Short labor....loooooong birth story!
Quinn Joseph’s Amazing Natural Hospital Birth
May 8, 2006 ~ 8:52 p.m.
On Sunday, May 7, two days after my due date, I was sleeping on the couch when I felt something warm and wet in my underwear. At first I assumed that I had wet my pants (wouldn’t be the first time this pregnancy) but when the fluids continued to flow, I realized it was amniotic fluid.
I told John and we began buzzing around the house with excitement…charging camera batteries, packing up bags to bring to the hospital, giving the kitchen one last thorough cleaning. I called my Doula and my Midwife to warn them that I might be waking them up some time during the night. Finally at about 12:30 we went to sleep.
I woke up around 4:30 to go pee and was surprised that I had slept that long. Nothing much seemed to be happening so I went back to bed. Lily came into our room shortly after and wanted to nurse. While I was nursing her I had some very strong surges several minutes apart.
We called my parents and they came down to pick up Lily. And then we waited…and waited…and waited. As we came up on 12 and 15 hours of ruptured membranes and no labor, I began to get nervous about the cascade of interventions that I might face.
Luckily, I was working with a wonderful, supportive Midwife, who wanted my labor and birth to proceed normally and naturally as much as I did. Through several phone calls she encouraged me to stay home, stay hydrated and stay relaxed.
My Doula, Lindsey, and friend Michelle, who is a Midwife, were also incredible support during this time. Michelle came over to check the baby’s position and heartbeat, which was very comforting for me. Both she and Lindsey, encouraged me to relax and enjoy some “orgasmic snuggling” with my husband, who was more than happy to assist in any way that he could.
At around 3 o’clock we headed up to see my chiropractor. Then the plan was to go for acupuncture at 4 o’clock. I wanted to make sure I was in alignment and that my energy was flowing freely for labor and birth.
The adjustment felt great and by 4 o’clock, surges were coming regularly (6 min apart). Instead of seeing the acupuncturist, we started towards the hospital (which is about an hour away). Lily was spending the day with my mother and I really felt like I wanted to see her. We made arrangements to meet everyone (my immediate family) at my sister’s house, which is about 15 minutes from the hospital.
John and I got there first and we walked around and waited. The surges slowed down quite a bit until I got tired and sat back down in the car. As soon as I sat down, I had a nice strong surge.
When my mom, sister and Lily arrived I told them I was hungry and wanted to go out to dinner at a restaurant near the hospital. So we headed over there.
When we walked into the restaurant the hostess asked me the standard “When are you due?” Before I could answer my sister said “She’s on her way to the hospital after we eat.” Then John added “Contractions are 6-8 minutes apart.”
The young hostess looked confused and a little horrified but found a table for us. Apparently word spread throughout the restaurant because everyone who came near the table stopped to ask if I was really about to have a baby.
Dinner was delicious and I was ravenous. I took a break from eating every 4-5 minutes for a surge and then continued eating.
Towards the end of the meal, Lily asked to nurse and while she was latched on I got a very strong pushy contraction. John threw some money on the table. I handed Lily to my mom and we ran out.
Once we were in the car I felt more in control and was able to slow things down. The hospital was only a couple of blocks away and we parked and unloaded the car.
When we got upstairs I found out that the room I wanted (with the birth tub) was not available. They were in the process of cleaning up from another birth and it should be ready for me later that night.
The nurse who was assigned to me introduced herself as the “crunchy-hippie nurse on the floor.” In addition to being a L&D nurse, she is a doula and hypnobirthing instructor. I told her we were a perfect match as I am a crunchy-hippie mama, a doula and a prenatal yoga teacher!
My amazing midwife, Mary, came in and we all chatted while I was on the monitor for a 20-minute strip. Surges had slowed way down and I think I only had one or two while I was being monitored. Everything looked good and Mary offered to do an internal.
As she was checking me she said, “This is interesting.” I said, “Interesting. That doesn’t sound like a good thing.” And she said, “Oh no. It’s good. I’m very glad you came in when you did. You are 9 cm.”
Mary and Deb calmly started to set up for the birth as I alternated between using the toilet and relaxing on the bed.
Shortly after Lindsey, who had been supporting me over the phone all day, arrived. It was so wonderful and comforting to see her walk in.
Once my amazing support team – John, Lindsey, Mary, and Deb – were all there, and my parents, sister and daughter were down the hall in the waiting area, the magic of this birth began.
I felt completely supported and surrounded by love. Without any interference from anyone, I walked, swayed, rested, talked, laughed. From time to time I gave a little push to see how it felt (great!). I went down the hall to check on Lily. It was so nice to see her. I think it was about 8 o’clock at this point and Lil was starting to act tired so I found a quiet room to rock and nurse her.
Once again, nursing brought on some very strong surges and the urge to push, so my mom took over snuggling and rocking and I headed back towards my room.
I was a bit annoyed that the hot tub I dreamed of laboring and possibly birthing in still wasn’t ready for me and asked when I was going to be able to get in.
Mary told me that I was going to have my baby before they finished cleaning the tub.
As I sat on the portable commode, which was an incredibly comfortable position for me, I asked her if she needed to check me and tell me if I can push.
(Even at the time I realized how silly this question was. I was experiencing exactly what I said I wanted – unhindered, mother-directed birth – and here I was asking for permission to push.)
