This is the first part in a three-part series in which I will share each of my son's birth stories and then share why I chose a different birth experience for Kellan's birth and what I did to create that.
This is Everett's birth story, written out shortly after his birth in 2007.
Eleven days before due, on Sunday March 11, 2007 at 3:30 in the morning, I woke up to my water leaking. I called my mom but decided to go back to bed and call the midwives later that morning. I called about 8:30 and had random, but very minor contractions. The midwife told me to call at 3:30 that afternoon to see how things had progressed. I had a baby shower at my mom-in-law's that day. I had a great time and shocked everyone that came with the news of my water breaking. Everyone thought I should be in the hospital, but I assured them I had hours to go. And I did. By 3:30, not much had changed, even after taking a walk to get things moving.
When I called again, the midwife told us to get some rest, be in bed by 7:30, and checking into the hospital after midnight. My husband, Erik, and I headed down to spend the rest of early labor at my mom and dad's house, five minutes away from the hospital. About 11:30 that night, I was woken up by a cluster of contractions and new that it was soon time to head to the hospital. They were all still irregular and manageable, but I didn’t know how long that would last.
We got everything and everyone together and headed to the hospital to check in, arriving about 12:30 AM on March 12. My mom, dad, and two sisters were with us. Once we got to the room everything was a rush. For about an hour I had nurses going through paperwork, hooking us up to monitors to check on how we were doing, reviewing my birth plan, etc. It was a little overwhelming, and definitely new to me. I had never stayed in the hospital before then. I was only at 4 cm, and at that point, my contractions were still fairly random and manageable. We thought we were in for a long night of waiting.
However, as soon as my family had settled down in another room to get some sleep, my contractions picked up intensely. My sister, Kristyna, and husband supported me as I started active labor and back labor. I was experiencing back pain like I had never felt. That was the last time I simply breathed through a contraction. The rest of the night only got louder. I labored in many positions, on all fours on the bed, at first. Kristyna was in charge of the fetal monitor, and every 30 minutes she jellied up my belly and listen for the baby's heart beat. I was shaking all over and couldn’t stop. Already I was getting tired and wondering when it was going to come time to push!
My mom came in shortly after the hard labor had begun and from that point on, I was attended to by all three of them all night. They were an incredible team. I couldn’t have done it without them. The nurse came and checked me at 6 cm, then after laboring some in the bathtub, she checked me again to update the midwife. I was at 7 cm and the midwife decided to head over to the hospital. I moved from the bed, to the toilet, to the bathtub, again, on all fours. My sister, Simone, came in to take pictures and video tape the rest of labor and birth.
Because my back pain was so intense,Erik, my mom, and Kristyna were applying constant pressure to my back, pushing my hips together. I hardly ever opened my eyes, knowing the visual stimulation would be too much. They talked me through each contraction, telling me that it would be ok, that I was doing a great job. Erik and my mom would lean into my ear and tell me how beautiful and strong I was.
I moved to the exercise ball after the midwife got to the hospital. My contractions intensified further and with each one, the back pain seemed worse. At some point, it was confirmed that the baby was posterior and the midwife helped us get the baby to flip over but the back pain never subsided. My contractions came in threes with a small break in between each cluster. The first was always the worst; I would yell with the pain and roll around on the ball. My mom and midwife would remind me to keep my voice low and guttural. I was surprised at the deep, primal noises that were coming from me. Erik or my mom would be at my back, the other at my side or in front of me, holding my hands. Erik got out my affirmation cards and said a couple to keep me focused. I couldn’t talk, but I said inside as he repeated, “I inhale strength, I exhale resistance.”
The midwife tried to relieve some of the pain by using a technique based on acupuncture. She placed four small drops of sterile water just under my skin at the base of my spine. It was supposed to burn like a wasp sting with each drop, so she timed it with a contraction. The contraction was so intense, I hardly felt the needle and the pain never subsided. I just had to keep pushing through it.
Shortly afterward, I started feeling like pushing so I was checked again and found to be 9 cm. In order to shorten the time (possibly by an hour and half) I had to lie on the bed almost completely on my stomach as the midwife pushed me open to 10 cm. This was the hardest and worst part of labor for me. I have never felt pain like that before. I wanted to stop, to give up and so badly I just wanted to rest. This was probably the hardest part for everyone that was watching, but our family kept supporting me, kept me going and got me through it.
Finally it was time to push!! I remember thinking, “This is the part that feels good!!” I read in so many birth stories that it felt so relieving, if not good to push the baby out. I didn’t know what was in store for me. I pushed for 3 hours through the back labor. At the time, I had no idea how long it lasted. I started pushing in the tub, in hopes of a water birth. The suite wasn’t the usual birthing suites because those were under construction, so the tub was much smaller. Looking back, I don’t feel it was suitable for water birth. We were in the tub for a good 2 hours and 15 minutes. Everyone crowded into the bathroom- me, my husband, the midwife, my mom and sisters. The nurse would move in when she needed. My mom-in-law, brother and dad all checked in with the family at some point to see how I was progressing.
While in the tub, I leaned back and pulled up my legs, then squatted and even tried to sit in butterfly. The midwife and everyone in there was as supportive as they could be. Someone would try to apply pressure to my back, they kept cold cloths on my head, and Erik continued saying one of my affirmations, “You’re going to be huge!” They all continued to praise me and say “one more good push!” Despite their great support, I felt very lonely realizing I was the one doing the hardest work, no one else could do it for me. I also felt motivated to work harder. I could feel the top of your head with my hand. It was so soft. I remember thinking that I had just a couple more pushes to go and that I just had to do it.
It was hard to time the pushing with a contraction while the back labor lasted. I would feel back pain after the contraction stopped and continue pushing. I lost a lot of energy pushing when I didn’t need to be. The midwife finally suggested moving to the bed to get into a more open position. It was as if she read my mind, and I was so relieved inside that she said it because I was so exhausted I could hardly get out a word of agreement. I hobbled to the bed and immediately got on all fours. It wasn’t rational thinking that brought me there, it was pure instinct. I just knew this was how to get the baby out.
From there, it took only 45 more minutes of pushing. I would bury my head and everyone cheered me on. Erik and my mom were at my sides, my sisters had front row seats at the foot of the bed, and my mom-in-law was to the side. As the baby was crowning, Erik got ready to catch him but didn’t get to because the midwife had to help wriggle his head out. I felt the baby move inside me as I pushed, and the others said he was moving his head back and forth. I couldn't see much from my position, but I could feel the different parts being pulled out of me. I looked down as he was just about out and my eyes were caught by the bright red and blue veins in his umbilical cord. It never struck me before what it would look like as it was working and I thought it was amazing. It was so cool to see part of the organ that brought him nourishment throughout pregnancy. He was finally born at 8:32 am on Monday, March 12, 2007. He weighed 7 lbs, 4 oz. and measured 19 1/2 inches long.
My mom told me that my sisters' mouths dropped open and their eyes grew huge as I pushed him out. My mom-in-law saw their faces and had to move over to watch. She told me later that as the baby was pushed out Erik lit up from inside and exclaimed “It’s a boy!” to everyone. I wish I would have been able to see that. The midwife handed him to Erik so I could turn around to hold him on my belly.
Together, Erik and I just drank him up with our eyes. I didn’t know what to say, which is rare. I just couldn’t believe that this tiny human being in my arms was just seconds ago, inside of me. I was awestruck and fully realized the miracle of birth. I don’t remember what everyone else was doing after Everett was put on my chest, I was consumed by my son. When the blood vessels inside his cord had drained, the midwife clamped and Erik cut him free.