Please enjoy these birth stories as examples of the wide variation in labor and birth. Each is special and is presented as written by the parents involved. A link at the end of each story will take you back to this list.
Regina and Chad birth 1/12/11 - natural, hospital
Scott and Molly birth 11-3-2010 - natural, birth center, back labor
Erin and Todd birth 10-13-2009 - natural, hospital
Amber and Jeremy's Second Birth - Catherine 5-25-2005 - natural, home
Amber and Jeremy's First Birth -Jacob 8-25-2001 - natural, home
Amber's note: Regina and Chad did an excellent job of selecting a supportive birth place and care provider and it paid off wonderfully for them. Check out their son Oakley in the Brio Babies page!
Click here to open a pdf of their beautiful birth story. It will open in a new window and when you close it, you will return here.
Amber's note: Erin and Todd did a great job. Todd, in particular, did a great job of providing loving support to Erin even when things were tough in hard labor/transition. See a picture of their little boy in the Brio Babies photo album for 2009!
The beginning of the end of Erin's pregnancy was Monday, October 5. That morning Erin called me and casually mentioned that she was having contractions. She suggested I stay at work because they were still 8-10 minutes apart and she could walk during them.
I headed home at lunch to discover Erin much less comfortable than she had been earlier. We ate quickly and decided that I'd stay home for the remainder of the day. I blew up our new exercise ball in case Erin wanted to labor on it. At that time, she began to experience more severe contractions, strong enough that she doubled over on the couch during them.
After several rounds of contractions we changed clothes and walked downtown, hoping to speed things up naturally. We made it the two miles to Starbuck's at Seventh and Massachusetts before stopping for a short rest and a chocolate milk. While we slowly returned home the contractions continued at an irregular rate but were strong enough that Erin no longer wanted to chat during them. I made some peanut butter sandwiches to take to the hospital and optimistically put Erin's bag in the car.
But after psyching ourselves up that this was finally it, Erin's contractions began to dissipate. We were disappointed but not surprised when they didn't return at all on Tuesday morning. Sigh.
As we turned the lights out at 10 pm on Sunday the 11th, Erin proclaimed that the contractions were back. We immediately got out of bed and made a palette on the floor in the TV room. Appropriately enough we watched "Knocked Up,"at least until the birthing scene--it hit too close to home.
Contractions came every 7-8 minutes and lasted 45-60 seconds. Erin relaxed through them like a Natural childbirth-educated champ, and we were both able to get a little bit of rest in the early morning hours. I made us some eggs and turkey bacon at around 4:30 am and we continued to utilize our training through relaxation exercises, massage and lots of positive reinforcement.
The next big event was calling Dr. Harris's office on Monday morning. We booked a 1 pm appointment and packed the car in case we needed to go straight to the hospital after seeing Dr. Harris. Erin said that "If I'm measuring 2-3 cm, I'm going to freak out!" She wasn't, but the tale of the tape wasn't much better: 3-4 cm. Double sigh.
Dr. Harris advised us that Erin would likely make some progress soon, and that she would expect to see us at the hospital later that day. We a little rest might help matters, so tried to sleep back to back with a heating pad between us to alleviate Erin's back pain.
We woke up at about 4 pm on Monday and decided to walk the neighborhood. Up and down the alleys and streets of University Place we strolled. We would pause during contractions, with Erin slowly swaying back and forth.
I kept timing the contractions (good news--now down to 3 1/2 to 4 minutes apart, still lasting about 60 seconds), and made sure Erin took sips of water out of her water bottle between each one.
After two 40 minute walks, we played a voice message from Dr. Harris asking where the heck we were. She wanted us to go to the hospital later that night so the staff there could check on Baby Rogers.
We pulled into the Lawrence Memorial Hospital lot at 8 pm. The nurse strapped Erin into a fetal monitor belt and a contraction monitor. To our disappointment, the contractions got farther apart and less intense. Our nurse proposed that we wait around for another hour to see if things progressed and if not, we should return home. Triple sigh.
We shuffled around the hall of the third floor of LMH for a solid 30 minutes, stopping so I could apply counter pressure on Erin's lower back during every contraction. A return to our room yielded no better news--despite all of our walking the contractions had slowed to about 7 minutes apart and Erin was still only measuring 3-4 cm. We dejectedly packed up our belongings and headed home, but not before the nurse suggested that Erin take an Ambien to help her sleep.
