I hope these stories are encouraging to read. Birth can be beautiful no matter where it is or how it happens!
The Birth of Enoch Noble Grandison
November 29th, 2011 marked 40 weeks of pregnancy for me. I was expecting to not birth until several days afterward at least, based on my other two pregnancies. I did not have prodromal labor like I did with my 2nd child, and I had checked my cervix that morning: maybe 2-3cm, thick, and still posterior, and though I thought the baby was engaged, it turns out that he wasn’t. Anyway, my due date was pretty uneventful until the evening. In the early afternoon, I took the kids into town for my chiropractor’s appointment while Joel stayed home to edit a wedding video. On the way home I talked to my friend, Mica. Mica is usually my back-up doula for my clients, and she was attending my birth too! She shared with me how one of her clients was having constant prelabor contractions and we talked about how we both hoped we wouldn’t be in labor at the same time, though I assured her that I guessed it would be some days still for me.
That afternoon, I had maybe 5 contractions an hour, which was normal for me, though they seemed to be slightly more uncomfortable than just Braxton Hicks, but absolutely nothing made me think labor was imminent. Around 6pm, Joel and Tor left for chess club (Tor was so glad he got to go- the whole week before he kept on saying that Enoch could be born after he got to go to chess club!). My friend Krista and her two young kids came over; we usually hang out on Tuesday nights while the boys are in town.
I started making mac and cheese dinner for everyone around 7PM. About that time, I had a few random contractions that were much more intense. I think I started timing them around 7:30PM. They were under 5 minutes apart. Soon I was breathing through them. I distractedly tried to feed the kids dinner and told Krista that these contractions were getting pretty tough. I texted Mica around 8:15PM just saying a “heads up but don’t come yet because it might not be the real thing”. I texted my husband saying “you don’t have to run home, but I’m, having breathe-thru-them contractions.” Knowing my labors, he left rather quickly.
I checked my cervix and to my delight found it to be very thin and loose, about 5cm. So it was real labor! About 20 minutes later I called Mica to come and I called my midwife Vicky to give her a heads up call too but since she was at home (2 miles from my house) and her supplies were in the car already, I told her she could wait to come. I heated up my rice sock and started feeling in labor-land about then. Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart.
I asked Krista and her kids to please leave then. Krista was coming back to be at the birth, but I was starting to be bothered by the kids in the house – I was definitely entering a labor mindset at this point. I started moaning through the contractions right as Krista was driving away. I tried to vaguely clean up the house and get Zion ready for bed. Luckily, Joel came home at this point and we put Zion in bed around 9:15PM. Then I think we asked Vicky to come. She came along with the second midwife, Sarah. Tor wanted to stay up for the birth so he alternated between playing chess on the computer and encouraging me.
I sat down in the rocking chair with a rice sock and said, “Ahhhh” through a lot of contractions at this point. I was very focused during this birth on the sounds I was making. I concentrated on controlling the “Ahhh” to almost a song-noise, low and steady, making sure that when I had to take a breath, I went right back into it at the same level of control. It really really helped. I felt very in-control during this birth, more than either of my others. I was aware of what my body was doing, too. After Mica got there, I started feeling more pain in my back and that concerned me. So I got on hands and knees leaning on the birth ball; that position felt much worse than the chair (I even moaned at one point “I hate this position..”) but I think I needed to do it. Mica helped me hold the rice sock in place at this time.
After that, I had Vicky check me as I was feeling shaky and nauseous. I was 8cm and thinned but Enoch was still high at -2 station. This was discouraging to me and surprising, as my other two kids had engaged prior to labor and I though he had too. I had a flitting thought if What if he just doesn’t descend? as had occurred in one of my friend’s labors two weeks prior. I decided to use the restroom.
In my prior two labors, I hated sitting on the toilet. This labor, it was the right place to be. I was by myself and that was fine. I took my rice sock and sang my “labor song” but it started changing. It was getting louder and not quite as steady- still controlled but a lot more “Ahhs” to one breath: I knew I was feeling pushy then. I did one last cervical check on myself to see if the baby had dropped and he had. Yay what a relief! So I pushed a bit, just slight pushes and that helped relieve the pressure.
I came out of the bathroom at 11:30PM and asked if Vicky could do one last check because I felt pushy. She did and I was complete and ready to go! I went into the birthing room and prepared to get into the pool. I was irritated at my husband briefly because the pool wasn’t as filled up as I had thought it was- as it turns out, he had filled it completely earlier but needed to drain some of the water because it had become cold. I had a real pushing contraction holding onto the edge of the tub, then I got in.
