When I first met Lindsey and her sweet daughter, I felt like I was talking to an old friend. With both of us being birth nerds, we just kind of clicked. I was so excited to hear that she would be trying for the natural birth that she had always wanted knew she could do it. I couldn’t wait to document this special day for her and her family!
Thank you for sharing your empowering story with us Lindsey!
“I should start by saying that I could never have dreamed up how perfect a birthday could be for us before this birth. This was my third pregnancy and although I had two prior vaginal deliveries that went fairly smooth with perfectly perfect outcomes, this one was just so dreamy. In past pregnancies, I requested to be checked and have my membranes swept and both times it seemingly put me into prodromal labor for 24 hours or longer before active labor began. This time, I wanted to do things differently. Although I had attempted a natural birth twice before, I had yet to achieve one. This pregnancy I had decided to keep my birth goal to just myself, my husband, and our closest friends and family, because the past two times I had felt like I had let everyone down, especially myself. We hired a doula and a birth photographer, and took a Hypnobirthing course, in hopes of making this birth the experience we envisioned.
Our third pregnancy had a due date of September 15th, 2017. We decided that this pregnancy would be a surprise gender to us since we have a six-year-old daughter and an almost two-year-old son. Since I had never gone beyond my due date, we had no reason to think that it would happen this time either. Worries were high as Hurricane Irma started to brew, seeing as how I would be 39-weeks pregnant when she was forecasted to be arriving on land, the exact gestation I was when I delivered our son. When Irma came and went, along with my due date, my anxiety started to peak. I am a labor and delivery nurse and knew too much to be completely comfortable. I knew that although the baby seemed wonderful, moving and kicking beautifully, at 41-weeks I would be required to have more invasive testing and I was trying so hard to have as little medical intervention as possible. I had been debating on whether to be checked and have my membranes swept for the last week, since I had said that I didn’t want to be checked at all, aside from being checked prior to Irma. The pros were maybe it would once again start labor and I would at least avoid the non-stress test at my 41-week appointment. Also, throughout the last week, I had been having uncomfortable but sporadic contractions almost every night, all night, with the exception of the night before my 40+4 week appointment. Kelly, our amazing doula, said that was my body’s way of giving me some rest before the baby came. The morning and afternoon of my scheduled appointment, I had been again having sporadic contractions as frequent as every ten minutes, but also as sparse as once an hour. I spoke with Kelly and we decided that she would attend my appointment at 3 p.m. that day and that being swept wouldn’t likely do anything if my body wasn’t ready. She thought that since I was already having contractions that morning, that likely something was already happening and that a sweep wouldn’t do anything my body wasn’t already doing on its own. When my midwife checked me, I was 3-4 cm dilated and 70 percent effaced; a change from the 1-2 cm prior to Hurricane Irma. She did a completely comfortable sweep and said I was more like 5 cm dilated. There was also a bit of show with the exam, which was encouraging. My doula and I parted ways about 4 p.m. with the hope that I would likely be calling her later in the evening or into the early morning.
As I walked to my car from my appointment, I had a slightly crampier contraction. It was so exciting to think that maybe my body was actually doing something. At the same time, I was hoping that this was real and doing something, and not prodromal. I timed them as I drove home, and they were coming every five to six minutes. Our daughter had soccer practice at 5 p.m. and our house needed tidying, so I told my husband to go ahead and take her and I would keep our toddler at home with me. Kelly had told me one time that when my labor was seeming to begin, “to acknowledge it, but not to live there,” so I was doing my best to acknowledge the contractions and let go. I Facetimed my mom and my sisters to let them know that I thought something was starting. I cooked dinner and sent a text to my girlfriend, the one that we had planned to be watching our kiddos, that I thought it may be time. Meanwhile, I was able to breathe through my contractions. Something about it felt more prepared and calmer than my previous labors. My husband got home at around 6:10 p.m. and he made me feel like maybe this was actually real since I had continued to have bloody show and the contractions were increasing in intensity and frequency. I was doubtful as I had always felt like I went to the hospital too soon and maybe I wasn’t the best judge of when to head in. That’s when I contacted Kelly and she suggested I let our birth photographer Melissa know, even though I assured her they would be here too early and things would probably settle down. Our birth team arrived around 7 pm to find me laboring in our bathroom.
We had already determined that would be where I would labor, since that’s where the tub, shower, and the clary sage diffuser were, along with the birthing affirmations banner we had hung up a few weeks sooner. Kelly timed my contractions, as Derek supported me and we just chatted in between. Around this time though, I was finding it more difficult to just breathe through and started to make some low “oww” noises.
I moved from the birthing ball, to the toilet, to squatting in front of the bathtub. Derek tried to offer me some food, a peanut butter sandwich, but I just didn’t want anything. I kept feeling the need to pee, but I couldn’t go. That’s when Kelly suggested we may be further along than what I was thinking and that maybe we needed to head to the hospital. I was still very hesitant to go at that point. All of me wanted to stay at home as long as we safely could.
