Madeline's Birth Story: Part I

Day 1 

I woke up at 3:00 am on Sunday, July 10th with contractions every 8-10 minutes apart. I tried not to get too excited because the day before we had been faked out by the baby. That day I had contractions for over twelve hours that got down to about six minutes apart, but they eventually fizzled out as the day grew hotter.

But this time, the contractions stayed all day long.

By 5:30pm the contractions were 6 minutes apart.

By 8:30pm they were 5 minutes apart.

At 1:00am they were 3-4 minutes apart, lasting 60-75 seconds and very strong. At 1:30am I had Brett call my midwife to let her know how I was progressing. She got me on the phone and talked with me through some contractions. After a brief chat, she said we should come in to the birth center within the next hour to two.

At 3:00am we went to our birth place to check things out. My midwife checked my vitals, checked the cervix, checked the baby's heart rate. Everything looked beautiful. Baby was low, 0 station. My cervix was 80% effaced. But I was only dilated to a 1 1/2. My midwife was very positive and supportive and reminded me that everything my body had been doing the last few days hadn't been for nothing. She reminded us that early labor can last a long time and not to get discouraged.

"Do you think you can go home and sleep? Getting some rest will be the best thing for you right now so you have the energy you need during active labor."

I said yes, but I wasn't sure I could.

I got home, showered, drank some chamomile tea, got into a few labor positions that help slow things down, showered (again), and prayed... a lot.  Finally the contractions spaced out enough that I could rest well between and during them. I ended up sleeping on a lazy boy with a heating pad on my back. That was the only way I could get the contractions mild enough to sleep through.

Day 2

The next morning I decided not to time the contractions and to just try to rest. Brett headed off to teach at 7:00am, after only getting about two hours of sleep. I was able to sleep well for about four hours, before the contractions were back to being too strong to sleep through.

When Brett got home that afternoon I ordered Pizza Hut pizza and we ate in bed. The entire day just turned into a lazy day and I really don't remember much of it because I was just working through contractions. Besides taking a short walk we mostly hung around the house. I showered about a dozen times, lounged around in my bathrobe, watched movies on Netflix (honestly don't remember any of them), ate snacks, and worked through the contractions.  

My midwife told me to call her when there was a "significant change" in the strength of the contractions. Though I stayed in a pattern of having contractions every 4-5 minutes, there wasn't a "significant change". The night before she had told us about "labor land". She said that Brett would know it was time to go in again when I was in labor land. 

"Labor land is a place that only Haley has the passport to. Even when she isn't having a contraction she will be there. She will be there in front of you, but she won't really be there. When she's in labor land come back in."

I tried my best to sleep though my contractions but didn't have much success. I was able to "sleep" between contractions, I'd wake up and work though the contraction, and then fall asleep again. Brett and my Mom took turns supporting me though the night.

Day 3

On Tuesday we had our 42 week appointment with my midwife. Our 42 week mark was coming in a few days so we were now getting down to crunch time. 

We did another non-stress test for the baby and checked out the fluid levels via ultrasound. It was nice that I was having contractions because we could see how our baby was responding to them. She was a champ. Becky said our baby girl was safe and sound, but that we needed to start some more intense methods of encouraging her along. We planned to go in the next day at 9:00am to start our "eviction plan" using natural methods.

Before I left she checked me again. This time I was 90% effaced, 0 station, and I was still at 1 1/2. I was relieved that I had effaced more, but I was a bit discouraged that after two days of consistent contractions I hadn't dilated. My midwife, Becky, suggested that we sweep my membranes to help strengthen the contractions a bit. After a discussion about the risks we agreed.

Becky said she'd see us in the morning, if not sooner. 
I really hoped it would be sooner.

After the appointment Brett took me to The Olive Garden for a late lunch. As the bowl of salad and basket of bread sticks were emptied, my contractions grew stronger and stronger. 

We dropped by the grocery store to pick up some more labor snacks. As Brett and I walked through the store I had to pause every few minutes to work through my contractions. 

