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Our journey to our son was not an easy one, as you may know. And well.. if you don’t, you can read about it here. But his labor and birth was dream, empowering, and redeeming. An incredible feeling after such a long season of hard.
When we were able to graduate care at the reproductive endocrinologist at 10 weeks, it was time for me to start seeing an OBGYN /midwife. Without putting much thought into it, I began to see the same midwife who delivered miss H. I didn’t have a bad experience at all, it was a wonderful pregnancy and labor and delivery, so I figured it was a good choice going forward. And to be honest, I was having a really hard time wrapping my head around delivering a baby I had worked so hard to get and stay in there, that I wasn’t really thinking of that part at all yet. But two appointments in, I knew this wasn’t the right decision. I didn’t like the way I was treated when I came to them post op from the ectopic, and I didn’t appreciate things that were said to me in between. Oh and also that I felt slightly bullied into an epidural even thought I was admitted at 8 cm for miss H’s birth. ANYWAYS. I suddenly knew I wanted this to be different.
Infertility made me mad at my body. Why couldn’t it do what so many women around me were doing so easily? Pregnancy was really such a mind game for me. I questioned every feeling, every symptom, and it was exhausting. And when I finally realized (at 18 weeks) that I would need to think about birthing this baby, I decided I would want something between a home birth, and the assurance of a hospital team. Enter the birth center. Where I would be treated like a woman doing something women have been doing since the dawn of time, not like a medical emergency. Where I wouldn’t be pressured into unnecessary interventions, and where I would feel the strength of my body and the power of my mind. Something I believe I needed to heal from the trauma that came in the journey to get to our baby. We weren’t able to conceive him naturally, but I wanted to birth him that way if I was able.
Pregnancy went by, rather slowly in the height of summer heat I might add, without any complications and everything was smooth sailing. I had miss H at 39 weeks, and this time 39 weeks came and went without a sign of anything and that was weird. Aren’t second babies supposed to come sooner? No necessarily. Ugh. Fine. A few days into 39 weeks I took note of a headache that would not go away no matter what I did. I took a guess and after checking, sure enough, my blood pressure was high. That afternoon I went into my midwife to have them double check, yup, it was even higher at the office. I was officially on the lookout for gestational hypertension. Something that would disqualify me for a birth at the birth center. If I were to have another reading of high blood pressure, I was told to go to the hospital where, being 39 weeks, aka.. full term, they would likely induce. No no no, this was not at all the low intervention, unmedicated labor and birth that I was hoping for. A few appointments still had my blood pressure at borderline hypertension. Like so very close that my midwives would let me lay in a room, lights off, for twenty minutes before taking it again. I had a cervical check to find out that I was 1 cm dilated. I chose to opt out of the membrane sweep hoping that I would have time to avoid that intervention. When I went back two days later, at 39 weeks and 6 days I had progressed to 3 cm but was still having near hypertension level reads. I was terrified that when I went into labor I would be in hypertension and need to be transferred from the birth center to the hospital, so I was considering changing plans entirely and just driving straight to the hospital whenever labor started, if I didnt end up being induced. So, in an act of desperation to avoid induction, I asked for a membrane sweep and went home and made some Midwives brew. You can google that, I wont tell you whats in it, but its sworn by. So much so my best friend warned me that I should wait until later that night so I could get a good nights sleep before labor. Did I listen? Nope. Down the hatch it went at 5pm.
Like clockwork, I began having contractions at 11pm. I got out of bed knowing I would not be sleeping that night. I went to bounce and sway on the yoga ball, in the dark, in mister H’s nursery. There was a lightning storm outside. No rain, just lightning. As my BFF would say, it was very broody. An hour goes by and my husband wakes up and finds me “what the heck are you doing?” “Oh ya know.. contracting and stuffs. Its okay, go back to sleep, I’ll wake you when I need you.” haha, no, I didnt need him for this early labor part. I just wanted to breath through these contractions, alone, in the dark. It was about to get exciting.
