With her first son, Remy, Tayler went a week past her due date and had a very long labor (over 30 hours). Looking back, she realized that she had been resisting every contraction. So for her second birth, Tayler wanted to do things a little differently. During her pregnancy, Tayler practiced hypnobirthing; and during labor, she remembers repeating the word “opening,” and actually feeling herself dilating. Tayler’s second son, Sage, was born in the water and en caul very shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Tayler Gunn Bio
Tayler lives with her three boys and two kitties in Southern California. She and her husband Nate both own their own businesses and love what comes with it. Tayler owns Wildbird ring slings, a babywearing company. They spend a lot of their free time at the beach and running around with their boys. Connect with Tayler at @taylergolden or @mywildbird and see her ring slings at Wildbird.co.
Listen to me chat with Alexis about today’s sponsor, BabyList, at the end of today’s episode and check out my sample registry of some of my favorite items for pregnancy and postpartum!
Transcript Episode 156 – “Hospital Waterbirth Story” Taylor Gunn
[Voice 1] Uh, I think my water just broke!
[Voice 2] I think that things really intensified..
[Voice 3] She was right there, and she was coming…
[Voice 4 It was…it was an amazing feeling.
[Voice 5] I could cry just thinking about it. I could FEEL her HEAD!
[Voice 6] (choking up) We heard her cry. We were holding hands and she was SCREAMING (chuckles)!
I’m Bryn Huntpalmer and you’re listening to The Birth Hour. This podcast is designed as a safe place for women to come together to share their childbirth stories. Stick around to hear informative and empowering birth journeys from women all over the world.
[Bryn] This episode is sponsored by Baby List. Baby List’s mission is to make baby registries more personal and less overwhelming. You can put anything on your baby registry from any store. Aside from being able to pull in items from various stores, you can also add neat things like mommy-and-me workout classes, photography sessions, doula support, and postpartum stuff like home-cooked meals and dog-walking. At the end of this episode I’ll be talking to Alexis about her experience using Baby List.
[Bryn] Today’s guest is Taylor who has two little boys. She’s going to be mostly focusing on her most recent birth story today. Hi Taylor – welcome to The Birth Hour. Thanks for coming on the show today.
[Taylor] Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
[B] Can you start by telling listeners a little bit about you and your family?
[T] So I’m Taylor Gunn. I have two boys Remy is 3 and Sage is – he just turned 7 months old. And we just recently moved to California. My husband is originally from here so he wanted to get back to the surf life, and we’ve been having so much fun at the beach. And yeah – we’re just super happy down here.
[B] Awesome. Well, I know we’re mostly gonna focus on your most recent pregnancy and birth story, but is there anything you can kind of share about Remy’s real quickly before we get into Sage’s?
[T] So Remy’s birth – my pregnancy was really generally easy like I, you know just, normal pregnancy stuff – just being uncomfortable but his birth. I actually I went a week past my due date, which I was fine with, but my labor was really long. And looking back now I feel like I understand why it was so long. I was just really fighting each contraction and having pretty hard contractions for about 36 hours. And I kind of felt like I got hit by a car after – like it was a really rough labor, and I had a hard time. And so going into Sage’s, I was very nervous because I had my experience with Remy, which was really hard. Even though I still loved it, I was still very proud of my birth, it was just very hard.
[B] Yeah. Well is there anything that you did differently like during your second pregnancy to kind of prepare for maybe a quicker labor? Or just different circumstances?
[T] Yeah, so there’s this class I took, um… it’s in Utah. It’s by Laurel and Curtis and I just loved it. She like really understood that I had the fear of a long labor again and I did lots of exercises to practice like how I could make my labor shorter. One of the main things I did was I really focused – and I know that like everyone knows this, and I knew this with my first time around too, but I really was able to implement it in my second labor – I was able to really relax during my contractions. And my keyword with Sage’s labor was “opening” and it was so crazy like I could literally – like there are a few contractions that I had, and I remember I was sitting on the toilet and I was having a contraction, and I just remember saying like “opening…opening” like over and over in my head, and I could feel myself dilating. It was amazing. And I feel like that’s what made it go faster.
[B] That’s awesome. What was your prenatal care like?
[T] I always like to do a lot of yoga while I’m pregnant. It gets a little harder – like I feel like I always, you know, you have the excuse when you’re pregnant – it’s a little more tiring. I always try to eat really healthy. I was trying to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Um, lots of chocolate ends up happening for me too (chuckles).
[B] Very important (chuckles).
[T] But yeah, I don’t know. I just say exercise and eating good food was really important for me.
[B] Did you feel differently with your second pregnancy versus your first?
[T] You know, first trimester I felt like is generally a harder time for lots of people, including me. And with Remy I was pretty nauseous, and then the second time was Sage I was just way more fatigued. I didn’t feel as much nausea and I would definitely take the fatigue over the nausea. Being nauseous is so hard. But just very tired and I just wanted to lay in bed. Good thing Remy wanted to watch lots of movies with me during that time.
[B] (chuckles) I remember when we met just how much of a snuggle bug he was.
