The category for an archive of births.
By Kate Smith
I was 38 weeks exactly. It was New Year’s Eve and my husband, three-year-old daughter, and I were tucked into bed together asleep by 9 PM. I don’t know if it was the normal discomfort of the third trimester or if my body was telling me something, but I was so restless. Then, right before midnight, as my neighbors were setting off fireworks in the street, I felt my water break! I wasn’t having any noticeable contractions, but I was so excited! I tried to rest some more and could not, as I was thinking how fast my first baby girl had come after my water broke and worrying that the second usually comes even faster.
I had seen Belinda at my last appointment, and she had told me that the midwives like to know when things are brewing, so I went ahead and called in at 12:45 AM. I was thinking that I would just let them know and then come in when my contractions started coming closer together. To my surprise, when I called, Emily told me to come in right away since I needed to get the Strep B antibiotics started. We live 45 minutes away without traffic, so she recommended we come in and try to sleep there between rounds of the IV antibiotics. I was not prepared mentally to go in so early, as I had been planning to labor at home as long as possible. My husband, Nathan, and I called my mother to come stay with our daughter, and off we went to the birth center around 2 AM. We were worried about New Year’s Eve partiers on the road, and we did see a few pulled over, but it was an uneventful drive.
When we arrived, we had the whole place to ourselves! It was dark and dreamy in the birth center. We tucked in with the IV antibiotics delivered and tried to nap. Unfortunately, between contractions which were just strong enough to wake me every few minutes, and my excitement over the idea that I would get to see my baby soon, I did not get any more sleep. Also, those mattresses give a new definition to the word firm!
By 8 AM it was shift change, and Asha and Belinda arrived. They would be the team that would help me deliver later that day! My labor continued to be light throughout the morning, and again I found myself questioning why I was there. I was even a little embarrassed that everyone had to be called away from home on a holiday morning just to sit around and watch me barely laboring. Everyone was so helpful suggesting sitting on the ball and leaning on the bed to help me rest even if I couldn’t sleep.
My husband and I drove to get some breakfast around 9 AM, and that is when I realized the contractions were actually getting quite intense – there is nothing like a contraction in a moving car while in the seated position! I was suddenly so thankful that I was not going to have to make the 45 minute drive to the birth center later in my labor!
Once we were back at the birth center, I wanted to walk through the contractions. We walked around the birth center parking lot, my husband supporting me every few minutes while I bore down through each wave. It was amazingly peaceful and beautiful. The morning was gray and drizzling; a quiet hush fell over us for that time outside. Since it was a Sunday morning, and New Year’s Day, there was no one out and about, and the only cars in the lot belonged to our little group at the birth center. As we walked and I labored, the birds sang gently to us. At some point during that walk, the contractions were starting to become intense enough that I was losing track of time.
When we came back inside, the contractions were painful enough, but not coming closer together, that I wanted to try an herbal tincture Belinda suggested to help speed things along. Within 30 minutes, I was seeking the shower for comfort and starting to feel very primal! Nathan held the shower head over me as I held on to the rails. He told me how beautiful I was as I rode the waves of the contractions. I have never felt more beautiful in my life as when he told me that, in that way, and I will never forget that moment.
This labor was so different from my first, as with my first the contractions were a very clear wave, with a peak and a fast recovery. This time, the contractions felt very powerful, but I couldn’t discern a clear peak and valley.
After a while Asha, came to suggest we move to the tub, unless I wanted them to catch the baby in the shower. Once in the tub, it was immediate relief from the contractions. I had a blessed break, and then the real work began. Belinda asked if she could check me; based on the sounds I was making everyone thought I must be close. I was very close – fully dilated! I can’t say how long I labored and pushed in the tub, only that I was surrounded by support and strength with my husband, Asha, and Belinda.
Finally, the moment arrived and I could feel my baby’s head. Belinda helped me catch her myself as I delivered in the tub! It was such an awe inspiring event! Finally my little girl, Madeline Cecile, was here in my arms!! Born 1-1-17 at 14:14, 9 pounds, 1 ounce. I delivered her within about 14 hours of my water breaking, and within 7 hours of the contractions starting.
Afterwards, Belinda checked me for tearing, and I did indeed need stitches. I was terrified. My first birth experience had left me traumatized, because they had stitched me up without the local anesthetics working. I was a shaking mess, and Asha held my hand while Belinda talked me through everything. I will forever be grateful for those two getting me through it.
I felt physically weak, but very empowered, and I had my baby girl in my arms! Belinda and Asha and Nathan helped me in ways I cannot completely articulate. I am so grateful for their presence, coaching, and support during this birth experience.
By Chelsea Harmon
Throughout my pregnancy, I practiced hypnobirthing. I was skeptical at first, but I decided to buy a few tracks on Amazon and listened to them during naps and going to sleep at night. I didn’t feel like I prepared myself like I should have with my daughter, so I wanted to make sure I did this time around using any possible method. As soon as I felt my first contraction (they started Friday before my 41 week Monday appointment), I started practicing my breathing and stayed in tune with my body to stay relaxed. They weren’t very intense like I remembered with my daughter, but gradually increased tightening little by little as the weekend passed.
I woke up the morning of my 41 week appointment feeling defeated that I didn’t already have a tiny squishy nursling in my arms. I was mentally prepared to go overdue, but never expected to make it to this appointment. We only have one car, so I had to drop my husband off at work before I could make my way to Chapel Hill. It was an hour drive to the center and wasn’t one I wanted to make again until I was having this baby. I decided to pack our things, just in case a miracle happened like going into labor on the way to my appointment, but I already knew we were absolutely not having a baby that day.
I got to the hospital early for my ultrasound so I could grab a cup of coffee. As I’m checking in for my ultrasound, the front desk lady asks if I am alone or if I had someone to watch my daughter. I was alone, 41.1 weeks pregnant, and now being told I was probably not going to be allowed to have my ultrasound. I wanted to go hide in a dark corner and cry. Finally, they decide they would try as long as my daughter would sit still. As far as I knew, everything looked healthy except the fact that I had slightly elevated fluid. He didn’t go into detail about what that meant exactly, so I was pretty clueless. I texted my mom and husband and told them how it went. My mom texts back “don’t be surprised if they want to induce you.”
After my ultrasound, I headed straight to the midwife’s office to talk about what next steps we were going to take. Emily asked if I was comfortable with my daughter hanging out with the ladies in the front, and I knew something wasn’t going as planned. Unfortunately, because of the elevated fluid levels, I was automatically risked out of birthing at the center. I was immediately flooded with tears and a huge lump in my throat. I felt like my body had failed me. We discussed my options, but ultimately the safest way was to get the baby out as soon as possible by way of induction. There was no way I was going to risk the health of my baby, so I loaded up my daughter and drove an hour back home to pick up my husband from work.
I cried the entire way. I had to get it all out before picking him up. I was sure he had already started googling all the problems and risks (prolapsed cord being the biggest one) associated with elevated fluid (and he did). I felt I had to be strong so we would both stay calm.
We quickly grabbed lunch to go and made our way back to Chapel Hill. We dropped our daughter off with my mom and headed to the hospital. The ride to the hospital to have a baby is a weird, surreal feeling. It never feels like how you imagine it to feel. It was around 3:30 PM when we finally checked into the hospital. We were clueless and had no idea where to go. I tried to prepare myself for being induced, telling myself it was okay, and that I wasn’t a failure. This had to happen to keep our son healthy. We were about to meet our son! We finally reached our room, got set up, and I was put on the monitor.
