a beautiful beginning: lily’s birth story.

My close friend, sarah, had quite the birth experience with her first born. lily was born in march ’10, and i was there with her through most of the crazy journey. as you’ll read, the L&D was smokin’ fast. after sarah’s frantic calls and text’s, “i think i’m bout to have this BABY!!!!” to “lily is here!!!”  in the middle of the night 🙂 , i made it to the hospital just after.  lily was so teeny and adorable. i pulled some of the images from my other blog to share with her story. Now sarah is half way through her next pregnancy and this baby BOY better stay snuggled inside to full term! she asked me to be at the delivery, so you’ll get to see his birth in a few mths! yay! can’t wait.

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Lily’s birth story is nothing like I ever imagined. Don’t you hear a lot of mother’s say that? Its so true. And I wouldn’t change a bit of it. You’ll probably think I’m crazy once you hear it, but…..I love every detail of it.
I should probably start from when I was about 20 weeks pregnant. Jake and I had just joined our Bradley Method Natural Birth classes and we were SO excited. (Btw, our instructor, Tracy Kemper, is fabulous. You can find her info under the resources tab on this site). One of the first things we discussed is nutrition and the importance of protein in growing strong, fat and healthy babies. I don’t remember the exact stats, but pregnant women should be eating somewhere between 60-80 grams of protein daily.  Let me tell you, I jumped allll over this. Once I heard “fat and healthy babies,” I was on it. Because I had this tiny little instinct. This crazy, gut-deep instinct that my girl would not make it to full term. I never thought my mother’s instinct would kick in so soon, but it did. And for good reason. Of the five birth’s in my immediate family (my mom and sister), three of them were preterm, with the earliest being born at 26 weeks. All four doctors in my OB practice swore up and down –from my very first appointment– that preterm birth is not connected to genetics and I had nothing to worry about. I didn’t talk about it much and hardly told my friends what I was thinking, but……I knew. And prepared anyway. So, I started socking away 80 to 100 grams of protein a day –that’s a TON of milk and eggs my friends! If my baby was going to be early, I was going to do by best to make sure she was the biggest and healthiest she could be (but lets forget I would have gained like 85lbs and had to shoot out a 12lb baby if I went full term. yikes!)
Everything progressed perfectly and I felt great. I loved everything about being pregnant. The glow, the roundness, the tiny kicks and flutters. Everything. I had zero indication that I would be delivering early. But at 32 weeks, my water broke.
I didn’t really notice anything until mid-afternoon, when what I thought was normal pregnancy leakage and discharge, started soaking through a pad an hour and eventually soaked through my pants. I tried telling myself that one of the kids I was babysitting had peed on my lap (never mind the fact that the wetness was on the BACK of my pants). On the drive home from work, I started having mild contractions every 7 minutes or so. I tried telling myself this wasn’t happening, that my instincts weren’t right, and crazily searched through all my pregnancy books for proof that my symptoms were not preterm labor. Except everything pointed to labor. I tried calling my doctor and Tracy, but had to leave messages for both, which added to my panic. Eventually, I managed to get a message from my doc that abruptly said “Get to the hospital. Get checked.” Exactly those words. Great bedside manner to a freaking out hormonal mother, right?  In disbelief, we threw some random things in a bag and left.
On the way to Good Sam, Tracy was able to call back and I cried on the phone as she told me she also thought I was in preterm labor. She was so encouraging and helpful, though, that we gained a little confidence and arrived at the hospital calm and ready to hear what the docs had to say. We finally were checked in and sent through to OB. The triage nurses didn’t believe for a minute that I was in labor and treated my symptoms as first time mom paranoia. When hooked up to the monitors, one nurse even exclaimed, “oh my, you actually are having contractions!” Really? I had been telling her that for 30 minutes! After the first cervical check and one test that came back negative — but I had done my research and knew this test had a high rate of false negatives– another, more advanced test was given. There was no doubt this one was positive. My bag of waters had broken and though I wasn’t dilating, I was in early stages of labor. The doc took one look at me and said I wasn’t leaving until I delivered a baby. I burst into tears and cried so hard, the poor man had to leave the room. I had an ultrasound next and I cried through the entire thing. Seeing her tiny little self in black and white, wiggling and kicking, just floored me. But, she was perfectly content and happy, as healthy as can be. The docs couldn’t believe how healthy she was, actually. A 32 weeker is supposed to weigh somewhere between 2-3 lbs. But not Lily. She measured in at FIVE pounds!!! Holy smokes, all that milk and cheese did it’s job 🙂


I was immediately admitted to Special Care Obstetrics and hooked up to IVs of magnesium (to stop labor), saline and antibiotics. I was given a continual drip of all three for the first 72 hours and given shots of steroids, in hopes that Lily’s lungs would develop rapidly from then until delivery. I couldn’t even tell you all the pills and drugs I had to take. Informed consent was pretty much thrown out the window and in our panic, we said yes to whatever they told us to do, no question. This was huge for me, as I am 100% for natural pregnancy and birth and struggled with even taking half a dose of Tylenol.
I was admitted to the hospital late Friday night, and Jake and I spent the weekend in a daze, staring at each other in confusion, wondering how we got here. It was surreal, discussing a high risk delivery and the emergency that would be surrounding Lily’s birth. So many doctors, nurses,  and (wonderful) friends and family in and out every few hours. We couldn’t keep information and stories straight. We also were never talking to the same doctor twice in a row, and all the conflicting messages and information were really getting to us. By Monday, we had made the decision that Jake would return to work. My contractions had eased and all but stopped and with limited vacation days, it was more important for Jake to be home with the baby, instead of sitting around in depression with me at the hospital. That first day alone was just the worst. Every time a nurse would leave the room, I would burst into tears. Fortunately, a very dear friend (Tracey Beckman we love you) rescued me that day and came bringing gifts….and a blessed laptop. I can’t even explain what it felt like to be connected to the world again with that laptop. It sounds so silly, but reading blogs and posting on facebook were a lifeline. I finally had something else to do, besides read my depressing books (all my literature seems to travel down dark and depressing back alleys– but that’s nothing new. My current book involved babies and small children being ripped out of their mother’s arms and sent to gas chambers. helllllllooooo, so dumb, I know) and stare at the walls and cry. The comments, prayers and encouragement we received online were such an incredible blessing and we are still so very thankful. Tracey is also an amazing seamstress and had made Lily her very first pink quilt and the most adorable pink elephant snuggy (yes, handmade too!). I latched onto that pink elephant and slept with it and cried into it at night– just so Lily would have something that smelled like me when she had to eventually sleep alone in the NICU. And the thought of her alone in the NICU still sends me to tears. But the three weeks she did spend in the NICU and all that we went through is a story for another day. I still don’t think I have quite finished processing that part of our beginning as a family. Ugh.

