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A First Time Mom’s Hospital Birth Without Fear

A First Time Mom’s Hospital Birth Without Fear

Before we even started trying for a baby, I was reading birth stories. I’ve always been obsessed with babies and that naturally progressed into an obsession with all things birth. After reading every single birth story that Birth Without Fear had to offer, I came away feeling extremely informed and excited to see how my own birth would play out; but I also got the impression that first births rarely went to plan, so I tried to accept that it probably wouldn’t go the way I hoped – drug and intervention free.

Our blessed birth started right when we got pregnant the first month of trying – shocked! The pregnancy continued on smoothly, and I loved being pregnant. Our biggest complication came when my husband (J) was told that he would be sent on a field exercise (he’s in the Army) in our due month (March). They couldn’t tell us the exact dates, so we couldn’t exactly come up with a plan because we didn’t know when he would go or come home. Eventually, after lots of stress and waiting, and still with no solid dates, we decided that I would fly from where we were posted back to our home town where I could be supported by our family and friends, and J would join me when/if he could. This wasn’t ideal, but a plan had to be made, so at 36 +5 I flew home to Brisbane.

Shortly after I left, we got good news – they would be sending J to meet up with me in Brisbane on the 14th, 3 days before my due date! I thought ‘no problem, I’m sure baby will be late anyways’, and relaxed into waiting for J. Baby had other plans, and now we finally get to the birth story…

I had been having back pain for a few days, but it was constant so I thought it was just gas or something. I went to bed on Sunday (10th) with the back pain bad enough that I had to sit on my knees draped over the back of my bed, but it was still constant. I finally fell asleep but I woke up around 3:00am with the pain and started to notice that it was coming in waves because I was falling asleep between them. I pulled out my phone and started timing contractions around 4:00am – they were about 40 seconds long, every 2-5 minutes. I timed them for about an hour and when I realised that they were relatively consistent I thought ‘oh, shit!’ because we were still 4 days away from J arriving.

I heard my mum’s alarm go off and her get up to get ready for work, so I went to tell her I was having contractions. She also reacted with ‘it’s too early! J isn’t here yet!’. I got in the shower to see if that would stop them, but I had 3 contractions in the 15 minutes I was in the shower. I was still able to talk through them though, so we decided that mum would still go to work and I would wait and see what happened.

At 6:00am, I was still having contractions 40ish seconds long every 2 minutes, so I decided to call J and tell him. I knew it could be a false alarm, but I didn’t want to wait too long, have it turn out to be real, and have him miss it because I was too late calling. I called his Captain, who put him on the phone. I said ‘I’m having contractions every 2 minutes’, J responded with ‘are you serious? I just woke up, give me a second to figure this out’, and hung up (haha, he was a bit shocked). As soon as he hung up, I went to the bathroom and saw I was losing my plug – a good sign, but it could still be false labor. I heard back from J about an hour later and he was already on his way to the airport and would be home at 4:00 that afternoon, so now the pressure was on to make sure this was real!

I sat down and timed contractions while watching How I Met Your Mother. I also called the hospital but the midwife said my contractions needed to be more regular and be coming regardless of my position (they were stopping whenever I sat down). By 10:00am they had really spaced out and were only coming when I was standing, so I began doing laps around the block. They were around 40 seconds to 1 minute every 3-5 minutes while walking, but the second I sat down, they disappeared. I was getting so cranky and really upset that I had called J home for nothing. I continued to walk all day, and even baked muffins, but my contractions stayed the same irregular 40/5. Finally J arrived and took me for another huge walk, had some dinner and watched some TV.

Even though we all knew that these contractions were just the start, my mum, J and I decided to drive to the hospital (30 minutes away) just to establish whether or not they were doing anything. I was starting to have to close my eyes and breathe through the contractions, but the ride to the hospital wasn’t too bad.

When we arrived, around 8:00pm, we went to the admitting area, and a midwife came in to check – I was only 1cm dilated, and still pretty thick. I was disappointed, but not surprised, and I wanted to tell her that we had just come in for a status report because she was looking at me like she thought I was an idiot for coming in so early. She started to ask me when my next antenatal appointment was – next Monday – and I think she was suggesting that I might not pop before then – not happy. She asked if I wanted a panadol, and I said no. She asked what pain relief I was thinking of using in labor and when I said none, she gave me the look I knew well – the ‘oh, you’ll change your mind’ look.

I loved when people gave me that look, it gave me extra motivation. The previous Saturday night my mum and I had gone to a work dinner (I used to work with her, at the hospital I gave birth in – me, admin, her, a nurse), and one of the men had asked when my scheduled C-section was and when I laughed and responded that I wasn’t having one, he said ‘well make sure you get the epidural as soon as possible then’; when I responded with ‘the goal is to do it without drugs’ he gave me that same look – I thought about him frequently throughout my delivery! haha

Anyway, back to the story. We headed home to try and get some sleep. J went straight to sleep because he hadn’t gotten much sleep during the exercise, and I tried, but my contractions were getting more intense, so around midnight I went into the bathroom and filled the tub. The next couple of hours I labored in the tub and on the toilet (toilet contractions were INTENSE). I now had to totally focus during contractions. I pictured the baby’s head pushing down on my cervix – it helped to keep him in my thoughts and to feel like we were doing it together – I love him so much that I would have gone through anything to meet him, so thinking of him helped me stay focused.