We were waiting for the induction to start when my midwife, Sarah, came in and asked if I could feel my contractions. I could, but they weren’t really intense and only felt slight pressure. She had been watching them as she was about to send in the request for Pitocin, realized how close they were, and we came up with a new plan: castor oil. I had heard of this before and was honestly terrified of it. My first gut reaction was to say no; however, I was more scared of Pitocin, so I decided to give it a try. By this time, it was around 5 p.m. She told me to chug it like a beer, which I did. Except castor oil, mixed with grape juice, is not as easy to chug as a beer. It’s safe to say I will never be able to drink grape juice again. Sarah said she was giving me until 9 PM to see if the castor oil would do the trick. I was told all the other nurses and staff made fun of us while swearing up and down it wasn’t going to work. I wanted it to work. I made myself believe it was going to work. It had to work. I didn’t chug this nasty concoction for nothing!
While waiting for the castor oil to kick in, we tried to relax and watch a movie. Instead, we ended up watching the contraction screen almost the entire time. I went to the bathroom twice and by 7:30 PM, I was swaying through each wave in my husband’s arms. The baby had to be monitored 24/7, which basically meant it was a huge pain to get into a nice position to help ease the intensity.
When things started to really pick up, I quickly got into my zone. The room was dark and quiet. I was able to get myself into a comfortable position on the bed where the baby could still be monitored. To endure each contraction, I counted. When I got close to 30, I knew it was almost over. Nausea hit around 10:30 PM and throwing up was unavoidable at that point (even with the help of a little friend called Zofran). After throwing up multiple times all over my husband and myself, I had hit my breaking point. I was done and completely over it. I talked to my nurse and asked to talk to the anesthesiologist for an epidural. I quickly signed my natural birth over.
That’s when my birth fairy, Sarah, stepped in (forever thankful for her). She supported me any way I wanted to go, but asked if she could check me to see my progression. I was at 7 centimeters, and she assured me I was almost there.
Holy crap, I could really do this!
Sure enough, about an hour or so later I felt the urge to push. I have never felt such huge emotions; it was an out-of-body experience. My instincts took over, and I had no control over my voice. At last, after 5 or 6 pushes, my sweet, slippery baby boy was handed over and placed on my chest.
Sebastian Fox Harmon was born at 12:37 AM on May 10th. I was in a mixed state of complete euphoria, exhaustion, and intense relief from it finally being over. At least until it was time for the placenta, which felt like giving birth all over again. He latched right away like a champ. Six months later and I am still in awe of him – not to mention my body for pushing out an 8-pound, 3-ounce human being. I have given birth with an epidural and without. I have never felt more empowered and proud of myself than I have after my natural birth experience.
Women are incredible and strong any way they birth.
By Jen Leonard
Friday, November 4th (almost 41 weeks), I woke up around 3:30 AM with contractions every ten minutes. I had already had this kind of “false” or “early labor” a few days earlier, so I didn’t get too excited. I tried to lay there, relax, and doze between them. By 6:00 AM, they were slightly more painful, and varying between 8-10 minutes apart. I still wasn’t letting myself get too excited. I haven’t had spontaneous labor since Emma, our oldest. All the others were either Pitocin-induced (water broke, but labor didn’t start), or castor oil induced.
I went downstairs, opened our back door, and breathed in the cool morning air. It was especially crisp that morning. My parents were up; they came to stay with us to help watch our other 9 kiddos when we went to have the baby, but I didn’t tell them I was having contractions yet. I think I finally mentioned it just before going to wake hubby up around 7:00, but I said it in a “no big deal” kind of way. I was sure it was false labor, and it would fizzle out momentarily.
Hubby and I sat and had a cup of coffee, chatting and enjoying the quiet of the house.
Once I started to bring kids downstairs, my contractions started picking up. I had to stop while I had them, breathe through them, and even change positions. It was then that I knew, these weren’t stopping, I was in labor! Around 8:00, I paged the on-call midwife, and quickly got a call back. I let her know that I felt I was in real labor, and we agreed that I should head in. My parents took charge of the kiddos, and my four oldest (15, 12, 10, and 10) all pitched in to help hold down the fort.
We got to the birth center around 9:20, but we didn’t rush in. We drove slowly, and enjoyed the fall colors that seemed to pop overnight. Once at the birth center, the midwife checked me out, and we discovered I was already a good 5 cm, with bulging waters, and a baby deep in my pelvis. “Wow! This is happening fast!” I said a quick prayer of thanks, and we all discussed my laboring goals. I told them that I would love to walk around outside the center, and they were very encouraging. I just needed to pop in often to listen to baby and get checked out. No problem!
Hubby and I strolled outside, and God blessed us with *THE* most amazing fall morning to labor. Words just don’t do it justice. The wind blew loose leaves from the trees, and they rained down on us. The birds and squirrels scurried around collecting food as I breathed through each contraction. Friendly people came and went and smiled at us, as they witnessed us laboring outside. I saw a midwife friend and nurse, who wished me luck and said they were so happy that I was laboring that day.
Contractions started picking up around 11:00. I stopped my waddle, grabbed my belly, bent my knees, and started my momma-cow lowing. My hubby clung to me, rubbing my back, kissing my cheek, and reminded me how much he loved me. The support from that man always leaves me speechless. The way he is always the perfect balance of “there for me”, but never doing the “wrong thing” during labor…. it’s as though he can read my mind. Which, after 13 (almost 14) years of marriage, and 10 kids, I’ll bet he can! He prays for me, he whispers in my ear that I’m amazing, he rubs my aching back, wraps his arms around me to support me when my knees get weak. He’s amazing. I could not do this without him. His voice is my soothing “labor music”, and his touch is my “pain relief”.
We headed back to our room, as I was starting to feel the urge to push. The nurse quickly
filled the tub, and I collapsed into the warm water. My hubby stroked my head, and we were pushing in no time. That warm water, though. Oh my, how it relaxes me and takes so much of the pain away! When pushing began, I can honestly say that was the FIRST real pain I had. I had labored all that time with little to no pain. It was amazing. I think I pushed maybe 6-8 times and he was born, in the CAUL, just like our eighth child (and second son). This was supposed to be a rare thing, but it’s happened to us now, twice! Crazy! Everette “Wes” was born, and gurgled a bit, so we were all anxiously trying to get him cleared, and then the most beautiful sound…his cry. My eyes welled with tears, and I soaked up my biggest, beautiful 10th baby. He was 8 lbs., 13.5 oz, 22 inches long! He nursed right away, and is my most peaceful baby yet!
I can’t describe how full and happy my heart is, having this beautiful labor, and birth… and this beautiful little boy to add to our “little” family! We are all so thankful for him! He’s our *5th* WBWC baby, and I’m so glad that we’ve had these 5 amazing birth experiences! Women’s Birth and Wellness Center is just *the* best group of midwives I’ve ever been blessed to know!
by Kendra Broo
For the past few months, I have been wondering how this birth story would read. With our first son, Arlo, we had a wonderful birthing experience. Erik and I were freshly graduated students of our Bradley birthing classes, and after an easy, enjoyable pregnancy there was no reason I was planning on anything other than a smooth labor and delivery. Fortunately for all of us it was, and we were able to have a natural, out-of-hospital birth at the local birthing center.
Fast forward to two years later. We found out I was pregnant with baby number two just before Arlo’s second birthday. Having had an easy, enjoyable pregnancy the first time around, I expected the same again. Much to my surprise, this one did not go as smoothly. I spent the first 14 weeks nauseated throughout most of the day, with fatigue so extreme at times I felt like I could barely care for our toddler. Just as the nausea started to subside, I came down with an awful case of the flu which kept me home and out of work for nearly three weeks. The rest of the pregnancy was filled with feelings of anxiety, heartburn, swollen ankles, and some pretty intense back and rib pain. None of which I had experienced before. Early in the third trimester I was told that this baby, we choose not to find out the gender this time, was in the OP (sunny side up) position, but not to worry since it was still early and he/she would likely turn by the time I was full term. Every appointment that followed confirmed that baby was still comfortably hanging out OP, and every birth story that I read about birthing a baby in this position talked about everything from extreme back labor to a long pushing phase to broken tailbones. I was doing all the exercises recommended to turn this baby, but nothing seemed to be working. In the last few weeks leading up to the birth, I had fully convinced myself that I would be experiencing a long, hard labor – likely with complications related to the baby’s position.
The actual birth story I think really starts the day before the birth. I was 39 weeks and 4
days, nearly a week longer than I went with Arlo. I was getting anxious to meet baby and starting to worry about going well past the due date. Leading up to Arlo’s birth, I had a full six days notice that labor was imminent. I had starting losing my mucous plug nearly a week before and was also having braxton-hicks contractions that were increasing in both frequency and intensity. This time around, I expected the same signals telling me that my body was getting ready for labor. But the only changes I noticed in the days before the birth were a slight increase in the braxton-hicks, which were still far too mild for me to think anything was about to happen, and an increase in pelvic pressure – although I knew both could last for a week or two before true labor started. And so, I was growing worried that I was approaching my due date without any hint that this baby wanted to exit my body anytime soon.
So, I figured I should start trying to get things moving. I went for a long morning walk with Arlo, dumped extra hot sauce on my lunch, and that afternoon I googled “natural ways to induce labor.” I read through lists of old wives tales until I came across a website that stated ” The best advice to past-due women longing for that first contraction? Skip the home remedies, eat right, rest and enjoy those last few days of pregnancy as much as possible. The safest and healthiest labor is one that starts spontaneously.” And immediately I realized how true that was. I decided to just relax and try to stop wondering when it was going to happen.
That evening, both Erik and I were unusually tired. As well, Arlo had taken a shorter than usual nap that afternoon and was showing signs of being tired well before his usual bedtime. So we put Arlo to sleep early and headed to bed ourselves, nearly two hours earlier than usual. While Erik was getting Arlo ready for bed, I had the urge to quickly tidy the downstairs living room and kitchen, despite feeling as tired as I was. When I went to sleep that night I had no idea what was about to happen next. I don’t remember having a single contraction that entire evening before we went to bed, and I certainly had no other indication that I would wake up anything other than my usual pregnant self.
It was 1:00am exactly when I felt the first contraction. My first thought as I woke up was “what the hell?! who is doing that to me??” I realized I was having a contraction, but decided immediately that the braxton-hicks were just deciding to pick up in intensity and it probably meant nothing. I dozed lightly until around 1:20 when I felt another. Slightly annoyed that I was awake so early and would probably have a hard time getting back to sleep (I had been also dealing with some pregnancy-related insomnia for the past month or two) I decided to just lay there and see what happened next. I had a few more contractions and ended up getting up to go to the bathroom where I noticed that I was losing small amounts of my mucus plug. Around that time I decided I was probably in early labor, but by 1:45am the contractions were less than five minutes apart, and growing stronger. I fought the urge to try and ignore them, climb back in bed, and turn on Netflix – my usual coping mechanism with the middle-of-the-night insomnia I was growing accustomed to.
At this point I started wrestling with feelings of what to do next. On one hand – I had a
really fast labor last time around. Active labor lasted just five hours with Arlo, and the midwives had warned me that this time would likely be much shorter. On top of that, we now had a good 45 minute car ride to the birthing center, much longer if we were to wait until later in the morning and hit rush hour traffic. But on the other hand, I couldn’t help but think about the baby’s OP position and how, in my mind, I was going to have a longer labor this time around. As well, I really didn’t want to wake anyone up – Erik, the midwives, Arlo, or friends to care for Arlo. So I decided to just labor a bit on my own. I went back and forth between the bed and the bathroom. I was timing them at this point, and they were around four minutes apart lasting around 45 seconds each. Part of me knew that I should at least wake Erik up and let him know what was going on, and the other part of me was hungry and wanted to eat. So of course, the stubborn, pregnant side of me decided to head downstairs to have a bowl of cereal before I woke Erik up. If this was true labor I was going to need to eat before things got more intense. I had no sooner set the milk on the counter top when I was hit with a contraction that brought me to my hands and knees on the floor. It was during that moment I knew what I had to do next.
Erik had been sleeping in a spare room next to ours for the final months of my pregnancy – my tossing and turning was keeping us both awake and we both slept better in separate beds. Just shy of 3:00am, I quietly tiptoed in his room – partly feeling really silly for waking him up when I was feeling completely fine between contractions, and partly thinking about the next strong contraction that was probably now only a minute or two away. I woke him up and said something like “hey, I think I am in labor and we might need to go to the birthing center soon.” He sleepily asked me if I was having contractions or if I was timing them or something like that. I don’t even know if I answered before the next wave hit and I was suddenly on hands and knees on his bed moaning my way through the contraction. Suddenly wide awake, he literally jumped out of bed saying “yup, this is happening” as he ran into our bedroom to change his clothes; he knew those moans well, having coached me through my previous labor.
I told him I wanted to eat before we left, and he was already scrambling to get things together so we could get out the door. I calmly reminded him we still needed to call the midwives to let them know we were coming. Erik called and got the answering service, who asked him questions related to my progress so they could relay the message to the midwife on-call. I was contracting every three to four minutes at this point, and after answering a string of questions he grew frustrated and I heard him (almost shout into the phone) “I don’t know, but my wife is having a baby!”
Minutes later the on-call midwife called us back and asked us the same questions again. Erik finally handed me the phone and after she heard me moan through a contraction she said to head in and she would meet us at the birthing center. Erik made us some toast at my request, all the while growing increasingly anxious and saying things like “I hope we make it there.” And eventually I started to wonder the same thing. Luckily we had already packed the car with our birthing bags and the infant car seat. I told Erik to let out our dog and to feed both her and the cats before we left as we didn’t know when we would be returning. He then ran upstairs to wake up Arlo and get him loaded into the car.
What happened next is one of my favorite parts of the story and something I never want to forget. I put on my shoes and headed into the garage, about to get into the car. I realized that I should probably try and explain what was going on to Arlo because he would likely get scared or concerned when he heard me having contractions. I opened the back door, where Arlo was already buckled in his seat, and he looked at me and asked “mommy, where are we going?” I told him simply “to meet the baby.” His eyes opened wide and his mouth formed a perfect little round shape. “Ohhhh, exciting!!” he responded with a big smile on his face. It was such a sweet, genuine response from my little guy who had been waiting for so long to be a big brother. It’s a moment I want to remember forever.
Backing out of the driveway at 3:40am, headed to the birthing center with our toddler sitting in his car seat directly behind me, felt surreal. I had never planned on going into labor in the middle of the night and in my mind if I did I was going to spend a few hours laboring at home before we left the house. When Erik started up the car, my Chris Stapelton CD started playing and instantly I was drawn into his deep, calming voice. Before I had the first contraction of the drive I restarted the CD so I could scan through my favorite songs as we drove. During the contractions, I focused on the music and lyrics and almost felt hypnotized. I couldn’t be on hands and knees and still be buckled in so I had positioned my body to be as much on my side as I could, with my head somewhat over the center console and holding on to the back of the drivers seat as I needed to. Between contractions I sang along quietly and reassured Arlo that I was doing okay and these were the noises I had to make for the baby to come. He didn’t seem too phased by the whole experience and surprisingly stayed wide awake the entire drive.
Erik was completely in driving mode – hands gripping the wheel at three and nine as we drove 80-90 mph down the nearly empty highway. During the drive I attempted to text and call my friend, Rhianna, who was on-call to pick up Arlo from the birthing center should I go into labor in the middle if the night. She didn’t wake up for the calls, but in the end it ended up being a blessing and I realized it all worked out the way it did for a really good reason.
