I would love to share the story of my second child’s birth. It is a story about waterbirth, conveniently placed yard sales, helpful midwifes, inclusion of siblings at birth, my sweet chubby baby boy and the gentle way he entered this world. The birth happened at Best Start Birth Center in San Diego and was attended by Roberta Frank, CNM. My husband, close girlfriend, and my 3 yr old son were also present for the birth. What a great experience! So here is the story…
My pregnancy was quickly approaching 42 weeks and I had been strongly anticipating the birth of my second son. With my first baby, I had to be induced in the hospital because I was approaching 42 weeks pregnancy. I wanted to avoid induction with pitocin, not to mention the hospital this time around. I was pretty disappointed with my previous birth experience in the hospital, which is why I chose to give birth at Best Start Birth Center this time around. I really wanted to give birth naturally in a comforting and supportive environment and to have my birthing choices respected. However, with my pregnancy approaching 42 weeks, I became a little nervous about the possibility that I may have to go to the hospital if labor did not start soon.
I really, really wanted to have my baby at Best Start. I loved it there! I had tried everything to jump start labor naturally: herbs, teas, homeopathic medicines, castor oil, acupressure, chiropractic, acupuncture, lots of walking, jogging, and even a ride on the seesaw and swings at the playground. Having my baby at Best Start was something that I had been looking forward to for a long time!
At my last prenatal appointment I had Sarah, one of the midwives, strip my membranes in order to try and get things going. We discussed that if I didn’t go into labor by Saturday to come in and Roberta would break my water in a last ditch effort to start labor. She explained that I would then have 24 hours to go into active labor before they would have to transfer me to the hospital. At the time I was already dilated 2cm, so I agreed. The stripping of the membranes seemed to do something, because I started to have mild, but regular contractions that evening. They gained in strength and interval to the point I was convinced that I was in labor. By the time they were 2-3 minutes apart I called the birth center to contact the midwife on-call. I didn’t want to come in yet, because I didn’t feel like the contractions were strong enough yet. I am glad that I waited because the contractions never did get any stronger and eventually I fell asleep!
Saturday rolled around, but no baby. My husband and I went to the birth center and had Roberta break my water at 1:30pm. I was already dilated to 3-4 cm . This was encouraging and made me feel very hopeful. Roberta said that labor would probably start within 45 min. to an hour. I didn’t really think that it would happen that fast with the way my luck had been going! It felt very strange walking around with that warm leaking feeling!
My girlfriend Sasha arrived shortly thereafter and we got the peach birthing room ready. I had brought a special pregnant statue to look at during labor as well as some beautiful candles and essential oil burners. We decorated and situated everything and made the room our own. Sasha and I decided to take a walk around the block to get things moving. We walked across the street where someone was having a yard sale and we looked around. We decided to walk the rest of the way around the block and return to the birth center to pick up some cash (some things caught our eye at the yard sale) and then return to the yard sale. All the while I was feeling gushes and it was quite odd. As we rounded the last corner I started to feel a change in the nature of previously mild and irregular contractions. We quickly crossed the street and were walking along the side of the birth center when I felt a strange pop and then a sinking pressure. I stopped in my tracks and I knew that labor was actually going to start! I felt my first good contraction as we waited by the back door for my husband to let us back in. The plan was for me to use the restroom quickly and get a change of clothes and then return to the yard sale. However, as I tried to change clothes, the contractions started to really pick up and became so intense that I knew I was not up for walking around the block again. I knew I wasn’t going to be leaving the center anytime soon without a baby in my arms!
Sasha ran quickly back to the yard sale and even scored an awesome deal on the antique mirror I wanted. She told the man that I was having my baby across the street and he let her have it almost for free!
I changed into my nightgown and was now having to focus through my contractions. They were really intense and coming every 2-3 minutes and I was starting to whimper. Roberta said that I was now in active labor. I was so relieved! It was now about 2:40pm and it had only been about an hour since my water had broken. I was happy that I didn’t have to go to the hospital and I felt a huge relief! I was now at 4 cm. Josh and Sasha tried to comfort me with massages, but the contractions were so intense that I was unable to enjoy it. The massages felt like over stimulation and all I wanted was for everything to be quiet and still (except for the nice relaxing music that Sasha brought for me). I tried sitting on the birthing ball for a while. Roberta asked me if I wanted a water birth (yep!) and had my husband start the water. I thought that it was maybe a little soon to be getting in the tub, since I had only been in active labor for a few minutes, but the contractions were too intense to resist a warm inviting tub of water. I slid into the tub and felt like the edge of the contractions was instantly relieved! I was able to let go and relax much more.
