Ina May did a great job of collecting birth stories from women. We believe that these stories allow women to begin to envision their own labor. This is the story of Gavin, told by his Mama. This is just one example of what birth can be.
January 7, 2015
Nick and I found out we were pregnant on May 19, 2014. We were both as surprised as we were excited. We wanted to be respectful to Nick’s sister, who had just lost her twins in March, so we kept the pregnancy to ourselves, close family, and close friends well until the start of the second trimester. It was very difficult for me to be around the people at work without saying anything.
When we did start sharing our exciting new addition, I quickly told one of the supervisors at my work, who also taught a yoga class I frequented, why I hadn’t been attending. She told me about a great yoga studio that did prenatal yoga called Enso Prenatal. I went to my first class later that week and was completely blown away. It happened to be the largest class I attended with about 15 women in all different stages in their pregnancy. The instructor, Bea Wilds was amazing; she had this unique, kind quality to her. She really treated us like these special women holding these very special lives within us, and I loved it. We introduced ourselves, one-by-one, and described what we were going to use as a coping skill during labor. At 18 weeks pregnant, I still cringed at the thought of birth. I loved being pregnant and was so eager to meet my baby, but was scared to death of the process to get from pregnancy to a baby in my arms. Not to mention, my entire life my own mother told me she gave natural childbirth to her 9 pound babies and I could do the same. I had the idea in my head that I wanted a natural childbirth, but I was scared and had no idea how I was going to do it.
As we shared, I heard inspiring strong women go to places they thought they would go during labor. Women shared their doctor’s names that were empowering them to give natural childbirth. I heard different coping skills; like putting her mind directly where the pain is and conquering it, or leaning on the idea of all the women who have given natural childbirth before medical intervention was an option. I learned more in that class than I had in any book I read! When Bea introduced herself, she stated she was also a doula. Bea was pretty much the equivalence of “love at first sight” when it came to me picking my doula, but I knew I had a little work to do with Nick who wasn’t sure a doula was worth the money. I purchased an 8 pack of classes before leaving and left feeling really excited about this amazing little birth world I had discovered. I continued yoga throughout my pregnancy. Nick agreed to meet and invite Bea into our birth as our doula. Bea had Katie shadowing her at one of our prenatal visits and later asked if she could shadow the birth. We agreed to have Bea and Katie be a part of our birth.
My contractions started at 11:00pm on January 6th. They woke me up hourly so I assume I had one an hour from 11:00pm to 2:00am. At 2:00am, they started happening about 7 to 10 minutes apart. I couldn’t sleep anymore and woke Nick up to let him know what was going on. I wanted to get up and work on a task to keep my mind off of it, but Nick reminded me I really needed to sleep. I stayed in bed and eventually was able to fall back asleep at 3:00am. From 3:00-6:00am I was able to get some sleep between the contractions. I would get out of bed and lean against the bed for the contraction because that felt better than just lying in bed through the contraction then get back in bed and sleep until the next contraction. At 5:30am, Nick asked if I mind if he went to work for an hour and a half. He had three things he really needed to get done at work that would take thirty minutes each and then he would be able to give me and the baby the next two weeks of his undivided attention: I agreed. Nick left the house by 6am. My mom was in town, although it wasn’t a part of my birth plan to have her in the room as I labored, I knew I could use her for the next hour and a half. Nick’s birthday is January 9th so I grabbed his birthday present and I yelled up stairs to my Mom, but she didn’t answer. I walked up the stair yelling, “Mom!” which of course triggered a contraction. She opened her door and I grabbed the stair rail and hunched over, she quickly realized what was going on. When the contraction stopped, I handed her Nick’s present and told her I needed it wrapped. (That part of the story makes me laugh, with everything going on I just had to get that present wrapped!) My mom came downstairs and we hid the present in my hospital bag. As contractions came, I leaned over and my mom massaged my back with a massaging tool. Looking back, I’m glad my mom and I had that time. It was a special moment from a mother to her daughter as we embarked on our passage to grandma and mama.