But anyways, after Tracey’s visit (and the something like 12th visit from Melanie. She’s such an amazing friend) I was ready to get out of my panic and depression and get to waiting this baby out in the healthiest way possible. So, despite strict instructions to stay in my bed, I lugged my belly up and out as soon as a nurse left the room. I sat next to the window and read Psalms and poured my heart out to God. I did my pelvic floor stretches and squats and some light yoga stretches.  If I was going to have the natural birth I was so craving, I couldn’t be mentally and physically strong enough for it just by sitting around all day. And the day I felt the strongest and most at peace, was the day I went into labor.
Before I get to that, I can’t miss Jake’s role in all this. I can’t even tell you how wonderful he was. Taking care of EVERYTHING. With all our belief that Lily would be premature, we didn’t prepare very well (I’m perfect for last-minute scatterbrained planning). Not a single clean onesie, diaper, or crib sheet to be found in our house– we didn’t even have a car seat! Jake ran around the city collecting these little necessities, all while taking care of me, our house, our finances, his work, the constant visitors and emails. So many trips to the house to get me a book, a clean pair of socks, my pearl earrings (seriously, I made him do that!). Sleeping in the horrible hospital chair all night, through nurse and doctor interruptions and getting up early to go to work. Praying with me every morning before he left. Talking to neonatologists and OB’s when I just couldn’t handle it. I have no words for how much I love this man.
Six days in, my contractions started around midnight, waking me up every fifteen minutes or so. I didn’t catch on to the rhythm until about 1am, and even then I didn’t wake anyone up. I laid in bed and collected myself, listened to my ipod and prayed. Finally, I woke Jake up around 1:30 and we called a nurse.  When she came less than 5 minutes later, I was already up out of bed and having such strong contractions, I had to stop talking and brace myself against the footrest. She didn’t even wait to hear what I had to say and called in the doctors. The doc had to use some special contraption to check my cervix and dilation because of the high risk of infection I was under. She took one quick breath and said “Well, I don’t need this– I see hair.” WHAT????? Exactly. It was a heart stopping moment. After only about 2 hours of contractions, I was 8 cm.  EIGHT. Things just went into overdrive. I don’t know how it happened, but nurses started coming out of the walls. Three were working on me alone. Two to strip off my clothes and the other to give me a new IV. In less than 3 minutes I was out of the that room and literally being raced down the hall to delivery. Nurses were yelling at people in the hall to get out of the way and we were running.
The next 2 hours were a blur. Somewhere in the hallway I had passed through transition and gone off into that secret place of intense focus. All I wanted to do was see my baby and make sure she was safe. After a point, it was just the two of us laboring together–our first experience of being mother and daughter. Amidst the pain, that was the sweetness that held me together. And the pain was definitely there. In a natural birth there is no running away from it! But it was beautiful. Seriously beautiful– a sort of reach up from the ground and rip your guts out kind of beautiful (!). But once you’re in it, the pain becomes a sort of side note to the progress you’re making and you’re that much closer to seeing your sweet baby. That’s when its beautiful.
I can’t say the actual birth was everything I wanted, because it wasn’t. We had so many plans for a smooth, calm natural birth. It was everything but. In all the emergency we lost our voices and did as we were told. Now I realize it could have been how we wanted (to a point. Nothing is ever exactly how you plan it, right?) That’s when a doula would have been perfect, to stand up for us when the fear paralyzed. But, despite it all, Lillian Violet arrived at 4:50am, 5lbs 10z, 19inches. Less than 20 minutes of pushing! She was perfect. The first thing I saw  was her tiny, impossibly skinny little knobby knees and legs. She was whisked away by the NICU nurses before I could really see her face. Amazingly, again, she was as healthy as could be. Apgar of 9 and 9, just like a full term baby! Not once did she need oxygen or help regulating her temperature. I was able to hold her for 1-2 minutes before she was taken away to the NICU– a moment I could not even possibly explain. I was desperate to follow her, but the after birth process had to be taken care of first. I was wheeled into the NICU– again, another indescribable moment. Tiny babies and their desperate and aching parents beside them– I knew my child instantly out of them all. Even though I was again not allowed to hold her, her sweet little face turned to my voice as soon as I leaned in and snuggled her in the isolette. She smelled like vanilla. My perfect, sweet girl…..who is now 13 months and the chubbiest, wiggliest, most kissable girl in the world 🙂
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thanks for sharing mama! great story. lily will LOVE to read this one day. peace, melanie and kelly.

Renae - April 14, 2011 - 10:53 pm

wow! Brought tears to my eyes. What a comfort to be able to turn to God in tough times! Beautiful pictures!

