Editor’s note: I was completely amazed by the response I received to my recent request for birth stories. I’m truly thankful for the number of women who volunteered to share their personal stories, and I’m looking forward to sharing an entire series of birth stories over the next few months featuring a wide range of women and their birth experiences. I trust that every mother or mother-to-be who reads these will see a little of themselves in the stories and engage with kindness and an appreciative spirit. (If you would like to share your birth story, please visit this post to see how.) ~Olivia
I was so immensely lucky to have two amazing midwife attended birth center births. The first was 6 years ago (as of February), the birth of my daughter Gwenivere.
Going into my first birth I wasn’t sure what to expect. You can read all the birth stories in the world and you will quickly realize just how different every single one manages to be. For me, birth apparently looks like a nighttime water breaking, followed by a steady progression of contractions, and then an hour of pushing. The biggest difference between my births was the time that it took to progress; about 11 hours the first time, only 2.5 the second!
With Gwenivere, my water broke around 12:30 a.m., the night (morning?) I turned 39 weeks. I woke up feeling like I had peed myself a little. I ran to the bathroom and used the toilet and headed back to bed. But I felt the same feeling again not too much longer, accompanied by a contraction, it was my water breaking. I figured I would want more rest no matter what, so I headed back to bed again to try for some sleep, which wasn’t happening. The contractions kept coming and were much harder to deal with then the pre-water breaking ones I’d been having for weeks. Once I looked at the clock and realized they were coming every 4ish minutes I decided to get up and time them.
I spent the next almost two hours timing contractions, doing squats and shuffle walks to try and bring her down, and practicing my breathing. At that point they were getting hard to talk through, so I decided to call the midwife, and she told me to come on in. The ride over was nice and quiet, but it was definitely hard being in the car for contractions. I rode in the backseat, leaning over the seat to work my way through them. We arrived at the Birth Center around 4am, where the midwife found I was already 3.5 cm. I was so happy to hear that because it meant we were staying.
From then on it was all about managing contractions. I found that rocking back and forth, with my knees bent, often while sort of leaning with my hands on the bed helped a lot! I did that position over and over. After a bit I decided to labor in the tub… the midwife ran it nice and warm for me, dimmed all the lights, and we put on my music. The tub was great, it helped me to relax a bit, which let the contractions do their work. I was still able to laugh and talk between contractions. After a while though, it started to get to be too much for me to sit through, even in the water with the jet on my back… so I got back out to try some different positions.
The time from here on out gets fuzzy; I felt like time was dragging, like each contraction was a lifetime. But at the same time, I couldn’t believe it when I noticed come pushing time that there was lots of light coming through the blinds. I know that I wouldn’t have make it without my husband, Trav, and the midwives; they encouraged me, reassured me, rubbed my back, and kept me drinking fluids. The mother’s body is amazing, I can’t remember now with actual feeling, what the pain was like… but intellectually I remember that I was in a lot of it.
At some point, I started feeling so discouraged. I was having a lot of trouble dealing, and said, “I can’t do this” a few dozen times. I cried. I was exhausted! Running on only about an hour and a half of sleep, and doing the most physically demanding thing that my body has ever done. I got a shot of Stadol to take the edge off, which made my tiredness become loopiness. I vaguely remember laying in the bed, alternately holding Trav’s hands and squeezing a pillow. They checked me again sometime in here and I was a 7.5… transition. No wonder I was having so much trouble.
I ended up on the bed at this point, on my knees leaning over a stack of pillows. I’m not sure how long I was there, but the midwife realized that was starting to bear down a bit. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, but when she checked me, I was 10 cm. So around 11:20 I started pushing. It was the weirdest thing, but once I was pushing it almost didn’t hurt anymore. I mean, the contractions were still there, but the pressure was so intense that it distracted me! It felt like I wasn’t making progress, but the midwife and nurse kept reassuring me that I was doing it perfectly, and they soon had me reach down and feel Gwen’s head!
After some more pushing, I could feel her start to crown. It was INTENSE. Pain, burning, but also the impossible-to-ignore need to get her out. They got Trav to come down, and with just a few more pushes Gwen was born into her daddy’s hands at 12:53 in the afternoon. They helped Trav to pass her up through my legs to me… we waited about a minute for the cord (which had been looped around her neck once) to stop pulsing, then he got to cut the cord too. They helped me turn around and lay down, pulled a hat on her, and I got to get a good look at my baby girl.
Her Apgar scores were 8 and 9, and she was beautiful and pink.
After my labor was over, we spent about 10 hours at the birth center… napping, relaxing, enjoying our little girl, calling or texting friends and family, and just enjoying the moments. It was so surreal and wonderful that she had finally arrived!
Birth is a roller coaster; thrilling, exhilarating, and a little terrifying sometimes. I could not be happier with how my births went though. After each I felt strong, they had shown me just how capable my body was (and is).
If I were going to do it again, I would wish for exactly the same!
Meegs is a birth doula at Rooted Breath and a yoga teacher in training; which she balances with being the mother to an energetic, sassy, loving kindergartener named Gwen. Besides yoga, birth, and breastfeeding, her passions are reading, hiking, cooking, travel, and writing. She is a crusader for the environment and LGBTQ rights. You can find her writing regularly at A New Day, her online home for the past 13 years, or connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.