[T] Yeah, he is such a cuddler and he still is. I love it.
[B] Great, well let’s get into your birth story. Unless there’s anything else about pregnancy you want to share?
[T] No, that sounds great.
[B] Okay so what were some of the first signs that you were going into labor?
[T] So with Sage, I tend to carry my babies to 41 weeks. I’ve learned that because I’ve done it twice now, and so with Sage I was – let’s see – I was seven days over my due date. And the next day was September 11th. I was like – and you know, that’s kind of a hard day to be born on.
[T] And I was like okay let’s let’s just not have the baby tomorrow – let’s have it on Monday, which is September 12th. But of course around like 10 o’clock that day – 10 a.m. I was like, “Oh!” Feeling some twinges, I think “today is going to be the day.” So I started feeling some contractions, and they started getting a little more consistent. I was like ‘Okay this is it. Here we go!’
[B] Were they strong right away? Or did you kind of ease into it?
[T] Um no. They definitely eased into it. I I remember…so I feel like because my labor was so long with Remy, like I was home for most of my labor, I think – we went to the hospital and we got turned back because I was only dilated – even though my contractions were pretty strong. Like I couldn’t even walk through them. And so I feel like that made us think that things had to be really, really intense to go to the hospital. And so for the first part of Sage’s labor I just feel like we were just in denial. I was like, ‘No, it’s fine. I’m good. Like, it’s not intense.’ Even though I was getting pretty close. Like my labor total with Sage was five hours.
[B] Wow (laughs)!
[T] So they started out pretty easy. That’s even including, like, pre twinges.
[B] Mm-hmm. Did you have Remy there with you during that early labor?
[T] Yeah, so it’s so funny – so we called his parents to let him know when we thought it was like real. It was around 10 o’clock and we’re like, ‘Okay, so we think it’s happening.’ I’d called my doula to let her know. I called the Midwife at the hospital and I let them all know that I think this is it, but I wasn’t sure yet. And things picked up pretty quick, and I kind of needed Nate, my husband, to like help me at that point, but I was still in denial that it was picking up faster. I felt like the whole time he was just – because Remy was very concerned about me.
[T] And he kept trying to touch me and… You know, some people like to be touched – but I was just at a point where I just needed to be in my own head. So being touched was kind of hard. So Nate was trying to entertain Remy. He had called his parents to come get Remy, but I don’t know…(laughs) We still to this day have no idea where. (laughs)
[T] I don’t know. They said they were coming for hours and hours but they took a really long time to show up.
[B] Oh my goodness. So when did you finally make that decision that it was time to go?
[T] So, I had been laboring at home. Things got more and more intense. I think, you know, sometimes in labor it’s kind of a fog – everything that happened, but I know I was moving to different places in my house, just walking around. I was able to really enjoy my downtime from my contractions. I was able to actually talk to Rem and talk to Nate, and that was one of my big goals this time around: to enjoy the downtime body would give me. And I feel like I accomplished that for sure. Umm, let’s see. So things got more and more intense. Like, I remember at one point, I told Nate, ‘I need a bowl.’ I was just sitting on the rug, but I couldn’t move And yeah, I just puked everywhere. Luckily, Nate came with a bowl at the very last second. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. Where are your parents? We need to go. I’m so ready to go and be at the hospital.’ And they were still like 20 minutes away, and I was in pretty hard labor at that point. I was deep moaning through each contraction. They showed up…let’s see… they showed up and I remember Nate’s mom came inside. I was in the middle of a contraction. It stopped, I ran out to the car, we hopped on, and took off. I’m pretty sure I was in transition in the car, which was terrible.
[B] (sympathising) Oh, yeah…
[T] Yeah, it was really rough. I was in the front seat. I was kneeling backwards on the seat and just hanging onto the headrest. Nate was just trying, you know, he was very good – like he had my tapes on, he was trying to rub my back as he drove… and I dunno.
[T] I mean, he was like trying to, I don’t know… get that really quick. So, we pulled up. We got to the hospital, and it was Sunday – so they didn’t have their valet service. So he just parked the car at the fron. He wheeled me in all the way up. I didn’t want to be checked, but when we got there I was like, ‘Yeah I’m like curious to see where I’m at.’ I was at a nine and a half already. And my doula just met us at the hospital. And so they checked me, and I remember I just had this super intense contraction. I was standing at the time and it brought me all the way down to my knees. Then they got the bath ready for me. I hopped in the bath, and Nate wasn’t there. I had no idea where he went. So I was like trying to hold on for him. I was like, ‘Where did where did he go?’ He had to go park the car because he had just left it in the front.
[B] Mmmm. Ohhhh…
[T] (laughs) I know, so I was just like in the bath. I was still really good. I had my Doula there. She was breathing with me through the contractions. He showed up, and then I like I felt Sage coming, and I wasn’t pushing at. I just felt my body pushing him out, and I was just trying – because I really didn’t want to tear so, I was just like trying to pant through him coming because I felt my contraction just pushing him out.
[B] So is that something that you learned in your class or just intuitively?
