Owen’s Birth Story

I finally have time to sit down and write up our beautiful natural Bradley-method birth story, of baby Owen. I thank God that he blessed our birth with his presence so strongly. I had the unbelievable and unthinkable gift of experiencing a silent labor, which made the experience so intimate and beautiful. It was truly transformative, and brought Jared and I so much closer together. His support and coaching during that quick 8 hours cut the pain that I experienced in contractions, in half.

Labor is not easy, and it is not painless. But the pain and work is pain WITH A PURPOSE! It is a natural process, and I believe that when left alone, proceeds without complication, and in a beautiful way.

Around my 18th week of pregnancy, I made the decision that I wanted to explore the idea of a natural birth. The more I read and researched, the more I knew that it was for us. I was interested in homebirth, but we were not sure that this option was for us. I made the decision to transfer my pre-natal care to the wonderful midwives that deliver at TX Children’s here in Houston. The Women’s Specialists of Houston have five midwives that rotate deliveries within their practice, as well as around 10 highly qualified OB/GYN doctors, so this made Jared and I really comfortable. My pregnancy was pretty easy, once I passed the initial first trimester quease. My only issue was chronic round ligament pain, for which I began regular chiropractic care.

After much research on birth methods, Jared and I chose the Bradley method of natural birth. I remember reading that the success rate of Bradley births was about 90%, and was really impressed with the comprehensive approach of the program. Basically, the Bradley method is taught over 12 weeks, in weekly 2-hour classes. We were really blessed to have found a local instructor, Ann Belk, who was doing a series here in the Heights. During this coursework, we were taught one of the most important tools during labor- the signposts! Signpost #1- excitement (means that you are in early labor, and you should ignore it and go about your business), Signpost #2- determination (the real work of labor has begun, and you are no longer excited, but focused and vigilant), and Signpost #3- self doubt (this is an indicator of transition, and means that your work is nearly done!). These signposts were so clear to us post-labor, but more on that later…!

It was during one of these classes that we met and eventually hired our wonderful doula, Jessica Gonzalez, with Village Birthworks here in Houston. Upon hiring Jessica, we knew that our birth team was complete. We believe that God us to her, and she was so incredible in her care prior to, during, and after our birth.

Around week 32, we were told that Owen was transverse (basically laying horizonally in the womb), and that they would keep an eye on his position. At 34 weeks, we discovered via ultrasound that he had rotated to a frank breech position (butt down, feet up near his ears!). The midwife informed me that if he did not turn by week 36, then we would be scheduled for a C-section. This was devastating to me, and I definitely broke down in tears in front of the midwife. Jessica, however, was certified in Spinning Babies techniques, and immediately got down to work on encouraging Owen to turn. After two weeks of applying those excercises and techniques, I was informed at my 36 week appointment that baby Owen had turned. What a relief! I cried in joy. Ha!

After Owen was confirmed head-down via ultrasound, I began taking some herbs that a friend of mine recommended- Dr. Christopher’s Birth Prep Pills. These pills are intended to help shorten the pushing phase of labor, and speed things along. Opinions vary on these herbs, according to my research, but I went ahead and took them, hoping that they would work. Oh boy- did they ever. J

On the eve of our due date, I was standing at the kitchen sink and had my very first bona-fide contraction. I was fascinated. My body just kind of took over, in this very odd way. It was uncomfortable, but nothing painful. I had two or three more of those over the next 90 minutes, and we got VERY excited. We should have known better! One of the main principles that the Bradley method teaches is to ignore early labor. Of course, we didn’t ignore it- we finished packing our hospital bags, cleaned the house, and walked to the post office to mail some thank you notes. Then, everything stopped. I was really irritated. So, I drank a big glass of red wine to help me sleep, and we went to bed.

During the night, I had consistent cramping and cervical pain. I woke up a few times to pee, and was spotting. I texted with Jessica, who told me to drink more wine and get some good rest. I followed both orders, and morning rolled around with no sign of real labor.

