Category Archives: Birth Stories

Hello Fella: The Birth of Liam

On Sunday, April 2, 2017 I was still a week out from my due date. It was my husband’s last shift for work; he is a pilot so he had to take off three weeks just to ensure he would be home and not in another city at the time of my baby’s birth. My contractions started that morning at 7:20am while I was taking a shower. I thought, “Perfect timing! My husband lands at 8. I will labor for a while, go pick up my husband and have the baby later today. This is perfect; he will now have three weeks off to spend time with me and the baby.

However, as I was showering and shaving my legs, I got through one leg and felt like maybe I should get out and get ready. So I got out, woke up my 4 year old and told him to get dressed. I sent a text message to my husband saying that labor had started and all was well. Then I sat down in front of my mirror to do my makeup and my water broke. I looked at the clock; it was only 7:40am.

At this point, labor progressed fast! I changed my clothes, having several contractions, and sent a text to my husband again saying he needed to get a taxi to meet to at the birth center. I called my midwife, babysitter, and doula and asked them all to meet me at the center. I couldn’t even time the contractions because I was in so much pain, so frazzled, and trying to get everything in line. My sweet little 4 year old, Aiden, was running around helping me pack, throwing in granola bars into my bag and trying to comfort me. During one contraction, he was so concerned and asked me what it felt like. By 8:00am, I was in the car, everything else thrown in with me.

At this point, my husband had finally landed so he called me to see if I was okay. I was driving at this point, through contractions and debating where to pull off if needed. My voice cracked and I just told him to meet me there. He could hear the panic in my voice and he said, “Honey, you are doing good. I will meet you there.” To be honest, the drive was a blur. My poor son had to listen to my howls and my cries. I kept saying, “I cannot have this baby right now”.

I remember thinking that I needed to breathe through the contractions but they were coming so fast, so intense and I couldn’t focus until I was at the birth center. I had to focus on driving. I arrived at the birth center at 8:16am. Being Sunday morning, no one was there. I called my midwife again and asked her how far she was. At this point, I got out of my car and stood, holding onto the car for support. I thought I might have the baby right there. The pain in my hips was so intense. I was worried about my son in the car too but he was just quiet and concerned, not making a sound. My primal instincts took over from the time my water broke and I just didn’t want to have the baby at home with my son there or in the car or in the parking lot. I remember thinking the neighbors around the birth center were probably hearing my cries and thinking there was a wild animal outside.

My midwife, Mary-Signe, arrived and ran to the building to open the doors. I walked in, sent my son to the foyer to play while I walked back to the room. At this point, I felt like I was pushing, worried I was going to poop and fluid was coming out so my clothes were soaked. Being too concerned about everything else, I stopped to have a contraction in the hallway, saying to my midwife that I couldn’t have the baby yet because my husband was on his way. She helped me calm down and get back to the room. I went to the bathroom, again, feeling like I needed to poop so I sat on the toilet. As I sat down, another contraction came and I screamed for her to come in, “The baby is coming”. Mary-Signe ran in, no gloves or anything to see my baby’s head half way out. She pulled off my pants, grabbed his head, told me to push and out came my baby’s whole body. She handed him to me and ran to grab some towels. Liam was born at 8:29am. At that point, I went from the most intense anxiety and intense pain to the calmest and most peaceful I have ever felt. He looked back at me, big beautiful eyes and not a single cry. I asked if he was okay and Mary-Signe said he was perfect. I sat there, holding him in awe. He was so perfect and so calm. Mary-Signe got the bed ready; I carried him over and laid him down on my chest as I lay down. Such a beautiful moment.

A few moments later my babysitter arrived to take my other son, the birth assistant arrived and then my husband knocked on the door. He came in, looked at me in shock to see a baby on my chest. I told him that our son, Aiden, needed to be taken care of, my bags were still in the car, and BTW, “Here is your new son.”  He was in shock for a few minutes not realizing either what had just happened since we were on the phone about 10 minutes prior. Our doula also arrived a few moments later.