I went back to the toilet around 2:00am, and noticed there was bright red blood – the midwife had said to come back if my water broke, the contractions were a minute apart, or there was blood, so I went to wake up J and my mum. The contractions were no more than 3 minutes apart and lasting for about a minute, but I had stopped timing them because they were clearly frequent and intense. We all loaded up and got in the car. At this point I had to vocalise through each contraction, but I tried to keep it low-toned and controlled. I sat in the back seat with my eyes closed, breathing and moaning through contractions while J held my hand from the passenger’s seat and mum drove. On the 30minute drive, I had 8 intense contractions – things were definitely different, but I was so afraid that this was still just the beginning and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it if it was going to get much worse.

I had another 2 contractions just walking from the front door to the admitting unit, and I had to lean on J and moan through both of them. They took us back to a room, and contractions were pretty much on top of each other. Mum joined us after parking the car, and then the midwife came in (a different one). She watched me have a contraction then asked if she could check. She felt around while I had another contraction and then she said ‘how dilated do you want to be?’, I pretty much cried ‘just enough that you won’t send me home again!’, and she said the greatest words ever; ‘you’re 7cm!’; I could have kissed the woman! She left to get my chart ready to go to delivery suites, and I actually did a celebratory dance! We’d made it to transition!

When she came back, she said the words I needed to hear; ‘you’re handling things beautifully, you are fully in control and I don’t see any reason why you can’t do this drug-free like you wanted’, this put me in the mindset that I could do it!

We moved to the delivery room and met our AMAZING midwife, Anne. I love Anne, even though I didn’t actually really spend any time with her because she left us to it. Besides checking baby’s heart (perfect) every once in a while, she stayed completely in the background. I spent my entire labor with my head buried in J’s chest. I tried a few different things, but the only place I felt in control and like I could handle it was with him. He listened to me breathe, reminded me to breathe in, and helped me regain control every time I began to lose it. There is no way I would have had my amazing birth without him.


Around 5:00am I started to feel a bit pushy and got on the bed on my hands and knees. I started to push down (totally out of my control), and all of a sudden there was a huge pop, gush and release of pressure – my water had broken! So glad I was on the bed, because it would have gone EVERYWHERE had I been standing. Anne suggested I get in the shower to clean up, so I did and it was AMAZING! I had wanted a water birth originally, but the new hospital didn’t allow that, and even though I’d planned on laboring in the shower, I hadn’t had any desire to get in the water once we got to the birth suite – big mistake – it was so nice!

I kept involuntarily pushing in the shower, so Anne asked if she could check me to make sure I actually was fully dilated. This meant getting out of the shower, but I agreed anyway and moved to the bed. There was still a lip, so she tried to hold it back while I pushed; it hurt, but it seemed to do the trick. It must have been around 5:45am by this point, and I was given the ok to start really pushing. I never planned on pushing on my back, but that’s how I ended up feeling most comfortable.

A lot of stories I read said that pushing was the best part, and while I was excited that it was almost over, for me pushing was the part where I started to lose control. It REALLY stung, and I was so afraid of tearing that I held back a bit. J was in my ear trying to keep me in control, Anne was holding my leg and reassuring me that it felt worse than it was and that he was moving down, and mum was holding my other leg, taking pictures and also cheering me on.

I kept asking if they could see his head, and being told not yet. Labor felt like it had only taken an hour (it actually wasn’t that much longer than that), but this felt like it was going forever. Finally they said they could see his head and I asked if he had hair; ‘not as much as we thought’ replied my mum. I reached down and felt his wrinkly little head – amazing. This part is all a bit blurry, but after his head came out, Anne said ‘now reach down and pull your baby up’, I love her for this because I was too overwhelmed to think about doing that in the moment but it was the most amazing thing ever, and my favorite part of the whole experience. I reached down, grabbed him, pulled him to my chest and started totally sobbing.

birth without fear

He cried a little bit, but then just looked around while I continued to sob. I just held him on my skin, and after some time (who knows how long?) Anne showed me that his cord had stopped pulsing, and so J cut his cord. I continued to hold him skin to skin for the next hour/hour and a half and he latched on like a pro, while they delivered the placenta and stitched me up; I would have gotten away unscathed, but Archie decided to punch his arm out as he was crowning and I ended up with a small 2nd degree tear.


After the torture of stitches and fundal massage (the worst part, by far) I asked the midwives to weigh Archie so J could have a hold. I knew he seemed a bit big, but when she announced that he was 8lbs 11oz, I was shocked! I started sobbing all over again because I couldn’t believe I’d given birth to such a chunky boy with no drugs!

My birth was better than I even dreamed it could be. I pictured it so many times, and the reality was actually better than anything I ever imagined. I believe that the calm birth has resulted in a calm baby. We haven’t had any problems breastfeeding, and he had surpassed his birth weight by 4 days old. I am so grateful for my experience because I know how often things don’t go to plan and women struggle with these things. I still can’t believe I got the birth I wanted the first time – it’s the greatest feeling in the world!

birth without fear

Dad Watches Birth on Skype {Operation Special Delivery}

Dad Watches Birth on Skype {Operation Special Delivery}

This amazing and beautiful birth story was sent to em by katheJo binder photography. She said, “One of my most favorite birth stories that I have ever been apart of. Dad was in Afghanistan while mom delivered her son. Daddy watched via Skype. I just love this birth story and I think it should be shared with the world! This birth experience was amazing. Mama had a natural, drug free labor and delivery….even in a military hospital.”

“I will never forget receiving that message from Tricia (a local birth doula) asking if I would be interested in donating my services for an Operation Special Delivery.  I had never heard of this before, but as the message went on, I read that this expecting mother’s husband was in the Army and was currently serving in Afghanistan. As soon as my eyes ran across those words, I was ‘in’ whole heartedly.

I remember after my firstborn was born. Being a new mama. My life as I knew it was turned upside down. And, my husband was there! He was there in the delivery room, and he was at home with me everyday. But, shortly there after, he was deployed to Iraq. Again, my whole world was turned upside down. Being a new mom, without any answers, away from family…and now husband-less…it was one of the most difficult times in my life. And once I realized that this mama was a first time mama…whose husband was deployed and he wouldn’t be afforded the opportunity to be there with her in the delivery room…or even at home for those first new moments…my heart welled up and I knew that this was something that I needed to do.

So, I agreed to it…and then on the morning of October 19th, I got the call!

Shannon had been laboring at home all night long and was headed to the hospital when I got the phone call. I grabbed what I needed and headed out the door. I really had no clue what to expect. Yes, I have attended a good amount of births this past year, but, they have all included a mommy & daddy and for the most part, other family members or friends. Driving to the hospital was a quiet drive. I thought about all of my births and the moments I cherished the most. I remembered holding my husbands hand and then sobbing together once we finally met our babies. I can’t even imagine, for one minute, going through that on my own. The idea of it made me a little sick to my stomache. And then I got the…”she’s pushing and she’s not going to be pushing for long!” text. So, I sped up and tried to get there as fast as I could. And in military fashion…it was a whole lot of hurry up and wait! Being that this birth was going to happen in a military hospital on a military base, I had to get a base pass…

Once I got the visitor’s center I had to take a number. There were at least 20 people ahead of me. There was no way I was going to make it! I felt so out of control. After a few minutes that felt like hours… I sent a text to Tricia asking her what Shannon’s last name was…and I took control of what I could! I went up to the counter and told them that my sister was in labor and I needed to get there as soon as I could. The lady behind the counter gave me some grief…but, I got my visitors pass and off I went.

I RAN through that hospital. And, it was a long run! I had my camera in my hands by the time I got to Shannon’s delivery room…and good thing I did. Baby Galen was literally, JUST BORN. I threw my bags down and started capturing as much as I could…”

For more of the story and video, visit katheJo’s website here.

BWF is The ‘Go To’ Site for Birth Stories and Photos!

BWF is The ‘Go To’ Site for Birth Stories and Photos!

One of the best ways I informed myself of all possibilities in birth (while I was pregnant) was to read any birth story I could find. I did not only ready happy, perfect stories. I read them all. Why? To learn from them! To Birth Without Fear means to be informed and prepared! Hospital, home birth, birth center, unassisted, home birth transfers, VBAC’s, twins, cesarean, etc. You can be inspired and learn from them all.

Birth photography. It is amazing. Sharing photographs of women in labor and birth is another way to ‘normalize‘ birth in our country(ies).  Pictures that capture such special moments touch us all and give us just that brief moment of understanding.

BWF is going to be your birth story and birth picture ‘go to’ site. We already have many to read and enjoy (and learn from). I am dedicating time specifically to sharing new birth stories on the blog for you to read and share!

If you have already sent in a birth story, please be patient as I will get to them as time will allow. If you would like to share your birth story with our BWF Community,  you can email it edited and ready to go at and attach your pictures as well. Please make sure your story is spell checked and ready to go! Also, if your pictures need to be edited to a smaller size, please do so.

If you would simply like to share a photo (maternity, labor, birth, breastfeeding, cosleeping, etc) email it to the about email address.

