Happy Mother's Day!!
Our son, Beckett Mac Strout was born on Thursday, May 7th at 7:05pm. He weighed 8lbs 11oz and measured 21.5" long. This is his birth story.
My parents and two sisters had arrived on May 1st, visiting from Canada, to be here for the birth. My sisters had actually been a total surprise and I was thrilled! We spent our days walking, eating, laughing and of course, waiting for me to go into labour. As the days went by, I started to feel frustrated that it hadn't happened yet. I thought, I've treated my body so well this entire pregnancy why isn't it responding properly? I woke up Thursday morning with a lot of emotions. I was 42 weeks pregnant and unless I was in active labour by midnight, I'd have to give birth at a hospital instead of the birth center like we'd planned. It's a California law. My hospital options included either choosing to be induced the following day or opting out of medical care until I went into labour and then checking myself into a hospital. Neither option appealed to me! I knew things wouldn't necessarily go according to my birth plan but I hadn't really prepared myself for the thought that I would have to make this particular choice. I wanted a natural birth in the calm setting of the birth centre with familiar faces like my midwife's, husband's and mom's. I wanted the dark room, essential oils and birthing tub. So safe to say I shed a lot of tears Thursday morning!
My husband and I decided I'd be induced at the hospital on Friday the 8th but first I was going to do all that I could to continue encouraging our baby to arrive earlier. At 10am on Thursday I put my breast pump to use (with my midwife's approval) knowing that nipple stimulation produces oxytocin (like the Pitocin they use for inductions but much better) and could increase my contractions. I'd been experiencing some contractions the past few days but they were always mild and never seemed to build. So I spent an hour or so doing that. Then my husband and I decided to make a quick trip to Target. I was definitely feeling more contractions and my hope was rising but part of me still thought they could still end up tapering off. I'm optimistic by nature but I try to be realistic with myself too! I wanted to be accepting of whatever path I was to take.
Around 1pm we drove to meet with the doctor who would deliver the baby in the case that I didn't go into active labour that night. That's kind of funny to me now, knowing that I actually was in early labour already and things were about to progress! My contractions grew stronger as my husband and I sat in the waiting room and by the time I met with the doctor, I pretty much knew I didn't need to be seeing her! That was confirmed when she checked me and let me know that I was 6cm!! I was elated! She asked if I wanted to go to the hospital right then to which I replied "nope, I'm having this baby at the birth center!" On our drive home (thankfully only 10min) my husband started timing my contractions which were about 5min apart. He called our midwife, who was quite surprised things had progressed so quickly, and she let us know she'd head out soon.
I laboured at home from about 2:30 - 4:00pm. My family members were busy cleaning my apartment (which was such a great gift!) while I sat on my exercise ball, watching The Daily Show and eating cereal. As my contractions picked up I moved to my bed where my husband held me, rubbed my stomach and let me know how excited he was. My contractions were now 3-4min apart. I had to really focus during them and fight that urge to tense up my body but inbetween I was still pretty chatty!
Around 4pm my husband, mom and I piled into our vehicle and headed to the birth center (again, only a 10min drive thankfully). Our midwife wasn't there yet but another was along with an assistant. I kneeled on the ground with my forehead on the bed during contractions as they filled up the birthing tub. Water was sounding wonderful as my lower back was hurting quite a bit. Sure enough, as soon as I climbed into the tub I felt my body relieve some tension. I felt lighter and comforted. I leaned to the side, arms draped over the sides of the tub. My husband was there every step of the way, touching me, encouraging me and talking me through my contractions. He was a huge help with guiding me through my breaths! As long as I controlled my breathing, I felt on top of the situation. Inbetween contractions, although still in pain, I felt such bliss. I even said out loud at one point "I'm excited" because I knew I was getting closer to meeting our baby! My midwife had arrived at 5pm and while she was always busy doing something, she was more in the background allowing my husband to coach me. Of course I knew she was there when I needed her and she offered words of encouragement, suggestions and reminders which was helpful. My moms words of encouragement meant a lot to me and filled me with so much love and reassurance. I'm beyond glad she was able to be there. I felt so supported and cared for in that room. There was no rush, no pressure, just reassurance and gentle guidance.
At some point, maybe around 5.30pm (I do remember asking for the time because I still felt I was progressing quickly), I moved into a new position, like a kneeling squat still in the tub. My body had begun to push and for the rest of my labour I really focused on working with my body, taking deep breaths and reminding myself that I could do this. I wasn't on any drugs and yet I could feel the natural oxytocin and adrenaline coursing through me. Of course I was in pain but I knew it was just part of the journey and that it wouldn't last forever. I was surprised to still feel like I had time to relax between contractions. I'm sure those moments were very short but they felt so amazing! I felt my water break, since it hadn't yet, and soon after I could reach down and feel my baby's head! Of course he'd come down as I pushed during contractions and the go back up after but I knew I was progressing and I knew the process (thanks birthing classes). Crowning did burn some but this was the home stretch! I grew very determined! As soon as I felt that his head was out, I dug deep and pushed his body out as well. That was by far the most intense moment of my life! It was amazing! I had done it. I felt surprised that it was over. I reached down and lifted our baby boy up towards my chest but quickly realized his cord was too short. That's when my midwife saw the cord around his neck and I had to stand up so we could untangle him. That sounds intense and scary but in the moment I had complete faith in my midwife and never doubted that he'd be okay. I was very calm. Then again, I was calm during the entire experience. My midwife can't stop talking about how amazing I was. Haha Anyway, I sat back down in the water and held Beckett to my chest as he cried and took in his new surroundings. I continued to hold him while I birthed the placenta ( cakewalk after a baby haha). Later my husband took off his shirt and sat in a chair holding Beckett skin to skin. He later told me he cried during that moment. I, shockingly, did not cry haha I felt a bit out of this world!
My dad and sisters, who had been in the waiting room (only had to wait 90min!) came in to meet the first grand baby! Beckett met his grandparents and aunts while my husband and I laid in the bed and soaked it all in. We left just before 1am to bring our new family member home at last.
I'm still in awe at the whole birth experience. It really was what I'd hoped for and because I almost didn't get to have that, I am all the more grateful for it. I'm so glad we chose Babies in Bloom birth centre, our midwife, that we took natural birth classes, that I practiced some hypnobirthing... Really everything I did in those 10 months brought me to this point and created the overall experience so I'm grateful for it all.