Birth Stories

Cindy's Story

I had an all natural VBA2C last year on May 11th. I am not sure why I have not posted my story here before now, but I realized the other day I had to post. I was having a casual conversation with a med student who said she had just help w/ a C-section that morning, When I proudly told her I had a VBA2C she scoffed at me and asked who would allow me to do that. I proudly told her the Greenville midwifes. I love everyone of the midwives and will continue to advocate for their work they are a blessing to all of us. At 41weeks I had my non-stress test at the midwife's office and it was reactive enough but I was not dilated and about 70% effaced. After talking to my midwife and my Doula I knew I did not want to go up to the hospital to have an OB who had never met me decide if I could have an induction or they could just send me for a rcs. I refused to go to the hospital at that time to try to induce at home. The midwife gave me instructions on some natural home induction methods. I woke up the next morning very motivated. I prayed then started the induction process at about 7 am. I started to feel like something was changing about 11 but I knew it was not true labor, I called my Doula she told me to eat lunch and continue the circuit and call her back. I had a small sandwich and got back to work. At 12:30 I was having full on contractions and was getting excited. I called my husband to come home. By 1:30 I was no longer excited because my contractions where coming fast and hard, much more so then my first labor. My husband called my Aunt and she was there at 2:30 she timed a few contractions and then called the doula. We had a 30 minute drive to the hospital. My doula called the midwife and they had me go to the office to be checked since I had only been in labor 2 hours. We got to the office about 3:15, the midwife was waiting for my and checked me I was so relieved when she said I was 7 cm dilated. They sent me to the hospital, my Doula was waiting with a wheelchair and rushed me to the birthing suite. The midwife was filling the tub the nurse started a hep lock and put the monitor on all while I was contracting. My doula started giving counter pressure to my sacrum and that was awesome!!! I could handle contractions so much better once I had that counter pressure. I was able to get in the tub and relax much better between contraction and they kept that counter pressure on my sacrum with each contraction. It was not long before the midwife asked if I was feeling like I needed to push and I said yes. So after three pushes they said I was moving her down great and it would not be long until late I would meet my baby girl. A few more pushes my water broke and they said baby was right there after 1 more push they saw my sweet girl was face first. So the midwife said we had to get out of the tub and the nurse stared calling for OB and nic-u the midwife and the doula helped me to the bed and then 2 more pushes and she was here at 5:58. Holding her in my arms was so amazing, I was so in love with her. She nursed quickly and was just so perfect in every way. I would recommend all natural over a repeat section to anyone it was so much better and the recovery has been so easy compared to recovering from a section.


J's Story

Monday morning was like any other morning. My husband was off work so we decided to clean and go through our attic to get rid of anything we did not use. Around 9am, I noticed I was starting to lose my mucous plug when I used the bathroom. I mentioned it to my husband and texted my doula. I was only 38 weeks so I tried not to get excited. Over the next few hours, I had some diarrhea which was a surprise since I had been constipated most of the pregnancy.

I went on with my day cleaning, moving my daughter's carseat to the side of the car, watering plants, etc. I was having more Braxton Hicks but did not think much of it since I had them since I was about 20 weeks pregnant. I continued losing parts of my mucus plug to the day. About 4pm, I realized that the "Braxton Hicks" were every 15 minutes. At 5pm, they started feeling more like menstrual cramps. At 6pm, they were 10 minutes apart and getting a little stronger. Finally, I told my husband that I was pretty sure I was in labor. I called my mom to come pick up my 16 month old daughter and called my doula. She suggested I call the midwives.

Christine answered and asked me the usual questions and then told me to call back when my contractions were 5 minutes apart for an hour. I gave my daughter a bath and then my parents picked her up about 8pm. I decided to take a bath because the contractions felt like moderate to strong menstrual cramps. The bath did not help like I thought it would so I got out and sat on the fitness ball and watched Monday night football with my husband. However, I was listening to a hypnobabies track through my earphones. I was still able to hold a conversation with my husband.

About 9:45pm, my contractions were 5 minutes apart for an hour I called the midwife. Christine said she was at hospital with someone else and that she would have to call Kim in to meet me at the birthing center. At 10:30pm, we all showed up in the parking lot at the same time. My contractions were 3 minutes apart. Kim took me upstairs to check me. I was 7 centimeters. I was still listening to the same hypnobabies track. My Doula met us in the room. I was still able to talk through the contractions. Kim actually asked me when the last contraction I had and I told her that it was a minute earlier.

We went down to the birthing center and the nurse was drawing up a bath for me. I had no intentions of getting in the tub but I was starting to have pain in my lower back and rectum. The doula told me that I would probably feel better if I got in the tub. I got in around 11:15pm. I leaned back in the tub and got comfortable. However, my contractions stopped. So I got out of the tub and used the bathroom. I decided to get back in. The contractions came back with a vengeance. I leaned forward and all I remember is Kim and the nurse using the Doppler to check the baby's heart rate and me asking the doula to do counter pressure on my back. I started pushing and Jude was born at 11:58 pm. I am so glad I had a waterbirth! The Midwives and my birth experience were wonderful! Quite different from my previous hospital birth. They all are awesome and I will go back to the birthing center should I have another child.

Baby D's Birth Story

On Christmas Day 2009 my husband, Jordan, and I welcomed our first son, Jonah. We lived in a different part of the state so I used a traditional OBGYN, but when I found out I was pregnant with my second son, Russell, I heard about a new service that Greenville Hospital System was offering--Greenville Midwifery Care. I made an appointment and absolutely fell in love with the small group of women that were working so hard to offer families a birthing alternative that we desperately wanted. I was one of their first patients, and Susan delivered Russell in May of 2012 at the hospital. It was such a calm, wonderful experience and I loved every second of it.

Jordan and I swore we were done having kids, but last summer I had a mishap with my birth control. Combine that with a 30th birthday trip for Jordan...let’s just say what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay there! Although the pregnancy was unplanned I was eager to work with the midwives in their new facility this time around, and I was really excited about the possibility of an unmedicated delivery in the Birth Center.

My pregnancy was uneventful and blissfully boring, with the exception of typical morning sickness and nightly heartburn. I was dilated about three centimeters by 37 weeks and was carrying the baby super low, so the last weeks were mental torture. Were these real contractions or Braxton Hicks? Were they getting stronger? Am I ever going to have this baby?? A little over 39 weeks I was absolutely done with being pregnant so I started my maternity leave a few days early and cleaned my house from top to bottom numerous times in a spurt of nesting energy and trying to fight off the dread of being pregnant forever.

I woke up on my due date, April 16th, and felt no signs of labor. My husband and I went ahead with the neighborhood yard sale, but around noon I started feeling contractions that I thought might be a little different than the typical Braxton Hicks I’d been feeling for weeks so I decided to go for a walk. They definitely were lower in my belly and more painful than before and I started getting hopeful. Desperately hoping, I called the midwife and Sharon said to just come on in and let her check me.

I went in around 5:30 and was still only three centimeters and definitely not in active labor. I asked her to strip my membranes to see if that would kickstart anything, so she did and sent me home with instructions to take a Benadryl and get some sleep. We went straight home and I followed her advice--I told my boys good night I climbed in bed around 8:15.

I sat straight up in the bed at 9:15 to a contraction that was so strong I could feel it in my toes. I yelled for Jordan and we started timing the contractions while I paced around the room making sure my bags were packed. At first I told him we were going to wait about an hour before we called the midwives, but by 9:45 my contractions were consistently two minutes apart and lasting about a minute. My parents got to my house to watch the boys around 10, and we walked out the door to head to the birth center around 10:10. I couldn’t walk or talk through the contractions and was starting to feel pressure and honestly was worried about the car ride--I’ve seen those pictures of women who give birth in the car and I did NOT want to be one of those women!

The car ride was the worst. Just the worst. Contractions make you want to move and sway and being buckled into the seat was horrible. Sharon was with another laboring mom at the hospital, so Samantha met us at the birth center. She checked me and I was only four centimeters so she recommended I go back home for an hour--this was an idea I was not. happy. about. At this point my sister had gotten to the birth center as well, so she went with Jordan and I across the street to the hospital to walk in the atrium for an hour (apologies to the security guards who weren’t real sure about our story but then saw the fear of God in my eyes and let us through). I didn’t imagine that I wouldn’t be admitted to the birth center so I was wearing my most comfortable but rattiest pair of sweatpants, a huge t-shirt and sweatshirt that were my husband’s, and had bedhead and a swollen face. Needless to say, I’m real glad it was late at night and no one was really there to see me in all my crazy!

An hour dragged by, and my contractions were about a minute apart before we headed back to the birth center. We were about fifty feet from the car when I felt a gush and screamed that my water had broken. They scurried me to our van, where I was on all fours in the back screaming that I felt like I needed to push, which my husband later told me was the scariest thing he ever heard.