Once I started relaxing, the contractions kicked into overdrive and all of the sudden the contractions felt like they were just too much to take anymore. I really, really wanted a natural birth, but wow…I was really having a difficult time coping all of the sudden. Roberta checked me and I was dilated to 5cm. At this point, Josh telephoned our home to have our son brought to the birth center to witness the birth of his brother. I was really having a hard time dealing with the contractions, especially because I thought it would be quite a while still before the baby was born. I told Sasha and Josh, “I know I told you to tell me ‘no’ if I started asking for drugs….but I really think I want something”. They were really great and tried to get me to try other natural remedies. Josh tried holding my hand and Sasha put some lavender oil in the tub. I then started to become very vocal about wanting pain relief. Once I figured out that they weren’t going to give up on me, I started to try to beg Roberta for medication. She told me that she thought the baby would be born within the hour and the drugs needed a couple of hours to wear off. She said everything was changing so quickly and the baby would come too quickly. I have to admit that I really didn’t believe her! I thought she was just telling me that to make me feel better. Roberta brought me some homeopathic pulsatilla for fear and I took some of my rescue remedy.
I really had no concept of time at this point. Only fifteen minutes had passed since I was dilated to 5 cm, but I felt like it was a couple of hours! I told Roberta that I felt like I wasn’t getting a break in between contractions. She said I was in full transition and I was dilated to 8-9 cm and to push when I felt the urge. I knew now that she wasn’t pulling my leg! I was so ridiculously glad to hear this….I could cope with the pain much easier when I knew that the finish line was so close. I no longer felt like I needed pain medication at all. No wonder everything was so intense, I dilated from 5cm to 8-9cm in about fifteen minutes! In fact, I had only been in labor for about an hour and a half total! I didn’t get much of a labor “warm up”….I just jumped right into the hard part!
I felt a sense of inner calmness and awaited the urge to push. I knew that the baby would be here soon, but my toddler hadn’t arrived yet. I really wanted him to be there for his brother’s birth. I started to get kind of upset that he wasn’t there. It felt good to start pushing with my contractions because it gave me an active means to deal with the pain. Roberta reminded me to feel my baby’s head. It was so hard and round! I remember his brother’s head being very soft. I took my time pushing because I felt like the head was very large. I wanted to ease it out the best I could. I did little pushes at a time. The baby’s head was crowning. I looked down and saw lots of light reddish/brown hair. Roberta was so reassuring and comforting. Surprisingly, the actual delivery of the head was not very painful compared to the intense transition contractions. We heard a car pull up, and sure enough my 3yr old son, Monty had arrived! Sasha ran out and grabbed my son at an astonishing speed! She brought him in and stood him at the edge of the tub next to where she was sitting. I was so happy to see him. He was so excited to be there and was smiling and giggling the whole time. It was so encouraging to see my son bursting at the seems with happiness. This was one of my most favorite memories of the birth experience. I was so motivated to push the baby out now! The burning sensation was countered by all of the excitement and knowing that all of the pain and hard work could be over with the next push or so. At last his head was born (with a nice fist next to his head) and then the shoulders. I reached down and pulled my baby up onto my chest. Big brother Monty exclaimed, “can we take the baby home now?!” and we all laughed. The baby was so calm, but at the same time alert. He held his little hand up to my face and turned pink immediately. He was a big baby too (9lbs, 13oz)! He seemed to really like the warm water and I think it was a nice transition for him. He seemed to know who I was already.
I wrapped him up in a warm towel as the water drained and we waited for the placenta to arrive. Josh and I looked at him and couldn’t believe how red his hair looked. We agreed that Killian was a good name for him. We had liked this name before the baby was born, but we wanted to make sure that he “looked it” first. Killian began to nurse right away and Josh cut the cord after it stopped pulsing. After taking a few curious peaks at the baby, Monty went into the waiting room because he wanted to play with toys. I gave Killian to Josh to hold while Roberta and Sylvana helped me out of the tub and into the bed. Killian cuddled close to me and nursed some more. I can’t begin to explain the elation that I felt as I laid in bed with my new baby boy. I have never felt so on top of the world! I was so proud that I able to give birth naturally and couldn’t believe the entire labor only took about two hours!
My positive birth experience at Best Start really helped me to heal the old wounds of my previous unfulfilling hospital birth experience. The staff at Best Start was so wonderful! They helped me to have the birth I have always wanted. I couldn’t have wished for more! I felt incredibly empowered by my birth experience at Best Start. It was truly the happiest moment of my life thus far, and I will keep that memory with me for the rest of my life!