Liam got there before anyone else; I am just grateful that we made it to the birth center and that he waited for Mary-Signe to arrive, too. My first son was born in a hospital with a much different story and I was extremely drugged up. My birth center birth was amazing, although it was very short. I didn’t get the birth I had planned for but it was amazing nonetheless. I would highly recommend a natural birth at the Minnesota Birth Center. The staff was amazing; I felt such peace and love the whole time there. Thank you for helping me and for welcoming my sweet little Liam into this world.

~ Heidi C.


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

Worth Every Effort – The Birth of Arthur

Our baby’s due date was Tuesday, Jan. 19, the day after the Martin Luther King Day holiday. I left the office the previous Friday determined not to come back. I was going to have the baby that weekend, dammit.

The weekend happened to be one of those “polar vortexes” we’re prone to in Minnesota. The temperature hovered around 0 starting on Saturday, and dipped to -11 by Monday morning. My plans for walking the baby out were not going to happen, so instead I passed the time cleaning, coloring in my Outlander coloring book, bouncing on my birth ball, eating pineapple, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, and timing my Braxton Hicks contractions. By Monday they hadn’t gotten any closer together than 5-10 minutes, and were still very irregular. Matt and I were about to try the only other indoor activity you can do to get things going, when I felt a trickle of something that was definitely not pee. I bounced out of bed and told Matt, “Um… I think my water just broke?” Then I felt another trickle. “There it is again!” I said. “GET OFF THE CARPET!” he yelled.

We had a composed a song for exactly this event to the tune of Robyn’s, “Call Your Girlfriend“:

Call your midwife
Tell her your water broke
Tell her the color
Odor, amount, and time!
Cuz youuuuuu
Might have that baby soooooon

The midwife on-call at the Minnesota Birth Center that day was Sarah, one of our favorites. We made an appointment to test the fluid to be sure it was amniotic and do a non-stress test to see if the baby was still doing OK. The results were clear: my “bag of waters” had indeed released! I triumphantly texted my boss to tell her I wouldn’t be coming into work the next day. Because I wasn’t yet in labor, Sarah told us to go home and try to get some rest, and to check in with her that evening. We made a quick pitstop in the ~*Donna Room*~, which is where we hoped we’d meet our little babe in the coming hours.

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The Donna Room at the Minnesota Birth Center in Saint Paul. Very luxury. Much comfortable. So soothe.

We decided to go to Brasa for lunch, which we assumed would be our last meal before the baby arrived. We were so, so excited to meet the little buddy who had lodged its foot in my ribs for the past several months.

fullsizerender

I bet Anna the baby would come at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. Anna guessed 7:43 p.m. on Tuesday. We were both so young and naive.

We returned home and I resumed my coloring book/birth ball routine. Contractions got to be about 7-8 minutes apart lasting a minute, but they were irregular and not getting more intense. The midwife on call advised me to return to the birth center the next morning for another non-stress test if things didn’t pick up. The baby was still comfy as could be and healthy at that appointment. Midwife Courtney said they could only really give me another 24 hours to go into labor on my own, and then they would need me to go to the hospital to be induced due to the risk of infection. I was feeling very discouraged but determined not to let that happen. I had spent months envisioning a peaceful water birth in the calming, spa-like ~*Donna Room*~. The hospital was not part of my plan.

I made an appointment with my girl Kennedy at Selby Acupuncture and told her to light me up like a Christmas tree. I waddled down the hallway for a pedicure appointment at Estetica immediately afterward. Matt then picked me up and we went across town to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to try to stimulate labor by walking. There we ran into Molly, a friend from Duluth. She was two weeks overdue and up to the same tricks. Matt and I wandered through the Asian art galleries, stopping every 10 or so minutes while I had a Braxton Hicks contraction. We had another evening of irregular contractions that didn’t add up to much.The midwife on call that night told me if I still hadn’t gone into labor by the next day they’d insist on a trip to United.

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Two pregnant AF ladies trying to waddle their babies out at the MIA.

The next morning I tried acupuncture again, followed by some prenatal yoga at Blooma. NOTHING WAS WORKING. After class I returned a missed call from Midwife Katie, who told me my time was up: I needed to get my stubborn butt to the hospital that afternoon. Just then my yoga teacher came downstairs to find me sobbing, and I snotted all over her shoulder as I conveyed how devastated I was to have the birth I’d been dreaming about and planning for suddenly ripped out of my clutches.