It was around 7:45 p.m. when Kelly suggested that I go kiss the kids goodnight since it was getting close to their bedtime. While I walked out to tell them goodnight, I got very emotional thinking about the fact that this may be the last time I was kissing just two babies goodnight. With how emotional I was and what she was seeing, Kelly knew at that time that we needed to head to the hospital. I said I still needed to pee, but I was caught by another contraction and leaned down to the edge of the tub. I felt a lot of pressure and immediately felt my water break. Everything went quickly then because we knew we had to leave. Amniotic fluid had soaked my skirt, but I didn’t have time to change, so we grabbed a bath towel and headed out the door.
We tried to determine the best way for us all to get on base since we had the four of us. We thought the best plan would be for us to lead and bring Melissa, while Kelly followed behind us. She instructed Derek to pull over if I started to push and I think her saying that finally made it click to me that this was, in fact, truly happening. I remember only a few things from the car ride: there was a soccer practice ending that made traffic from our house longer than normal, Kelly calling Derek to check on me, and the speed bumps right after getting through the gate.
Those speed bumps were the worst part of labor without question! Also, a contraction started right as we were headed through the gate and I think we may have terrified the gate guard. He rushed us through, without any hesitation, along with Kelly. Derek says I was yelling and moaning, but I only remember saying, “Oh my God,” over and over and worrying about the seat of the car getting wet, even though I was sitting on the towel and we had a pad down. We parked the car and Kelly ran for a wheelchair. I distinctly remember asking Derek to tell the quarterdeck to not call a “Code Purple” and being so amazed by how much amniotic fluid was leaking; again, I was worried and focused on the funniest things. We walked to the doors where Kelly met us with the wheelchair. Our midwife, Casey, met us as well and went with us in the elevator up to L&D. Evidently, Kelly had already alerted Casey and the deck and let them know that I was, “Coming in hot!”
We got to LDR3 and Casey asked if she could check me. I remember being very nervous that she was going to say that I was still 5 cm. She checked me and much to ONLY my amazement, I was 8 cm!
Something that I will always remember is our nurse, Lisa, asked Casey what her glove size was. I didn’t hear her question and Casey responded, “6 ½.” I translated that conversation as she told me 8 cm to make me feel better, but I was really 6.5 cm, to which I immediately had to verify that I was indeed 8cm (one of those funny things you remember!) Within the next contraction I felt my body grunt a little and I felt myself bearing down. I said to everyone, “I think I’m pushing,” to which Casey checked me again and I was indeed completely dilated and ready to push! This is when I thought to myself, “Holy sh*t, I’m *actually* going to do this and now I *have* to do this!” It was a bit of a panicked moment and it was the one time I really felt like I lost my composure, aside from a few lapses in confidence walking into the hospital. Kelly got close to my face and told me, “You are strong and you are *going* to do this. You *are* doing it.”
Again, I felt myself involuntarily bearing down, all while saying at the exact same time that I didn’t need to push! I actually thought to myself that I wanted to go home and do this later; one of those crazy things you think is totally doable in the moment. With my first actual push, Casey said that she saw the baby’s head which was so shocking to me, still, that I was going to have the natural delivery that I had ALWAYS wanted.
I looked at Derek in awe that this was our baby that was coming. The one we had talked to and tried to come to know for the last nine months. I pushed again and the baby’s head was delivered. I was so shocked to not feel the “ring of fire” everyone describes. The pushing itself was just so overwhelming to me because although it was me doing it, I was doing it without meaning to; it was such a powerful feeling. With the next push and some help from Casey who had to maneuver the baby’s shoulders around, our baby was born! Casey brought the baby right up to me. Derek and I didn’t even remember that we didn’t know who this sweet being was! He looked then and told me, “It’s a boy!” Brooks William was born at 8:59 p.m. after labor officially starting that evening at around 6 p.m.
I don’t think I will ever forget Casey saying, “That’s a BIG boy,” and looking down and thinking, “But he’s so little.” After doing our amazing first hour of skin-to-skin and being pooped on, we found out that he was indeed big: 9 pounds even and 21 inches long!
He latched on almost immediately, further proving himself as a big boy. Aside from a small repair and some bleeding, everything went perfectly postpartum. We could be discharged as early as possible since he and I were both perfectly healthy.
Looking back, I’m so beyond thankful that we chose to labor at home as long as possible with our team and that we chose to listen to my body’s cues about when to head in. I’m so thankful I finally trusted my body, even when I couldn’t actually believe it was doing what it was supposed to be. I’m so lucky to have been supported by my husband and our team of strong and beautiful women to achieve the birth of my dreams. I will forever be in their debt.”
The next afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting them again at the hospital for a Fresh 48 session. Big sister and big brother were so eager to meet the new little one! It’s always amazing to me how fast babies change, even in those first few days. I was so happy that I could capture those changes and these sweet family moments!
If you are interested in a birth or fresh 48 session, I would love to chat!