My pregnancy and Callie’s birth were wonderful experiences. Although I loved going to the Minnesota Birth Center with Linnea, my first child, the long drive (22 miles and about 30-45 min) was not pleasant so I considered finding something closer. I looked into the brand new birth center that was attached to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids – not even 1 mile away from us. It was a nice looking place but a very typical hospital. And after making some phone calls I found out that they do not employ midwives and don’t allow their doctors to do water births. With that information it made it easy to decide to go back to MBC. I made an appointment for about nine weeks gestation for my first MBC appointment. And lucky for us, it was with Tasha, who also delivered Linnea while she was still a student. I was happy, we love Tasha!
Around 12-13 weeks I had a scheduled appointment that included the first heartbeat check. The midwife couldn’t find it! Because she couldn’t, Mary-Signe decided to do a quick ultrasound to find the heartbeat and check on baby. We got to see my little chicken nugget, healthy as can be with a strong heartbeat. She was just so low it was hard to detect with the Doppler.
As the pregnancy progressed we worked with Linnea trying to get her to understand that we were having a baby. I bought her books that had pregnant mommies and little kids in them. We talked a lot about how she was going to be a big sister soon and what that meant. We went to my friend’s house after she had her little girl a few weeks before I did, and showed Linnea the newborn. She was so gentle and in awe of the baby, I knew it would work out!
Sometime around 34-35 weeks I started thinking that I would have the baby around 38 weeks. It’s hard to explain what that felt like—not a premonition or a “vision,” just a feeling. The day I turned 38 weeks I still hadn’t had some important vaccines (flu and Dtap) so I went to CVS to get the shots. It was late in the pregnancy to do it but I wanted the baby to be protected. Later that day, Trey made delicious green chile stew for dinner. It was mid-October and a little chilly outside and we were playing outside with Linnea and had a bonfire that night in our fire pit. By 7:30PM I was starting to notice that I was having regular contractions, although I thought they were Braxton Hicks because although they came with a little pain it was nothing like “real” labor pains. I started to time them, and they were 30 seconds long every 5 min, and this went on for over an hour. I thought that seemed very labor-like, so I called the MBC on-call midwife who turned out to be Mary-Signe, the same midwife who was mentoring Tasha who delivered Linnea, so she was at Linnea’s birth too. She said to take a bath and lie down. We had put Linnea to bed by then, and I didn’t even want to tell my mom because I knew she’d be up all night worried. So I waited, but I did ask her if she’d decided not to drive up north this weekend (I had just told her not to go because it’s too close to my due date). She said no, and I said, “GOOD.” I called our neighbor, Charlene, who offered to sit with Linnea if we went into labor at night. I told Char just to be on the alert, still not convinced I was really in labor.
By the time I got out of the tub nothing had changed– -very mild contractions yet very constant. At this point I’d been feeling them about 2.5 minutes so I let my mom know what was happening, but I said it’s likely a false alarm. Around 9:45-10PM I felt them suddenly get strong, I told Trey, “I think these are real now”. I got into bed to lie down and felt a distinct “pop!” just as I lay down. Then felt the gush of my water breaking and the surge in painful contraction. I told Trey, “Oh yes, it’s real! My water broke!” and he was shocked because we had just discussed how typically this doesn’t happen until much later in the labor. The rest happened very quickly–I called Char and she said she’d be right over. We got dressed and made sure the dogs were ok, Linnea asleep in her crib, and got in the Jeep and waited for Char. She got there about 10:30PM, and we headed to MBC. The drive was easy and uneventful (thankfully!) and we got there right at 11PM. We met Mary-Signe at the back door and she filled the tub for me.
Jennifer, our birth photographer, showed up at some point (we called her when we left the house) and then it was time to have a baby! A birthing tub has a significant calming effect, despite the hectic feeling of being in labor. Between contractions I could take in my serene surroundings and the calmness of the warm water. While I was in a contraction nothing else mattered and I didn’t care where or what was going on! I was mostly sitting straight up and down in the tub with my legs to my side, then later laid back in the tub with my legs against two handles. At some point I asked Mary-Signe for the nitrous oxide machine to be brought in. She showed me how to use it and how to get the most relief from it. I’d say it took a while but it did start to dull my senses. To be honest, I did not like it very much. I felt very “drugged” while using it; it made me feel fuzzy-headed and didn’t relieve any pain. However, I do think it relaxed me between contractions which may have helped labor over time. I probably used it for around 30 minutes or so, however estimating time during childbirth is hard and I really don’t know how long it was.
It was interesting for me having already gone through this once before, I starting to know the signs of getting ready to push. I was in a lot of pain, however I had been having distinct contractions separated by 20-30 seconds or longer periods of no contractions. This wasn’t the case with my first, I had been having many contractions on top of each other with no relief in between for quite some time towards the end of the birth. The labor was about seven hours long and I had felt that having such strong and constant contractions probably shortened how long I was in labor. This time though I had gaps between contractions, so in my head I was worried that the labor would go on much longer. But to my surprise after what felt like not very long, I realized that the baby’s head was very close to pushing out and started to moan just like I did with my first in the pushing stage. I could feel it was getting close, yet I wasn’t able to form the words. All I could say was, “Mary, Mary” and was whimpering a little. She knew exactly what was going on and just told me that I’m doing great and to start pushing when I needed to. She’s an amazing midwife that way– -she knew my progress just by watching me.
She never checked my cervix once during the entire labor. She was ready for the pushing stage even before I indicated I was. Now came the amazing part. I pushed once and her head came out! She seemed a little stuck, and Mary-Signe yanked on her a little. She said, “Terri PUSH!” with a little urgency so I gave it everything I had, and on the second push out came my precious girl. Two pushes. It lasted about two minutes! She put her on my chest and just like her big sister she had a short cord so I had to kind of crouch over to hold her. She was screaming and so covered in vernix, and had quite the flattened forehead, probably from hanging out on my cervix for so many weeks before going into labor. I was in absolute shock from how quickly she came out. We arrived at the birth center around 11pm, and she was born at 12:35AM the next morning. I had been in labor technically from about 7:30PM-12:30AM, but really felt more like 10PM-12:30AM because the early contractions were essentially painless. The baby was small, only 6 lbs 2 oz– which I was expecting because she was a little early and had been measuring small in utero—and perfect. We were able to do the wonderful birth center rituals like skin-to-skin family time with my husband right after birth, first breastfeeding hour, herbal bath together, and delicious birth center bread with honey and butter.
Krystin and Karees were the nurses on call and they arrived not long before I had the baby, having come from a St. Paul birth right before ours. They were so helpful and took care not to disturb us too often as we bonded with our little girl. By 4AM we felt it was time to go. We packed up and were on the road by 4:30. We arrived home by 5AM, our older daughter still asleep in her crib! We were even able to take a short nap in the morning before Linnea woke up and got to meet her new baby sister. It was a magical experience, one we couldn’t have even hoped for, because of how seamless and perfect it went. We are truly grateful for our Callie Wren Patricia.
~ Terri P.