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Category: Birth Without Fear

Tree of Life, Vernix, and a Bubble of Support

Tree of Life, Vernix, and a Bubble of Support

In case you missed Birth Without Fear on Instagram this past week…

So much #vernix! 😍 Did your baby have a lot or none at all? 📷:@appleblossomfamilies #birthwithoutfear #birthdayfrosting

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One hour old and the cutest little baby we’ve ever seen. ❤️📷:@fodselsfotografen #birthwithoutfear

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Barely at the Birth Center! A Fast & Easy Birth

Barely at the Birth Center! A Fast & Easy Birth

The birth of my first child Adelyn Perry was one of the greatest life changing, and empowering experiences that I have been a part of. It has put me in a place of awe and trust in the way God has beautifully designed a woman’s body. Probably like most new moms I was fairly naive about what labor and birth really meant before I actually experienced it, but I read a lot of books on natural childbirth and purposely searched unassisted births and breech births online (which is how I came across the Birth Without Fear blog).

Reading stories of the unassisted births particularly encouraged me that if women can give birth without assistance I could give birth with the caring help of a midwife! I’m am so thankful that my husband, Elijah, was on board with doing a birth center birth. Honestly it was kind of by default that we ended up at the birth center. At the time many of our friends were hiring the midwife, Tiffany, and using her birth center facilities with great results, so she was the first (and only) care provider we looked into. We immediately felt comfortable with her, and LOVED the fact we would not have to deliver in a hospital (Elijah greatly dislikes hospitals).

During the pregnancy we chose very little testing, and even declined an ultrasound, therefore we did not know the gender of our baby. Most of the pregnancy I thought we were having a boy, but as it got closer to meeting baby we simply could not decide on a boy name, yet we both had fallen in love with the name Adelyn. It was from that point on (about two months before the due date) that I felt we were probably having a girl, all because of the name. The entire pregnancy was very easy, with little to no morning sickness and very few complaints. I kept exercising the whole way through and felt great.

My due date was December 23rd, 2012. Leading up to the date and after I did not feel in the least that I was about to go into labor. I was nine days overdue (January 1st) and my family, who had been in town for the last two weeks were going to be leaving in a few days.

That day my midwife, Tiffany, called to see how I was doing and suggested if I wanted I could get a membrane sweep the following morning, to see if it would move things along. Both Elijah and I really wanted me to go into labor with NO interventions. After getting off the phone with Tiffany I remember sitting there and praying to God. I told Him that I was ready to have this baby, I didn’t want to hold back anymore (up till that point I had been fine with being overdue) and I really wanted to have the baby before my family had to leave town.

Around 3pm that afternoon two of my very best childhood friends who had driven all the way from Oregon to California came to visit me. One of them had said it would be neat to both see me pregnant and then meet the baby during the few days they would be in town. They got what they wanted! We all went on a hike up a mountain by my house, and of course my non pregnant athletic friends set a fast pace. I didn’t complain however, I wanted the exercise. It was funny though how unaware they were with my very pregnant state and that I usually would not walk that fast! During the hike I started getting painless contractions, but thought maybe they were Braxton Hicks, something I had rarely experienced before but heard many other pregnant women complain of. After the hike I said good bye to my friends and was pleasantly surprised to find that the tightening sensations did not go away. I was getting several painless contractions every hour.

Elijah came home from work, and I showed him how my body was contracting. By 7pm the contractions got slightly uncomfortable, it felt like I was stretching way down low in my abdomen. Slowly they got more intense, longer, and more frequent, but they were never unbearable. I was preparing myself for a potentially long labor and really did not want to drive a whole 45 minutes to the birth center only to be sent home if I wasn’t far enough along. I was going to stick it out as long as possible at home. Birth stories I read encouraged doing what you would normally do if you weren’t in labor, so as to conserve energy. For example if you usually eat or sleep at a certain time of day, do the same if you’re in labor (if you obviously are capable of doing it). I thought of a story I read of a woman who had a really long labor, and looking back had wished she had slept. I did not want that to happen to me and was determined to learn from even the harder more unfortunate stories I read.

It was 9pm by then and I was getting bloody show and starting to lose my mucus plug. I thought I should pack my birth bag, notify my midwife of my labor suspicions, and then try to get some sleep. When I called her to let her know about the loss of mucus plug and the tightening sensations, she told me I could be in the start of labor or it could be a while that things actually got going. I was having contractions about every 7 minutes by then but did not have to focus on them to get through it.

After the phone call I went upstairs to our loft bedroom (while Elijah cleaned the house… he likes to keep moving and doing things). I rested/slept between contractions, took several trips downstairs to the bathroom, and ate a piece of toast for energy. Eventually Elijah came to bed and the sensations got stronger and closer together. I felt the most comfortable during a contraction to get up on my knees in bed and sway in the darkness breathing deeply. Elijah’s presence next to me in bed and occasional comforting hand on me was strengthening. We were unsure of when to go to the birth center and even though the contractions took a lot of my focus, they still never felt out of control. It wasn’t the easiest thing to time the distance and length of contractions.

It was around 1am when I thought they were coming about every 4 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds long. We decided to call Tiffany to check in and see what she thought. When I had Elijah call Tiffany to let her know I was in labor he was relaying some of the timing of the contractions wrong, so I corrected him, and Tiffany could hear me talking in the background. I think because of my ability to communicate well, and lack of obvious pain, she did not think I was very far along. She said to call her back when the contractions were lasting longer like around 1 minute long and have been that way every 4 minutes for over an hour. After that I stopped timing contractions, I didn’t feel like spending all my focus and energy on the clock and timer on my phone, plus I believed what Tiffany said: that I might have a long way to go…

It was somewhere around 3am when I distinctly remember the contractions starting to come at a much faster and actually overwhelming pace. Elijah was finally asleep and I was having a harder time managing. I decided to go down stairs and take a really hot shower. I turned the water on and while letting it get hot, sat on the toilet. For the first time I was really not enjoying this. I cried out to Jesus saying I can’t do this anymore please help. Looking back I realize now that I was going through transition, and it was just me and God. I jumped in the shower, finding temporary relief with the hot water. Every contraction brought me to my knees and they were coming quickly. I wanted Elijah, but I was so consumed with the contractions I couldn’t call out to him. All I could do was loudly moan hoping he would wake up. He did wake up, thankfully, coming into the bathroom. At that point I definitely wanted to be at the birth center having my midwife help me. I asked Elijah for us to go to the birth center and he wanted to time the contractions first and call Tiffany to see what she said. I didn’t have the energy right then to talk about it. He timed between two contractions and they were a minute apart; He immediately called Tiffany. While Elijah was talking to Tiffany I was loudly moaning in the background (surely she would think I was in real labor, because of all the noise!).

