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Karina and Tim's Birth Story

A Birth Story from The Bradley Method®

Jubilee Ruth Birth Karina's viewpoint - Jubilee Ruth Anderson was born on June 22, 2010 at 6:05am, six days after her estimated date of delivery. As we were getting ready for church on Father's Day, I lost my mucous plug and began to see bloody show. We called the birth center for advice and were instructed to take it easy and eat well that day. That night, I began experiencing contractions that were ten minutes apart around 11:30pm. Lisa, the midwife on call, told me to try to sleep through the night. Thankfully, I was actually able to follow her advice because labor stalled.

Throughout the next day (Monday), we ran some errands and went for a couple of walks around our neighborhood. The contractions phased in and out during the day, but by late afternoon were clearly getting closer together and increasing in intensity. Since we were having a home birth, Lisa came over that night at 9pm to check my progress. I felt as though the contractions were fairly intense, but to my disappointment, I was only 2 ¾ cm. dilated, 90% effaced and our baby was at -1 station. As she left she told me to try to sleep through the night and conserve energy, because labor could last for another 24 hrs. I was pretty annoyed to hear this and there was a part of me that was determined to have our baby by morning.

We tried to fall asleep, but the contractions were consistent enough, that sleeping was not going to happen that night. Tim vocalized with me through many of the early contractions, which helped me to remember to open and relax, keeping my voice low. We got in the shower, which really helped a lot with the relaxation. Just after midnight, I felt very nauseous and experienced some chills. I knew this was a sign of transition, but did not let this excite me, since I figured I was probably still at 3cm. Just following this, Tim suggested I get in the aqua doula (tub) and we decided to call for some assistance. At 1:15am we called BirthCare to let them know that my contractions were intensifying, lasting 70-80 seconds and they were about 1.5 – 3 minutes apart. When Story, our midwife, arrived at 1:50am, I was in the tub, moaning through a contraction. Story mentioned that I was starting to make more guttural pushing sounds, so she called Kelly, our birth assistant “Doula” (also our Bradley instructor).

I refused to believe that my body was telling me to push, because I was still convinced that I was only 3 cm dilated and did not want to be disappointed again. At 2:30am I said, “I feel like I have to push,” to which Story replied, “Do what your body is telling you to do.” At this point, I was experiencing pushing contractions that spaced out to 4-6 minutes apart, but was still trying to relax as best I could. Although I was encouraged to drink white grape juice in between contractions, I really preferred to sip water, a10s the white grape juice tasted very sugary.

My waters broke as I stood up to go from the tub to get onto the bed at 3:50am. When Story checked me, I was relieved to find out that I was 8 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and our baby was at 0 station. She suggested that I lay on my left side and try to get some rest in between contractions. I thought this sounded pretty crazy, but to my surprise I was actually able to sleep for 2-5 minutes between contractions! At 4:30am, Story asked if I wanted to go back to the birth tub. As the contractions intensified, Story decided to check my progress in the tub. She explained to me that I still had a lip of cervix present.

My options at this point were 1) Story could manually stretch the lip of cervix over the baby's head through the next couple of contractions (Kelly explained to me that this would not feel good) or 2) I could continue to push and see if the lip moves on its own through the next few contractions. I chose to wait and see if the cervix would move on its own. This lasted for about 25 minutes, at which time I began to experience intense pubic pain during the contractions. Story explained that the baby's head was pushing against the lip of cervix every time I pushed and this would eventually make the cervix swell. I could take the pubic pain no longer and decided to get out of the tub and onto the bed in the reclined side position that Kelly taught us, holding one leg up. At 5:25am Story manually reduced the lip of cervix over the baby's head as I pushed through the next 2 contractions. Immediately our baby made her way down to +2 station. Kelly instructed me on how to push more effectively (holding my breath and giving it all I've got). At 5:55am my fore-waters broke and by 6am our baby was crowning.

The sensations I was feeling were none like I have ever felt before. I suddenly began to feel the intense pubic pain that I had felt earlier and then there was the ring of fire. I felt like everything was tearing down there and Story kept telling me to push slowly. It was so difficult to push slowly, because I wanted nothing more than to have her out! At 6:02am I birthed her head, as she came out moving and crying on my perineum. Then, with one or two more pushes, she was out.

They immediately put her on my stomach and I asked “Is it a boy or a girl? With tears of joy, we moved the pulsing umbilical cord out of the way and discovered that we had a beautiful baby girl. After all was said and done, we discovered that labor is not always black and white. Timing is difficult and ends up being estimates rather than exact measurements. Besides the nausea and chills early on, I did not experience a traditional transition stage. The birth quickly went from contractions to the baby coming out.

For the sake of paperwork, it is documented that stage one lasted about fifteen and a half hours and stage two was about 35 minutes long. My perineum had a slight tear on the inside, which Story stitched up afterward. Stage three happened within five minutes after our baby arrived and Tim cut the cord at 6:07am. Jubilee had great apgar scores and was moving and making sounds. Jubilee latched on at 6:25am and we have been breastfeeding ever since. Kelly weighed her at 7 lbs. exactly, and measured her at 19 ¾ inches long. Story and Kelly left our home around 9:30am after making sure that I had eaten some delicious chicken pot pie, gone to the bathroom, and taken a shower. The first day or two of breastfeeding was challenging, but has been very satisfying so far.

Looking back on the whole experience, I would say that having a natural childbirth is empowering, but not in the way that I thought it would be. I was empowered through humility. I was humbled by how my body was made to give birth regardless of what I wanted in my mind. I felt as though I was brought to the end of myself and during the last 30 minutes of my labor could only pray to God to get me through. I knew there was no turning back and I felt my body doing things that I was not consciously in control of.

Through this experience I am also so much more appreciative of the work of midwives, birth assistants and Bradley instructors. Story and Kelly worked really well together. Their encouragement (“Good job Karina.” “Isn't she doing so well?”) gave me so much strength to keep going. I am also very thankful for Tim who held my hand during the most difficult part and has been so wonderful to take care of me so that I can take care of Jubilee. I wish you all a very graceful and happy natural childbirth.

Dad's (Tim's) perspective,

You've read the story above. This was seriously the most amazing experience ever. The rising action of labor was paced perfectly and made the climax of the event so powerful. The whole labor seemed so slow and drawn out, but yet it went by in the blink of an eye. Even right before the end, it still seemed impossible for the baby to move down such a passage and out. Time seems to stand still for the entire labor and you live in the moment, each moment bringing new life one step closer. Sounds so poetic, but we did get in a couple of arguments early in labor. I will share the things that I learned in bullet form because men like bullets:

  • Birth can seem kind of boring at times. For us, there were hours of sitting/lying in silence with nothing really to do except relax through the contractions (since I was not having contractions, I really had to start thinking back to the Bradley class and book to see what I could be doing)
  • Stereotypically, men like to fix things - Be patient, your job will get busier as labor progresses – timing contractions, getting water and snacks, calling the birth center, helping your wife relax.
  • My wife needed encouragement and tools to relax, not instructions from her know-it-all husband. I figured this out finally, and just suggested some of the things from the Bradley class (“Would you like to try out the shower? Can I vocalize with you? Do you want me to rub your back? Would you like to get in the tub? – this approach worked a lot better and I got plenty of no's.
  • Don't be offended by rejection – if she says no to your offer, don't sulk
  • Your wife does not have to tell you when a contraction is starting, just listen and watch in order to record the time. It took me some time to figure out that if my wife is upstairs and I am downstairs getting water, she cannot yell down the stairs to tell me a contraction is starting.
  • Your wife needs your support – I have never seen my wife want my support more intensely than during the pushing stage. What an honor!