Clark’s Birth Story

No better way to kick off new birth stories than to share one from a mom who’s already shared a previous birth story! Heather is a dear friend and recently had her second baby last spring. You can read her first birth story of her daughter Julie HERE. This is an amazing display of natural, hospital birth where mom and dad maintain control, while also allowing their midwife and staff to care for them. Also, this is the definition of a precipitous birth! Heather, you nearly had a baby at home, my love! 😉

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Clark’s Birth Story

I started losing my plug at 35 weeks and 2 days. That combined with the fact that my first baby arrived at 38 weeks and 2 days had me convinced this one would be early too. I was a little worried because my husband was best man at a wedding in Texas (we live in Colorado) that fell right on my 38 week mark. So, while I was very ready for the baby to come, I was hoping he/she hold out so that Dad could be there too. As it turned out, there was no need to worry.

Despite wind storms, snow storms, and lots of false starts, May 10 came and went. Although I knew it’s not physically possible to be pregnant forever, it was sure starting to feel like I would be! I made my appointments for non-stress tests and ultrasounds and my induction date was set for May 24. My husband and I agreed that we wanted to leave no stone unturned before then in terms of getting things moving without medication. We continued walking everyday, I ramped up squats and started drinking more raspberry leaf tea. I went to the chiropractor and she suggested acupuncture, which we ultimately decided was worth a try.

Monday, May 12, I went to work as usual. As I was expecting to be gone by this point, there wasn’t much for me to do. I tinkered around with some things and then left a little early and headed to the chiropractor for my acupuncture session. I left feeling no different and with a follow up appointment scheduled for the next day. About 4:30 or so on Tuesday morning, I woke up with a useful feeling contraction, but after so many false starts that petered out after an hour or so, I refused to get my hopes up. I went to the bathroom and lie back down knowing that my daughter would be up soon.

Contractions continued, strong enough that I had to concentrate on them, but still nothing I hadn’t felt before.  Like clockwork, my daughter got up at 5 and I went in to get her, thinking I’d let my husband sleep in a bit since I was already up. I had another contraction in the middle of our good morning conversation and I actually had to stop talking and brace myself. That’s when I knew the baby was coming for real. I went in to tell my husband that I was pretty sure it was the day, but I wanted to eat something and see how things played out before we alerted everyone (my in-laws were staying with us to watch our daughter while we were in the hospital). I texted our doula, around 5:30 or 5:45 just to let her know I’d had a few pretty serious contractions and that I was planning to eat breakfast and keep her posted.

My husband made my daughter breakfast and I started making some cream of wheat for myself, but the contractions were strong enough that I really wanted to be in a quiet area so I headed back upstairs. By the time my husband came up with my abandoned cream of wheat, I was starting to need help during my contractions. I had set up the heating pad on my back and was riding through contractions as best as I could on my hands and knees.  My husband called our doula and the midwife’s office a little after 6. The midwife on call asked if we’d like to meet her at the office for a check before going over to the hospital or if we’d like to stay home a bit longer. My husband told her we were going to stay home; I was convinced I wasn’t very far along.

My contractions were strong but coming at very irregular intervals. I’d have a long one and then right after it ended, I’d have a shorter but just as strong piggy back contraction and then get a break (my midwife later told me she believes that this is because the baby was too big for my uterus to tighten all the way around him in a single contraction). My husband suggested that I get into the shower because he needed to load the car and get things ready and he knew from my first labor that I should be able to labor in the shower alone. I turned the hot water all the way up on my back and leaned my head on the cool tile and braced myself on the shower door handle. I was still having strong but irregular contractions when my husband got back. I told him I needed our doula and I couldn’t do it alone anymore. She arrived around 7:20 and I was on my hands and knees laboring in the way that worked best with my first labor. My arms were so tired though, so my doula brought up the exercise ball for me to rest my upper body on. My husband was squeezing my hips during contractions and my doula was rubbing my back and hips and legs between. The between-contraction massaging was so nice, because it kept me in the moment and didn’t let me dwell on the upcoming contraction and get scared. I was still sure I wasn’t far along because of how irregular the contractions were and the fact I had not had any show.

