Birth Story – Jennifer from the USA

At 36 weeks I was having contractions, but it took me a few days to realize it.  They started when I was driving down to pick up my husband, Peter, from the airport.  I thought my pants were just uncomfortable.  The next day I was still uncomfortable, but figured it was part of being at the end of my pregnancy.  Day 3 rolled around and I realized they were contractions, but I was determined to ignore them.  Finally on Day 4 when they were 5-7 minutes apart I decided we should probably call the midwives.  After I was finished with work, and we picked up Peter’s car from the body shop, and got both the car and truck inspected, went grocery shopping, and drove 40 minutes back home.  I’m nothing if I’m not a procrastinator.

I called the main number for the midwives and left a generic message about how I was having contractions, but not to worry.  Turns out I had also had inverted a couple digits of our phone number when the initial paperwork was filled out.  They couldn’t reach us at home, and I forgot to turn my cell on.  After waiting several hours, during which I did barn chores, made supper, and cleaned the house, we eventually called one of the midwives at home.  She recommended that I take it super easy, take a warm bath, and drink a half glass of wine.  WINE?!?  Well it has to be better than the drugs I’d get if I went in to L&D at the local hospital.  Plus all the recent studies show minor alcohol consumption isn’t a problem[i].  Goodbye work, hello wine.

It took a few days for the contractions to settle down, but by 37 weeks they were few and far between.  The midwives came out for their visit that Friday, and I was good to go for a home birth and told I could start doing normal activities again!  We also met with an open minded pediatrician.  He seemed like he would let us, as the parents, make the decisions.  We also swung by my work to get updated on the barn news and bought two baby chicks from a local Feed and Seed.  Over all it was a great day!

Going into 37 weeks I was getting impatient, but not enough to get the things done that truly needed to be done.  Instead I played outside, cleaning the paddock, raking the lawn, sweeping the aisles in the barn, even riding my horse.  (It took some effort to get up there!)  By the end of the week I was having contractions every night, but they’d go away after a couple hours.  I was getting frustrated with not knowing what was going on.  Peter kept laughing and saying I was worse than the days leading up to Christmas (I’m a gift shaker).  Another 2 prenatal appointments with my midwives came and went.  They were pretty sure it was a big baby, and recommended I cut way back on carbs and sugars.  That was the only time a diet has lasted more than a few hours for me!  Peter came home from work around 3 in the morning and gave me the most amazing foot rub ever.  I think I fell in love with him all over again, well my poor swollen feet did anyway!

My gestational weeks started on Mondays, and Thursday morning of week 38 I woke up to the strangest sensation. I quick jumped out of bed and waddle-ran to the bathroom.  My water had broke!  I was groggy after being up late the night before and confused because I wasn’t having contractions.  I remembered reading that it doesn’t happen like that.  Women almost always know they’re in labor before their water breaks.  Apparently my mind forgot to tell my body.  All I had were a few measly contractions the night before.  But here it was…

Once I could leave the bathroom I scurried back to the bedroom to wake Peter.  After telling him the news I rushed back to the bathroom.  Apparently I wasn’t done in there.  It was a trip I would be retaking most of the day.  Chalk that up as the second thing I was unaware of for labor.  Peter called the midwife on call to let her know what was going on.  She said rest for now, and she’d call back in a couple hours to check on our progress.  Rest? Ha!  We stayed up, ate breakfast, put the horses out.  Played with the chicks, started laundry, called some family to let them know, and then tried to take a nap.  Peter napped, but there was no way I could nap.  There were way too many thoughts rushing through my head, I couldn’t even focus on them.

Around noon, our midwife Kristen checked in.  I still wasn’t having any contractions so we upped the dosage of herbs I was taking to try and kick start things.  The herbs were a combination of blue and black cohosh, red raspberry leaves and maybe something else.  We also decided to go for a hike to hopefully spur on some contractions.  After an hour long hike the contractions were just starting to kick in.  I still considered them to be in the category of “doesn’t really count, because it doesn’t really hurt”.  We went home, and called our midwife back to let her know that there still wasn’t much going on.  We finished laundry, put the horses in the barn for the night, and tried to stay busy.

Kristen got to the house around 8, and that’s when I decided we should probably eat dinner.  Silly me to forget such things!  Peter made a pizza while I puttered around sort of helping the midwife.  I ate one piece of pizza and decided to lie down instead of watching a show with Peter.  Around that time Kristen called our birth doula, Bridgette to come up.  She swung by one of the other midwives houses to pick up some supplies and got to our house around 10 or so.  I pretty much lost track of time after I ate, so all the times are my best guess.

A short while after Bridgette arrived my contractions finally started kicking it up a notch.  Peter stayed right by my side and held my hand while I breathed through contractions.  They weren’t that bad yet, and I could easily carry on a conversation in between.  At some point Kristen and Bridgette came into the bedroom.  Kristen showed Bridgette how to feel the contractions and use a fetoscope to listen to the baby’s heartbeat.  Kristen also did the first pelvic exam at that point.  We labored for a while longer in the bedroom before Peter went out to help Kristen set up the birthing tub.  Bridgette stayed right by my side and held my hand and chatted with me while Peter was out of the room.

