The Well-Timed Birth of Felix

My pregnancy was long anticipated. We had struggled with infertility for six years before miraculously conceiving our son. I was eager and excited for his birth, but also had a feeling of disbelief that I was actually going to meet him and become a mom.

I woke up at 3:30 AM with back cramps that reminded me of severe diarrhea I had had in the past. I kept getting up and going to the bathroom thinking that at some point I’d be able to pass whatever it was that was disagreeing with me.

At some point, after a few failed attempts to get relief I thought, “Maybe I should time these pains that seem to come and go.” And sure enough there was some regularity to them. They’d come about every fifteen minutes. Shortly after that realization my husband rolled over in bed and looked at me. It was about five thirty at that point. I said, “I think I might be in labor.” I really didn’t believe I was actually in labor. I had felt Braxton Hicks contractions – the tightening and loosening of my belly – and these weren’t like that at all! These felt like diarrhea!

I thought, “I’ll text my doula and take a bath to see if these go away.” But as I walked to the tub I had to stop and bend over the bed and contort my legs during these pains. My husband jumped out of bed – there was no need to convince him at this point.

The bath wasn’t resolving my pains, and the doula thought she should come out just in case this was it. She made it to our house around 8:30 AM.  I was worried that I was wasting her time, because this couldn’t be labor. When she arrived at our house I was sitting on the toilet in my bathroom having what I now know was contractions – not diarrhea pains! She walked into the bathroom and it was kind of magical! I’m not one to be grossed out by body fluids but at that moment I wiped and there was my mucus plug, so I knew I was actually in labor! And I was excited! My doula confirmed that that was my mucus plug.

Our doula was a great support for our labor. She suggested we go outside and walk some, and I’m so glad we did. It was a beautiful fall morning and that walk was the last break I had. We went in circles around my house and as we walked my contractions would come and go, but they were definitely bearable.

The moment everything changed was after the walk. We went back to my bedroom where I decided I wanted to relax in my tub again, but I couldn’t get comfortable. Then all of a sudden I had the biggest contraction that I had felt up to that point. I was so thankful only the doula was in the bathroom with me at that point because she handled my breakdown magnificently. She wouldn’t let me give up and as I cried she didn’t lose her strength to support me.

Actually, it really was like the classes said. After that moment of feeling like “there is no way I can do this” I got a bunch of strength and handled the rest of my labor pains with courage and no fear.

My contractions kept coming on top of each other and I couldn’t even walk. I had to stay on the floor bent over something or someone and I was starting to feel nauseous. All I could think about was the contractions and trying to relax my body. We had taken HypnoBirthing and I knew that if I could relax there would be less pain, and my body could do its work more efficiently.

I was handed the phone while I was on the floor laboring with my head in my doula’s lap. It was the midwife and she wanted to talk to me. The problem was I couldn’t talk, or even catch a break to talk, as my contractions just kept coming! Eventually she just asked, “Do you think you should come in?” Well, I was a first-time mom. I had never done this before! It was supposed to take a long time, I was told, and since 3:30 AM it had only been maybe 7 hours and most of that wasn’t even that bad. And wasn’t I suppose to wait till it was 3-1-1? I thought “Surely, I will get a break again.” I looked up at my family that surrounded me in my bedroom: my mom, husband and doula. They all looked pretty bug-eyed and worried. “I guess I should come in,” I got out to the midwife.

The car ride to the birth center was extremely intense. Just getting to the car took an extreme amount of courage and strength. I was continuing to have contraction on top of contraction. I was so thankful that my doula stayed with me. She rode with me and helped me through that forty-five minute car ride. I knew it was going to be tough, as any movement or jarring would intensify my contractions, but I made it.

Again I had to muster strength and courage to walk into the birth center. I had tunnel vision and knew which room I was headed to. I went straight to the couch and bent over it onto the floor, continuing to have nonstop contractions. At that point I was moaning loudly. I never thought I would be so vocal during labor! I also believe I was starting to push, but again I had no idea, I had never been through this!

After about 30 seconds, the midwife walked in. I think everyone was a bit surprised at how intense and far along I was already. I was so thankful that my midwife encouraged me to move into the tub.  I had planned a water birth and would have been very disappointed if I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I think she knew that birth was close, but I didn’t. I still thought we had hours and hours ahead of us!

Once I was in the tub I finally figured out that I was pushing for real! My midwife was Natalie, and she kept making suggestions on positioning me to help my baby come out. It was during this that I had the realization I needed to take my contractions in different positions because I had really only done them bent over something. So I started to take my contractions in a more upright position, and sure enough I felt the baby drop into my birth canal. After that it wasn’t long and my little boy came into the world.

When the midwife told me his head was out, and then when he was born, I was in total shock. I had delivered a baby! I was a mom! It was real!  After all those years of longing, hoping, and dreaming of becoming a mom, I was a mom. It was so overwhelming and everyone was so kind and patient with me. I am so thankful that I was able to have the birth of my dreams.