By 8, I was ready to go to the hospital no matter how far along I was because I really wanted to sit in a Jacuzzi bath. My husband called the midwife’s office and told them we were on our way. Meanwhile, I was starting to feel pushy during my contractions and my doula was worried we might have waited too long to leave. I kept repeating that I hadn’t had any show and she said that doesn’t matter. As she and my husband were helping me into the car, she started coaching him on when to pull over if things kept progressing. I knelt in the front seat facing backwards. My husband had kindly put a Tupperware back there in case I got sick. My doula had put a portable heating pad on my back before we left the house. I was still feeling pushy with every contraction and my poor husband was trying to drive as quickly and safely as possible while coaching me to breathe through the contractions and not push.

We arrived at the hospital and my husband asked if I wanted to go through emergency or if I wanted to park and walk and I chose to walk. It felt so good to be outside and the cool morning air gave me a second wind. My doula and my husband walked on either side of me and we made it in without having to deal with any contractions. I wanted to walk up to the labor and delivery floor but my doula talked me into using a wheelchair. I didn’t want to sit, so she helped position me kneeling backwards with my head resting on my husband’s chest. We made it to the hospital room around 9 and they hooked me up to the fetal heart rate monitors while the midwife checked my progress. To my total shock (and relief!), I was already 10 cm dilated. The midwife gave me the ok to push if I wanted to.

I started out on all fours with the back of the bed raised, the same way I pushed with my first. The nurse wanted to give me a hep-lock (which is something we said we were fine with in the birth plan), but in the moment I really didn’t want to have to mess with that. Plus I was holding pillows during contractions and I was paranoid that I wouldn’t be able to do that with a needle (or whatever) in my arm. My husband had to refuse a couple of times because the nurse was harping on the fact that if I needed a blood transfusion, this refusal would cost us precious time. My husband confirmed that that was alright. Meanwhile, pushing was getting me nowhere and the midwife said if I couldn’t make some good progress moving you down with the next few contractions that she wanted to go ahead and break my water. The baby was still at a -1 station and she thought that breaking the water would help move things along. She also suggested waiting to push until the contraction built some momentum so that I’d have that to help me.

After a couple more useless-feeling contractions, Someone (I have no idea who…it might even have been me!) decided it might help to squat and they got me a squat bar and everyone helped me change positions. The midwife said this would be a good time to break my water and stepped away to get her tool—just in time because my water broke on its own just then and would have covered her if she was still in the splash zone! It was like a movie, spurting several feet across the room! The baby didn’t like the new squatting position and both of our oxygen levels were too low for comfort so I got an oxygen mask and LOTS of reminders to breathe deeply between contractions. The baby’s heart rate was still dropping too low during contractions so the birth team helped me to get onto my left side first (no change) and then my right, which the baby seemed to like, but I was convinced would be a terrible position to push in. My birth team helped me to kind of squat on my side though, which seemed to help.

With everyone coaching me, I started to push with everything I had during every contraction. I could finally start to feel the baby sloooowly moving down. For sure it was the hardest thing I’ve done, physically. The baby started crowning a little after 10am and my midwife told me he/she was very big and I’d need to keep pushing hard to get the shoulders and the rest of the body out.  A few more difficult contractions later, my son was born and my husband told me “It’s a boy!”. Everyone in the room marveled at his size as he was moved to my chest. He had some fuzzy hair and very large hands with long fingers and big feet—his footprints were bigger than the box on his chart! My midwife was also was shocked by the size of his placenta. I guess a big boy needs a big support system!