We'd basically been awake for 36 hours straight at this point and the thought was that a good night's sleep was desperately needed. Here's where things get freaky.
By the time we hit 6th and Tennessee, which is only 3 minutes or so from the hospital, poor Erin was already seeing double and having trouble staying awake. As I loaded our bags back into the house, I noticed that Erin wasn't coming. I jogged back to the car to find her staggering around our back parking area and unable to focus.
I carefully walked her to the bathroom and then the bedroom, where she asked, "Are there other people in the house?" Yikes. Ambien was not her friend. We got settled in the bed at about 11:30 pm and hoped for some uninterrupted sleep.
Nope! Contractions ramped up severely at about 1:30 am. Erin got out of bed as each one hit, but for the first time it seemed they were too much to handle. I rubbed her back as she lay on her side in between contractions. They were still coming every 4-5 minutes but had probably gone, by my observation, from a 6/10 on the pain scale to a 10/10. We were in transition!
Finally we decided to hit the shower at 3:30 am, hoping the warm water would soothe Erin and help her deal with the ridiculously intense pain. At one point she shouted, "I feel like I'm being ripped in half!" That's not something you're prepared to hear from your best friend, no matter how many classes you take. But we soldiered on, wearing out our home's hot water in the process and offering up a variety of prayers.
Cut to 4:15 am. I called the hospital to let them know we were coming back, and Erin proclaimed that she'd be willing to take anything to make the pain go away. She'd later say that if a stranger had walked through the door at 4:15 am with a dirty syringe and a promise to make the pain go away, she wouldn't have hesitated to say, "YES!!!! LET'S GO!!!!"
We hit the ER parking lot at 5:00 am sharp. Erin loudly moaned her way through a particularly intense contraction and shouted, "I feel the urge to push!" The impossibly young and freaked out ER attendant wanted her to sit in a wheelchair. Erin refused that offer in no uncertain terms, saying "NO. I can't sit down. I need to go inside!"
We very slowly walked into the ER, rode the elevator with the attendant and a clearly shaken security guard, and emerged on the third floor to a flurry of activity. Nurses were spilling out of doors and shouting things like, "You can do this Erin! But you have to come with us, now! You must keep walking!"
Erin made her final stand on the railing in the hallway, and afterwards was coaxed her into our room and onto the bed. Nurses did their jobs of establishing a saline lock for the antibiotics (she tested positive for Group B Strep), I whispered encouragement to Erin and rubbed a cold, wet cloth across her forehead, arms and back. The nurses instructed Erin not to push until Dr. Harris arrived, but we heard them trying to decide which one would "catch" if Baby Rogers decided to pop out.
Erin was in so much pain and I was so focused on interacting with her that neither of us noticed that the saline lock was placed in her hand. Before it was fully established, she moved quickly in response to a contraction. This caused blood to gush from her hand. Not an ideal environment for relaxation, right?
Erin was doing everything she could to avoid pushing, but the urge was too strong at this point.
Dr. Harris confidently strode in at 5:25 am. Everyone seemed to want Erin to push on her back, but she was having none of that. I suggested that she get on her hands and knees. Dr. Harris seemed to think that was fine, but the nurses shot me some skeptical looks. Erin got into position before anyone could object and began to push in earnest. I could clearly see the top of Baby Rogers' head.
Erin quickly became confident, in control and chatty (at least between contractions!). She pushed in an amazingly efficient and powerful way, and yelled out at one point that "This pain in my butt is EPIC!" That brought down the house!
Dr. Harris asked if Erin wanted her to break the bag of waters, but upon closer inspection decided that the bag already broke and we had somehow missed it. Maybe in the shower?
At this point, a nurse arrived to draw blood. Not exactly what Erin needed, but she gritted her teeth, took the needle in the arm not attached to an antibiotic flow and pressed on.
At about 6:00 am, Dr. Harris calmly told Erin that the baby would be here with another push or two. I didn't really believe that but, WOW, she was right! At 6:03 am, Erin pushed out Alex Joseph Rogers with one mighty push...