Our son was born at 1:36 in the afternoon, and I had only been at the birth center fifty minutes before he was born! I am so glad for the team I had around me during my labor. They not only made sure I made it to the birth center before he was born, but also played a big part in making my labor go so smoothly. Their respect of me, awareness of my preferences and needs, and their expertise to care for all the details allowed me to focus on my labor and help my body let it do its work.

~ Ellen


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

Calling All Birth Doulas

The Minnesota Birth Center is now accepting applicants for its next Doula Internship Session.

Interested doulas must:

  • Have attended a workshop for certification through DONA, CAPPA, or other reputable certifying body;
  • Practice within the DONA Scope of Practice;
  • Have attended at least one birth in a support capacity;
  • Be available to attend a total of six MBC births for the duration of the internship.

doulasupport

Application materials and information on how to apply are located here: Doula Internship Requirements and Application.

Qualified applicants will contacted for interviews. Application deadline extended! Complete applications will be accepted no later than 6 pm on Wednesday, February 15th.

For more information, email karen@theminnesotabirthcenter.com.

A “Gentle Cesarean” Birth Story

Last month, my second child was born. The pregnancy was full of surprises: aside from keeping the baby’s sex a mystery, he surprised us all by flipping from head-down to breech and back again multiple times over the last few weeks of my pregnancy. He was also much bigger than his older sister—8 ½ pounds to her 6 ½. But perhaps the biggest surprise was that I was able to have a good birth even though he was born by cesarean section.

As my pregnancy dragged on, I knew that having a C-section was a possibility. My three-year-old daughter had become breech at some point late in my pregnancy, and we didn’t know it until I was in labor. Luckily, I was able to have an external version performed mid-labor, and she was born a few hours later in a drug-free, vaginal birth. But I knew that experience was very rare. If my little guy wouldn’t stay head-down, he would have to be born by C-section.

I did not want a C-section. I definitely did not want an epidural (gross!) or a catheter (creepy and gross!). I didn’t want to be stuck on a table, feeling like a passive patient instead of a fierce, determined mother. I didn’t want to spend those minutes after birth numb and in recovery while my brand-new baby was whisked away somewhere out of sight. I never really cared if my baby was born in a tub or emerged to the strains of my favorite song, but I did want to come out on the other side of his birth feeling empowered and proud of the work I’d done to birth him.

And so, as it became apparent that this baby wasn’t going to stay in a good position, I began to reluctantly prepare for a C-section. Even as I did all the Spinning Babies exercises and visited the chiropractor and scheduled two versions to try to flip the baby, I also, grudgingly, started learning what was involved with a Cesarean birth. I learned about the concept of a “gentle Cesarean,” in which the mother’s wishes are respected as much as possible. I researched the differences between epidurals and spinal blocks, and discovered that I would still be fully conscious during surgery. I found out that I could ask for a clear drape so that I could see the baby being born. And I was reassured to find out that I could still hold and breastfeed the baby right after he was born.

Two days after the baby’s due date, I went in for an external version. The baby was turned head-down, and my partner and I were faced with a decision: wait for labor to begin and hope the baby stayed in place, or induce labor while the baby was still in a favorable position? Induction meant saying goodbye to a birth at the Minnesota Birth Center. We went to the Birth Center, where we consulted with Tasha, who helped me think about the decision in a positive way: it was a matter of choosing my priorities. I realized that my first priority was having a vaginal birth, so if induction could increase those odds, that was the best choice.

I went to the hospital that evening, excited to think I would probably meet my baby that night or the next morning. We started the labor induction process, which involved ripening my cervix overnight. I was so uncomfortable and nervous the whole night, but I was sure that by morning, we’d be ready to move on to the next step, Pitocin. Instead, our midwife Kaitlin arrived at the hospital and suggested we check to make sure the baby was still in a good position. An ultrasound revealed that he’d gone back to breech sometime overnight.

Because this baby’s position was so unstable, Kaitlin gently suggested that we think about a C-section. In that moment, as disappointed as I was, I also felt so safe and confident that I was prepared to make the right decision. I knew that the midwives at MBC had done everything possible to help me try to have the birth I wanted. Kaitlin spent time talking through the decision with my partner and me. She expressed her own disappointment, which made me feel like it was ok to let down my guard and share my feelings and ambivalence. By the time the surgery rolled around that night, my nerves were supplanted by excitement. Kaitlin explained what I should expect during the surgery and accompanied us into the operating room. She even took photos of my son’s birth—something I hadn’t thought I’d want, but am so glad to have. I don’t think I’d feel so good about my Cesarean experience if it weren’t for the guidance and care of the MBC midwives.

I encourage all pregnant women to think about what they really want out of birth, and how they could retain some of their priorities in the event of a C-section. Know your options for a more woman-centered C-section. I’m so happy I did some of that practical work, and the emotional work of coping with my feelings, before my son’s birth.

~ Ashleigh


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