My midwife was concerned that I had a very bad tear, but the doctor that came in to consult deemed it only a 2nd degree, same as with my first despite 2 lbs difference in their sizes. While my midwife stitched me up, I held my son (he was completely uninterested in breastfeeding right away) and chatted with my husband and doula, and the nurses. My doula helped me order some food and brought some for my husband and then left to attend another birth and said she’d be back later to check on us. I got a shot of pitocin and cytotec to help shrink my uterus and curb the bleeding and had some blood drawn to determine my iron levels while my son was weighed and measured. He came in at 9 lbs, 7 oz, and 21.5”. I couldn’t believe it! All of the nurses we had that day kept commenting on it too. Around noon we finally moved to the maternity ward and enjoyed our first few quiet moments of the day.

Calling all BIRTH stories!!

It has been FOREVER since I posted a few birth stories and we need to change that. I will post ANY kind of birth story. Home, hospital, c-section, loss…every birth story matters. YOUR birth story matters, no matter what. Please consider sharing your story, with or without pictures. As long or as short as you want. Leave a comment here or send me an email. Thanks!!

midwife101blog@ gmail . com

In the mean time, check out my kids’ birth stories by following their links above. Enjoy!

Sarah

2013

Cheers and Happy New Year! Hard to believe I already have a semester under my belt with two more to go before I begin nursing school. WOW. Seriously, WOW. School as been an incredible experience so far. I finished this semester with a 3.8 GPA, something which I have NEVER seen in all my school days (well, maybe in elementary school, lol!).

I am working on ideas for posts in the upcoming months. I will be very busy with a large, pregnant belly, 3 year old, school and full time work. If there is something specific you would like to see, please let me now. I really enjoy writing articles on both personal and professional experiences, as well as anything medically related to pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Speaking of, I also welcome all birth and breastfeeding stories. Lastly, I had a great response to my  most recent post on Pregnancy Loss. If you have experienced a loss, I would be happy to share your story. As I said in the post, loss is not talked about enough. I want to shed light on it and give the mamas with angel babies a place to celebrate their pregnancy and baby. Again, send me an email or leave me a comment.

On a personal note, this baby is doing great! 20 weeks tomorrow and growing well. We are not finding out the sex. We did discover a complete placenta previa at 17 weeks and as of yesterday, it has completely resolved itself! We are elated. I shared a case study on placenta previa last fall and will be writing more on the subject now that I have personal experience, though brief.

Take care!!

Hailey’s Home Birth

Happy Friday! Enjoy this beautiful home birth story. If you would like to share your story here, please email me. midwife101blog@gmail.com

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My Planned Home birth
It was late Saturday night July 17, 2011 I woke at around 11pm with intense cramping. I headed to the bathroom thinking maybe that was it. (Being 41 wks I headed there a lot) I was on my way back to bed when another one started. This wasn’t a maybe, it was a yes I am in labor! After weeks, yep weeks of prodromal labor this was it. I woke Allen and let him know it was time. He headed downstairs to get a few things together. The contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes and stopping me in my tracks. In between contractions I called my friend Robbi and the midwives and asked them to head over. I was officially putting my hypnobirthing into practice with every contraction. After 2 {painful} hospital births (that ended with epidural one of which only worked on half my body), I wasn’t sure what to expect. Robbi and my 2 midwives and 1 midwife apprentice arrived around 11:20am. I instinctual found my labor position over the back of couch and labored there while Allen and Robbi got the pool ready.
I was relaxing and letting my body do what it needed. It was probably around 1:30 that I was having a hard time standing during a contraction so I decided it was a good time to get in the pool. I was in transition at this point and getting in the water honestly felt like turning back the clock about 4 cm!  Really I know why they call it the aquadural. During this time the midwives were watching closely from the other room(I have a split level). It was 15-20 minutes later that my water broke. I let everyone know and wow did the contractions change. I was in my zone at that point making sure I was breathing and relaxing. It was only a few contractions later that the midwives came down the stairs to tell me that I was pushing. I wasn’t aware how close we were until the I experienced the ring of fire. It was only for a moment as the contractions started doubling up. My body was pushing and Parker was coming. He was born at 2:26 am 10.1 lbs and 21 1/4 in long.
We waited for the cord to stop pulsing before it was cut because of the many benefits. Parker nursed immediately and was weighed and measured right on our couch while we watched and they enjoyed some cuddle time too. We headed upstairs to our bed and settled in for a few days.
Ava was able to see her brother within 30 minutes of being born.
Home birth is not for everyone but for our family it was perfect. We did our research and the benefits outweighed the minimal risk for us. I wouldn’t give birth in a hospital again unless it was medically necessary. The experience of having the midwife watching and waiting with us was so much more relaxing than nurses and doctors coming in with a lot of beeps. I never could relax in the hospital and I think that led to a lot of the pain during contractions I felt there. I went into this natural birth knowing I could do it and didn’t have a choice if I wanted to stay home. Now a year later I look back and am overwhelmed at what our midwife allowed us to experience by coming into our home.