I should probably explain a bit about why I was in such a glass case of emotion beyond your usual pregnancy hormonal swings. An abridged version: Matt and I decided to start trying to get pregnant on my 28th birthday in June 2013. I went off the pill, but didn’t get a period for seven months. I finally saw a doctor about it in January 2014, and he diagnosed me with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a form of infertility that basically screws with my ability to ovulate. He referred me to a fertility specialist, who started me on hormonal treatments that would force ovulation. Miraculously, I got pregnant after the first round, but I soon suffered a devastating miscarriage. I tried a few more rounds of the hormones until I developed an ovarian cyst. That made me want to try a different approach, so I started weekly acupuncture treatments in December 2014 that I continued through the following spring. In May 2015, I found out I was pregnant again.

Throughout that whole process, I felt like my body was failing me in the most basic, primal way. This delay in labor felt like yet another time my body couldn’t get it quite right. Every single part of my journey had felt completely out of my control, and having something yet another choice taken away left me feeling impotent. The one upside was that I would continue to be cared for my the birth center midwifery team.

Quite a change from my heart’s desire.

Matt and I spent a sullen afternoon taking care of last-minute chores around the house and repacking our bags — what we had assumed would be an overnight stay at the birth center was now gearing up to be a multi-day sojourn at United Hospital. We arrived at my recently remodeled, space-age birthing suite at about 5:00, and I got outfitted with a belly band that would hold in place my two constant companions in the coming days: a contraction monitor and a fetal heartbeat monitor. If the latter got dislodged and couldn’t detect the heartbeat, it would beep incessantly until a nurse came in and adjusted it. Both produced piles of graph paper from a machine by the bed that tracked my progress.

Giving birth and pooping: not dissimilar.

*** Please note: shit’s about to get real/graphic/real graphic. If this stuff squicks you out abandon ship here!***

At around 7 p.m. (which I am counting as the start of my actual labor) I received my first method of induction: a prostoglandin called Cervidil. It looked like a small sliver of paper attached to a tampon string, and it had to be manually inserted behind my cervix. They wanted to start me on this one because if the contractions got too intense it could easily be removed. I’m sure my lovely midwife was being as gentle as possible, but, dear readers, there is only one way to describe how this felt: like being fisted by a lion. Because I had intended on birthing without pain medication, I had worked on creating a “happy place” I could go to in my mind that looked an awful lot like a beach in Belize. The problem was, there was no scenario that visualization worked for me in that moment unless a crab had decided to climb up my hooha.

I soon started to feel real, regular contractions. They weren’t particularly debilitating yet, so I tried to get as much sleep as possible before the party started. I was foiled by the steady stream of nurses in my room every two hours to check my vitals, the constant, irritating beeping of the fetal heart rate monitor every time I changed positions and it got dislodged, and the hip pain that had been a constant companion in the latter stages of my pregnancy and was exacerbated by the uncomfortable hospital bed. Oh, and our room was directly above a loading dock. It made me mourn the loss of the ~*Donna Room*~ so hard… with its real, comfortable bed, spacious tub, soothing color palette, and lack of bright, beepy things. At around 2 a.m. (Hour 7) they gave me a sleeping pill that allowed me to get a little rest.

When the next morning’s on-call midwife Courtney arrived at 7 a.m. (Hour 12), she removed the Cervidel and checked my cervix. I was still only 1 cm dilated, despite my contractions getting stronger/more painful overnight and more regular (3-7 mins apart). The decided to move on to Cytotec, a more powerful prostoglandin that looked like a tiny pill and also had to be manually inserted (but far less painfully). Each dose lasts about 6 hours. After the first one I was still only a few centimeters dilated, so at 1 p.m. (Hour 18) I had a second dose. Things were starting to get really painful, and my hips were NOT LYING.