I look forward to reading your stories and sharing them with the world. Women learning from women…the way it should be.


written birth story


Natural, Unmedicated, Midwife Assisted Hospital Birth Story

Natural, Unmedicated, Midwife Assisted Hospital Birth Story

We had planned to take pictures to document the whole day. After waiting for so long, I wanted to remember every detail. The pictures didn’t quite happen. So as soon as she came, I had an overwhelming desire to write out the story of Stella’s birth. It took me two and a half weeks, as I was overcome with deep emotion just recalling the details of, what has been thus far, the most momentous day in my life. But I finally got it all written down. The words don’t seem like enough, but they’re what I have. And I want to share them; that day was too beautiful, too miraculous for its story not to be told.

Sunday, October 9th, 2011: The Most Beautiful Day of My Life!

The morning of October 9th started like many others before it. Prodromal labor had begun two weeks and one day earlier. I sang at church the day after it began, and the pastor announced to the whole church that I’d been having contractions. Everyone in our lives had been hyper interested in tracking my every movement in hopes of knowing when our precious Stella would arrive. So, I’d made the decision that we were taking Sundays off church until Stella came. I couldn’t handle the masses hounding me week after week about where our baby was since they expected the contractions to have already resulted in her being here.

So, this Sunday, we were home. Kyle woke up around 8 and tried to sneak out of the bedroom and let me “sleep in.” I’d not been able to get to sleep until almost 3 am (up all night wandering around the apartment, sitting in the nursery praying and rocking, getting a snack, playing on the ipod…) and had been up at regular intervals. But I couldn’t get back to sleep after I heard Kyle get up. So I lay in bed making a mental list of things to accomplish for the day. I got up a few minutes later, made a physical list (including to pack stuff for Stella and me for the hospital), and sat down next to Kyle on the couch. I told him I’d been having a few contractions, but that was nothing out of the ordinary anymore, though they usually started at night, not in the morning…. We decided to go out for breakfast instead of cooking, accomplish a few errands, and head back home in hopes of a nap and some rest. While we were out, I had more contractions, but nothing more intense or close together than had been previously experienced. We joked around about my water breaking at Walmart, ha ha….

By the time we got home, we decided to try timing a few contractions. They were about 1 ½ minutes long and between 5-7 minutes apart, pretty much the norm for my bouts of pre-labor during the previous two weeks. Kyle and I spent some “alone time” together before we got too tired. I had several pretty noticeable contractions, but I still didn’t think anything noteworthy of the happening.

Afterward, I thought it was time for another task on the day’s list: pack the bags for the hospital. So I put on some of my favorite tunes (starting with the Dark Side of the Moon album; I wanted to hear “Breathe”), and we started in the nursery, packing Stella’s diaper bag and picking out her coming home outfit. Then, we sat in the glider together (me in Kyle’s lap), and we read 3 books to my belly: God Gave Us You (me), On the Night You Were Born (together), and I Love You This Much (Kyle).

Then, it started raining. It has been such a hot, dry, summer and fall thus far. I thought, “change” and “God, let it come.” Then, I got into the groove and put on SRV’s “The Sky is Crying”, and I went to pack my bag. I still left out all the daily use stuff- contacts, night guard, phone charger, etc- thinking that I probably would still need these things at home for awhile longer and didn’t want to have to unpack them again at the end of the day. I savored the task and the music, specifically the title track, “Life by the Drop,” and “ Little Wing.” Kyle was really digging the CD too and asked me to burn him a copy. J

By the time we got done packing (Kyle had packed his bag completely by this time- confident we’d be heading to the hospital at some point that day), we were both pretty tired. We decided to try for a nap. It was a little after 2 pm by this point. We’d stopped timing the contractions. They had spaced out, so I thought maybe I’d actually be able to sleep for a bit. After about 15 minutes of trying to get comfortable (and trying to tune out my snoring husband), I started to drift off. About 25 minutes later, I woke to a very uncomfortable contraction. I changed positions a couple of times, trying to wait for it to subside, but it seemed to be building in intensity. I sat up and looked at the clock- a minute before 3. The contraction built. I got up on all fours to take the pressure off of my back. I rocked my hips back and forth, from side to side, until it peaked and then started to fade. I looked at the clock again, and it had just turned 3:05.…

Kyle turned over and asked if I was okay. I told him I’d just had a pretty intense contraction and that I definitely wasn’t going to be able to sleep. We both got up. We decided to start timing the contractions again. I felt like walking, so I asked if it’d stopped raining yet. Kyle said “yes,” so we headed downstairs. I felt like it was still drizzling too much, so I sent Kyle back upstairs so we could get the keys to my car and get out the big umbrella. I had another contraction and started timing it. We started on our usual route, and contractions started getting stronger and longer. They were coming about every three minutes and lasting over 1 ½ minutes each time. They started coming so strongly that I was having to stop and wait each one out; I could no longer walk through them. We got about halfway down the normal length of our route, and I decided we’d better head back. I was still unsure that active labor was underway, and I wanted to get home and take a bath to see if that would slow contractions down.