Randoms

  • I’ve noticed many of you lurkers out there are searching for info regarding Brio Birth. First of all, welcome! Secondly, this blog is NOT about Brio. I will no longer be posting about it or the experiences I’ve gone through. If you have not read my previous posts, you can do so HERE and HERE. If you read the first link, you have to read the 2nd as they are two polar opposite posts. Okay, no more Brio talk.
  • I would still really like to post birth stories, though there seems to be little interest in that. If not birth stories, what else would you like to read more of here?? Please leave me a comment. 🙂
  • As you can see, I have given the blog a little face-lift. I love changing things up and now that I will be starting school in the fall, I wanted to have a more noticable side bar with the curriculum I will be following. The classes listed for now are in the order I believe I will be taking them in. They are all pre-recs for nursing school and thanks to the two other degrees and five years I’ve already spent in college, it isn’t much. HOWEVER, I really need to up my GPA so the 5-6 classes prior to applying will help me do that.
  • Work has been slooooooow lately. I don’t have any fun stories or learning experiences to share, but tomorrow is Friday and for some reason that is the day most of our unusual patients come through.
  • I’m reading two books right now, The Birth Partner’s Handbook by Carl Jones and Giving Birth by Catherine Taylor. Reviews will be up as soon as I am finished. BTW, if you are an aspiring midwife or doula, I highly recommend going to your local book store and checking out the used section. I have found several of the books on my reading list for cheap and its a great way to grow my library.