See pictures of Molly and Scott's beautiful son on the Brio Babies page! Molly and Scott really worked as a team over a long labor and enjoyed the reward at the end. Notice how wonderfully supportive their entire birth team was of their plans - it really makes a difference!
William (Billy) Henry's Birth Story- by Molly
At about 10pm on Monday, Nov. 1st I started to feel what I was guessing were contractions. They felt mainly like back pain (similar to what I used to feel with menstrual cramps) that would wrap around to my stomach. I got up and played on the computer to see if I could get myself to zone out and go to sleep. I also timed them and they seemed to be about 8 minutes apart so I knew I had a while to go. I went to sleep from about 12-2, and then was awoken by the contractions again. I knew that I needed to eat something if this was really it, so I went downstairs and ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich and some greek yogurt. Then I started putsy-ing around the house because I wanted everything to be all nice when we came home. Scott reminded me that I should really try to sleep instead, so I took a bath (which felt really good and totally eliminated the back pain) and tried to sleep. I think I probably dozed in between contractions but then at about 4am they were closer together (about 4-6 minutes) so I called the midwife. I talked to Norla who said I needed to take a bath, eat, and rest as much as I could. So I continued to try and rest, until about 6am when it was impossible anymore. I took another bath and Scott started getting things in order in case we were going to have to leave soon. The pain was mostly in my back, and I remember thinking that it was a lot worse than I thought it would be. Already I am having a hard time remembering exactly what it felt like though.
By 8am the contractions were closer to 2 minutes apart, but I didn’t want to go to the birthing center too early. We decided to go vote (it was election day) and get something to eat before calling. While voting, I decided that I needed to call the birthing center again- things were getting so uncomfortable that I didn’t want to wait too long! It took them a while to call back (we later found out they were having 3 babies that morning!) so by the time they called we had already started heading there. We called our moms to let them know that we were going, but that we would call them when we were ready for them to come over.
We got to the birthing center around 11am. We had to go upstairs to the make-shift room because 2 babies had just been born. Luckily the big birthing room (with a nice tub) was the one that was closest to being ready to go, so they just had us hang out until it was ready. When we got there Emily (our midwife) checked me and I was fully effaced and 4cm dilated. By this point the contractions were getting steadily worse- and I was getting more and more concerned that this was going to be a hell of a lot worse than I thought it was going to be. I was having to moan through them and had to have Scott pressing into my back to get me through them. My plan to work on relaxing through them was impossible- the back pain was more than I could relax through. I called my mom around noon and told her that they should come in about an hour. Little did I know that they had already left and were already in town!
At 11am, contractions were about 3 minutes apart and lasted about 1 minute long. I was dilated to a 4, fully effaced, and at station -2. At about 12:30, we moved into the large birth room. By this time the back pain was getting to be unbearable. I went immediately into the big tub, which made the contractions more bearable. They were still about 3 minutes apart lasting about a minute long. I was moaning through the contractions, as I had started doing earlier. At about 1pm, I went to the bathroom to sit through a few contractions on the toilet. That caused the contractions to be a lot more intense. Emily checked me around 1:10, and I was dilated to a 6. After that I requested the sterile water injections to help with the back pain. They warned me that they would really really sting when they went in, and she put shots in 4 different spots on my back. They did really sting, but it was worth it- it made the back pain much more tolerable for about an hour. Contractions were more like 2 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute to 90 seconds long, giving me only 30 seconds in between! I was standing, leaning over the bed, and rocking my hips. It was still necessary that someone press really hard on my back during each contraction. The back pain went from 0-60 immediately and did not ramp up, so I really needed Scott’s help. My mom also took turns helping with my back, and I found my way back into the birth tub as the sterile water injections wore off. By around 3pm, the contractions were more like 2 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute- they were very strong. I was sitting on a birth ball and Scott would rub my back while I leaned over the bed. Around 4pm, I got a repeat dose of the sterile water injections. They had me get in the shower so that I could try to pee, because they noticed that I had been drinking a lot and not going pee. I could not go no matter what I tried though! I didn’t even feel like I had to pee though so it really didn’t bother me. I tried a variety of positions over the next couple of hours- in the tub, in the bed, on the birth stool. Being in bed was the least comfortable, but I was so tired that I just wanted to rest. At 6:15 Emily checked me and I was dilated to 8. At this point that was not good news to me- that meant I still had quite a while to go. My contractions had slowed down to being every 3-4 minutes. Around 7:30, I was back in the tub squatting through contractions. They really wanted me to eat, but nothing sounded good. I agreed to some peanut butter and honey, but shortly after eating it I vomited. It seemed like I threw up a lot considering I hadn’t really eaten anything since like 2am. I did feel better afterwards though. Contractions continued being about 2-3 minutes apart. I was extremely tired and felt like I could not do it anymore. Emily talked to me about a few things that they could do to hopefully speed things up. They could break my water (at this point they thought that it had not broken yet, but I am pretty sure it broke around 6pm while I was laying on the bed), they could give me a catheter to empty my bladder because I could damage my bladder by having it so full for so long. She also thought that it might be slowing down the process if the bladder is in a funny position. Then she also said that we could try some stadol, which is a muscle relaxant, to try and let me get a little bit of rest.