Our water heater ran out of hot water while they were filling the tub, so they started heating water on our wood stove.  The contractions were getting more intense as they filled the tub.  Kristen asked me if I wanted to try laboring in the tub, and I was all for a change in environment.  I used the bathroom, and Peter brought me a swimsuit top to wear.  The tub was wonderfully warm, and as I got in I tried squatting because I had heard that can help he baby move down quicker.  Everyone was just wonderful! Peter pushed on my back when I needed it, constantly reminded me to drink water, and held my hand whenever I asked for it.  He was and always is my rock.  Bridgette has such a calming personality every time she spoke I would feel myself relax just a little bit more.  Kristen stayed right by my side, doing her thing, with such a quiet assurance I never questioned whether I had made the right decision.  I was so calm and at peace with what was going on, even though there were times that were massively intense.

At some point while I was in the tub, Kristen called the other midwife Kirsten to come up.  To me it seemed like Kirsten was there moments after Kristen made the call.  It must have been awhile, though, because she lives over half an hour away.  When she arrived I felt a sense of relief.  Everyone was there, and I knew that meant things were progressing.  I had switched from laboring in a squatting position to being on my side.  Poor Peter had to help support my upper body while I had a contraction.  I had also progressed from just blowing air out of my mouth during a contraction to moaning.  Very loudly moaning.  It never really felt painful, just extremely intense.  Around this time I had moved into transition, and was starting to question my thinking.  I kept seeing flashes of light, which turned out to be photos being taken.  I also asked Peter if this was all my idea, was begging for this to really be transition because I wasn’t sure I could handle much more, and when Peter offered me water, I told him I couldn’t drink because I was trying to concentrate on peeing.  Number three on the list of things I didn’t know labor would include: I can’t pee in a blow up pool in my living room.  Even if I’m told it’s okay.  I took swim lessons as a kid, and there must be some sort of mental block.

With my contractions I was starting to feel pushy, but it could be ignored.  Kristen did one last check and told me I was close, but had a cervical lip.  I still had to pee.  I’m not sure if I got out of the tub right after the check, but it couldn’t have been too much longer.  With massive assistance from everyone there, I got up and out of the tub, into the bathroom and finally got to go.  I felt much better after that.  We decided to go to the bedroom from that point on.

I remember being in between contractions in the bathroom and saying it’s now or never and hurrying into the bedroom.  My sweet Peter knew I didn’t want to be completely undressed during labor, and helped me get my swimsuit top off.  Then the contractions started picking up again, and I couldn’t muster the focus to put a shirt on.  Instead he just continually kept trying to cover me up with a towel.  I really wanted to thank him at that point, but speaking was difficult.  I was concentrating more than I ever had before.

We had finally reached the point where I could push.  Then we hit a snag.  Every time I’d pull my legs back to push I’d get massive cramps.  I was dehydrated, despite drinking electrolyte water like it was going out of style.  I had 2 packets of Emergen-C calcium in with various vitamins.  Peter mixed those into a glass of water and I did my best to chug it.  Still things didn’t seem quite right to me. The midwives were talking to me about something.  I think it was positions, or pushing, but I can’t really remember what.  I flipped over onto my hands and knees and started pushing that way.  Wow, it was easier!  I was having trouble holding my upper body up, and someone brought me my exercise ball covered with a towel to lean on.  Jackpot!  We really started making progress, and I didn’t need physical support from anyone at this point.  Kirsten was up by my head coaching me on how to manage my breathing/vocalization while I was pushing and Kristen was down spotting the baby.  There still wasn’t any pain.

With everyone there supporting and coaching me through it, our little baby arrived after just an hour of pushing.  I was pretty shocked when they told me I could carefully roll over and they put a baby on my belly.  The cord was short, and we still didn’t know if our baby was a boy or girl.  Wrapped in a towel, Peter and I admired our little bundle of joy until the cord stopped pulsing.  Peter cut the cord and announced that we had a boy! 8 lbs 10 oz, 21.25 inches long.  Braeden Oliver came into the world at 5:05 a.m. April 22nd.

Braeden is an amazing baby (as I’m sure they all are).

Peter talked to him so much when he was in the womb that he recognized his voice.  He was perfectly content being held by his daddy.  He had quite a bit of bruising on his face, so we opted for one dose of oral vitamin K, and I ate lots of spinach after the birth.  He dealt with a bit of jaundice but got better every day until it passed.

He was quite tough to feed in the beginning.  The only thing that would wake him was a diaper change.  Even then he would go back to sleep almost immediately.  He finally started opening his eyes in the daylight for more than a split second, but he always wanted to be cuddled up right next to you at all times.  That’s something Peter and I won’t ever complain about.  We love having him snuggled right next to us.

Amazing to think 17 months have passed, and Braeden remains the amazing baby he started out as.



[i] EP here: Jennifer is correct and if you’d like to know the research, I have covered it here.

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