We are excited to share today an inspiring birth story from a couple that took a live Birth Boot Camp class. Their story is wonderful, honest, and triumphant. The right birth team (including a doula!), a confident partner, and serious preparation can make a world of difference in your birth. Enjoy reading!
Nothing about my pregnancy was textbook. I had no morning sickness, suffered no constipation and my boobs were never sore. My appetite never changed and I had no weird cravings. In addition, I ended up giving birth to my son at 13lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight (and 7 weeks postpartum I am over 40lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight).
I said, many times, that if I hadn’t known I was pregnant, I wouldn’t have known I was pregnant. At 40 weeks, I was so content and comfortable in my pregnancy that I truly feel I could have stayed pregnant for several more months. I told a number of people this, and I received the most quizzical looks. I just felt SO GOOD.
So why did my doctor insist on judging me when I went in for an initial pregnancy confirmation? Why did she feel the need to tell me that I would likely end up with gestational diabetes, which would likely require induction or a possible c-section. Oh! That’s right! Because I’m plus-sized. Apparently a person can’t be plus-sized and healthy. I mean, obviously tipping the scales at 324lbs means I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and eat a diet short in vegetables and high in fast food. Except, it doesn’t. I have never had a cholesterol problem, I have never had high blood pressure and I eat a well balanced diet with a homemade dinner every night.
The judgment I received from my doctors office, in addition to the free formula sample I was given at that appointment (as are all new parents,) solidified my already growing interest in having my baby at home under the care of a home birth midwife. And so I did.
My midwife is amazing. She had no judgments of me based on my size. She provided helpful tips to ensure that I would maintain my health, and the health my baby, during the pregnancy. She laughed at the way my doctor filed me away into a specific category. We celebrated a victory together when my gestational diabetes test came back just as we expected – negative. She high-fived me every time I weighed in a few pounds lighter than the time before, all while we watched my belly expand and baby grow just as he should. She and I knew that I was a prefect candidate for an intervention free birth.
As I approached the 40 week mark, I grew anxious to meet this little person that the mister and I had created. This little wiggle worm who never once kicked me hard enough to cause me pain. This perfect little person that had dozens of people already head over heels in love with him.
On Saturday April 13th (at 40w3d) I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with the most horrendous stomach cramps – much like when you have a stomach virus and absolutely MUST go to the bathroom RIGHT-THAT-SECOND. So I quickly waddled my way to the bathroom… except nothing happened. The sensation went away, to then be replaced by intense pressure in my lower abdomen. I thought, “well – this is interesting, and NOTHING like I had expected. Could this possibly be the start of labor??”
I waddled my way back to bed, and figured I’d try to sleep through whatever was happening. Except I was so excited at the prospect of this being IT that I couldn’t get back to sleep.
The pressure sensations remained, and sleep remained elusive, so I took myself downstairs to my couch – it’s the place I always want to snuggle up when I’m not feeling well. As soon as I settled down into it, I fell right asleep; waking every 15 minutes or so to another pressure sensation. At around 7am, I decided to go upstairs and let the mister know that we seemed to be onto something here.
He bolted out of bed with an enthusiastic: “IS IT TIME!?” and set to working on our list of things to
do in early labor, which included stocking up our bare fridge and pantry. I called my best friend, Seana, who was also my doula, as well as my midwife to let them know that there was SOMETHING happening. Seana said she’d be by in a couple hours to scope things out, and that I shouldn’t be surprised if it eventually stopped. The thought of whatever was happening suddenly stopping frightened me. My sister-in-law had 3 days of prodromal labor, and I was not keen on experiencing a fate similar to hers.
Sadly, after many hours of semi-regular pressure waves they started to be further and further apart. By 7pm that night, they were completely gone.
I went to bed certain that I’d have a repeat performance, so every time I woke during the night to pee. I silently scolded my body for not kicking labor into gear. When the mister and I woke up Sunday morning (April 14th, 40w4d) we were both disappointed that nothing happened. I decided to lounge in bed, while he went downstairs to make breakfast (can I just share that he is A-MAZE-ING).
About an hour after eating (scrambled eggs and whole-wheat toast with goat cheese, for those wondering) I bolted out of bed with the same urgency as the last time. Except, this time my bowels emptied themselves. Several times. Oh great, I remember thinking, I’ve caught some type of stomach bug!
I make my way back to bed and decide that sleeping the day away sounds completely justifiable. My body, however, had other ideas. The pressure sensations from the day before were back, and yet completely different. They were less pressure and more pain. Chris and I timed them for an hour before we decided we should notify both the midwife and Seana.
Since my contractions were only lasting about 30 seconds and coming every 7-8 minutes, we were instructed to call the midwife back when they were lasting at least a minute and coming every 5.
This is where my details start to get fuzzy… well, not the details, but their sequence of order. I remember my friend Emily stopping by with the potatoes we asked her to pick up for us (for the stew Chris was making for the midwives). I remember throwing up (several times!). I remember coming downstairs for a bit and I remember Seana coming by to time contractions and eventually leaving to tend to some errands she had. At some point, I went back upstairs to our bedroom (which had become quite cave-like with the drapes shut).
As the contractions increased in duration and intensity, I did whatever felt right to me. While I was downstairs I laid on the couch, but would jump up and walk over to our wall and lean against it, swaying my hips, with each contraction. While I was upstairs I did much the same, but would start off on the birth ball or the bed. Somehow I managed to pass out, more or less, and snooze hardcore in-between each contraction. Since the contractions came on in a wave-like sensation (meaning the sensation would start off very mild and build up into its full intensity, only to taper off again) I was always given fair warning before they got too intense.
