The Birth of Halen
This is written by Megan, a client of mine from a few months ago, telling the story of her and her husband Evan's first son Halen's birth. She was incredible at birthing her baby and trusting the process of birth itself! So excited she has given me this story to share on the blog!
On the night before my due date I decided I was going to try and induce this boy out. So I put the breast pump on for 30 minutes. I started to get some very light contractions that were different from Braxton hicks but not painful or intense. They were just different. Once I finished with the pump they totally stopped. I was able to pump out a full ounce of colostrum though! After that I went to bed and was actually able to get a full nights sleep with only 4-5 bathroom breaks. When I woke up in the morning I decided to try the pump again around 930am. This time after only 5 minutes I started to get some intense squeezing on my lower belly that made me stop and take a deep breath. After 2 or 3 we decided I better start timing them. They were coming every 5-7 minutes or so lasting 30-40 seconds and would make me stop and take some deep breaths. As soon as I had a few I took the pump off. Once I stopped pumping though they broke up to be 25-40 minutes apart. At that point my husband was scrambling to finish work emails and I was trying to get the house as clean and ready as I could because this could be it! After a few hours of spaced out contractions I started to get discouraged. Since the pump had worked earlier I decided to try it again! This time after a few minutes the contractions started coming again and were really intense and only about 2 minutes apart. So I took it off after 10 minutes and decided to call the midwives. Meg was on call at the birth center and called me back and told me to take a shower or go for a walk and to call her back in 30 minutes if they were getting longer in duration. They were only lasting 20-40 seconds at this point. This all started happening around 130pm that afternoon. I had my 40 week appointment scheduled for 4pm that afternoon, so if I could hold out until then I was going to be checked to see if things were happening or not. At my 39 week appointment I was already 3cm. I started texting Jacki and telling her things were starting to move along and that today could be the day! We had been chatting that week because I would get light contractions, then nothing. The waiting game is no fun when when you feel so ready to meet your baby. Jacki was great and gave me space but was there to talk if I needed to about my fears or frustrations.
After I spoke to Meg my contractions slowed down again. We decided to take a walk at 3pm to try and get them to pick up again but 2 minutes in the contractions were getting so intense they almost brought me to my knees. We turned back and went in for our appointment. I saw another midwife names Erin and she checked me and I was 4cm! She said this was the real deal and to go home and eat and when the contractions were 60 seconds or longer for an entire hour to high tail it back. The on call midwife Meg was informed that I was in active labor and we headed home to eat and grab our bags. I was able to eat some grilled chicken and a kale salad before the contractions started to take over. There is really no way to describe contractions. They had peaks and valleys with each one. They would get intense, ease off then get intense again before being over. When I would feel one coming on I would have to bend my knees and start to moan. When they started gaining intensity my husband Evan would sit on the counter and I would dangle between his legs and sway while I moaned. I tried the birth ball but it put too much pressure on my lower belly. We then tried some hip compressions that Jacki had taught us. That was a huge help when the contractions started lasting longer and longer. I was starting to have a hard time talking through them and they were now lasting 55- 90 seconds each and coming every 2 minutes by 7pm. It had only been about 20 minutes of long consistent contractions before I really started to struggle and needed a change to find relief. I got in the shower to try and ease them but they were so intense I could only lean on the wall, bend my knees and moan. By 720pm I told Evan to call Meg. I couldn't handle them anymore. So we called Meg and she was waiting for us. This was also when we called Jacki and she was racing to meet us. I was ready for an all night labor and birth but it was starting to feel like this baby was going to make an earlier appearance.
The car ride sucked. We live 10 minutes away from the Austin Area Birth Center and I had 4 contractions on the way. At this point I was starting to feel out of control when the contractions would peak. All I could do was grab my husband and moan. Moan very loudly. My moan matched the intensity of the contractions. Once we arrived at 8pm Meg checked me and I was at 7cm! I went to the bathroom while she got the tub ready. Once I got in the tub these contractions came faster and faster. Jacki arrived shortly after and dove right in. I was totally consumed by the intensity of the contractions and she sat with me helping me breath as they washed over me. She had a popsicle for me in between contractions and her and Evan rubbed my hands as I rested. The hand rubs were exactly what I needed to help my body rest when given the chance. She was so calm and present and was giving me encouraging words and ideas on ways to move to help get through the next contraction. The water in the tub worked well with my body and they could all tell I was thick in transition. My husband got in the tub with me to help support me as our son came closer and closer to making his appearance. With each contraction I would close my eyes and moan. When they were at their peak I would increase my volume and I would hear Jacki and my husband softly moaning along side me, gently encouraging me to follow them to keep my body loose so our son could descend. My water had not broken yet so after an hour in the tub Meg checked me again and I was 8cm and my bag was bulging because he was coming.