Jared decided to stay home from work with me, as it was our due date (June 8th), and he didn’t want to arrive at work, only to leave again a few minutes later. So we went for a walk, started a puzzle, and spent time together. In hindsight, I am so glad that we had that wonderful day together. It was our last, before baby!

Jessica texted me that afternoon, and said that she would stop by around 6pm to check on things and verify Owen’s positioning. Jared and I decided to get some coffee and pick up some things at Target, so we headed that way. I was having some strong off-and-on cramping, usually when I shifted positions quickly, but they were very irregular and inconsistent. We made our way lazily through the store with our drinks, and decided that it was time to head home and meet with Jessica. We snapped this photo right before we left- Yowza! Look at that belly!

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During her visit, she verified Owen’s position, and then told me the real reason she was there: to get me out of my head. I confessed that I had been way too obsessed with checking in with family and friends, and was very anxious and impatient. She encouraged me to disconnect from everything that evening, and just focus on relaxing and allowing the baby to come. As soon as she said those words to me, I had a very strong contraction. I consider this the official start of active labor. 7PM. She stayed for 20 more minutes, and I had three more before she left. We were instructed to call her when we needed her.

After informing our families that we were going “off the grid” for the evening, we went to dinner! I was starving, and choosing to ignore the contractions that were coming at five minute intervals. Driving to the restaurant wasn’t terrible, as we had practiced a car relaxation technique in one of our Bradley classes. Who knew at the time, that I would actually use it? During our meal, we got lots of stares and a few concerned looks from our fellow diners- especially our server! Jared and I got into a great rhythm to work/relax through the contractions, where I would let my body hang loose and relaxed, and he would hold my hand across the table. I closed my eyes and breathed, let the peak of the contraction flow up and over, and then it would subside. I remember feeling this amazing gush of lovey-dovey feelings, excitement, and nostalgia during this time frame. (Signpost #1)

At the end of the meal, I noticed a marked increase in discomfort and pain during a particular contraction when Jared was in the men’s room, and unable to hold my hand. That was when I realized that his presence and touch was literally cutting my pain in half. Sounds cheesy, but it was a bona-fide fact.

We decided to head home, and walked around the neighborhood a bit. My contractions were coming around 5-7 minutes apart at this point, and because of the slowdown, we decided that we *must* not be in regular labor. HA!

I had another glass of wine to help me relax, and took a bath. At this point, the intensity of the contractions was definitely increased, but still manageable. I remember stripping down for my shower, and feeling a contraction starting. I dropped to all fours in our tiny bathroom, and let it come. My face was inches from our toilet seat. Gross. What a sight I must have been.

I finally made it into the bathtub, and hated it. This was so surprising to me, because my entire pregnancy I expected that water would be a huge comfort and that I would ultimately spend my labor in the tub. Wrong. I bathed quickly through the contractions, and put on my pajamas, heading to bed. This was about 10:30 or 11pm. Earlier, our doula had recognized that my strongest contractions were those when I was laying on my side, so she had arranged the pillows in our bed to allow me to labor in bed if I desired, to allow my contractions to be most effective. I spent the next 90 minutes in bed, trying to sleep, only to wake up in the middle of a contraction every few minutes. Jared was attempting to time them, but they were coming at such varying intensities that I would stop him from timing it, because “it wasn’t a real one”. Looking back, I believe that my body was just doing what it needed to do at that moment, to get the baby down. Sometimes my body called for strong contractions, and sometimes it called for milder ones.

The funny thing about all of this is at this point, Jared and I still did not fully believe that we were in labor! Ha! We were expecting a textbook pattern of increasing intensity of contractions and expected them to get longer and closer together as time went on. Needless to say, they did not. We were baffled, but assumed that everything would stop soon.

Anyway, around 1am I finally climbed out of bed and told Jared that I couldn’t lay in the dark anymore, and that I needed to move around. We came into the living room, and I worked through the contractions on my yoga ball, then on my hands and knees, then with my arms thrown over my yoga ball. The intensity and strength of these contractions was still variable, and irregular. Finally, I had Jared perform a spinning babies technique on me, called “Ribozo Sifting”. I hoped that the sifting would take some pressure off my butt and back. When I stood up from the sifting position, things got REALLY interesting!