After days of labor I had developed a few coping methods. One was that I would hold a long continuous low moaning note as I would exhale. It was almost Buddhist monk esque.  It came naturally and helped me cope. I remembered what my birth instructor had taught me, to keep all noises low and "mother bear" like rather than high sounds that tend to make one tense. I worked to ride the waves of the contraction, curious of the pain, while also having an almost out of body experience until it was over. I also tried to look at the labor as a really intense workout. Like a workout, labor has moments of rest and recuperation. I looked at labor as a sprint workout, on for 60 seconds, rest for three minutes, on for 60 seconds, rest for two minutes. Brett was my best coping tool. Just having him to lean against or to touch my shoulder or hips helped ease the pain tremendously. There is something so comforting about having the person you love there by your side as you are going through something so taxing.

As we walked though the grocery store we paused at the bakery, we paused in the meat section, we paused by the watermelons. I was very aware of the people around us until the contractions started, and then I didn't care. 

Brett told me afterwords that while in the meat section there was a man standing behind us trying to get a look at the ground beef. Instead of walking away as my contraction started he stood there awkwardly waiting for us to move. I had no idea he was even there, but Brett was pretty embarrassed when I leaned against him and started my "mother bear" / "Buddhist monk" moaning.

The contractions were definitely getting stronger. 

When we got home we dimmed the lights, turned on my labor mix, and got all our labor tools together (tennis balls, massage oil, candles, birth ball, etc.) I took a few hot showers, lounged around in my robe, and Brett helped me work through my contractions using the laboring positions we learned in our Brio class. My Mom was also there. She timed the contractions and brought us water and snacks as we needed them. She went out and picked up some delicious food from The Soup Kitchen. If Brett needed a quick break, she'd step in and rub my back or offer me water. She was a wonderful and perfect support.  

By midnight my contractions were incredibly strong and I was getting into that "labor land" state. I honestly don't remember much about this night, other than by around 1:00am we ended up back at the birth center. My contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting over 70 seconds. When we got to The Birth Center, Becky checked my vitals and was confident that when she checked me I'd be at least a four by now. 

She checked me and we were all shocked. I was only dilated to a two. 

Becky told us we had a couple options. 

"First, you could stay at here at The Birth Center and labor through the night and the day tomorrow. You are in a great pattern here, you are definitely in labor. The downside to staying here is that you have been in labor for three days now and you haven't had a good night's rest in that time. That is a recipe for disaster. What we don't want is for you to be exhausted when it comes time to push."

"What's our other option?" Brett asked.

"I can give you morphine and a strong muscle relaxant to help you sleep tonight. We do this often for moms who need to sleep. Then you'll come back in the morning and we'll have this baby. You'll be able to sleep through the contractions tonight, but they will still be there, they'll just feel more mild. So you could go home and get 5-7 hours of sleep and when you come back in tomorrow morning you may even be dilated to a five."

Sleep sounded like a good plan to me. We talked through the pros and cons together. Becky stepped out of the room and Brett and I discussed our options. I was a bit hesitant to take any medication. I had never had any sort of sleeping med or pain med beyond an Ibuprofen. Brett reminded me that we had spent a lot of time picking the perfect care provider who we trusted completely who was very pro natural methods. We knew that if she recommended any sort of medication is was necessary. 

"If she thinks sleep is what you need most right now I think that we should listen to her." Brett said. 

I completely agreed. 
We gave Becky the go ahead. She readied the injection and explained to me what it would feel like.

"Now when I give this to you, it's going to start out feeling like a bee sting. Then it's going to feel like I'm giving you the worst blister you've ever had in your life. Then as the medication is getting into your system you'll feel a burning sensation."

I prepared myself, and she was exactly right. It was the oddest and most painful shot I'd ever had. When she finished I was told to lay there for a few minutes. The burning started at the injection site and then slowly spread through my body till my limbs felt warm and heavy. I don't remember exactly what I said, but sometime as the medication was spreading through my body I said something to the effect of, "Far out... so this is what using drugs must feel like."

