Check out this awesome mom’s birth story! Despite several challenges, she stayed calmed and focused.
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On Friday, August 30, 2013, I was looking forward to a long Labor Day weekend. I usually always stayed at work for my lunch break, but I had decided that day to go home and let the dogs outside. I had felt fine all morning and left around 12:00 pm to take my lunch hour. As I walked to the back door to let the dogs outside I felt a small gush. I didn’t think much of it and just decided to go to the bathroom. I used the bathroom and went back to eating my lunch, but I kept feeling a leaking sensation. I still wasn’t overly nervous until I stood up and felt a huge gush that went through my jeans onto the floor. I knew deep down that my water had broken, but I was in denial. I told myself that I was only just 35 weeks pregnant and that it was way too early.
I got on my computer and starting looking up symptoms of water breaking. Everything I was experiencing was described in what I was reading. I was starting to feel more anxious as I called my husband, Alex. He had the day off from work but was at his parent’s house helping them with yard work. As soon as he picked up the phone I nervously told him “I’m leaking!” He sounded a little confused but told me to call my midwife and then call him right back. I talked to midwife and she told me to come right away to the birth center. The birth center was half an hour away so I was anxious to leave. I called Alex back and he told me to drive myself, and that he would meet me at the center. I called my mom and my doula Adrienne on the drive down to let them know what was going on. No one seemed overly alarmed and I just kept hoping that I was in some way wrong and that there was another explanation to what was happening.
I arrived at the birth center around 1:30 pm and my midwife met me at the door. She took me right back to one of the examining rooms and told me she was going to use an amniotic swab test to determine if my water had broken. As soon as my midwife completed the swab she said that I had ruptured. She checked me and I had not dilated at all. She informed me that the best case scenario would be that I would begin to go into labor on my own. She was concerned that if I did not start on my own, the hospital would not want to give me something to help things get started. This was a big concern of mine and a big reason why I had chosen to give birth at the birth center; I did not want to be induced at all.
My midwife helped me get into some drier clothes and then listed my options. Because I was only just 35 weeks pregnant I would not be able to labor and deliver at the birthing center. She recommended two nearby hospitals that she believed would be supportive of my desire to have a completely natural birth. At this time Alex had arrived at the center and I filled him in on what was going on. Together we decided that we would check into the hospital that offered midwives in the maternity ward.
With instructions from my midwife, Alex and I drove home to pack our things, pack an outfit for our baby, and take showers. Looking back I am surprised at how calm I remained throughout this entire process, even while running into traffic on the way down. I am a pretty anxious person and usually don’t do well in stressful situations. However, I felt a strange calm as Alex and I drove home to gather our things, stopped at Subway, and then drove back to the hospital 30 minutes away. I think a small part of me was still in denial that our baby girl was on her way, but I think that my body knew what it was doing and it was preparing itself for what was to come.
Once we started driving I began experiencing what felt like mild cramps. I became a little excited, hoping this meant that my body was starting to go into labor. We arrived at the hospital around 5:00pm. My midwife had called ahead so we were able to go right back into the intake room. I met with one of the nurses and she had me change into a hospital gown and then began asking me a series of questions. My contractions had begun to feel a little bit stronger and I began to get really annoyed at all the questions I had to answer, many of which were asked by multiple nurses. I just wanted to be settled in my room so I could give my complete concentration to breathing through each contraction.
After about half an hour Alex and I were shown our room. We met the midwife who would be on call for that evening and she checked me and determined that I was now 2 centimeters dilated. I was thankful to hear that I was progressing slowly but surely. I was then told that I would need to be hooked up to an IV so that I could begin receiving penicillin. I didn’t like the idea of being hooked up to anything but my midwife had told us that this would be protocol as my water has broken early, and they didn’t want to risk the chance of me getting an infection. I really wanted to keep things moving so I suggested to Alex that we walk a few laps around the maternity ward. Dragging the IV beside me, Alex and I walked for a while with me pausing periodically to breathe through the tougher contractions.
Around 6:30 pm my parents arrived at the hospital and they visited for a little bit while eating dinner. My contractions were now about 5 minutes apart and I had to consciously breathe through each one. The nurse agreed to let me do intermittent monitoring instead of continuous monitoring, so I was monitored 10 minutes every hour. Having to lie on my back attached to the monitor was one of the most difficult things about the whole laboring process. I felt so uncomfortable lying so still and began to move my feet back and forth to try and find some relief.
After the 10 minutes were up I wanted to try to get into the bath tub that was in my room. My parents decided this would be a good time to leave and they went out into the waiting room. I thought that it would feel really nice to sit in a hot tub while laboring, but once Alex helped me into the tub I realized how uncomfortable I was in the sitting position. I sat on my knees as I kept taking deep breaths in and out. Not finding the relief I was looking for, I decided to get out of the tub and back into bed. As I was getting out of the tub my doula, Adrienne arrived. I was relieved to see her as my contractions were becoming increasingly more uncomfortable. I knew I would need her help in getting through each one.
Once Adrienne arrived the nurse also came in and told me that it was time to get hooked back up to the fetal monitor. I was really cold when I got out of the tub and started to shiver. Adrienne wasted no time in helping to create the birth environment that I had longed for at the birth center. She turned the lights down low and had Alex play some calming background music on my IPad. She also brought me extra blankets and pillows and helped me get as cozy as I could as I lay on my side with my stomach attached to the monitor. It was so hard to be still, and I remember just swinging my legs and feet around in an attempt to move without disturbing the monitor. Adrienne began to massage my legs and feet which helped to take my mind off intensity of each contraction. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the ten minutes were up and I was able to get out of bed.