We pulled into the parking lot of the birthing center just 29 minutes after we left the house – certainly making record time. When we had arrived to the birthing center when in was in labor with Arlo I was mid-transition and can barely remember walking inside the building. This time, I was still feeling completely normal between contractions and walked in the door like nothing was happening. Erik carried in Arlo and the midwife and nurse were just inside to greet us. I asked if he remembered which of the four birthing rooms I had Arlo in, and he pointed to one of the doors. Since we were the only people in labor at the time, I had my choice of room and was really happy we could welcome this baby in the same exact place that Arlo came into the world.
I went straight for the bed and had a contraction almost right away. I asked the midwife, Lydia, if she wanted to check my dialation status to see how far along I was. As she was checking she felt around for a little while without saying anything. I started to worry (do you see a trend here? yes, I am a natural worrier) and told her if I was only two centimeters or something not to even tell me. She said she felt the head, bag of waters, that I was 9cm, and the baby still had to move down a good bit. This was exactly where I was when I had arrived to give birth to Arlo. Erik and I exchanged glances, this was really going to happen and probably pretty soon. We were going to meet our baby and Arlo was about to become a big brother!
Being the middle of summer and almost always uncomfortably hot, the thought of getting into a warm tub did not sound appealing at all. I had used the tub for pain management during Arlo’s birth but had no desire to this time, so I stayed where I was on the bed. It felt like the contractions had started to space themselves out since our arrival at the birthing center, but since I was no longer timing them I can’t say for sure. They were still what I would call pretty moderate in intensity, I definitely had to moan and work through them but they were by no means unbearable. Between contractions I sat up and chatted with the midwife, nurse, and Erik who was sitting in a rocking chair nearby holding our slightly stunned looking toddler. I don’t remember what we talked about but I remember laughing a few times and at one point I told them we hadn’t decided on a boys name yet which somehow Erik had turned into a joke and we all laughed. At one point I almost felt silly were were all just sitting around waiting for the baby to come. Here it was, the middle of the night practically, and I was feeling completely fine between contractions. I mentioned that I felt like labor was slowing down a bit and that I didn’t even feel like I had hit transition yet. Lydia said she thought I had, and that it was normal for things to slow down sometimes upon arriving in a new place. Not two minutes later I was hit with the most intense contraction yet, and immediately after told her how I regretted saying what I had just said.
After I had been laboring at the birthing center for 30-40 minutes or so, I asked Lydia how I could encourage the baby to move down. She said what I was doing with frequent position changes would help, but we could also try the peanut ball. My friend Katie, who is a labor and delivery nurse, had told me about this special ball they often use for women in labor with an OP baby. “Yes!” I thought, let’s try that. So I laid down on my side with the peanut shaped ball between my legs to help open my pelvis. A contraction came on and the intensity was so much that I started pushing the ball away and kicking my legs to move it off the bed. Erik saw me thrashing around and immediately came to help me back to hands and knees, by far my preferred position to labor in. Sometime around this point the midwife and nurse stepped out to greet another woman who had just arrived in labor. They told us to come get them if anything changed.
After the peanut ball incident, Erik set Arlo up in a big, squishy beanbag chair the nurse had brought in for him. He put on a Mickey Mouse cartoon on his phone and covered Arlo with a blanket, hoping he would fall back asleep. We had tried a couple more times to touch base with our friends, still without success. At least at this point Arlo was totally engrossed in his show, not even caring about his laboring mom on the bed not 10 feet away. Erik was now by my side, rubbing my back and helping me work through contractions. They were taking more of my attention and I was no longer feeling “completely fine” between them, I was starting to become grateful for the rest. All of a sudden, I felt the urge to push a little so I did. At first I thought the baby had descended into the birth canal but there was no pain associated with the feeling so I was unsure as to what was going on. Immediately after the push I felt a pop and was instantly covered in warm water. My water had broken! I remained on hands and knees, stunned at what had happened. My water never broke spontaneously with Arlo so I hadn’t experienced that feeling before. Erik literally ran out the door to get the midwife and within seconds they were all back in the room.
Still not knowing what to do at that point, I simply told them “I’m all wet.” Which was pretty obvious by the puddle underneath me! The nurse quickly changed out the wet pads that I was kneeling on. I didn’t look to see what they were doing but there was suddenly a commotion at the foot of the bed, and I knew they were getting the birthing supplies ready. Lydia said to me “Kendra, I think what is about to happen next is that your baby is about to come.” I asked her if I should take off my shirt that I was still wearing knowing that we would be doing skin-to-skin immediately after birth, and Erik started to help me finish undressing. He started to help me with my bra and suddenly a strong contraction came along with the urge to push. Instinctively I wanted to fight it, I remembered how much I disliked the feeling of pushing last time and I was really wishing I didn’t have to. I gave into the urge and felt the baby move down the birth canal during what felt like a nonstop contraction. I had pushed out Arlo laying on my right side and remember liking that position so I immediately lied down and assumed the same position. Lydia told me to grab my left leg and during the next contraction curl towards her and push with everything I had. I barely remember a break from the previous contraction and it was happening again. It took every bit that I had, but our new little baby came into the world during that next push, just six minutes after my water had broken. The intensity of the actual birth was considerably more than I remembered with Arlo, and pushing him out was by far the most pain I felt the entire labor.
We had put in the birth plan that if it was possible Erik would like to catch the baby. But with as fast as everything happened, and the fact that he had his cord wrapped around his neck, foot, and hand, Lydia ended up being the one to guide him in to the world and place him on my belly. He had a short cord and couldn’t quite make it up to my chest yet. He cried loudly immediately, and seconds after he was born Erik announced, with the most proud look on his face, “it’s a boy!” I realized in that moment that I had forgotten we were about to find out the gender, something that I had always thought would be the first thing on my mind after I gave birth. I was super excited to learn that we had another sweet boy in our family, and then filled with mild concern that we hadn’t yet decided on a boy’s name.
Through the whole commotion of bringing his little brother into the world, our two-and-a- half-year-old sat quietly watching his show, either oblivious to what was going on or maybe just choosing to ignore it. Erik picked him up and asked him if he wanted to meet his brother, and at that point Arlo realized there was a new tiny person in the room and became interested in what was going on. He spent some time next to us looking at the baby but eventually wanted to go back to watching his show, which was fine because I needed Erik next to me for what was about to come next.
After the cord stopped pulsing the midwife clamped it and Erik took the opportunity to cut it. The placenta was delivered a short time after without issue. At this point, Lydia started to assess me to see if I needed stitches, and with the amount of pain that I experienced during the birth and afterwards, I was not surprised to learn that I did. I later learned that our little guy was born with both shoulders coming out at the same time (usually it is one then the other) which is the reason for the tearing that occurred. Another midwife, Carey, came into the room about this time, she was second on call and since the other laboring woman in the birthing center was about to deliver, they called her in for backup. She came into the room at a great time, and was an awesome support person during what ended up being a rather painful repair. Eventually Lydia left to go catch the baby in the room next door, and Carey took over with the stitches. After what felt like an eternity (in reality was probably something like 45 minutes), she was done and I was able to sit up and for the first time really get a good look at our newest family member. He had began rooting very shortly after he was born and had already spent a good amount of time nursing. The first thing I noticed about him was his tiny, pouty lips and round face. I fell in love immediately.
It was around this time that we got in touch with our friends who we had been calling to come pick up Arlo. They were very excited to learn that we had a boy, and said they would jump in the car immediately to come up. Rhianna wanted to know could they all come – her, her husband, and two kids, and I loved the idea of them all visiting to meet the new baby. We met John and Rhianna in our Bradley birthing class when we were both pregnant with our first babies, and have been good friends ever since. They are the closest thing we have to family in the whole state, and I was thrilled to have them all come visit during such a special time in our lives. When they arrived a bit later, Arlo was filled with so much excitement to not only see his bestie, but also to introduce them to his new little brother. He started literally jumping up and down on the bed next to me when they walked in, talking so fast we could barely understand him – “my new baby brother right there!! Baby was born! bBaby came from mama’s belly!” and we all had a good laugh. All four of the kids in the room had been born at that very birthing center, three of them in that very room! I like to think that it was a very special time for all of us.