A huge contraction hit, and I physically felt the baby move down. I threw my arms over Jared’s shoulders and hung on him, sort of growling. It was insane, and very primal. He started to hum a really low note, allowing me to mimic his tone and sound. It was so incredibly soothing, and brought the intensity down a great deal.

After that contraction ended, I suggested that Jared call Jessica, our doula. He asked me if I was “sure”, and I said, “No, but you might as well. It’s been a while.” I then went to use the restroom while Jared called Jessica.

I had two more contractions on the toilet, and felt something change down there. I had a feel around, and discovered my bag of waters bulging 2-3 inches out of my body. It was like a giant alien water balloon. I called for Jared, and he rushed in to have a look. He was so fascinated, that he took a photo of it! Needless to say, modesty and mystery flew out the window in that moment. Jessica arrived a few minutes later, and Jared showed her the picture. She watched me work through one contraction, and we guessed that I wasn’t anywhere close to transition. Wisely, she suggested that we head to the hospital, because I had previously tested positive for Group-B strep, and needed to begin a course of antibiotics when that water bag broke. I called the midwife, and handed the phone to Jessica as another contraction started. She explained to the midwife that my bag was bulging, but that I wasn’t close yet, and we would head to the hospital.

At this point, it was around 2:15 AM, and Jared began rushing around. He packed the car with our bags, and covered his front seat with a trash bag and towels, just in case. I had two or three contractions on the walk to the car, and suddenly, for the first time that night, got worried. I turned to Jessica as I was about to get into the car, and said, “What if we get to the hospital, and I am only like 3 or 4 centimeters? I can’t do this for another 7 hours.”

She looked at me with so much compassion, and something along the lines of, “Yes, you can do this as long as you have to. We will work together, get you into the tub, and get this baby out.” This was my third signpost- Self Doubt.

We finally started the drive to TX Children’s. Contractions at this point were coming at 2 minute intervals, maybe closer, and lasting around 30 seconds. Looking back, I am so grateful for the “labor rehearsals” we practiced during our Bradley classes, because one of them was a “car” rehearsal.

Jared called his parents and my sister on the way to the hospital, and told them to start heading this way. When we were about to exit off the freeway, a drunk driver swerved into our lane, and we came about 18” from a terrible accident. Thank God that nothing happened! His hand was on our car at that moment.

Things are blurry from here on out, but I remember growling at the valet when he smiled so happily at my arrival. We walked to the elevator, maybe 100 feet from our car, and I had two contractions in between. I was feeling a lot of pressure at this point, which I chalked up to the water wanting to break. I resisted the urge to bear down, which was the worst feeling ever.

We made it to the 9th floor, and encountered a very pokey/slow security guard at check in. After two contractions that included some low growling, we were greeted by a nurse and swept into L&D. Another contraction on the way to the bed, and then they asked me to sit on the bed. After some protesting, I managed to sort of lean against the handle bar on the side of the bed. The nurse was struggling to get the monitor on correctly, and the midwife walked in. She heard me growling/resisting the urge to bear down, and in her lovely british accent, called out, “bear down!”

I pushed the tiniest bit, and my water broke everywhere! It was a delicious feeling, and so relieving. That lovely feeling lasted about three seconds. My next contraction immediately started, and lasted about 90 seconds. I rolled onto my back at that point, and the midwife checked me.

She paused a moment, and announced to the room that I was complete, and ready to push. She saw baby hair! Sweet Jesus, you are good to me. I burst into tears, and cried out, “Thank you Jesus!!” The midwife told the nurse not to bother with an IV at this point- it was too late.

I don’t think I had ever been more surprised in my entire life.
Jared took this picture right at that moment- I think I was praying:

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The nurse brought over a mirror so that I could watch my progress, and I immediately asked them to move it away. Nothing can prepare you to see that, FYI. 😉 After one push, I am not ashamed to say that I was pouring sweat and started ripping off my clothes. I remember reading my birth books, and seeing pictures of women in labor, totally naked. I never, not once, thought that I would be that woman.