I agreed to all of the interventions- first they attempted to break my water, but it did turn out that it had already broken. Then, they gave me a catheter to empty my bladder which was very full. Finally, they gave me a small dose of stadol which allowed me to relieve some of the tension in my body and relax a little- I had gotten incredibly tense. After a short rest, we the labor continued. They encouraged me to labor on the toilet again, which made the contractions really intense. I was really freaking out, and did not want to do this anymore. I asked lots of questions about what my options were- I remember just wanting it to be over and I didn’t care anymore how it happened. Thank goodness that Scott and my birth team knew that I really DID want to keep going, and really did not want to go to the hospital or have other interventions. After a good pep talk from our nurse Jenn and from Scott, I was in a much more positive place.
Around midnight, the birthing team decided that it was time to have this baby! They could see that I was totally worn out, and we had been trying to get this last bit of cervix to dilate for so long. Emily said she would move the lip with her hands during the next few contractions. I do not remember a physical decision to start pushing, but on the next contraction they instructed me to hold my breath and bear down with the contraction instead of breathing through it. I started doing this and Emily would try and move the cervix out of the way. It took about an hour of pushing for her to get it to move. Once that was out of the way, nature really took over and I pushed and pushed. It took about 2 hours of pushing after she got the cervical lip out of the way. This was the most intense, powerful, amazing experience of my life. I was sitting on the birth stool; Scott was sitting on the bed behind me, supporting my weight from the back, and holding my legs with me. On each contraction he would help me pull my legs back, and I could feel him working with me and breathing with me in between them. This was such an incredible feeling. I have never felt so supported and loved. He was literally doing it WITH me. I felt him right there throughout every contraction. In between contractions, my mom would wipe my face with a cold cloth, Norma would give me a drink, and everyone would verbally support me by telling me how much progress we had made and how powerful I was… and I FELT powerful! Josie (the doctor) was also there, and she would help me by telling me if I was still contracting or not (sometimes I could not tell and sometimes I just wanted it to be over even when it wasn’t). Emily was stretching my perineum and Jenn was constantly checking the baby and my vitals. It was amazing in that it really took each one of us- everyone had a very important role and everyone did amazing. This was such a powerful experience on every level- physical, emotional, mental. At one point, Billy’s heart rate went way down into the 80’s. They immediately had me take a deep breath, and you could hear his heart beat speed back up. Then they had me move into the bed to change positions and gave me some oxygen. A few minutes of that and he was just fine. I moved back into the birthing stool because it was so much more comfortable for me.
At some point, they started showing me that we could see the baby’s head. Honestly, this was not that encouraging to me because you could only see a little bit of it and I knew I had a long way to go! Also, during one contraction they told me he was crowning- but then in between it moved back up (just like they said- 2 steps forward, 1 step back). At some point Emily told me that we would do a few more contractions here in this position, and then we would move onto the bed to deliver the baby. They wanted me on the bed because it slows down the delivery (to spare your perineum) and it is safer to catch the baby there. On the next contraction, I pushed and felt a worse than normal pain in my bottom and OUT came the head! No one was expecting it, so I just heard this collective “OMG it’s the head!” and all of these sighs and gasps. Then I just pushed as hard as I could again and got his whole body out! Again, more sighs and oohs and ahhs. And then they put him right to my chest. I was screaming “I love you, oh my god, I love you, thank you God,” etc. etc. The first thing I remember seeing was his penis! I could not believe it was a boy. The warmth of his body was amazing- I just felt this warmth rush over me and felt this slimy, warm, amazing body on my chest. Instantly ALL of the pain was gone- GONE. I didn’t cry but just felt this overwhelming feeling of relief and JOY! Someone said “well, I think it’s a girl, right” and I said, NO! It’s a boy! They couldn’t believe that I had seen that given the excitement of the moment.