"Now you two have about twenty minutes before it takes full effect. Do you have stairs at your house?"

"We live in a basement."

"Okay, Brett you will need to help her down the stairs. She's going to have a hard time staying balanced and she may be a bit out of it when you get home."

We got home, I don't remember the stairs but I am sure Brett had to half carry me down them because I remember my legs felt like lead. 

I lay down and almost fell asleep instantly, but not before I made an observation.

"Brett, tonight's the last night we'll just be us."

He smiled and gave me a kiss, and we both dreamed of holding our baby the next day. 

Little did we know we were only halfway there...

Coming Soon


Preface: Madeline's Birth Story

Just like my pregnancy was extra long, Madeline's labor and birth followed suit. It's going to take me a while to write the whole story, not just because I am still trying to process all six days of it, but because I have a precious newborn who is a lot more fun to be with than at the computer. So I'll write this story and post it in parts over the next few days between breastfeeding and nap sessions.

I'd like to preface this series of blog posts by saying that while my birth didn't go as planned, it was still an incredible experience that has left me feeling powerful beyond measure. 

Early on in the pregnancy, I decided I wanted to have a natural birth. The more research I did, the more Brett and I felt that it was the safest and best option for both me and the baby. I felt that it was a life changing and empowering experience that I wanted to have. I saw amazing videos of several peaceful water births and was incredibly intrigued. It was amazing to see birth in a such a peaceful light.

Here in Utah, water births are not offered in hospitals. So at 30 weeks of pregnancy I transferred to a birth center that offered water birth as an option.  I was so intrigued by the amazing midwives and support that The Birth Center had. I was also impressed by their < 5% cesarean section rate for their patients (considering the cesarean section rate in the United States is currently at a whopping 34%). We love everything about The Birth Center. It's the kind of place that you walk in and everyone knows you personally. They only accept up to ten patients per month of due date, so it is a very intimate group. The midwives are incredible, their views of pregnancy and birth were spot on with us, and there was a great sense of community there between all the moms.

Brett and I took an eight week long Brio Birth class where we learned all about birth, labor, and newborn care. We learned about laboring positions, the pros and cons of medical interventions, relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, breastfeeding, nutrition, and planting your placenta in your yard. (Yes, Brett and I are quite a bit more granola than you'd expect.) We loved our small class of three couples and our incredible birth instructor Alyssa Bray.

We planned to have a completely intervention free water birth. No induction, no IV, no Pitocin, no epidural, no "purple pushing", no artificial rupturing of membranes (breaking the water), no episiotomy, no unnecessary ultrasounds, no continuous fetal monitoring, and no cesearean section.

We planned to welcome our baby girl in a calm and intimate environment, with dim lights, hushed voices, and a small group of care providers. We planned to have immediate skin to skin contact, delayed cord clamping, and either Brett or I would catch the baby.

The birth ended up being completely different than planned and I ended up with almost everything I didn't want. However, the medical interventions we chose to use were necessary to bring our little girl into this world. Though I am still mourning the loss of the natural water birth I had planned to have, I am so grateful for the medical technology that made it possible for me to have my baby.

Through this story, you will see that I had a unique opportunity to experience almost every different kind of labor/birth. My midwife jokes that I labored enough at home to have four babies, enough at the birth center to have three, and enough in the hospital to have two.

That's a lot of babies.

Click on the links below to read the story:


Day Ten Overdue: Pizza in Bed

Today my priority was to rest and relax (since baby has been faking a break out for the last three nights leaving Brett and me with little to no sleep).

The greatest thing I accomplished today was eating pizza in bed without spilling ranch dressing on the duvet.

Congratulations to me. 

Day Nine Overdue: The Fake Out Continues...

I woke up at 3:00 am on Sunday with contractions every 8-10 minutes apart.

This time they stayed all day long.

By 5:30pm they were 6 minutes apart.

