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.