[T] Yes, that was something I learned in my class. Because I tore with Rem, and it was – you know, tearing is never fun. You don’t want to tear down there, so I really wanted to… cuz with Rem, I was at the point where I pushed for two hours with him, which was so hard. I was just pushing so hard with him, and I was like, when he started to crown and stuff I was like – I just want him out, and I just pushed so hard. And, you know, I just tore because I wasn’t patient anymore.
[B] I totally did the same thing. My midwife was like, ‘ You need to slow down now.’ And I was like, ‘No (laughs) I need to get this baby out.’
[T] (through a smile) Yeah, I know. It would have been so much better if I was just patient!
[T] But yeah I was like, ‘I just need this baby out.’ And you just push him out real quick. You know, cuz it had been too long. So that was like another thing in my birth class – that I really…I did not want to tear. So I guess a good way like when you know some… I don’t know I experienced it both ways. You know I experienced where I had to push the baby out, and I experienced when my body just kind of pushes the baby out. Which was really cool that I got to feel both ways that it can happen.
[B] Mmm-hmmm. So, when you say that you having you ‘pant’ do you mean like literally…
[T] (laughs) like a dog, yeah!
[B] Okay, like a dog.
[T] Yeah, I don’t know. It was just something I learned. I guess it helps tighten that muscle. I – I don’t know. It’s like that muscle right there it just helps it relax.
[T] So you’re not like pushing down on it. I don’t know.
[B] Very cool
[T] Um, so yeah. I was like just panting. Trying not to tear at all, because I felt him coming so fast, and I knew if I bear down at all he would just come out so quick. So while my body was pushing him out, I just reached down into the water because I was in the tub and there was – I felt like it felt like a jellyfish, almost. And I was like, ‘What is that? !hat is not the top of its head.”
[T] The sac was still intact. So he was starting to come out and he came out all the way and he was born “in call” – meaning he was fully in the sac.
[B] Oh wow!
[T] Which was so cool. Like, I could see him under the water and as soon as I grabbed him – because I really wanted to grab my baby this time – so I grabbed him, and it broke. I pulled him up out of the water. The cord was wrapped around his neck a few times. The Midwife just untwisted it, and put him straight on my chest. And it was… it took him a few minutes to cry, but it was fine. He was good. It was amazing. That moment when they put them on your chest is the best.
[B] Mm-hmm. So was this like a birth center within a hospital? Or just an amazing hospital with birth tubs?
[T] It’s an amazing hospital so the U of U Hospital is super – like their Midwife group is amazing. You can have the best birth there. They’re just so naturally minded focus midwives.
[B] This is back in Utah?
[T] Yes. Yeah this is in Utah at the U-Hospital. And they have birth tubs there. I don’t know. I had both my kids with them and they were just so amazing. Like with Remi, my midwife – I wasn’t I was in the room for eight hours, and she was there doing counter pressure the whole time. She was just with me. And she taught me. She was amazing. I love the midwives there. I could not speak highly enough for them.
[B] Awesome. So did you have any tears?
[T] I had a little tiny one, but it seriously healed within like a week. It was amazing. It was super, super tiny.
[B] Awesome. Well, how was your postpartum recovery overall?
[T] So right after he was born, I felt so amazing! I just compared it to my first time with Remi – after that, I felt like I got hit by a car. I was just dead. It was hit the middle of the night, I was in labor for two days, I was just so tired. My labor was Sage – I started at 10 a.m. and he was here by like three. We had dinner as a family, and I just had so much energy. I felt so good. And even after, I stopped bleeding within five days.
[T] Yeah. So compared to Remi, when I blood for eight weeks night and day, it was so different.
Yeah. It was really amazing.
[B] And how is it once you got home, and this time you had a toddler, and breastfeed.
[B] All that. How’d that go?
[T] So I’ve always been lucky with breastfeeding. You know, it’s always hard at first when you’re super engorged, and newborn’s trying to figure it out. But I’ve been very fortunate with my breastfeeding experiences with both my kids. Figuring out that the two kid thing kind of threw me for a loop. Just learning how to split my time between them was really hard. Luckily, Nate my husband, was super helpful with Remy. And I was so nervous with Remy because he’s very clingy to me, and so I didn’t know how he was gonna take it. But he handled it very well. He was so in love with Sage. And he still is. And jealousy was never a problem, which is something I was really worried about. So it was really good.
[B] That’s awesome. It’s like the sweetest thing to see.
[T] It really is. I did have some postpartum anxiety. It started around two weeks postpartum and lasted till about eight weeks. I just was needed to be like compulsively clean about the house. I don’t know what was wrong with me. It was really it was frustrating on everyone. But I was just – I don’t know… you know, those hormones – they really mess with you.
[B] Was it anything that you had experience the first time? Or totally new?
[T] Totally new. I’m a clean person, but if the house was even a little bit messy it would stress me out so much I couldn’t even enjoy my baby. It was super weird. I’m grateful for everyone who helped me through that. But it was a hard little thing.
[B] Yeah. What did you do to get through that?