So we turned around to head home. I started to make low moans, vocalizing and leaning on Kyle during each contraction to try and relax my muscles and breathe through the intensities. I could tell he was excited but trying to be the calm presence I needed. We got back to the apartment, and I ran a hot bath and got in immediately. The bath felt really good at first, and a couple contractions spaced out. The heat felt really good, but the tub was too small. I needed the water to be deeper, and most of all, I needed to be able to move. Sitting still was too uncomfortable, but every time I tried to move around, rock my hips side to side or back and forth, I was splashing water everywhere. So I got out. As soon as I got out, the contractions picked back up and intensified again. I started getting on hands and knees for each one, rocking my hips, closing my eyes, breathing, and vocalizing.

Kyle thought we’d better send a message to Jamie, our doula. We sent her a text message and waited. I still wasn’t convinced the labor would be fruitful. Jamie responded that she was teaching a class and then called to assess me. She asked me if I wanted her to come, what I wanted to do. I said I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t quite articulate or hold a conversation anymore; we were on speakerphone. She suggested that I eat something and try to rest and we would reassess in an hour. I wanted French toast, of course, a daily staple in my diet for the past 2 months, ha ha. But Kyle wasn’t sure I could make it myself and was worried we’d be distracted and leave the stove on or something. But it’s the only thing that sounded good to me, the only thing that sounded like it would sit well, taste decent, and give me some energy and protein to fuel the work I was doing. So French toast and kombucha it was. Kyle helped me get out the ingredients and prepare it as I gave him instructions for how to carry out my normal preparation routine. He was so good to me through it all. I had to stop several times and hang on to the oven bar, lean over, and breath through the contractions. We made it through cooking and cleaning up, and I sat on the birthing ball while I ate, taking breaks to bounce and sway through the contractions. It tasted really good, though.

By the time I finished eating, the contractions were really starting to pick up. I was on my knees, leaning forward onto the couch cushions, face buried in the pillows, vocalizing a little more with each. We called Jamie back and told her it was time to come. She sent her student doula, Dawn, and told us that she was also on her way. Outside, the sky was turning a strange orangey-pink color from the storm. Kyle asked Jamie how long it would be; she replied that it would be a little more than half an hour. It was about 6 o’clock. I then told Kyle to call my mom and tell her that Jamie was coming. My mom didn’t answer. It turned out that she was already on her way. She arrived at 6:28 (so she recalls) with bumper pads for the crib. She felt the need to get them finished that day.

By the time mom got there, we knew I was “in it.” I was focused inward, on the work at hand. I could still joke and converse in between the surges, but once they came on, I had to stop, breathe, moan, rock, and let it roll over me and then pass. I could tell mom was emotional. She was probably recalling the day I was born; it also somehow felt like she was proud of the work I was doing, proud of the mom she knew I was becoming at that moment. She put the bumper pads on the crib and came to attend to me, rubbing my back and trying to accomplish the hip press during the really intense contractions.

Soon, Dawn arrived. It was still stormy outside. It was about 7 o’clock. Jamie was stuck in traffic. I appreciated Dawn’s presence as soon as she arrived. She got me some water and a damp washcloth. I didn’t even realize that I was getting warm, but the washcloth felt good. I was still on my knees, letting the couch seat in front of me absorb the noises I couldn’t escape making. Things were getting so intense and deep, but there was still a tiny seed of doubt in my brain about whether this was active labor and would finally bring my daughter out of my womb and into my arms. I remember during one contraction saying something about not being able to “do” real labor if this wasn’t it. Dawn assured me that it actually was; my baby was actually on her way into the world. That helped me truly breathe and rejoice in the process and gave me the boost of confidence I needed to continue the work of relaxing and helping my baby girl in her journey to birth. The past two weeks of contractions that started the same way but always left us empty handed had also nearly emptied me of my confidence in my own body, my own dream birth, my own story. Hearing that my body was actually working, progressing, producing, was, I believe, vital to the stamina I needed to push forward through the next part of my journey. I turned even more inward and continued to labor.

Jamie arrived at 7:30. It was starting to get dark outside, I think. The contractions were strong and steady. Jamie asked about Stella’s presentation. I jokingly asked for a doll to demonstrate, since words were becoming cumbersome and I could show better than explain. I was having pretty strong back labor, so I think Jamie was wondering if Stella could’ve been posterior, but she wasn’t! Jamie and Dawn were helping me through contractions with hip squeezes. Jamie, in her wisdom, was concerned that I was tensing up during them, so she wanted me to try side-lying on the couch so that I could focus on relaxing. It was hard to even get onto the couch, but I knew I did need to focus on letting the rushes open me up for my baby. I got onto the couch, sinking into the worn seating. At some point shortly after this, Becky (Kyle’s oldest sister) came to get Gideon (our dog), who was pretty unsure as to what was happening at this point. I was still joking with Kyle about what he should pack for Gideon. After she left with Gideon, though, the contractions really started picking up; I didn’t notice the change, but Jamie commented on how much more serious the work was getting.