As soon as I was in the tub, I started pushing in earnest, just like Zion’s birth, turned on my knees leaning over the side. I felt the bag of waters break as Enoch start to crown. But instead of coming right out like Zion had done, he was stuck in the middle of his forehead and his head was partly out of the water so the midwives had me stand up more to make sure his head didn’t go back in the water. And I think they got a bit concerned because they were telling me to push real hard and get the baby out, I think he got stuck at the shoulders a bit too. So the very last few minutes of crowning and getting his body out was real intense and I bit Joel’s arm at one point and yelled some too. I completely felt like I had torn a ton.
But then he was out and I flipped around for them to hand him to me. He was born at 11:45PM, only 15 minutes before the end of his due date! He was crying pretty good soon enough and got suctioned just a bit. Krista had gone to get Tor from the other room and he came in right after Enoch was born; he was such an excited older brother. He just leaned over the edge of the rub and grinned at his baby brother. It was so sweet.
Enoch was wrinkly and his face looked somewhat like a little old man. His cord was extremely long. I delivered the placenta with no problems; it was the biggest placenta I’ve seen yet (and yielded a lot of capsules when I encapsulated it a few days later). We got out of the tub and into the bed. After an examination, we discovered that I had not torn whatsoever- so glad. Enoch tried to nurse a bit, then we got him weighed and measured: he was 8 lbs 7 oz and 21.25 inches long. I felt pretty good afterwards, no dizziness or anything. The midwives, Mica, and Krista left after a bit. Tor had fallen asleep watching Enoch on our bed (Zion had slept through the entire thing!); Joel put him in his room and we all went to sleep.
The Birth of Baby Remy – Video!
Trailer: [vimeo http://vimeo.com/27984603]
Long Version: [vimeo http://vimeo.com/28564586]
The Birth of Baby Meredith
At around 10 am on July 16th, I felt a contraction. I was in the middle of conversation so I decided to ignore it. I felt another one, then another one, and another one. At this point I had already had some consistent Braxton Hicks, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I asked my friend Abby to help me time them. At 10:45am they were hitting exactly 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long. So we called my midwife who instructed me to drink water and lie down to see if they would stop. After drinking water and lying down, they were still just as consistent. Could this be the real deal?!
Abby and my husband Jeff gathered up their items to drop off my older daughter Evelyn and Abby’s son JJ with the people who graciously looked after them. I was alone at the house waiting for my doula, Kali, to come from Lindale. Suddenly the contractions started being very hard and coming every 3-4 minutes. I called Jeff and he was still a ways away. I started freaking out because I thought I was going to have the baby alone in my living room with no help! So I prayed and the contractions slowed back down to every 5 minutes. Kali arrived, Jeff and Abby came back, and my friend Megan arrived. Together they helped me labor at home until around 12:30pm. At that point we drove over to the Birth Center where we met my friend Lindsey. Everyone held there breath as they checked to see how dilated I was…and let out a sigh of relief when we heard the words “5 cm dilated and fully effaced, baby’s head is in position!”
They started the water in the Birth Tub, well I say tub, really it was more of a jacuzzi with jets! Kali was great, giving me the light massages that I needed, reminding me of why I was doing this and reminding me to drink water! Jeff held all my weight during contractions, Megan and Abby dutifully ran for my chapstick, water, protein bars and cool cloth. All while Lindsey prayed and filmed the event! I got into the tub and the midwife informed me that my labor may slow. But my body had other ideas, after about 30 minutes in the tub I asked to be checked again and was at 7cm. I climbed back in the tub and less than 15 minutes later I started to feel a whole lot of pain and pressure. The midwife came up to check on me and when she did little Meredith’s head popped out! Everyone was totally suprised and started telling me to PUSH! I was a little confused because I didn’t realize she was already almost out, so I pushed for 5 minutes and into the world came little Mer Bear! I couldn’t believe it was so fast! My total labor was 5 hours and pushing was 5 minutes. It wasn’t super painful like I thought and I almost didn’t believe she was really out like everyone said. I know it sounds kind of snobby, but my labor seemed very easy and the pain never got above my threshold. Praise God! I love my two little girls so much. It is hard to believe my life could be so full of love and these little blessings!
The Birth of Baby Elizabeth
It was 10:00 pm Thursday night. I was excited to read my Bible before I retired for the night when I felt a tight pain around my stomach which ran down my upper thighs. Thinking back to the past two weeks of many cramps and light contractions I had, I just bushed this one off. Two contractions later I rolled over to my husband and with excitement in my voice said, “These ones feel stronger”. He replied with the same excitement “Are you sure?” Another contraction hit me… “yep, we should call Kali, and see when she wants to come down.” That’s when it hit us, that within 24 hours we would become a family of three.
