As told by Samuel’s mom, Challis:
“Samuel’s birth actually happened very fast. I had been dilating the weeks previous and had gotten up to a five the week before. I know that I had progressed even more than that but I didn’t have an appointment to confirm. It was almost like having several mini-labor sessions without going into full blown labor. So, the day of the contractions started at 8:30 and he was out by 10:53. We made it to Breath of Life by 10:20 so it was more of a come in and drop the baby kind of thing. Two things that were very helpful to me that I remembered from your class was pulling (I pulled on our towel bar at home and then on the bars near the toilet at BOL) and hip swaying (which I did a lot before pushing).
I’m so glad that I learned about the transition phase of labor as that is what I found myself in from the very start the day Samuel was born. I won’t lie, I totally begged for an epidural but Jonah told me that we should go to BOL first….yeah, we wouldn’t have even made it to the hospital. HA! I would have pulled a June and almost had the baby in the parking lot for sure. I knew in my head that transition was happening, and I do know that I was remembering everything that you said, but it didn’t change the fact that that part of labor is absolutely no fun whatsoever. BUUUUT, once it was done life was so fantastic!
Jonah was a great partner. He had everything packed and ready to go and was suuuuper supportive. He even remembered chapstick :) He really put a lot of effort into being there and helping any way that he could. It was a very non-traditional birth in that it was so fast you almost couldn’t think but baby came out healthy and happy! He was 9 lb 7 oz and had a 15 inch head. Vicki later told me that his body didn’t turn during birth (ouch) and that he actually just came straight out! I was really happy to know that after the fact.
I did have meconium in my water but during labor the midwife said that she saw it coming out of Samuel’s nose as I was birthing in the tub. I didn’t push during one contraction and it really helped it all come out. I didn’t know that either until afterwards (happily or else I might have freaked out). The midwives really did a good job protecting me and letting the natural process take place but still keeping an eye to make sure baby was safe. I know that if it was hospital birth I probably wouldn’t have been protected from that information. And at the end of it all there wasn’t any need for any type of intervention. It was a real success story and it was all natural!!”
As told by Isabelle’s mom, Kimberly:
“After the birth of my first daughter, Eliana, I knew I wanted to strive more for a natural birth with my next pregnancy. While pregnant with Eliana, my doctor wanted to induce me two days after my due date for the reason that they did not know if I was capable of birthing a nine pound baby, which is what they “estimated” she would weigh at that point. Out of fear I agreed to the induction date. Thankfully God answered my prayers and on her due date I went into labor not even feeling any contractions. However, after three hours of being in labor and dilating a centimeter each hour, my doctor felt I was not progressing enough and, on the phone, told me she wanted to give me pitocin. I told her that I did not want pitocin and instead she had the nurse break my water. After finally feeling an intense contraction and being stuck lying down, I asked for the epidural the nurses kept offering. Two hours later Eliana came out after less than ten minutes of pushing. Unhappy with my hospital experience and being sure my next baby would make an even faster debut, I started exploring options for a natural birth. Knowing that I have a very low tolerance for pain, my husband, Philip, was unsure if I would be able to go through childbirth with no pain medication. I reassured him that it was what I wanted and with his support I would hopefully be able to give birth naturally.
On September 28th, I lost my mucus plug and Philip and I both agreed that we thought Isabelle would come before her October 29th due date. I started to get into intense nesting mode and worked on finishing every thing on my “before baby to-do list”. Two weeks before Isabelle’s due date I started feeling braxton hicks. Worried I wouldn’t be able to tell what was real contractions, I confided in Vikki and she reassured me that I would know. Ironically, I remember praying and asking God for one more week so I could finish up preparing for our little girl. Once again God answered my prayers!
I woke up Sunday, October 21st and made some pancakes before going to church. Throughout making breakfast and service, I kept feeling a pain in my lower back. The pain would peak and then subside, and they would be ten minutes apart for thirty minutes then go away for an hour or two. The patterned stayed that way pretty much all day. With the feeling Isabelle was coming soon, I spent the day trying to convince Philip to come to my 11:15 appointment the next day. After my step son and daughter were tucked in for the night, I was getting tired and the pain seemed to be picking up. Philip would occasionally ask if I thought they were real contractions and I would answer that I honestly did not know. I finally went to bed around 11 pm and hoped that I could get some rest and mop the house like I had planned to in the morning.
I woke up at 1 am with the same lower back pain and began timing the contractions. Boy, was I confused! I was having contractions 15 minutes apart, then the next two would come just 2 minutes later, followed by one in 15 minutes. I remembered learning that real contractions were consistant in their timing so I assumed these weren’t the real thing and that maybe it was gas pains. I tried a couple of times to go to the bathroom but sitting down only made them more intense. It came to a point where it was too painful to stay in bed and too exhausting to get in and out of bed in order to rest in between them. At 4 am, frustrated with the inconsistent pattern of the contractions, I woke up Philip in tears and he comforted me. He wasn’t feeling very well but came out to the living room with me anyways and slept on the floor while I would alternate to laying down on the couch between contractions and standing up leaning over the arm of the couch during contractions. I was pretty annoyed with grabbing my phone, unlocking it and hitting the “start contraction” button that I stopped timing them.
