Evelyn Michelle’s Birth Story

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Early Labor: 4AM May 27

I was in and out of sleep since 12AM with light contractions. Four hours later, I couldn’t handle the insomnia anymore. I got out of bed, poured myself a bowl of Cheerios and sat down on the exercise ball. As I bopped up and down {gush!} my bag of waters broke. Wait, I think that’s what that was… right? Then two more times, {gush! gush!} Ok, definitely the bag of waters.

There was a rush of excitement! After waiting nine long months this was finally it. I knew from our Bradley Method classes that once your water breaks you generally have 24-48 hours to deliver your baby. We also learned that you should let coach sleep for as long as possible so he’ll have energy for when mom really needs him.

Even still, I was too excited and had to wake him up! I walked into the bedroom and whispered in Brad’s ear, “my bag of waters broke.” He woke up so quick, expecting me to be in full-fledged labor.

But nothing was happening. The contractions from earlier had faded off. I felt fine.

I had a pre-scheduled midwife appointment at 7AM so we decided to pack our bags and wait to see the midwives. At the appointment it was confirmed- the bag of waters had ruptured. Edna, our midwife, told us we had two options since contractions hadn’t yet started: 1) go to the hospital to be induced -or- 2) wait it out at home but come back within 24 hours. Opting for a natural birth, we chose the latter.

We called and texted our families the news they’d been on edge about for the past couple weeks (at least I know my mom and sister were). It was birth day! Immediately the Cooley side started a betting pool for when the baby would be born. Weird things like that happen in a big family.

As the hours passed labor news got boring because NOTHING was happening. The itty-bitty contractions from the early morning were gone. I still felt fine.

-Flash forward twelve semi-non-eventful hours-

By 4PM minor but consistent contractions started up. (I know they are minor now but I didn’t think that then. Ha!) By 9PM they were intensifying and three minutes apart so we headed for the hospital. Looking back, it was too early for the hospital but as first time parents we had no clue how bad/intense it would get and were tired of waiting around all day.

In triage, Bradley requested Room 303, which was a little trick we learned from our tour of the hospital. (It’s so nice having a husband with a good memory sometimes!) The 303 is the Ritz of hospital birthing and the only room complete with a big ol’ birthing tub. It’s the best room in labor and delivery, and it was available!

Once in 303 I was left to labor in peace while Bradley slept. At 12AM they wanted to check me for the first time. I’d read in Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth how critical your mindset is in labor and how one woman with positive affirmation dilated super quick and effectively. So, they are going to check me… my first internal exam in my past 20 hours of “labor.” I’m mentally telling myself, “Peace. Calm. Peace. Calm. I’m hugeeeee. I’m huuuuuuuge. 9 CM. 9 CM. Peace. Relax” convincing myself this will help, as if I could manifest myself to a 9.

You’ll want to cry for me. I was at 2CM. 2…. 2…. 2…. 2….! 20 hours later and at a 2! It was horrible.

Edna, my midwife, was so patient with us. She said it was up to us what we wanted to do but that she’d give us more time. So, she went back to bed down the hall and for four more hours I went through the contractions.

Four hours later and at 5CM contractions started losing intensity and frequency. Edna advised that it might be a good idea to start pitocin. Very quickly I understood. If I took pitocin, and started these intensely unnatural contractions my body wasn’t ready to handle, I’d most likely also need an epidural. This terrified me and I started hysterically crying. Despite how upset I was, we agreed pitocin was the right choice. I was intent on pushing through for as long as possible without further interventions because, pitocin and all, it had been done naturally before!

So they poked me for that IV and we started pitocin.

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Active First Stage: 4AM May 28

I was scared, crying, and clenching my crucifix with all my might. I watched the sunrise beyond the mountains, palm trees and cacti. I had no concept of time or hours passed. With no sleep in the past 24-hours time became a daze. Bradley napped on that teeny and stiff couch-bed, held my hand, and we did none of the stress relief techniques we learned in birth class.

By 8:30AM I was at 7CM and clear for the tub. YAY! (They wouldn’t let me in the tub until I’d progressed more because it could slow/stop labor if done too early.)

Oh, the tub. Oh, that beautiful, miraculous tub. I wadded, swayed, and moaned myself around. I was still in indescribable pain but it felt like a great weight was lifted. I never wanted to get out. Apparently my bag of waters was still partly in tack because while in the tub I felt a big “pop” as the rest ruptured.

Transition: 9AM May 28

All modesty was lost in that tub.

I kept rudely announcing (no time for manners in a time like labor) that I needed to use the bathroom and felt an urge to push. Brad recognized all the signs of transition and was eager to get me out of the tub. (I wasn’t legally allowed to have a water birth at this hospital.)

Poor guy. It was nearly impossible to convince me to get out. But out I got. Gravity was cruel and felt like heck.

–Cue the most agonizing hour of my life–

For the next two hours I waddled back and forth from the bed to the bathroom. No position offered release. Contractions were stronger than ever before and Hypnobabies lied because I did NOT feel “peace” or “release.” (#whattheheck #bigfatliars @hypnobabies.)

