M’s Birth Story

M’s Birth Story

Mama: Alex T.

Stats: 7lbs 1oz, 20.5 inches

Type of Birth: Vaginal, unmedicated

Birth Location: Freestanding Birth Center

Primary Care: Midwife

Since I went into labor with my first baby at 37.5 weeks, I wasn’t sure what to expect with my second. Both my husband and I had it in our heads that Easter weekend was going to be when this little guy decided to make his appearance… for no reason other than intuition.

Image by Jessica Kay Photography

37 and 38 weeks came and went and I found myself in uncharted territory. I was uncomfortable, none of my maternity clothes really fit anymore, my body ached and I was really getting tired. I finally understood what it meant to be “done” with pregnancy… a feeling I’d never experienced with my first. My loving husband bought me a gift certificate for a couple of prenatal massages and they really helped me get through those feelings at the end of my pregnancy. Seriously, all mamas should have at least one in the third trimester!

Saturday morning (38w, 5d, the day before Easter) I woke up to some contractions that were significantly different than any of the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d been having. They were incredibly low in my abdomen and in my lower back. They were uncomfortable, and only occasionally painful. I knew this could be it, but I just went about my morning as chill as I could. My husband was at a sharpshooting match that morning and politely requested I hold off any labor until he got home. My son TJ, who’s 4.5, requested that I not have his little brother on Easter because he was going to be “busy looking for eggs” that day. I laughed at both of them.

These new contractions were about 20-30 seconds long and ranged from 5 to 15 minutes apart. By lunchtime they fizzled out and I was only having one every half an hour or so. I ate lunch, drank some water and I took a nap when TJ napped and I didn’t have any contractions then.

After our naps and after my husband came home, the contractions picked up again. I let him know what was happening, but that I really wasn’t sure if this was it. I took a long shower and drank more water. Before dinner, contractions were 5 to 7 minutes apart, but still only 30-40 seconds long, and the majority of them were very manageable. I sent text messages to my midwife and birth photographer to let them know what was going on. My husband got our truck packed and the infant car seat installed. He thought this was go-time, even though I wasn’t convinced.

After dinner, my mother-in-law put our 4.5 year old son to bed while my husband and I went for a walk around the block. The contractions had started to space out again and I hoped the walk would kick things into gear. We walked for about 25 minutes when I got tired and decided I was just going to go to bed. The walk didn’t work and contractions were now 20 to 30 minutes apart and getting weaker.

I was discouraged and sent text messages to my midwife and photographer telling them I was going to bed and that I’d let them know if anything changed.

We all went to bed and I fully expected to wake up in the morning to a new day, an Easter egg hunt with TJ, and maybe some more contractions. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Image by Cari Hollis - Photographer & Birth Doula

About two hours later (about 1:45 am) I woke up to go pee and had a super strong contraction while walking to the bathroom. While sitting on the toilet I continued to have contractions that were only a couple of minutes apart and lasting well over a minute. I had to focus and concentrate on my breathing through them all.

After a few of them, I felt a small pop and some fluid trickling. I immediately knew that my water had broken. It wasn’t a huge gush, but a trickle every time I had a contraction.

My husband came into the bathroom to check on me and I told him that we needed to call the midwife and get going right now. This was the real deal and I had no idea how quick this was going to be.

He went downstairs to wake up TJ and his mom and get them dressed and into the truck while I tried my damnedest to get my butt off the toilet. It took a lot of willpower to get up, get some clothes on and physically get myself into the truck with contractions only a couple of minutes apart. My husband followed me down the stairs with his hands on my lower back the whole way.

The 15 minute drive to the birth center sucked ass, but I was thankful to have a few minutes between contractions. I can tell you exactly which bumps in the road made me swear under my breath while my 4.5 year old was happily chatting behind me. He was so excited that this was happening in the middle of the night, something he’d requested.

During the drive, I was texting my birth photographer to let her know we were on our way and we debated having her meet us there or wait until I’d had a cervical exam to come. Waiting until my cervix was checked made the most sense to me, so I told her we’d text her after I was checked. Yeah, I regret that decision.

We pulled into the birth center just as my midwife and assistant arrived. She rushed upstairs to get things ready while I slowly got myself out of the truck. I had a contraction that almost brought me to my knees right there in the parking lot but my husband held on to me and kept me focused.

I got into the birthing room, stripped off my skirt and undies and worked my way onto the bed so my midwife could check my cervix. The second midwife arrived a minute later and I heard someone turn on the water to start filling up the tub. I had one powerful contraction while laying down before she could examine me, then she was super quick with her exam. I was 9cm!

As soon as that registered in my head I asked my husband to text the photographer. Before he could hit Send, the next contraction started and I quickly shouted for my husband and the birth assistant to help me up onto my hands and knees; I couldn’t handle another contraction while laying on the bed.

That contraction literally rocked me and my body was pushing. I shouted that I felt “pushy” and I put my hand between my legs in some sort of futile effort to stop the pushing. I felt my son’s head crown almost immediately and it took every ounce of strength I had to slow down that push so his head didn’t come out too fast. I was literally gasping for breath to gain a tiny bit of control over my body as both midwives and the assistant were looking for a mirror and a flashlight to see what was going on. I really, really didn’t want to tear! My husband had his arm around me and I buried my face into his shoulder, willing my body to slow down.