Then I got the urge to push. It was scary but so instinctive; I did not want to be pushing though, I wanted to have my midwife with me! I told Elijah I felt like I was pushing. I decided to reach up inside to see if I could feel the baby’s head, but I really did not want to feel the baby’s head. I nervously reached up there a little tiny bit and was amazed at how open I was! Thankfully I did not feel a head. Tiffany told Elijah we needed to immediately drive down to the birth center; I didn’t think we could make it with such a strong urge to push. He briefly hashed out on the phone the option of having her drive to our house, but Tiffany had no idea where we lived, and we were very far out in the dark country down a winding dirt road. Without my knowledge Tiffany told Elijah we had a much better chance of getting to her faster than her getting to us, and also that it usually takes an average of 1 ½ hours to push out a first time baby, which was within our driving time.

The craziness continued. Looking back I am so thankful for an amazing husband who managed to get everything together to get me to the birth center. He grabbed all the things on my list to bring to the center, plus a bunch of towels in case we had the baby in the car. The worst part about transferring was having to get out of the shower soaking wet and then put cloths back on. I briefly wondered if I could go naked, then decided that if we got pulled over for speeding I would prefer to have cloths on. I managed to dry off and get my pajamas back on. I crawled into the car and buried my head in a pillow, informing Elijah not to tell me how close or far we had to drive, I didn’t want to know. I had three contractions on the first mile of bumpy dirt road and it was awful. I started praying out loud that the contractions would stop until we could get to the center. After praying I only had contractions every 10 minutes for the rest of the 45 min drive.

When we arrived at the birth center, the dark parking lot and surrounding office buildings were lit up with only a street light. Tiffany and my mom (who Elijah thankfully called while I was getting my cloths back on at the house) walked out of the birth center, to help me in. I made it to the room when I had another contraction bringing me to my knees. After the contraction Tiffany asked if she could check me. When she did she said the baby’s head was right there. I was fully dilated and baby was already in the birth canal. My body kicked back into gear with pushing the baby out. I tried several pushing positions preferring being upright and on my knees on the soft bed. Pushing contractions felt much different than the dilating contractions. They did not take lots of focus and energy, but rather felt very natural; my body seemed to know what to do. Eventually Tiffany suggested I lay down because the baby’s heart rate responded the best in that position and it was beginning to drop low. Having been awake off and on all night I was very sleepy at this point, and was surprised I was actually able to dose off between pushing. While pushing Tiffany broke the waters and there was some meconium in it. Even with these potential concerns Tiffany had a very calm reassuring presence that encouraged me so much. I asked her if the pushing was doing anything, and if she could see the baby coming. She said yes, reach down and feel. I reached down and was amazed to feel a bulge of head right there. It gave me so much strength to know I was very close to being done, and with that I worked harder. Baby’s head began to crown and I felt the burning ring a fire. Tiffany supported, oiled, and put warm compresses on my perineum. I felt like I was tearing everywhere, the first true sense of pain during the labor. Wanting to cross the finish line I gave a loud roar. Her head came out with an immediate sense of relief, and then her body slid out without any more pushes. Tiffany held her up and I saw a purple screaming baby, and she put her on my chest. Elijah and I were both so dazed we did not think to check the gender. Tiffany finally asked Elijah what the baby was. He looked and announced that it was a girl.

Our Adelyn Perry was born at 5:42am, January 2nd 2013, about an hour and a half after we arrived at the birth center. She weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces and was 19 ½ inches long. When I pushed her out, her head and her hand came out at the same time. Surprisingly and thankfully I did not tear at all!! Elijah cut the cord, and the placenta was delivered easily. Adelyn pooped all over my stomach right after she was born, but I could care less. Eventually we put a diaper on her because she pooped all over the blanket again after cleaning up the first mess. The meconium that was found in the water did not cause any problems for Adelyn’s breathing. Elijah and my mom got to hold and look at her, and my mother in law drove down to meet Adelyn, while Tiffany helped clean me up and get me comfortable. I rehydrated and ate some food, feeling amazed that I just gave birth and that it was all over and our baby girl was with us. Only about two hours after having Adelyn, while the world was waking up on that fresh sunny winter morning, we loaded up in the car and headed home. At home I was greeted by my warm bed where my baby and I snuggled up for a much needed nap, and various family members came over to meet Adelyn and bring us dinner. It was then I decided that next time we had a baby we would be doing it at home; we were barely at the birth center!

I loved almost every aspect of the birth of Adelyn and fondly thought about it over and over again in the many months to come. The hardest parts about recovery was a very sore tailbone from pushing her out while lying on my back and the challenges of breastfeeding and getting use to a newborn. I eventually healed from my bruised tailbone, so thankful that it wasn’t a fracture. As for learning to breastfeed, I was surrounded by other moms who were successfully nursing their babies and encouraged me to push through the first hard three months. Things got easier and smoother knowing how to feed my baby, and we ultimately found a rhythm to our new life. For me having an enjoyable birth experience was an empowering stepping stone into entering the unknown world of motherhood, and I wouldn’t trade the experience!

Story and photograph submitted by Janelle. 

Educated & Empowered: A Home Water Birth

Educated & Empowered: A Home Water Birth

My birth story begins a few years before my son was even conceived! While my husband, Jeff, and I were dating we discussed children multiple times. We both knew that we wanted to have kids but I remember clearly telling him that I thought I wanted to adopt since my fear of childbirth was too big. My husband is adopted and we’ve both always felt that it doesn’t take blood to make a family so that was our plan, we would adopt to spare me going through childbirth. Every time I thought about labor or giving birth my body would tense right up and I was filled with such anxiety about all of it. I’ve always thought that I had a very low pain tolerance and the thought of going through such agonizing pain from contractions was just too much for me! Not to mention that then there was getting that kid out – I’d either have to shove it out of my hoo-ha or get it taken out of me from surgery! No thank you! I knew that there was always the option of getting an epidural but I have severe scoliosis and was never quite sure if an epidural would work for me. Though I was confident I didn’t want to experience child birth, as my longing for a child grew, so did my interest in viewing birth photography.

I spent weeks looking at pictures of parents meeting their babies for the first time. My interest in birth photography then grew into an interest in birth stories. I read so many! Some stories of beautiful hospital births, some of brave women having cesarean’s (some by choice, some because of emergency), some of ecstatic parents meeting their adopted children for the first time, and some of peaceful home-births. Each story seemed to lessen my fear of childbirth a little bit more. My thinking slowly began to shift from this terrifying event to an empowering and beautiful process to be able to take part of. I decided that I wanted to be one of the “links in the endless chain of birthing women.”

When I found out that I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a midwife! Where I live it’s possible to get a midwife through the health region but it can be very tough to get into the program since there are only six midwives to cover all of the city and surrounding area! A few people had told me to call as soon as I found out I was pregnant so I called the very next day. I was incredibly lucky to be accepted into the program a month later.