Denise Tracy - April 10, 2011 - 7:05 am

Even though we were informed by Melanie what Sarah and Jake were going through, this post shares the actual story and really pulls you into Lily’s birth. Wow…exciting, scary, beautiful and inspiring to say the least. Way to go Sarah for using that built in Mommy Sense…never leaves you…always go with it. Pictures are so beautiful and my favorite one is the in front of the window of mom and dad. Picture of ‘faith’. Lily is a beauty and well worth all the stress and confusion of her birth! Congrats!

guest post: wyatt’s birth story.

lauren shares her story of the birth of her son wyatt who was born last august.  thank you for sharing lauren, it’s very encouraging that you were able to push through and have the unmedicated birth you’d hoped for!  i pray next time you find a doula that is more fitting and supportive to you guys. for those of you who have know idea what a “doula” is, we will have a guest post about that later. 🙂 for now, just know that a doula is supposed to be the supportive, positive voice for the mother and father during L&D.

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So, I woke up on Monday morning [8.9] around 1:30 am with contractions. Jim started timing them around 2:30 am and continued to time them throughout the day on Monday. They continued, but kind of spaced out in the late morning. At one point, I didn’t have a contraction for 24 minutes. Jim and I didn’t go into work and I honestly expected that we would be at the hospital by dinner time, but that didn’t happen. Around 1:00 pm my contractions started hurting in my back…which sucked because I thought Wyatt would be sunny-side up. So the contractions up until this point weren’t bad, relatively easy to breathe through, and they were lasting for 30 seconds or less. As the day progressed, they hurt worse and lasted longer. Our doula came over around 9:00 pm. At that point, I was ready for a change. I had already thrown up, had diarrhea, and I’m pretty sure that Jim was traumatized by reaction to the change in pain levels. I wanted to go to the hospital, but she encouraged us to stay home, take a walk, take a bath, etc. I took a shower around midnight [I think] and it helped to be in a different environment with the contractions. After I got out of the shower, I said we’re going and to be honest with you, I wanted to go so I could get an epidural. I was exhausted. I was ready to be finished or at least know that I was making progress.

The car ride to Good Sam [about 20 mins] had about 6 contractions in it. It was miserable. We got to the maternity unit, left the doula in the waiting room, and went to triage to get checked. At this point, our midwife walked in [really, the best one I could have asked for, she’s fantastic] and I said I want an epidural. She said let’s check and we’ll see what we can do. I was 6.5 cm dilated. She suggested “Nubain” to knock the edge off before I tried the epidural. I went to a labor and delivery room, she went to get our doula, who further conferred that in fact I did want an unmedicated birth and so they teamed up and decided that they would do whatever to keep me from having an epidural. I got the Nubain [in my heplock, I didn’t have an iv] and it did take the edge off. I still felt everything, but I was able to rest between contractions. I should tell you that my water has not broken at this point. The Nubain lasted about an hour. At that point, I took another shower and I feel like this point in our whole labor [hour 27 maybe?] was my breaking point when I was done done done. I thought I was going to be a modest laboring mother. Not at all. My throat STILL hurts from the stupid low guttural sounds that I had no idea I was capable of producing.

After shower number 55, the midwife checked me again and I was 9.5 cm. My water hadn’t broken. She wasn’t going to break it. She said it’s good luck. Which I told her was a lie and she had to say that. I asked for an epidural for the pushing and they said no. They said that it would take at least 20 minutes to get the fluids in me and then get the epidural. I was wishfully thinking that maybe I would have a baby before then so I stopped asking. I was at the point where I could push and I was leaning on the side of the bed. I pushed for a while from that position. My water broke. Then I got up in the bed on all fours and pushed that way. At this point, it was almost 7 am and my contractions slowed waaayyyyy down. I pushed for 2.5 hours and FINALLY had Wyatt at 8:20 am. He was face down like he was supposed to be. I had a 2 degree tear. I felt FANTASTIC when he was born. I had been so worried that there would be something wrong with him, but he was healthy and beautiful and finally here.

So, it wasn’t completely unmedicated. It was for the most part, I guess. I don’t know if I had a chance to do it all again, if I would. Jim thought our labor would last 3 hours. I thought it would last 15. We both weren’t expecting for things to last as long as they did. And, I honestly did not expect the pain to be what it was. I know that part of the relaxing/hypnotherapy approach talks about the fear and pain and I wasn’t scared of the pain. I was shocked at how long it would last and how exhausted I would be. I still have a lot of stuff to process, mainly our experience with our doula and if I found her to be more helpful than hurtful.

Now, seven months later, I feel so proud to have participated in the process of bringing Wyatt into this world.  People talk about how life-changing have a child is and I was determined to let this baby change me on my terms.  I honestly had no idea how fulfilling my family life would become.  I still tell people that I am not sure if I would do the natural thing again, but what I don’t say is there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to have Wyatt in my life.  End of story.  If I had a chance to do it all over again, I would have been more selective in choosing a doula.  Because Jim and I were new to the whole child birth experience, we didn’t really focus on how well we “fit” with our doula.  I think it’s really important to still look for what you want in a birthing experience and not to be intimidated by what you don’t know.

thanks for reading! peace, melanie and kelly.

guest post: joey’s birth story.

it truly is amazing to us how every birth story is so different. from dayton, Emily shares her story of welcoming her son, joey, into the world. i love your humor, em, you crack me up. though, this story might make a bunch of mom’s very jealous, except for the being “overdue” part. :-0

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I am not a patient person; I don’t like waiting 10 minutes for my food to be ready, so asking me to wait 9 months for a baby is a pretty big stretch.  My due date was set for July 31st, but I bought into the false hopes of pregnancy – I listened when people said, “Oh, he’ll come early!” or “Look at that belly! He’s coming any day now.” I listened to these claims despite my doctors telling me that I was making no progress and, at the appointment a week before my due date, when they told me that the baby had in fact climbed back up into my ribs – the direction opposite of what I wanted – I chose not to listen to them.  Instead, I listened to the people who told me, “Oh, those things change in a matter of hours sometimes!”

