wait for part two!

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  5. Hi Heather. I just want to say God bless you! I am so glad Levi’s birth went well. I read this today and my eyes filled with tears. My son was asynclitic during labor. I had planned a home birth. It took 36 hours. He wouldn’t move though and I ended up going to the hospital. He was a c section delivery. I wish I would have thought about a chiropractor during labor. God is the redeemer and full of grace because Jacob was and is perfect. Thank you for all you do through this blog. (PS – I LOVE your decor! I almost bought that bench from target a while back πŸ™‚

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  6. So amazing. You would have had c-sections for failure to progress with each of your births. So thankful that old wisdom is still available to help women birth babies. πŸ™‚

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  7. Beautiful pics! Please tell us u did kneeling lunge position (forgot the technical term) to reposition baby?! Biting fingernails…

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  8. Congrats on your baby boy! (Yes, I was one of those that followed your Facebook posts with baited breath.) My baby was asynclitic as well, all though I didn’t really realize what that meant at the time. I was in the hospital and didn’t know about spinning babies or chiropractors or anything. After the doctor broke my water, I went quickly to 10 cm, but stalled at stage 2 for around 24 hours; had a C-section and then a beautiful boy. When I read birth stories like yours, I’m inspired and reminded that my body might not actually be broken and maybe I’ll be able to have another one without needing a C-section.

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  9. Love it, and I only had one typical birth. With Emy, 2 minutes before she was fully born, I was having a calm conversation with my midwife who felt I might need pitocin because I was not getting into active labor. I literally had a squirming baby in my arms two minutes after thinking, “I guess I have to give up on the birth I have planned….” LOL. What a roller coaster. But awesome. I joked that she heard the word pitocin and came flying out like a clown out of a cannon. Smart girl. And I have had 2 LONG labors like that with 2 out of position babies, and they are both my ornery high needs babies.

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  10. I can not wait to read part 2! thank you for sharing your life with us. πŸ™‚ God has given you a wonderful gift, you are a great writer and story telller.. πŸ™‚

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  11. What a truly gifted writer you are, along with your beautiful heart. Thankful I know the ending, before I began reading. You are mighty mama!!!!

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  12. Love the pictures–especially the ones of your daughter with you!
    The reason squatting was extremely painful for you is that it’s not ideal to have a mom squat until the baby is engaged well and you are close to or in second stage (pushing). This is because while squatting greatly opens the pelvic outlet (bottom of huge pelvis) to make more room, it at the same time closes the pelvic inlet (top of the pelvis). So a baby who’s head is not yet fully inside/engaged in the pelvis (like your ascinclitic Levi) will essentially be “pinched” at the pelvic inlet and it can actually impeded the baby’s decent deep into the plevis. Hope that made some kind of sense πŸ™‚

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  13. Truly inspiring. You are inspiration mommypotamus:) thank you for sharing the moments of your labor and birth! I look forward to reading part 2!

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  14. Unbelievable! I’m not normally the crying type, but those pictures of your daughter with you on the floor made me tear up! Maybe a midwife-in-the-making?! I’m sure you’ll cherish those forever and ever (as will she!)

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  15. When I sat in water with my first born, it slowed contractions and made pushing harder because of the weightlessness and no gravity to help the baby along. My labor was 40 hrs. With my second, I did the Bradley Method which teaches how to make contractions more effective and didn’t sit in birthing tub. My labor was 4 hrs. Water does ease the pain a bit, but I’d MUCH rather bear it all and get it over and done with! Levi obviously made it out OK, congratulations!

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  16. That picture of all 3 if the little potami is the most precious thing I’ve ever seen! Your daughter’s expression and the way she’s holding him are priceless!

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  17. Wow, love the part when you just pushed him out! The quote about our “Creator not being careless,” so true! He created us in His image and likeness, a true masterpiece! Again, so happy for you and your precious family!

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  18. I have to admit I’m normally not someone who likes reading birthing stories, but this was a great read! I’m so glad it worked out well in the end for you and your precious baby boy. And so glad you trusted your body through the entire process. It makes me sad when I hear women talking about the birthing experience in negative terms or implying it’s an unnatural process. A job well done by all and great pics too! Congrats to you and your lovely family!

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  19. Loved reading this. I have read dozens and dozens of birth stories as part of my own evolution/journey from a hospital birth to a lovely home birth and this story is hands down my favorite. Women like you, who are brave enough to share their stories, are the key to creating a better
    “cultural norm” (for lack of a better term) of birth than what we currently have in this country. Like others have said – thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

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  20. Oh, Heather. So, I read this one, which then prompted me to read all of your birth stories, and watch that video clip from your first son’s birth. Uh, just lightly sobbing. No big deal. Thanks for sharing these beautiful moments in your life with us. xoxox

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  21. Thank you for sharing! What a great birth story! And a testament to truly working with your body (despite possibly being a true ‘lemon’). My response to Daddypotomus posting the baby was asylindrical (spelling?)during your birth was POLAR BEAR POSE! Lol! I even posted a picture! It’s helped so many women in your same exact position… Nice to see it worked for you too! I aspire to be a midwife one day when my children are grown. I think your story will be banked in my memory forever. Thanks you πŸ™‚ Now enjoy that baby!

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  22. This is one of the most beautiful, humbling and humorous birth stories I’ve ever read. Thank you SO much for sharing Mama. My heart is full.

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  23. so cool! congrats! question: are there any potential dangers to going 12 days past your due date? i realize there were obviously none for you…but in the medical world they usually like to induce labor soon after the due date has pasted…do you know why? and what to tell people who are being pressured to do so?