I adored Alison, our midwife, the moment I met her! Alison took wonderful care of me throughout my pregnancy and answered all of my questions. Our midwife always made sure that we knew all of our options and what the pros and cons were to each. Even on her busiest days she took the time to explain things to me in great depth, I really began to trust her. We had been planning a hospital birth throughout our whole pregnancy but when I talked about the birth that I envisioned I always gravitated to home-births. I wasn’t sure how safe they were and I was also scared of the judgment that we would get once people found out that we had a home-birth. Unfortunately, a lot of the time home-births seem to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths because they aren’t educated on them. Alison showed us a lot of research that had been done on home-births to prove to me that they were just as safe as hospital births in low-risk pregnancies. I came to her with a list of possible hiccups during the birth and she explained to us what the procedure would be in each one. I really felt like we were making an educated decision that was best for us, so we decided to plan for our home-birth!

As mentioned previously, I have severe scoliosis. I have an ‘S’ curve with a small curve to the right in the middle of my back, and a large curve to the left in my lower back. Since I had read so many birth stories, I knew there was a slight, but rare, possibility that it could affect whether or not I was able to get an epidural. Because we were planning the home-birth my goal was for a natural labor and delivery, but Alison and I agreed that it was important to cover all grounds so she arranged for me to have an appointment with the head of the anesthesiology department at the hospital. I didn’t get the best news there unfortunately! They weren’t going to have a problem getting the epidural into my spine (which was my original concern) but there was a decent chance that the epidural would not properly administer the pain medication because of the smaller top curve of my spine. It might work – but he couldn’t guarantee it. The head of the department and I talked about what that looked like for me. He explained that if I wanted it, there would be other forms of pain management that I could take. Ultimately though if I needed to have a caesarean I would most likely be put right under with general anesthetic. Nothing changed about our birth plan, but I will say that I had a lot of anxiety about that and worried about who would be there to greet babe if I was put under since Jeff wouldn’t be allowed in the room either. There was nothing else we could do but wait and see what happened.

About a week later, just two days before my due date, Jeff had just finished working around 9:00PM we walked over to the drug store across the street and got a frozen pizza. We came home and watched a terrible show on Netflix then decided it was time for bed. Usually we are in bed by 10:00 but since he had worked much later than usual we ended up staying awake until midnight. Every night in the last two weeks of my pregnancy I had gone to bed a little anxious, I really didn’t want to be awoken by labor – I’m not sure why, but I liked the idea of being awake when the process began. I had just finished brushing my teeth and was sitting down to pee one last time before bed. I was sitting there and suddenly felt this pain in my back. It lasted around thirty seconds but the pain wasn’t super intense. I had back pain throughout my pregnancy so I thought it was probably just that – plus it was still two days before my due date and I had convinced myself that I was going to be overdue! I was getting up from the toilet when my water broke. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was my water or not, but it kept leaking so I had a fairly good idea. Jeff remembered our birth classes and Alison telling us to check for COAT (color, odor, amount, and time) and it seemed everything was normal so far. Jeff asked me if he should fill up the birth pool but I just couldn’t believe what was happening so I said no. Was I really in labor?

My contractions started out five minutes apart but only lasted about thirty seconds. I called a girlfriend of mine who is a labor and delivery nurse and she assured me that I was in labor! She told me to hang up the phone and call my midwife, so that’s exactly what we did. We explained to Alison what was happening and she told us that although my water broke, I could very well be in labor for another 24 hours. She asked me to take a Tylenol, get into the bath tub, and try to get some rest. She explained to us that the bath would probably space out my contractions but have them become longer. She asked me how the pain was and I said it was tough but manageable. At this point I was still able to move around and talk on the phone. Jeff had set up the birth pool while I was on the phone and asked if he should fill it up but I told him to hold off for now. I got into our bath tub and the water felt so nice but I didn’t like that I wasn’t able to move around much. After about half an hour in the tub my contractions sped up to 2-3 minutes apart but lasting between 30-45 seconds. The pain was getting intense! I got out of the tub but my body was not happy. I felt like I was having a terrible flu, I started throwing up that darn pizza! My contractions were getting more and more intense. I was still having mostly back pain but I remember being able to feel my hips literally separating so we decided to call Alison again.

We explained to Alison that my contractions were 2 minutes apart now or less, but they still weren’t lasting quite a minute. Some of them were as short as 30 seconds, and some were 50 seconds, but they didn’t last longer than that. Because of the strange pattern in my contractions she was fairly sure that I was in early labor still, but she asked if I would like her to come check me and I did. I told her that the pain was getting very intense and if I was in early labor then I wanted to talk about what my options were for pain management. She told me that it was going to get a lot more intense and I would really need to focus if I wanted to have the home-birth that I had hoped for. At this point I had decided that if this was early labor I was definitely going to the hospital for some kind of drug, so I once again told Jeff not to fill up the tub.

I labored on our bed while we waited for Alison. I didn’t feel like I could move around much at this point so I tried to just stay as calm and comfortable as possible. The contractions were still quite random but on average were 1.5 to 2 minutes apart. While I was laboring I felt a little chilled and said “socks” to Jeff. He ran out of the room and came back with the small bin of baby socks that we had purchased! Jeff and I are “How I Met Your Mother” fans and if you’re familiar with the show you’ll remember an episode where Lily decides she wants to have a baby because she sees some cute little baby socks. Throughout my pregnancy that was a little joke that we had when we bought baby clothes! At this point though I wanted socks for my feet, not to look at. I still laugh whenever I think about that!

Alison arrived around 3:00 A.M. We talked for a little bit about how I was feeling and she coached me through a few contractions. The pattern to them still wasn’t consistent, she explained that one of two things was happening: either the baby was in a strange position causing the irregular contractions or the baby was coming very quickly. My family has a history of fast deliveries so although in my head I was preparing for the worst, I was really, really hoping that I was fairly far along. I’ll never forget what Alison said when she checked me! “Tessa! Oh, Tessa! You’re having this baby at home.” I replied, “Yeah?! Really?” And she said, “You’re a 7!”

And that was it. If I had gotten to 7cm dilated with thinking that I was in early labor, surely I could see this through! That was the confidence boost that I needed. Since our baby was coming quickly, we needed to prepare! Jeff now had to hurry to fill up the pool since I kept telling him to hold off. Alison had to bring all of the birthing and emergency equipment into the house and set it up, and she needed to contact another midwife to come for the birth. I moved from our bed to the couch so I could soak in the hustle and bustle of the night. It was so exciting. I had read so many books on labor and written cue cards for myself to meditate on. I didn’t use the cards in labor but I had read them so many times beforehand that I was still able to think about them during contractions.

That time between 3:30 and 4:30AM are some of my fondest memories from my birthing experience. Our sweet dog, Timothy, came and snuggled up beside my leg. Since the baby was coming quickly Jeff and Alison were both busy and couldn’t spend much time with me but I never felt alone. As cheesy as this sounds, Timothy was the sweetest birth coach! One of the best notes that I had read was to really take time to enjoy the moments between the contractions. I thought about celebrating their birthday a year from then and how excited I was to plan the party. I thought about seeing their little face and holding them for the first time. I thought about all of the women around the world birthing with me at the same time and how incredible it was to be a part of the circle of life. Although the pain was intense when I was contracting it was just such a beautiful thing to be able to experience. My body knew what to do!

