I spoke with my latest client on Thursday afternoon. She told me she had just had her membranes stripped. So at 41 weeks, I assumed it would be go time fairly quickly. Wasn't I surprised to wake up to texts on Friday morning from my other client at 39 1/2 weeks! She had been up most of the night with contractions coming every 5-10 minutes.
I arrived at her home at 8:30 am and found mom resting in bed. Shortly after I arrived she was a little restless, so we started mixing things up with the birth ball.
Her dog needed some love, too. :)
She spent some time reading through birth affirmations and choosing the ones she would like to focus on as labor progressed. She was doubting herself a bit, and fatigue was creeping in, so she decided to try to rest again. I ran home to grab some lunch because I thought mom was resting! But she wasn't. Shortly after I got home I received a text to meet them at the birth center.
We all arrived at the birth center shortly after noon, and the midwife confirmed that mom was in active labor and that her water was actually leaking. The midwife did an internal exam, but my client didn't want to know where she was. I could definitely tell that mom was well into active labor, and my main goal was to help her cope with the intensity of her contractions. Mom liked upright positions and she would lean over during contractions. I provided back massage and the hip squeeze during (I think) every contraction. This mama was so quiet and in control! It was actually hard to decipher when she was contracting!
Mom got in the tub at 2:45 pm. She instantly liked the water, but she did struggle to find a position she liked. She changed position often and focused on relaxing during her contractions. Contractions spaced out a bit, and she nodded off in between.
To stay energized, mom snacked on fresh oranges, grapefruit juice, sparkling water, and nuts. She did a great job of making sure she was nourished. At 4:15, mom's temperature was getting too high, so she got out of the tub and we set out to walk a bit.
In an effort to bring on more contractions and comfort, we walked around the birth center and tried a ton of different positions: leaning, lunging, squatting and sitting on the birth ball.
At 5:20 mom was checked again and the midwife told us she was making progress. Mom was tired though, so she stayed in bed to rest for a while. Her husband offered great support and at 6:45 she told him he was the "best husband ever".
Mom got back in the tub at 7:00 pm and by 8;00 she was telling us how discouraged she was feeling. It did seem like she should be pushing soon. She had been vocalizing through her contractions for hours, but the contractions were still about 5 minutes apart, and from my perspective, they didn't appear to be intensifying.
Mom spent a lot of time laboring on the toilet. Many women like to labor there. It opens up the pelvis and has the added bonus of the muscle memory of a place we relax our pelvic floor.
At 9:00 pm mom told us she wanted to transfer to the hospital. She was tired and discouraged. I encouraged her to have her cervix checked again and find out where she was so she could make an informed decision. She agreed that was a good idea, and she was 9 cm! She was still feeling anxious and doubting her ability, but it was enough to make her want to continue with her plans for an out of hospital birth.
Along with her team of midwives, we set out on a joint mission of doing anything and everything we could think of to finish this labor safely and successfully. We did a technique called side-lying release, used the rebozo, did lunges on the edge of the tub, and squatted.
I need to preface this next part by telling you how incredibly strong this woman is. As in, she's been on America Ninja Warrior. She has the best biceps I've literally ever seen. After talking to her about her athletic training throughout her pregnancy, I knew in my heart that she already had all the tools she needed to get through a natural birth. She knows how to push herself physically and set goals, and keep going even when it's hard. But I could always tell there was a small part of her that doubted that she would be tough enough for birth. There always seemed to be a bit of anxiety.
Mom battled her anxiety on and off throughout her entire labor. But at 10:00 pm, her warrior came out. We turned on her positive focus music (favorite music that always makes you feel good) and the look in her eye completely changed. As the Beach Boys and Neil Diamond serenaded us, mom led herself through what could really be described as athletic conditioning. She rotated herself through lunges, squats, walking and leaning. Her anxiety was gone and all that was left was an intense focus that always leads to the finish line. She became the warrior birther I always saw in her.
Though all these activities can be incredibly tiring during labor, sometimes they are absolutely necessary when it comes to getting stubborn babies through the birth canal. And it was exactly what this labor needed. By 11:50 pm mom was starting to feel the urge to push.
We had made it to pushing, but there was still a lot of work left to do. Mom had to continue changing positions often and trying different pushing techniques. Dad offered lots of encouragement and kept reminding mom how strong she was. They were such a great team throughout the entire process.
Mom went back and forth between ending each contraction by saying the "F" word or just sayings "guys" in a tone to let us know that things were tough. Mom snacked on honey to stay energized, but pushing went on for hours.
Finally, at 3:20 am, the baby's head was starting to crown and mom was able to reach down and feel her daughter for the first time. Once that happened, mom pushed with a renewed strength and determination. And at 3:29 am, it was all worth it.
I am swooning over their first family photo. The look on mom's face and dad holding his daughter's hand for the first time is about as sweet as it gets. After greeting her daughter, mom took a deep breath, smiled and said: "That was epic!"
Born Saturday, February 16th, 2019
Weighing 8 pounds 10 ounces
Weighing 8 pounds 10 ounces
It was a long, tough birth. But I have a feeling this little girl was worth the effort. :)
(And as a side note, the first time she was checked she was 6 cm. Second time 8 cm, and third time 9 cm.)