I texted my doula, Bea, “I think today will be Gavin’s birthday.” We texted back and forth and she made sure I was OK for the time being. Her texts were lovely; she was really excited and encouraging. I called Nick around 7:00am to make sure he was working hard because I needed him home soon. Nick was home by 7:30am and I never knew the time again until they announced the time the baby was born. Nick and I used the skills Bea taught us. Nick was the best birth partner I could have ever asked for. We used a rebozo, massaging tools, hip squeezes, and warm water in the tub. While in the tub, my friend Magi text me, “Praying for you today and this morning! I know it is a weird experience, but it is amazing! Trust your instincts and know you are surrounded by lots of love, family & friends who are sooooo excited!” I felt an overwhelming sense of emotion. (I requested to Nick and my mom to not share when I go into labor. I really wanted a natural childbirth and knew I needed to stay within my small safe bubble to do it.) Tears flooded down my eyes and I said, “How did she know?” but really I felt that God spoke to me through Magi. I felt God told me He got me here and He will get me through it to just trust Him, trust my body, and lean on all the support I received from the wonderful women in my life. It was incredibly powerful. Nick kept in contact with Bea. I asked for Bea to come when the contractions started to get more intense and felt closer together. (Nick later told me I asked for her at 10:30am. Bea and Katie arrived at 11:00am.) I continued to move around through my contractions.
I had the lights off, candles lit, and Deva Premal playing on Pandora softly. I used a birthing ball, walking, laying, on my hands and knees, and more of the tub. The contractions seemed to get stronger and closer together. I got to a point where I didn’t want to do it anymore. Nick gently asked that we try another position. When we walked around the house I saw it was snowing all day. I had the blinds closed in my room where I did the majority of my laboring. Every time I saw out the window I enjoyed the snow but worried about the roads to get to the hospital. Nick told me the cold front got me, that’s what started my labor. One thing that really helped me slow down my breathing through contractions was looking into Nick or Bea’s eyes. We would just look deeply in each others eyes and I would mimic the deep slow breathing they would do. It really helped calm me. Nick often reminded me to breath down so my breaths were productive. I got in the warm tub and the contractions were becoming almost unbearable. Nick was squeezing my hips as hard as he could to relieve pressure. Nick helped me out of the tub and I immediately wanted to sit down on the toilet and push through my next contraction. As I was somewhat squatting over the toilet pushing, Nick came in close to give me a hip squeeze and POP! my water broke all over him. I didn’t expect it to pop loudly, but it did. At that moment, Nick and I both looked at each other with a look like “Holy Shit!” and Nick said out loud, “It’s ok! It’s ok.” Nick told Bea my water broke as she was getting our stuff in the Jeep. Bea was happy with our progression and tried to help me get dressed to go to the hospital. I had read several birth stories that spoke of a strange noise women heard coming out of their bodies that sounded like a cow. I was really excited to hear my cow sound, but the sound that came out of my body didn’t remind me of a cow. I sounded like a Mama Godzilla giving birth! I kept putting my hand between my legs expecting to feel a head crowning. I heard Nick and Bea talking in the bedroom about timing to get to the hospital, but I couldn’t make out the whole conversation. Finally they came in the bathroom and Bea looked me deep into my eyes and gave the pep talk of a life time. Bea said, “We are driving to the hospital. We are going to make it and you are going to tell yourself you are going to make it.” All I could respond was, “I need some panties.” Bea seized the moment, helped me put on some panties, quickly wrapped my pink bath robe around me, got some hot pink fuzzy slippers on my feet and walked me out to the Jeep.
