All photo credits: Alyssa Leon at Cherry Blossom Doula Services
I’m not sure when my birth story starts, I had been having surges for three weeks, some of them so strong that I couldn’t catch my breath. I had thought I was headed towards labor so many times I wasn’t sure if I would recognize the real thing. On February 2nd I told Sean I needed to have some fun so we went out to our favorite burger joint and then played arcade games at Fat Cats. I beat him bad at Space Invaders and we laughed so hard. I joked I would probably go into labor overnight since I had finally relaxed and had some fun. We went to bed and my phone rang at 11:30pm. My boss was calling, there were two moms in labor at the birth center and one was a breech baby that I had said I wanted to be at with her. So I sighed, said “I guess tonight is not my night” and headed to work. The breech birth went quickly and I hung around to be at the second birth as well. At 4:00am, both babies were out and I told my boss I was going to go home and get some rest if she had it all under control. She was more than happy to send me home. I had been contracting all night, but it felt like all the other nights so I didn’t think anything of it. I went home, crawled in bed and fell fast asleep... and then at 5:15am, I woke up to a gush of fluid coming out of me. My first thought was, "Ok, so I guess we are doing this now... Fluid kept coming out and it had vernix in it, so I knew it was amniotic fluid. I still checked it with pH paper because... midwife. And I quickly grabbed my Doppler and listened to Mia’s heart, because I was still in midwife mode! Sean sprang into action setting things up and surges started coming on stronger pretty quickly. He called my midwife friend, Sarah, and asked her if she could come. The surges picked up fast and hard and I thought everything was going to go fast. I tried to turn off my midwife brain. I knelt on the floor with my head in Sean’s lap and focused on breathing through each surge and softening and relaxing my body completely. We talked and laughed in between, we kissed, hugged, danced, we were enjoying labor. He was by my side through every surge, holding me, pressing on my back or hips, reminding me to relax and breathe.
I heard a song come on and heard the words “the storm is coming, but I don’t mind.” I cried hearing that because I was so happy to be in labor and so excited to bring this baby into our family. Hudson arrived at our house and came in to rub my back and say he loved me.
Sarah, Hailey (her student), and my doula/photographer friend Alyssa arrived and my surges were coming frequently. I checked my own cervix, it felt really far back and not very open and her head was not low. By how my surges felt, that didn’t seem right. I worried something was wrong. I asked Sarah to check my cervix and it was only 3cm. I tried to relax into things, but the surges suddenly got very hard. These surges were slamming me one after another and there was a pressure at my pubic bone that I hadn’t felt in my labor with Hudson. It was extremely hard to relax into the surges with that kind of intensity, but I refused to fight against them. It felt like my body wanted to shoot her out quickly, but couldn’t. I stood and rocked, I tried the tub, nothing was relieving the intense pressure at my pubic bone and it felt like nothing was working. My doula friend Alyssa reminded me that there were no expectations from my support people for this labor to be fast or easy. It was helpful to me to hear that, because I felt like I was inconveniencing everyone!
I could tell by checking myself that not much was happening. I finally just crawled in bed and laid on my side. It felt awful, but I tried to rest there. When I couldn’t get comfortable there any longer, I got on my knees and sank deep down into a kneeling position, trying to sink deeply into each surge, trying to let the energy of each surge push me lower. I got loud. I moaned and howled and roared at this point, trying to let each surge work and releasing every bit of resistance out of my mouth as the rest of me stayed soft. If I howled, I could still surrender and my body didn’t resist. I knew I was scaring the crap out of Hudson. He came in with wide eyes and I tried to reassure him that everything was ok and this is just how mommies sound sometimes to get babies out. I had to be loud, my body wasn’t letting me do otherwise. This labor was so much different than the peaceful, relaxed, birth of Hudson. He came easily and without much intensity or discomfort. This whole labor felt like the hardest part of his labor. My doula friend Alyssa was encouraging me quietly and calmly through each surge, reminding me I was strong and to let my body melt. Sean was a strong presence by my side always.
I asked Sarah to check me again. She did and said she felt some cervix left in the front and on the side. Luckily my midwife brain was blocked enough that I didn’t think about her being asynclitic at that point (tilted head) or it probably would have shaken my confidence even more. I continued to ride these intense surges, encouraged that she was lower and that I was opening. Sarah reminded me that this was my story, not anyone else’s. She wanted me to shut out the labors I had been at that reminded me of this one. It helped me a ton to hear that.
Soon I started feeling a lot more pressure and I asked Sarah to see where the baby was at. She told me to see if I could feel her head myself. I was afraid to check because I was afraid she wasn’t any lower, but I reached in and felt her head easily. “I feel her head!” What a crazy feeling to feel her head inside me. I was discouraged though because my body wanted to bear down but I could still feel a lip of cervix left. I could barely resist bearing down and the surges were so incredibly intense. I asked Sarah to do something and she said she didn’t want to hold the lip back because it might swell. I said I needed to push, she said “well, there is no research that says it is harmful to push when there is a lip present.” That was all I needed to hear. I took two fingers from each hand and put them inside and held back that lip while I bore down to see if I could move her. I felt her nudge down closer so I gave a couple more pushes and was able to slip that lip right behind her head. I gave another push and could feel her head was starting to crown. “Sean, she’s right here, do you want to feel her?” He reached down and touched the top of his baby’s head. I was so glad he was right by my side. I’m pretty sure that at this point I was yelling for this baby to get the hell out of me. I was protecting my own tissues as I gave another couple of nudges and felt her head emerge as I exclaimed that her head was out.
I remember yelling and swearing that I couldn’t push anymore and for Sarah to pull her out of me. I truly thought she did, but later Sarah told me that my body did the work for me. Mia had a tight cord around her neck and it was a short cord, so Sarah juggled her as she flew out of me and passed her under my legs. She told me to unwrap the cord and then my baby was in my hands. I sat down and saw that she was tiny, completely covered in vernix. I had done it. I couldn’t believe I got her out. It turns out she was asynclitic which was what made me open more slowly and made the surges so intense at the pubic bone. Her little head was perfectly round, so she didn’t help me out by molding the shape of her head to my body. She arrived at 11:55am in all her 6lb 4oz glory, and gave immediate healthy cries to announce her arrival.
I am so grateful for the people that were there to encourage and support me, as my confidence was shaken many times. And I am so grateful I had this baby at home where we could snug up in bed after and enjoy our family.