Kate's Birth Story
I was so looking forward to the birth of my second baby for so many reasons. Of course the obvious, I was thrilled to welcome a new member to our family and, after an incredible birth with my eldest (at Mercy with a midwife from The Midwife Center), I looked forward to the birthday of my second child with so much enthusiasm.
I couldn't wait to see what kind of adventure the birth of our second baby would be. I was set to deliver at the birth center this time around - something I so badly wanted with my eldest but was not possible at the time due to our insurance coverage and, we decided to wait until birth to learn the gender of this baby so there was a lot of added excitement.
During the last few weeks some negative thoughts did creep in a bit, like, "Can I really do this again? Ignorance was bliss last time, this time I know what I’m signing up for." I wrote down some affirmation on colorful cards and hung them around a mirror in our bedroom. These affirmations helped me so much to regain my positive mind frame and focus on to the joy and pure magic that I knew was coming.
After an easy and healthy pregnancy I quickly found myself at the 39 week prenatal check-up. I saw Emily (insert all the heart eyes) and I asked her if she would check my cervix and possibly do a membrane sweep. I was trying so hard to enjoy the last days of pregnancy and especially the last days with just my toddler, but I was so anxious for baby day! I’m that person that begs my family to let me give them their birthday and Christmas gifts early...the suspense was killing me! I wanted to meet my baby! And, lets be real...I didn't want to be pregnant anymore! After checking my cervix and finding that I was at 3-4 centimeters, Emily did the sweep. I left feeling super confident that I’d be back within a day or two in labor.
Fast forward a week and there I was, at my 40 week (and three days) prenatal appointment. Not in labor. You guys. Seeing my guess date come and go was a form of agony I was not equipped for (see above). This baby was never coming out. In fact I joked with family in that last week that this baby was actively trying to avoid being born. Baby was so high and pushing so hard into my chest-dear baby, you are going the wrong way sweet thing!
So anyway, here I am with Emily, again. After checking my cervix and announcing that I was at five centimeters-NOT IN LABOR-Emily did another sweep and suggested that we stay at the center for a birth center induction. Considering that we live an hour away from the center and that I was GBS+ and would be opting for IV antibiotics before birth, my husband, Don and I decided to go for it.
My three year-old daughter, Ella, and mother-in-law were already at the appointment with us so I called my sister, Erin, who would be coming from Lancaster, PA , and told her to start making her way to us. We went down the road to grab an ice cream cone and let it all sink in. We were going to (try to) have a baby today!
Upon arriving back at the birth center we settled in the Ocean Room, an IV was placed and antibiotics were administered. I began pumping (pump on left breast 15 minutes, right breast 15 minutes, walk for 30 minutes, repeat) to try kickstarting labor. I pumped and walked. Pumped and walked. Up and down the stairs, up and down the hallway. Back and fourth. My sister arrived and more pumping and walking and no contractions.
This baby was not coming out. I was feeling discouraged. Those tricky thoughts of ‘I’m not going to be able to do this" tried to sneak back in, but in my travels up and down those stairs and that hallway I could hear a Momma in the next room actively laboring, working through each surge that was bringing her baby closer to her arms. I wanted to be where she was. So-keep walking, relax, ‘You will do this’. It’s amazing how, for that brief period, I was so connected to another woman I had never even laid eyes on. We were together on a journey toward motherhood.
After four or five rounds of pumping and walking and having nothing more than a few mild Braxton Hicks type contractions we all decided to eat. Don ran out and grabbed us Pramanti Bros. and we all ate, laughed and relaxed before it was time for the next step.
Around 9:30-10:00pm our super awesome midwife, Theresa, ruptured my bag of waters. I felt in my heart things would go quickly from here on so we called our birth photographer, Jess, and asked her to join us. Theresa stepped out and allowed me much appreciated space to be with my family to relax and peacefully prepare for baby to arrive.
About 20 minutes later I began having contractions. They were easy to manage and I was able to try out a few different coping methods. I spent time in the shower, I sat on the birthing ball (though that seemed to slow contractions down so that was quickly abandoned), I swayed back and fourth and I read my trusty affirmation cards. Surges were steadily increasing in intensity and frequency and I was definitely feeling pressure. I soon felt ready to try a warm bath.
Our wonderful nurse, Christine, ran a bath for me (and my daughter!). I got in, worked through a contraction, struggled to get comfortable and then, I had an incredible urge to push. This was so new as I never really had the urge to push during the birth of my eldest. Now, I knew without a doubt, I wanted to push. I got out of the bath and onto the bed as Christine went to alert Theresa and Erin connected with my other sister, Sara, via FaceTime. It was about 11:30pm.
Theresa and Christine joined us and began readying the room for birth. Surges were so powerful and the pressure was immense. I began vocalizing through surges to cope. I was getting really great breaks in between surges, so much so that I was able to nurse my very sleepy toddler. Theresa asked if she could check my cervix and I eagerly consented. I was on all fours and Theresa let me know that although it was difficult to really get a good sense of dilation in that position she felt I was at seven centimeters. I instantly felt defeated. Theresa continued by saying that Moms know best and if I felt I needed to push, I should push. Those were the exact words I needed to hear. I knew I needed to push. Having Theresa trust me to trust my body was exactly what I needed in that moment. I knew birth was close and I felt the need to be very vocal. I had my mother-in-law take my daughter out of the room (she was so sleepy and was so badly wanting to nurse to sleep).
One or two surges later I remember saying “The baby’s coming!” and I turned my bottom toward the end of the bed where Theresa needed it to be for delivery. Another surge, pushing on all fours, rest. I said aloud “I can do this” to which I swear everyone in the room responded in unison “Yes, you can” I wonder if that actually happened or if I was somewhere else egging myself on! The pressure I felt as my baby descended downward is just indescribable. Being on all fours didn't feel quite right so I laid on my left side and Don and Christine supported my right leg. I held onto my husbands free hand and moaned through pushes. Theresa told me to reach down and feel my babies head. One more push and Theresa told me to reach down and grab my baby. I will never forget feeling that warm wet body in my hands as I lifted that sweet baby to rest on my belly.
Our beautiful baby girl, Maci Mae, was born at midnight on January 11.
Ella and my mother-in-law were immediately welcomed back into the room and for the second time in my life time seemed to stand still as I fell head over heels in love with my daughter. I soaked that baby in as her sister, daddy, aunts and muga admired her. Daddy cut the cord, Maci nursed like a champ and Ella drifted off to sleep snuggled beside me in bed.
As I showered, Theresa took all of Maci’s birth measurements and Daddy held his baby girl for the first time. We were left, as a new family of four, to rest and just be together. Eight-ish hours after birth we were on or way home.
“Whenever and however you intend to give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body and your spirit for the rest of your life.” - Ina May Gaskin
For me, these words are so true. After the birth of each of my girls I came home a different woman. I’ve learned so much about myself through these experiences. I am beyond grateful for The Midwife Center staff for creating a space where such beautiful birthing experiences are possible.
More photos below.