We were running back in the door of the birth center within three minutes and I was screaming for Samantha, who confirmed that I was six centimeters but it wasn’t my water that had broken, it was bloody show. So downstairs to the suite we went, where I immediately stripped and got in the tub around 12:10 a.m. (Sidenote--lots of people have asked about the tub and why I wanted to get in there and why it felt so good. I can’t answer all of those questions very well other than to say that it was amazing and that building could have been burning down around me and I would not have gotten out of that tub.) Kim was there by this point to help out Samantha, and they both were just amazing. While Samantha was getting the tub ready I was laboring beside the bed and things were INTENSE. I remember leaning against Jordan and Kim came and just placed her hands on my back and it was just so soothing. I remember feeling a sense of calm and I knew I was in very capable hands.

Jordan sat on a stool in front of me where I could hold his hands and grab his arms during contractions (he later admitted the possibility of my nails puncturing him was real), and I was actually able to sleep/pass-out a little between the contractions once I was in the tub. Things were moving really quickly though, and after about twenty minutes I felt like I needed to push and my water broke almost immediately after that. I don’t remember a lot after that, honestly, but at 12:41 in the morning my third boy, Davis, was born and I pulled him into my arms. It was the most powerful and amazing experience of my life.

The recovery process in the birth center was so great--Kim stayed with us the rest of the night and held the baby while Jordan and I got some much needed rest. She was so gentle and attentive to me and Davis, and we were able to go home around 7:00 that morning.

When you walk into the office at Greenville Midwifery Care there is a sign that says “There is a secret in our society--it’s not that birth is painful, it’s that women are strong.” I love this sign so much. Without the incredible women in this practice I never would have believed I could have had an unmedicated waterbirth, but they empowered me to have the birth that I said I wanted for years. I’m still in awe of how my body just took over and did exactly what it was designed to do and what the midwives had told me it would do. I’m forever grateful to all of the midwives and nurses that took care of me throughout the pregnancy and through my cussing hysterics in labor and even after. They are a precious group of ladies, and I know that they are going to continue to grow and help hundreds of other women achieve the birth that they’ve always wanted.

Baby Mac

When my husband left for work on a Thursday morning at 7:00AM, I saw him out the door only after telling him that I had lost my mucus plug in the toilet just minutes before. We had taken our birthing classes and based on all my reading, we knew that losing the plug was one of the first indications that something was going to start happening so we were both very excited. On August 13th, 2015 I was 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant and that morning I just “knew” I was going to have my baby very, very soon. But on that morning and on that day, when I “knew”, I had no contractions at all, but had an overwhelming sense of calmness, peace and contentment, which pretty much lasted throughout the day.

I had no contractions. Part of me was still being realistic in knowing that I could go well after my due date. But that night I was in a ridiculously great mood, and thinking back, I know now 100% that I was absolutely in a full-on giddy oxytocin-induced state. I remember feeling exhausted but still elated, and so excited to hop in to bed with my husband…I actually think I may have started to get frisky, but then came to my senses since it was so late and he had work the next day. Off the lights went and we went to sleep….

Not even 45 minutes passed and I was barely awake when suddenly I felt something comparable to a bubble popping gently but very suddenly in my vaginal area and I let out a very loud and long gasp. John responded right away, “What’s wrong?” to which I replied, “My water is in the process breaking…. right now!” and I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and felt like I was a burst pipe, water just kept flowing out of me continuously for what seemed like forever (and that didn’t stop until he was born!). I was extremely excited but my entire body was shaking uncontrollably and I was freezing. I was very much in shock that my water broke, since I had learned in our class and was completely expecting that I would most likely feel contractions beforehand but that just goes to show how different every woman’s labor is! John stood in front of me, his eyes wide but smiling asking me, “What do we do now?!” to which I replied, “I have no idea! I thought I would feel contractions before my water broke! But I haven’t had any!” At that point, I had no idea what a contraction felt like at all. We decided that since my water broke, we should call the midwife just to let her know that I was starting my labor. After we spoke to Sam, who gave us the 5-1-1 rundown, John asked me what I wanted to do. My very first instinct was to take a shower to warm up my body and help me to relax and then get back to bed ASAP because I needed to rest! I figured this would be the optimal time to get sleep since I wasn’t feeling any contractions. So I took a nice hot shower then jumped back in to bed.

Even without contractions starting for at least another 45 minutes to an hour, I started my deep, relaxation breathing so I could get in to a rhythm immediately. I was very nervous and my body was still shaking, probably from nerves and the hormones and chemicals running rampant through my system. I was very focused on staying very relaxed. I managed to rest, and sleep for a short period. My contractions started to come on significantly around 1:30AM, and by 3:00AM, I was very uncomfortable and vocal. John called and spoke to Sam, who heard my in the background and said for me to come in to the office. At that point, I wasn’t sure where I was at in my labor. My contractions were in the timespan of 4-9 minutes apart and lasting a minute each time and I was very uncomfortable. It felt like I had to go to the bathroom and go for a big poop the entire time. Walking and moving was uncomfortable and so was lying down and sitting too for that matter, unless I was on the toilet. I spent a good amount of time laboring on the toilet, somehow hoping that if I went to the bathroom, some of the pressure would be alleviated but that never happened. I was happy to go to the office at 3:30AM and when Bethany and Susan checked me, I was only at 2cm. I was actually happy to know how dilated I was at that point so I could refocus myself and manage my expectations of how much more uncomfortable I might feel in the coming hours and how intense the contractions would become. I was happy to go back home and be in my familiar and comfortable surroundings to continue labor. I told my husband to get some sleep because I felt like I could manage the pain on my own at the moment, and I would really need him when everything got more intense.

From 5:30AM – 8:30AM, the contractions really hit hard. I realized in that period of time that I was now truly experiencing the pain of labor, and that having my baby without any pain medication meant I had to manage this pain with 200% of my efforts. I remember waking my husband up and telling him that I couldn’t handle this pain and that I needed to have the baby in the hospital so I could get an epidural. He was very supportive of my wishes but I know that he wanted to support me in our initial desire to have our baby without interventions. I ate fruit and took a bath at home which helped me to relax, and John massaged me with some counter-pressure on my lower back while on our yoga ball, but by 8:00AM, John and my mom were insistent on me going back to the birthing center. I was very vocal at that point, and I just couldn’t walk, the pressure on my rectum was just too much. We all got back in the car and made it to the office by 9:00AM, where I was greeted by all the amazing staff at GMC. They all seemed so happy to see me and even though I felt like a mess I remember feeling the flow of love as I made my way down the halls. Kim was on call and was on her way. In the meantime, in the examining room, I was absolutely terrified and in so much more pain that I had anticipated. It was incredibly humbling to feel like my body was erupting in category 10 earthquakes.

And this is where all the GMC Magic happened.

First Nildi came in and from what I remember, didn’t even say a word but she just smiled and held me very lovingly, tightly and firm in her arms through at least three contractions. I had no idea the power of how a warm and womanly touch would be until that moment! It was like she was giving me some of her energy and bearing through some of the pain with me. Kristine came in and I was so happy to see her and she was equally supportive, calm and soothing through more contractions. She talked to my mom and I think she helped her calm down as well. When Kim arrived, she figured out very quickly what was the most helpful method to help me through my contractions was and that was that I absolutely needed eye contact throughout the entire contraction while I was deep breathing. This truly goes to show the experience and intuition Kim has as a midwife. She saw me through so many contractions holding me and just locking eyes and I could feel myself re-focus in on the task at hand and bear through the pain for awhile longer. I felt so supported in her care! I was now in active labor at 7cm, ready either to check in to the hospital or the birthing center, it was my choice. I was very fearful, and incredibly vulnerable so when I asked Kim very earnestly if she thought I could “do” this in the birthing center, she responded, “I absolutely 100% know you can do this”

In our room and for the next 4-4.5 hours, I tried and was willing to do anything. I labored in the shower on the birthing ball while my husband provided counter pressure on my back. My contractions started to really shoot into my lower back and that was incredibly painful. I tried walking around and really wanted to enjoy the outdoor area but being upright on my feet was really too painful with all the pressure on my rectum, so I never made it out to the garden. I wanted to try for a water birth and the bath was probably one of the best methods of pain relief but apparently it was too effective since I got too relaxed which slowed my contractions down. I tried the sling from the ceiling paired with the birthing ball and that was looking hopeful but it was lying halfway up on the bed leaning back on my husband that was the winning position. After 13 hours of labor, at 1:52PM on Friday August 14, 2015, we welcomed our first baby, a sweet and precious boy. I had the absolute privilege of having three midwives and three nurses from GMC be there to usher in my baby boy into this world. The experience was life changing and gave me so much more confidence than I ever thought I could have. Kim encouraged me every step of the way and being in her care was more amazing than I could have ever hoped for. The postpartum period at the birth center was relaxing, calm and I was able to enjoy skin to skin contact, practice nursing and just love on our little miracle in peace. Thank you to Kim, Susan, Kristine, Nildi, Dana and Katrice! You all made this experience an absolutely perfect. 8 months postpartum, I can honestly say that I loved labor and giving birth, and a lot of it has to do with the care I received at GMC.