Despite my false hopes, things didn’t change. My baby was in my ribs, hanging out, enjoying his fluid lifestyle.  July came and went without so much as a centimeter of dilation, although the Braxton-Hicks contractions had been hanging out for well over a month. My due date was a Saturday, so I wasn’t going in to my doctor for the due-date checkup.  I had to wait 2 long days, August 2nd, before I saw my doctor. At this point, baby wasn’t just past his due date; he was past his due month. Did I mention it was August now? It was hot, I was fat, and I was frustrated.

On the morning of August 2nd, I rushed into my appointment at 8:30 am with my husband by my side. When the doctor came into the office, I waited patiently to be checked. “No progress,” she said. None? I broke down in tears. “I can’t be pregnant anymore!” I sobbed.

The doctor told me that she would be fine inducing me because, at this rate, she could induce me now or induce me in 10 days, and she didn’t have hope that things would progress on their own within that time. I had known all along that being induced was a real possibility because my mom had been induced with ¾ of her children. I knew the risks of induction, but I also knew the risks of waiting too long. Luckily, I had no real “plan” for my birth. I knew I wasn’t going to go natural because I have a very low threshold for pain. Further, I’d been around enough babies and heard enough birth stories to know that despite the plans we make, babies have their own plans. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t plan for my birth, though. I took the approach of learning about everything. I knew what the procedure was for an emergency c-section, and I knew what it would be like if Joey came too quickly for me to get the drugs. I knew everything so that I could be prepared for anything.

It didn’t take long for me to decide that I wanted to be induced that night. I had approached birth and impending motherhood with the mindset that I needed to be happy in order to make my baby happy, and I would do whatever was best and safe for both of us. At this point, I knew I would resent pregnancy if it went on any longer, and I certainly didn’t want to feel that way. We made a plan for me to show up at the hospital that night at 6:00 to get things started. Since I had made no progress, the doctor warned me that it could be 24 hours before the baby was actually born. They were going to start with progesterone gel to try to get things going; this is safer than going straight to  Pitocin, especially since Joey wasn’t making his own plans to come out. Gels could be given every 4 hours, so she suggested doing four of these before trying Pitocin, and I agreed.

Steve and I got to the hospital at 6:00, but the first gel wasn’t administered until 8:00.  We wasted time by text messaging friends, watching the Reds game, and making plans with family for when they should visit. My mom lives an hour away, so she planned to come up around 6:00 the next morning, which we assumed would be plenty of time since we were expecting a 24-hour experience. At 8:00, the first gel was administered. I had to stay lying on my back for an hour to make sure the gel worked, and I was told I might experience some light cramping. Within minutes, I was in pain. I’ve had cramping, and this wasn’t cramping. I cried, held Steve’s hand, and wished I could just lie on my side or sit up. After 45 minutes, the nurse came in to check on me. “Oh, you’re having contractions!” She said it was pretty clear that the gels were working, so I could move around. Still having contractions every few minutes, though, the movement did nothing to relieve the pain. Did I mention that I have a low threshold for pain?

When the nurse came back in, she suggested trying to give me fluids to slow down the contractions. When that didn’t work, she gave me some pain medicine through an IV. This is where things get a little hazy for me. At one point, my sister texted Steve to say she was thinking of us. I made him text her back that I was thinking about dolphins. I then serenaded him with a few hit Usher singles before the nurse came back in and gave me an Ambien so that I would sleep (if you’ve ever heard me sing, you would have knocked me out too). While most people associate Ambien with Tiger Woods’ sexcapades, it is safe during labor, so I allowed myself to drift off to sleep. I think some people would be uncomfortable with this state of drug-induced haze, but I was pretty happy. I was still “with it” enough to ask questions about the drugs being given to me, but I was also able to rest.  At this point, we still thought things were almost a day away from happening, and I did not want to spend that day in pain. I wanted to enjoy welcoming Joey into the world.

Around midnight, the pain medication wore off, and the nurses decided to give me my epidural. I was concerned that it would wear off before the baby came, and this is when they told me that the first gel had worked so well that they were not going to use any more. They would let things progress for a while before using Pitocin. I asked that they let me know if they thought things would happen sooner than they thought so that I could let my mom know, and they promised to keep an eye on things.

After going back to sleep, I woke up around 3:00 feeling nauseous. I woke Steve, and he brought me a trash can just in time, and then called the nurse in. The nurse checked me and told me I should probably call my mom because things were going to start soon. A flurry of nurses rushed into the room, moving Steve’s bed out of the way and bringing in their equipment. I had to wait for the doctor on call to come in from the parking lot, but by 3:45 the nurse said I should start pushing. I gave a big push, and the nurse told me to stop because the baby was coming out on the next push. The doctor came in just in time, and I pushed again.  Joey entered the world, quietly but healthy, at 4:16 am on August 3rd. Within seconds, a sweet, pink bundle was laid on my chest, kicking those little legs that just 24 hours earlier had been kicking my ribs from the other side.

