A Water Birth at United: The Birth of Lukanu

NewFamilyI came to the Minnesota Birth Centers for my prenatal care in my third trimester of pregnancy. I was feeling extremely disappointed and frustrated with the care I had been receiving from my OB doctor at a “traditional” clinic in the Twin Cities. I had been told after my 20-week ultrasound that I had marginal placenta previa and that, if it remained so, I would need to have a C-section for the birth of my third child. I was terrified and NOT at all comforted or supported by my doctor. I began to realize then that I had to be my own advocate for my body and my baby. At a 29-week follow-up ultrasound, I was told that my placenta had “graduated” to low-lying. I was SO relieved! I also knew I HAD to switch providers. This felt like a big and scary decision so far into my pregnancy. It turned out to be the best decision I could have made.

My husband Eric and I were initially introduced to the Saint Paul location of the Birth Center when we attended a free presentation from the Childbirth Collective called All About Doulas. My older children Dylan (15) and Mazzy (12) had been born so long ago and this was Eric’s first child…this coupled with my insecurities about the way I interacted with my OB doctor left us searching for more support. We received lots of great, helpful information that evening and met lots of great doulas – one of whom we later hired! After the good news about my placenta I had a new determination for a better pregnancy experience.

I spoke directly with the Director of Midwifery Kerry Dixon. She was so compassionate and
understanding on the phone regarding my concerns with our current situation. What an utterly
refreshing change!! She urged me to come in to the Center for a tour. Eric and I returned to the Saint Paul location days after that conversation and decided that very night that we belonged there. The woman who guided the tour that evening and answered all our initial questions was Natalie Jacobson-Dunlop…weeks later she was the one who helped bring our baby boy into the world!

We chose to deliver at United Hospital instead of at the birth center. We absolutely loved the
amenities and energy of the birth center but I had delivered both of my older children in a hospital environment and felt the newly built wing of the Mother Baby Center was my personal best choice.

My water broke on a Sunday – my water had not broken on its own with Dylan or Mazzy so Eric
and I thought…this is it! We are having a baby today! The baby had other plans. We were checked twice by the midwives of the birth center over the next couple of days. Baby looked good. I felt fine. So I was able to continue to let my body do its thing and my labor run its course naturally. On day two we decided to stay at the hospital primarily out of concern we would loose our chance to birth in the big labor tub room. Natalie suggested I take some castor oil and get some attention from the on staff massage therapist at United. It had been nearly 40 hours at this point since my bag of waters had ruptured. I was willing to try anything to get my labor to progress quickly enough to avoid a medicated induction.

I sat back with my feet up as the wonderful bodyworker stimulated acupressure points and used lavender scented oil to massage my neck, head and limbs. Then I took a couple of swigs of castor oil and ate half a Jimmy Johns veggie sandwich.

Labor came on fast and hard! My wonderful husband Eric and our fabulous doula Aileen rubbed my back and held my hands, provided cool clothes for my forehead and the back of my neck. Aileen talked me through the really tough contractions with visualizations and encouragement and Eric provided a lovely, soothing soundtrack by hooking his I pod up to the docking station provided in the room.

A mere 5 hours after I was admitted to the hospital, Natalie checked my cervix. I was dilated to 9 cm! We quickly ran the tub. I was in so much pain and really wanted to get in the water. By this time, two young nurses were in the room as well. Eric and Aileen helped me into the tub. My legs were shaking and the contractions were so intense, I didn’t want to take the effort even to open my eyes. It took all that I had to just breathe. One contraction at a time. Just breathe. In… Out. In… Out. Ride the intensity like a wave. Giant cascading waves. Easier to ride the wave than to fight being pulled under by it. I had constant encouragement from Eric, Aileen and Natalie.

WaterBirthUnitedNatalie reminded me that my body knows just what to do. She told me how well I was doing and how strong I was. The water felt so nice and warm around me. He told me he loved me. Aileen snapped pictures on Eric’s phone. The two young nurses were at the foot of the tub standing ready. Natalie was getting her long, water gloves on to my right. She continued to encourage me in a calm and steady voice. No one once told me to push. My body knew. Three pushes later, He came gracefully from my body into the water, caught by Natalie and lifted unto my chest, embraced by his father and mother. Exactly 8 pounds and 20 inches of perfection! He was born at 8:38 pm on August 23rd, 2016. Exactly 10 years from the day Eric’s mom Deb passed away. It was as if our baby was biding his time after my water broke to give us this gift in memory of his Grandma:

SkintoSkinLukanu Vernon Taylor Hollenbeck

Vernon~ in tribute to my Mother’s Father

Luka~ meaning Light

Kanu~ meaning Handsome/Beautiful

Our Beautiful Light.

He really and truly is.

I hemorrhaged after Luka was born. I lost something like 3 times the normal amount of blood in a typical vaginal delivery. Natalie responded quickly and professionally. She did what she had to do to keep Mom alive.

I am SO thankful for my family. For my husband Eric and our children Dylan and Mazzy and our
new addition – little Lukanu – and the beautiful light he shines on all those around him.

Thank you to our doula Aileen – I highly recommend every woman hire a doula for her own
pregnancy/ birth experience. It helped more than I can say in words.

Thank you to the sweet and supportive nurses at United – their professionalism and energy
added greatly to our positive experience at the Mother Baby Center.

Thank you to Natalie and ALL the midwives at the Minnesota Birth Center. The care I received during my pregnancy/delivery and since is unparalleled. My husband and I both felt that we were treated with the utmost respect, compassion and love.

~ Becky T.H.

We love birth stories! If you would like to share your story on the blog, please email karen@theminnesotabirthcenter.com.


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