Kale’s Birth Story

Randalin, from Harvesting Kale,  has become one of my most favorite blogging mamas and friends. She’s an incredible writer, which is hard not to notice in her writing of Kale’s birth. Randalin is mama to baby Kale, such a sweet boy with great hair and a beautiful smile! This home birth story is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read and Randalin’s account of it is incredibly encouraging and moving. Click HERE to see more incredible photos from this birth.
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On Thursday May 6th, three days before my due date, I woke up after dreaming all night about having contractions. I went to the bathroom and noticed a bit of blood – my first sign that labour might be starting soon! I continued to feel crampy all day, but was hesitant to get too excited knowing that labour could still be many days away. Kris was working out of town, but was expected to be home that evening and so I kept him updated but tried to play it cool. I just didn’t want us to get too excited! I went ahead and had lunch with a co-worker and spent the afternoon sipping tea and catching up with my neighbour.
At around 5pm I went to the bathroom and saw what I thought was part of my mucus plug. Luckily Kris was already on his way home.  I know that losing your mucus plug doesn’t necessarily mean labour is going to begin soon, but along with the cramps, I started to really believe that the baby could be on its way.
Once Kris got home we picked up a bottle of wine and went out for dinner where I ordered the spiciest item on the menu. We left the restaurant around 9pm and this is when I noticed that my cramps were getting more regular and a bit more intense. I continued to play it down and tell Kris that it was just cramps, but then he pointed out they were coming every 10 minutes. I think he realized I was in early labour before I accepted it myself!
When we got home we started to get things ready for our home birth “just in case.” We set up the spare room with all the supplies – plastic sheeting on the bed, old sheets, and plenty of towels. We then put in some laundry and did a quick clean of the house. We had our wine and I took a gravol, but sleep still wasn’t possible. By this time I knew that my cramps were really contractions, since they were coming every ten minutes and with increasing intensity. Every time I had a contraction I would have to get up to pee. I didn’t think it was possible to pee every 10 minutes, but that’s exactly what happened all night long.
On Friday May 7th we got up around 7am. I hadn’t slept for more than 10 minutes at a time and as a result of my getting up so often, Kris didn’t get much sleep either. Around 10am I went to the bathroom and there was a gush of bright red blood. I called our midwife, Leslie, to let her know and she decided to come and check in on me. She got there about an hour later and after a quick check, told me that I was 2-3 cm and very soft and she expected that we would have a baby that day! Even though I knew it was labour, I was still a little shocked to hear that it would be so soon!
Leslie gave me a shot of gravol to help me get some sleep since I was exhausted from the night before and knew I had a lot of hard work ahead of me. Once Leslie left we called our Doula, Monique, to let her know and then I tried to lie down and get some rest. Kris went out and got a few last minute things and I curled up in bed and listened to some music. I didn’t manage to get any sleep, but was able to rest. Kris came home with the McDonalds I was craving, but I couldn’t get much down. The combination of contractions and excitement made for a very queasy tummy.
At 2pm we started to fill the birth pool up since my contractions were getting more intense. We weren’t sure how long it would take to fill the pool so even though I wasn’t ready to get in, we wanted to have it filled just in case. We called Monique and asked her to come over at that point. While we were waiting, we heard the cat rustling around with the plastic tarp that was covering the filled pool, followed by a splash and then a wet cat running by! It was good to have a laugh!
 When Monique got there I got into the pool for a little bit and immediately felt better. Our hot water tank is not the best, so the water wasn’t as warm as I’d like, but the buoyancy was a great help. I was feeling my contractions a lot in my back, hips and thighs and the water really helped to ease that. Monique suggested that I get out of the pool since it was still early in my labour and the water was slowing down my contractions. Kris was also able to sneak a nap in at this time while Monique and I took a slow walk around the block in the pouring rain. I felt bad dragging Monique out in the bad weather, but I need to walk. When we got back I sat on the birthing ball in the living room while listening to some music and eating a sandwich. My contractions were erratic at this point. They would be 4-5 min. apart for awhile, and then they would be 10 min. We were timing the contractions with the aid of a stop watch on the computer and every time one started I would yell for someone to click on the start button. At this point walking around helped the most, even though we have a small house and there isn’t much room to walk!
 By 5pm I was back in the pool with regular contractions. I was on all fours in the pool with my arms and head resting on the edge. Kris sat on a chair beside the pool and every time I had a contraction I would grab his hands, look into his eyes and moan. He was an unbelievable support and so much stronger than either of us expected! Monique reminded me to keep hydrated and gave us a few suggestions for trying different positions. I felt so relaxed and in control at this point that when Monique asked us if we wanted to call the midwives I told her no. My contractions were 4-5 min. apart and gaining in intensity so Monique convinced us to give Leslie a call (later Monique admitted that she was getting worried that we were waiting too long to call the midwives and thought we might just have the baby ourselves!).