I started to feel the urge to push but the second midwife wasn’t at the house yet. Alison had tried to call the other two midwives on her team but neither of them were able to make it there quickly so she called a midwife on the other team who agreed to come right away. Alison told me that if I felt the urge to push not to resist it and asked if I was able to move into the tub. The tub was full enough to get in so I slowly made my way into it. The water felt phenomenal! I know everyone says that, but it’s true!

When I got into the water I remember thinking that labor is just so weird. At that moment I felt completely, 100% normal and was not experiencing any pain at all. It’s hard to believe that there are moments like that in labor but there really are! I started pushing shortly after 4:30AM. Pushing felt great. Pushing took away almost all of the pain from the contractions. I remember the other midwife coming into the house when I was in the middle of pushing. I hadn’t met her before and I didn’t want to be rude so I grumbled out “helloooo” to her! Jeff had pots of water boiling on the stove and between staying with me he would run to get a pot and dump it in to keep the water warm. At one point while I was pushing he dumped the pot of water partially on his hand but decided it was best not to mention that while his wife was in labor – smart guy! I pushed slowly and only during contractions. I put my hand down and felt lots of soft hair, the baby was getting closer. I had read about the “Ring of Fire” and I totally get why they call it that. There really is no better explanation for that pain. Our sweet babe was crowning and I was making sounds that I didn’t even know I could make. I kept my eyes shut the entire time I was pushing so I had no idea where anyone was. Jeff and I had talked about the birth numerous times before and he always said he didn’t think he would watch the baby coming out but, to my surprise, he did! At 5:20 AM I felt instant relief from the pain.

I looked down and there was this tiny little babe in the water. The chord was wrapped around his neck and as Alison unwrapped it she told us that that was actually very common. It made me so happy that she wasn’t concerned in the slightest about it. And there was our baby! After all of that: all of the hoping, dreaming, and praying – our baby was here. They placed the baby on my chest for immediate skin-to-skin. We looked down and saw that it was a sweet little boy. We did delayed chord clamping. Alison let us feel for the pulse in the chord to slowly disappear; while we waited, it was so cool watching the colour come into his body from the chord. When the pulse was gone, Jeff cut the chord. He says that it was firmer to cut than he had been anticipating. It was all so magical! In our birth plan I had agreed to a shot of oxytocin to speed up the birth of the placenta. After a few minutes, I was feeling ready to push again so I gave the baby to Jeff for skin-to-skin. Pushing out the placenta was a breeze compared to the baby.

Shortly after I slowly stood up out of the tub. What a weird feeling! It was almost as if my insides were all falling back into place. I distinctly remember feeling my organs shifting. I walked over to our bed where Alison had set up a cozy and clean area for all of us. She assessed me and determined that I had a second-degree tear. I snuggled our new babe while she stitched me up. They asked us what his name would be – Everett! After I was stitched, Everett found his way to the breast to nurse. He latched on right away and was happy to be eating. Alison then took Everett’s measurements, heart rate, and got his weight. He was 20.8” and weighed 8lbs, 6 oz. Jeff and I both thought that he looked so small when in reality he was a fairly big baby! The midwives stayed with us a while longer to examine Everett and I then they left us alone as a new family of three (four if you count Timothy). The experience of having a home birth was phenomenal. I loved the comfort of being in our own home. Our family came over the next few days to make sure we were well fed, our house was cleaned, and our garden was even planted for us!

Having a baby is strange – beautiful, but strange! When I saw Everett for the first time I knew that I loved him without a doubt, but I remember thinking that I loved my dog more than him. Yup! I remember lying in bed thinking, wow, I love my dog more than my baby, I probably shouldn’t have a kid! The first night we were getting ready to go to sleep and Everett started to scream at around 10 PM and all I could think was “what have we done?” It took time for me to fall deeply in love with him and that’s something I wasn’t prepared for. I felt somewhat disconnected from the whole thing, Alison assured me that that was normal, but I wish that as mothers we talked about that experience more! I think that’s why skin-to-skin is so important for parents and babies. The next few weeks were challenging, my hormones were somewhat everywhere and I was a little nervous to be responsible for a tiny human. Jeff took two weeks off of work when Everett was born and I’m so glad we had that time together as a family. Jeff took the lead with diaper changes and would walk with Everett in the night while I was healing from the birth. Jeff was the more patient parent right out of the gate, it all seemed to come really natural to him but it felt like a bit of a struggle for me. I had never been around baby’s much and even though we took a lot of classes, I still felt like I had a lot to learn.

Breastfeeding was hard! There was a lot of pain but I was determined to keep going with it. Everett had a tongue and a lip tie which at the time we decided to leave but in hindsight I think that was part of the reason we had such a battle finding a good latch. Luckily our midwives were great for showing us some different nursing positions and the lactation consultants were wonderful resources!

Everett is eight months old now and I really do love him more and more every day. Watching him grow and learn new things is so exciting. Birthing him was challenging, but by far my greatest accomplishment in life. I am so proud of what my body has done. Having a home-birth, for me, was the ultimate way of conquering my fear of childbirth. I absolutely loved the experience of it all. Before I had him, a friend of mine said that she wished she could birth a baby every day – I thought she was crazy! But I understand what she meant now as I, too, wish I could birth a baby every day. It is the most wonderful and empowering thing I have ever been a part of. What a beautiful gift, and honour, it is to be able to grow and birth a human being!

Story and photographs submitted by Tessa N. 

Roaring for Aurora: A Hospital Birth Story

Roaring for Aurora: A Hospital Birth Story

My entire pregnancy had been spent preparing my body and mind to bring a wonderful little girl into the world. Including the fact that as a first time mom, she would probably arrive later than her expected due date of April 10th! So in order to prepare for her arrival sometime in April I left my job on the last day of March, giving me at least a full week till my due date to finish cleaning, shopping and sleeping before I had my daughter… Or so I thought.

In the early hours of April 4 I rolled over and, much to my surprise, felt a gush of liquid. My first thought was that I had peed myself; it hadn’t happened before but at 39 weeks pregnant anything can happen, right? I got up, changed my pajamas and crawled back into bed. I then proceeded to roll over again and there was more liquid. This time I was pretty sure my water had broken but nothing else was signaling the start of labor, so I changed again and curled up on the couch and started googling “how you know your water has broken” because I was convinced that she was going to be late.

My husband Kevin got up and started getting ready for work and I crawled back in bed to try and rest some. But rest was not happening and when Kevin came back in I said, “Hey you can turn on the light, I’m awake. Also, I think my water broke…” I was still unconvinced.

“Do I need to stay home from work then or what?” he asked.