They hung out for a bit and gave the new baby some snuggles before heading out with Arlo and the overnight bags we had packed for him. It was a little hard to say goodbye to my toddler, but he was so excited to be going to his friend’s house he didn’t seem sad at all to leave, which made for a really easy transition. In the end, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the birth and realize how awesome it was to have Arlo there to meet his new little brother right after he was born.
After bonding for a few hours with our new little guy, he was finally weighed and measured. He looked so tiny to me so I was shocked to learn he weighed a healthy 7 lbs 6 ounces! He measured in at 19.25″ long. Not long after he was born, it was shift change at the birthing center and the midwife who came on for the rest of the day was Allison, the same midwife who delivered Arlo! She was the one who did Oliver’s newborn exam, and everything checked out just fine. Erik and I spent the rest of the morning discussing boys’ names and texting family to let them know that the baby had arrived. We hadn’t wanted to wake anyone in the middle of the night to let them know I was in labor, so the first text everyone received was a picture of him and a family picture of the (now) four of us! After a few hours of discussion, we decided upon the name Oliver William. Oliver was a name we had considered with others in the months before the birth, and William is after Erik’s maternal grandfather. After getting to know him these past few weeks, I couldn’t picture him with any other name.
I am beyond thankful that we had another healthy, supported, natural (and fast!), out-of-hospital birth. Everything I had worried about in the months leading up to the birth – back labor, long pushing phase, broken tailbone due to an OP position baby, turned out to be non-issues. Oliver was not born OP, and must have turned sometime during labor. He entered the world four hours after active labor kicked in, less than five hours after I felt my first contraction, and only 90 minutes after our arrival to the birthing center. We headed home later that afternoon, and again, just as it had after Arlo was born, felt surreal walking in the door with a tiny little person who wasn’t there when we departed just hours earlier.
Welcome to the world, little Oliver! Your parents and big brother couldn’t love you any more if we tried.
By Leah Reichardt-Osterkatz
Born December 7, 2015 at 6:47am
For several days, I had been telling friends and family that something different was happening in my uterus. Saturday evening I started to feel discrete contractions, but they did not feel painful. After going to bed, I was up with a contraction every 10 minutes through the night. They were not so intense that I needed to wake anyone up (wanting my support people to be rested for what was to come!), but they were intense enough that I got up out of bed with each one to lean over the counter and wiggle my hips around. They continued like that until mid-day Sunday. Once Nils, my husband, was awake, I was able to stay lying down through the contractions, because holding on to him made the pain less intense.
The contractions started to come closer together in the afternoon, but were not progressing in a consistent pattern. This, in combination with the fact that I was feeling a lot of pain in my back, was a clue that his head was not in an ideal position (which my midwife Maureen had predicted a few weeks earlier). I spent a lot of time in my parents’ hot tub, which made the contractions almost painless at that point. My husband and I took a long, slow walk around the property. While we were walking the contractions were coming about every two minutes. With each one we would either hug with me kind of hanging from his shoulders, or he would hold me from behind and lift my belly up, or I would lean forward and he would rub my back. We went back to the house and spoke with Maureen on the phone. The contractions had then slowed down again, so she suggested that I try to rest however possible and we would check back in soon. I went into the bedroom, but didn’t like the idea of lying down because I always felt the need to get up during contractions. I tried resting in child’s pose for quite a while, scooting off the end of the bed with each contraction, sometimes holding onto Nils and sometimes leaning over the bed with my mom and my friend stroking my back while I swayed my hips back and forth. I also tried sitting on the birth ball. Somewhere in there, in the early evening, we spoke to Maureen again and decided thing were getting serious enough to head to the birth center. My dad drove one car with Nils and me in the back. My mom, Svea, and Rachel followed behind. My brother stayed back to get a bit of sleep before coming later.
We arrived at the birth center around 7 or 8 PM. I was about 4 centimeters dilated, and Kaspar’s head was transverse. I wanted to get into the tub right away, as the water had helped so much earlier. For whatever reason, I did not like it at that point and got out after trying several different positions. Soon after that I decided to get a short acting pain medication with hopes of getting a little bit of rest, as I hadn’t really slept the night before. I was given half a dose, as it seemed possible that things could progress quickly after that (we were optimistic!). I lay down with Nils and everyone else left the room for a couple hours. Maureen rubbed my lower back for a long time. The contractions still felt quite intense during that time, but I was able to stay lying down the whole time and the massage felt very nice!
When the medication started wear off, the pain started ramping back up and my other support people came back into the room. I was then lying down between each contraction, and sometimes even falling asleep for a minute, as I was so tired. With each contraction I would jump out of bed and hang from Nils while various other people stroked my back and arms. For much of the time I was unaware of who was doing what! My mom made sure that I was constantly drinking. I drank a lot of coconut water, a calcium drink and a special labor tea that my sister-in-law had made.
Maureen checked me again and discovered that he was posterior — he had turned the wrong way! At that point Maureen started pulling out all of her tricks to get him to turn all the way back around. I was in and out of the shower several times, doing the “hoochie coochie” dance. I did hip circles on the birth ball. Maureen then suggested a saline injections in my back. She said that it would hurt a lot, but would hopefully help with the back labor and get him to turn around. When she gave me a towel to bite on, I knew I was not going to like it! I kneeled on the bed, leaning on the birth ball, bit my towel and screamed. After that, or maybe it was before, Maureen stood over me on the bed holding two ends of a big sheet that went under my belly. She clamped my hips with her legs, lifted my belly with the sheet and moved it side to side. There was still a ways to go after that. I tried some more hip circles on the ball and was back in the shower for a while. My mom said she was worried that my contractions would peter out from exhaustion, but they just kept getting stronger. Around 4:30 AM or so, I was finally fully dilated, and he had turned all the way around!
Throughout that two hours of pushing, even though he had turned to anterior position, I was still having a lot of back pain. We think it might have been that he had his hand up near his chin, because that is what he was doing right after coming out. I tried pushing in many different position — squatting, hands and knees, on my back and side lying. It took every ounce of energy and strength that I could muster at that point. Maureen, our nurse Mariah, and my whole team of support people were there cheering me on.
I was still very resistant to being lying down, but Maureen kept encouraging me into the side-lying position, because that it where I was making the most progress. I remember thinking that I couldn’t imagine how he was ever going to come out. The crown of his head was peeking out for quite a while, making slow progress. At some point, still thinking it was never going to happen, Maureen called to me to look down. His head and shoulders were out. With a little help, I reached down and pulled to him up to my chest. I suddenly felt so good to have him there against my skin. It was the biggest sense of relief I’ve ever experienced. After 20 minutes or so, he started rooting and latched on to nurse. Things have been pretty smooth sailing ever since!
by Crescen Moye
As a first time mom, I really didn’t know what to expect when it came to birth. Sure, I read lots of books and articles and asked tons of questions, but I still couldn’t help but feel like it was going to surprise me however it happened! My husband, Stephen and I chose to give birth at the birthing center because we knew we didn’t want a medicated birth if possible. It also helped that we had lots of friends recommend WBWC. With each prenatal appointment, the newborn class, the breastfeeding class, and even our outside birthing classes, we gained more and more confidence in the birthing center. Every time we talked with someone there, we would comment that we were sure that’s where we wanted to have our baby. It seemed like all the information we got from WBWC was rock solid. It just made sense with what we wanted for birth and what we believed was best for mother and baby!