 Leslie arrived and then a short while later, Marissa, a new student with the midwife clinic. It was my first time meeting her – naked in the pool and moaning with every contraction. Leslie and Marissa set up their equipment in the spare bedroom and Monique and Kris continued to help me through the contractions. I have to say it again – Kris was amazing. When our eyes locked during a contraction I seriously felt like it was just him and I in the room and I had this overwhelming sense of connection with him that I’d never felt before.
Leslie checked me around 7pm and I was 7-8 cm! She called the back up midwife, Gabrielle, and I knew this meant that the hardest part was about to come. Gabrielle came around 8pm and by this time my contractions were coming very quickly and were very intense. I was so exhausted!! Meanwhile, an incredible thunder and lightning storm raged outside and I remember worrying about what would happen if the power went out.
The atmosphere was so relaxed. The lights were down low, the midwives were sitting on the floor leaned up against the wall, Monique was snapping some pictures and Kris helped me work through the contractions. Despite everyone’s relaxed attitude, I was getting louder and louder with every contraction and withering in pain in the pool. Despite the intensity of the contractions I still felt as though the pain was manageable and I was managing to rest between contractions, refocus and let go of the pain before the next one started.
Shortly after Gabrielle arrived, it was time for me to start pushing. Unlike everything I read I didn’t get the urge to push. Before the labour I had told our midwives that I wanted to push when I felt like pushing but at the moment I was so thankful for their coaching because I don’t know if I ever would have pushed!
I tried a few different positions, but found that sitting on the birthing stool in the pool was the easiest way for me to bear down and push. With every contraction the midwives asked me to give three good pushes – pushing for as long and as hard as possible. After a while I felt as though I couldn’t push anymore. I was so tired and every muscle in my body felt depleted. Up to this point, the pain has been manageable, but the pushing stage was another story. I was finding it increasingly difficult to keep my noises low and open and they started to turn into screams of despair and pleas for the midwives to do something – anything! – to get the baby out. Unfortunately there was nothing they could do – it was all up to me.
Kris originally sat outside the pool directly in front of me, but as my pain intensified I saw his eyes fill with tears and I knew that watching me in that amount of pain was shaking his strength. He decided to move behind me where he could hold me and I could lean into him with every push.
After an hour and a half of pushing, Leslie had me reach down and feel the top of the baby’s head. I think at this point I screamed, “I don’t want to feel him, I just want him out!!” Despite the fact that he was so close, I felt like it was going to be impossible to get him to come the rest of the way. While Kris tried to hold me from behind, Gabrielle had my left leg and Marissa and Monique had my right leg. Leslie thought she was going to have to hop in the pool because I was floating way from her as I begged them all to let me go! I was starting to panic and Gabrielle sensed it because she grabbed me by the chin and forced me to look directly at her and told me that I had to focus and listen to Leslie. It was exactly what I needed.
After a few more pushes, I felt an overwhelming pressure and then a giant sense of relief as his head came out. Looking down into the water, I could make out his head and had to stop pushing while the midwives moved the cord and seconds later, he slipped right out and was on my chest. It was an unbelievable moment of love, combined with sheer exhaustion and elation that it was over.
That moment was the most awesome moment of my entire life.
We were so incredibly lucky to be able to have that moment together as a family. Kale let out a couple quick cries, but nestled quickly against my chest. Kris had his arms around us and I felt as though no one else in the world existed besides us three. It was so incredibly powerful.
I had to get out of the tub pretty quickly since the water temperature had dropped and they wanted to get us both warmed up. Kris held on to Kale while I made my way over to the bed to deliver the placenta.
In the next couple of hours, Kale and I were both checked out, I delivered the placenta and received a few stitches. The whole time Kale was getting checked over right beside me and as soon as they were finished, he was in my arms. I took a quick shower, ate some peanut butter and toast, called my mom and the midwives helped me get started with breastfeeding. Meanwhile, Kris and Monique emptied the birth pool, set up our bed and did the laundry. By 12:30pm, only three hours after Kale was born, the midwives and doula had tucked Kris, Kale and I into bed together with some last minute instructions and then we were alone.
I cannot convey how incredibly grateful I am that we had such an amazing birth experience. I am so moved to tell this story a thousand times because it has become such a defining moment in my life. I’ve had some pretty great things happen to me in my 30 years. But a natural home waterbirth? Nothing tops that.