[T] Nate was really sweet. He got a housekeeper a few times for me to help ease my worries about it. And just talking it through with some people – with my friends. I had a few really supportive friends, and when I would have those urges that would build up all the sudden – just learning some coping skills, like to just breathe and, you know, just trying to put it out of my mind in the moment.
[T] And telling myself that it wasn’t that big of a deal.
[B] Mm-hmm. I’m sure people can relate. Even if cleaning wasn’t their thing, but something else that was super stressful.
[B] Well, are there any resources, aside from that course that you mentioned, that you recommend to pregnant or new moms?
[T] I’m a little nerdy about birth I just love reading stuff online. There’s this website that I just love reading their articles on called bellybelly.au It’s an Australian company. I really like that website and reading lots of their articles. I like childbirthconnection.org and I like hypnobirthing websites, as well. And I loved watching, I’m sure I know every pregnant person loves doing this, but reading birth stories online and watching YouTube videos.
[B] Mm-hmm. And now listening to them? (laughs) With the podcast.
[T] Yes! (laughs) Exactly!
[B] That’s kind of how the idea for the podcast came for me. Because I was so into reading the stories all the time.
[T] Yeah! It’s amazing! I know. You can’t get enough of it when you’re pregnant.
[B] Yeah. Well, can you share with listeners where they can find you online?
[T] So you can find me on Instagram. I’m Tayler Golden. I also have a baby wearing company. It’s called Wild bird. www.wildbird.com
[B] Vry cool. I know lots of people probably know you already. I work with Baby List, and people always talk about how they register for your slings on their on their baby registries.
[T] Oh, that makes me feel so good!
[B] Well thank you so much for coming on to share your birth story with us!
[T] Of course! Thank you so much for having me! It was so fun to talk about it.
[B] Now we’re going to talk to Alexis about her experience using Baby List. Hi Alexis! Thanks for coming on The Birth Hour to talk about Baby list. Can you start by just tying listeners a little bit about you and your family?
[Alexis] Yeah my name is Alexis Beach and I live in Kansas City with my boyfriend, my four year old son and three week old daughter. I’m a doula with Kansas City Doulas.
[Brynn] Great. And did you use Baby List, I’m guessing, probably not with your first – and then discovered it with your second pregnancy?
[A] Yeah, I did. I actually discovered it through this podcast!
[B] Oh yeah yeah!
[A] It’s been so great. I wasn’t even sure I was gonna have a baby shower with my daughter, but I did end up having one and using it. I got it like as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I was like, ‘I need to get on Baby List!’ So I got it and started adding things. And I just used it still to this day – even for my own personal list of things that I need to get for baby because there’s so many things that I want to get, but it’s from different places. Like, a lot of stuff from Amazon is on there, from Target, Etsy, all kinds of place. So yeah, it’s been such a good organizational tool.
[B] Yes, exactly.
[A]I’m using it even still now for things that I know in the future I’ll want to get with her. Or even for my son – different ideas. It’s just a nice place – a central location -to make a list of things to remember to get for your baby. And it’s been really great – another really great thing about Baby List is that they’ll send you an email when you have price changes on your items. So there have been times where you know something’s decreased in price or even increased in price, so I know that’s a good deal – I should get that now, or no I should wait. So it’s been really great.
[B] Yeah. Do you use it on the computer?
[A] Mostly just the app. I mostly use the app.
[B] O,h cool. So can you talk a little bit about how that works?
[A] Yeah, it’s super, super user-friendly. It’s just the Baby List app, and you just get on there and you can click ‘add items.’ You can type in a store or they have all the major stores there for you. Just click on – – I use it for Amazon a lot, so I click on Amazon – and up in the corner there’s ‘add.’ You can add as much as you want. You can also separate stuff into categories, like clothes, and books, and toys, and just general items. There’s all kinds of categories you can have.
[B] And I know that also you can add stuff on there that is not an item but more like a gift – like placenta encapsulation, which is something that I did with my daughter, and like donate to charities, and all kinds of stuff like that.
[B] Do you ever recommend it to your doula clients? Because I know a lot of people use it to kind collect funds to pay for their doula.
[A] Oh yes, all the time. That’s a really great thing to do. To say, ‘You know, wel,l we don’t need a car seat – we already have one car seat, so you know, we would rather you contribute to paying for our doula.’ Which is a really great thing. Or even a postpartum doula.
[B] Yeah, definitely. Especially if you live in an area without a lot of family or friends close by to help out after the baby arrives.
[A] Yeah, exactly.
[B] Cool. I’m glad it’s been working out for you and that you’ve continued using it.
[A] Yeah, it’s really great.
[B] Thank you so much again to Tayler for coming on and sharing her stories with us, and to Alexis for talking to us about Baby List. You can connect with me on social media at The Birth Hour. And you can get information from today’s episode at thebirthhour.com Thanks so much for listening (& reading!). If you enjoy today’s show, head to thebirthhour.com and click ‘become a member’ to pledge your support. As a thank you, you’ll get an invitation to join our private Facebook group and have access to exclusive episodes. Your vote of confidence and support means the world to me.