Both our birthing class instructor and the midwives at WBWC told us to expect a first baby to come late. In their experiences, most first babies were at least a week late. So, close to week 40 when I started to feel more uncomfortable and tired and swollen, I just told myself it would still be another week or so. Imagine my surprise then, when one day before my due date I woke up to contractions in the middle of the night! They were mild, but enough to keep me from sleeping well, and they came about every 10 minutes. I also noticed a trickle of fluid that I thought could have been my water breaking. I really didn’t expect the spicy food I had at dinner to work!
I had a prenatal appointment that morning, and I thought for sure they would send me home, tell me it was the mucous plug and Braxton Hicks, and I’d have another week to wait. The contractions didn’t stop, and neither did the trickle of fluid. Stephen wasn’t planning on going with me to my appointment, but when the contractions were around 5 minutes apart, he took off work and drove me the 45 minutes to WBWC.
At my appointment, Carey confirmed that my water did break. This was it! I knew I couldn’t go another week after the water broke! We did a non-stress test to make sure our baby, Hope, was handling the contractions well. Carey did send us home, but it was to have lunch, take a nap, relax and let labor start on its own, hopefully within the next day because my water was broken. She also suggested acupuncture to get things going. We did all of those things and as I laid down for a nap that afternoon, the contractions started to pick up and I couldn’t sleep through them. We called WBWC to check in and decided we would like to be there since things seemed to be progressing.
I was 4 centimeters when we got there; not very far along, but I was glad to know we were with people who knew what to do and could tell me everything was normal. The nurse checked my blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and Hope’s heartrate all through the night. My sweet husband never left my side.
Labor got pretty intense that night. The contractions had double peaks and sometimes seemed to run right into the next one. I was flat exhausted. Stephen was exhausted. I remember seeing a worried look on his face and telling him not to look so concerned! Sarah came in for her shift and when she checked me at midnight I was still only 4 centimeters. I was so discouraged. I thought, there was no way I could keep doing that even for another hour, and to think that all that work hadn’t even changed my cervix one bit! Hope’s head was down, but it was turned just a little bit to the side. All the labor I was having was not changing my cervix, but trying to get Hope in the right position.
She recommended morphine and Phenergan injections to help me get some rest. I don’t know how I would have gone on without them! The injections were just what we all needed. They made the contractions more bearable, and I was able to rest between them. My husband needed it badly as well! We joked that it seemed like he was also given the injections because he slept like a rock for the 6 or so hours I rested.
Friday morning, we woke up relatively refreshed. Belinda sent us out to get some fresh air and have breakfast. The contractions were back to single peaks at that time, and I was able to enjoy breakfast, but not the car ride! It seemed that sitting down was not a great position for me to labor in. My husband and I took a walk when we got back and even though it was hot outside, we found a path to a shaded street and enjoyed the time outside. I don’t have many friends who have given birth outside of a hospital, so most of the first hand birth stories I’ve heard are of medicated births. I know that none of those stories included leaving the hospital to get breakfast (or even eating while in labor), or being able to take a walk outside! In some ways, (minus the contractions), it felt like a normal day. Haha…in some ways.
At noon, I was checked again and I was 6 centimeters. Praise the Lord! It was good to hear I had some progress. The injections helped me reset and get some more energy for the day ahead! Belinda came on and she had me try lots of different positions and herbs to help move Hope into a better position and get her head down. We worked hard all day!
Some time Friday night, we heard another couple come in. Until then, we were the only ones in labor at the birthing center. I heard the mother laboring and I prayed for her. I prayed she wouldn’t be in labor for as long as I was and that she would have her baby soon!
Belinda checked me later that evening and I was getting so close, but one side of Hope’s head wouldn’t clear a small lip of my cervix. I was not yet 10 centimeters and it wasn’t time to push. This was right about when I felt like I had nothing left (again!). They suggested I get in the tub to change position and hopefully help open me up a little more. I got on my knees and braced myself on the side for each contraction. I was worried I wouldn’t know when to start pushing. How would I know I was 10 centimeters?! How would I know it was okay to push and her head was past my cervix?
Belinda said I would get to a point where I couldn’t NOT push. With every contraction I thought I was holding back a push. But there was a real difference when I was actually not able to not push! I even said something like, “This is it. I think I’m in transition. I can’t stop it. I can’t stop it!” Belinda told me later that she thought that was so funny – I told her exactly where I was in labor. I reached down and felt Hope’s head right about the time when I got a leg cramp! Feeling her coming kept me going even when I felt like my body was giving out.
With my legs cramping, I couldn’t stay squatting. I leaned back on the side of the tub, and they gave me foot rests. I never expected to ask for a mirror, but I really wanted to see the progress. I didn’t know how to push! I screamed out in the middle of contractions that I didn’t know what to do. I kept thinking that the girl in the room next door was a champion pusher…she must not be a first time mother…or she learned a different technique in her birthing class! Belinda was an amazing coach. She walked me through how to use my breath to give me more force. Stephen was an amazing partner! He rubbed my back constantly…through the contractions and even between!
At one of my prenatal visits, Belinda and I discussed how scared I was of tearing. She reassured me that the best thing to prevent tearing would be for me to listen to the midwife’s coaching during the pushing stage and to slowly push. When Hope’s head was coming out, and I didn’t want to see her go back in after the push, Belinda reassured me that this was the slow stretching we wanted. Because of her advice, I didn’t tear. What a blessing!
Stephen got to help catch Hope, and Belinda showed him how to clamp and cut the cord. He and I were awestruck when they laid her on my chest. We couldn’t believe we just did that and she was finally here! What an amazing little person, so tiny and precious. We praised the Lord for this gift and settled in for some long-awaited rest.
Our sweet baby girl came at 12:41am on Saturday, July 9 (41 minutes after her due date). She was 7 pounds and 5 ounces, 19.5 inches long. She would not be rushed!
The next morning, I asked about the couple next door. My mom said they had a little girl and told us her name. I put two and two together and realized it was a couple from our birthing class! With my mom as the messenger, we let our friends know we were in the next room. Before they left, they brought their daughter over to our room and our little girls got to meet. How crazy that we were in the same class together and ended up giving birth the same night one room over from each other!
We had an amazing experience at the birthing center. We know the outcome could have been very different if we were anywhere else. We are so blessed by all of the staff at the birthing center and we know we couldn’t have done it without their support and coaching and desire for a natural, healthy birth! Thank you to every nurse and midwife that helped us and loved on our family of 3!
By Hannah Edens
|All photos by Merritt Chesson Photography|
“We’re not having a baby tonight, are we?” asked Chas, my husband, on the eve of our second daughter’s due date. Our family was exhausted from a cold and very busy weekend, and we were planning on getting at least a few more nights of good rest. “Are you kidding? I’ve had a throbbing pain above my pubic bone all day and can hardly walk but not a single contraction. We are not having a baby tonight. Go to sleep,” I replied. Not 10 minutes later as I lay in bed, I heard and felt a pop. Three seconds later, a rush of warmth prompted me to jump out of bed and into the bathroom. There was no denying my water had just broken. I waddled to the living room to tell Chas the surprising news. We indeed would have this baby in the next 24 hours after all.
The midwife on call, Jessica, reassured me that most women begin labor soon after their water breaks, but I’d need to plan to come in to the Birth Center in the morning either way. Two and a half years earlier, I had been “in labor” 78 hours from the time I felt my first contraction to pushing out my first daughter at the WBWC. I was a bit nervous things wouldn’t progress quickly enough since my body certainly took it’s time with #1, so I knew more than anything I needed to try to sleep while I still had time.
Four or so hours later, the familiar but quickly forgotten tightness of a contraction began. They were 15 – 30 min apart for a few hours and I was able to sleep in between. My appetite actually prompted me out of bed around 3:30 AM, and I received some needed encouragement via text from my best friend, who happened to be awake and was my doula with the birth of my first. Then back to bed for another hour or two of spaced but increasingly stronger contractions.