Everly’s Birth Story

Everly’s mama, Melissa, is the full time working mama and writer of Dear Baby, a blog all about her little North Carolina family. She’s my hero in that her sweet children are a mere 17 months apart. Her honesty about parenting and working full time while her musician husband takes care of the kids during the day is profound. I am honored to feature the birth story of her daughter, Everly. I have followed Melissa’s blog since I was expecting Logan and have not stopped reading since. This birth story is incredibly moving and uplifting. Enjoy!

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Everly Veda’s Birth Story.

I’ll start this story at the moment my water broke. It was 2:45pm on Monday afternoon and Brent was taking a shower. I’d been hounding him to make a run to the grocery store with me to stock our cabinets before Everly arrived. I’d had mild contractions all day – but nothing significant and then, in a matter minutes, I went from bouncing on my big blue birth ball while answering email, to standing in the bathroom, leggings around my knees and staring at my husband in disbelief. There was no doubting what was happening – my water had broken and the impossible wait for our daughter had come to an end.

While Brent called our family and prepared the last items for our hospital bag, I went to work baking peanut butter cookies for the nurses in labor and delivery. He put on an old Wilson Pickett album and as music filled the house, I tried to steady my emotions. We had done so much, worked so hard, dreamed of this day and it was finally here. My contractions begin to get stronger and I was hit with a wave of emotions. I went into Everly’s nursery, leaned my head against her crib and sobbed. I said a long prayer to God and asked him to watch over Everly and I in the coming hours. I called my best friend Natasha and said “This is it. It’s really happening, I’ll call you when she’s here”

By this time, Brent had called our doula, Lindsay who had made her way over from the East Bay. My contractions were strong, but manageable and I leaned against the kitchen counter, rocking to “Hey Jude” on the record player and trying to focus myself. It was important to me to labor in the comfort and quiet of our house as long as possible. As my contractions grew stronger and closer together, I used my hypnobabies cds to stay calm and centered. Brent and Lindsay massaged my back and hips as I breathed through them. It was about 6:30pm when I felt they were getting so intense that I couldn’t breathe through them in comfort any longer. We climbed in the car and made the 15 minute ride through the Castro and Noe Valley to St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission. The car ride was miserable as I had to sit upright, wearing a seat belt as each contraction rolled through my body. More than anything, I just wanted to get there and get centered on the task that lay ahead of me.

It was 7:00pm by the time I had checked in, undressed, and gotten settled in the labor and delivery room. Brent wrapped his arms around me and we swayed back and forth as I worked through each contraction. It is hard to really understand what a contraction feels like until you are in the middle of one. It isn’t like menstrual cramps, it isn’t a head to toe ache – it’s a deep, intense, active pain that rolled from my lower belly and spread through my body. Every contraction had a steady increase in strength, a peak, and then a merciful end – giving me enough time to gather my breath and courage to prepare for the next one.

As part of our birth plan, I requested as little medical intervention as possible. No IV, intermittent fetal monitoring only and no internal exam until I requested. A lot of women have a strong desire to know exactly how far they have progressed in their labor, but for me – I didn’t want a number of centimeters dilated to effect the focus of my efforts. I was afraid that hearing I’d progressed only a few centimeters would shake my courage. With nothing connecting me to my environment, I was free to move and find a comfortable position to labor. Surprisingly, being on my hands and knees felt the most comfortable and I stayed that way for the next hour.

By 8pm, I was asking to use the Aqua Doula tub for the remainder of my active laboring. This was the first time they checked my progress, as the hospital where I delivered does not allow you to deliver in water and they had to establish that I was not fully dilated. The midwife confirmed I was 5 cms, halfway there. I felt encouraged by that thought. As a first time mother, I knew my labor could be long – but knowing I had come so far already gave me renewed energy.

