I’d love to begin posting more birth stories.  Thanks, Courtney, for starting us off!  In honor of my daughter’s first birthday, I’d like to share her birth story.

In our family, we’ve started the tradition of sharing our kids’ birth stories with them on their birthdays.  I think it’s so important to validate our kids by sharing how they came in to the world, how much we anticipated their arrival and loved them from the day we met!  My nearly 3 year old son knows he came from Mama’s belly and loves to drive by and point our his “special” hospital where he was born.

Part of my birth journey with my daughter involved Rebozo sifting!  Read about how we used it during my labor below and look for more information about it here in the next few weeks!

Do you have a birth story?  We’d love for you to share it with us.  Leave a comment if you’re interested in sharing on Midwife&Mother!

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Just like my pregnancy with my son, my sister flew to Colorado to be with me during labor and delivery.  The timing of this was both crucial and impossible.  But we offered our best guess and she arrived just a few days before my “due date”, relying upon my “fast and on time” premonition for labor.  Once she arrived, we quickly gave in to every wives tale available in an attempt to encourage labor.  We took long walks, ate fresh pineapple, made final preparations for welcoming a newborn, painted toenails, ingested evening primrose oil and followed the advice of this informative website on optimal fetal positioning.  We made our final arrangements for my son’s care when I went into labor and packed bags.

During these days I experienced the normal aches, pains and contractions of late pregnancy.  I knew my body was slowly doing what it needed in order to prepare to labor.  I spent a good amount of time in hands-and-knees position because I felt that my baby was laying in a slightly OP position and knew that this could both delay the start of labor and make labor and delivery more challenging.

The day before my “due date”, I visited one of my midwives to be checked and have my membranes swept.  The midwife offered encouragement, told me I was already 2cm dilated with a thin cervix and a LOW baby.  She promised that if I could get my baby to change positions just slightly that I would labor soon and progress quickly.  We left the office encouraged and energized!  We had a dinner picnic in the park, enjoyed the sunshine, warm air and mountain views.

Before we left the park I began to feel some cramping and mild-but-regular contractions.  We went home to put my son to bed and enjoy what I felt would be the last moments with our first and only child.  Soon, my contractions were much more intense and getting closer together.  I spent time on my hands and knees and once I was convinced that this was truly labor, I told my husband and sister that we needed to clean the house!  They were both unbelievably sweet and didn’t hesitate to clean anything they could while taking breaks to stand with me or put pressure on my lower back during contractions.  I spent these couple of hours walking in the living room and kitchen, resting in hands and knees position and squatting.  My husband and I took a walk around the neighborhood (just like my labor with my son!).  It was such a relaxing and sweet time to be together before welcoming another baby.

I had recently read about a labor technique called Rebozo Sifting and was curious to try it out.  My husband and sister took my Maya wrap (baby sling) apart and used it to wrap around my belly while holding both ends of it behind me.  Between contractions while I leaned forward or resting on hands and knees, they would pull on the ends of the wrap and gently rock or “sift” my belly.  This took much of the weight of my belly off and helped me to fully relax between contractions.

By midnight I felt that I wanted to go to the hospital.  We called a good friend to come stay with my son.   Dreading the 20 minute car ride to the hospital, we armed ourselves with hot packs and a birthing ball in the backseat.  Overall the ride wasn’t awful as I was able to rock back-and-forth and breathe through my contractions knowing it would be just a few I needed to get through this way.

At the hospital, the nurse spent a few minutes monitoring my baby and checked me.   It was almost 2am and she seemed disappointed to inform me that I was still just 2-3cm dilated.  In fact, she encouraged me to consider going back home for a few hours.  (Which I DO usually consider to be a great suggestion for women in early labor!).  Luckily I was undeterred by this report and knew without doubt that this was labor and I would have a baby soon.  Looking back, I feel like my body was waiting until I arrived at the hospital (and felt safe under the care of my midwife and comfortable knowing my son was in good hands) to fully give in to labor and allow things to progress.

My husband and sister, having both attended to me during my labor and delivery with my son, were a seamless doula team. (I’m a firm believer that no unmedicated woman should deliver without a doula!)  They offered timely suggestions and used relaxation and encouragement techniques that worked unbelievably well.  My sister offered comfort and support to both my husband and me.  My husband used his “counting backward” technique he is so proud of and it worked as well this time as it did last.  They were where I needed them when I needed them and I barely needed to communicate with them at all.  It was a surprisingly quiet and smooth labor.  We listened to my Hypno-birthing CD, walked the halls a little, used the birthing ball at the bedside, leaned forward on the bed and swayed during contractions, and (is this getting old yet?) labored on hands and knees.  I truly believe that all of the leaning forward to let my belly hang and resting in hands and knees allowed my baby to rotate into her perfect position.

The Rebozo Sifting was probably the most surprisingly helpful tool we had.   Unlike my labor with my son, during which each contraction would begin and slowly build in intensity before releasing, these contractions were like a freight train.  They came on with such an extreme intensity, peaking immediately rocking the core of my body before releasing.  It was much more challenging this time to not fight the contractions when it felt like they hit with such an unbelievable force.

By 5am I was beginning to lose my composure, I felt unable to “ride the wave” of each contraction without fighting back and my body began to shake uncontrollably.  I knew this must be transition.  I asked to be checked again because I knew that I needed some measure by which to pace myself and if I wasn’t near to delivery I was going to die.  (And now after my two deliveries I know that the feeling of imminent death means delivery will happen soon!)  I was thrilled when the nurse told me I was 9cm dilated and my bag of water was bulging.

Following the news that I was nearly 10cm dilated, we all enjoyed a HUGE sigh of relief followed by a flurry of excitement.  We had done it!  In just 3 hours!  I didn’t hesitate to ask to have my midwife break my water in order to deliver quickly.  (Although now I wonder how amazing it would have been to try to deliver en caul!) The first contraction I had to endure laying in the bed was excruciating.  I lost all ability to cope in this passive position and felt as if I was being absolutely run over by a train with each subsequent contraction.  Unfortunately, I was so overwhelmed that I also felt like I couldn’t move out of the bed.  Every movement hurt and every contraction tore me apart.

My midwife offered some encouraging words and let me know that I could push whenever I felt like it–then she stepped back.  (Both physically to do some preparations and symbolically to allow me to deliver how I wanted).  With the next contraction I was so overwhelmed with intensity that I knew I needed to push to be finished.  I pushed once and the baby moved down so much that we all realized that this was going to happen NOW!  My midwife quickly put on a glove, suggested I lay on my side (how I wanted to deliver) and with the next contraction she caught our beautiful daughter!

And here is where I stop because there are no words powerful enough to describe how it felt to hold my baby for the first time and bask in the accomplishment and honor of bringing her in to the world.