Sarah's Birth Story

My story starts at my 32 week prenatal appointment, when we found out our baby girl was breech. I was disappointed, as I wanted another natural birth. The midwives encouraged me to try several stretches and exercises to get baby to move. At 36 weeks she was still presenting breech, so we decided to try for an external cephalic version. Through a series of events, we ended up not going through with the ecv. I was secretly relieved, although now I was facing the fear of the unknown c-section.

39 weeks - We were excited and ready meet our little girl. I went in for my pre-op appointment, and ultrasound confirmed that baby girl had flipped head down! We were surprised and amazed. Now to wait! 40w3d - up until this point, I didn't have any signs of impending labor and was beginning to think she would stay in forever. I took my daughter to church that Wednesday night, but ended up leaving early because I thought my water was leaking. I actually had just lost my mucous plug. Either way, I knew something was happening. We packed up my daughter and sent her to her grandparents for the night. I experienced some cramping and mild contractions through the night, but nothing painful. I'm so thankful I was able to get a full nights sleep, because, when I woke at 5:00am, I knew this was it!

Through super close and painful contractions, I got ready and finished packing our hospital bag. Then, my husband and I ate breakfast and watched tv as we labored at home for another hour. At 7:00, I called the midwife and she encouraged me to come in whenever we were ready. 8:30 - We arrived at the hospital. I prayed the whole time I would at least be dilated to a 5. I DID NOT want to be that girl who went in too early because she could not handle the pain. The nurse checked me, and I was!

9:00 - We were moved to the birthing suite. From the moment I walked in, I felt comfortable and more relaxed. The room was dark, and Barb was encouraging and supportive as she helped me work through contractions. 9:45 - I knew that I wanted to try laboring in the tub, but as soon as I got in, I also knew I wasn't going to get out! The water was so relaxing! My contractions never got closer together like I was expecting them to. But they were increasingly more painful with each one. Looking back, I'm grateful for the break in between to gear up for the next one!

11:15 - Eliza Reagan was born! Only a 6 hour labor! I cannot say enough good things about my labor experience. My husband agrees. We felt relaxed. We felt comfortable. We felt in control. After a difficult labor experience with our first, we are so thankful for how perfectly this birth went.

Erin's Story

I woke up around 6 a.m. on Sunday morning feeling some contractions. They weren’t crazy bad, but definitely something. Honestly, I was pretty convinced they were nothing-I’d been having on and off contractions for the past 5 or 6 days and they always ended up being nothing. I didn’t even wake Tom up. I just tried to go back to sleep. After about an hour of inconsistent contractions-they were from 7 to 10 minutes apart-definitely nothing to worry about, I finally woke Tom up. I told him I didn’t think it was anything, but I felt like I should tell him. I told him I wanted to try and make it to church. I got up and started walking around the house. I decided to go ahead and get in the shower-I figured if this wasn’t labor, a shower would probably make them go away, if they were, it would at least help. I didn’t really notice a difference, so I got on out.

At this point, I realized we were not going to make the early service at church-I let Tom know-I still wanted to try and get to the later service. I was in some serious denial! I had baked some cupcakes the night before, and decided now would be a perfect time to ice them-laying down hurt and I was getting bored just walking around. Once I finished that, the contractions had definitely gotten worse, which was exciting! I tried to remember what I’d read in all of the books-breath, don’t get out of control, use your low register to “sing” through them (which was a wonderful sound-there should probably be a recording sold from it. Just saying). Tom made me a pb and honey sandwich-I read how important it was to eat during early labor! About half way through my sandwich I got to the point where I figured I should call and get some direction from the midwife. I knew she would say stay home and relax, but I just needed some reassurance. It was about 10 a.m. at this point, so I’d had contractions for the past 3-4 hours. I keep thinking back and trying to figure out how I stayed so calm-I know it was Jesus-at the time though, it just seemed so easy and calm. I kept reminding myself that it was going to be a long labor-this was just the beginning-I couldn’t be out of control yet! I was sure I had LOTS of hours ahead of me!!

I found the midwife office number, and gave them a call. When you call in off hours, you're sent to a call center, and the person on the line connects you to the midwife on call. Well, the Sunday phone “answerer” on call is all about some conversation. I called and asked her to put me through, and she proceeded to try and have a conversation with me about Colin and how he’s a boy and how its my first child and lots of other things. I tried really really hard to be nice. Tried being the operative word. I know she was being helpful-trying to keep me from feeling nervous, and truly it was so nice-I was just so focused on not having a contraction, because for some reason that would be embarrassing, that I just couldn’t see it that way at the time! When she got through, I explained what was going on to the midwife on call, Joanne. About half way through, I started having another contraction. I felt embarrassed for some reason, so I gave the phone to Tom. Joanne really wasn’t interested in talking to him, but he at least held the phone while I breathed through the contraction. When it was over, I got back on the phone and continued talking with her. I told her my contractions were about 5 minutes apart, and that at my appointment the Thursday before, I had already measured 3cm. I also told her that I wasn’t to the point where I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. She told me to try taking a bath and eat, and basically keep her posted-exactly what I expected her to say.

We continued to hang out-I walked around our house, breathing through contractions and just dealing. At some point we stopped timing the contractions- they were not consistent, and I was a little grumpy and got tired of dealing with it. So, I honestly have no clue when the timing picked up, but at about 12, I started feeling a lot more pressure along with the pain, and it really freaked me out. All of a sudden, I really didn’t want to have this kid at home!! So I told Tom I thought it was time to go, and called Joanne back. She asked if I had tried a bath and I said no-our tub was too small and sitting down hurt too much. I told her I was still not really feeling “out of control”, but I was worried, because of the pressure I was feeling, that I would get to “I need to push” soon, and I didn’t want to be at home when that happened. She said that she didn’t think I should be stressing, but the tubs at the hospital were much bigger, so I may be more comfortable there. So off we went.

The ride to the hospital wasn’t bad-Sunday afternoon traffic in Greenville isn’t bad! We decided not to let anyone know what was happening until we were officially admitted to the hospital. We really thought this was the very beginning of a long process (Tom was definitely not going to be able to watch the Packers game that day!!) We passed another car on the way with its flashers on-it ended up being another woman in labor! We didn’t meet them, but they came in right after us. We got to the hospital and got parked. We decided to leave our bags-thinking Tom would be able to come back down if we got admitted (again, serious denial). As we were walking into the building, I had another contraction (and was embarrassed for some reason?). We headed in and to the elevators. When we made it up to the baby floor, and I had another contraction in the hallway, Tom went ahead of me and signed us in. By this point I was struggling through the contractions, and not quietly. Once it was over, I walked down to the triage sign in desk-the nurse said “Oh, you’re the one we heard!”, again I was a little embarrassed! They got us into a triage room. This was not fun-sitting in a bed waiting for the monitor to check that I was actually having contractions and that Colin was doing okay. Joanne then came in to check my cervix. I was so worried I was going to be just a little dilated and she was going to have to send me home. Well she checked, and I was already at 7cm!! Everything checked out and I rode in a wheel chair to the delivery room. At first they put us into a room that couldn’t accommodate a tub. We got in and continued labor for a bit while a new room was being cleaned-I felt so bad having them clean 2 rooms, but I really wanted a water birth. I was so thankful that the nurses were so willing to go to the extra trouble to do that for me! They were all so so awesome! I labored for a while and started feeling even more pressure-I was a little worried it was time to push. I told the nurse that was monitoring me, and she tried to check my cervix-my water broke all over her! By then, the new room was ready.

I walked down to it (it was about 5 doors down), and got right into the tub. I was a bit worried sitting down in the tub would be as painful as sitting in general, but man was I wrong. It was wonderful!! I labored in the tub for about an hour, and finally was ready to push. Pushing with no pain meds was the worst part of my labor. At this point there was lots of screaming and tears. And lots of self-doubt. Through the whole thing, though, Tom and Joanne and my nurse really encouraged me and kept me calm. I kept thinking “I want some meds” but it was a little late for that…After an hour of pushing, lots of crying, and Tom’s almost broken hand, we had our perfect 9lb 12 oz baby boy!! He was born at 3:15pm, in time to watch his first Packers game with Dad!!