After a few minutes of amazement and wonder, we moved onto the bed. Everyone had to help me because I seriously had NO strength left- I could not even lift my arms or support his weight. They had to help me onto the bed too because I could not get myself there. I just laid there with Billy on me, Scott next to me, and our moms on the sides of the bed.
Our birth was more than I had ever dreamed it would be. It was such an empowering experience in so many ways, and it was so special to share it so deeply with Scott.
Birth of Billy - by Scott
I wanted to capture the fullest experience our child’s birth had to offer.For me, this would only come from active participation in the pregnancy, labor and birth of our son; I could not stand the thought of being a bystander during the birth, letting others be in full control of the birthing process. However, being this was our first child birthing experience, I was not exactly sure what my participation would entail.
Molly and I spent a lot of time together educating ourselves on the birth process and practicing labor so we would be adequately prepared to give birth naturally. These hours drew us closer than ever before. Each hour also seemed to continually shift anxiety I had about having a child to excitement. The education also made me come to the realization that Molly and I were completely responsible for delivering a healthy baby, which further sparked my interest in the process.
We chose a birthplace that was not only supportive of our childbirth philosophy but one that is also conducive to achieving the birth we desired. I always looked forward to our checkup visits to Topeka. It meant more time with Molly, and the environment at the birth center provided the calm and simple environment that we needed.
Molly went into labor late in the evening on November 1st. Knowing that it was probably the real thing, we both agreed that it would be best to get as good night’s sleep before having to labor for hours. By the next morning, Molly’s contractions had become more intense and she knew this was it. We waited around the house most of the morning. I got all of our supplies prepared for the stay at the birth center, and I also went and got Molly a smoothie to help her stay nourished and hydrated. We decided to head towards the birth center at around 10:30 that morning, but not before we voted. November 2nd was Election Day.
By the time we arrived at the birth center, Molly’s contractions were painful. Due to intense back labor, I’d massage her lower back during each contraction to help the pain some. We also began trying many different positions, including in the bath tub, to determine how to best manage the discomfort. Nothing helped much. This period seemed to be the most difficult part of labor for her. Although Molly received little relief from my massages, I increasingly began to see myself as an integral and necessary part of the birth. Her discomfort became our pain. After nearly 27 hours of labor, I felt truly united with Molly, something that made what came next an unimaginable experience.
Shortly after midnight on the 3rd, it was time for Molly to push. Molly had been in hard labor for many hours, and we were both concerned she could not physically go much longer at the current pace. We knew that we needed to get the baby to progress, and quickly. We found a good position on a birthing stool that seemed promote the baby to progress, although it was not a comfortable position for Molly. Her strength was amazing. With the assistance of me holding Molly’s legs from behind and the midwife manually holding open the cervix, Molly was able to push the baby’s head past a cervical lip that had been keeping her from progressing. Her strength and willpower was indescribable, like nothing I have ever witnessed.
She was now ready to push. I remained behind Molly with my arms reaching around her to hold her legs towards her chest. Molly’s rested her back on me while pushing and the midwife remained in front of Molly to monitor the progress. Each push was incredible, more powerful than the last. I could begin to see the baby’s head through a mirror that had been placed directly below Molly. This instantly increased the excitement in the room and Molly’s determination. After only a few pushes, the midwife suggested that we get on the bed so the baby could be delivered there. Before we could make the move, Molly had the urge to push once again. This time, to our surprise, the baby came. Molly immediately received our boy from the midwife and began to sit back in the bed.