Despite always wanting control, I think it really worked best for me to not have a plan for my labor and delivery. I was happily surprised that the process only took 8 hours from induction to birth instead of 24 hours, and I was comfortable and happy the whole time. I am happy that I never had to get Pitocin, although I was prepared to do whatever the doctor deemed would be best. Joey is a happy, thriving baby, and I look forward to whatever process my next baby decides to go through (unless that baby also plans on being late. That won’t work at all).

thanks for reading! peace, kelly and melanie.

guest post: vinny’s birth story.

kate, a good friend of mine from high school, recently had a perfect little baby boy.  kate is a VERY strong,

courageous woman who shares the same passion for birth as kelly and i.  our goal in sharing stories is to empower

women in their future journeys of labor and delivery. L&D is something that is very often looked at and

approached as something that’s supposed to be miserable and scary.  while at some points, especially a natural

birth, it very much can feel that way, don’t get me wrong! whether you chose to go natural or to wear a sign on

your forehead that reads “give me drugs NOW!”, it’s your choice and no one around here is judging.  any mom

knows the pain of a contraction, but also only a mom knows the wonderful, indescribable feeling of holding her

baby just out of her womb. i thank kate for her honest, raw, admirable words. here’s her beautiful story, shared

with us from hundreds of miles away from North Carolina. enjoy:)