Finally, a little after 5 am, I grew impatient and decided I would call the birth center to get advice whether I was in real labor or not. Chris was the midwife on call and almost right as she called back I began having another contraction. I asked her to give me a second and after it went away I asked her if I was in labor. She happily exclaimed that it sure did sound like I was! She told me to come in when they were 3-4 minutes apart or whenever I felt like it. Hearing that this pain was the real thing and not just practice was very encouraging! Philip timed the next few contractions I had and we were shocked that they were less than two minutes apart! The short time we had between contractions, I rushed to get the bag complete while Philip woke the kids and got them and the car ready. I jokingly said I had to mop the floors before we could leave. At 6:30 am we left the house to drop the kids off at Grandma and Grandpa’s and make the 25 minute drive up Starkey Road to the birth center. What a great time to be in rush hour traffic!
When we arrived, Chris walked me to the room she had prepared for us and after listening to the baby I changed and got right in the tub! The warm water felt so nice! Shortly after getting settled, Chris said goodbye and Everly came in to see how I was doing. During each contraction I would sway on all fours while Philip would press down on the my lower back with my motions. Between the contractions I would take turns resting, joking around and laughing with Philip and the midwives. Vikki, Everly, the student midwife Tammy and the birth assistant Cindy would occasionally come in and tell me I was doing a good job. After a couple of hours, Philip wondered if they would check to see how dilated I was because we were curious to know. After considering it, I said I would rather not be checked because I had expected Isabelle to come in less than six hours of labor, and it had already been close to eight hours! I knew that once I heard however many cenitmeters less that ten I was I would be greatly discouraged. Philip let me know I was doing awesome and that he could tell I was making progress, regardless of how much time it had been.
A little after 10 am I got out of the tub to go to the bathroom and didn’t feel the urge to get back in. The contractions were getting very strong and felt almost like I was being stabbed in my lower back. I don’t recall feeling any contractions in my belly, only in my back. I tried leaning over the birthing ball on the bed, but that didn’t help any. I began hanging on Philip while Everly and Cindy took turns massaging my lower back when I felt like I wanted to push. It may have been me just being impatient and wanting to meet Isabelle because not much was happening. I switched to being on my knees on the floor and hanging over the birth ball for a little bit then tried squatting on the birthing stool while this time Tammy and Cindy massaged my back.
I was becoming discouraged when Philip and Everly told me I was doing great and that they were starting to see her head. Everly brought over a mirror so I could see what they were seeing. I had always said I would never want to look in a mirror during birth but it really helped me to see what area pushing was making the most progress and it helped me to focus on actually pushing rather than focusing on how much time I had been pushing. Tammy came in between contractions while I was laughing and joking with Philip and Everly. I’m assuming she thought I wasn’t very close since I was still smiling but Everly stated that I would push this baby out laughing! Tammy suggested I try pushing while side laying on the bed so I agreed that I would try. Philip was next to me in bed holding my hand and giving me an arm to lay on between contractions. The pressure on my back was getting so strong during each contraction that I would yell out “oh, my back!” I knew the only way to get through it was to push, which made the back pressure worse. It took some self motivation to actually start pushing when the contraction began and what helped was knowing each push brought Isabelle closer and closer. There were two contractions that I did just breath through rather than push, frankly because I was so comfortable on my man’s arm that I did not want to lift my head up to push. Taking those breaks really helped me regain my strength.
Philip, Tammy, Everly and Cindy were all encouraging me and exclaiming I was doing good during each push. I have heard about feeling a ring of fire, but all I felt was fire on my back. I could feel my perineum stretching as Isabelle would push out a bit then back in. During one push my water broke and after the next push I looked down and saw Isabelle’s beautiful eyes, nose and mouth facing right up towards me. One more push and I felt her shoulders pop right out and then her legs sort of “squigle” out. It was 11:47 am, right on schedule for my appointment and I didn’t even have to bribe Philip into coming! Tammy handed her to me immediately and as she was on my chest I was so relieved to be finally holding her. I was able to hold her skin to skin right up until we prepared to go home. I ended up not pushing Isabelle out laughing, but I swear I noticed her chuckle a little while she was on my chest. :)
It is such a blessing to have a wonderful place to go to during pregnancy and birth. I was and still am so overwhelmed with joy with the awesome experience I had giving birth naturally. I was so aware after she was born, not drowsy like I was in the hospital. Philip commented that he really enjoyed how aware and like my normal self I was during labor. It was so beautiful to have my husband by my side the entire time to help me through each contraction and be such an encouragement. Labor was about ten hours, and even though it was longer and more intense than my first birth, it was a much better experience and completely worth it! It was so neat to feel everything during labor and birth rather than just be numb and be told what to do. Recovery has been so much easier this time around as well. I didn’t tear like I did with Eliana and that makes me so grateful for the hour and a half of pushing. I always felt so welcomed at Breath of Life and was so pleased with my care there. I also am so very glad they had me take a class to learn about natural birth, it really helped me to know what positions would help me during intense back labor and really helped Philip know what he could do to help. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything!”