I very much labored within myself, focusing solely on the sensation of the contraction and breathing/rocking/moaning through it. I didn’t want to be touched or talked to. Poor Chris; we had taken two different birthing classes to learn how he can help me cope with the intensity of labor and I wanted NONE of it.
Eventually the midwife came by to check on me. Since I had a colposcopy a few years back, she wanted to work out any scar tissue sooner than later, and it’s a good thing she did! Though I have no idea how long I’d been laboring at this point, when she came by I was only at a 1, but with some evening primrose oil and some massaging I popped open to a 3 with my next contraction.
My midwife then left, as I had a ways to go. I continued to labor in my own little world – pacing around the upstairs, leaning against walls, rocking on the birth ball. I just kept doing what I felt like doing. Eventually, though, I wanted to just curl up and sleep so I parked myself on the bed and stayed there until the tub was filled.
And oh happy day when the tub was ready! I parked my happy self in there and just floated in my little warm oasis between each contraction. Seana, bless her doula soul, gently poured warm water over my back, shoulders, neck, and chest and it was GLORIOUS! She and Chris took turns wiping my face with a cool washcloth, and after each contraction I was offered water (which was actually an electrolyte mix Seana made with essential oils and honey). I felt like a queen! Like a hard working queen.
At some point my midwife reappeared and checked me again, massaging my cervix some more. I was a 6 and with some massaging I opened to almost an 8. I had a cervical lip, so she instructed me to do some lunges with each contraction, which I wasn’t happy about, (I was still in the pool) but I diligently did with each oncoming contraction.
As the evening progressed, I realized I was hungry and hadn’t eaten for HOURS (no thanks to all my early labor barfing) and I asked for something to munch on. I nibbled on saltine crackers and honey, which helped to work out my jaw that had decided to seize up on me, and continued to joke and chat. I surprised even myself with my chatter and jokes, since I knew that (at last check) I was coming into transition… and I was DREADING IT. All my reading had told me that transition was going to be awful. Yes, it’s usually the shortest phase of labor, but it also tends to be the hardest. So I waited… and waited… and waited. Then I started to feel pushy with each contraction. When my midwife checked me again, I was good to go. Holy hell, I didn’t have a “the world is ending, rip this baby from my body, NOW” transition.
I started pushing in the birth tub… I THINK I was more or less squatting, but I really don’t remember. After some time, (since I had no concept of time, I really have no idea how long, exactly) I was asked to move from the birth tub to the birthing stool, since the tub didn’t seem to be working. I begrudgingly hoisted myself out of the tub and onto the stool.
When the stool wasn’t producing any results, I laid down on the bed and had a very hospital like experience. There were no stirrups, but I had two people holding my legs up and I curled my chin down onto my chest and pushed with all my might. When this still yielded no results, a grab bar was brought in and with my two legs being supported, a third person held the other end of the bar and pulled.
This continued for some unknown amount of time and I was getting exhausted. I knew it was sometime after 8pm, because the one and only time I asked for the time it was 8-something. What I didn’t know, is that it was also after midnight by then, and with only saltine crackers, honey and Seana’s electrolyte beverage fueling me, I had more or less reached my limit. In addition, my contractions were now double and triple peaking, so I was working MUCH harder than before. The team could tell I was getting too tired, and they tried all they could to motivate me.
Seana knew how much I was looking forward to reclining back on ANYTHING, since I had been avoiding it at nearly all costs for fear of a posterior baby. She kept telling me that “very soon you’ll be able to recline back as much as you like!”. Chris was a champ, telling me over and over again how much he loves me, and what a wonderful job I was doing. Though they meant well, they felt like words that have been said a thousand times to a thousand different women, and I found no encouragement in them.
I continued to push with each contraction, thankful that I had a few minutes in between, but complaining every time a new one crept up. I think I said, “Oh man, not again!” more times that night that I’ve ever said in my entire life! With each push that the water didn’t break, I was becoming more hopeful that little man would be born in the sac, which is a rather rare occurrence and has strong spiritual meaning in some cultures. Seana could see that the bag of waters was holding back my progress, and though she also wanted him born within it, she decided it was time to break it.
After a few more pushes with the grab bar, my midwife suggested I have a shot of vitamin B to boost my energy levels, as she could tell my pushes weren’t as effective as they had been earlier. Not one to want to prolong the entire experience, I quickly agreed and took the shot in the butt. I was then moved back onto the birth stool and I could instantly tell that the Vitamin B was doing the job. The contractions were much more intense (not more painful), though they were still double and triple stacked.
As I was pushing with all my might, I could hear Seana and my midwife discussing little man’s hair color, since they could see his head. OMG! We’re almost there if they can see his head! THIS was the determination that I needed, because within a few minutes, I felt a LOT of stinging (I recall more or less crying that it strung WAY too much) and then this release of pressure… not too dissimilar to taking a GIANT poop after being constipated for a few days.
I heard crying instantly, and there was a bustle of activity as little man was lifted up onto my chest for me to snuggle on.
Holy crap. I had just given birth.
Before I could even really let it all sink in, the activity picked up again and little man had his cord clamped. Though we had intended to do delayed cord clamping, his umbilical cord actually snapped on its own. We have absolutely no idea why, or how… they are quite strong. So for his to have literally snapped, (not to mention have several other gashes as well as some micro tears) is a mystery that we will probably never have an answer to.
After 17 hours of labor, including 2 hours of pushing, and a second degree tear (requiring a few stitches) Colin Christoper Avedano-Tucker was born into the hands of his Auntie Seana on Monday April 15th at 2:34a.m. We are absolutely smitten with our little miracle!
(All photos graciously contributed by Babymoon Birth Services in Sonoma County. You can find her here: http://babymoonbirthservices.weebly.com/ and here: https://www.facebook.com/Doula.Seana.)