I can only describe it as an out of body experience. With each contraction I lost my mind.“Breathe. Breathe. Breathe through this wave. It’s almost over.” They told me. But breathing became intentional as I felt myself losing all grip on the situation. I had no idea how to cope with the pain and felt myself internally retreating further and further away from reality.

At this point I had a one track mind that ended in me with that epidural. Boy oh boy did I beg for it! It was my light at the end of this long-horrible-dark tunnel. I remember acknowledging I could not mentally handle any pain beyond what I was experiencing in that moment. “I need the drugs!” I told myself. No one could stop me!

Until, as fate would have it, Edna checked me. I was 9.5 CM and fully effaced. I was ready to push and I wasn’t getting that epidural.

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Stage Two Pushing: 11AM May 28

At this point they also checked Evey’s heartbeat. It was dropping and they were worried. Knowing the safety of my child was at risk motivated me like no other. They told me to lay on my side and quickly I obeyed. I was put on an oxygen mask and it felt like anesthesia to me. It calmed me so much.

I was never more determined to accomplish something in my entire life. I was going to push this baby out right now and was so intent on doing so!

With each push Edna, our nurse Angie and Brad gave me the most positive encouragement.

“You’re doing great!” ..”Wow! I can see the head! Do you want to feel her head?” ..“You’re doing amazing.” ..”That was a great push! Give me one more. Keep going.. Keep going.”

Their encouragement filled me up. The affirmation was so uplifting and motivating.

Once I started pushing I didn’t stop besides to take breaths and quick rests when instructed. With each push I screamed like crazy and bore down with all my might.

Pushing took seventeen minutes and was my favorite part! A midwife might have accidentally been kicked, a nurse’s hand may have been violently squeezed and a husband was most certainly left unharmed (I’m not sure how), but seventeen minutes and oh my goodness we had this baby!

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Evelyn’s here! 11:21AM May 28 

They placed that sweet baby girl on my tummy and it was the best feeling in the world. I can’t adequately describe the overwhelming love, gratitude and sense of accomplishment I felt during this moment.

While I felt deeply betrayed by Ina May and Hypobabies and their lies of relaxing pressure waves, peaceful birthing, and bladitty-bla, I did understand one thing. I finally understood what all those stories of strength were about. Giving birth made me feel strong. It’s hard to imagine the girl crying like a baby (i.e., me) feeling strong, but I did. I felt the greatest sense of accomplishment with this beautiful baby girl to show for it.

We did it! We birthed this baby! God blessed us with this baby girl!

Bradley cut the cord once it stop pulsing and Edna did her midwife business.

The next two hours we had alone with our babe. No nurses or such bothering us for measurements or exams. (I love how mom-baby-dad bonding friendly our hospital is!) They covered us with a warming blanket and let us be. We felt cozier than ever. The whole three of us soaked up those first hours as a family.

The next few days in the hospital were the best days of our life. It reminded me of those same blissful feelings we had on our honeymoon just nine months back. And this time they were intensified a thousandfold.

14 thoughts on “Evelyn Michelle’s Birth Story

  1. Beautiful. I’ll have to reread when I’m preparing for birth.

    Ah I hadn’t seen the last photo and I love it! Needs to be framed.

    Love you guys!

  2. this was so intense! Props to you for having a med-free birth… none of mine were (at least, not completely!) I think you’re the first mama I’ve heard to come out and say that you weren’t totally thrilled with the Ina May method, and I just wanted to thank you for your honesty.

    So glad that your sweet girl finally arrived! Love all the pics! :)

  3. Love it love it love it! I can’t imagine laboring on SO little sleep!!! Good on ya! I’ve been spoiled: I’ve always woken up with contractions and the baby’s arrived before bedtime. I don’t know if I could handle laboring through the night. Or multiple nights!!

    Did they take you off pitocin at some point?

  4. Congratulations, she is absolutely beautiful! And I love your birth story. They’re just so fun to read, and write too – aren’t they? :)

  5. Loved your birth story – so excited to see Katrina post it in FB! Just to give you some courage and props for next time – I had a similar experience with my 2nd – I was convinced I COULD NOT go the distance without an epidural (even though I had waited as long as I thought I could). They also checked me and I was at 10, so I didn’t have it. Pushing was pretty quick and he was born easily and I felt great after (I had one with my first and did not feel great for a few days), so I decided to try it again with no epidural for the next one. When it got awful again, I had prepped my husband to “remind” me that I was in transition and just needed 45 more minutes (that’s about how long it lasted before my 2nd was actually born). Having that reminder and telling myself “I can do anything for 45 minutes” actually really helped. Everyone is different and had I had back labor like with my first, I would totally have gotten the epidural again, but I did like doing it without one for my last 3. She’s beautiful!!

    1. That’s such a good reminder! Knowing Ive already done it will, I think, really help me in future births! But then again, it was nice not knowing what to expect! Now I know how hard it is! But of course how wonderful the reward.

  6. Ahh! Reading this again brought so many tears to my eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more at peace than I did when I got the text from Alex and then Brad that she was here. Love you lots, lady!

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