I was somehow able to ease my son’s head out slowly when the contraction finally ended and I had a moment of relief. I felt the next contraction begin and warned everyone that it was coming. His shoulders eased out and the rest of him followed. I picked him up and brought his slimy, squirmy body right to my chest and I’m pretty sure I looked up at everyone and said, “wow!”

With some help, I took off the tank top I had been wearing, rocked back onto the bed and snuggled with my brand new son. TJ came over to check out his baby brother and I asked him what he thought; he had watched the whole thing from across the room. He said it was pretty cool.

Image by Earthside Birth Photography

Image by Earthside Birth Photography

From the time we arrived at the birth center to the time M was born was approximately 15 minutes!

A couple of minutes later our photographer arrived. I felt SO bad that she missed his fast and furious birth. If only I had told her to just come when we first arrived!

Image by Earthside Birth Photography

We all snuggled together while she shot some photos, I delivered my placenta and my husband cut the umbilical cord. And happily, no tearing!

Image by Earthside Birth Photography

After about two hours, my midwife was getting a little concerned that my uterus was taking its sweet time to clamp down and she was keeping a close eye on my blood loss. She said my placenta had come out backward and she was concerned that a couple of pieces were still in my uterus… something that can happen when the placenta comes out that way. Some poking and prodding wasn’t helping so she started a saline IV and gave me a shot of Pitocin in the leg to see if that helped. It didn’t really, so I was given a dose of Misoprostol orally as well. Misoprostol is also known as Cytotec and is often used for hospital inductions. It’s pretty well known for it’s use to help stop postpartum hemorrhaging, too.

Image by Earthside Birth Photography

It had been about two and a half hours since my son had been born and my body was still bleeding at a steady trickle.

We had a decision to make. My midwife could try to manually extract clots or retained placenta from my uterus and see if that did the trick. It’s a very painful procedure, and she really didn’t think anyone should go through it without pain medication. I wasn’t hemorrhaging terribly, but it was getting to the point where we didn’t want this to turn into an emergency situation.

The other option would be to transfer to the local hospital via ambulance, have an ultrasound to see what was going on and go from there. The OB could do a manual extraction of any clots or retained placenta with pain meds for me. And if a D&C or a blood transfusion was needed, we’d already be there to get it going.

As much as it pained me to admit, transferring to the hospital was really the best option. M was quickly weighed and measured and a quick newborn exam was done while an ambulance was called for me and we got the process going. Since I wasn’t hemorrhaging profusely, lights and sirens weren’t needed, much to my older son’s chagrin.

Snuggling in the hospital

In the ER I was given another bag of fluids along with some more Pitocin and the on-call OB came down to do an ultrasound. She saw that there were some big clots in the lower part of my uterus and she was confident that she could extract them manually. If the bleeding stopped then I’d be able to avoid a D&C and hopefully go home later that day.

And, thankfully, that’s exactly what happened.

We transferred to L&D, I was given a dose of Fentanyl and she manually extracted some clots from my uterus. It was not pleasant at all, but she worked very quickly and I was feeling a LOT better about 20 minutes later. I was very grateful that my body was handling the blood loss really well. I was very pale and a little shaky (also a side effect of the Misoprostol), but I never felt dizzy or lightheaded or had a drop in my blood pressure. I even got up to use the bathroom a few times and didn’t pass out. After all was said and done, I had lost over a liter of blood.

My blood loss was monitored for a few hours along with any signs of infection, and by 3pm that same day, I was discharged and heading home.

The folks at the hospital were really wonderful and every time a new resident, nurse or doctor introduced themselves, they apologized that I had to be there at all; understanding that the whole point of delivering at a birth center was to skip the hospital all together.

In hindsight, I will admit I felt like I was jipped from part of the peaceful birth experience I had hoped for because of the hospital transfer. My son’s birth was incredible and exhilarating and I am so grateful that we are both healthy. I know that I had no control over what happened afterward, and in reality, I had the best possible outcome after a severe postpartum bleed. And at no time did I wish I had just given birth in a hospital.

But a little part of me grieved for the moments I wanted to experience during that blissful postpartum period. I was hoping to take an herbal bath with both of my sons after M’s birth, something my older son was really looking forward to in the birth center’s big bathtub. Even though he totally understood why it didn’t happen, he was still sad, and it broke my heart a little bit when I had to explain to him why we couldn’t do that.

Image by Earthside Birth Photography

My amazing birth photographer Ginger, made some arrangements with my birth center and almost two weeks after my son’s birth, we finally got to take that postpartum herbal bath that I had hoped for (and take some photos!). We didn’t tell TJ about it until we actually got there since there was always the possibility that we couldn’t if a laboring mom needed the room. But we did and he was so happy. We soaked in the tub and snuggled skin-to-skin, letting the herbs heal our tired bodies.

Image by Earthside Birth Photography

Image by Earthside Birth Photography

After a hectic two weeks of almost daily heel pricks to check M’s bilirubin, doctor visits, and two hospital stays (my transfer plus two nights with M for jaundice), I finally felt like I had some peaceful closure to what was very likely my last journey with pregnancy and childbirth.

Image by Earthside Birth Photography

9 Responses to M’s Birth Story

  1. What a beautiful, amazing birth story!! you are such a strong mama! Way to go!

  2. Wow - what a quick arrival! Sorry your photographer missed it, but so glad you got a make up session with both of your boys. Best of luck mama

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  6. I’m sorry you had to transfer. The people at your birth center must really know the value of psychological healing when things don’t go exactly as we hope. It was awesome of them to let you do the herbal bath when things calmed down. Congratulations :)

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