Dawn put Jamie’s rice sock in the microwave to warm; it got a little too warm. But once the right temperature was achieved, it felt really good against my lower back. At this point, I knew I needed to turn inward even more. I asked for my iPod so I could use my labor playlist I had so lovingly put together over the past few months. As the music began, I almost started to cry; I realized what a Spiritual experience this was- the miracle of birth was really happening, and I was blessed to be a vessel. The music helped me focus on the beauty of this realization. After about half an hour in this position, Jamie planned a transition- two more contractions, then I would move to the bathroom and sit backwards on the toilet for a few contractions. This would be to further open my cervix, move babygirl further down, and give Jamie a chance to figure out how dilated she thought I was, how much progress I was making.

After the next two contractions, I was helped up and started to make my way (a very short walk down the hall) into the bathroom. I had a contraction after a few steps. I couldn’t stand. Kyle supported my weight while I hung on to him and tried to relax until the contractions ebbed away and I could walk again. I moved as quickly as I could once it was over to make it to the toilet before the next contraction. Someone moved the baby shampoo set off of the back of the toilet and someone else brought me a pillow so I could lean over the back of it while I sat. Dawn had to move the scale from the floor so I could straddle with my feet firmly planted. As soon as I sat, the pressure on my bottom increased noticeably. I was not too happy with the arrangement, though I knew it was serving its intended purpose. It was at this point Jamie asked me what I was feeling. I replied that I was feeling pressure and something dripping in the toilet. She told me that I’d definitely had bloody show in my pantiliner (finally, an “official” sign, none of which I’d had so far). I thought the dripping may have been my water breaking, but no, just some bloody show, my mucus plug. The contractions continued, stronger and stronger.

Jamie estimated that I was about 8 cm dilated (she showed mom and Dawn the line near my sacrum that she used to make her determination). I could hear what was going on around me, but it didn’t really register or seem to be something I needed to, or could process….all I could do was focus on getting through one contraction at a time. They seemed so strong now, with so little time in between them. I didn’t feel like I was getting a break, but there were brief periods where I could quiet down and just breathe. Jamie told Dawn to call Rachel and tell her to meet us in Labor and Delivery; we would be there soon.

After a few more contractions (Kyle had packed the car at some point), Jamie told me it was time to get up and try to go to the car. I tried to empty my bladder (took some effort, but I was successful) and then wait for a break in between contractions. After one passed, I got up. I had another one while walking to the door. I clung to Kyle, or whoever was nearest; my surroundings were fading at this point. My body and its work were all I could manage to focus on. Kyle held me up from behind as we made our way down the stairs. It was dark by this point; funny though, I don’t remember it being dark while tackling the stairs, but I know it was on the drive.

We finally got to the car. Jamie was going to ride with us. Dawn was taking her car and would bring Jamie back later, and mom was taking her car. There was no way I was going to be able to sit down in the front seat. I got on my knees in the front seat and hugged the seatback, face buried in the headreast. Jamie sat behind Kyle, next to Stella’s empty carseat. We started moving. Every bump felt significant at first. I think it was still lightly raining. My eyes were closed as the contractions continued steadily, growing closer and stronger. I was roaring with each one. Jamie suggested that I could try pushing with each if I felt the urge. I felt like my body was doing a little pushing for me, but I did not feel the need to focus effort on bearing down yet. I pushed just a little with each; it seemed to help to have something to do, and pushing hurt a little less than just letting the contraction overtake me. Jamie reminded me lots to stay in control, to take over the contractions. She asked if I could make “horse lips”, kind of blow imaginary bubbles during the rushes. I tried during the peaking of one, but it wasn’t working for me. I preferred the moaning, turning into groaning when necessary.

I think Jamie could tell we were getting closer. I’ve heard that a car ride can slow things down; the adrenaline can cause a rest, a break in contractions, but it seemed that the opposite was happening. She asked Kyle how much further the hospital was. He said about 15 minutes. I was not pleased with this estimate; I didn’t think I could make another 15 minutes in that car. I needed to get out of that position, out of that space. I asked him if he was serious. He told me where we were- about to exit to 183 from Loop 12. I knew we were closer than 15 minutes; it would be okay. I waited a few minutes then opened my eyes to look around. Up to that point, I had only opened my eyes briefly now and then to look at Jamie for reassurance. I looked around to see landmarks speeding by. We were getting closer, in many ways. Finally, we exited. I just kept praying. I think I was even praying out loud as we pulled up to the L & D entrance.

We stopped in front of the doors. They were locked. Apparently 9 pm on Sunday evening is considered “after hours.” We were supposed to go to the emergency entrance. L & D had been called in advance and knew we were on the way. I‘d heard Kyle talking to Jamie about it on the way and her mentioning that they were expecting us and that we‘d have an awesome nurse too, one that had homebirths with her kids and would be really receptive to what we wanted. But no one had told us that the entrance wouldn’t be accessible.

