Our Birth Story: How I Became a Mother
- Change Play Sleep: The All-in-One Playard for Babies & Tots - September 20, 2018
- How to Formula Feed Baby on the Go - September 17, 2018
- 5 Things Every Mother Should Know Before Baby - August 24, 2018
All photos by Stephanie Shirley Photography.
My due date had come and gone. And every day after felt like torture. Not because I was uncomfortable–yes, I didn’t feel completely amazing–it was because every. single. person. was texting me or calling me asking if I had gone into labor yet. Nope. No baby. I was still pregnant. And I was doing ALL the things to encourage our little guy to enter the world (minus the castor oil). But finally early Wednesday morning, October 18th, 2017, I woke up at 2:40am with contractions. It was finally happening. I was ecstatic and I was ready. I was finally going to get to meet our baby and become a mother. Here is our birth story. 🙂
The Birth of Our Son, Baby Liam
The contractions were mild early Wednesday morning. I thought to myself that this could last all day (or several days) since I am a first time mother. It’s common for early labor to start and stop for several days. So I tried to force myself to sleep. But I couldn’t. I thought to myself that they seemed a bit closer than I would have expected at this point of early labor. I tried to rest but then decided to start timing them with a contraction timer as I laid in bed. They were already 8 minutes apart.
By 5am I was still trying to rest in our bed. The contraction timer told me that my contractions were then about 4 to 5 minutes apart and each was lasting a little over a minute long. This is what some people would consider active labor. I was still able to handle the contractions on my own–no help from others–so I was thinking that I was still in early labor. Because they were becoming a bit more uncomfortable though and they were speeding up and I was having some bloody show, I thought I should text my birth team to let them know what was happening–my two midwives, my doula, and my birth photographer. After letting my head midwife know that I was having a good amount of bloody show and that things were speeding up, she thought that it would be a good idea for me to have a cervical check to see where I was at. She had Mary Alice–the student midwife–come over and check me. I was relieved. I could finally get some answers.
At 6am Mary Alice arrived at our home. I was in our master bathroom at that time relaxing as much as I could in the tub. Seeing her was such a great relief that I began to cry. Seeing her face meant that things were actually happening and that I would soon get to meet our baby.
The contractions were stronger at this point so I knew that progress was being made. She helped me get out of the tub and checked me. She told me that I was 3 to 4cm dilated and 90% effaced. It may not sound like much but I was thrilled! I’ve seen many women think they were further along in labor and only be one or two centimeters dilated so I was nervous that I would be the same. 3 to 4cm was a great number for only having contractions for a few hours. I then got back into the tub.
Since we determined that things were progressing well, Mary Alice contacted the others so that they could start heading over. We knew that traffic was going to be terrible since people would be on the road heading to work. Luckily my doula, Malea, was able to get to my home in 20 minutes.
During that time as we waited for the rest of our birth team, I labored in the tub, on the toilet, I leaned on the birth ball, leaned on my husband and went back into the tub and more. The things that helped me the most were focusing on my breathing, vocalization, peppermint oil (at times I felt very nauseous so the peppermint really helped me not throw up), being in warm water in the tub, as well as cold compresses. All throughout labor I felt warm so the cold washcloths on my forehead, around my neck and on my lower abdomen felt amazing. The water also felt so good during labor and helped tremendously with the contractions.
By 8:30am my midwife, Nanci, had arrived. They checked me again once she arrived and I was 9cm dilated. That’s right! I was almost complete (10cm) but just had one more centimeter to go and I could start pushing. I then told them that my videographer and mother better be on their way and close! Thankfully they soon both arrived. As we waited for them two, I continued to do my thing. I felt like I was in control during labor and was hoping that pushing would go as well as laboring had.
If you know me, you know how much I love animals. And my first baby will always be Lola, my Pomeranian. She was very anxious during my labor so I had to have my mother take her out of the room. My mom told me that she paced back and forth outside my bedroom door as she listened to me labor, like an expecting dad anxiously awaiting to see his wife and baby. Aria, our other dog–an Alaskan Klee Kai, was calm and very sweet as she watched, waited and supported me during labor.
Once everyone had finally arrived, they checked me one more time and I was 9.5cm, with just an anterior lip holding my baby back. The midwives held the lip while I pushed past it, and once it was reduced my midwife gave me the thumbs up to start pushing! This all happened and my water broke around 9:50am. I was so excited, but also nervous to start this next stage of labor. I first started pushing in the tub, then on the toilet, then by the bed in a squat and on the bed. You name it.
Our baby was slowly moving down, but wasn’t getting past the pubic bone. I became so frustrated. I pushed and pushed and pushed. It was the most difficult thing–by far–I have ever done in my life.
My midwifery team would check on my baby’s heart rate throughout labor and after a while of pushing his heart rate started to get low. They would help me move from one position to another to get into a spot where his heart rate would get back up. They also gave me some oxygen to help raise his heart rate. This is when I became very nervous. I didn’t want this to happen. I had worked so hard for this unmediated home birth and had pushed for so long to ultimately end up in the hospital. I did not want that for me or for our son. Everyone began to pray.
After a few low dips, my midwife said that they had to call the ambulance and take us to the hospital. My heart broke. I continued to push with each contraction as Mary Alice was on the phone with EMS. My husband, Brian–a man of few words–then told me, “Babe, he’s right there. Push him out. He’s so close. You can do this. You have to push harder.” I dug down deep and pushed with every fiber of my being. It couldn’t end this way. I wanted him here with me so badly.
After three hours of pushing with all of my might, making my face swell and breaking almost all of the capillaries in my face, our son was finally born 12:50pm. As he came out and onto my chest, the EMS crew opened my bedroom door. I was so relieved to be able to turn to them, smile and send them away as I held my baby. They looked at us, smiled and said, “Congratulations!” And headed back to their ambulance. We were overjoyed that we had a healthy baby and the birth that we had prepared and worked so hard for. I did it! I couldn’t believe that he was finally here.
I’ve attended hundreds of births–at homes, at birth centers, and mostly at hospitals–and now I finally have my own story. I know exactly what women are thinking and feeling as they wait and work so hard to meet their baby. Not everything went perfectly at our birth, which is normal for most birth stories, but we were blessed that it all worked out and that we had a beautiful and healthy son. I feel so grateful and proud of myself that I was able to do it with all the support around me. And our baby boy is perfect. He came out 21 inches long, 8 pounds 6 oz. That’s a lot of baby. And I couldn’t be happier. Life is good.
We love you, Liam. I would do it all over again for you. Thank you for choosing us as your parents.