Editor’s note: We believe that all birth stories and all birth experiences matter. This post is part of an ongoing series of birth stories submitted by readers and fellow bloggers, featuring a diverse range of women and their birth experiences. Ashley’s birth story takes place on Christmas Eve and includes a water birth, midwives, Santa, and a precious gift named Holly! If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to learn how. ~Olivia
We made the decision to go with midwives very early on in our pregnancy. This would be our second child, with our first child being breech and requiring a caesarian section. I was really hoping to have a VBAC water birth this time around. The midwives were very supportive of this decision and I was really looking forward to having them in charge of my birth.
After countless nights of false labor, I awoke the morning of Christmas Eve to something… different. The contractions felt stronger and more uniform and I knew baby #2 was on his or her way! I called our midwife to let her know that things were starting and she encouraged us to labor at home as long as we felt comfortable. I spent the morning with family and my two year old daughter, Jasmine, taking in a few extra snuggles, knowing that I may not have as much time for her once baby arrives. Around lunch time, I felt that the contractions were getting stronger and closer together and, since the hospital is an hour away, we decided we should go to the hospital.
Sitting still in the truck for an hour slowed my labor down. When we arrived at the hospital, contractions were only 6-7 minutes apart and my cervix was still fairly thick and less than 1 cm dilated, so we were sent home. I looked at this positively; we had arranged for a Santa to come to the house and visit Jasmine and this meant we would get to experience this with her.
During the drive home, labor started ramping up again with stronger contractions every 5 minutes. We arrived home, surrounded by family and watched our daughter, completely awestruck, as Santa arrived for a visit. Not even 5 minutes after Santa left the house, my water broke and my labor really started to intensify! Contractions were suddenly 3 minutes apart and VERY strong!
I headed back to the hospital, with my husband driving and my mom with me for support. My contractions were getting more and more intense and closer together. What is normally an hour drive took less than 40 minutes with my panicked husband behind the wheel. We arrived at the hospital around 8:00 PM and the nurses assessed me. I was 3 cm dilated and my cervix was almost entirely effaced (paper thin as the nurse had described it). I tried various positions, and determined that standing with my husband supporting me was best.
I was determined to deliver without pain medication and focused solely on breathing through the pain and getting past the peak of each contraction. When I felt I couldn’t handle the pain any longer, the nurses assessed me again and determined that I was 9 cm and ready to push. I had dilated from 3 cm to 9 cm in less than an hour!!
My midwife arrived just in time! She immediately began filling up the pool for the water birth, and encouraged me to push on land while the tub filled. The baby was already very low in my pelvis and the baby’s head could already be seen. The nurses expressed to the midwife that they didn’t think there was time to fill the pool, and my midwife, knowing how badly I wanted a water birth, responded, “It is Christmas Eve and we are making Christmas miracles happen!!” The tub was filled within 20 minutes and my midwife helped me get into the tub.
As soon as I entered the tub, the pain seemed more manageable and allowed me to focus more intently on pushing. While pushing I was in and out of consciousness. It was like an out of body experience, I could hear my support team talking, but I did not feel like I was physically there to respond. I would come to right before a contraction and push through it, and then I would pass out until the next contraction arrived. Then as the next contraction would ramp up, I would wake up and prepare to push again.
When the baby started crowning, I feared I couldn’t do it any longer. I told my midwife that it hurt too much and she reassured me and encouraged me to push through the pain. I remember her telling me that I am just a few pushes away from meeting my new baby. During the next contraction I pushed as hard as I could, making sure everyone was aware of my pain, as I screamed “THIS REALLY HURTS!!” The next thing I knew there was a squirmy, crying, beautiful newborn sitting on my chest and my husband announcing to the world that we had another girl!
Baby Holly arrived quickly, less than 2 hours after we arrived at the hospital, at 9:58 PM on Christmas Eve, and we were lucky enough to be discharged on Christmas Day, less than 24 hours after delivering our little princess. My midwife, support team and nurses were phenomenal during my birthing experience and I could not have done it without them.
Welcome to the world, Holly!