“No, I’ll take you. And if anything changes I’ll let you know.” So, I got up and got dressed, texted our doula Amy and let her know what was happening and drove my husband to work.

On the way home I decided to stop at a lake and take a walk; it was a nice day and out and I took about a lap and a half before I decided that I was having a few contractions. I texted my husband and let him know I was going to come get him after I went home and showered. I put on my labor clothes, picked Kevin up from work and came back home to pack up the last few things I needed for labor.

I was already scheduled to have an appointment with my OB and my mom had been going with me due to some previous high stress appointments and she pulled in shortly after we arrived home. “Why is Kevin home?” she asked.

“Well… I think my water broke.”

“Okay… so what’s the plan?”

We decided to hang out at the house, make sure we had everything we needed and I bounced on the birth ball for awhile, before finally making the decision just to head to the labor and delivery triage around 10am. We got checked in to triage and they took my vitals, as well as testing for amniotic fluid. My water had broken, but I was only 1cm dilated and they of course immediately offered to start Pitocin, but I was determined to do this without it, so as soon as we got to an L&D room my husband and I started walking laps.

The doctor came in and introduced himself and assured me that I could labor wherever I wanted including in the tub as long as I didn’t deliver there. He was fine with my decision to put off Pitocin but did remind me that we could only do that for about 24 hours, as long as everything was still looking good. Over the course of the day my parents, Kevin’s parents, and a whole slew of family and friends came and visited me. My doula arrived later on in the afternoon since I wasn’t quite in active labor and I was doing fine without her.

The nurse came and checked to see if I had progressed any around 4pm or so and I was still only at a cm and they again offered Pitocin. My doula knew I was trying to avoid it and we opted to try nipple stimulation instead. We got hooked up to the fetal monitor and started that for about an hour and it helped get some contractions going but not anything sustainable. We continued to walk and late in the night I took a shower, listened to some music and read some. Around 1am they checked again and still no progress. I tried to get some sleep because I knew I would need it. At some point Amy, our doula, went got me some oatmeal and gatorade; she was a great help in making sure I was hydrated and fed.

In the early hours of April 5 the doctor came in and talked Pitocin since it had been over the 24 hours. While I had been fighting it all along I was ready to see my baby earthside and gave them the go ahead to start the IV. Sometime between 6 and 7am they started the Pitocin and, because of the risks it poses, I was able to labor only as far as the fetal and contraction monitors let me go. I had hoped to labor in the tub but they couldn’t find a cord for the monitor so that was no longer an option. As soon as they started the Pitocin my contractions really started picking up. I managed to eat some breakfast (which was all liquids) but by 9am I couldn’t talk through my contractions anymore. My mom left around this time telling me not to have this baby until she got back. I lost track of time soon after that. Kevin and Amy were a huge help during all of this. I felt immense pressure in my hips and Amy provided counter pressure while I was sitting on the bed. I stood and swayed with my husband for most of labor, but at some point ended up back on the bed, on my hands and knees and I felt immediately nauseous; thankfully Amy came fully prepared and had lemon oil in her bag for just such an occasion, it helped so much. I also remember thinking as Amy said aloud, “Yay! That’s a good thing!” We all knew I was align through transition. I changed position again with my legs dangling over the sides. With every contraction I would curl my toes as Amy told me to relax them. She placed heating under my hips to help ease the pressure I was feeling there.

When my mom got back to the hospital around 11am she came in and started stroking my hair and using a cool rag on my neck. Kevin was holding my hand and keeping the fetal monitor in place, because with every contraction she would move and we would lose her heartbeat. He kept it in place so that the nurses could track her heartbeat. During this entire process the nurses came in and out only to bump up the Pitocin drip. They hadn’t checked me since 1am, for which I am thankful, but they didn’t realize how quickly I was progressing, because around 11:45am my body began to push. Amy suggested to my mom that she call for the nurse and joked that we may have a baby before the afternoon! The nurse came in quickly and asked me to lie back so she could check my progress. Much to her surprise she could see my baby and asked me to not push, which is the hardest thing to do when your body is telling you something else! I did my best while she frantically paged the doctor. She actually paged him twice because she was afraid he wasn’t going to make it. He ran in followed closely by the baby nurse who began getting the baby warmer ready. Tearing the bottom off the labor bed and breaking one of his gloves in the process he gave me the go ahead to push all I wanted! My husband on one side and my mom on the other both helped me to relax and Amy reminded me to use the low register groaning to my favor; she called it ‘roaring for Aurora’. I pushed two or three times and then there she was!

At 11:56am. All of 6lbs 10oz and a head full of hair. The first words out of my mouth as they handed her to me were, “Is this real life?” I was in awe of the tiny little girl curled up on my chest. She was perfect in every way.

Story and photographs submitted by Ashley B.

Maternal Assisted Cesarean, Oxytocin, & 12 Year Old Catches Her Sibling

Maternal Assisted Cesarean, Oxytocin, & 12 Year Old Catches Her Sibling

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Prepared by Bradley Method: 3 Birth Stories in 1!

Prepared by Bradley Method: 3 Birth Stories in 1!

I have three beautiful children. All born very close together within the 5 years that my husband and I have been married. I jokingly call myself “Fertile Myrtle”. My husband is more of a natural/holistic person than I am and convinced me to go the natural way for our first pregnancy. We read a Bradley Method book that prepared us extremely well for all of our pregnancies. We chose a OB/GYN that was highly recommended by friends. She agreed with our birth plan and was very nice at every office visit. What we didn’t know at the time, was that she was in the middle of at least one lawsuit where she had lost a mother.

Two months before the delivery, she asked us to give birth at the birth center in town since she didn’t have rights at the hospital anymore. We didn’t know any better what that meant at the time. We lived 14 hours away from family and chose to keep that information a secret and let our parents know we were still giving birth at the hospital. We felt like it was too late to change plans anyway. We were kind of excited to get the “best of both worlds.” Labor was long and hard but pretty much by the book. No surprises and 12 hours long. I was able to give birth to a beautiful 9lb baby girl. We named her Luciana.

It wasn’t until after the birth that my doula told us all of the awful things the doctor did to me during labor that could’ve ended badly. The doctor broke my water without my consent, physically dilated me the last two centimeters, pulled on the placenta and fished it out herself, pulling out globs at a time. I had bad tearing but never found out what degree it was. It took me two weeks to recover. Let’s just say she’s not a practicing doctor anymore.

Towards the end of my second pregnancy, we were back in our home state and living at my parents’ house. We opted for a Certified Nurse Midwife and homebirth, much to the disappointment to my mother, a Labor & Delivery nurse. I absolutely loved our midwife. She had 30+ years of experience and gave me so much confidence. This time around, labor was 16 hours long. I think it was because I laid down in bed for most of it; afraid of going too fast and getting torn again. Our 9lb son, Matthew, came into the world at my mother’s home and it was absolutely beautiful. No tearing and no complications.