By 8:30pm they were 5 minutes apart.

At 1:00am they were 3-4 minutes apart, lasting 60-75 seconds and very strong.

At 3:00am this morning we went to our birth place to check things out. My midwife checked my vitals, checked the cervix, checked the baby's heart rate. Everything looked beautiful. Baby is low, 0 station. Cervix is 80% effaced. But I wasn't dilated far enough. My midwife was very positive and supportive and reminded me that everything my body has been doing the last few days hasn't been for nothing.

"Do you think you can go home and sleep? Getting some rest will be the best thing for you right now so you have the energy you need during active labor."

I said yes, but I wasn't sure I could.

I got home, showered, drank some chamomile tea, got into a few labor positions that help slow things down, showered (again), and prayed... a lot.  Finally the contractions spaced out enough that I could rest well between and during them.

So sleep and deep relaxation is on my to do list for today. I would like to add having a baby to that list but, as I am reminded daily, that's truly for her to decide.


Day Eight Overdue: Birthday Baby Fake Out

On the evening of July 8th, Brett and I went to hang out with a couple of our friends. We watched the new movie How Do You Know? and ate ice-cream crepes. Through the evening I had some good strong contractions that were about 20 minutes apart. For the most part I just tried to ignore them and not get too excited. We got home late and went straight to bed. By 3:00 am I couldn't sleep through them and I started timing them. They were between 8-10 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds each. At about 5 am I lost my mucus plug (I wish there were a more delicate way to say it. The term 'mucus plug' is definitely one of the most disgusting terms in the English language). Anyway, I was really excited because that meant I was dilating. The contractions started getting more intense as the evening went on. When my contractions started getting closer together (6-8 minutes) I reached over and whispered to Brett excitedly, "I think we're going to have this baby today!" I couldn't think of anything I wanted more for my birthday than to have the baby.

The contractions kept on coming like clock work but I forced myself to stay in bed till 8:30am and not get my hopes up too much. I called my Mom to tell her what was going on but to keep things hush hush in case things didn't continue to progress. I got up, showered, went over to my sister-in-law's house so she could give me "labor hair" (gorgeous french braids gathered and pinned to my head in an elegant mess). My mother-in-law made us breakfast. My mom dropped by a birthday cake and Jamba Juice for Brett and me.

At around 10:30 am, twelve hours after they had started, the contractions stalled. I still felt little pangs through the day, but nothing regular that I even felt the need to time. I went for a walk, bounced around on my birthing ball, took my homeopathics. Nothing.

Brett jokes that we got "Jimmered by the baby." It's true, it was the ultimate fake out. By the evening I realized it was my birthday and I didn't have anything planned because I was planning to be in labor. We went over to my mom's house to decide what to do. My mom and Brett suggested all sorts of activities: a drive-in movie, chocolate fondue, going to the park, swimming, a barbecue, an outdoor concert. Each suggestion fell flat. Nothing sounded fun.

This is when I told Brett, while smiling, "Do you think I can just cry? I think I just need to cry."

He smiled and said, "I think that would be good. Do you want me to hold you?"

"Yes." I curled up with Brett on the couch and just like that the tears came.

"I woke up this morning thinking I was going to have a baby. How can I plan any activity for my birthday that can remotely compare to that?"

He agreed. So I cried for a good five minutes.

Finally, my Mom said, "It's true, nothing will compare. But lets just go and do something."

So we went and got frozen yogurt at Top It.

Just as we were scraping the bottom of our cups from Top It, my brother called and invited us to go get a dole whip (whipped pineapple frozen yogurt) from Farr's. We figured we may as well go for round two.

I ended up having a really enjoyable evening visiting with my family. After our double course of dessert we decided it would be a good idea to eat dinner. We ate at Outback Steakhouse and told stories and laughed. And at the end of the night they brought me a birthday dessert.

Three rounds of dessert can't make up for not having a baby. But it certainly didn't hurt.