She asked if I wanted to try and have an en cal baby or she could break my water and his head would create more pressure for him to get out sooner. I was so overwhelmed by each contraction I NEEDED him out, so I told her to break it on my next contraction. 2 or 3 contractions after they broke my water they told me to push it I felt like it. I was leaning on my husband and he was holding my legs back for each contraction and I started to push. The midwives would check the babies heart each contraction and they discovered that his was dropping with each push. Meg told me she wanted me out of the tub to monitor my bleeding and to help baby relax by laying me on my left side for a few contractions. At this point the contractions were not giving me a break. They were basically constant. I was so overwhelmed I just looked at them and asked how the hell I was supposed to get out of the tub. They grabbed my hand and told me that my legs are mine, my arms are mine, and I still control them. So when I was in a low point in my next contraction I waddled to the bed. Once on my side they told me to put my chin to my chest and push with all I had into my bottom. At first I was holding my legs, but I quickly became too hot and tired and Jacki and a midwife took over for me. I was so overwhelmed with the intensity of contractions that all I wanted was to be done. I pushed with all I had to the point that I felt I was going to pass out. They gave me oxygen and Jacki would put cold rags on my head and chest every few minutes. The cold rags were such a comfort and a small pleasure as I was working to get my son out. Unfortunately my little man's heart rate was still getting low with each push. I could hear the midwives talking and I began to get worried that there was a problem. I turned to Jacki and asked her if everything was ok. She very calm told me that everything was fine and that my son was very close and I just had to breath and push. Her words, voice, and demeanor made me feel confident that everything was ok and my son was not in jeopardy. His little head kept crowning then going an inch or so back in. Everyone was so excited and kept telling me how close he was. So after only 25 minutes or so of pushing I just gave it all I had and felt his head come about half way out, then I took a quick breath and kept pushing until his head was out. That's when we discovered his cord was around his neck and that was the issue with his heart rate. At this point everyone was cheering me on and told me one more push and he would be here. So I pushed as hard as I could and felt this huge gush and Meg put this little body right on my chest. He was born at 10:11pm. I was seeing stars from pushing and just wrapped my arms around him as he screamed as they cleaned him off. Poor little dude had the cord around his neck and across his shoulder and chest like Rambo. My contractions kept going until I delivered the placenta which was thankfully only a few minutes after he was born. Then relief set in. My son Halen was here with a score of 9 on his APGAR and I was DONE! I probably said 50 times “I'm so glad that's over".
After Meg put a few stitches in we had our time with Halen. He took a while to start nursing but once did he was there for 30 minutes or so. I couldn't sleep or move really. We just stared at him. Jacki gave me some coconut water and made sure we were well taken care of before she quietly slipped out. When I needed to use the bathroom Meg did his exam. He was 8.2lbs, 19.5 inch long! He was also showing signs of being overdue. Almost no vernix, no body hair, and the wrinkles on his feet were lower than on an on time baby. We stayed at the center resting until 415 am then we loaded up and went home. It was such an intense and overwhelming experience. For the first 3 days I kept saying “ I can't do that again, that was so hard" but by day 4 I was so in love with Halen that I would do it 100x again. It is such hard work, and there is really no way to prepare for contractions. They are unlike anything you have ever felt. They take over and you just have to give in and let them work. I was very lucky and my total labor was 13 hrs but only consistent for about 5 hrs. I felt so safe and loved and in the right place with my birth team. Jacki was invaluable and exactly what I needed in my transition. She kept me as grounded and comfortable as I could be and she cheered me on when the end was near. We are so grateful to have had her present for our first babies birth. Her knowledge and coaching kept my head above water in my inexperience with labor, and she gave me the peace I needed through completion.