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There’s that saying about the best laid plans. I don’t remember how it goes. I know it basically means that you can make all the plans you want but don’t expect things to go as planned.
My husband, Dave, and I knew we would have to be very open during our birth experience. Our plan was to have a natural birth in water – no induction, no pain meds. We even opted to go to a birth center as opposed to the hospital. Hospitals in Charlotte have a higher epidural and C-section rate than in a lot of parts in the country. I switched from my OB/GYN to a midwife. I knew it would “seal the deal” for us to have a natural birth if I went somewhere (birth center) that didn’t even have the meds on hand.
Everyone kept telling us to keep in mind that there are “exceptions” in every case, so we prepared ourselves for the alternatives – maybe we’d have to transport to a hospital; maybe we’d end up needing a little “push” to start labor, maybe things just wouldn’t go the way we expected.
Even with all that preparation, all the reading, all the meditating – I don’t think we expected to experience what ended up being our birth story.
It was long. It was excruciating. It was frustrating. It was full of anxiety. It was a miracle. It was the most wonderful, exhausting thing I have ever experienced.
To put this whole story in context, you’d have to understand that the entire week before I went into labor, I had what’s called prodromal labor. Ever heard of it? Me either, until I experienced it. I woke up one Sunday morning with contractions that were about five to seven minutes apart and lasting about a minute long. Sometimes they would increase in intensity, sometimes they remained on a plateau. Either way, Dave and I both thought I was in early labor. My mom even flew in to Charlotte from Cincinnati.
Fast forward a week. Every day, every single day, all day, I had those contractions. Sometimes I would get a bit of a break – maybe a few hours or so without them. And I could sleep for a few hours at a time. But my entire body was tired from all the contracting. Combine that with the mental agony of wondering, “OK, is this it now? Will I finally go into labor today?”
And believe you me, we were pulling out all the tricks: walking, rubbing castor oil on my belly (NOT drinking it), taking baths, doing squats, sex, using a breast pump … and NADA was happening. I even told Dave to put himself in crazy situations – leave his car overnight at the car shop, turn off his phone for a few hours, etc. Because it was in those moments that surely I would go into labor, right? Nope.
So Saturday morning, I sent my mom to Kiawah, an island about four hours away from Charlotte. “Go, because if you stay, I’ll never go into labor,” I told her. So she went.
The following Monday was Baby’s due date. I woke up in the middle of the night and blogged that I was having contractions and that I knew I was in labor. The contractions just felt different. They started around 3:30 a.m., and right away, they were intense. They started about 7 minutes apart, which is about how far apart contractions were during prodromal labor. But there was something about these that told me that this was the start of active labor. Maybe it was instinct. Maybe the contractions just felt more intense. Either way, I woke up knowing that at the end of this bout of contractions, we would have a little one.
I called my mom around 5:30 a.m. to tell her that she better start heading back from Kiawah. Fortunately, she was already on her way (mommy instinct???). Dave asked me if he should even bother going to work. I told him to go. Even though I knew I was in labor, given our track record, I thought we might have some time until things got serious.
By 1 p.m., I was trying to get into the bath tub when a contraction hit that was so intense that I grabbed onto the towel rack and let out a cry. We called Dave to tell him to start heading home. Initially, I thought he could just meet me at the birth center and I could labor with Mom. But once the contractions got so strong that I had no choice but to emit low, long moans, I knew I needed my husband.
When Dave got home an hour later, he walked into our bedroom to find me lying on my side, burying my face in pillows, mumbling that contractions had moved to about 5 minutes apart. He and Mom made me a snack and made sure I kept drinking water.
The birth center is about 30 minutes from our house on a good day. As rush hour got closer and closer, Mom and Dave debated over leaving ahead of traffic. My contractions were getting stronger and closer together. In the end, we decided to labor at home a bit longer. I moved from the bathtub to the bed to the exercise ball. Dave held my hand during the tough contractions and told me he thinks I’m amazing.
As I’m writing this, I am tearing up remembering the strength I pulled from Dave and my Mom. If I don’t say it enough, I would have never made it through this experience the way I did without the two of them.
By 6 p.m., we decided we needed to get on the road. I was barely speaking anymore because the contractions were so intense. Our doula, Brooke, said she would meet us at the center. I knew we were getting close to meeting our little one, but I tried not to get excited. Hormones emitted when you get excited can stall or slow labor – and I had already had enough stalled, slow labor.
So Mom, Dave, me and Mona, our sweet dog, piled into Dave’s car. Our friends, Mike and Jackie, had agreed weeks ago that they would watch Mona during our labor and for a few days afterward while we got adjusted to life with Baby. I felt a sense of calm come over me when we were getting into the car. So far, everything I had pictured about this day was going according to plan: we spent hours laboring at home, I was eating and drinking enough to sustain my strength, and Mona would be cared for while we were gone.
That sense of calm didn’t last long. The road to the highway was literally paved with bumps. Each one left me yelling out in pain. Let it be said that the only time I cursed during our labor was during one contraction going over one bump.
By the time we were pulling off the exit, my contractions were nearing 4 minutes apart. I tried my best to relax and breathe through them, occasionally moaning during the peaks. Dave parked the car and looked at me. His eyes were so full of happiness and love – I knew then that I had made the best decision in the world when I said, “I do.”
Dave walked around the car to open my door and help me into the center.
(A note about the center: It’s only been open for a year, and it’s actually in South Carolina. Midwives aren’t licensed to practice in North Carolina yet (how crazy stupid is that?). So the birth center is small – just two birthing rooms, a lobby/classroom, and two small exam rooms for prenatal visits. They host a lot of prenatal classes there – breastfeeding, Bradley, etc. )
As soon as I stepped out of Dave’s car, a big contraction hit. I doubled over and Dave held me up as we waited the nearly two minutes for it to pass. As we were contracting near the birth center’s front door, months-from-due parents-to-be were filing into the birth center with big smiles in anticipation of the class they were about to take.
Then they walked by me. Moaning, super-prego, doubled-over-in-pain me.
I couldn’t laugh then, but I do now as Dave tells our friends and families that we must have scared all those folks. Not only did they witness the contraction outside, but the class was held in the lobby, right next to the room where I would give birth. Boy, did they get an earful of moans each time our room door opened.
Once we got inside, I peeled off my shirt and crawled onto the bed. The birthing rooms at the center are gorgeous – they look like a master bedroom suite, complete with a queen-sized bed and dresser. Oh, and what master bedroom would be complete without a birthing tub?
Dave brought in our bags as Mom walked Mona around the parking lot, waiting for Mike and Jackie to pick up the puppy. My midwife, Christine, came in the room, took one look at me and smiled – she could tell from the sight and sound that I was making rapid progress.
She immediately started filling up the birthing tub, which I was thankful for as the tub provides so much comfort during contractions. As our doula walked in, I was getting undressed and into the tub. I kneeled and hung my head and my arms over the side, slowly moaning through each contraction, which were now around 3 and a half minutes apart and lasting just as long.
I got in and out of the tub as needed to go to the bathroom (which I did a lot). Brooke fed me bits of the granola bars I brought; Mom kept the water bottle at my mouth.
Probably around 8 or 9 p.m. – 16 hours into labor – Christine suggested I might get checked so she could see how I was progressing. I agreed, but said I didn’t want to know. So she checked and said I was doing great – not quite time to push, but getting close. I quickly said, “Oh, just tell me where I am.” “You are seven centimeters,” she said.
What a great feeling. I was so glad she didn’t say I was only 3 or 4. I knew we still had some work left to do, but knowing I was getting close gave me some renewed energy.
We continued laboring in different positions – in the tub, over the toilet, on the bed. The contractions were so long and so close at this point – I was maybe getting about a minute break, and the contractions were lasting up to three minutes long. My low moans were growing into loud, guttural noises that painted fear on my mom’s face.
Around 1 a.m., I hit transition.
I had been feeling small bouts of anxiety since we had gotten to the center, and I kept reminding myself that those feelings meant we were getting close. Little did I know that those little feelings of anxiety could balloon out of control the way they did.
By this point, contractions were one on top of the other and extremely intense.
I had gotten out of the tub and was lying in bed. Each contraction was bringing tears to my eyes (and I’m tearing up again remembering the feeling). My mom had left the room – probably for a much-needed mental break. I remember saying over and over, “I can’t do this. I want to go to the hospital. I’m not strong enough to get through this.” Brooke and Christine, ever calm, tried telling me, “Kate, you CAN do this. You ARE doing this.” I kept yelling back that I couldn’t do it. I needed a break. A week of prodromal labor and now this?
Mom came rushing in near 2 a.m. saying, “Enough is enough. She is worn out. She needs to know she’s making progress and getting close.”
Mom laid on the bed and put her arms around me. I looked at her and cried loudly. “Mommy, I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t. Please don’t make me do this.”
Mom stroked my head and told me that she needed me to hang on for 20 more minutes. Why or how she came up with 20 minutes, I don’t know. She told me that I was getting lost in the moans (which I hadn’t realized were escalating during transition into nearly shouting). She told me to try to conserve my energy and just breathe. She told me to just try to breathe through the contractions.
So I got up and went into the bathroom. I sat backward on the toilet, putting a pillow on the back part of the toilet and my head and arms on the pillow. There I sat for a good 20 minutes to half and hour simply breathing. I didn’t even allow myself to think. Christine came in to check the baby’s heartbeat – I didn’t even acknowledge her being there.
When I emerged from the bathroom, I got into the tub. Instead of kneeling, I laid on my back and kept my hands on my belly. I continued to simply breathe. At one point, I opened my eyes and saw Mom sitting in a chair across the room watching me, her legs propped up on the bed. I remember thinking that she looked comfortable.
So I started repeating this mantra over and over in my head:
“I am sitting comfortably, just like it’s any other day.” Sounds silly now, sure, but at the time, it transported me to our house, on my couch, snuggled up comfortably watching a movie.
I kept telling myself that through each contraction, which were now lasting up to five minutes (or were simply coming one on top of the other, who really knows). I didn’t look at anyone – my eyes were either closed or focused on one of the recessed lights over the tub. When an extremely strong contraction hit, I stared at the light and told myself to take at least five deep breaths. If I needed to take more, I took more.
For an hour or so, I labored like that. Looking back, it was probably almost eerie. I had gone from nearly losing my damn mind to sitting silently in the tub.
In fact, I was so focused that I almost didn’t realize Dave had left the room and fallen asleep in the lobby. When I did realize it, I didn’t care. I would have done the same thing. We were approaching 24 hours of labor – sure I was clearly the most exhausted person in the room, but everyone else was showing their sleepiness:
-My midwife had to run between my room and the other one, as another of her clients had gone into labor that night.
-My doula also had a client go into labor – that woman didn’t even make it to the hospital. She had her baby on the side of the road.
-My mother had to watch her daughter go through excruciating pain, knowing she could do nothing to make it better.
So, we were all exhausted.
Around 3 a.m., maybe 3:30 – like I was even watching the clock at this point – the contractions were so strong that I began feeling the urge to push. Christine wanted to check me again, so I got out of the water and onto the bed. I was stuck at 8 centimeters. She said it was because my water – which had still not broken – was between Baby’s head and my cervix, which was keeping me from fully dialating. I couldn’t believe that I never realized that my water never broke, I never had my “show” and never saw a mucous plug.
I didn’t even hesitate when Christine suggested she break my water. “Yes, do it now.”
She did and I felt the warm gush. Not too much longer now, I thought.
Another 30 minutes and even harder contractions passed. Christine suggested we get into better positioning, as I began pushing almost right after my water broke. I told Christine I didn’t want to move. Each time I changed positions, a contraction would hit. I didn’t want anymore contractions, so  my logic was that if I stayed still, they would stop, right? Laughable.
Christine reminded me that we were extremely close.
“Then why isn’t the little a-hole here yet???”
Yes, I called my unborn child a little a-hole.
Everyone in the room gave a little laugh. Except me – I didn’t have the energy. I knew what little strength and energy I had left needed to be conserved for what was just around the corner.
I crawled back into the tub.