A Positive Hospital Birth with Midwives
Katie followed her intuition and switched from an OB practice to a midwife-led, hospital-based practice during the beginning of her pregnancy. She ended up going past her due date and even when she eventually did go into labor she experienced prodromal labor and was in labor for more than three days. Prodromal labor is labor that occurs prior to actually going into full, active labor. It is sometimes called “false-labor,” but you are actually are in labor the whole time with contractions, it’s just that they start and stop for long periods. Katie tells the whole story on today’s episode of The Birth Hour.
Katie Krysil Bio
Katie is a mompreneur who owns the adorable felt flower accessory shop called Fancy Free Finery. She is the wife to Ian and mom to a little boy named Felix who is usually by her side and she runs her business from her home.
Fancy Free Finery
This episode is sponsored by Katie’s other baby, her small business, Fancy Free Finery! Katie started Fancy Free Finery two years ago as a side hustle to supplement income alongside her preschool teaching job, and it has since grown to be able to support Katie and her growing family. Inspired by the fancy free lifestyle of the young children who wear her products, Fancy Free Finery creates felt flower accessories for little ones, including hair accessories like headbands, clips and flower crowns, as well as nursery decor and birthday party supplies. Each artfully designed felt flower is meant to add just a touch of whimsy to your child’s milestones and memories.
Because Fancy Free Finery wants your little ones to feel comfortable (and keep their headbands on!) each headband is handcrafted using soft wool-blend felt sourced from an American-made supplier and the stretchiest nylon elastics, so your child not only feels fancy, but is also free to explore and play. Meant to be a keepsake item for years to come, Fancy Free Finery’s products are made with attention to detail with a focus placed on quality craftmanship. Go to fancyfreefinery.com for more information where you can use the coupon code BIRTHHOUR10 for 10% off through the end of February 2017. We are also giving away $100 shop credit over on my Instagram page.
Want to all of the details of Katie’s birth story? Read in her own words below!
What a crazy year 2016 was!
The day before Christmas Eve, December 23rd 2016, Ian took me for a drive to see the Christmas lights on Rockvale Ave, a street in Andover, Massachusetts where every house on the street decorates their houses top to bottom. Christmas is a favorite of mine, so we would always go see the lights every year. This year, he proposed, in the car, as we were driving along.
Once we were engaged, we decided we would stop trying not to get pregnant, but weren’t necessarily trying to get pregnant. I always thought it was going to be hard for me to get pregnant, since back in high school they thought I had PCOS, and sometimes I would go months without getting a period. I remember the first time we had sex without Ian pulling out (this was always our method of birth control for years and had always proven safe), I looked at the moon and realized it was a full moon. A coworker of mine believed in moon cycles and fertility, and I thought to myself “Uh oh.” And then I let the thought slip out of my mind.
A month later, close to Valentine’s Day on February 10th, I went to our local Rite-Aid to buy a pregnancy test. I was late, which I sometimes was, and I decided to test. I had gotten negative tests before, and just assumed I would get a negative again. The test quickly turned into two lines and I stood in the bathroom in shock. I remember I had just gotten out of the shower and was getting ready to go meet one of my seamstresses at a local park, so I just went on with the plan in a daze. I don’t even remember what we talked about as we walked around the park, and I’m sure it was obvious that I was barely there. My head was spinning.
I got an appointment with my doctor that very day, surprisingly. She confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. What a whirlwind! I waited anxiously for Ian to come home from work. I didn’t want to tell him on the phone or through text. I was so anxious for what he would say. I paced around the house waiting to see his car pull in. Once he got upstairs, I waited for the right moment to tell him. I don’t know why I was so anxious about spilling the beans. I said “I have something to tell you.” or something equally dramatic. I don’t even think I was able to actually tell him. I just pointed to my stomach and nodded. “You’re pregnant!?” He was just as shocked as I was. “I’m going to be a dad…” He was still coming to terms with the idea, just like I had been. We had no clue it was going to be that easy to get pregnant.
My first trimester was full of anxieties. I had read a lot about miscarriages in the first trimester, so everything had me on edge. I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case anything happened, not that I had any reason to think that anything WOULD happen. I just tend to be an anxious person and didn’t want to get too excited. I made an appointment with a local OB, the first one that came up that my insurance covered when I searched. My first appointment lat about eight weeks left a bad taste in my mouth. I was the only one in the empty waiting room, which was oddly decorated, which for some reason made me feel like something was wrong with the office if no one else was there. The nurse came to get me, and right away started listing off all of the things I couldn’t eat, things to be worried about. I felt like it was a really old-fashioned practice, not progressive at all, since she kept referring to Ian as my husband, when we weren’t married yet. I felt judged, and also felt upset that no one was taking the time to get to know me or ask how I felt. The nurse was just reading off of these photocopied papers that looked like they hadn’t been updated in years. It was very impersonal and overwhelming. I remember being afraid to eat fish for weeks after this appointment because of how scary she made the mercury seem. (Of course I learned that fish is actually good and healthy to eat in moderation during pregnancy, as long as you are eating the right kinds!) The nurse had me get into a johnny and wait for the doctor, so my first meeting with her was when she walked into the room and shook my hand as I sat cold and almost naked on the paper sheet. She mumbled something about how childbirth was painful and most women choose drugs. That was one of the first things she said to me. She proceeded to give an internal exam and send me on my way. I never went back to that office.