We planned another home birth for our third child but things didn’t go according to plan. My water broke on its own on a Friday morning. My husband and midwife were confident that I would go into labor soon…but Friday turned into Saturday and I was beginning to freak out. My husband didn’t want to go to the hospital and was convinced that I would eventually go into labor. But I knew with each passing hour we were putting myself and the baby at risk for infection. I had to beg him to bring me to the hospital Sunday afternoon. He was convinced that the hospital would give me an epidural or whisk me to a C-section without our consent. I, however, was so happy to be there and so happy when they hooked up that pitocin. I was so tired of not being in labor. I just wanted my baby!

My husband wasn’t kind to the nurses and I had to convince them to listen to me and not my husband, who very obviously didn’t want to be there or trusted anyone. They kept saying “I’m just trying to make everyone happy.” But I informed them that they weren’t gonna make him happy. Just focus on me. Once the contractions got intense he was able to come back to reality and be the birthing coach that I needed. I was so happy to have him there. I could not get through my labors without him. He is the best coach. Better than my doula was for our first labor! He always ends up being more exhausted than me at the end of the birth. Labor only lasted 5 hours and I pushed for 5 minutes and had no tearing. I loved that the labor was so fast even though it was a little more painful than my first two. Our second boy, Augustine, was so beautiful at 8lbs.

However, 9 days after he was born he ran a fever and his breathing was sounding funny. We brought him to the ER and he was in septic shock. He was intubated, put under sedation, and immediately started on antibiotics. He had contracted E-coli. They said we’ll never know how he got it, but the nurses said it was probably from my waters being ruptured for so long. We stayed in the hospital for over 3 weeks. He recovered like a champ. He is now 18 months old and is quite possibly the happiest baby on the planet. He has been so easy and such a delight to see grow up.

We are now pregnant with our fourth baby! I’m due in late July and can’t wait to write up that birth story next.

Story and photographs submitted by Kristin J. 

Focusing Through the Ring of Fire: An Unmedicated, Natural Birth

Focusing Through the Ring of Fire: An Unmedicated, Natural Birth

My husband Chris and I made the decision on having a natural unmedicated birth after watching the documentary “Business of Being Born”. Being the planner that I am, we prepared for our estimated due date, September 21st, for months.  Chris and I were both very determined! Unquestionably, I knew I could do it, despite the doubting comments I’d been receiving from a few close friends and family. I was excited and anxious for the day to finally come, so that I could not only prove them wrong, but to also meet our munchkin and finally find out the gender.

EARLY LABOR?

On September 11th, I was FaceTiming my family at 12 PM JST (we live in Japan), happily bouncing away on my exercise ball. As I was talking to my mom, I felt my belly tighten up. In fact, it was a feeling I had felt many times before, however, that time was different. Unusually, it lasted for about a minute with very mild cramping, so I knew it was different than a Braxton Hicks. However, I chose to ignore it and went about my day, in fear of getting my hopes up.

Later that night, I went to the bathroom before heading to bed. As usual, I checked the toilet paper after I wiped in the hopes I would see something out of the ordinary. I was so anxious for any sign that would indicate our baby was coming soon. Granted, I did see something I didn’t see at all my entire pregnancy: My mucus plug! Yet, I was still skeptical, since there was no blood. With the thought of early labor being too good to be true, I decided to ignore that sign as well.

After a few hours later, I woke up at 2 AM to use the bathroom, and noticed more of my mucus plug, except this time there was a tinge of pink blood! At that point, I began to feel a little hopeful. Of course, it was hard to fall back to sleep, so I searched for forums of other moms who’d experienced the same thing; Desperately wanting to read they ended up going into labor. Guess what? Most of those mothers went into labor within the next 24 hours after losing their mucus plug and experiencing the “bloody show!”

By 5 AM, I began feeling more tightening of my abdomen, in addition to period like cramps that would come and go. Curiously, I decided to start timing them, but unfortunately noticed they weren’t consistent. For this reason, I decided not to tell Chris anything after he woke up for work at 6 AM; trying to avoid him becoming disappointed if I truly wasn’t going into labor. Obviously, I still wasn’t fully convinced.

CONVINCED! EARLY LABOR!

Between 6 AM and noon, I attempted taking a nap, but kept waking up from stronger “cramps”. Since taking a nap seemed impossible, I decided to call my mother to tell her everything that was leading me to think I was in early labor. With a tad bit of worriment in her voice, she assured me I was, and told me I would have our baby very soon. Thanks to my mom, I finally came to accept that I was indeed in early labor. Especially since my contractions were happening every 5 mins!

After hanging up with my mother, I called Chris right away and told him he needed to come home ASAP because we were going to have our baby very soon. Thankfully, he left work immediately. In the meantime, I  paced back and forth in my house and bounced on an exercise ball so my contractions wouldn’t go away. As soon as he got home, I called the hospital, and they instructed me to start heading there when my contractions were 3 mins apart and I was incapable of walking or talking through them. Immediately after hanging up, I timed them and realized they were 2-3 minutes apart! Although my contractions were still bearable, they were very painful.

HOSPITAL TIME

Around 2 PM, we started heading towards the hospital, but stopped at Subway first, since I was told they wouldn’t let me eat anything aside from ice chips after being admitted. Oh my goodness, was it hard to eat my sub due to having to take small bites in between each contraction. First time it had ever taken me that long to eat in my entire life!

As soon as I got to the Mother Infant Care Center, a nurse took me to triage for monitoring and to check if I was dilated. The nurse confirmed I was in fact having very strong contractions, very close together, but I was ONLY 3cm dilated! It turns out because we live about 30 mins away from the hospital they asked me NOT to go home. Instead, they advised me to walk around for two hours and go back to be checked for progression.

Chris asked me if we could go to the barbershop so he could get a haircut. Honestly, I thought I could handle it, so we did. Geez, what a bad idea! I got lots of worried looks while I paced back and forth in front of the barber, as I deeply hummed through each contraction. Can you believe how difficult it was to focus on my breathing knowing I was being stared at? For this reason, my contractions were becoming more and more painful. As soon as Chris walked out of the barber, I urged for us to go back to the hospital because at that point I could not handle walking or talking. Clinging onto Chris’s neck with my arms and swaying my hips side to side during each contraction and then quickly walking when it stopped was the only way we made it back to the car.

Thankfully, we made it back to the hospital and walked for the remaining time in the hallways. If I’m not mistaken, the pain got much worse during those two hours, which led me to think I had to be at least 6cm dilated. At around 6 pm, we walked back, the nurse hooked me back onto the monitors and shortly after, she checked to see if I was making any progress. The nurse told me, yes, my contractions were stronger, but I only progressed to 3 1/2cm. Discouraged is the best word to explain how I felt at that moment. In that moment, I desperately wanted to go home so I could sit in my tub full of hot water to help me through the pain. Unfortunately, they advised me to walk around for another TWO hours so the nurse could check me again for progression.