Cassie's Birth Story

The birth of our baby boy was a long process thanks to prodromal labor. I had heard of this thanks to the birthing sessions with our doula, Caryn, but I was hoping we wouldn't have this happen. I don't know why, but I thought things would happen quickly so I didn't really prepare for days of labor. Even if it isn't active labor, it is still labor in my book. Contractions happen, you can't sleep and you are hoping that things will progress into active labor - that is still labor. So, here's the story of how Solomon was born.... even all the little details of our prodromal labor.

Friday,September 11, 2015 I woke up at 1:30AM with strong cramping and needed to use the restroom. I then realized I was sweating like crazy and I changed into a tank top and underwear. I got back in bed and tried to start timing any kind of pain. I was really confused by when pain was starting and stopping so I tried my best to sleep. I couldn't get comfortable and decided to try and rest on the couch downstairs at 2:30AM. I turned on my worship music playlist and tried to sleep, thankfully I slept till 5AM. I did have several wake ups with sharp cramps and I was soaking wet in sweat, like sweat dripping down my chest. I decided to call Caryn, around 6AM and she told me that it was definitely beginning of labor signs and that my body was preparing. She also said to not get upset if things slow down when the sun comes up because that is very common, and if that happens things will most likely kick into high gear at night. Ironically, I have been saying since day one that the due date should be 9/12 since my first ultrasound at 7 weeks said that was the measured due date but they didn't change it because my last period due date was 9/7 and the difference was less than a week. So by this point, I was 4 days past my due date.

I went up stairs and woke Peter around 6:30AM and told him the news. I was glad he got a good nights sleep, he got ready for work since nothing was really happening and he works across the street from our neighborhood anyway. Super thankful to have him so close! The rest of the day was relaxed. I ran some errands with my mom and did some cleaning and organizing around the house. My sister in law came to town to meet Solomon so she came over to hang out with us before dinner. Peter and I decided to do a takeout dinner at home, just the two of us so I could relax and have a quiet night.

Around 8PM things started getting a little uncomfortable and I felt like things were ramping up again. After trying to lay on the couch for a little while I decided to take a hot shower and wash my hair so I could feel prepared for bed. After drying my hair I crawled in bed around 10PM and turned on my worship music to sleep and I put some lavender oil on my pillow. I could feel the pressure building and my pelvic bone was super sensitive. I told Peter I felt like all my lady parts were splitting open and he reminded me that was a good sign. I kissed him and told him I loved him!

Saturday, September 12, 2015 I woke up almost every hour all night with cramping and had to use the bathroom frequently. I was hoping I would lose my plug at some point but no luck. I know not every one loses it, but I was really hoping I would since that is usually a sign that things are turning toward active labor. Finally, at 5AM I decided to wake up and go downstairs. I had the feeling that I needed to stand up and I was well rested. I got some ice water and a fig bar and stood at the kitchen island swaying back and forth while I tried to eat. I instantly felt nauseous after the first bite but the water helped. It was also weird that when I finally woke up I realized my hair was clean and washed and I had totally forgotten about my shower the night before. It felt like everything from yesterday happened a week ago. Shortly after I got up I had a strong contraction and decided to start timing them on the next one to see if there was a pattern. I was trying not to get too excited and slow things down, so I went to go sit on my ball and roll back and forth. I sat in the living room rocking on my ball and praying out loud. It was calming to hear my voice and know that baby boy could hear it also. I told him I was excited to meet him and for him to come soon. I thanked God for this healthy pregnancy and asked for His strength and protection during the hours ahead. I was ready! Now just waiting for things to start happening faster.

As I started to time the contractions I turned on my worship music playlist that I had put together and while I was in my third contraction the song Oceans by Hillsong United came on and the words hit me so hard. I had already thought of the contractions as an ocean of waves that I would need to swim through and breathe deeply until the wave crashed over me and the contraction was finished. Then the words "You've never failed, and You won't start now" came right after the contraction was finished and I sang the words out loud. I knew it was true and I knew that God would give me the strength to endure each wave ahead and I would end up with my baby boy on my chest! After about an hour of timing the contractions I realized they were normally around 5-6 min apart and they were lasting around 45 seconds to 1 minute. I called Caryn and told her the news. She sweetly deflated my tires a little bit and said that I was way too vocal for my body to be in full on labor at this point which is totally normal for first time moms (prodromal labor). She also told me to just ignore it and relax, eat some food and try and go back to sleep, stop timing everything and I would know when things were happening and my body was on board. I was a little bummed but I knew that she was right and I was thankful that I had 100% trust in her. After trying to sleep in bed for a little while and snuggle with Peter we decided to get up and go down stairs for some coffee and French toast. Peter makes French toast most weekends but it was seriously the best I've ever had that morning. I had several contractions while sitting at the kitchen table and I had to put my fork down and stop talking so I could breath through the pressure. They were lasting about a minute still and the strength of each one was going back and forth, some strong and some just annoying and uncomfortable.We relaxed and talked to some family till around 10AM and I wanted to take a walk.

The weather was amazing and cool, like a true fall morning. I thought it was perfect to welcome our boy. The walk was good and I felt like it helped a lot but the contractions were still off and on but they seemed longer. I thought this might be a good point to lay down and try and nap for some extra energy in case things start progressing. I slept for about an hour and a half and Peter said I didn't seem restless at all. Around 11:30AM I woke up with a really strong and long contraction. I did feel rested which was nice but the contractions weren't building so I decided to take it easy and rest on the couch. After a little while we went to eat lunch at Peter's mom's house since his sister was still in town. It was the same as breakfast, swaying back and forth constantly and eating between contractions. They were very sporadic and I knew since I still wanted food and was talking easily they weren't anything to get excited about yet. We left lunch around 2:45PM and went to Earthfare to do some grocery shopping before baby. I was having a lot of contractions while I pushed the cart around the store, stopping and swaying and breathing through each of them while in the store. After our shopping trip I came home and decided a nap would be good. I felt tired and I was hoping things would progress as the night became closer so I knew I needed rest. All my lady parts were feeling really sore again like the night before, almost like I could feel things spreading and opening. Not sure if that is what dilation feels like but I was hoping for the best.

I woke up from the nap around 6PM and felt hungry but rested, even if it was only an hour of sleep. The contractions seemed longer and deeper but they didn't seem closer together yet. Peter also took a nap on the couch so I was glad he got some rest also. He made me a toasted sandwich and I ate that with some tortilla chips and decided to take a walk and see if I could get things rolling around 6:30PM. Contractions quickly got uncomfortable and I was feeling a lot of pressure, that continued for several hours and after realizing any time I sat still they would slow down to 7 or more minutes between contractions so we called Caryn to ask what to do. She told Peter that I need to rest and try and sleep even if that means contractions will slow down and she would bet I'd wake up in an hour or two with active labor. My body just wasn't ready for the real thing yet. We propped some pillows up on the couch behind my head and under my knees so I could try and sleep in a sitting position to take some pressure off my hips, I also ate an apple with peanut butter. It was around 10PM at that time.

Sunday - September 13, 2015 around 1:30AM we called Caryn to come over. I felt confused and unsure of what was going on and I thought I'd feel better just having her around to tell me what I needed to do. She arrived and told me that I was definitely not in active labor but that she'd stay and see how things were going for a while. Since this was my first time with this experience I just felt more comfortable having her there to tell me what I should do. We also called the midwives to give whoever was on call a heads up that we might be there sometime in the near future. During the next several hours I felt the contractions going from simple contractions to active contractions that actually pushed the baby down, I was thankful once I could tell the difference so I knew what to look for. Around 4AM Caryn decided to head home and told me to give her a call if things start progressing. I went to bed and tried to get some sleep since things always slowed down if I decided to rest. I slept for a couple of hours and then told my mom to come over that morning around 6:45 so Peter could have some help. Around the same time I had the urge to go to the bathroom and I lost my plug. It was not what I expected but I was pretty sure that I had lost it all. I was hoping this was a sign that things were going to speed up. During that morning things continued like the night before... If I kept moving the contractions would keep up but if I sat down or stayed in the same position for too long they would slow down to 7-10 min. Caryn came back over during the morning time and tried to help push things along with some advice on positions but she still thought I should be resting and waiting for my body to take over. She left around 11 while I was napping. I realized that things would also slow down when she came over which surprised me. I think I felt like I had to perform and prove that I was in labor which is funny now as I look back. I wish I would have taken her advice and just ignored everything until I couldn't and then let the active labor take over.