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  24. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing! And that photo of the joy and elation on your face while yet in the pool and holding immediately born Levi…it’s one of the most precious, beautiful photos ever. It is an utter masterpiece to capture the beauty of joy like that. I keep just looking at that picture! So beautiful. I sure wish I’d had a birth like that, but no, four c-sections for me. Congratulations again!

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  25. It never fails to amaze and inspire me when I hear birth stories. That you have such a lovely gift of the language makes it that much more endearing. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us. It is a beautiful gift.

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  26. I love the way you write! Although I am comfortable with a hospital birth I love that you are presenting different options and sharing your story!

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  27. Absolutely amazing story. There was so much beauty in your strength. So incredible!!! Congratulations to you and your beautiful family.

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  28. I birth in reverse too! Or at least that is what happened with my one and only son! I wonder what my next labors will be like! Thanks for sharing such a candid account of your birth story πŸ™‚

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  29. That sounds exactly like my births (two weeks overdue, horrible long labors that felt like transition when I was only at a 2, but then easy transition and the baby comes right out). If you’re a lemon, you’re in good company πŸ˜‰ proud of you!

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  30. What great photos, my body is also a lemon when it comes to birthing. I admire woman that have been able to birth natural you are all amazing. Such a great read.

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  31. Your birth story is beautiful and made me tear up. I actually went back and read all you birth stories! I just celebrated my son’s first birth and he had also been asynclitic and my labor was very very long. Like 4.5 days long and it was all the early labor drama as well. I sadly ended up transferring and was able chose to use pitocin to at least try for a vaginal birth. I was able to birth him vaginally, just barley. It was a long road. I am pinning your stories for ideas and encouragement in case my next labor is like that. Thanks for sharing! I can also share my birth story if you like.

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  32. What a lovely story! Its nice to see a woman listen to her instincts. Not all women can easily give birth naturally, but it is nice when you can. A beautiful baby boy too.

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  33. Love this! You are so inspiring. I only wish I would have found your page earlier. I have a lemon. Was convinced I couldn’t birth naturally (though I tried). Ended up with a c-section. I LOVE reading your story, knowing that there are people out there like you to empower people like me. Enjoy your new bundle!

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  34. lovely story – especially liked the Ina May Gaskin quote…..is she still advocating a plant-based diet for pregnant women?

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  35. I wish I had read this 3 babies ago. My “failure to progress” with my first ended in 3 unwanted c-sections. good on ya for riding it out.

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  36. I had to stop reading to come over here and tell you that photo of your 3 babies together made me cry. It is the most beautiful thing ever.

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  37. That is a beautiful birth story!! I cried while reading it πŸ™‚ it truly makes me excited to give birth to my baby in January πŸ˜€

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  38. This is the first birth story I have been able to read all the way through since my son’s extremely traumatic birth 4 and half years ago. Thank you for bridging the gap for me and congratulations!

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  39. I love your blog and have been following it for quite a while, but thanks to this story I just realized you also live in middle TN, like me! I find this fact pretty awesome. Congratulations on your precious baby boy!! πŸ™‚

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  40. Absolutely beautiful, yep I cried. I’m planning on a home water birth in a couple months. We’re living in Italy so this should be interesting

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  41. Thank you for sharing. Your birth stories helped me realize perhaps why I have had a difficult time with natural childbirth. I appreciate your post! πŸ™‚

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  42. I am so jealous. I WANT the natural birth, but it hasn’t worked for me…possibly because the medical intervention I did have required MORE medical intervention in my process….? I will never know, but as my last resulted in an emergency Csect, I am making my peace with not getting the birthing story I want, but instead the healthy little Vikings I birthed instead. beautiful work. congrats

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  43. You have a beautiful writing style and I cannot even imagine having the presence of mind to write prose like this just a week or two after giving birth! When my little one was born, the only thing I could think about for the first month was sleep, food, and “why is the baby crying?” Thanks for the great read, and like the person above me, I’m very jealous of this birth experience. I truly can say that my C-section saved my baby’s life and I am eternally grateful for the people who identified an emergency and took care of me and the little one, but it still hurts to not have the birth you dreamed of, and to have so many doctors forever tell you that you can never have a vaginal delivery (I know they are wrong, but still).

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  44. An excellent story. I am going into midwifery myself and I really enjoy reading home birth stories… That is exactly what being a midwife is all about: letting the body do what we were born to do. Congrats, Levi is beautiful. πŸ™‚

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  45. I love that your husband is in there with you. My husband would move mountains for me. But get in my birth tub waters he would not.

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  46. You are just amazing! I have read the story and watched the video …beautiful! You blog inspires me (even before I stumbled on this story!) Keep up the great work!
    Jessica

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  47. Wow. I find this very interesting, because my labor was JUST LIKE THIS and I had no idea why. Maybe I had an asynclitic birth. I said I’d much rather go through active labor than early labor again. MUCH RATHER. I still cringe when I think about early labor. Yuck. It seems to me that the hormones released in active labor make you feel kind of drugged and make it so much easier. And early labor just drags on and on while you’re totally aware. My labor was about 35 hours too. My labor just stopped at 8 cm. My midwife manually opened my cervix to restart labor and then continued to do so during contractions until my labor started up right again and the baby’s head started out. And labor hurts but my midwife opening my cervix hurt 10 times more than the rest of my labor. However when I started pushing, I talked in between contractions just fine. I was even laughing at my midwife’s jokes. She said she’d never seen anyone do that haha. And my baby was more swollen on one side of his face so it would make sense that he had come out like that. I’ll have to look into the techniques to make asynclitic births easier. I was really hoping it was a “first time baby” thing and that next time would be easier. Are there any websites or books you would suggest for the next time around?

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