C’s Birth Story

Today, I write about the birth of my son. I can’t believe this was already 2 years ago.  While this technically covers only the first 20 minutes of postpartum life, the lessons I learned at his birth carry through into my next two posts.  This post is less  perfect, from a writing perspective.  Why?  C just woke up from his nap and baby J is just about ready to nurse.  Postpartum life!

October 2, 2013

2:30 am 

I woke up to my first contraction,  I thought, “Why was I looking forward to this?” I texted my best friend, and I tried to stay quiet. I took a candlelit bath, and despite my quietness my daughter woke up. My husband, daughter and I had a snack and Z went back to bed.

5:30 am

H and I watched a little Lord of the Rings, and I let my midwife, doula and babysitter know that today was the day. We decided to go back to sleep, and woke up around 9am.

10:00 am

Playing with the ducks

Playing with the ducks

Since it was a surprisingly warm and sunny October day, we decided to go to the cafe. They have a little water fountain and Z played with the rubber ducks. We ran into a client of mine, sat with her while I had contractions.  Fortunately, this was a client who doula-ed for her friends births, so she wasn’t freaked out by it.

My contractions were consistent from the beginning, 7-8 minutes apart and 40-55 seconds long. I was able to relax in-between them, so it was a very manageable labor. I stopped in to my office to pick something and chatted with some friends before heading home.

11:00 am

Around this time, my midwife had taken her morning appointments in the neighborhood and brought her supplies up to our apartment. I remember asking her to check the baby’s position (but not my cervix). I really wanted that information,  to make sure I was using the right positions while I labored.  I didn’t want to find out I had very little dilation or effacement. Baby was in a good position, so I felt comfortable knowing she’d be nearby.  Meanwhile, my daughter was suspiciously quiet.  Since my husband was showering the midwife checked on her.  I heard her say, “Oh my!”  Yes, Z found her piggy paints (Thank God it was piggy paints and not regular nail polish). She painted her hands, legs, the carpet.  We scrubbed her and the carpet up before H was done showering.

Piggy Paints

Piggy Paints

12:00 pm

We thought Z would be napping soon, but she wasn’t. Our babysitter was having a root canal, back luck for everyone, I guess! It was a little hard to get the birth pool full, take care of her and manage my contractions. At this point we let my doula know we’d need support soon, we texted our babysitter to come as soon as it was safe for her to drive.

2:00 pm

Both my babysitter and my doula arrived when my midwife and I went in my room to be checked. I remember thinking to myself “It’s going to be posterior, only a little effaced and 1cm. Don’t be disappointed. Don’t be disappointed.” I was really concentrating on not being disappointed, I opened my eyes and my midwife said, “I’m going to call my student to come.”  I held my breath, preparing for disappointment. She continued, “Because you are 7cm.”

I was elated and shocked. Z was sleeping and I was still basking the amazingness of being 7cm at my first cervical check. This labor was so much easier to manage than my first. I could relax, be normal, smile for photos in between contractions. I recall offering to put on a movie and my midwife was like, “no, let’s just focus on this.”

4:00 pm

My midwife said that if I wanted to birth in the pool, I should probably get in. I was reluctant.  I was concerned that I would run out of coping techniques, and to me the birth pool is “bringing out the big guns” in a home birth setting. I swear those birth pools work like magic, cuts the pain in half.  I texted my best friend again, with a photo. I was 9cm, smiling and my hair was not messy yet. Awesome!



Of course that didn’t last long, and I wanted to get up to pee. It was too uncomfortable to sit during a contraction, so I stood in the shower and peed. I also had the urge to vomit, and I did a little. I remember being encouraged by that “transition! it’s almost over.”

That was the point when the emotions hit me. “I’m having this baby today, I’m not ready.” “I get to meet my baby today.” Most significantly, I felt afraid to push.

My best friend rocked her VBA2C earlier that year, and I remember her saying pushing wasn’t as hard as she expected. I really wanted to have an experience where my uterus did all the work. During contractions, I wanted to just let my body do the work. Perhaps a silly desire, but I was really hoping for that.