Peter and I decided that we wanted to take a trip to the midwife office so I could be checked and also sweep my membranes. I had an appointment the next day to do both of those things since Monday was my 41 week mark, so I thought I might as well do it now in hopes that it would speed things along and our baby would be in our arms by Monday! The ride to the office was interesting but not terrible since the contractions slowed down while I was sitting. It took us around 20 minutes to get there and I had three contractions during that time. One of them was super strong and I had to unbuckle and move to the edge of the seat to find a comfortable position. I felt like he was trying to come out but now I laugh thinking about the difference in those contractions and the ones that actually brought him out. Once we got to the office I was so happy to get checked and I was hoping to be dilated to anything past one. That was my biggest fear because I was afraid everything that had been happening for the past few days was actually nothing at all. Barb, the midwife, was pleasantly surprised that I was at a three - my plug was gone (so glad that was exactly what happened earlier, after all) - I was fully effaced - and Solomon was a zero station. All really good news and I was so happy I could almost jump off the table!! Barb then asked me if I wanted to sweep my membranes and told me that it could cause the contractions to become stronger and irregular. I felt that it would help push me over the edge and really help with starting active labor. After days of waiting for active labor and knowing that I would be back in the office the next morning to sweep my membranes anyways, I knew I wanted to do it! It honestly didn't hurt that bad and I was praying things would pick up!

Once we got home from the office I had a lot of cramping. I was warned about the blood and cramping from the sweep but I was hoping that everything would start happening soon. I ate a piece of toast with melted cheese (seriously, the best thing I had ever eaten at that time, HA!) and some tortilla chips. I then decided to go up stairs and try and nap as much as possible so my body could relax and do it's thing. The contractions were around five minutes apart and getting stronger. I was so tired so I fell asleep easily but every five minutes I would wake up all tense in pain and then I'd crash again before the next wave five minutes later. It was kind of amazing how fast I would go to sleep and how long it felt like I actually slept. If I wasn't looking at my phone I would have thought I was sleeping for 10-15 minutes between contractions, not just five. After around 20 minutes of doing this I decided I had to get up, this was definitely not rest and waking up tense from the pain wasn't helping either. During contractions I tried my best to let go completely and let my body do what it should. I didn't want to fight the wave, just simply sink into it and breathe. I went downstairs to Peter and told him that it was getting intense but I was hoping it wasn't false labor from the sweep. They told me that the contractions would need to be consistent for a good hour before thinking it was moving forward. After thirty minutes of contractions that were five minutes apart I had Peter call Caryn. She could hear me moaning through the pain every few minutes and she said it sounded like active labor for sure but to call her back in thirty more minutes if it stayed or picked up and she'd be over. Within the next thirty minutes it definitely picked up and they were coming around 2-3 minutes apart. Peter called her back and she said she was on her way.

After days of hoping and wondering when it would happen, I was very excited. I was so ready to meet our baby boy and I was hoping that things would move quickly now thanks to the sweep and all the acupuncture appointments I had over the past few months. Once Caryn arrived she asked if we called the midwife, Barb was on call still and she lived an hour away. We decided to call her and let her know, she wanted to hear me talk and listen to a few contractions to see what she thought. After talking to her we decided that we would head to the Birth Center around 6:30PM. It was around 5:30PM when Caryn got to our house. During all the labor stages so far she continued to tell me that I wasn't in active labor because I was too verbal. Now that I was in active labor and she saw how I was handling it she told me that she underestimated my pain tolerance and that I would probably be talking throughout the entire process. I laughed and agreed with her, it made me feel so good to know that she understood that. She also told me that I needed to keep talking when I got to the Birth Center so Barb would understand how I labored also. After we talked to Barb she told Caryn that we might want to wait a bit longer since I was talking a little too easily. HA. Caryn told her that we would be there around 7PM since I was definitely in active labor.

The next hour went by quickly.... the minutes flew by since the contractions were so close together. I had my music playing and I was walking and swaying around the house. Lots of dancing with Peter, swaying back and forth and him helping me remember to breath. At 6:30PM we got in the car and the second ride to the Birth Center was more intense. I didn't even bother to buckle up and the contractions definitely didn't slow down like before. They were all very active and I had to grip the car door so I could try and relax the rest of my body. Once we arrived Barb was there to check me and see where we were. I knew we had be past a 3 and I was hoping for a 6 since that's what I needed to be admitted. I was a 5, ugh. But Barb said I could walk around in the garden area and use the birthing ball to get things going. She said that typically women go 1cm per hour so she would check me again at 8PM. When we went downstairs to the Birth Center my mom was sitting on the couch waiting for us. I was so happy to see her and thankful that she was there. I walked around, swayed on the ball, both Peter and Caryn tried to help me relax and breath but I was trying my best to surrender to the pain and relax every muscle in my body. After 45 minutes I had to use the bathroom so I went into the Birth Center and when I was finished Barb said she was going to admit me. I was so happy!!! I smiled and said get the shower on! I walked into the room and started taking off my clothes. I put on my swim top and was ready to get in that hot water. I took turns between the ball in the shower and standing for each contraction. I didn't need to keep switching positions to keep the contractions going anymore but it felt better to keep moving and I thought it would help things progress quickly.

The time is really a blur past this point since I didn't pay attention to the clock. After about 30-40 minutes in the shower I moved to the bed since Barb said laying on my side would help push things along. They put several pillows between my legs and I rocked back and forth during the contractions. I had around 3-4 contractions per side but wanted to get up after those. Once I got on the ball by the edge of the bed I felt like things started to get real... I had my music on and I felt my entire self completely let go. I was singing the worship songs and praying. There were times when I would just start crying and Barb said that it was okay to be scared and nervous but I laughed and told her that I wasn't scared, I was so excited and happy. I was going to meet my baby soon and I knew God was in control. I had prayed for this moment and I knew he would give me strength to do this. He was in the room, I felt His presence so strongly. There were times when I knew I was having a contraction but i felt no pain at all, it was incredible. Even now when I listen to the songs from my playlist I start to cry, they are so special to me now.

So there I was.... swaying, singing, crying and ready for my baby. I asked when I could get in the tub and Barb said I needed to be an 8 or more because the water could slow things down if I get in too early. I asked to be checked and she said we should wait a bit longer. She was concerned that I was still too talkative. I wanted to laugh... I think I remember Caryn telling her that I will be talking while pushing since I've been verbal the whole time. I'm a talker, and talking through the pain helped me cope with it. Finally after several more contractions she decided to check me. I've never prayed so hard as I did in that moment, laying on that bed waiting to be checked and hoping I was at least an 8. She smiled and said "well, you want some good news?!?" I said YES! She said, "YOU ARE A NINE" I then screamed, FILL UP THAT TUB! It took around 30 minutes to fill the tub and I got in at 11:30.... They told Peter that he would probably be born around 3. My mom went to make some coffee for Peter since he was exhausted. He didn't have the endorphin's and hormones racing through his body like I did, and he was working so hard. Never leaving my side and helping me with everything I needed for the past several days.

Once I got in the water I started to feel the urge to push. The contractions didn't slow down thank God and the water felt great. It honestly wasn't as hot as I thought it would be which was kind of a bummer but it still felt great to be in the water. As I was pushing I felt a lot of pressure and Barb told me to reach down and see if I could feel anything. I told her I felt something hard and slick like a water balloon, she said that was my bag of waters. It was so tight and I wanted to pop it so bad. I asked if I could pop it and they laughed and told me it wasn't a zit. They said as I started to push more it would break. Eventually, it popped and it was the biggest relief. My mom said it was so awesome to watch in the water because it was like a big poof of light pink water. Since I am being completely honest with this post I will talk about the worst part of labor right now. The poop. Yes, I said it. It was the most annoying thing and I felt so self conscious about it. You use the same muscles to push out a baby as you do to use the bathroom anyways, so it is only natural, but I couldn't stand the feeling. That continued for the next several minutes and I think that caused labor to slow down a bit after the water broke. I lost my train of thought and I couldn't concentrate on anything anymore, except for that feeling.

After the water broke I started to feel the urge to push again and Barb asked me if I could feel his head coming down. I told her I didn't think so... she said do a couple more contractions and we will see what you feel. I tried to pay attention during the pushes to how I felt but I never felt any head movement at all. She then said it would be best for me to get out of the water so she could check me. She then realized that my cervix lip was way too tight and his head couldn't get under it. I then had around 4 contractions while Barb was pushing my cervix back over Solomon's head. Once he was past that he could come down much faster. I'm so thankful that she realized there was a problem instead of letting me push for a long time. I honestly think that if I were in the hospital with an OB I would have pushed for hours and then a c-section might have been needed, again, I am so thankful for the midwives that our hospital system has available and the amazing birthing center to use. Once the cervix problem was fixed I tried to push on all fours. I know so many women love this position but I did not. Once again, I felt very self conscious about pushing at this point. They asked me if I wanted to try the toilet since it is a sitting squat position and a lot of women like to push there. I said yes and gave it a shot. Then Caryn did the best thing she could have done, she asked me if I wanted to be on the toilet because I was worried about using the bathroom and I said yes. She called me out and that was exactly what I needed to snap out of it and prepare to meet my baby. I got off the toilet and walked back in the room to try the swing. HECK NO, I thought... get me out of here. So then I went back to the bed. I was on my back but kind of sitting up in a squat position with pillows behind my head so I could spread my legs and push. My mom was on my left side and Caryn was on my right. Barb was helping things move smoothly with hot rags and numbing cream so I could push efficiently. Peter was about to pass out from being so tired by this point so he sat by the bed. He also didn't want to see everything that was going on so I had my women around me to help me push. I also had a nurse, Julie, and she was so helpful with a mirror so I could see what was happening. I was past the freaking out time and I was ready to see my baby. Just before the mirror came out Barb mentioned all his hair! I was so ready to see my baby boy! During the contractions I tried my best to push three times but I could only get two out. Every single time, I felt the contraction coming, I would take a deep breath, push, breathe in again, push and then I'd be out of energy. The mirror helped a lot with this, it gave me the incentive to push harder and with more force.