At 13 weeks we got our first look at our baby. Since our insurance covered the 13-week ultrasound, and since my anxiety was through the roof, we decided to take advantage of this early ultrasound and see how the baby was doing. I was scared to death that he would have a high number on the nuchal fold reading. Like I said, at this point in my pregnancy, anxiety was still a major feeling I was having. I was reading way too much about what could go wrong and not seeking out empowering information. I watched the screen waiting for her to write down the number of the thickness of the fold. “You need to stop Googling things,” the ultrasound tech told us. Everything looked great and we walked out clutching those ultrasound photos, which I could not stop looking at.
I started searching for a new doctor. I am such a people-pleaser and I was scared to even call the old OB and tell her I was switching, but I sucked it up and did it, asking them to send my folder over to a midwifery in the next building over. “Why?” the receptionist asked. I told her that I felt like I wanted a more holistic approach and it just wasn’t a good fit. She placed me on hold and had me also explain myself to the doctor herself. I just felt so awkward and uncomfortable, and that moment solidified the decision I had made to switch out of their practice. I had decided to switch to St. Joseph Midwifery, a midwifery practice associated with the local hospital.
My first appointment at the midwifery was completely different than my first at the OB’s office. Sharon, one of the two midwives, sat down with me in a comfortable room around a table and got to know me. We chatted about my fears, worries, lifestyle, interests. She gave me a packet of empowering information including recommendations of some books that I ended up reading, like Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, the Birth Partner, Birth Without Fear, etc.
My pregnancy was pretty easy! I didn’t have morning sickness, just some food aversions at first, along with cravings, and extreme tiredness. I was so lucky to be able to work from home. I would take a nap almost every afternoon. Sometimes I would even take a nap as early as 10am. I also had a touch of insomnia early on, and of course toward the end, when I would have to get up to pee all of the time. I craved lemonade and cheeseburgers most of all. I also ate a lot of pickles and salt and vinegar chips. It’s no surprise that by the end of my pregnancy I had gained 65 pounds, despite walking a few times a week in the woods with my mom. We would meet in the mornings about three times a week and walk a 45 minute loop in the woods, right up until a week before I delivered. My routine was to wake up, drink three cups of raspberry leaf tea (iced) — because I heard it toned the uterus for birth — and then go meet my mom. I knew where every porto-potty along the way was. I ended up calling myself the “porto-potty princess” by the end of it. I always had to pee.
In addition to RRL tea, I also tried to “hack birth” in some other ways. I had read that eating 6 dates a day helped with cervical dilation, so I would add dates to my oatmeal or smoothies each morning, or eat Luna bars. I bounced on the birth ball a ton.
We ended up hiring a doula who I loved and really resonated with my mindset. We were both very informed women with similar views on childrearing and birth. I would often ask her questions via text throughout my pregnancy and she was a great resource to bounce ideas off of. We also took a hypnobirthing class together, and I would listen to the meditation tracks as I drifted off to sleep at night.
We found out we were having a boy at our 20 week ultrasound and Ian was thrilled. Being that I have a bow business, I was thinking it would be cool to have a girl, so when we found out, I turned to Ian and said “You got what you wanted…” but I was really happy either way. I had always imagined myself having two boys, since I grew up with two younger boy cousins, so I was happy, even though I wouldn’t have a built-in bow model for my business. He always measured one or two weeks ahead, which I thought made sense since Ian and I are both on the taller end of the spectrum.
Towards the end of the third trimester, I had a lot of lower back pain, in my tailbone/sacrum area. I went to see a chiropractor a few times to work the kinks out, and also in hopes that some corrections would help the baby get into position and move things along.
My due date was October 4th, which came and went. Sharon, the midwife, checked me at my 40-week appointment and I was barely dilated. “Just a fingertip.” She said. They said they would see me next week for a biophysical profile, since I was post dates, and we started talking about induction. I really didn’t want to be induced, but agreed that if I went until October 17th, the weekend after my BPP, I would agree to starting the process.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 11th:
At his biophysical profile, where the baby is supposed to “score” an 8 in order to be considered healthy and thriving, he almost scored only a four. My fluids and his heart rate were fine, but he wasn’t making any major movements, and she couldn’t find him doing his “practice breaths.” She waited over an hour, had me drink juice and move around, and finally in the last fifteen minutes he boosted his score to a perfect 8/8. He was always a little stinker during ultrasounds and never really “performed” for us. He was stubborn.
At that appointment, which was October 11th, Barbara, the other midwife in the practice, checked me and said I was a fingertip, which she could stretch to 1cm. “I bet we’ll see you soon!” she said as we left the appointment.