Once out of bed I realized that with each movement my contractions felt closer together and more intense than before. I then wanted to get back into bed! Adrienne, knowing that movement would help with my progression, encouraged me to keep moving. She suggested trying a few different positions.
At this time it was around 10:30pm and looking back, this is when the hours start to blend together in my memory. I remember laboring in the bathroom for a while and Adrienne showing Alex how to kneel so that I could rest my body weight on him during each contraction. I also spent some time laboring on the birth ball, rocking back and forth with my eyes closed. I eventually ended up in bed again hooked up to the fetal monitor and feeling extremely nauseous. I told Alex that I was going to be sick and he and Adrienne sat with me as I threw up in the trash can. At that moment I felt pretty miserable and I began to wonder when this would be over and I would get to meet my baby girl.
At midnight Adrienne suggested that I try and get back in the tub. Once in the tub, I was back on my knees as the sitting position still felt so uncomfortable. Looking back, this is when I started going through transition. While on my knees I started to feel intense pressure. I had pictured that I would feel slight pressure followed by the desire to push, but I never felt the need to push as my body began doing it for me. I thought it was just pressure that I was feeling, but looking back I realize that my body was beginning to push my little girl out!
It was such an intense sensation feeling like my body had a mind of its own. I did the best I could to breathe in and out and not fight what I was feeling. Never once did I have the thought “I can’t do this anymore,” but in the bath tub I started thinking I wanted this to be over. Adrienne calmly reassured me that I was doing great and that I could do this. The contractions were now coming one right after another, and each one felt more intense than the one before. I told Adrienne that I needed a change and I wanted to get out of the tub. She agreed that it was a good idea and that we should call in the nurse to check and see how much progress I had made.
I remember praying as Alex and Adrienne helped me out of the tub that I had dilated to at least 6 cm. As I stood up from the tub my legs began to shake and I could barely walk to the bed. The nurse on call had just walked into the room to check on me. As Alex was placing a towel over my shoulders I was shocked to see that Baby E’s head was crowning (we didn’t have a name picked out so we called her Baby E throughout the pregnancy). I yelled out “I see the head! I see the head!” My sweet doula, in her calm demeanor, reassured me that if I had to I could give birth right there while standing up. The nurse, however, started saying with urgency that I had to get into bed. I was having a really tough contraction as I pushed myself onto the bed and lay on my back. Before I knew it the midwife and two other nurses appeared in the room.
They began putting on gloves and placing extra cloths all around me. I looked down at Baby E’s head crowning and couldn’t believe how small she looked. It was still in my mind that she was being born 5 weeks early and I was nervously anticipating how she would look when she came out. The midwife told me to push on the next contraction. I didn’t have to wait long and as I felt the next contraction peaking I gave a little push. I kept thinking that I didn’t want to tear and I was afraid to push too hard. The midwife and nurse told me to give a harder push and with a little more force Baby E’s head was born.
I was shocked from what seemed like a tiny head when she was crowning suddenly seemed huge! The umbilical cord was wrapped once around her neck and the midwife easily slid it over her head. She told me to try one more time. At 1:44am, with one more small push, Baby E’s shoulders were out, followed by the rest of her little body. Baby E was immediately placed on my stomach and I placed my hands on her back. She didn’t cry right away and I looked down and realized she was pretty purple. Adrienne reminded me that I had wanted to delay the umbilical cord clamping and she informed the nurse of my desire. However, after only a minute I was told that Baby E needed to be put on the warming tray in our room so she could be examined. Alex was able to cut the cord before Baby E was taken over to the tray.
I looked at Adrienne and asked if Baby E was okay, but before she even had time to answer I heard a nurse say matterfactly, “This baby is fine.” I felt a rush of relief as Baby E was placed on the scale to reveal that she was a healthy 6 pounds 3 ounces. The nurses commented on what a good weight that was for a baby born at 35 weeks gestation. After she was cleaned off a little she was placed back on my chest. Her color was much better and instead of crying, she only made the sweetest tiny squeaking noises. After about 30 minutes of life, Baby E, still on my chest, began to nurse for the first time.
Once on my chest I looked down and could not believe that she was here and that I had brought her into the world. All the pressure, pain, and intensity was gone the instant she was born. I had labored for 13 hours and now I felt such a sense of awe and relief. I knew that a natural birth was the way I wanted to go shortly after I found out I was pregnant, but I was scared. I knew I could equip myself with all the knowledge about labor and birth that I could find, but I would still have to actually deliver this baby.
Four and half months later I am still in awe. I am so proud of myself for what I was able to accomplish. But more than that I am in awe at how my body, my mind, and Baby E all worked together for this to happen. My body knew exactly what it needed to do to birth this little girl. It was my job to breathe in and out and allow it to do its job.
I am so grateful for my husband Alex and for my amazing doula for assisting me during the birthing process. I could not have done it without either one of them. Even though I had never planned on a hospital birth, I am grateful that the midwife and nurses I came into contact with respected me enough to allow me to choose what was right for my body, my baby, and my family. It is so true that every woman needs a strong support system no matter what type of birth she chooses. To be surrounded with advocates, especially other women that support and encourage, is truly invaluable.