Once his head started coming out Caryn said that her guess was 2:07 for a birth time. I asked her what time it was and she said 1:50, I told her no way- I couldn't wait that long. He was born at 2:04! During that last push I actually got FOUR pushes during one contraction to get his head out. I was beyond ready to hold my baby. When his head came out Barb told me only one more push for his shoulders. I then got to reach down and put my hands under his armpits and pull him out. I brought him toward my chest but realized something was tugging him back. Barb then said to be careful since his cord was short. I was worried and asked if he was okay and they said he was perfect and no need to worry, the cord was fine and he was fine.

The first few moments with him on my chest were amazing. He was looking right at me and it was like looking at myself. I was so shocked that he looked so much like me. Peter came over and got in the bed with me as soon as he was out and Solomon jerked his head and looked at his daddy when he spoke for the first time and he had this look in his eyes like, "hey, I know you!" It was such a wonderful moment that I will never forget. We were a family of three, and our baby boy was perfect. A lot of people have asked me how I handled the pain. I honestly don't know, I mean, it was painful but it was birth. It's supposed to be painful, but it is so worth it. I can't wait to have more babies if the Lord decides to bless us with more. I was wondering how I would feel after a natural birth and I can honestly say I would love to have ten babies. It is amazing and I feel so thankful to experience such a wonderful birth.

A few days later while talking to my aunt about his short cord, she mentioned how long cords are so dangerous and it hit me all off the sudden, God answered my prayer. I was so worried the entire pregnancy that the cord would wrap around his neck and kill him during the 9 months or during delivery, and now knowing how short the cord was, I realized that could have never happened. It wasn't too short, it wasn't too long, it was just perfect and God knew it. He answered so many prayers during this time and during my labor. I'm so thankful for every single thing He did to make this baby mine. He is sovereign and He is my protector. I can't wait for Solomon to know that love one day. That is my biggest prayer now, for him to love the Lord and know Him fully. He is good, and we are so blessed by this baby boy!

Kristen's Story

Let me start by saying that I was in COMPLETE denial that I was in labor at 37 weeks and 6 days. It's so different going into labor when you don't expect it for a couple more weeks than when you're waiting for it to happen any minute.

I woke up Friday feeling pretty crampy, just thinking I needed to go to the bathroom, and having BH contractions that showed up randomly throughout the day. I literally had no signs of labor other than those and being more irritable/emotional. Never lost my mucous plug, never had diarrhea (sorry) , never felt weird or "ready". So after a pretty calm day, play date with a friend, long nap with Finley, warm bath, I went to bed (around 10:30pm) and ended up waking up at 12:30 having, what I thought, were more Braxton-Hicks. They hurt, but they didn't feel anything like the contractions I had with Finley, so I was POSITIVE that they weren't real. Finley, my 20 month old, ended up waking up crying shortly after I woke up, so I brought him back into our bed. Trying to console him through a "contraction" (denial) wasn't very fun. But he fell back asleep really quickly. They kept coming and after a while I figured I'd try timing them just to see.

I was tired and just wanted to sleep but I couldn't fall back to sleep without another one waking me up. I started timing them at 1:00 and they were about 7 minutes apart, lasting a minute long. Sent that picture to my mom - totally still in denial that I might be in labor. I did not believe I could be for a second! Kept timing them, and by 2:30 they were 5 minutes apart and lasting a little longer than a minute... Still in denial. At that point I decided to get out of bed and go to the bathroom because I had to pee and that was making them more painful. As soon as I got to the bathroom I started getting all shaky. Told my mom that and she said I needed to wake Taylor up and call the midwife now.

Still in denial. So at 3:00, I woke Taylor up and said he might need to call his mom to come stay with Finley because we might need to head to the birth center. By 3:20, she was on her way and my contractions were 3 minutes apart. We had called the midwife (it was Kim who was on call, which ended up being amazing because she was the one I had seen at the majority of my visits). And yes, I still didn't believe I was in labor. Taylor got all the bags by the door and I hung out between the bathroom and the couch. I ate a mango Popsicle and drank some coconut water and had Taylor put pressure on my back during contractions. At that point I had stopped timing them because it seemed pointless.

We headed up to the birth center at close to 4am. Had one contraction right when we pulled in and then another right before Kim checked me. I had no expectations for any sort of huge dilation because stubborn me didn't believe I could possibly be in labor, and if I was, it had only been 3 1/2 hours, so we had to have a ways to go... Ummmm, nope, I was already dilated to an 8. The shock that I experienced... Haha! I guess I WAS in labor, and we weren't that far off from meeting our little boy! I stayed sitting on the bed and rocked back and forth while the tub filled up. Taylor diffused some lavender and massaged my back with arnica oil. I remember Kim checking Rowan's HB with the Doppler through one of my contractions and he had the hiccups - that was an interesting sensation during contractions, haha! - The other midwife, Sam got there while I was on the bed and helped Kim gets things ready.

Once the tub was filled, I got in (it was probably close to 5:00 by that point.) The water definitely helped with taking pressure off of everything and relaxing me. I kept my eyes closed throughout this whole time, just breathing. I can't believe I never really made a sound until I was actually pushing. I was so calm, I surprised myself. Anyway, I decided to get out of the tub to go pee, had a contraction on the toilet. Kim said to let her know if I was feeling "pushy" at all, and I honestly wasn't sure. I felt a lot of pressure, but didn't know if that counted. So I walked back to the tub and stood leaning over the edge through a few contractions. Had to moan a little through those and Kim said I was sounding like I was getting close to pushing, so if I wanted to get back in the water, now was the time, so I did! Not even a few minutes after I got in, I definitely felt pushy and my body just kind of took over that part. I was sitting with Taylor supporting me from behind. My body "pushed" a few times and Kim asked if she could check me to see if she could feel his head. She said I had a small amount of cervix still there and it would probably help to lean forward on the tub in a squatting position. Lord did that help! My water broke during one of those pushes.

Through the next few contractions by body went into crazy pushing mode. It was the strangest sensation and definitely felt better than the actual contractions, until his head got close. That hurt. I could feel him coming down and those few minutes were the only part of the entire process that I felt out of control for a second. I was able to reach down and feel his head crowing and then pushed it the rest of the way out during the next contraction. The only time I actually felt like I was helping my body push was when his head and shoulders came out. I felt so much pressure and some burning and then once his head was out, it was a short period of relief and then I pushed like hell to get his shoulders out. And then instant relief. Taylor said I sounded like an Amazonian woman when I was pushing. I'd say that's pretty accurate. Haha! Definitely couldn't control the sounds I was making at that point. It was the most incredible thing I have ever experienced.

At 5:59am, 5 1/2 hours after my labor began, Kim reached down and handed Rowan right to me and I was just shocked and so happy and felt a million amazing emotions all at once. I kissed his sweet vernixy head and I was in love! It took him a minute to cry, but I think he was just so peaceful coming out of the water that he didn't feel the need to right away ;). After the cord stopped pulsing, Taylor cut it and did skin to skin while I climbed out of the tub and onto the bed to deliver the placenta. It's amazing to me that I was able to get up and walk around and feel completely normal and amazing minutes after giving birth. I held him skin to skin and he started nursing shortly after. We stayed snuggled up for a while. Then they checked him out, weighed him and measured him 8lbs 0.7oz, 21 inches long. Head and chest were both 13.5. He was perfect and BIG for being born at 37w6d.

After about an hour and a half, my mother in law came with Finley and he got to meet his new baby brother! It was the sweetest thing in the world! He kept saying "Rowan! Rowan! Brother!" And kissing him. My heart nearly exploded. Over the next 6 hours, they checked both Rowan and I and then it was time to go home! I can't describe fully what an incredible experience I had birthing Rowan. I'm so thankful for the amazing support I had from Taylor and Kim and being blessed enough to be able to deliver in the birth center!

Lindsay's Birth Story!

