On Friday, August 29th, I woke up with an alertness that I had not felt for quite some time. Though our due date was still 12 days away, I knew that morning that we were getting close to meeting our baby and I embraced this sensation as I popped out of bed and welcomed the day. I went to my chiropractic appointment that morning and told Dr. Joe that I was feeling the time was near. He felt the baby and agreed that the baby felt ready too. Upon returning home from my appointment, I wondered where that wakeful energy went that I greeted the day with- I felt exhausted! Obeying my body, I went back to bed and took a long nap. Listening to my body turned out to be just what I needed as that was the last bit of sleep I was going to enjoy for quite some time.
Since I was no longer working, I was able to attend a mid-day prenatal yoga class I had been looking forward to with my favorite instructor from Ginseng Yoga, Arati. I had been excited for this class all week and felt like it was just what my body needed in preparation for my birth. During class, through every breath and pose, I felt especially in tune with my body and my baby. Sure enough, at the end of class, I felt my first contraction, it was 1:00 PM. This sensation was unlike anything I had felt before; I decided it was time for a walk to help move labor along and help keep things calm. I wanted to avoid adrenalin since it could potentially prolong labor. I went to the beach and went for a long walk along the shore. Sure enough I experienced more contractions that caught my breath and made me focus on the horizon and breathing deeply. At the end of my walk, another contraction came that brought me down to a squat and convinced me that it was really happening!
On the way home I timed the contractions and they were consistently about 8-10 minutes apart. At home, I ate a large lunch and continued to stay clam and relaxed since I knew I would need all the energy I could reserve. I called my husband, Billy, and said that I thought he should think about coming home from work. We both knew early first stage labor could linger a long time and could even stall, so there was no sense of urgency.
When Billy got home we started timing the contractions, but then decided that this was not as important as just relaxing and letting my body tell us what to do. At this point, the contractions would make me lean on the counter top and concentrate on deep abdominal breathing. Walking and being upright felt the best between contractions. As the reality of this experience sank in we decided to take our last pregnancy pictures. The next step was deciding what to eat for dinner. We got some Pho and enjoyed dinner together, but when a contraction would come I had to stand and lean over. Sitting was becoming very uncomfortable.
We called Jude, the midwife on call at Best Start Birth Center, to check in and let her know that we were in labor. She agreed that we were doing all the right things and to call when we were ready to come in. Billy and I went for a walk around the neighborhood to assist my body in opening up. Then it was time to try to get some rest. We went to bed and Billy was able to get some sleep. The sensations were becoming more and more intense for me and were so strongly felt in my lower back that I could not do any side-lying. I found the yoga position “child’s pose” and rocking on my hands and knees to be the most comfortable. I was getting more and more deeply focused on abdominal breathing, moaning and visualizing my cervix opening with each contraction.
At around 10 PM the contractions intensified to a point that I had to wake Billy saying that I needed his help. Having never given birth before we were not entirely sure how far along in the first stage of labor we were. Earlier in the day a neighbor who had recently had a baby shared her story of laboring at home for 40 hours and arriving at the hospital only a few centimeters dilated- a story we had heard many times from many different women. We were fearful of the same happening to us; we wanted to labor in the comfort of our home as long as possible and minimize the potential of an extended labor at the birth center. We started really putting into action the techniques we had learned through the Bradley Method birthing class we had taken. We continued to labor in bed where Billy tried all the massage and relaxation techniques we had been practicing daily, but none of the pressure or positions were comfortable. My legs were shaking like crazy, so he just stuck to massaging them and giving me water between each contraction. Soon I needed a change, so we decided to get in the shower. This was such a relief! The hot water on my back was so soothing. I hung on Billy, got on my hands and knees and swayed under the warm flow. Billy was sure he was not going to get me out of the water, this is where I felt the best relief and did not want to get out, which he said was fine, but the water was soon to turn cold, so the shower had to come to an end. We walked through the house, which was becoming increasingly difficult since the sensations were so close together and my legs were fatiguing. When I started having bloody show it really took us off guard how much fluid there was. We called Best Start, Kel was now on call, she told Billy that everything sounded normal, to keep on laboring at home and that I would know when it was time to go. Watching for my emotional signposts, Billy was waiting to see a big change in my behavior as a signal that it was time. He gave me a shot of goo, which was hard to swallow, but really helped sustain my energy.