By 4 a.m. or so (maybe it was earlier – like I said, clocks meant nothing to me at that point), I was pushing. I could see the amniotic fluid coming out of me into the tub. It wasn’t gross – just looked like murky water. I was becoming more and more frustrated – I don’t want fluid, I want a baby!
Christine insisted I get out of the tub and labor on my side on the bed. Fine. We pushed on my side. We got back in the tub and I pushed on my knees. Mom and Dave took turns holding onto me as I pushed. I pushed standing up while Dave held on to me. I pushed on the toilet.
They brought out a birthing stool. I squatted on that and pushed.
By this point, Christine had called in another midwife. I knew that meant we were getting close. But what did close mean? I had been “close” since I walked into the damn place. If I heard “you’re getting close” or “you’re almost there” one more stinking time, I was going to reach inside myself and rip the baby out bare-handed.
Fortunately, it didn’t come to that. Christine and Lisa, the other midwife, monitored the baby’s heartbeat, which had started to drop. After one measurement, I heard Lisa say, “We’re at 90.” Uh-oh. That’s pretty low. I snapped out of my focus and said, “I don’t like this.”
Calm as ever, the midwives placed an oxygen mask over my face and told me everything was fine. The baby’s head seemed to be stuck, which was creating some stress, which was making his heart rate slow. I would have to labor on the bed until he was born.
Just like that, our water birth went out the window. At the time, I couldn’t care less. Pushing felt “good.” I say “good” because it was better than not pushing. I felt I was working with my contractions as opposed to just tolerating them. Besides, I was looking for the shortest route to actual birth, and if laboring on the bed would get me there quickest, then that’s what I wanted.
We started pushing with me lying on my side. I pulled my knee toward my chest and pushed as hard as I could. Christine said that during each push, she would see the head. I didn’t want to “just see” the head. Out. I wanted the head OUT.
I moved onto my back. Dave lay next to me on the bed, holding my hands and whispering over and over that we were close, just hang on Kate, we’re so close. Mom kept dabbing my forehead with a cold washcloth. Brooke and Lisa held my feet as Christine kept her hands in place to help guide the baby out. I cried in between contractions. My muscles had been spasming from being weak since midnight – they were completely depleted of energy. I remember Dave whispering to my Mom at one point, “Look at her whole body shaking – her body is so tired it’s quivering.”
My mind was getting close to panic mode again.
I could feel the baby moving down during pushes and move back up inside of me as they ended. Christine told me to try to keep him from sliding back in between contractions, which meant that I really couldn’t rest at all. I would push and hold – hold – hold, then push again.
Finally, after hearing a million times, “Great push, Kate!” and “That’s it – that’s exactly what you need to do” and “You are doing it – you are making progress,” I heard the one thing I wanted to:
“Kate, a few more pushes and he’s out.”
That’s all I needed to hear.
“I am getting this kid out of me,” I said with the slightest hint of renewed energy. Again, everyone in the room let out a little laugh. Not me – I was dead serious.
On the next contraction, I held the pushes past what I would have thought was my breaking point. I opened my eyes and looked at Christine, who was looking right back at me saying, “OK, Kate, he’s coming out on this next contraction. Push out the head and then listen for my voice. I might need you to stop – listen for me.”
I nodded and closed my eyes – the next contraction was already starting.
I felt the baby’s head slide out. I waited for Christine, who quickly said, “Keep going, Kate, he’s coming, keep going.”
One more big push and I felt a warm, slimy little creature get placed on my chest. I wrapped my arms around him and looked at Dave, who couldn’t hold back his tears. I looked down at the top of the baby’s head. I was trying to get a good look at his face and the rest of his body, but I didn’t have the strength to keep my eyes open, much less lift up his head.
So I laid back and let my body relax. I placed my hand on Baby’s head and said, “Thank you for finally coming out of me.”
For the third time, everyone else in the room let out a laugh – but not me. I didn’t have the strength, nor did I find what I said to be funny. I genuinely meant what I said. It had been some 27 hours since those initial intense contractions. I felt I had been to hell and back more than once. I lost my mind, got it back and had felt myself losing it again.
I was so relieved he had finally made it. He was in my arms – breathing, blinking and letting out tiny, newborn baby cries. He was our miracle. And he was all ours.
He laid with me for about 20 minutes and nursed. After all the snuggling we wanted, Christine took him to get measured. He weight 8 pounds, 2 ounces and was about 21 inches long. We left with Vinny, our son, about three hours later to recover in our own home.