After working through contractions at home for about 5 hours my husband, Kali (my doula) and I decided to head over to the hospital for the rest of the birth as planned. It was about 20 minutes away and with the contractions getting more intense I knew I would not enjoy the drive in our big bouncy truck if I was in the transition phase. So at 3:00 am my husband loaded up the truck and we were off.
CHECKING INTO THE HOSPITAL
When we got to the hospital a nurse informed us of the hospitals procedures at this stage and check to see if I was far along enough to be admitted. She said I was only 2 cm dilated which was a little early but it was up to me if I wanted to stay at the hospital or go home. I thought to myself, another ride in the bumpy truck, ummm, nope. It seem like a better idea in my mind to take this time to get the room and everything ready before the “transition” stage hits, thinking it could be at any time.
Once admitted we were shown our room where we were going to labor and deliver. We got the CD player out, chap stick, rice socks, and started running the tub with warm water. We were praying for a midwife to be on call tonight so we wouldn’t have to get a doctor. Through interviews and reading up on some material we decided that a midwife would work best for us. We really liked their flexibility and thought that would be best for our all natural birth. I was glad that I didn’t go into labor on the weekend since the midwives don’t work on weekends at this hospital. Going in at 3:00 in the morning our chances were slim since they usually only work two evenings a week.
The nurse came in to check the baby’s heart rate and put an heplock in. I asked the nurse if she knew if we were getting a midwife or doctor. She said that we would be getting a midwife and her name was Paige. She also mentioned that Paige was scheduled to work two shifts in a row so we would have her probably the whole birthing process. We were excited for that news and praised the Lord. After that, we jumped into the tub. It helped a lot with the contractions. Humm, I started getting a little thirsty but we could not find any cups. Kali pointed out the small clean cups in the bathroom and said “That will work.” I looked at her and pointed out that those were not drinking cups, those were pee cups! She smiled and said yah, but they will work. I then replied, “Ok but you have to do it with me.” She grabbed one and we had a good giggle about it.
Now, there are about 5 stages between your first contraction and having a baby. They are:
Early Phase “Yippy! I’m in labor!”
Active Phase “This is hard work.”
Transition Phase “I’m done, I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Second Stage “I need to go to the bathroom”
Third stage “Were not done yet!!!! Still the placenta!”
Right now I am at the Active Phase. My contractions were still about 3 min apart and I was about 3-5 cm dilated. We were in the tub when the nurse came in and asked us to get onto the bed to check the babies heart. The baby’s heart beat was a little low. She asked us how long I had been in the tub. I think it was for about 45min. She made a call to the midwife and they concluded that everything was fine and that the warm water made the baby’s heart rate go down a little. We monitored it for a little while and it went back up. Since I was supposed to stay out of the tube for a while we had the opportunity to try different techniques during contractions. We tried standing up where I would lean on my husband with ALL of my weight during a contraction. He did a great job holding me and my big belly up. I didn’t really like walking around because the baby was face up so my back was in a lot of pain. I was very blessed to have friends and family with me. When I experienced a contraction I had one person pushing my shoulders, that was usually Kali, one person putting pressure on my knees which would release some of the pressure on my back, that was usually my husband, and one-person massaging my back that was usually my mother-in-law. A couple times my team would just keep massaging me even thought the contraction was over and then into the next one. I remember thinking, “This is like a full body massage for a couple hours. Sure would be great if I wasn’t in labor!”
MEETING THE MIDWIFE
When the midwife, Paige, came it to talk to us one thing that surprised us was when she asked if we had a copy of our Birth Plan. The reason it surprised us was because during my interview with the hospital they asked me to fill out a form for a birth plan that was more along their guidelines. Needless to say it left a lot of things out that I felt were important. So when Paige asked us for a copy of our birth plan we were egger to give it to her. She looked it over and said “Yep, we should be able to follow most if not all of it. Just keep in mind if something causes problems, then we will have to adjust for the health of the baby and you.” We proceeded to ask her if she had any other birthing tools we could try such as a birthing ball, birthing bar etc. She said that they did have a birthing ball that we could use. Our midwife was so relaxed and ready to work with us. Everything felt great!
GETTING BACK INTO THE TUB
We had a couple more hours of contractions. Standing up, laying down, time seems to go on. Since it was my first birth I was told that it was likely to take 15 hours or more. I had my heart set on 20 so I would not have high expectations. I was ready for the long haul and with my friends and family we were going to get through this birth naturally and without drugs. During every contraction I would hum a low note that helped me to keep focused and relaxed. That’s the key, finding your way to stay relaxed. This helps your body to stay loose and not tense up which lessens the pain level of the contraction. I found all my contractions to be manageable at this point.