I was 40 weeks and 2 days along when Isaiah came - I can't believe he came later than big brother! I spent the prior 3 weeks in annoying prodromal labor pretty much thinking every day might be the day. I would have nights full of contractions that were time-able, sometimes getting worse, but always tapering off by morning. Leaving me sleepless yet again!!

I went to see the midwives on June 24th. That morning I thought things really may be happening because I lost more mucus plug and had a little bit of spotting with heavier contractions, still not severe though. I asked to be checked just to see if the contractions were doing anything at all. Barb said I was dilated about 1.5 cm and asked if I wanted a membrane sweep and I said well...yes! I went home feeling discouraged because my contractions weren't as strong as they were that morning and I was barely dilating, so obviously not "real" labor yet. I remember just lying on the couch feeling miserable for the rest of the day with contractions consistently coming every 8 minutes. Same as the last 3 weeks.

I went to bed around 11 hoping to get some rest, still with the dull contractions. At about 1am I finally got up because I was feeling increasing pain and then suddenly, out of nowhere and super quick, things got real! I had a pretty substantial amount of bloody show and lots of mucus, and I felt that sickie feeling all over. I got dressed, ate a little and packed my bag. After a few more intense contractions that came 2 to 3 minutes apart, I went to wake up my husband. He got up and watched me pace back and forth in front of the couch. At 2:30 I called the after-hours line and Bethany got on the phone. I told her I thought it was time and she said she would meet us at the birth center.

I was sooo nervous for the car ride since I knew it would take a while and the car ride with my first was crazy intense even though it was way shorter and I was only in early labor! But luckily I only had a few contractions in the car. I was scared because the contractions got a bit further apart in the car - like 5 to 7 minutes, and I thought "great I'm going to be so embarrassed if we get there and it turns out to be a (very strong) false alarm!! But I think God was just looking out for me and gave me an easier car ride :)

We pulled up around 3:30 am - It was weird being in the office after hours, at night, with no one there! Bethany checked me and said I was 6 cm dilated. Whew! Ok this is real then! The birthing room was so beautiful, calm and comforting. I took my contractions well in the beginning - just rocking/standing mostly at the side of the bed. Then things picked up a lot when my mom got there, and I knew transition was in full gear. My husband had to put RIDICULOUS amounts of counter pressure on my back for every contraction because, of course, back labor AGAIN!!!!!! AHHHHHH! I started having a hard time with the back pain so Bethany and Sam suggested the tub. I got in and it did feel pretty good. I figured I wouldn’t like it because I am so hot-natured, but it was awesome! Because the back labor was still keeping me from relaxing as much as I needed to, sterile water injections were suggested by Kim (yes, she eventually got there too!) I said OK! Those stung more than anything I have ever felt in my life. But that type of pain was certainly preferable to the ripping apart feeling that back labor brings to the table! The injections actually helped a good bit for about an hour, during which I was able to relax some in the tub. I was so grateful to be offered alternative remedies like that! I asked to be checked again because I just needed to know where we were headed. Sam checked me in the tub and said I was at a 9 - but that I still had a little cervical lip there. All of the midwives were so calm, encouraging and supportive – they just kept telling me to do what feels right. I started to become the vulnerable “transition girl” and began to get overwhelmed with how long I felt like this was lasting. I certainly felt good amounts of pressure and pushiness, but I figured it would be so blatant and automatic that there would be no question. (I never got a whole lot of "pushy" feelings with my first before they told me to start pushing, but this time I wanted to wait for it since that is what’s best!) So we waited. And waited. And waited. And I said "I can't do this" over and over again!! I was dilated to a 10 at this point but didn't know what to do!! I kept asking everyone what to do over and over, feeling completely clueless! I tried the sling thing, I tried the toilet, I tried the birth stool. Which is where my water finally broke - at the end of a push, with the most dramatic, loud, forceful gush! Everyone cheered and my husband was like "WHOA!!" It was pretty crazy!

Susan (Yes, now she was there, all 5 midwives were here at this point – how lucky was I?!) said I needed to lie on my side with the peanut in between my legs to get the baby in the right position. He was pretty much sunny side up the whole time, and they said this is what I needed to do to get him to come down. Boy oh boy I was not having that!! It was just too painful to be laying there in the bed. I flipped over on my hands and knees screaming "I CAN'T!!!!!!!!!!" and pushed that peanut off the bed!! I felt so bad for not being able to do what they were telling me was right. I trusted them and was so upset with my body/mind for doing these automatic things that weren’t helping!

Finally, as we neared 8am, Bethany said "Ok we are going to do some old fashioned pushing on the bed." My husband got behind me to keep applying counter pressure and I began pushing as hard as I could. I just needed it to be over and the back pain would not let up. It didn't take long though - I pushed less than 15 minutes. And with the help of some pretty incredible and knowledgeable midwives taking charge, there he was! Onto my chest he came, all 9 lbs 11 oz of him! Delivering at the birth center was such an incredible experience. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to have such amazing women taking care of me during my pregnancy and delivery. It was the best decision I ever made! One I will definitely be making again, should we be blessed with another pregnancy.

June 25th, 2015 was a pretty good day!

Water Birth and VBAC #3

At 35 weeks pregnant, John and I moved back home to South Carolina. While this was hard to do pregnant (again) and tough to leave our church family, homeschool family, and friends, I was excited. Why? Because in the state of South Carolina, a midwife can care for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) patient and I could have a water birth! In Florida, VBACs are like taboo to many offices and hospitals. Here’s my timeline and how wonderful Payson’s birth was!

My kids were staying with my sister so I took full advantage of a nap! And this is when it began.

2:30 – woke up with severe heartburn and cramping. Took 2 chewable calcium/magnesium supplements. They worked like a charm and I was able to get some cleaning done and did not give it anymore thought.

4:00 – Having consistent contractions but they were not hurting and I was busy around the house so I just assumed they were the joys of Braxton Hicks. I took two more chewable calcium/magnesium (I’ll share later why these are helpful in another post but they help your muscles relax). Then met my sister to get my other three little ones after our oldest got home from school.

4:30 – Sent the hubby an email at work. “Not sure how long you will be but I’ve been having more contractions quite a bit but they are not hurting at all. So may be nothing.”

5:30 – Hubby gets home and I’m finishing up vegetable soup and cornbread. While eating, my contractions are definitely 2-3 minutes apart, but I’m still not hurting. They are uncomfortable. Let me remind you this is my fourth baby so I know what contractions and labor are!

6:30 – I wanted to take a hot bath but did not want to stall labor if it was coming. I did not think I was in active labor yet so I wanted the contractions to get stronger so I took a shower. My sister and her family headed to my house. Called the midwife and told her my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart for almost 2 hours but they were not strong and I had TWO while on the phone with her without any interruptions. She said it was my call.

7:30 – Contractions were nonstop. They were 90 seconds long and coming back to back basically. I was in labor! They were finally stopping me from walking and I had to stop and sway. I popped two more calcium/magnesium and we headed to the car and called the midwife. Sitting was hurting! On the way to the hospital, I’m texting my mom and few close friends! Yeah….I did not realize I was in active labor about to deliver this baby any minute!

8:20 – Check into labor and delivery to get checked. My midwife said I was only 5-6 cms. I thought I would cry. I did not want to get there that early. I was almost 8 cm when I checked in with my third and was 10 cm. within 2 hours of checking in. I wanted to time it well. But oh well I thought….just longer in the birthing pool. Got me to my room, checked vitals, etc. I was asking for my birthing pool and wanted out of the bed. Your body handles labor so much better walking, swaying, moving….contractions are killer on your back!

About 9 – I was in my birthing pool. It felt great! The hot water really helps you relax and your body is able to handle the contractions better. At one point I was sitting on my bottom, another time I was leaning over the pool on my knees, and later I was just floating it felt like with my feet pushing on one side and back on the other!

I’m concentrating more. But it was so nice to move into any position during my 15-20 minutes in the pool!

9:10 (ish) – I feel a pop (now I know that was my water breaking). I’m in pain. I’m starting to ask for the doctor so I can get an epidural. I’m crying “I cannot do this” In fact, I’m apologizing (WHY?) to my husband for not being able to do it. Looking back immediately after her birth, I was in the transition phase. But I never thought I would have been there that soon.

9:15 (ish) – Midwife comes in and apologizing for not being there sooner. She was getting all the paperwork together and was finishing my registration. She asked to check me and all I remember was her saying, “Honey, you are having a baby now. Let’s go” I don’t know if she even told me to push. My body just did it.

9:17 – I was holding my sweet baby girl!

9:30 (ish) – Laying on the bed holding my baby and signing my check-in papers (I never got to that before I delivered). My midwife apologized over and over. She did not expect me to go that quickly. Midwives stay with you during a good majority of your labor and delivery to help you more. They don’t typically get there just to catch the baby:)

Our 2-year old holding his baby sister. Let me share that she has yet to be bathed! That’s also how alert a baby comes into this world with a natural birth!