 

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if you’d like to share your birth story, let us know! email info@cincinnatibirthphotography.com

every story is so different, beautiful and unique in their own way and we’d love to share it.

peace, melanie and kelly.

 

nori jo’s birth story

wouldn’t it be amazing if we could plan every detail of our children’s birth? YES! unfortunately, not being the case, Nori

remained breech. after adam and i attended 12 weeks of Bradley Natural Birthing Classes, “scheduled csection” wasn’t

exactly what i wanted to hear. 🙁 we remain very passionate about natural birthing and hope to experience the next go

around! At 30 wks we found out little nori was laying transverse and she should have already been head down by that point.

i wasn’t worried cause she had plenty of time, but that day started the wild goose chase to fix the situation. i researched the

heck out of ‘breech’ presentations online and began doing EVERY technique/procedure that seemed to work for everyone

else. as the weeks went by and the doc’s started using that dreaded term “c section,” I started becoming a little bit crazy.

we took it up a notch and instead of “laying on a 30 degree slant”, adam would put my legs over his shoulders and hang

me completely upside down! nothing. i paid hundreds of dollars to every sort of therapist/chiropractor who swore of 97%

success rates for flipping breech babies. nothing. the last option was at 37 weeks, we checked into the hospital (bags

packed in case of emergency), and the doctor performed an ECV on me.  while it was very painful and left

me bruised and sore, it wasn’t successful.  at that point, many offered to help us find a doctor who would deliver

a frank breech baby. but with much meditation, prayer and finally acceptance, we decided everything DOES happen

for a reason. we THOUGHT the baby and i were healthy and wanted to keep it that way…

~~~

my last belly shot, just before they gave me my heplock to prep for surgery. 39 weeks.

my BFF emily was able to be with us to support me and take cool pics that my husband was too afraid to take. he’s a wimp.

i wish the roles were reversed, i would have loved to take shots of that!

as if i wasn’t swollen enough…they had to pump me full of THREE fluid bags in the hour leading up to surgery! aghhh!!

thankfully adam hid my dbl chin 🙂

i couldn’t believe adam didn’t pass out. i was even more impressed he was able to stand up and get this!! he did it so fast,

he must not have realized what he did!

remember how i said she was breech? for the last 9 weeks in the womb her feet were touching her face 🙁 when they inked

her little feet, she got black on her ears and nose!! she stayed like this the first few days unless we swaddled her legs down!

think she will be a gymnast when she grows up?

she was so wittle! as you could see her color was VERY white. when babies come out the nurses quickly assess a number of

things, and give them an apgar score out of 10. nori’s was 4. that is dangerously low.

the transfer from the operating room to recovery. it was about a 30 second ride. this was the first and only time i got to

hold her for the first 36 hours of her life.  soon after this, adam and the nurses took her to the NICU. and thank God emily

was with me and able to go get our parents. i needed support IMMEDIATELY!!

in recovery, the nurses were all crowded around nori getting ready to take her. i wasn’t even able to see her from my bed.

since i was able to use my upper half (ha!) just fine… i snapped some proud daddy shots. for fathers day i bought adam a

plain tshirt so they could stamp her feet on him 🙂

in the NICU they knew something was wrong but couldn’t figure it out exactly. without the oxygen she’d lose her color

but her heart and lungs were fully developed so it wasn’t making sense. her hemoglobin count was 16 and should have

been around or above 40. they knew she didn’t have enough blood in her, which is why she wasn’t receiving enough

oxygen to keep her color.

here she is all ‘hooked up’. 🙁 they took my blood after they took hers and found i had ‘baby blood’ in me. which meant

my placenta had been leaking blood and they didn’t know it.  my body was absorbing the blood she should have been

receiving! once they established this, they knew blood transfusions would solve her problem. the red tube leading into her

hand was blood. after receiving blood for about 10 hrs, she then became jaundice :-/ thankfully it stayed at an ok count

that she didn’t have to be under the lights.

once i was able to feel my lower half (about dinner time), erin was allowed to wheel me to the NICU. Daddy had literally been

standing there by her side like this the entire time.  by almost midnight i had to beg him to come back to the room with

me and go to bed.

about 48 hours later they finally released her to be with us! the walk out of the NICU was very exciting but at the same time,

it was the saddest moment. as they wheeled her incubator past all the other sickly TEENY tiny babies in the NICU, my heart

sunk wondering if and when they will ever be released. we were so blessed to be walking out with a beautiful healthy baby

who practically looked like a giant next to them. this picture was just after the first time i was able to breastfeed her. i was

very VERY happy she was able to feed since they were supplementing her in the NICU with bottles.

they later told me the tear/detachment/leak/?? was most likely,(w/o taking full responsibility) caused by the ECV

procedure.  you know, that procedure i was VERY unsure about and wanted to avoid at all costs because it could

damage my placenta…yah, that one. they sent my placenta to the lab to see what happened. i was never given direct

answer, which is a WHOLE other story, but it does clearly explain why she was so small in weight and length.  she

was smaller than they estimated her to be at the ECV, which means, last two weeks she wasn’t receiving the full amount of

blood and nutrients to continue growing. 🙁 after all the drama she was finally discharged only one day late! yippee! the

hospital team told us to act as if none of it ever happened?! they said she was healthy now and that the transfusions will

never be an issue again. THANK YOU GOD!! we knew she was going to be an excellent christmas present…

we didn’t know she was going to be our christmas miracle!!  she’s perfect. -written in jan 2010.