The environment was perfect; the room was nearly as dark inside as it was outside. It felt as if we were the only ones in existence. Seeing our boy for the first time was special, and having him enter the world in a calm and warm place was perfect.
The entire experience, from the education, practicing, and the difficulties of labor enhanced the birth experience. An experience I now look forward to again.
Amber and Jeremy's First Birth -Jacob 8-25-2001
See pictures of our kids on the Brio Babies page!
Jeremy and I took The Bradley Method (R) classes from our midwife to prepare for this labor. The classes enabled us to recognize where we were in labor as things progressed, even though our labor didn't fit the "textbook" pattern. This story was first written by Jeremy and then added to by Amber (me!).
Amber started having strong braxton hicks contractions during her 36th week that continued all the way to real labor. They were sometimes fairly strong and regular - enough so that Jeremy and Amber called the midwife twice to let her know that "this could be it!". Of course, Jacob had other plans.
On Thursday evening, the 23rd, Amber started having regular light contractions. We rented a couple of movies from Blockbuster just in case we were going to be up for a while. We timed contractions through one movie and thy were very regular (ever 2 minutes, lasting 30-45 seconds). We decided to take a walk around 11PM and see if they kept up (a sign that it would be real labor) and they did. Because they weren't very strong, we went to bed like usual expecting to either have had another false alarm or wake up in the middle of the night with stronger contractions. Well, morning came and there were no contractions (DARN!). Jeremy went to work about 8AM. Amber laid down for a short nap and had a few light cramps. When she woke up and went to the bathroom, she noticed that she was leaking amnionic fluid! Yeah! Real labor should begin soon!
She called Jeremy to come home from work and called Teresa (our midwife) to let her know that the membranes had ruptured. That was at about 10:30AM on Friday, August 24th. Teresa suggested drinking very strong red raspberry leaf tea and taking extra vitamins to help prevent infections and start contractions. While Amber was making the tea, Jeremy arrived home (about 11:00AM) with fresh oranges and lemons for juice later in the day.
Light contractions started quickly and progressed slowly in intensity. Amber walked around the apartment putting little things in order through them, occasionally needing to stop and sit through a contraction. With amazing timing, the first set of cloth diapers from the diaper service arrived at 1:00PM! Just in time for Jacob's arrival.
Jeremy made fresh squeezed orange juice and homemade lemonade and then set about cleaning the apartment for visitors (Amber was impressed that he was the one nesting!) before taking a nap. Amber called the two student midwives who would be attending the birth to let them know that things had gotten started but were in the very early stages still. Teresa came over with her equipment around 3:30 PM to talk to us about how things were going and drop her equipment off for later in the evening. At that point, contractions were still not terribly strong and Amber was able to get more comfortable in positions other than lying down. This being a sign of early labor, Teresa went ahead to a meeting she had scheduled at 5:00PM adn we agreed that if things go more serious we'd page her.
Contractions slowly increased in intensity until Amber decided sitting up or walking around was no longer feasible and she needed to lay down to workwith them better. The contractions were 2-2.5 minutes apart and lasting around 45 seconds at that point. We got into a nice routine, having contractions, feeding Amber water, and making sure that she was going to the bathroom frequently, just like we had learned in class. After laying down on her side for a while, the contractions increased to a minute long. Teresa returned from he rmeeting around 8 PM to check Amber out and see how far along she was. To our suprise and joy, Amber was already 6-7 cm dialated, so Teresa decided to stay. Lisa (student midwife) made it over around 9PM and Becky (other student midwife) came around 10:30PM. They mostly observed and left us alone to labor.
Shortly after Lisa arrived, Amber got into more serious labor: she was no longer willing to talk between contractions and was very intent on staying focused and relaxed. She kept repeating to herself "open and let the baby out". The stronger the contraction was, the more Amber repeated that phrase. It helped her to focus on what the contraction was doing instead of how it felt which kept it from being painful.
Amber was caught unaware by the strength of the next set of contractions. The seemed to have just jumped up a notch (transition). Amber threw up while in the bathroom.
When we returned to the bedroom, she started vocalizing in a more panicked and high pitched tone and Becky suggested a low tone to help relax things. It worked like a charm. These contractions were unbelievably powerful. After several minutes of these stronger contractions, we went to the living room to let the midwives apply counter pressure on Amber's hips.