Jamie told Kyle to go get a wheelchair for me. He went to get one. I had managed to get out of the car. The contractions were getting stronger and stronger. I could barely stand through them and was quite vocal. Jamie decided she would drive Kyle’s car around to the emergency entrance, as it was entirely too far for me to walk to and it was taking too long to wait for the wheelchair. She was assuring herself that she could drive the car. We were just gonna get in and go. I returned to the same position, not being able to sit on my bottom. We pulled around to the open doors. A man came out to meet us with a wheelchair. He asked if my water had broken and said something about needing to go through triage. Jamie insisted that we were going straight to L & D. At first, he resisted. He spoke to another guy and then finally acquiesced and said he’d take us up to L & D.

I somehow managed to sit in the wheelchair, knowing I couldn’t walk all the way to Labor and Delivery and had no other options of getting there. Jamie was pushing me down the hall, into the elevator, as I hugged my pillow, leaned forward, and tried not to moan so loudly that the whole hospital could hear. Some people were in the elevator with us. I tried to smile as another contraction began and everything but my breathing faded away. I don’t think I could’ve kept my eyes open even if I’d tried.

We made it to the right floor and started down the hallway to the Delivery room. It looked vaguely familiar from the tour we’d taken in August. I saw a familiar face as Rachel stepped into the picture to greet me. I think I said hello to her; I don’t quite remember. I was also greeted by our nurse, Melissa. Dawn and mom were there. I got up from the wheelchair and stood next to the bed, leaning onto it. The contractions were right on top of each other. I stood through a couple as everyone gathered round. The lights were dimmed, and I took off my clothes from the waist down. I asked where Kyle was; he was still parking the car so it wouldn’t get towed.

Rachel asked if she could check me and then stated the obvious- that I’d have to somehow get onto the bed and lay down for a minute for her to do so. It seemed impossible, but I did it. I was scared that I wouldn’t have made significant progress and wouldn’t be physically capable of handling much more. Apparently Rachel was a little nervous (for me) about this too. But she checked and announced that I only had a lip of cervix left. I was 9 ½ centimeters dilated. I could do it.

Kyle made it into the room. I wanted to get back onto my knees. It was the only thing that felt natural. The bottom half of the bed could be lowered, so I climbed onto it, stayed on my knees, and turned around to hold onto the upright back of the bed. Jamie had my hand. I started to feel unsure that I could finish what had started, knowing full well that there was no turning back. I was now pushing with each contraction. Stella was coming down, and I could feel it. There was immense pressure in and on my bottom. I had to push. My water still had not broken. Comments were being made about how strong the bag was. It was starting to bulge out of me. Rachel asked if I wanted her to break my waters for me. At first I didn’t reply and pushed through a couple more contractions. Then I started asking how much longer it would be. Jamie assured me that it wouldn’t be long; I was almost there. I said I didn’t think I could do it. She countered that I was doing it. She was firm with me. I needed that forcefulness then.

Suddenly, I felt burning. Jamie encouraged me; Stella was stretching me out. Her head was stretching my perineum with each contraction. Someone asked me if I wanted to see with the mirror; I don’t think I answered, maybe just shook my head “no.” I just had to keep doing what I was doing. Then, I would get a few seconds of relief. Rachel told Kyle to get ready. She asked again if I wanted her to help with my waters. I said yes this time. I wanted to help my baby out; I wanted progress. She used scissors to snip the tough bag. I felt the moisture. With the next contraction, I felt incredible burning. Jamie kept encouraging me; I was stretching for Stella’s head. She was almost here. She asked me where I felt the burning; I began repeating “burning in the front, burning in the front.” It was so hot, stinging, but I couldn’t help but bear down with all of my might.

I roared through the next contraction and felt the most pressure, then the most relief I’ve ever felt. I pushed so hard, with every ounce I could muster, straightening my legs and moving her down and out. She was here; Stella was here! Kyle caught her as Rachel also guided her entrance. She immediately cried. They handed her to me through my legs, as I was still on my knees. I brought her up to me then started to dry her off as I pulled her close.

I talked to her and held her against my chest as we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. She was amazing. Her eyes were wide open, and she was alert and stretching. Her cry was loud, crisp, beautiful. Soon, her cord stopped pulsing. Kyle cut it. After a few more minutes, I turned around and sat on the edge of the top half of the bed. Rachel was checking me for tearing; I’d managed to slightly tear in the front, near the urethra. I didn’t care. Stella found my breast and immediately latched on, suckling like the champion she was. My uterus was still contracting, a good thing. Rachel encouraged me to bear down with the contractions and try to push out the placenta. I was so tired but tried. She helped guide it out a little with each contraction, and after several more contractions, it slid out….such a relief. I wanted to see the amazing organ that had grown and nurtured my glorious baby for her time inside me.