A nurse told me they had a massage therapist on staff who was “part of the package” and asked if I wanted to see her. Yes. Yes I did. She wafted into the room a few hours later on a cloud of patchouli. I told her that what I wanted the very most in all the world was to have someone squeeze my hips as hard as they possibly could, because it felt like they were falling apart. “Hmm,” she said. “What I’d really like to try with you is some gentle acupressure.” Gentle did not sound fun, it did not sound good, it sounded infuriating, but I said, “Sounds good.” She had me lean against a wall while she put the lightest, most feathery pressure on my haunches. After staying there for a contraction or two, she suggested “something a bit unorthodox.” She wanted to form a sling with her arms between my legs so she was cupping my bits and “breathe with me.” I believe I said something to the effect of, “Girl, whatever.” Matt and I avoided eye contact as we tried not to laugh. She left me with a cotton ball soaked with essential oils and took her leave as my saint, my savoir, my beautiful French doula Justine of Midwest Doulas arrived at around 4:00 (Hour 21) and I immediately felt better.

Want to know why you should get a doula? I’ll tell you why. Birthing, at least in my experience, gets lonely. The nurses flitted in and out and change every few hours, and I saw my midwives every 4-6 hours for a status check, adjustment to my care plan, or to administer the labor-making meds. A doula is your rock. She stays with you, she answers your questions, she gives your partner a break from being an emotional punching bag, and, most importantly: SHE SQUEEZES YOUR DAMN HIPS WHEN YOU ASK HER TO.

Justine took charge and was exactly the fierce mama bear I wanted her to be when we hired her. At  7 p.m. (Hour 24), Midwife Courtney inserted a Cook catheter, which has saline-filled chambers on either side of your cervix that are supposed to naturally force it to dilate to the point where it just falls out on its own. As soon as that was locked and loaded, Justine took me and my telemetry unit on a jaunt around the hospital floor and distracted me by having me tell Matt’s and my meet-cute story. Every time I had a contraction, she had me hold on to the wall and squat while she provided blissful counterpressure on my hips and whispered sweet nothings in my ear in French. (Just kidding; she was reminding me to breathe.) We eventually wound our way back to my room, where we found my nurse on the hunt for us; apparently we’d gone so far afield that the telemetry unit wasn’t functioning. Le oops.

That night contractions got bad. Real bad. I wish I could describe what they felt like, but I honestly don’t remember (evolutionary amnesia?). I think I described them to Matt as having 10 bad periods at once. The nurses kept asking me to rate the pain on a scale from 1-10, which I found impossible to do. It was definitely the worst I’d ever felt, but I knew worse was coming so maybe it was only really a 6?  Justine was by my side, letting me death grip her hand every time one came on while Matt tried to get some rest. I called the midwife when contractions were so intense I thought for SURE the catheter was about to fall out, but she gave it a quick tug and it was still wedged tight. They gave me some morphine at around 10 or 11 p.m. (Hour 27/28), which chilled me out enough that Justine decided to head home and sleep around midnight (Hour 29) since I wasn’t making much progress. She asked us to call if anything happened, but said her partner doula Staci would be on call and ready to head over the next morning. I did manage to drift off after she left, but awoke as the morphine wore off and the pain got very extra awful, until I projectile vomited all over my monitoring equipment and piles of graph paper at 2 a.m. (Hour 31) .

I shakily pressed the call button, and the nurse that answered was, like, real disappointed in my aim. She huffed and puffed as she cleaned everything up. I hid in the bathroom while she changed the sheets and apologized to Matt for waking him up. He was able to get back to sleep after the commotion died down, but I was in a real bad way. Instead of calling Justine or waking Matt up or getting literally anyone to help me, I decided it was my job as a martyr from a long line of martyrs to suffer completely on my own and not trouble a damn soul until Staci was on call at 6 a.m. I remember closing my eyes between contractions and promising myself that the next time I opened them it would be *at least* a half an hour later.  In reality, only two minutes would have gone by. I labored on my back, moaning as quietly as I possibly could. When that got too miserable, I crept over to the birth ball and labored on that. I threw up a few times. I thought maybe I was going to be in labor forever. I thought maybe I was dying. I fantasized about them just cutting the baby out of me so I could be done with it. It was the longest, darkest Dark Night of the Soul I have ever known.

