It took me over a month to write my son, Sawyer’s, birth story. There was so much to process. Some parts were so traumatic and others felt triumphant. I spent over a year in therapy after his birth, to work through my anger and fears associated with the violation that came with being physically and verbally assaulted through my labor. The on call OB had been very resentful of my natural birth plan when we had to transfer, due to Sawyer’s early entrance at 35 plus weeks. Knowing that the OB can no longer accept transfers and had to go through a medical board hearing gave me a small peace of mind, but many emotions were still looming over my head when we started trying to get pregnant for the second time, at 18 months postpartum.
The next month, we were pregnant. We were still nursing and I have irregular cycles due to P.C.O.S., so I was shocked that things happened as quickly as they did. I went back on the hunt for a midwife, asking many more questions this time. I was looking for someone who wasn’t afraid of a challenge, someone who could help me work through my fears, and accomplish my goal of another natural birth, despite my fears. After interviewing three awesome midwives, I met Christy, and knew she was the one, despite being the furthest away from our home.
The pregnancy was very different from my first in many ways. I was much sicker than I had been with my son and the heartburn was so intense! I tried to rest, as much as one can with a two year old, and maintained a very limited work schedule. At 23 and 29 weeks, I lost a piece of my mucous plug. It was the exact same timing as I had with my son. I opted out of cervical checks this time, hoping the lack of stimulation might help me go a little longer, but I started preparing for a possible early arrival.
We decided to do a Mother’s Blessing way this time. I felt like I could use all the support and encouragement I could get from my mama friends as time got closer. A pendant was made with positive messages and birth affirmations. There was also a lovely bead ceremony where everyone said how we met, attributes they admired, hopes for the upcoming birth, and why they chose the bead. It was one of the most emotional and spiritual things I had ever done. I feel like every woman should get the honor of being surrounded by the people they love and be uplifted by that. We strung the beads together and I wore them through the birth.
At 33 weeks, I met with a resonance re-patterning therapist who helped me clear some more of the birth fears. I had never done it before, but Christy recommended it. We met over three hours. At the end of the session she told me I needed to write down a list of affirmations and tuck them into a safe place. She said I would need them at some point in the labor to confirm that I was making the right decision, not coming from a place of fear. I didn’t think much of it and tucked it into my nearly packed birth kit.
At 34 weeks on the dot, I was scheduled to teach a makeup class to mothers. When my mother came over to keep my son, I commented that the baby felt low. The class went well and was hosted in a beautiful home. The last 30 minutes of the class, someone dropped a glass of red wine on a beautiful, white wool rug. A few minutes later, a bottle of tequila was dropped on the glass kitchen table. The bottle didn’t break, but a big hunk of the table broke off! My friend, who had hired me said, “These things come in threes! I hope your water doesn’t break!” I told her to knock on wood! We rode back out of town together and I came in to snuggle and nurse my two year old.
I felt a small gush and knew that my water had broken. It was very strange, because my son’s labor had been 60 hours and the only intervention I asked for was to break my water. I called my mother and midwife who were really hoping that it was just pee. I told them that pee doesn’t come from that particular area. I was hoping for a high tear and that maybe it would repair itself so we could stay home as long as possible. Every so often another uncontrollable gush would happen. I hopped in the shower to slow things down and collect my thoughts. I asked my husband to get in with me and he sat behind me, holding me so I could gain the strength I needed to move forward.
Contractions started coming every 45 minutes, then 30, then 15, then 3. We decided to go to the closest hospital, which also had an excellent NICU. I called one of my clients, who works as the head nurse practitioner of the NICU, and asked her to see who the doctor on call was. She told me I was in very good hands and I got ready to face my biggest fear, another hospital birth. I remembered the paper in my birth kit and read over it twice. I wiped my tears and we headed out.
When we got to the hospital, I opted to take the stairs. I think my husband and mother thought I was crazy, but I knew this labor was going much faster than my last and I needed it to move quickly before I could get caught up in my own head. I had one cervical check the whole labor. I came in the hospital at 100% effaced and 6cm dilated. My last labor, it had taken me 3 days to reach 6cm. This birth, it had taken about 3 hours.
The nurse was very pushy about paperwork and consent forms, which was a huge trigger for me, due to my last birth experience. We argued through contractions and I finally sent my mother out of the room to talk with her. Whatever she said changed the nurse’s attitude and I signed the papers not really worrying about it this time, because I knew this baby would be here soon.
I started squatting through contractions and holding onto the bed, vocalizing through the contractions. My midwife showed up around the time things started getting more intense. Since my first son was posterior until shortly before birth, the back labor was awful and everyone took turns doing counter pressure as hard as they could. This time, I did not want to be touched at all, so my poor husband, who thought he knew what to expect this time, was thrown yet another curve ball.
At some point, I got onto my hands and knees on the floor and started rocking my hips. I knew it wouldn’t be too much longer. I hadn’t met the doctor yet, and thought she might not make it in time. I pondered this for a moment and decided that it didn’t really matter, because I had the people I needed right there in the room! I decided not to say anything. Shortly after that, I got an overwhelming sensation that I had to use the bathroom. “I have to poop!” I said. My midwife grabbed a bed pad and laid it underneath me. I was squatting and felt the head moving down. Just then, a tiny piece of poop came out. My midwife looked over and said, “That is the tiniest turd I have even seen!” We both died laughing, as babies head kept moving down. My midwife asked if I could reach in and feel the head, trying to see how far away we were from go time. I got one joint of my finger in and felt the head. As I said this, my mother asked if I felt any hair. My two year old is still pretty much bald. I told her I hadn’t noticed as I was kind of busy trying to have a baby right then!
The urge to push was getting stronger and the doctor must have heard I was getting close, because she came in and was all business. Here I am, on my hands and knees, butt towards the door, and she asks me how I would like to deliver. “On my hands and knees,” I said. She showed no emotion, but told me that was fine, but we would NOT be delivering on the floor! I then looked up at the hospital bed, which had suddenly become as tall as Mount Everest. Somehow, I climbed up and it was time to start pushing.
Since my first had ended in an unnecessary third degree episiotomy against my written and verbal consent, staying on my hands and knees made me feel grounded and less vulnerable. I did not want any coaching on how and when to push and I think everyone instinctually knew that. My midwife and husband stayed by my head, holding my hands, and giving me encouragement. They helped my tones stay low, so I could harness my energy on pushing. My mother and doctor stayed at the foot of the bed, watching the baby descend. My mother was very excited to see that the baby had hair and was so ready for me to push baby out, but I stayed calm and pushed slowly and on my terms. I needed to move with my body’s instincts and did not want to tear after my last experience. I pushed through the pain and slowed things down as she was crowning. The body quickly followed the head and they cut the cord, which I was bummed about, to take her over to the NICU team.
Yes, it was a girl! We hadn’t found out the gender and were thrilled to find out she was a beautiful little girl. She weighed 4 pounds 14 oz and was 17 and ¼ inches long. She was actually bigger than her brother, who had come at nearly 36 weeks. She had some trouble breathing on her own, and I got to see her a few minutes before she began her 12 day stint in the NICU. She is now two weeks old and home with her family, nursing like a champ, and growing every day. While her birth wasn’t the dreamy, home, water birth that I had been dreaming of, it was healing in its own right. I faced my biggest fear of another hospital birth and had a beautiful birth on my own terms, in my own way. I am proud that I accomplished another natural hospital birth and that I am able to show hospital providers what birth can look like.