My husband and I went to get pho after the appointment, because at that point I was trying to eat anything that could induce labor, so spicy Vietnamese food seemed like a good idea. (I had also been eating a pineapple a day that week.) As we walked into the restaurant, I was already feeling what I thought were contractions, since Barbara had stretched me a bit at the appointment. I felt pretty sick throughout our meal, and had a hard time walking as we left and went home. I downloaded a contraction timing app and laid in bed trying to time the contractions. They seemed like they were timeable, so we called our doula to come over. By the time she came over, they had petered out, and I felt embarrassed that we had called her. We went for a walk together under the moonlight (it was almost a full moon) to try to get things going. It seemed like things weren’t going anywhere, so she headed home, and once she left, they started back up again.
This pattern would go on for the next two days. It seemed like every night, I would have timeable contractions as I laid in bed. To manage them, I would listen to my hypnobirthing tracks, or bounce on the birth ball, or take a bath or really hot shower. I loved leaning over the birth ball in the shower and just letting the hot water hit my back. I was already having pretty bad back labor. Cari, our doula, suggested some things to do to get the baby to move, guessing that he may be posterior. I was sure he wasn’t posterior, as I could have sworn I was feeling his butt move back and forth across my belly, so I didn’t really take her advice and continued doing what I was doing.
The first night, after Cari left, I decided to call the midwifery to tell them that I thought I was in labor. Something to note about the midwifery — the midwives are only on call from Monday through Thursday, and then for the weekend, their clients are transferred to the OBs in a neighboring practice. This was always something that weighed heavy on my heart, as I had great relationships with my midwives and hoped and prayed that I would go into labor during the week. I didn’t even give the OBs much thought — I didn’t want to even entertain the idea that an OB would have to deliver me. When I called, it was early Wednesday morning, right after midnight, so I assumed that Barbara would be on call. I called the office, got the answering service as I was told I would, and the woman told me that she would have Dr. Poulin, the doctor on call, give me a call back. “Wait, isn’t Barbara on call?” I asked, panicked. “She’s supposed to be on call Monday through Thursday!” Well it turned out that since Sharon was on vacation, Barbara had coverage so she wouldn’t have to be on call round the clock for a week. I hung up the phone and immediately started bawling to Ian. I was a mess. My expectation that Barbara would be there were shattered and I was beside myself. I had met the other doctor earlier in my pregnancy and had a bad vibe (I tend to not like doctors) and was so upset. We went in through the ER and Dr. Poulin checked me, at which point I was at 2cm and they sent me home, telling me to come back when the contractions were timeable and increasing in intensity. So we did. (After getting pulled over on the way home for failing to use a blinker. The police officer took one look at me and sent us on our way with a gentle reminder.)
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 12th:
I continued to have contractions that night and kept taking those hot showers and bouncing on the ball. The next day, I was able to be up and moving around, but I had Ian stay home with me just in case. His presence felt comforting to me. Once again that night the contractions started up again. I had a restless night and spent most of it in the shower. I was taking so many hot steamy showers that our smoke alarm kept going off from the steam in the middle of the night. I wonder what our downstairs neighbors were thinking.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 13th:
Early Thursday morning, after laboring through Wednesday night, we called Cari, the doula, to come back again. My contractions tended to peter out when she came around, which lead her to believe that I wasn’t in active labor. We tried a few things to get labor going, like rocking on the ball, and using the breast pump to stimulate contractions. It seemed like when she was there, I felt pressure to “perform” and things would slow down. She left again, suggesting that I take a Unisom and rest. So I did. (We never ended up calling Cari back. In the end, I was best at handling labor like a true introvert, alone, on my own, or with just Ian’s help. The intimacy helped me to feel comfortable and safe.)
Around 1 pm or so we decided to call the midwife again. I wanted to see if we could go in and get checked, and also to see if Barbara would be on call that night. She would. I decided that it was now or never, and that I wanted Barbara to be there, so I wanted to go in right then. Plus, at that point my water had started to leak a little, so we went in to Labor and Delivery… again.
The hooked me up to the monitors and were never really able to “see” the contractions on the strip. Throughout my whole labor, they never got to the classic 4-1-1 pattern, which confused everyone. Plus, I never felt them in the front of my stomach, only as a lot of pressure in my lower back. They didn’t check me for dilation right away, just let me labor for a bit, since my water was broken and they didn’t want to introduce bacteria. The nurses knew that I wanted a natural birth, and they were very respectful and accommodating to make sure I was able to stick to that plan as much as possible. In some ways I really wanted to know if I was making progress, but I just kept laboring, again in the shower in the hospital room. I wedged the ball into the stall and would lean my upper body on the ball and just sway back and forth in the dark bathroom with the shower hitting my back. I stayed in the shower for so long throughout my labor. My toes were pruning so much that my flip flops were hurting them, but then if I stood on the time barefoot, the tiles would leave indents on my feet. I stood on a towel but even the terrycloth was abrasive, that’s how pruned they were. But it was the only place I felt comfortable. I tried to listen to hypnobirthing when I was in the shower, but her voice was too slow and it was annoying to me now that I was in actual labor. Sometimes Ian would stay in the bathroom with me, outside of the curtain. He would play guitar and his presence, again, was comforting. Other times I felt okay being alone in there. I was very focused, just swaying back and forth through the pain. The nurses were able to take my vitals and the baby’s heart rate right there in the shower. I’m not sure when Barbara actually checked me, but when she did, I was at a 4 (cm.) We were making slow progress, at least.