Finally at 5 a.m. (Hour 34) I couldn’t take it anymore and called Staci. “I’m so sorry,” I martyred, “But I need you.” She said she’d hop in the shower and be right on her way. Midwife Courtney stopped by before going off duty at around 6 a.m. (Hour 35) and checked the catheter. After  the night I’d had, I was positive I’d be *at least* 7 cm dilated. Nope. Try 2. Staci, sweet, wonderful Staci, showed up as I started to spiral, and had the first good idea I’d heard in years: I should get in the bath. The bath! I forgot about the bath! I love baths. Baths are my friend. As I eased into the water I felt the best I’d felt in days. I was so relaxed I actually managed to fall asleep betwixt contractions. And then I threw up and had to get out.

By 10 a.m. (Hour 39) I was in was in The Dark Place. I hadn’t slept in days and I had absolutely no sustenance in my system. I tried so hard to rally and make jokes, but all I could do was quietly weep. I’ve never felt so weak and powerless. They were talking about putting me on pitocin within a few hours to get things moving, and that terrified me. I had spent years consuming everything on medication-free childbirth I could get my paws on: watching Ricki Lake documentaries, reading Ina May Gaskin’s books and listening to interviews with her, taking natural childbirth classes, etc., and my takeaway was that pitocin is the actual devil and will send your body on a roller coaster of pure pain and evil. (Note: It’s not, and it has many useful applications, but LABOR DOES NOT A RATIONAL HUMAN MAKE.)

At this point I put my pride (and birth plan) in the garbage and requested an epidural. I was already so weak I couldn’t imagine tolerating pain more intense than I was already experiencing. Because you can’t eat or drink while the epidural is in effect, they hooked me up to the biggest, slowest-dripping bag of IV fluids in America. While we were waiting for that to finish, a curious thing happened. Staci was helping me go to the bathroom when I felt something shift and water came gushing out of me. None of this trickle business I’d been experiencing all week. I really hoped my nurse would be proud that I’d managed to keep the mess contained to the toilet. Soon after, my contractions changed and became more… grunty. I wanted to push.

By this time it was around 11:30 or so (Hour 40.5). The midwife (this time it was Sarah again!) checked me again and I was 9 cm dilated. “Cancel the epidural,” I said, with what I want to imagine was a glint in my eye and a look of fierce determination on my glowing, maternal face. “I can do this.”

They made me wait another half an hour until my IV bag was done before I could start pushing. I started out facing backward on the toilet (which is actually a really good pseudo-birthing stool because of the way it positions your pelvis). I got some good pushes in before deciding I couldn’t let my child  be born on the terlet, so they had me move to the bed. It felt the most natural to be on my hands and knees. Between contractions I flopped over a peanut-shaped birth ball, and rocked side to side while Matt fed me ice chips. When I had to push, I’d grab one of Matt’s hands and one of Staci’s, and bear down. I guess I was squeezing the life out of them, because they soon threaded a sheet through the back of the bed for me to pull on instead. Pushing felt good. Like, really, really good. Middle of a great workout good. I hated feeling the baby’s head recede back between contractions, and I just wanted to keep pushing and pushing until he was out. When they wouldn’t let me I channeled my frustration by howling like a wounded animal.

At some point Matt asked, “So how’s that beach in Belize?” And I said, “SHUT UP!”

At some point one of the nurses said, “Mom and Dad and Uncle are waiting in the lobby!” and I said, “I wonder which uncle,” and Matt said, “Probably your Uncle Nate, right?” and I said, “The BABY’S uncle, IDIOT.”

Soon enough, I felt the baby’s head heavy in my pelvis. It was incredibly uncomfortable not to keep pushing between contractions, but they didn’t want me to tear. I fought my way through the Ring of Fire and then… the baby just seemed to tumble right out into the midwife’s arms behind me at 2:09 p.m. (Hour 43).

I took him – it was a him!- into my arms. He was warm and slippery and weirdly not at all goopy and perfect and smelled like the sea.  I looked up at Matt, who was as completely ecstatic as I’ve ever seen him, clutching his hand to his chest and laugh-crying, not able to take his eyes off our son.