While my doula and a nurse set the tub up, I rode each contraction up and down – on my hands in knees in the bed, my face often pushed into the pillows as I tried to stay focused on one wave at a time. Brent stayed right there next to me, rubbing my head, looking me in the eyes and encouraging me over and over again that I was doing a good job. “You are doing so good, honey. I am so proud of you” he would say – and even those few and simple words made me even more determined. I was doing this for him as much as I was doing it for myself- I focused on the image of Everly in her father’s arm and the intensity of my desire to bring his little girl into the world. He left my view only long enough to change the music from Fleet Foxes to Beirut and was back before the next wave hit me. There were times they were so strong that I would have to chant “I can do this. I can do this. I can do this” over and over again to myself. The pain had become so deep and active that I began to vocalize a loud, deep moan with every contraction – it wasn’t a sound of fear or even one of raw, physical pain – it was a sound of full and complete effort – a focused, primal sound that carried me to each wave – over the peak and down again.

At some point, my body began to push despite my best efforts to control it. “I have to do this – I have to push” I told my midwife. It was 9pm, an hour since I was last checked, and they had just finished setting up the Aqua doula tub. She checked me again and to everyone’s disbelief – including my own, I was a full 10 cms dilated and ready to push. All the effort they had put into getting the tub ready went to waste as I couldn’t even get in. Another request in our birth plan was to let me push when I felt the need to push instead of being directed to do so. In the dim light of our room, I let go of my body and let it lead me. With each contraction I felt a deep, guttural urge to push – I couldn’t have stopped it if I wanted to. It was as if I was hooked up to electricity and each jolt pushed my body a little more. I soon began to feel Everly’s head moving out a little more with every contraction. Brent put Regina Spektor on in the background, and held my hand as I vocalized through each contraction. I was being really loud and it felt good to let the sound go with each push. My doula, worked to keep me focused on releasing after each contraction. Because I actually feel my daughter moving forward with each contraction, I found myself not wanting to release at the end of each one. I wanted to keep moving her forward – but my body needed those small breaks between waves to regroup.

Because I had no pain relief, whatsoever, every nerve and fiber of my body was tuned into the experience. I could feel every time her head would push forward, and then slid back as the contraction finished. I experienced her journey. I knew exactly where she was at each moment and as we approached the final pushes of my labor – I found myself consumed with the need to bring her through me and into the world. Those last moments are a bit of a blur – an intense and consuming pain, an overwhelming joy – my life changed forever in one final burst of effort.

At 10:07pm, a mere 3 hours since we’d walked into the room, she was laid, wet and pink on my chest. Her eyes blinked, her small hands clasped at my skin. She never screamed, but instead cried out for a few seconds then settled against my heart beating through my chest. Her eyes were open and she stared up at us with her small, dark eyes. Brent curled around us and the three of us laid there consumed by the new definition of who we were. New parents, a daughter, family. God, she was so beautiful. Beyond beautiful. Perfect in every way.

No one took her away for tests. No one disturbed us. We laid there in bliss while our eyes memorized her every inch. We stayed that way for almost an hour with Regina Spektor sang “Little wet tears on your baby’s shoulder” in the background. 25 minutes after her birth, the midwife let Brent cut Everly’s umbilical cord. And eventually, when we were good and ready – they measured and weighed her. A very healthy 8 pounds, 6 ounces and 21 inches long.

I breastfed her for the first time as I lay there recovering and an hour after that I was out of the bed and standing. My recovery has been wonderful, despite a few stitches and a sore body. Everly has been feeding non-stop since she was born and that has become one of my favorite times with her. We lay in the bed together, at some early hour of the morning, both of us sleepy and she nurses while I rub small circles on her back. She coos at me and open and closes her fingers against my breast. Nothing you do in advance can prepare your heart for those moments.

I’ve spent the past hour writing this experience with tears flowing down my cheeks. I’ll never be the same. Not after this. To come face to face with the most intense pain, the strongest desire, the deepest love… Motherhood is a gift unlike any other.

Love,

M