Luckily the hospital was a straight shot from our home and the roads were clear. I sat behind Nick in the driver seat, but facing Bea who also sat in the backseat with me. I wrapped my arm around my seat’s head rest and every time a contraction came I wedged myself between my head rest and Nick’s head rest, lifted my body slightly off the seat and puuuuuushed! I felt my water bag continue to run down my leg and thought Nick isn’t going to be happy about cleaning this up, but I kept that thought to myself for the time being. I kept my eyes closed for the drive. I only opened my eyes when I felt the baby’s head move down low, but when I peeked outside I could see the hospital and knew we’d be alright. When we pulled up to the hospital, Nick pushed me right past the front desk yelling, “I’ve got a pushing Mama!” as Godzilla Mama was roaring away with a contraction. Nick made sure to keep my robe together so I didn’t flash the whole ER, but we wish we could have the surveillance video of us going through as we’ve often had a good chuckle of the scene we made. A nurse followed us to the elevator with a catch bag and hit the second floor. Nick said, “No, it’s floor 3!.” The nurse responded, “oops, it was 2 at my old hospital.” In the meantime, I was just Mama Godzilla contracting and pushing. We rolled into the Birthing Center where they sent me to triage. At triage they strapped a fetal monitor on me which I tried to shove off saying, “get this off of me!” The nursed insisted I had to have it on to monitor the baby. I will admit, it was wonderful to hear the baby’s heart rate, but still awful to have it strapped around my belly. Then the nurse attempted to check how dilated I was in the middle of a contraction. I told her to stop and wait until the contraction was done. Nick reinforced my request. As soon as the contraction was done she hardly checked for a second before she yelled, “plus 2 or plus 3, get her to a delivery room!” My inner thoughts were a cross between, “Well we certainly didn’t enter the way we did for the drama of it,” and “Thank you Jesus! This baby is coming soon!” They wheeled the bed to a delivery room. They had me get off the bed they wheeled me in on and get on the delivery bed. When we got in the delivery room Bea and Katie were there. A nurse asked if Nick wanted to grab a leg and he did. I remembered the entire pregnancy Nick said he did NOT want to hold a leg; he didn’t want to see my lower half and he wanted to stay up by my head. I was in no condition to start a conversation about it, but I was confused he grabbed a leg. (Later, I was told I kept saying "no" when Nick grabbed the leg and no one knew why. Nick said he’d come so far in the birth up to that point he didn’t want to miss out on the ending.) As I lay on the bed, I got instructions from what felt like 15 nurses. I think there were at least four nurses telling me how to breathe and push. Up to that point, I wasn’t using any breathing or pushing method, I was using raw instinct which I had to tell the nurses.
Bea was right by my head on the right side praising my pushes, breathing, moans and groans. They got my legs in a good position and I pushed with all my might at the next contraction. Someone told me his head was crowning and he had a lot of blonde hair. Words cannot describe how great it was to hear that! I prayed this baby would be a blondie, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that he’d be born with a lot of blonde hair. I reached my hand between my legs and felt his head crowing and a lot of hair. *Sigh* It was amazing motivation to push him out. The doctor told me I was tearing up toward my urethra which isn’t where a lady wants to tear and asked about an episiotomy. I didn’t want to tear my urethra so I agreed to an episiotomy. (This is the only part of this birth story that didn’t go to plan. I wish rolling to my side to move the pressure would have been offered, but hospital births often suggest medical intervention first.) At the next contraction, the doctor froze the area to receive an episiotomy and preformed the episiotomy. It didn’t feel good, but the baby about fell out of me as soon the episiotomy was complete.
They immediately put Gavin on my chest at 2:34pm! What a beautiful and magical moment! The moment I finally met this perfect baby that I’ve been feeling in my tummy for months and the moment child birth is over! Gavin wasn’t getting air like they wanted him to so they took him off my chest to a warming table about 10 feet away. Nick stayed with Gavin and held his hands and feet. It was wonderful to watch. I am so grateful for Katie capturing these moments and the birth with our camera. The doctor delivered my placenta and stitched up my tears and episiotomy. They placed Gavin back on my chest. Bea helped me latch Gavin onto my breast. Gavin fed well right away. He fed 20 minutes on my left side and 25 minutes on my right side. It was wonderful. Gavin was so alert. He immediately knew Nick and I were his Daddy and Mama from our voices. The doctor, nurses, and doulas left. The three of sat there in awe. I was in awe of this beautiful baby Nick and I had made. We laughed about what we had just gone through and what we’d just accomplished. It was the perfect beginning to our family of three.
Now that it is all said and done, Nick preaches to other expecting fathers to hire a doula! They are worth their weight in gold. As for me, I will work on Nick to have a home birth next time with a midwife (and Bea of course)!
This blog is not intended to be a source of medical information or advice. Please discuss all of your concerns with your care provider.