Back in bed on my hands and knees rocking and “Om”ing together, I was deeply inside myself and focused on getting through the sensations that now seemed to have no beginning nor end just high peaks and lower peaks! I was not speaking much, but around 1:45 I said I was ready to go. I had some doubt that I was far enough along, but I was having trouble staying relaxed during the contractions and was having some contractions made me feel out of control. The final straw was when I was grunting and feeling like pushing. Billy said that there was not an obvious physical sign or emotional change that had taken place that he could see in me. The contractions were steady and consistent but it wasn’t the arrival of a contraction that was more intense or noticeably different that told me that it was time to go, it was just trusting myself. When we were leaving Billy left my side for a moment and back to find me on my hands and knees at our front door, he was convinced that I was right and it was time.
The drive to the birth center is about 15 minutes long. The ride was terribly uncomfortable, which made me tense up. I experienced a few contractions, but they had separated a bit. We both worried that labor had stalled in the commotion of packing up and getting into the car. This part is a true testament to staying relaxed to keep labor progressing. To top it off, Billy took the wrong exit, which really upset me since this was the most trying part of the labor- it wouldn’t be a complete birth story if the husband didn’t take at least one wrong turn on the way to the birth center!
Written by Billy:
We arrived at Best Start Birth Center at 2:30 AM. Kel Shields, our midwife, met us at the door with a warm greeting, the lights in the room we were to birth in were set to a comfortable low level, there was a very inviting, calm, peaceful energy in the air. Kel promptly set up a birth ball for us to labor with but Yasmin announced that is was not comfortable to labor upright or to sit and she wanted to return to the hands and knees position that she had been in throughout most of active first stage. After the first contraction passed Kel examined Yasmin and said, “Well, it was nice of you to show up FULLY DIALATED…Let’s have this baby!” I will never forget her words, a great relief. We had worked through most of the labor in the comfort of our home as we set out to do. She noted that the bag of waters was still intact and this was the only thing keeping the baby in. We quickly changed gears and filled the bathtub for the birth. Kel lit candles and encouraged me to use a carafe to pour water over Yasmin, this proved to be very soothing. Kel’s birth assistant Laura arrived to help with the birth around this time. Kel and Laura were a great pair, very encouraging, and not at all intrusive. They allowed us to work together and respected that we were a team. It was clear that we had the same goals for the birth.
In the tub, Yasmin got into a squatting position to help the baby’s descent. After a couple pushes, the water broke, which felt great to Yasmin. Though she wanted to stay in the squatting position, her legs were too fatigued, we transitioned her into a position where she rested against the back of the tub drawing her knees up to push. In what seemed like a few pushes later the baby was crowning. We worked slowly, pushing only to comfort being cautious not to tear. Blood began to appear that was coming from an unrecognizable source. The baby’s pulse was checked after each contraction and appeared to be healthy. Kel calmly explained to Yasmin that there was bleeding, it was not clear what the source was, and that she wanted the baby to come out with the next push. With the next contraction Yasmin gave a determined push and at 3:45, only an hour and fifteen minutes after arriving at the birth center, Brooks Suarez was born into my hands. His eyes were wide open staring at me, his coloring was beautiful, and he let out a healthy cry. I moved him on to Yasmin’s body and we all spent some moments in awe staring at each other. I cut the cord, the placenta was promptly delivered and we were on our way to the bed to enjoy our new family! Brooks never left our arms. He breastfed successfully, right away! Everything was perfect!
When we made the decision to become parents we did so knowing that we would dedicate ourselves to the care of our child. We knew we always wanted to make knowledgeable decisions in our child’s best interests. When we discovered the advantages of natural childbirth, we knew we wanted to do everything in our power to give our child a start in life that he or she would benefit from for a lifetime. We feel blessed that our birth experience was one of success. We attribute this success to routine labor relaxation practice, furthering our education of pregnancy and childbirth, choosing a great birth team, healthy diets, exercise, and peaceful, harmonious living.