Since I hadn’t gotten much sleep the past few days, a nurse suggested taking something to help me sleep. I was so against drugs and had done so much research and convinced myself I didn’t want them, that it wasn’t safe for the baby, etc. She suggested Nubain, telling me that it was like “smoking a joint and drinking a glass of wine and going to sleep.” I started to Google it on my phone, but in the end just decided to go with my gut and trust the nurses and took one dose of Nubain. I was able to sleep for a few hours, which helped perk up my spirits and encouraged me to labor on.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 14th:
Time starts to get hazy at this point. All I know is that I kept asking for the epidural, because I was frustrated that it was taking this long, but I also knew I didn’t really want the epidural, and Barbara kept reassuring me that I was doing great. She checked me sometime on Friday morning and I was a 7 (cm.) The nurse suggested that I try some other positions, but I had such bad back labor that nothing felt good. I didn’t want to sit down, because my tailbone hurt so badly. I tried to sit on the bed, backwards on the bed leaning over, on the toilet, on the birth stool… everything at this point just hurt so badly. The back labor was so intense. I was complaining a lot, crying that I couldn’t take it and that it hurt so bad. They introduced the nitrous gas + air, and I tried using that to manage the pain. I can’t say it helped much, but it did help me to focus on breaths, which was beneficial. It gave me something to focus on besides the pain. My contractions never showed up on the monitor, so they never knew how I was progressing. In fact, I didn’t even really have “waves” of contractions, just a constant pain in my butt.
At this point, it was time to switch shifts, which meant that Barbara would have normally left and Dr. Poulin, the OB who would be on call throughout the weekend would take over. Of course this wasn’t even on my radar so far in labor, but Barbara came in and let me know that she was going to go home and take a shower, but she would come back and help me finish my labor after she freshened up a bit. Her daughter-in-law was actually having a baby, Barbara’s first grandson, in a hospital room close by, so Barbara was planning to be around anyway. We were so grateful for her in that moment. I still cry thinking about how dedicated Barbara was to making sure I had the birth that I wanted.
When Barbara got back, she checked me again and I was a nine, but with a lip still on my cervix. I was close to pushing and the nurse suggested that I try to bear down and see how it felt. I held on to the tray table and bore down and my water started gushing on the floor. It was pretty gross, but it felt good, so I kept doing it. They kept putting chucks pads down to collect the fluid. I got in the bed to try to push, but it really wasn’t my favorite part at all. I was so exhausted, and I didn’t realize you had to work so hard to push out a baby. I had read birth stories about how your body will instinctively push the baby out, but that just wasn’t happening in my case, maybe because of his (or my) positioning. Barbara really lit a fire under me and basically told me that I couldn’t keep doing those wimpy pushes, that we had to work to get this baby out. I needed that pressure, I guess, because I started working hard to get him out. It was stressful, honestly. Really hard work. Ian jokes that I had doing anything physically demanding, which is really true. When we ride bikes, I always wimp out and complain at the hills. In general, I don’t like to physically challenge myself. And birth is probably one of the most physically challenging things ever. My face was beet red and I was grunting, straining trying to get him out. They gave me an oxygen mask to help me and the baby and were encouraging me to take deep breaths for the baby. Ian was holding one of my legs up, while the nurse was holding my other leg up, and he was looking at me, panic-stricken it seemed, but telling me “It’s okay! You’re doing great! He’s almost here!” I wanted to believe him but he looked so scared and overwhelmed that I remember thinking to myself “Yeah, whatever.” I was pushing so hard that I was pooping, which was sort of embarrassing but they would just wipe it away, and plus when you’re in labor, you don’t really care about anything except getting the baby out. I pushed for about an hour and a half and soon they told me they could see his head. Ian confirmed. They asked me if I wanted to see, but I didn’t, I just wanted to keep pushing, so I did, and finally he was out.
Felix was born at 1:32pm on October 14th. He came out sunny side up (posterior, hence all of the back labor and pain) and they sucked out his airways and passed him right up to me, all slimy and even still covered in meconium. I snuggled him and got him to latch on while Barbara and the nurses delivered the placenta, which came without any trouble, and Ian cut the cord. He didn’t cry, just looked at me so sweetly. I was on such a high. I remember Barbara telling me that I had two small tears on my labia and she would have to stitch me up, that it might hurt a bit, but I didn’t feel anything. I was so relieved and grateful and kept thanking everyone. I felt so great in that moment. They took Felix over to get weighed and measured — he was 9 lbs 3 oz and 23 inches long — and Ian soothed him as he got this Vitamin K shot. Then they brought him back to me and Ian and I both took turns giving him skin to skin time until they brought us to our recovery room.
Felix was happy and healthy! The nurses helped me out a lot with different holds for our breast feeding relationship, and it has been great ever since. At two months, he is weighing in at 15.5 lbs already! Since he was posterior and during labor he was pressing on my sacrum, I had lots of tailbone pain for weeks afterwards, even buying special pillows to take the pressure off of that area when I was sitting.