By 6:00 AM I could no longer lay still or sleep between the impressively strong pains, so I jumped in the shower. Again, I expected a full day of this and wanted to feel prepared and try to relax my body. Jessica was still on call to receive my 7:00am update that my contractions were 7 – 12 minutes apart. She told me I was welcome to come in whenever I wanted, but it was okay to wait until they were more like 4 – 6 minutes apart.
I gave my friend and country neighbor Jane a ring. She’s also a nurse at the WBWC, who offered to be present as a doula if she wasn’t working that day. Her presence was a relief because by 8 AM I was struggling to stand through the discomfort and was shocked with how quickly it seemed things were progressing. I began to tap back into the breathing techniques I learned at a Birthing from Within class I attended 3 years prior. Although my contractions remained about 6 minutes apart, the pain seemed really productive and the noises of everyone getting ready for their day around my house felt distracting. I was ready for the relaxing, quiet atmosphere of the Peach Room.
Despite a very busy weekend of deliveries, Tuesday, May 24th was exceptionally quiet. When I arrived at 9:00 AM, I was the only mama in labor. Carey greeted me with her student midwife, Kristen, and I welcomed two for the price of one. Chas, my sister Katelyn, photographer Merritt, Jane, and nurse Asha rounded out the crew. Some mamas prefer smaller crowds but as with my first, I really appreciated the support and witness of caring, knowledgeable folks around me.
The car ride over had sped things up, and I was at that point starting to moan through the pain that found me every 3 minutes. My first cervical check told us I was a “stretchy 7, zero station, fully effaced” and I was thrilled! I knew I’d have this baby before lunch, which was mind blowing and a bit intimidating.
My exceptionally long , 12 days past the due date, with a 9lb 3oz baby 2.5 years ago was epic – hard and empowering, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself and thankful for midwife Emily’s commitment to us. But everything about this labor was different and while going so well, it was a challenge even still to remain focused, allow my body to take control, and not give up in the middle of such discomfort. I was aware of how much freedom the birth team gave me to lead the delivery, and their silent confidence was reassuring.
I had a difficult time finding a position to labor in that helped ease the minute-long waves of pain, but someone offered to draw a warm bath. I had used water therapy throughout my many aches during pregnancy and welcomed the idea. I spent a half hour or so on my hands and knees, thankful for the weight of my perfectly basketball-esq bump to be lifted by the warm water. I was probably mid-transition when my arms started to give out and I switched to lying on my side. I was in full blown groaning pain and encouraged to push whenever I felt the urge. Eeek! I didn’t really feel the urge with my first; it was a conscious all out decision to be done and get her out. With that first experience, I felt incredible relief with , and it truly did not hurt very much.
But this faster, more furious transition period and soon-to-follow pushing HURT more! It was so interesting to hear my voice responding to the pain, and I think I shared with the team during a longer pause between contractions that I thought I sounded like a Viking. Ha!! Soon enough the urge came and through 3 or 4 contractions I propelled baby girl #2 out of me – all of her at once. I could feel the incredible force, which was confirmed by the onlookers and catcher. She let out a quick cry, was placed on my chest, held her next breath about 3 seconds longer than anyone cared for and started to turn blue. I, too, held my breath but a good strong back rub by the attentive midwives and she began to wail, clear and strong. My mama heart rejoiced!
All of the anxiety and pain was instantly gone when I could see her perfect little face and hear her sweet voice. The midwives were meanwhile concerned with what appeared to be a large amount of blood filling the tub and quickly got me to the bed to investigate. Thankfully the bleeding had already mostly stopped and I was in the clear.
WOW. Just wow. 11:30 AM Margaux Frances Edens joined the outside, on her due date, and we couldn’t get over how “small” she was at 7lb 13oz. I kept telling myself, “It felt like the most polite birth,” because of how quickly she arrived and without complications. Our sweet baby has continued so effortlessly to do what we all hope they’ll do – grow, eat, sleep and poop.
We packed up our things and made it home for dinner at 7:00pm. All in a day’s work.
by Clare Harrop
At my prenatal visit at 39 weeks, I cried to poor Mariah. The NC heat had started to pick up, I was tired, and my feet had finally swollen. Emotions were high, and I was ready to be done. This last visit was in stark contrast to the rest of my pregnancy. Aside from some first trimester concerns, my pregnancy had been smooth sailing. I wouldn’t say I loved being pregnant, but my life didn’t change that much. I socialized, I worked out, I travelled (including getting stuck in NYC during a blizzard), my sleep was good, and I generally felt great. I was one of those pregnant women others hate – I’m making up for this smugness now with a very active and vocal 6 week old!
Around 38 weeks my husband, Dan, and I started all the old wives’ tales to get things moving. However, the day before my labor started, I had a feeling our little girl was on her way. I woke up energized, went to a workout class, had brunch and drinks with friends, cleaned the house, ran some errands and ordered takeout.
As with most pregnant women, my nightly bathroom visits had become very regular. I had gotten very skilled at crawling out of bed and peeing in the dark without really waking myself or my husband. Yet for some reason at 5 AM on Sunday May 1st, 2 days before my due date, I turned on the bathroom light. And lo and behold, I had some “bloody show.” Like a kid a Christmas I couldn’t sleep (despite what Wanda, our birthing class instructor, had advised us to do), but I let my husband sleep and went downstairs to work. I submitted a research paper that morning, only for it to be returned twice due to formatting issues. Note to self: do not submit a paper in early labor/with a newborn!
Around 10 AM, I decided to wake Dan up. I’d been having very weak contractions and thought it was time to go grocery shopping! Around 11:30, on the way to Harris Teeter, we called the birthing center. Rani was on call. At first I thought we hadn’t met her before, but when we arrived at the center early the next morning, we realized we’d bonded over my tiny belly button which never popped, only got smaller and smaller! Rani advised us to stay put and relax. I’ll admit at the time I felt a little disappointed, as I was sure this was happening. So we walked round the grocery store while I had a few small contractions and tried to carry on as if it were a normal Sunday.
Then, as Rani predicted, everything seemed to stop. I was so disheartened. I wanted to meet our little one that day, which happened to be my Mum’s birthday. We took ourselves out for a walk and the contractions, while there, weren’t consistent. I came home and baked a cake, watched some TV, and finally packed my birthing bag! At 4:30, Dan decided he was off to yoga – it seems he needed some Shavasana! We still debate to this day whether he left me in labor, or as he says, the very early stages of early labor!
When he got back, my contractions had picked up again but were still 8-9 minutes apart and not very long. We ate dinner, and I treated myself to a glass of wine and went for a walk round the neighborhood. This is when things REALLY got going. I couldn’t make it as far as we wanted, and we headed back. It was now around 8 PM, and we watched TV while I squatted and swayed and bounced on a yoga ball – which is now the best way to soothe Harper! I threw up my dinner. I had a bath. I walked around. Around 11:30 PM, my contractions were lasting 45 seconds every 5 minutes, so we called the birth center again. Rani told us to hang tight and wait until they were a minute long every 4 minutes. Dan was great, encouraging me to sleep between the contractions – which I did, as I can really sleep anywhere, anytime! Around 12:30 AM Dan called again. My contractions were longer, closer together, and I threw up again. It was time to get going.
On the way in the car, I was extremely focused. Dan commented that the 15-501 had never been so quiet, and we got the birthing center in no time. Rani examined me, and I was already 8 cm dilated. I was so proud of what we had achieved at home and credit Dan for this fully – I would have gone in at 11 AM if I could!
There wasn’t really much left to do other than work through until I needed to push. I tried the tub, but by this point I wasn’t relaxed. We got into a rhythm with swaying on all fours, but as I’d been awake since 5 AM I was so tired. I begged for nitrous (disclaimer – in the UK, where we are from, most people have “gas and air” during labor. Also note to all ladies – your partner will give in to anything you ask for when you are in labor!) I’m not sure the nitrous helped as I was so far gone at this stage, but maybe it relaxed me a bit and allowed me to catch some much needed sleep between contractions and early pushes.
