A+G Birth Story
My phone buzzed at 12:15am. I had been awake making a bottle for a teething toddler, and glanced at the message when I finally crawled into bed.
“Just a heads up. I’ve been contracting for about the last 24 hrs. Very random and no real pattern, but I wanted to make sure you were looped in on what is going on. Don’t think anything is eminent. But you never know.”
She’s having this baby today, I thought, then promptly fell asleep.
I woke up with a jolt at 5:00am on the dot, and felt like I needed to check my phone. I told her to call and my phone is on, but what if she texted? As the home screen illuminated I saw a text from a new number, sent at 4:22am:
“Getting ready to head to the hospital with A. Probably be there in about 45 minutes…”
I sat up quickly, rereading the time of the text to be sure I’d read it correctly. Yes, that was almost 40 minutes ago, I thought. I woke my husband to hand over the monitors, gathered my things, and by 5:25am I was driving toward the hospital, praying she didn’t deliver before I got there. With this being her second delivery and only being in active labor for only 5 hours with her first, I knew that her delivery could happen at any moment.
5:26am, my phone vibrated, the blue light like a shock in the dark interior of the car. “She’s 8cm. Waiting for a room.”
At 5:36am, I was speed-walking through the labor and delivery unit at the hospital, half expecting to hear sounds of delivery coming from her room. I could see the door propped open at the end of the hallway. That’s a good sign, I thought, relieved. As I walked into the room I was met with A., G., their sweet 2 year old son, their doula Julie, two nurses calmly but quickly working to get A fully admitted and hooked to monitors, and the midwife on call. The energy in the room was electric; there was a feeling of speed, efficiency, and calm. Everyone was pacing, talking quietly, and in various states of unpacking. Everyone, that is, except A.
When I read that she was 8cm dilated, I fully expected to walk into the room and see her in the throws of laboring through transition. If you’ve felt this or seen this happen, you know exactly what I was expecting to see. What I was met with, rather, was serenity. Complete, and total calm. A. was smiling and laughing between contractions, then quietly riding each wave as it came. The controlled chaos of eminent delivery surrounded her bed, but she was in her own space. She was confident in herself, her decisions, and her body, and it showed.
She ended up deciding to move to the tub in the room, then back to the bed, then ultimately chose to deliver on the toilet (which her best friend and the godmother of her first arrived just in time to witness). Around 8:45am, after laboring for three hours at 8cm, Janelle suggested that they break her water. It was easy to see that at this point, A.’s water was holding the baby’s head back from progressing and in response her cervix wouldn’t dilate the remaining two centimeters. After her water was broken she made her way to the toilet, pausing multiple times to breath through waves as they began to roll over her harder and faster.
When she labored with her first son, she almost delivered on a toilet, but she was asked by her attending practitioner to go back to the bed to deliver. She subsequently delivered on the floor on her way back to the bed. Her current midwife Janelle and her doula Julie both helped her feel totally confident to labor and deliver wherever she felt most comfortable. A. was finally getting the calm, peaceful delivery in the place and way she wanted, and it helped redeem the delivery of her first.
They had decided that G. would catch their sweet baby, so at 9:06am after their baby’s head was quietly born unassisted, Janelle happily moved out of the way to let G. do his work. With one and a half quick, un-coached pushes, baby was born into G.’s waiting hands. Baby had a short cord, so G. passed him through A.’s legs and she held him on her abdomen. His crying stopped when she nestled him into her now-empty belly. He recognized this place. He had been here for the last nine months, and he immediately felt at peace.
A. requested to let the placenta be born on its own and let the cord be cut only once it had stopped pulsing (if you’re interested in understanding why she decided to wait to cut the cord, check out this article: Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping). She moved back to the bed where she was checked, and (while big brother napped in the corner) dad and godmother both had a chance to welcome the new baby into the world. After about ten minutes, G. cut the cord, and A. moved baby up to her chest for his first feed. He latched immediately and hungrily, surprising midwife and doula but not mama.
As I walked away from the sound of soft laughter and the glow of pride and happiness at 9:50am, I felt profound thankfulness. Capturing this almost totally unassisted birth was an amazing, empowering, gorgeous experience. A.’s strength and dignity through labor and delivery was awe-inspiring. G.’s gentle support and strength were anchoring. Their love for each other and their children was so incredibly evident, and it was an honor to be a part of their birth team.