From her position by the door where she was observing me she said, “Erin, I decided about 20 minutes ago that when you decide you are ready to have this baby, you are going to have this baby. Just listen to your body.” I could feel her calmness and confidence in me. She was doing exactly what I needed her to do – holding the space and encouraging me to listen to my body.
It was amazing what those words did for me. Immediately after I felt a shift and intense opening. I started gently pushing when a wave came over.
Pushing was incredible. I was so much more in control that I was during my first birth when everyone around me was counting and cheerleading and telling me when to push. I experienced more sensations like the baby moving down and my pelvic bones spreading. It was absolutely incredible.
At some point – I had absolutely no concept of time passing – I realized that I was getting close and I started getting bossy. I started telling John and Lindsey to touch me here or not touch me. I think I may have even asked to brush my teeth.
As the intensity of the surges picked up and I began to feel the baby crowning fear crept in again. I remembered it from Lily’s birth. It was not pain but intense sensation. I felt like it was too much for me to handle and that I was just going to explode.
Lindsey gently reminded me that it was just energy moving through me and to stay with it and Mary encouraged me to reach down and feel the baby’s head. I didn’t think I wanted to. It was just too surreal but she pushed me to.
As I touched our baby’s head an intense wave came over me and I gave a push. I could feel my perineum stretching but it was different than the “ring of fire” I experienced with Lily. I didn’t feel rushed to push through it and was able to hold the baby there and allow the skin to soften and release.
As I moved towards birth, I wanted to change position. At one of my prenatal visits Mary and I discussed my desire not to tear with this birth as I had with Lily. She suggested that hands and knees might be a comfortable position for me to birth in. It was amazing how that simple suggestion weeks before stayed with me. I felt an intense desire to lean forward and get on my hands and knees.
At this point I realized birth was imminent and told John and Lindsey to get the camera. I did not have any pictures of Lily’s birth and I really wanted to have photos of this one.
Again I have no sense of time but the first photo John took was our baby’s head almost fully outside of me (which I will not be posting ).
John told me that he could see our baby’s head and I felt so satisfied and accomplished. Mary reminded me that I needed to keep pushing but I had no desire to do so. I told her that I wanted to rest. She pressed me to keep going and I did the best I could but it didn’t feel the same. Mary assisted our baby (and later joked that he was a couple of inches taller thanks to her help) and as the shoulders passed I saw the baby’s arm fall down between my legs.
I stood up and Mary slipped the baby through my legs and onto the bed. John almost slipped and announced the gender (apparently he was the only one who hadn’t read our birth plan that said that I wanted to discover the gender myself ;-) but I stopped him.
I stared at our baby’s beautiful face and took him in for a couple of seconds. I then looked down and discovered that, as I felt and dreamed throughout my pregnancy, he was Quinn Joseph.
I scooped him into my arms, savoring his smell and dewy skin. Mary and Deb suggested that I sit down onto the bed. I hadn’t even realized that I had stood up.
I then sat there and soaked him in as John walked around to join me. I asked for Lily but Mary asked me to wait a couple of minutes as they cleaned up the floor.
I have no recollection of Mary or Deb touching, testing or monitoring him, though I’m certain that they did. Every aspect of their care during labor and after birth was so gentle and unobtrusive that I hardly noticed it happening.
John went out to tell my parents and Lily, who was sleeping on my mom’s shoulder, woke up. Shortly after they carried our sleepy-eyed girl in. John slid her onto the bed with me and she immediately latched on to my breast as she stared at me and “Baby Quinn.”
I honestly could not have scripted a more wonderful birth. It was just perfect.
edited to remove photo link
beautiful story! Congrats mama!
Fabulous story Erin! And wow, what a headful of hair Quinn has!
Oh my gosh -- beautiful story, beautiful pictures. I'm due in a few days and was almost in tears reading your powerful, gentle birth story. Thank you for sharing.
AugustineM ~ lots of peaceful birthing vibes coming your way!!!
Awesome story, Erin! You make it sound like it didn't hurt
Oh mama! That is the most gentle, peaceful birth story! Congratulations!!!
My DH was asking me the day after the birth if he thinks I experience birth differently than other women and I've decided that I must because really I only experienced slight discomfort during most of my labor and then moderate discomfort during pushing. :
When I was on the monitor (at 9 cm - though I didn't know it) the nurse asked me to rate my pain 1-10 and I answered 4 (because I felt like I needed to convince her that I actaully was in labor) but then corrected it to 2 or 3.
WOW, what an amazing birth story. It just makes my heart melt, Im so happy for you!!!! This is the kind of birth I want to experience for myself.
By the way, Quinn is ADORABLE
Erin, your labor and delivery sounds sooooo much like both of my births. Isn't it truly amazing! I'm so glad that everything worked out like it did, and you got the birth you wanted. You are just going to love having your little man!
Awesome birth story Erin! It sounds like it was wonderful! You guys are gorgeous, great pics!
Erin, thank you for sharing your beautiful birth story. And, your children are gorgeous. I love the tandem nursing picture.
Erin, I just had to read that birth story! What a perfect birth.. wow
Congratulations on that beautiful baby boy !
I have always wanted a homebirth but couldn't get DH on board -- now the only way I'd consider one is if Mary starts attending at home.
Congrats! What a beautiful birth! I'm about to give birth any day, its so helpful to hear wonderful stories like this one. Thank you so much for sharing it!
What a beautiful story and a beautiful baby! Congrats mama!
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