THE WAITING GAME- ACTIVE LABOR

For the most part, those two hours were a complete blur to me. Honestly, the pain was something I swore I never wanted to experience again. All I could do for the entire two hours was breath and pace down the hospital corridor with Chris by my side, encouraging me to breathe through each contraction. So I continued to remind myself during each contraction that I’d shortly be getting a break and each contraction was just a step closer to meeting our baby.

Two hours later, we walked into Mother Infant Care Center, this time only to be checked for dilation. The nurse looked at me and told me “I’m sorry, but you are only at a 4…” A huge sense of doubt came over me that I didn’t even care what else she had to say. Sadly, we ended up being sent home.

LABORING AT HOME

In a nutshell, I labored all night at home; alternating between- laying in the bathtub filled with hot water, to bouncing, hugging and rolling on the medicine ball, and listened to my hypnobirthing DVD. The DVD helped me focus through the pain I was feeling and reminded me of everything we learned and practiced in our Hypnobirthing class. I’m not going to lie, I was so afraid I would have our baby in the house. So I called the hospital at 3 AM to see if I should go in, but the nurse on the phone instructed me to labor as long as I could at home and to come in the morning. I stayed up all night doing anything possible to help me stay focused and calm. As soon as the clock hit 7 AM, I woke Chris up and we got ready and headed to the hospital.

ADMITTED

When we arrived at the hospital the nurse took me straight to triage, checked me… AND THANK GOD I WAS AT A 6! They asked me if I wanted an epidural and I told them I wasn’t sure. Unfortunately, I was in so much pain I didn’t know how much longer I could take. Out of standard procedure, the anesthesiologist came into triage and discussed the risks of getting an epidural with us. Still unsure, I asked her to give me more time to think about it, so she told me to ask for it whenever I was ready. Chris and I looked at each other, and he lovingly reminded me why we wanted to go natural and helped me remember the pain would go away as soon as I had our baby. Thanks to him, I agreed and decided to stick it out longer.

Soon after, I was admitted into my room at around 8 AM. Chris provided them with our birth plan and went through it with our Midwife and the staff. The heparin lock was placed in case of emergency, and I was intermittently monitored throughout my entire labor, which allowed me as much mobility as I needed. They dimmed the lights and spoke softly just as I’d asked. Between the times of 8 AM to 6 PM, I labored on and off the bed, on the exercise ball they provided, and in and out the shower. Believe it or not, I managed to stay very calm during each contraction by humming through them and switching positions as often as I could.

TRANSITION PHASE

It wasn’t until 6 PM that I started to doubt myself again, lost focus of each contraction and started to wonder how much longer it was going to take. Fear swept through me and I felt like it was never going to end. While I labored in the shower, I turned to Chris with a face of defeat and told him I wanted the epidural. I’ll never forget how he stared right back at me with so much love, and let me know I was the strongest women he has ever met and there was no doubt in his mind I could do it. That’s all I needed in that very moment, he believed in me, so I had to keep pushing!

Deep down I needed some reassurance I was progressing, so I asked him to call the nurse so she could check and confirm I was in the transitioning phase of labor. Sure enough, I was 7cm dilated. In that moment I remember hearing the pain wouldn’t get any more painful after 7 cm and I would have our baby very soon. Shortly after, the nurse spoke to the midwife and they came into the conclusion I wasn’t progressing fast enough. They gave me two options: Have them break my waters or give me one more hour. With the intention of letting my body naturally go through the process of labor, I asked them to please give me one more hour. Thankfully, the midwife granted my wish.

SURRENDING TO THE CONTRACTIONS

Honestly, I don’t remember ANY pain within that hour, and I was no longer moaning, humming or grunting between the contractions. As a matter of fact, I surrendered myself to each surge (contraction) and finally let my body do what it needed to do instead of fighting it. There I sat Indian style on the hospital bed peacefully breathing in and out, in and out, envisioning my baby moving down. Something I learned in my hypnobirthing class and wish I had done from the very beginning.

THE URGE TO PUSH

A little over an hour later, the nurse came in to check me once again, told me I was doing amazing and had progressed to a 9 ½. Needless to say, I felt so empowered and I knew I would make it till the very end. Ten minutes after the nurse left the room, I began to feel so much pressure and an urge to push (a feeling like having to go # 2 lol), so  I decided to listen to my body and lightly pushed and pushed. It wasn’t long until I asked the new nurse to check me because I had a feeling I was going to have the baby very soon. So she did and told me I still wasn’t fully dilated. Even though I was having the urge to push she advised me to wait, however, I chose to listen to my body instead.

I was laying on my side on the hospital bed, working with my body with each surge that would come. Chris was by my side the entire time reminding me how strong I was and how much he loved me. Shortly after pushing a few times, I felt something odd in between my legs, so I lifted up my leg and felt myself down under! With a look of confusion on my face I told the nurse: “I feel the water bag!” She looked at me in shock and asked me what I meant. Then instructed me to lay down on my back so she could take a look. Sure enough, our baby was coming!

DELIVERING OUR BABY

Surprisingly my bags were still intact! Everything happened so quickly after that. My nurse asked me if I’d like to change positions so gravity could help our little one come out. I agreed, so I slowly went from my elbow and knees to my hands and knees on the hospital bed, while Chris applied pressure on my lower back to relieve my back pains.

Our nurse suggested a more comfortable position and brought up the back of the bed so I could rest my arms on it. Such an excellent idea! Chris continued to encourage me to keep lightly pushing and focus on my breathing.

All of a sudden, I pushed and his head began to crown! Yes, I clearly remember placing my hand down there and feeling his head. My water broke and I didn’t even realize it. I panicked and started to scream. The “ring of fire” was indeed no joke my friends! Chris quickly calmed me down and reminded me to focus on my breathing.

Only a few minutes later, I felt our baby come out and Chris announced: “It’s a boy!”. Luckily my umbilical cord was long because I flung around so fast to see our baby, completely forgetting about it!  A sudden burst of energy, emotions, and a natural high took over my body as I reached out and grabbed our baby. Time stood still holding him in my arms for the very first time as we stared at his beautiful little face.  He looked so peaceful and barely cried. Those first few whimpers were music to my ears. I remember looking at him and saying “Hi Jayce! Welcome to the world baby boy.”  It was hard to believe he was finally in my arms after 38 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy and 31 hours of labor. In that moment I knew it was so worth it and would gladly do it 1000 times if I had to.

Chris did the honors of cutting the umbilical cord after it stopped pulsing. Shortly after, he held our son for the first time. My heart melted as I watched the man of my dreams hold our baby and stare at each other with so much love. 

From then on, our lives have never been the same. Thanks to him, we now have a new profound meaning of love. Welcome to the world Jayce. We love you so much.

Side Note: Yes, having an un-medicated birth was difficult, but it was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. Again, I would do it again 1000 times if I had to. Bringing Jayce into the world was the most rewarding and one of the happiest moments of my life. I can’t thank God enough for a loving, motivating, supportive husband, a healthy beautiful baby boy and for such a great hospital staff who respected and also helped me have the labor I envisioned and hoped for.