At some point Rani asked to manually break my waters, and after that I started pushing. I pushed for a couple of hours; it was honestly the hardest thing I have ever put my body through. At times I cried and really felt I couldn’t do it. I was exhausted, and while I felt pretty prepared after our birthing classes, nothing could have prepared me for pushing. Toward the end, Rani, Missy and Dan held my legs so Harper couldn’t recede. And finally at 4 AM, our daughter arrived – though Dan announced at first she was a boy!
People have asked me since if our birth met our expectations. We honestly had no expectations. We wanted our little one to arrive safely and were okay with all possibilities. But we can say it was an amazing experience. The staff at the birth center were fantastic throughout, and our birthing team was incredible. Our birthing plan stated “no happy places, no cheerleading. Firm encouragement” – Rani and Missy really did well in adhering to this and even checked afterwards that they hadn’t been too “cheerleadery!”
Now Harper is 5 weeks old. She loves being bounced on the yoga ball, sung Allison Krauss songs, going for long walks, and curling up on Daddy’s chest. She has a determined personality and people always comment how strong she is. We can’t thank the birth center staff enough for bringing her into the world with us. And Rani – my belly button has returned to its normal size!
When I was asked to create an article for our newsletter about Healthy Weight Week, I hesitated for just a moment. After all, my BMI puts me far outside the “normal weight” range! I agreed to write about Healthy Weight Week because I am both a healthcare provider and a woman who has struggled with her weight throughout her lifetime. While I know the health benefits of maintaining a normal weight, I know all too well the health effects of being outside of it.
My Struggle with Weight
Although I am in the “obese” category according to my BMI, I am at the healthiest weight I’ve been in 20 years. It is no exaggeration to say that my weight has been an issue for me almost my entire life. Manipulation of food and dieting is so widespread in my family that they have become a sort of pastime for many of us. What I have not learned to address until recently are the reasons that I manipulate food and consume it for uses other than the nourishment of my body. Food has been a comfort to me in hard times, and been a part of the celebration at joyous events. It has required vigilance and great effort on my part to find other ways to cope with difficult times and celebrate during the happy ones.
Motivation for Change
Change is difficult and, at times, even painful. One must have some sort of motivation to initiate and sustain change. New Year’s resolutions, graduations, and job interviews have been some motivators in the past. Those events have been strong enough to help me to lose as much as 30 pounds in the past, but when the occasion passed or “life got in the way”, I would go back to my old habits and re-gain every bit of weight I’d lost. A few years ago, I fell in love with my fiance and found my biggest and best motivator: becoming a mother. My desire to some day have a healthy pregnancy and be the best mom I can be led me to make drastic changes in the way I eat. It is also what drives me to get out of bed early in the morning to exercise!
At my highest weight, I was more than 130 lbs away a “normal” BMI. Setting that as my goal would have been way too overwhelming. Evidence has shown that even small reductions in weight (5-10% of body weight) can cause improvement in blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and reduce the risks of other chronic diseases. Making several “mini-goals” along the way can help us eventually reach our ultimate, “big” goal. Other evidence-based tools to help with weight loss are: keeping a food diary and having a workout buddy. Keeping a food diary helps us to keep track of what we eat- even if we’re not counting calories. When we’re aware of what we eat, we can begin to make needed changes. It makes us accountable to ourselves. Having a workout buddy has been shown to increase the frequency with which people exercise. When we have someone waiting to meet us on the walking trail or gym, we’re more likely to show up!
Now You Go
Whether it’s welcoming the New Year or celebrating Healthy Weight Week, I invite you to think about what healthy changes you’d like to make in your life. What are your “mini-goals”? Don’t forget to let your nurse practitioner or midwife know about your health goals when you have your next visit. We’d love to cheer you on!
by: Jennifer Leonard
I was 39 weeks and I had contractions off and on for a few days. I had been walking in the evening to help ease things along, as I didn’t want to shoot for a *third* 42-week pregnancy. The night of November 2nd I was up yet again with contractions that were going from 2-3 minutes apart, to 3-5 minutes apart, and just got further and further apart until they were gone about two hours after they started. I went to bed frustrated. I had many nights like this over the past week, and it was tiring me. During the day I was pretty low-function due to the lack of
sleep, and it was tough to keep up with the seven other kiddos I had at home. I was pretty ready to meet our #8!
After waking up November 3rd, I made breakfast for everyone, and started our nice lunch of Lasagna. My parents, sister, and nephew came over to eat with us and have a visit. During lunch I noticed that I was cramping and just feeling “off”. Then I started getting lower back pain, and lower belly pain, along with some serious tightening in my belly. This raised the alarm for me. I knew that if this was the real thing it could potentially progress quickly. My labors had been getting closer and closer together the more kiddos we had.
I started timing things, and they were 2-3 minutes apart. Having already experienced this at night, I was really hoping to feel things get stronger before we headed in to the birth center. Things got a bit more serious; I had to pause during contractions now and was doing some good labor-breathing through my nose. I told my hubby we needed to call the midwife. She told us since they were so close together that we should definitely head in. My sister took over care of my kiddos, and my mom planned to stay the night with them for us. They are amazing women!!
On the drive towards the birth center hubby and I laughed between contractions (typical for us), and he guessed I’d be a 4/5, while I was thinking the worst– I’d be told I was only at about a 2. ::snort:: Things got more intense, and I started to feel a bit more pelvic discomfort as we came up to the front of the birth center. We pulled into the parking lot, and I paused a few times on the way in, breathing through some tough ones. We walk into The Green Room and I don’t look like I’m even in labor. Things slow down for a moment. It’s a full three minutes before I have a contraction, and that one is pretty mild compared to the ones I had on the way over! Carey checked me and informed me that I was definitely a 4/5 and that baby’s head was nice and low, with the bag of waters “rightvthere”. Whew! Hubby is goooood! I guess he would be after 7 children, huh?!
I labored for a little while, sitting on the ball, and walking aroundbour room– then I got into the tub and things got more interesting and *fast*. I told everyone I was starting to feel pushy, but somehow it didn’t feel like this was going to be as easy a delivery as my last. His head felt huge to me somehow. I told them I wanted out of the tub— so Carey and hubby helped me onto the bed where I pushed while on my hands and knees. Ohhh yes. This was *much* different! I would push, and his head would come down, and then slide back up after I stopped pushing. Any woman in labor will tell you that this feeling is such a defeating feeling. You feel like you did all that
work…… for nothing. Ugh.
Carey suggested I get into a different position, so I managed to get on
my left side and I tried that way. I am *so* glad I listened to her wisdom! I pushed another time and a half and his head was coming out now! Whew! With the next push, his head was out, but so were his hands, and the cord was wrapped all around him like a ribbon on a present, and he was born *in* the bag! Ack! I can’t see what’s going on but Carey, the nurse, and my hubby are all acting excited about what’s happening. Carey got to un-wrap my son, like a present, and remove the bag from his
face so he could breathe. She placed him on my belly, and he immediately started to cry. We captured his precious first cry on video, and I have listened to it over, and over, and over.
What a miracle he is! Our 8th child, our 2nd son!
Thomas Eugene LeonardIII
was born on November 3rd.
We got to the birth center just before 4 pm,
and he was born at 6:23 pm! He was my fastest, but most difficult labor, and is our precious little gift. Having a baby born with his hands on his face, the cord all in the mix, and *in* the bag like that was so very intense. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I am so thankful for WBWC! This is our 3rd baby born there, and if we have a 9th, we will definitely choose to have him/her at WBWC! I love this group of wonderful women and feel blessed to have been able to share my births