In that moment, nothing else mattered. Meeting my son was the strangest feeling of recognition and pure and total love. “That was you inside me, the whole time!” I marveled. “Those were your little feet and your little hiccups!” I have no idea what else was happening in the room because the universe had contracted to just our little triad.

During the whole labor I’d thought to myself, “This is so horrible that when it’s over Matt has to give me whatever I want. And if this is a boy I want his name to be Oscar.” But I took one look at our little meatball and acknowledged that the name Matt had chosen was actually perfect. “OK fine he’s totally an Arthur WHATEVER.”

And that is Arthur’s birth story.

~ Nina G.


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

 

Hello, Baby #4: The Birth of Jackson

This sweet birth story is from Breanne, who welcomed her baby boy, Jackson, this past spring and first shared their story on her blog. Congratulations!

We welcomed our sweet baby to the world on March 31, 2017! His birth was long
(to me!), slow, and I hate to say it, but hard and frustrating.
Jackson Paul
6lb 14 oz
19.5″
 

I’ve been blessed with fairly easy births, and I expected this one to be the same! I woke up at about 12:30am thinking that something wasn’t quite right. Not a second after I woke up, my water broke! It didn’t take me very long to wake up and for adrenaline to pick up. I woke Mike, and we both started rushing around, waiting for things to start progressing quickly. My sister came right away, but nothing was happening. I was having a few contractions here and there, but nothing that made me think that labor was actually starting. It was about 1:30 when I tried to go back to bed, and slept on and off for about 4 hours. I then got tired of waiting and thought that maybe if I got up and started moving, maybe labor would actually start! I got up and made breakfast for everyone, and got in the shower. Still nothing! I knew that I had an appointment with my midwife around 11:30 in the morning so I decided to try to nap if I could. I’m not sure that I’ve ever slept so hard! Mike woke me up to get ready to go, and I could barely drag myself out of bed!

Jack at 1 month old

We got to the appointment, and it still seemed that nothing was progressing. We monitored the baby, and I knew that I was having some contractions, but nothing that was really worth timing. My midwife sent us out, and told us to start walking and see if that helped. As we were leaving, it seemed that my contractions were picking up, so I started to watch them a bit closer. We went to our local co-op to get some snacks, and some bone broth for me to sip on, and while we were there I had to keep stopping because contractions were coming faster! I went out to sit in the van while Mike paid for our things, and started timing them. They were still around seven minutes apart, but were getting closer. Once we started driving, though, they slowed down again. I was so frustrated, and so tired, so I told Mike that we should go home and I would try to nap again. He “accidentally” took the wrong way, because he could tell that labor wasn’t slowing down and that we should stay close to the birth center. He’s pretty smart! We went back to the birth center, and things slowed down…..again. It was hard for me to keep a positive mindset at this point, which I know is SO important, but labor kept starting and stopping, and I was so tired…and I just wanted to meet my baby!

Jack at 2 months
 

We started walking, up and down the block, over and over, until my contractions were picking up in intensity and time. We could both tell that they were getting closer and closer, so we started to head back to the birth center. Once we were back, labor slowed AGAIN. I felt like giving up (even though I knew I couldn’t actually do that!) I told Mike and my midwife that I just wanted to lie down for awhile, and try to rest. She said that she would check in after awhile, or to let her know if anything was happening. It was about 3:30, and not even 20 minutes later that Mike went out to get her. I was at the point where I couldn’t move without having a contraction, and they were coming fast. It’s always at this point when I tell Mike that I’m not ready to do anymore…he says that’s how he knows that our babies will be here soon! It was a LONG hour, and a lot of me struggling to get into the mindset that I COULD actually do it…after a bit of of loving (for lack of better word) pushing from my midwife, and our little boy was born! It took him a little bit to figure out how to breathe, but as soon as my midwife suggested that we give him a little oxygen, he started breathing and crying. We stayed at the birth center for four hours after he was born, and spent that time nursing, resting, and snuggling our sweet boy. We were in love immediately.

Jack at 3 months
 

We were so excited to get home, and woke up the kids…but they were too tired and didn’t actually get up to see him! 🙂

It has been a big adjustment going from three to four kids, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. He fits right in, and everyone absolutely adores him!

~ Breanne B.


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