If you’re pregnant and want to achieve a natural – unmedicated birth, I am here to tell you- YOU CAN DO IT! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or just need some encouragement. I’d be more than happy to be there for you. 

Birth story submitted by Michelle R.

Photographs by Deirdre Leigh.

Two Mamas, Don’t Forget Dads, and Pooping Without Fear

Two Mamas, Don’t Forget Dads, and Pooping Without Fear

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Pulled Over by a Cop, the Panicky Security Guard, & a Speedy Birth

Pulled Over by a Cop, the Panicky Security Guard, & a Speedy Birth

A contraction woke me up shortly before 1am. I had been waking up to painful contractions for weeks, but this one felt different – deeper and more intense. I tried to ignore it and had almost drifted back to sleep when the next one came, strong enough I decided I’d better start timing. They were coming at 7 minutes apart, and I knew I should rest during this early labor but it was already hard to lie down through the contractions.

I went to the bathroom and when another one hit I thought, “Man, this is already painful and I’m just getting started! I’m not sure about going through all this again…” I came out and knelt on the floor for one more contraction, realizing they were now 5 minutes apart. When I got my breath back, I pulled myself up to the bed to tell Kevin we’d better get ready. As he stumbled out of bed and began collecting our things, I called up to my mom, who was coming with us to the hospital.

I didn’t feel a huge rush yet, but I knew it would take a few minutes to get ready, and I was thinking of the 40 minute drive to the hospital. It didn’t take long to get out the door, but I had to pause several times to moan and sway through contractions. I told Kevin to drive, so mom climbed in the backseat behind me. Mom told Kevin to relax and drive carefully; I told him it was okay to speed. I vaguely watched the clock and noticed the contractions were now 4 minutes apart. Kevin noticed as well and picked up his speed; in the backseat mom called the midwife to let her know we were on the way.

Moments after we pulled out on the 55mph highway, the blue lights appeared behind us. “It’s okay,” I said, “Surely he won’t give us a ticket!” In mercifully short order, the cop was walking toward the car shining his flashlight toward us. Kevin started yelling out the window, “My wife is in labor! We’re trying to get to the hospital!” while mom called similar things from the backseat. The cop apparently decided there was no other good reason for a largely pregnant lady, her mother, and her slightly frantic husband to be barreling down the highway in the middle of the night. “Well, I guess I can’t verify that, but I’ll let you go. Just try to keep it to 70 instead of 77mph.” As he walked away he called back, “Congratulations and good luck!”

We were back on the highway, crawling down the road at 70mph. There wasn’t much I could do during contractions, being restrained in the car, so I just gripped the door handle and moved my head slowly back and forth as I moaned through each one. I tried to compare to my last labor – these contractions seemed somewhere in the middle – close and intense but still manageable. At my appointment the week before I was 5cm dilated (incidentally the same starting point for my 15.5hr first labor), and I hoped I would be at least 6cm when I got to the hospital.

I couldn’t make sense of the clock anymore, but Kevin was watching the contractions go from 3 minutes to 2 minutes apart. Between contractions I was mainly aware of traffic lights and tail lights. Fortunately the roads were pretty empty at 2am. We turned off the highway into Athens – the hospital was tantalizingly close but we were stopped by a red light. The road was deserted. I was going to tell Kevin just to run it, but he swung right, made a U-turn, and turned quickly back on the road.

Less than a mile from the hospital a pack of cars suddenly pulled out in front of us, blocking the whole road, driving under the speed limit, waving their football flags. “They are probably drunk and don’t want to get pulled over!” Kevin groaned. I’ve never been less of a football fan than at that moment. A few frustrating minutes later we turned off into the hospital. I was very glad to have finally arrived, and I didn’t feel a huge sense of urgency. The contractions were strong but still manageable. We pulled up to the ER; Kevin jumped out, I heaved myself from the car, and mom moved around to drive it to parking.

The moment we reached the registration desk another contraction hit and I gripped the edge, moaning. The registration nurse started asking questions which Kevin answered since I obviously couldn’t speak. Suddenly I felt it: that unforgettable, overwhelming need to push. “Pressure!” I gasped, and Kevin immediately moved to put pressured on my lower back. “No,” I cried as my water broke, “I feel PRESSURE!”

The nurse kicked into high gear, calling again for transport. “Don’t push!” She said, “You don’t want to have this baby right here – don’t push!” Which I imagine is kind of like telling someone having an asthma attack to”just breathe,” but I tried my best. Childbirth books should really include more information on how to keep from having a baby.

A few minutes later a security guard, apparently the only person around, came running up and told me to sit in the wheelchair. “I can’t!” I cried. Movement at this point seemed impossible. It felt like she was crowning, but I thought, “No, that’s ridiculous. Not already!” I managed to lower myself onto the edge of the chair and we were off. Kevin stayed behind to sign some forms (he has no idea what he signed) and ran after, catching us just before the elevator closed. Which is fortunate, since otherwise he would have missed the birth.

As I gasped and panted and tried not to push through another contraction, the security guard said in a slightly panicked voice, “Don’t push! Don’t have this baby on me! We’re almost there.” We raced through the back hallways and I heard her yelling for the nurses as the labor and delivery came into view. (The waiting nurse later said she thought I was the one yelling, until she saw me sitting calmly while the security guard panicked.)

The nurse led us into a room and began getting the IV antibiotics ready, asking me to get on the bed. It felt like an impossible task – only the second time this labor that I felt like, “I can’t do this!” I heaved myself onto the bed and landed on all fours just as another contraction hit. The nurse was saying, “I just need you to lie down so I can get in the IV.” Before I could even reply, I felt the force of my body bearing down and cried, “I feel the head!!”

And sure enough, I reached down and felt that the head was out. The nurse immediately abandoned the IV saying, “Oh goodness! Lie down! I need you to lie down!” In the third semi-impossible move, I managed to flip over onto my back. The nurse shoved my skirt out of the way saying, “Okay, give me a little push,” and out came the rest of the body. The baby broke into lusty cries.

The feeling of relief was overwhelmed by the shock of seeing the baby lying on the bed. I couldn’t believe it had happened so fast. It was 2:35am – less than 2 hours since the first contraction, 10 minutes since we arrived in the hospital, and less than a minute since we got to the room. The nurse was excited because it was her first delivery, but it happened so fast she didn’t even have any equipment. She put the baby on my chest and a moment later another nurse brought in the supplies. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing, then Kevin cut it.

My midwife and my mom arrived at about the same time, both rather surprised to see the baby already there. “I should have met you in the ER!” my midwife exclaimed. As she delivered the placenta the nurse asked when my contractions had started. When I told her it had been less than two hours she said, “Yeah, I’d call that a precipitous labor! Next time, if you even think about going into labor, you’d better head for the hospital!”

Story and photos submitted by Ruth F. 

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