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!