A few more details, then we could rest. Rachel began to stitch me up. A shot of lidocane, a couple of stitches, then she had to insert a catheter to make sure my urethra was clear and functioning. All was well. I had to do some paperwork, as there was no time pre-birth. A few consents had to be signed (would you have consented? Ha ha), bracelets applied to both Stella, Kyle, and I, and then we were left to revel in the glory of her birth. Family was there to rejoice with us as we celebrated the mystery and miracle of her.

Stella Jane Speer. We’d arrived at the hospital at 9:07, and we met her at 9:24! She nursed for almost an hour and a half before we knew her stats- all 6 lbs, 3 oz, 13” head and abdomen, and 19” length of her! Our angel. Finally in our arms.

* Jennifer’s mother took the delivery candids. The newborn/family portrait was by Ethan Avery Photography.

Great Hospital Birth Experiences

Great Hospital Birth Experiences

What I love about this, is I can share it on my Blog and with the BWF Community, which is predominately natural birth oriented, and this mama and her births will NOT get torn apart. She will still have support. It hasn’t been easy to build and keep a community of women and the topic of birth compassionate and supportive, but it’s been worth it. Leah was kind enough to share her story , while not ‘all natural’, they were hers and her babies experiences. They were empowering in their own right and should be celebrated like any other. Thank you Leah! ~Mrs. BWF

My Two Hospital Births

I don’t expect this to be posted as a powerful, natural birth, but I just felt that my story was special enough to share with someone too. With my first birth, I was very uneducated, and did not research much about birth at all. The only “birth plan” I had was to get my baby out safely so that I could love on him and see his little eyes blinking up at his mommy.

I had a scheduled induction 3 days after my due date, because I was “over due.” The plan was to get cervadil, spend the night in the hospital, break my water the next morning, then start potocin. Well, I got to hospital about 8 and did all the check-in process, then they check me (I was 1cm) and inserted cervadil. About 30 minutes after cervadil, I started having major “cramps.” I thought, boy am I a wussy. This is going to be a looonnngg night if I am already hurting this bad. I did not know what to expect and how I should be feeling.

I was pretty embarrassed to have to call in the nurse, but I did to try to figure  out what was going on. She said she had been watching my contractions on the monitor, and they were very intense. She they removed the cervadil, because my body was ready! I was amazed, but was still planning on a long night.

About an hour later, I was having SEVERE contractions. I love watching my birth video and seeing how I moaned and rubbed my face through every contraction. That was my “zone.” Around 2 am I was very tensed up and shaking immensely with every contraction and feeling very strong pressure. I was losing control…little did I know I was starting transition.

I asked the nurse to check me and I was 3 cm so I asked for the epidural, as I was sitting on edge on bed waiting for an epidural to get started and I was feeling very STRONG pressure. I told the nurse I needed to push, and she said, “Oh honey, that is just because you are sitting on your bottom.” I said, “No, I really have to push. Like, my body is doing it all on its own!”

So she checked my once again and I was complete! Of course the doctor was not there, because it was the middle of the night (what are they paid for again?!), so she made me wait to push for 15 minutes while we waited for the doctor. That was the worst part of the whole labor. My body was wanting to push so bad and I was actually fighting it. (Silly me!)

Finally the doctor came in, and I pushed for about 10 minutes. I loved looking in the mirror seeing him come down little by little, and feeling his hair while he was between worlds, then I had the best moment of my life… I met my precious son face-to-face.

My second birth was very different, yet similar, because it also was hospital birth, induced (due to IUGR), lasted about 4 hours. I pushed for 6 minutes then got to pull my baby girl out on my own and bring her to my chest. Ahhhhhh…..

With all that being said, I want to speak out for all the hospital birth moms. I am NOT my any means embarrassed of my hospital, “unnatural” birth. It was -for me- the best experience I could have EVER asked for and I could not imagine it being any better. I am not against home birth in the least, but personally a hospital birth is my choice. I LOVE hearing my precious baby’s heartbeats every second that I am in labor and having contractions. I LOVE knowing that I can be in the operating room within minutes if an emergency arrives. I feel as though I did not lose any special experience by birthing in a hospital. The only thing that matters to me is when I see my precious baby’s face, and we look into each others eyes… I could be in a ditch or on a yacht or in the air, and it would make no difference in the world as long as we are both safe and healthy.

I am proud of my birthing experiences. It was so surreal and perfect, the doctors and nurses were great (thank the Lord I had good people surrounding me) and I don’t regret any of it. Even the two days after the birth, I loved being in a hospital with awesome staff keeping an eye on me and my baby. No one was intrusive, no one took my baby without my permission, and no one touched me without my permission.

I truly felt that the nursery staff sincerely CARED about my little bundle of joy. When they would bring her to me after her bath, seeing them hold and swaddle her, and bounce her until she was in my arms. Maybe I am 1 in a million for having such an awesome hospital experience, but I just wanted to let everyone know it is not always traumatic.

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