Well, it was business time. Things change during business time.

I pushed for 30 minutes, with each contraction that came. I wasn’t fully prepared for the intensity of pushing out a child- it is some SERIOUS work. They gave me a bit of oxygen, because I was breathless between each push. Jared encouraged me, and Jessica provided comfort measures like a cool washcloth on my head, and water. I literally felt as if I was running a marathon. My body was working so hard and so strongly to get baby out.

My sister ran into the room at some point, and I cried out in joy that she made it.

The hardest point of this stage of labor was when the midwife asked me to breathe through an entire contraction, instead of pushing. She was allowing baby’s head to mold a bit more, and it was probably the worst part of the entire labor. I cried out for a “cold compress!”, as I was most definitely feeling the “ring of fire” that I had heard so much about. I smile now, when I hear Johnny Cash sing, “and it burns, burns, burns”…ha!

One last push, and Owen was here. Born at 3:19AM.

The midwife delivered his head and shoulders, and Jared caught him. It was such an amazing feeling of relief, and I collapsed in exhaustion. Jared placed him on my stomach, and I couldn’t open my eyes for a few moments. I was spent:

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When I opened my eyes, Owen was there, perfect, chubby, and screaming. When I said hello to him, he stopped crying and opened his eyes. He looked just like his daddy. He was a big boy- 8 lbs, 15 ounces!

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After the cord stopped pulsing, the midwife showed Jared how to cut the cord. The midwife delivered the placenta, which we saved for encapsulation.

I remember feeling the birth high, in a huge way. When it hit, I was laughing and almost screaming out in joy. I was in wonder, and kept saying, “we did it!!”

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Owen stayed on my chest for about 45 minutes, where most of the procedures and checks were performed on my chest. He scored a 10 out of 10 on his APGAR, and was so alert and calm. He rooted his way to the breast, and latched!

I get asked a lot if I will do it again- as far as going natural. I will, and believe that any woman who chooses this route can do so successfully. However, she should educate herself and prepare as much as possible. While labor is unpredictable, I believe that educating yourself with positive outcomes and successful birth examples will remove fear from the process.

Birth without fear is so incredible.

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Comments
5 Responses to “Owen’s Birth Story”
  1. Kristie Pope-Dunn says:

    Oh. my. word. I was already in tears less than half way through. Lindsey, thank you for sharing your beautiful and amazing birth story. It is so encouraging to see women our age, our generation taking on this viewpoint. It’s not the “norm” anymore – which I find strange – but am so grateful for both my and your natural labors. That’s probably why I cried so very much reading this – so real, so recent for us both. Way to go, sweet Momma. You are wise beyond your years, and I have no doubt you will inspire many others to take the natural route – the way God created our bodies to work. Way to go, Jared. Your kindness, gentleness, and love for Lindsey literally, physically helped her work through the LABOR of giving birth to your son! God has blessed you three, undoubtedly. I am amazed. So proud!

  2. Monica says:

    This is a beautiful story Lindsey. Thank you so much for taking the time to put it in words, and share it. I am hoping to one day have that precious moment as well. Owen is a handsome stud muffin!

  3. What an inspiring story. Thanks so much for sharing this. Your story is proof to women all over that we can birth naturally. I’m 25 weeks myself and am aiming for a natural birth. I think women need to hear more and more stories like these so that they too, can deconstruct the fear that surrounds the notion of birth. It’s sad that in today’s society birth has been looked upon as a ‘medical condition’ and almost always interventions play a role in hospital birth. The medical industry is after all, a business. But it’s because women these days are so disconnected and uneducated they don’t even seem to realise that they have the capability of having a natural birth experience. Thank you and well wishes to you & your little one!

  4. calliebscott says:

    I couldn’t put it down! 😉 amazing!!! I always enjoy women’s birth stories drugged or natural (as I was drugged) but this was by far, my favorite and in depth story!!!

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