Day Seven: Natural Labor Stimulation Massage

Today I went to Salt Lake Prenatal Massage for a natural labor stimulation massage (thanks Brett for the early birthday gift!) It was incredible and absolutely worth it. I was lucky to have the owner, Rebecca Overson, as my massage therapist. Rebecca spent a lot of time working pressure points and relieving the tension in my body. She used an amazing blend of aromatherapy oils that she created herself.

I loved being able to relax and focus on my body and baby during the massage. Oh and being able to lay on my stomach was pure bliss!

Rebecca was a joy to visit with because we have very similar views on pregnancy and childbirth. Besides being a LMT she is also a trained birth doula. She knew exactly how to make a pregnant girl feel supported, empowered, and beautiful.

Rebecca went two weeks overdue with her first baby, so she could definitely empathize with me and also encourage me. Like me, Rebecca didn't want to be induced and wanted to let the baby come on his own. It was so refreshing that when I walked in the door and she asked how far along I was that she didn't say "Oh you poor thing!" Instead she said, "That's normal!"

After the massage my Mom took me out to lunch at The Other Place (yes that is actually the name of the restaurant). They serve amazing Greek food and they have a wicked breakfast menu to boot. We split the special Greek salad and their famous rice pudding. The rice pudding is literally what I would consider heaven in a cup.

It was fun to visit with my Mom and chat about the fact that 24 years ago today, she went into labor with me. It's crazy how being pregnant with my own daughter makes me feel connected to my mother in a completely new way.


Day Six: Homeopathics and Herbs

Today was my 41 week appointment. Becky, my midwife, checked my cervix, did a stress test on the baby, and an ultrasound to check the amniotic fluid volume. We found out that her head is about as engaged as it can get (I give the credit to my dance moves). She was incredibly low, so low in fact my midwife was surprised I hadn't gone into labor yet. I spent a good amount of time kicked back in a lazy boy sipping apple juice and listening to my daughter's heartbeat dance from 118 to 150 when she moved or when I had a contraction. Baby passed the stress test with flying colors. The ultrasound showed that baby has plenty of fluid in there, so my placenta is still doing its job and there is no rush to induce.

During the cervical exam Becky found that part of the reason I'm not in labor yet is because my cervix is posterior at the moment. No need to stress out about it, but she did give me a few exercises that should help swing it forward so our baby's head can help dilate the cervix.

Becky also gave me a five day homeopathic regimen to follow to help encourage baby along. We went to Dave's Health and Nutrition to pick up the herbs and homeopathic medicines. Brett and I loved being greeted at the door with the scent of essential oils and herbs.  I love places like this. Becky has a  plan that she swears by, so hopefully it works for us. Each day I'll take different homeopathic pellets varying from caulophyllum to cimicifuga to pulsatilla. I'm also taking evening primrose oil daily. Becky is an incredible CNM. I interviewed a lot of midwifes who were either too new age or too intervention happy. Becky is the perfect balance. She isn't anti-medicine, but she doesn't turn to medicine/interventions as her first/only option.

My next appointment is on Tuesday. Becky said that if I haven't delivered by then we'll start talking about an "eviction plan" (love her word choice!) if I get to 42 weeks without any action.

In Becky's words "We hope she'll move out on her own, but if not we'll make her."


Day Five: Postive Birth Affirmations, Birth Stories, and Favorite Songs

I decided to use today to prepare a bit more for the birth. I woke up early and went for another nice long walk through my new neighborhood. I spent some time in the silence of the morning going through all the positive thoughts about how I want the birth to go. I also spent a bit of time thinking through the less desirable birth scenarios that may arise and took some time to think through those scenarios and face those fears and uncertainties instead of ignoring them. I had a little mental conversation with the baby and I told her all my desires for her. I told her about my hopes for the birth, for her health, for her future.

When I got home I browsed a few websites with wonderful positive birth stories and read about a dozen or so. The stories are beautiful and empowering, leaving me feeling positive and excited for the birth.

Then I went through my "birth mixes" (my iTunes playlists dedicated to the birth) and added a few songs. I have three different birth playlists: Baby Day Calming Music, Baby Day Relaxing Music, and Baby Day Upbeat Music. (Yes, calming and relaxing are two different mixes).

I've had a lot of fun over the last few months creating my playlists for the big day. I loved showing it off to my birth instructor when she came over for our labor rehearsal a few weeks ago. Between the three different playlists I selected around 100 songs.

Here are a few of my favorites:

A la Claire Fontaine - Les Petits Minous
Lo How a Rose E're Blooming - Jon Schmidt
Lullaby - Dixie Chicks
Godspeed (Sweet Dreams) - Dixie Chicks
Northern Sky - Nick Drake
Blue in Green - Miles Davis
Peace - Felicia Wolfe
Dream - Priscilla Ahn

This morning I added one last song to all three mixes because it is just that lovely. I first found this YouTube video last summer. This woman's name is Temple. This video is of her singing just before the home birth of her 10 lb son Koa. She sang through her contractions to comfort her during labor.  I stumbled onto it again today and I'm so glad that I did. It is beautiful.


Day Four Overdue: Walking, Grilling, Relaxing, and Lightning

This morning I woke up at 6:40 and went for a 45 minute walk around the neighborhood.

After Brett got home from teaching we went to the ZOO and enjoyed looking at all the exhibits. Did you know an elephant weighs around 250 lbs at birth? Boy am I relieved my baby won't that big, no matter how late she is.

This evening Brett and I grilled steaks and I relaxed in a hot tub at pool temperature (87 degrees) for about an hour.

My best friend Chelsey called me this evening ask if I was in labor yet (I've been getting a lot of those calls lately). She had reason to suspect, however. There is quite the summer storm tonight and apparently lightning storms are known to induce labor (her sister-in-law is in labor at this moment). Maybe Mother Nature is planning to help me out. If not, I'll be posting again tomorrow.

In other news, who do you think this baby is going to look like? 




Day Three Overdue: Birthday Party

Last night around midnight we decided to bake the baby a birthday cake and invite her to her birthday party. Sadly she was a no show. Oh well, the cake was delicious.

The acupressure from yesterday really did help get things going a bit, I had some good strong contractions but they fizzled through the night. At least I know I'm making some progress!

Brett and I have also been taking long evening walks. To help move things along I walk/ gallop with one foot on the road and one foot on the curb like the lady below... Yeah, I know. It's the hottest thing ever.


Day Two Overdue: Acupressure Points

My friend who is due today suggested that I try stimulating some acupressure points. It's worth a shot! So Brett and I will be trying that tonight. My feet are so swollen, I hope we can still find the right spots.

Keep the suggestions coming! 

I'm really excited to have this baby, but I'm not miserable or feeling discouraged yet. My midwife gave me great advice back when I was 36 weeks pregnant. She said to take out my calendar and schedule something each day from then to two weeks past my due date. That way if I wake up in the morning and I'm not in labor I can say to myself, "Well, I may not be having a baby today but... I get to go swimming" or "Brett and I are going to have a picnic." It's been fun to schedule something fun for each day and these next two weeks I've scheduled the best for last. The calendar idea is one of the best bits of pregnancy advice I've received. It's really helped me stay positive.

Today, my calendar event was to go swimming. 


Day One Overdue: Dancing This Baby Out

So as of today I am "overdue". This isn't shocking to me considering that the average first-time mom delivers eight days past her due date. Because of this, I've purposely been counting down to two weeks beyond my due date. Still, that doesn't mean that when July 1st came and went without a baby I wasn't a little bummed. 

A lot of family members and friends have been suggesting tricks to help encourage baby along. So for fun, I'm going to post daily videos / photos of me doing things each day that she is "late". 

Today, I'm dancing this baby out. Tomorrow? Who knows! 

Post in the comments section with suggestions for how to coax this little girl along and I just may do it tomorrow.