Around 3 am I finally called my doula. We agreed to check back again in an hour. Within that hour things progressed quickly and I told her I think we needed to head to the birth center. She told me to call my midwife to confirm. I did, and she didn’t think from the sound of my contraction that it was time just yet, I assured her I knew my body and it definitely felt like I needed to get there soon. We agreed to meet at the center at 5:30am. I woke up my husband. He was very groggy and very confused, I honestly don’t think he thought he was having a baby today “What?? We need to leave in half an hour? Why didn’t you wake me up sooner??” Hah truly, I didn’t need him until it came time to drive to the center. Remember how I considered just driving straight to the hospital because of blood pressure? I felt very confident in this moment to go straight to the birth center, I believe God answered that prayer, helping me know where to drive that night.
Oh and that drive. It was HORRID. Thirty minutes of very very consistent contractions. In the backseat of a Ford bronco with an incredibly stiff suspension. On very bumpy roads. Awful. Do not recommend. When we arrived at 5:30 I didn’t make it very far before demonstrating a very real active labor contraction for my midwife. I think she was in agreement that its a good thing we were there when we were. We got “comfortable” in the room and I bounced and rolled on a yoga ball through several contractions. The midwife asked if I wanted music. NO. Aromatherapy? NO. Anything? NO MORE QUESTIONS I MUST FOCUS. But then she took my blood pressure. And do you know what? 126/70. Not a dang thing to worry about. My body was done being pregnant and was happier in labor than it was just 12 hours earlier. I made her repeat the number to me. Laughing, thanking God.
Just like with miss H’s labor, I felt everything in my back. When the counter-pressure on my lower back from my husband (see! I need his help NOW) is no longer enough, I ask for the bath to be drawn. To hopefully give me some sort of relief from the constant pain. Before getting in, my midwife asks if I would like her to do a cervical check. Feeling pretty confident, I tell her yes, and she quickly reports I am at 8cm. What a wonderful number to hear in that moment. The walk from the bed to the tub was one of the more uncomfortable and painful parts of the entire experience. Once I got to the tub and lifted my leg over the edge to get in, I felt mister H shift and slam into my pelvis. OMG OUCH. Only a handful of contractions later did I suddenly feel what I had heard so much about. My body was pushing. My breathing through contractions had suddenly changed to breathing out a baby, or what felt like the biggest poop of my life.
Which, why are women so afraid of pooping during labor?? Ya’ll its likely gonna happen, its the same muscles, its the same way of pushing. Shit happens. And I knew exactly what had happened as soon as I saw a midwife walk over with a fish net. TMI? You’re here for a birth story, you signed up for this!
When I tell you how badly I needed my husband in these moments, I NEEDED HIM. I didn’t necessarily need him to do anything, but hold my hand. He was grounding me. He was keeping me from getting lost in the pain. At one point he was getting up to get water or something and I cried to him “No dont go no no no”. So even though I didnt need him at the beginning, he was a wonderful birth partner when I needed him most. It was the most sacred thing to go through with him.
A few pushing contractions in, I hear the midwives; I swore they were whispering but I heard it as loud as day. “baby was at -2 when I last checked her”. If you dont know, lets just say that means he was nowhere near being in the right position for me to be pushing. So why did I feel the urge to push so bad?? The next few contractions were so very confusing for me because I deffffinetly wanted to push. But what was the point if it wasn’t doing anything yet? So I asked to get checked again. Which meant getting out of the tub, which honestly wasn’t doing much for me anyways. BUT.
Remember that slam I felt getting into the tub? That was Holden falling from -2 to 0 station and getting me to 10 cm. Baby was in fact engaged, locked and loaded ready for me to be pushing like I was. Confirmed once I got on the bed, “complete, Brittany, you can push!” Frick yes I can, and push I did, we were about to meet the baby we had waited so long for. A few pushes later, and I hear “You did it! He’s here!”. We both cried. I screamed “Holy shit I did it”x3. He was born with a big ol bruise on the top of his head from that quick decent into my pelvis. But he was perfect. He was here. We did it. We cried some more, we held each other, we met our son. Finally.
We were at the birth center for a mere 2 hours before he arrived. I had planned for many different kind of outcomes in my head. How though, did I end up with the absolute best case scenario. The most beautiful and empowering way to end such a hard chapter, and start a beautiful and exciting new one. Welcome home, son.