We are going onto about hour 16 when we decided to get back into the tub to see if we can speed things up a bit. It was actually quite a funny site to see. Kali was sitting on the back of the tub rubbing my shoulders and back, my husband was standing on the rim putting pressure on my knees to relieve pressure from my back. I was getting sleepy, rightfully so since I have been up for 29 hours, that I started dozing off in between contractions. Then all of a sudden the back pain and contraction quadrupled. We were working extra hard during the contractions to relax and take pressure off of my back. After each contraction I had about a minute where I would take a little nap in the tub. I remember thinking “No, don’t fall asleep, if I go for a nap I will just wake up with another hard contraction. If I stay awake maybe they won’t come.” But the good thing is I fell asleep every time. The contractions were coming more frequently and in between each one was a short nap. After about the 10th contraction like this I was really hurting and starting blaming the tub. I would say, “I hate this tub” thinking that the tub was giving me harder contractions. But it wasn’t the tub’s fault. It was actually a good thing that I was in the tub or it would be even more intense. All of a sudden I turned to my Doula and said “I need to take a bowel movement”. Well maybe I didn’t say it exactly that way but you know what mean. When you get that feeling late in labor often it means it’s time to push out the baby. Well since it took me 16 hours to get dilated to a 6 they thought there’s no way I would be at a 10 and ready to deliver so quickly. We got out of the tub and sure enough I was ready and eager to push.
ARE WE DONE YET!
Page, our midwife was called to the room and she evaluated where we were at. She saw that my water had not broken yet and said now is a good time to break it. We agreed and when she did she found that it did have some meconium in it. There was a small concern if the baby swallowed some so that would be the first thing they would check before passing the baby to me. She positioned me on my hands and knees to push. My mother-in-law was holding my hands as I pushed. I’m sure I broke every bone in her hand, not because it hurt, it actually felt good to push, but because I was using that strength to push hard. She was very encouraging during each push. We decide to change position and use the birthing ball. I went through two contraction when we decided to lay me on my back again. Paige grabbed my foot and put it in her shoulder and someone else grabbed the other one. She was also coaching me on how not to use your voice to push though the contractions or your voice will be really sore later. Her suggestion was to use the urge to be vocal to push harder. It immediately helped. Funny how you see it on TV a women in labor screaming and pushing and you think pain but it’s not really like that.
“I see some hair!” I heard someone say. Excitement filled the room. “I see, I see…”, people were saying. This is great I thought. Almost done. I was expecting this baby to just pop out right now. I didn’t realize that what they saw was a little strand of hair not like the head was out like I was thinking. “Come on is she out yet, you said you see the head so we should be done!” I pointed out. “No, hang in there, keep pushing!” Paige said back to me. Well pushing zapped all my strength. I rested through one contraction to get my energy up, which by the way hurt like the dickens. Yah, not pushing through a contraction was the only crazy intense pain I felt thought the whole labor. Pushing thought a contraction actually relived any pain and felt good.
The midwife waved my husband over with the camera. I heard some say “The head it almost out.” The room was full of encouragement; everyone was rooting me on. Of course all I heard in my head was I want to be done, are we done yet, I want to get done. I am just going to push this baby out and not stop. And with that the head was out, and I kept pushing. Paige said to me, “You can rest a second,” but I thought, “Nope we are finishing this now. It’s been about 45 min. now of pushing. I think it was one or two more contractions and she was out. There was much rejoicing. “Are we done?” I asked. Yes, congratulations.
When the baby came out she was checked for meconium and none was found. I overheard the nurse and midwife say, “Look, the baby has great color to her skin”, and one of the nurses said that she had very long fingers. When my husband was talking in the room the baby heard his voice, stopped squirming, and turned her head towards his direction. She recognized his voice right away. They finished examining her for a minute then placed her on my chest. They continued to clear out her mouth and nose as she was on me. Everyone was crying. She was such a perfect little baby girl.
NOT DONE YET!
I was expecting to push out a baby and then get wheeled away to my own room with my baby girl and my family. Well there was still more that needed to be done. I had a level two tear and needed stitches. Because I hate needles I usually have to sing when I am getting stuck. I usually get embarrassed about this so I asked everyone to sing along with me. My husband, mother-in-law, Kali, Paige and the nurses all sang the song “Amazing Grace” while Elizabeth was on my chest and I was being stitched up. I am blessed we got everyone singing on tape. It was an experience most nurses didn’t have!
Looking back, I think the reason why we had such great comments from the midwife and doctors about how alert the baby was and how quickly I was recovering was because I did not take drugs into my system. I would encourage everyone to try to go natural, it’s just healthier for the baby and for the mom.
THE HAPPIEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE
The happiest moment of my life… It hit me when they wheeled me out to go home with my baby girl in my hands. “I am taking my baby home” I thought to myself and with all my might could not stop smiling. We got that on tape too!