4:30 pm

I recall having a really intense contraction when my husband brought Z in and I looked at her and the pain stopped mid contraction. It was so strange. It was like she boosted the painkilling power of oxytocin. I remember her splashing me in the face, not wanting to get in the pool and saying, “oh mama. what’s happening to her?”

Splashing Water gives an Oxytocin boot, right?

Splashing Water gives
an Oxytocin boot, right?

5:30 pm

I asked to be checked again, because I was frustrated that I didn’t feel the “urge” to push, and I was a little concerned that my water had not broken. I started to wonder what it felt like to push a baby out with intact water bag. It scared me. As it turns out, I was 10cm.

I was expecting my mom to come and relieve the babysitter. She wasn’t there yet and I was feeling ready to push. I did my first push and was pretty loud. I decided I wanted Z to go outside, so I didn’t scare her.

I remember doing most of my laboring on hands-knees, in the pool with pressure on my sacrum. “Pressure!” was probably my most-used phrase that day.  H told me I turned to him and said, “I can’t do this!” and he told me “Yes you can.” I said, “Okay, I got this.”

This is really hard work

This is really hard work

I remember the intensity of the last few contractions so vividly, even though many details of most of the day are fuzzy now. I remember my midwife saying, “you have to do this for your baby.” I was so scared that I would tear, and another contraction hit and in my head I told the baby “I will do whatever you need me to do, to get you out safely” as I pushed. The water bag broke and I think that helped me get out of the fear zone.

Immediatlely, I knew I couldn’t push this baby out on hands and knees. I stopped pushing mid-contraction. When the contraction ended, I mustered all my strength to move my right leg. The next wave hit and I pushed a little, but I just couldn’t hold it. When it ended I got my left leg up and was in a squatting position. I started pushing with the contractions. I remember feeling the baby’s body move through me, it was so intense and different from Z’s birth. I felt the ring of fire., The midwife said she would hold the head under water, until the whole body came out. I pushed at least twice more as baby came out.

6:14 pm

6:14 pm

The most powerful moment of my whole labor was when the midwife handed me our baby, through my legs and I pulled the baby on to my chest. It was incredible. Of course the midwives did all their work checking vitals and keeping baby warm with towels on my chest. I remember peeking to find out the gender, a boy! I remember greeting him by name. Z came in and was a bundle of nervous energy. My husband says her heart was pounding, she had no interest in her brother and started playing with a flashlight.

It's a Boy!

It’s a Boy!

The 4th stage started really fast and I just HAD to get out of the pool, it was so uncomfortable. I stood up, I remember them telling me to take my time, but I could not sit. I transferred to the table and delivered the placenta quickly (it was pretty messy, just ask the student midwife’s jeans).

It’s interesting how different each labor has turned out to be. As a mom, and a doula I would consider C’s labor and delivery “ideal.” Not too fast, not too slow. I was able to relax, and I still had to work to bring him into this world.

He is such a blessing to me, and I recall this day so fondly. Even the scariest and messiest moments. From his birth, I re-learned what it is to be a mother. To be stretched far out of your comfort zone, overcome fear and do whatever is needed for the well-being of your child. I am so thankful he was able to be born safely at home, surrounded by people who love him.

How have your labors differed? Did you have an “I can’t do this moment”? How did you get past it to birth your baby?


  1. I ended up needing a c-section because of the size of my son. Not what I would have chosen, I prepared for a natural birth. The morning I went in for my operation I was nervous but fine. I talked to all the medical staff, asked questions as I was prepped. Even cracked a few jokes while they were doing the spinal block. But as soon as I started to go numb I was so scared that I would feel them cut me open. I had to suppress the desire to jump off the table and run out of the room. I talked myself through it by reminding myself that just because I wasn’t birthing my son the way I had anticipated didn’t mean that I wasn’t a strong woman. I was his mother and taking the necessary steps to bring him into the world.

    • SparklyStefka says:

      Absolutely! We all do what we need to bring our babies in the best way possible. I don’t think any of us come through motherhood with our expectations in-tact. I love the blog Birth Without Fear, and I don’t think a 100% fearless birth is possible, because we can’t control every outcome. I do think we can birth from a place that is not based in fear, and do our best with the circumstances we have. I love the shirt that says Cesarean Birth is Birth, because it is. It does not make you less strong as a mother.

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