We returned to the bedroom and the midwives left Jeremy and Amber alone for a while. Amber squeezed Jeremy's hand during contractions and moaned through them. Shortly after standing to go to the bathroom again, Amber had the urge to push.
Amber pushed in the classic position (reclined on pillows on the bed) for about an hour and a half. With each push, Amber held her breath and curved herself downward, using her legs as leverage. She pushed about 3 times with each contraction and the last push always made her legs shake from exertion. Jacob was born at 2:07AM, abotu 16 hours after her water had broken that morning. The placenta followed at 2:28AM and we cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing.
Amber had a small tear that took 7 stitches. Then we had a wonderful herbal bath and did all the new baby checks and measurements. Jacob weighed 8 lbs 4 oz's and was 22 inches long. We marveled at him for the rest of the morning - exhausted but too excited to sleep!
From Amber's comments: Through the pregnancy, I had progressed through many feelings about the birth. I started out very scared of the pain and of becoming a parent. Once I accepted that there was no avoiding it and that I and the baby would be fine through it, most of those feelings resolved. By the time I went into labor, I had finally come to accept that whatever happened would be for the best. I also read a lot of birth stories on-line and I think that helped me to realize the wide range of normal labors and to prevent me from getting a preconceived idea of what to expect.
(comments in italics are Jeremy's) See pictures of our kids on the Brio Babies page!
Catherine’s birth story starts on
Finally, the real thing! On Tuesday, May 24th, the day started out about like normal. We were all getting tired of waiting on real labor to start so we planned to go pick strawberries the next day. Naturally, that didn’t happen! Fran had asked to come for a weekly checkup later on in the evening, so we were planning to have a big dinner (we hadn’t gone to our regular Monday appointment because we were having contractions). Jeremy and Jacob went to the library around 2:30PM and I almost immediately had a “real” contraction. There was no mistaking that feeling. I decided to lay down and take a nap – both to hopefully slow down/stop the contractions since I didn’t have a way to get in touch with Jeremy and to make sure I had enough energy for this to be the real thing. I had the same kind of strong contractions every 15 minutes while I was resting. I was starting to get a bit concerned when the boys weren’t back after a couple of hours. I was seriously wondering if I should call Fran to come out just so I wasn’t all by myself. While the contractions weren’t all that frequent at this point, they were already pretty strong.
Finally, Jeremy and Jacob came home and I told him what had been happening. It was about 5:00PM. I had been up walking around and the contractions had been about 10 minutes apart, so I decided we would just wait until Fran came out at 7:00 for the check up and let her know what was going on. Naturally, as soon as Jeremy got home, they jumped to 5 minutes apart. I helped wash the dishes and such while he made dinner – all the while having to squat down during contractions. By the time it was time to eat, they were 4 minutes apart. Fran and Brenda arrived shortly after we finished eating and we filled her in on what was going on. When I sat down, the contractions would space out to about every 8 minutes or so, but they were stronger. I definitely couldn’t talk through them and they hurt despite my relaxing. I could really tell that these were doing something. We also called Stephanie, our doula, to come out and be with Jacob. I waited to see if having more people around would stop or slow down the contractions, but they kept going just like before (woo hoo! This really is it!). We had quite the house full of people! (It really was just like a big slumber party. We just sat around talking and being together, especially after Jacob went to bed. Every once in a while, Amber would quiet up and have a contraction, but she never really got “serious” like I remember from the first time.. She was with us and engaged, laughing and telling stories for hours. It was cool and very different from our birth with Jacob.) Brenda, Jacob, and Stephanie played some Mario Party 2 to pass the time which kept all of us entertained. I enjoyed talking to everyone between contractions. We took a walk around the block with Fran and Brenda around 11:00PM. The contractions were slowly building in intensity but weren’t getting much closer together. We visited some more when we got back to the house and then they started getting longer and stronger. It was very difficult to stay on top of them and breathe through them instead of tightening up. I knew we were getting closer then.
