Monday, December 1, 2014

Birth of Baby Holly

Katy and Bryan were the first couple to sign up for my very first Birth Boot Camp series. I had the privilege of being their doula as well. I remember the moon being so big and full in the sky that night. I called that moon and every full moon since the "Holly Moon." I am in awe of this couple, their adorable baby, and their joyful birth. Enjoy!

I’ve wanted to write my birth story for several months now, because my birth was so much more wonderful than I expected. Being a first-time mom, I was initially nervous about a natural, unmedicated birth, but knew that it was definitely what I wanted. My husband, Bryan, fully supported me and after finding a birth center that we loved and Kristi, our amazing doula and Birth Boot Camp instructor, we knew that we were completely prepared to experience the beauty of birth without medical intervention.

My birth story starts when I was 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant. It was a Tuesday. I worked full-time as an ICU nurse in a local hospital and was actually off of work on this particular day. I woke up feeling some mild cramping on and off during the morning, and finally lost my mucus plug in the early afternoon. Of course, my husband and I were excited, but we knew that we didn’t want to get our hopes up for labor since first-time labor is usually not early. Sure enough, things slowed down and we realized that we were not really in labor. The next day was uneventful and I decided that I would not skip work, since there was really no reason for me to stay home. The week passed so slowly until Friday at lunch, when again, I felt some mild cramping.

Katy, Bryan, and Holly
Photo shared with permission
Sitting in our nurse’s break room, eating my lunch, I felt what seemed like mild menstrual cramps for a few seconds. I hardly noticed it, honestly, and put it out of my head since it felt like what I experienced on Tuesday. I continued to work, staying busy with my patients. Around 4 in the afternoon, I realized that this cramping had not stopped, but had instead become slightly stronger and more frequent so I texted my husband and let him know that I thought there was a chance we could be in labor. Of course, I didn’t want to jinx anything, but I couldn’t deny the fact that these “cramps” were getting more intense. By the end of my shift at 7pm, I finally admitted that these cramps were contractions, but even at this point, I was convinced that this was not real labor yet. I gave shift report to the oncoming night shift nurse and drove home (I even had a contraction in the car).
When I got home, my husband Bryan met me at the door, and suggested we go for a walk around the neighborhood to see if that would intensify my contractions. I agreed, but during our walk, every time a contraction would hit, I had to stop walking and hold onto Bryan for support. At that point, he was convinced that I was in labor. I, on the other hand, was still somehow in denial. Finally, around 8:30 pm, after I could no longer talk through a contraction, I called work to let them know that I would not be back in the morning. We were in labor!
Around 9pm, I decided that I wanted to get into the bath tub to labor for a while. I texted my midwives and doula to let them know that I was in labor, then texted the family who would be present at the birth, to have them on standby. I expected that it would be a long night, since this was my first labor. The bath felt good for a while, and my husband was so sweet. He rubbed my back and helped me get into comfortable positions for each contraction. At this point, I couldn’t talk through contractions anymore, but instead got quiet and breathed deeply. Bryan asked if I wanted to go to the birth center, but I didn’t think that it was time. Still, he called our midwives and spoke to them on the phone. They listened to the sounds I made through a contraction and decided that I should come in at midnight to be checked out. We called everyone to let them know the plan, and I decided to try lying down in bed in order to get some rest. Immediately, my contractions became too intense to lie down and I began moving around the house, finding different positions in which to labor. My husband was so wonderful; he really became a source of strength for me during this time. It was really wonderful to have this time for just the two of us, to enjoy labor privately before traveling to the birth center. Finally, at 11pm, I got into the shower, changed into some comfortable clothes, and got into the car.
As soon as we got into the car to make the 45-minute drive to our birth center, I began to transition. Each contraction caused me to moan loudly, with a low, guttural vocalization. I held onto the seat of the car and rode through each contraction like a wave, almost drifting to sleep between each one. This helped the drive seem to go by quickly. Finally, we arrived at the birth center and met the few family members that were attending our birth.
Inside, I labored in the lobby for a few minutes, since they had just had two other births back to back that night and were preparing a birth room for me. I held on to the edge of one of the couches to steady myself through each contraction and moaned loudly while my husband applied counter pressure to my back. Shortly after we arrived, Kristi, my doula, arrived to the birth center as well. I was so relieved to see her. I cried with happiness when she hugged me, knowing that she had been in my place and that she knew what I was going through. She told me that I was doing a great job, which really made me feel better, since labor was becoming very intense by this point.

Finally, my midwives brought me back to a labor room and checked my cervix. I was 7 cm dilated and fully effaced, but had some scar tissue on my cervix. As soon as my midwife Camilla massaged my cervix, I opened up to 10 cm and started pushing immediately. At the time, I didn’t know that I was pushing. I only felt an involuntary change in my contractions, in that they suddenly caused me to bear down. My moaning quickly changed to a much louder sound at this point- not necessarily a scream, but more like a controlled yell. This was the most intense part of labor: the pushing. Since I wanted to try a water birth, my midwives helped me move into the birth room with a tub. I got into the water and kept pushing with each contraction, still not really knowing that I was in fact pushing. My water broke in the tub like a rubber band popping inside of me. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in labor, I had a bowel movement in the tub and had to get out of the water since it was dirty. I moved to the bed, where I got on all fours and buried my face into a pillow. Kristi rubbed my back and whispered affirmations in my ear, encouraging me with every push. My husband got behind me, ready to catch our daughter.

As I continued to push, I soon felt a strong burning and suddenly, my midwife informed me that my daughter was wiggling her eyebrows at everyone. Shocked and in disbelief, I asked, “her head is out?!” I couldn’t believe that my birth was happening so quickly. I had already delivered my baby’s head and we had only been there for an hour and a half (it seemed even shorter than that)! With one last push, I delivered the rest of her into my husband’s hands. I flipped over and took hold of my sweet baby girl, Holly.

That moment was the most amazing moment of my entire life. I held my baby against my chest and time stopped. It was like a high; I was elated. I had never felt such a rush before in my life. I was completely giddy as I kissed my sweet baby over and over again. We waited until after Holly’s umbilical cord stopped pulsating before my husband cut the cord, and soon after I delivered my placenta. I sat and held Holly while my midwives cleaned me up. They helped me breastfeed for the first time, and then I handed the baby to my husband while they got me into the tub to bathe me. It felt so good to get cleaned up and to move around (one of the benefits of a natural labor). Afterward, they placed some stitches, since I sustained a second degree tear during delivery. Once I was finished with that, I took Holly back into my arms and lay in bed with her on my chest, my husband in bed next to me. We slept for the rest of the night there at the birth center.

In the morning, we got up and drove home, still high on the excitement of the night. Our baby was perfect and our birth was so beautiful. The experience was truly life-changing. Our birth team was wonderful and honestly, we can’t wait to do it again- at home, next time, since apparently I’m a fast birther. We couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience.