Before I start, I need to give a shout out to a few people that made my labor and delivery an unforgettable and dreamy experience. To my momma- because she’s my best friend. To my sister- for telling me I’m stronger than I think and that I’m not allowed to wuss out! (HA! But seriously, totally happened.) To the Willow Birth Center team- You give women the opportunity to birth the way they want! I’m blessed to have found you amazing ladies. To my doula, Alyssa– it was fate that we found you! She guided me, encouraged me, and helped me through my labor and delivery. And of course, to my husband- you never left my side (besides to leave the room to fart- THANK YOU!!) You let me hold on to you, squeeze you, and laugh with you. You helped me create this beautiful human being, and bring him earth side. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Quick prologue: after Adalyn’s birth, I had this memory engraved in my brain about labor; that I was going to be in excruciating pain, that I was going to want to “tap out”. I had this painful image in my head about actual birth, and that’s because birthing on your back in a hospital bed HURTS! It’s just not the ideal position to give birth. I felt unprepared- but only for the pain. I knew what my body was going to do. But I had this (truthfully unrealistic) expectation of pain, that I couldn’t shake.
I woke up a little after 1 am for my usual bathroom run. Stephen was still awake. I asked, “What are you doing awake!? What if baby comes!” Stephen agreed and fell asleep shortly after. I woke up again at 3:30am to use the restroom (yes.. AGAIN!) When I sat back down on the bed, I felt my first contraction and thought “no way…!” I called my doula, Alyssa, around 3:40 am. Come to find out, she had just finished up with another birth! (Seriously super woman, by the way) While I was on the phone with her I had a contraction. She guided me over the phone to relax all the muscles in my body, and exhale. She asked if she could come over and watch my progress for a little, and thank goodness she did. Alyssa showed up at 4:45 am. She started to time my contractions. Keeping at 5 minutes apart and picking up in intensity, we said this was the real thing! No turning back now! I was so eager and excited, finding the motivation to eat to fuel my body was hard. I was able to snack on some pretzels and peanut butter, though.
I labored on the ball for quite some time. Alyssa chatted with me between contractions. We kept the mood light. I mean, it was early in the morning! Around 5:20 am my contractions picked up to 3-4 minutes apart, and I felt the need to stand and sway through my contractions. It’s amazing how being vocal (a deep moan) and a little back rub relieved the pressure during contractions. She guided me how to relax my body and let baby come “down”. By 6 am, Alyssa advised me that we should head to the birth center soon. I woke up Stephen and Adalyn, arranged Addie’s pick up, and explained to A that she was going to meet her baby brother today. We gathered our things, and I got my last “only child” snuggles with my baby. Around 7 am, Stephen ,Alyssa and I headed to the birth center. Once getting into the car, I called my mom to tell her to meet us over there. During our little trip to the birth center, Stephen thought it was a good idea to accelerate SUPER fast, as a joke, and quickly came to realize that was NOT a good idea. Ha!
We arrived at the birth center with such excitement! Diane, my midwife, met us there with a big smile on her face! Diane checked my cervix and said “looks like we’re having a baby today!” I was very persistent about NOT knowing how dilated I was. With Adalyn, I was 3 cm dilated for 4 days. I didn’t want to feel defeated, like I did with her labor. Stephen insisted on knowing though! And if you know Stephen, you know he’s horrible at keeping exciting news a secret. BUT! He kept it quiet for a few hours, and that deserves a little credit. Little did I know, I was 7 cm dilated. *Self high-five I made it this far already*
Diane asked, “Do you have a name for the baby?” And I said “we have a couple names.” Stephen, without hesitation, said his name was Juan. Oh Stephen dear.
Diane filled up the tub, so I could labor in the water. Stephen pulled out Alexa, and put on some country music. It was extremely relaxing. It wasn’t stressful. It was the perfect environment to give birth. Your body can sense a change in location when you’re in labor and reacts by slowing your contractions down. My body did that but my contractions had found their rhythm again and were back to 3 minutes apart. I labored through contractions in the bath- alternating between squatting and sitting. Alyssa was guiding me through my sounds. Here I sat and cried…
This was SUCH a bittersweet time. I was ending one chapter, and starting a new one. My pregnancy was a beautiful chapter. Now here I am, in labor about to meet our Son. Oh, emotions. Diane continued to explain how amazing this new chapter was going to be. (And hubby was scarfing down his lunch in the lobby area- and came back into the suite once he was finished)
Stephen found the flashlight the midwife uses while I’m in the water to check my progress. He proceeded to act like he was the midwife about to deliver our son. OYE vey. Believe me when I say, we left the delivering babies part to our midwife!
I felt this “movement urge” quite a bit throughout my labor. I got out of the tub, put on the infamous diaper incase my water decided to break (it didn’t), and got to put on the “special robe”. It’s only special because Stephen made a huge deal about how awesome it was that I got to wear a robe. It’s the little things with him ❤️.
I decided to climb the stairs a couple times. I waddled up, had a contraction or 4 at the top of the stairs, and back down. Diane and Alyssa showed me how to squat and hang on the stairs during a contraction to open up my hips. Their guidance was essential. I made one more round up and down the stairs and wanted to bounce on the ball. Ugh, I LOVE YOGA BALLS. I bounced between contractions and pulled back on Stephens arm during contractions. Diane, my midwife, was rubbing my lower back, and giving me words of affirmation.
Unlike a hospital, midwives encourage you to eat to fuel your body, and drink water and fluids to keep you hydrated during labor! 2 days prior my mom had an extra credit presentation, made cookies, and had leftovers. She iced the cookies to look like the pituitary glad but they ended up looking like ball sacks. So, we all sat there laughing, while eating our ball sack cookies.
Granted at this point in my labor I couldn’t actually fall asleep. So I laid down on the bed, closing my eyes between contractions and was sitting up during them. Stephen said “Alyssa, you might wanna take this (her very expensive camera) out of the splash zone!” Once again, had us all laughing.
My need to move took over my body once again. So, I took another stroll around the birth center. At this point I needed a hand through my contractions. A literal hand. I didn’t care whose hand it was, but I needed a hand. It was more mental than anything. I needed to know I had someone next to me, by my side, and that I wasn’t alone during my contractions. Even though prior to my contraction, I knew I had all of my birth team surrounding me.
I waddled out to the living room and labored on the ball next to the counter. My mother snacked on her lunch, Stephen sat to my right. Diane to my left. And Alyssa was standing in the kitchenette. Casual conversations and horrible jokes flying back and forth. Hunger struck and Diane offered me some See’s chocolate. Uhm chocolate? How could I say no!
Contractions had been 2 minutes apart for quite some time and I had started to hold my breath and push down into my contractions while on the yoga ball. Because of my endless amount of water consumption, a potty break moved me back into my birth suite, where I decided I wanted to get into the bath tub again. Around 1 pm I got in the tub, laid back and listened to Stephen tell his horrible jokes. Directly after a contraction, Stephen proclaimed “I KNOW HIS NAME! Juan Mower!” I said “what? His middle name is Mower? I don’t get it..” as I thought about it, and finally understood the joke, we all busted out laughing. Later down the timeline, I laughed THROUGH a contraction. And that hurt, oh so bad!
I was reclined backwards in the tub with my legs extended straight between contractions. Stephen sat on a chair behind me. Through my contractions I would pull his hands close to my face for comfort. Naturally, during contractions I pulled my legs up, dug my toes down into the tub, and started grunting.
Diane asked if pushing brought relief. It sure did.
A contraction ended, and I felt so defeated! I was exhausted. I didn’t know where I was at, labor wise. My water had not broken, and I thought delivery was nowhere in sight. Diane assured me I was making progress. I asked, am I at a 10? She said “oh yeah!” That is when Stephen excitedly screamed, “well you were 7 cm when you got here!!!” Poor guy kept that secret bottled up inside of him too long! HA!
Diane suggested I feel for my baby- I was extremely hesitant. I was scared. But I did it. And I felt baby boys water bag and the top of his head. I just sobbed. I got serious and beared down a little harder, and started to push with each contraction. When I say I was bearing down harder, you’re engaging your core as hard as you can. A serious ab work out! Imagine trying to engage your core with a baby underneath your abdomen. It’s a strange concept.
Never during my labor or during my contractions, did I think or say “I’m done with the pain, I want an epidural”. The “pain” was never painful or unbearable. It was simply beautiful.
I DID need encouragement though. During my contractions, I needed to hear all of the positive affirmations. Diane, Alyssa, my mom, and Stephen- all sat there and cheered me on. Between contractions, I told myself I could do it!
Then I started transitioning. I quickly went from “I can do it” mode, to saying “I can’t do it!!!”
Diane and Alyssa looked at me straight in the eyes and said “You can do it! Because you’re already doing it!”
That movement urge flooded my body again, and I transitioned to a squat position in the tub between contractions. Once I got into this position, labor and delivery game over! The next contraction came, I beared into it, and I immediately felt his head drop behind my pelvis. Sheer fear came upon me. I immediately stood up, looking for direction, Alyssa looked at me, told me to find my breath, and that I was doing it. Luckily Diane was there to grab me and rotate me back to a reclining position, and my water broke during this time I like to call cow tipping. Ha!
During this little sliver of chaos, Stephen called for my mom to take his spot because he was getting “uncomfortable”. I looked over to him, and told him it’s okay (I’m the one pushing a baby out of my vagina with no drugs and I was reassuring HIM that it was all okay! HAHA!) My mother stood directly behind me, Stephen beside her while I was leaning back in the tub. I could feel that Baby Boys head was out. I reached down to feel his head, (I have a picture of this stunning moment) while my mom held my shoulders, and Stephens hands are reaching out to comfort me. Diane told me to catch my breath, and to give one more push. I followed her words, I found my breath, I pushed once more. Diane and I guided our sweet baby boy out into the warm water (while he took a massive poo mid air to my chest). Baby boy- soon to be decided Braesen Stephen Davis, was born at 3:17 pm on Saturday April 22, 3017 (Earth day). I cried out “OH SWEET BOY!! You’re here!” Immediately following “I did it! I did it! He’s here!”
This was the most amazing and rewarding experience. I defied all the nay-Sayers. And I’m so proud I brought our son into this world the way I wanted to. It was so beautiful. Stephen didn’t pass out this time, gold star! He was such an amazing support partner this time around. And for the record, we chose Braesen’s name by a coin flip- it won 3/3.