Around 3:30, we moved into the bedroom. I had been squatting through contractions, so they laid out the water proof cover and stuff on the floor (the bed had already been made with a plastic sheet in case we ended up there). I felt like the contractions were starting to get “pushy” so I pushed a little with each one. That helped me get through them, but it wasn’t actually doing much. We woke Jacob up around this time so he would be there when the baby was born. He was very sweet – he brought me water and was very quiet and careful. I started having some pain in my knees and hips from being on the floor, so we moved to the bed to try laying on my side between contractions. While I felt better when I pushed, there wasn’t an “overwhelming” urge to do so, so I asked Fran to check and see if I was completely dialated. I thought I probably still had a lip left. She said I still had a full centimeter all the way around, so we worked through a few contractions without pushing. I reclined on Jeremy on the bed.
It was nice to be able to completely relax between contractions – anytime I had to move between them the next one was really hard to get through. I was getting pretty tired and Jeremy’s leg was going to sleep, so he moved and I laid back down on my side to rest between contractions. Fran had to walk out to her car to get something (pain medicine for her back), so it was just Brenda, Jeremy, and I in the room (Jacob and Stephanie were in the kitchen making a snack). Suddenly, in the middle of a contraction, I felt the baby moving down and out. I think I said something smart like “It’s the baby!”. I put my hand down to feel what was going on and I felt the forewaters (my water hadn’t broken yet (we’d been feeling her forewaters in there for weeks. It was strange and they just kept growing, kind of like a water balloon.)) come out, followed by the head and the rest of the body. Little Catherine was born in one push at 4:56AM on her due date! I didn’t even realize what was happening until she was out! It was so amazingly sudden after so many hours and weeks of slow build up. There she was! (Brenda caught her, although I was ready to. Fran returned inside directly. Jacob and Stephanie were able to catch part of the birth from the hall, but I think all they saw was the missile of a baby shoot out, not the head being born. It was an amazing experience to see the baby just appear like that.) Beautiful and perfect in every way. Her cord was a little short so she could only reach up far enough to lay on my stomach. We covered up and waited for the cord to stop pulsing before we cut it. I kept having painful contractions – something very different from Jacob’s birth – and I decided that getting the placenta birthed would stop them. I sat up and in a couple of pushes, out it came! Unfortunately, that didn’t stop them. I hadn’t felt any afterbirth contractions with Jacob, so these were taking me completely off guard. They were doing their job though – everything was contracting down and the bleeding was well under control. Fran and Brenda brought me an herbal medicine to help stop bleeding as well as some ice. Catherine’s sudden entrance into the world had been a little traumatic for my bottom. We tried the heating pad to ease the afterpains, but it didn’t do a whole lot. The herbs seemed to work well for controlling the bleeding though. Fran took a look at the damage after the swelling went down and said I had a second degree tear. We talked about going to the hospital to have it stitched but I really didn’t want to do that. We ended up deciding that if I stayed in bed with my knees together, it would probably heal up just fine on its own. It did, in fact, do just that.
Catherine nursed almost immediately and we all spent time just looking at her. Jacob couldn’t keep the smile off his face. He was pretty tired though, so it didn’t take long before he went back to bed. Fran weighed her at 7lbs 10oz and said she was a very healthy little girl! She was, of course, perfect to us!
There are lots of things I learned from this birth. Patience is one – 2 weeks of prodromal labor was maddening but apparently exactly what Catherine needed. I had dialated to about a 6 or 7 before going into labor on that Tuesday, so everyone thought once my body really got down to business things would go really quickly. Wrong again. It was still 14 hours of labor before she was finally born. I also learned that while I am a private person normally, I really do need to be connected to the people around me in order to function well. Having everybody be a part of the experience was very key to getting through it. This birth was very different from Jacob’s, but still resulted in a healthy baby. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
(Of course, afterward we were all exhausted, but Wednesday, the day she was born, was also our diaper pickup day for the diaper service, so I had to go out and make the rounds in addition to watching Jacob. It was a good experience, but by 1 in the afternoon I was really wiped out. Good thing Jacob went back with my folks on Thursday, and we had a whole weekend to recover and be with our new little one. After our first birth, I thought any subsequent birth we had would not be able to top it. But Fran is so knowledgeable and wise—it just made everything perfect and better than I had ever hoped it could be after the high standard Teresa set. Well, now there’s a new bar. Like I told them too, having a great birth experience like that makes you want to have more children just so you can experience it again.)