It was such a true blessing to deliver Payson using a birthing pool. It was amazing. It was totally different than any other delivery. I have delivered four babies. First was induced, labored, pushed, and then c-section. Second was VBAC with a midwife and epidural. Third was a vacuum assisted birth. And now a waterbirth. If God blesses us with more, this will definitely be my choice of birthing if possible again! Recovery was amazing! I was walking out of the pool on my own within 15-20 minutes of delivering and discharged 24 hours later! While there is absolutely no shame in having a needed c-section or using medication for pain, recovering from a natural birth is far easier. But having a natural birth does not make me a supermom or a better mom than others. And I will highly recommend Greenville Midwifery and Greenville Hospital any day to a VBAC mom!

Rebekah's Story

I had the privilege of being a part of one of Greenville Midwifery Care’s Centering Groups. When I first learned about the groups, I wasn’t sure it would be a good fit for me because I have a tendency to be a do-it-yourselfer and very independent, but I decided to give it a try since pregnancy and mommy-hood was something I knew nothing about. The support from not only the midwives but also from fellow moms-to-be was exactly what I needed to make my pregnancy and delivery everything I could asked for and more.

At 5 days late, I was so ready to not be pregnant anymore. Finally, at 3:00am on Friday morning, I was awoken by a contraction that was more intense than anything I had felt previously. About 6 minutes later, another contraction came on and I was hopeful that it was the day we would welcome our little bundle of joy into this world.

My contractions continued at about 5 ½ to 6 minutes apart for hours. When things weren’t progressing as I had hoped, I went for a second walk around 1:00pm and that did the trick. My contractions not only began to pick up and become more regular but they also got so strong that I had to stop walking and breath through them.

After the walk, the contractions were closer together and much stronger, requiring more of my attention. At 3:40pm, my water broke and we finally decided it was time to call the midwives. Barbara, the midwife on call, answer the phone and encouraged me to stay home and comfortable (if there is such a thing during labor) a little longer, until my contractions were 2 to 3 minutes apart.

Almost immediately after hanging up the phone, things began to rapidly pick up and intensify. I tried everything I could to help alleviate the pain from the contractions, which were now coming about every 2 to 2 ½ minutes. Although things were intense (to say the least) I had just called the midwife and I didn’t want to be that person who called back too soon! At 4:50pm, the contractions became so intense that I wasn’t able to relax through them and I began to get sick. We called Barbara and said we were ready to come in. She instructed us to come to the midwifery office before heading to the hospital.

We pulled out of the driveway at 5:11pm. The entire ride to the office was one intense contraction after another. We arrived at the midwifery office about 5:25pm and I was checked around 5:35pm: 6 cm dilated – it was time to head over to the hospital.

When we pulled into the hospital parking lot, which is directly across the street from the midwifery office, I could hardly walk and had to stop several times between the Laboring Mothers parking lot and the door. My husband rushed me up to labor and delivery room.

Only minutes after making it to the room, I felt the urge to push. I told the nurse I was ready to get into the bath and that I needed to push. They were able to turn the water on and fill the tub enough for me to get in just in time for my second pushing contraction. The water was a tremendous relief and provided the comfort I needed for a few more pushing contractions. At 6:03pm, my son was born.

Before delivering my son, I never would have described pregnancy and birth as a beautiful process, but now I do. I believe that I had such a wonderful experience because of the midwives! They provided personalize care throughout my pregnancy, always listening and providing helpful support, and they allowed my body to work naturally through the labor and delivery process to make it better than I could have imagined.

Angela's Story

In early May of 2014, I was still enjoying strong menthol cigarettes. My friends and I called them ‘lazy girl yoga’. However, by the end of that month I found they tasted like old socks in my throat. Loyal addict that I was, I tried to keep on puffing, but failed. Also about that time, my mammaries doubled in size and I started craving whole wheat cereals fortified with folic acid. Surprise… My ‘I’ had become a ‘we’.

Fast forward to 2015. It’s 9:00pm on February 13th. I am crying over something silly in my bathroom when another liquid begins streaming down my leg. Then gushing. My sniffles turn to giddy laughter as I stuff an entire bath towel down my sweatpants. Time to phone the midwife on call. Susan Cheek-Williams responds sounding serene, if not sleepy. “Lay down and get some rest,” she instructs. “If things don’t get going by 6:00am, we’ll head to the hospital and reevaluate.” Rest? Seriously? The midwife treats me like a seasoned mama who knows what she’s doing. I can’t wait to meet my baby! I try to burn time. I make a snack. Bananas and peanut butter sound good spread over graham crackers. I pack and repack my hospital bag. Should I bring the orange onesie with the snaps or the yellow with buttons? I deep condition my hair and trim my fingernails. I drink a ton of water. Finally, at 11:00pm, I stretch out on the rug in my room. My best chance at relaxing lies in counting breaths. In, out. I take a long slow drag of the pre-motherhood universe. I hope I’m ready.

At midnight, contractions start coming every 5 minutes. “Hi Susan, how are you? I wanted to let you know that the surges are coming close together now.” “Ok, sounds good,” she quips before we hang up. She believes I’ll know when it’s time to go to the hospital, so, I do too. At 1:00am, I begin pacing. I try to sit by the fire downstairs, but can’t get comfortable. When my muscles tighten, I focus on the physical boundaries of the discomfort which makes it seem less intense. 2:00am. “Susan, it’s …. Angela again…. Hi….It’s… time.” “See you at the hospital shortly.” Click.

The heat from the passenger side seat warmer in the car feels like delicious butter melting into my taut back. When I arrive at the front door of Greenville Memorial, I notice I’m wearing the shawl I wore to feed horses earlier. There’s hay all over it. I am what I am, I shrug. The smiling receptionist’s attempt at small talk bounces off my dumb face. She installs me in a triage room while nurses prepare a bath tub in the delivery room. The florescent lights, beeping monitor, and shiny metal chafe me. I find respite in the dark solitude of the bathroom where I expel my torment in low crazed moans. Susan arrives to find me 7 centimeters dilated. On to the labor room we go. How much tougher is this going to get, I worry, trying to gage capacity for even worse pain. I’m scared I will pass out and miss the birth, but things change when I reach the peaceful labor room.

Little green disco lights dance playfully on the ceiling. The sound of running water soothes. I feel I’ve entered an enchanted cave. The urge to push overtakes me. To my surprise, it feels good. Compelling and satisfying. I crouch in the water of the whirlpool. My legs cramp fiercely, so I let them slide into an extended position. Each time my muscles flex, I push. I’m aware of Susan and a labor nurse for brief instants when Susan reaches into the water to check my baby’s heartbeat. I experiment with pushing when I do not feel the urge. Wasted energy. I am getting tired and I feel stalled. Something I read in “Birthing From Within” rises to my mind. When labor slows, it can be due to an emotional or mental blockage in the mother. I take a moment to retreat further into myself and stare my baby in the face. You are probably fantastic, but my life is already pretty great, I stammer abashedly. I realize I’m terrified of my world changing. I think my life as a social single working in the Caribbean is pretty cool. Then I just giggle and let go. A little late to hold back the tide!! I beam at my baby. Ok, it’s time!

Moving forward. Ok, Ok ok… Let’s do this together... I find Susan’s eyes in the room. I need affirmation. “I can do this.” I declare. She replies, “Absolutely, you can; you’re almost there.” I swear at this point, labor gets fun for me. I am wallowing around naked in the tub, slipping and sliding, and embracing every opportunity to push. When each urge passes, I snuggle my face in my hands, splash with my feet, and talk to my baby. A vision of my nieces and nephews who spent months rubbing my belly surfaces. Come on, I tell Baby, You have a whole slew of cousins who can’t wait to meet you! But my legs are really starting to cramp hard. Can we make this happen fast; I don’t know how much strength I have left. If I feel like this, I can’t imagine how enervated Baby is. Susan’s gentle voice breaks in. “I think you’ll have a baby if you get out of the tub.” “I’m down with that,” I confirm.

Her suggestion bolsters me. As I stand next to the tub, Susan readies herself to catch the baby below. Unfortunately, we’re not making much more progress. “Let’s try the bed now,” Susan suggests. I really am getting tired, but I know I’m close. She tells me to grasp my knees and push. Oops, I don’t have enough energy to push and hold my legs. Another nurse enters to hold one leg. Susan asks, “So before this baby comes out, do you want to guess what you’re having?” “Maybe a girl,” I guess based on two dreams I’d had in my eighth month. I push as hard as I can. Baby crowns and retreats. Crowns and retreats. Susan lets me know when to push gently to protect my stretching skin. She applies pressure that saves me from needing stitches. PUSH. PUUUUSH. Another hefty strain and I feel the head emerge. Then another and the shoulders pass sending Baby spiraling out.

5:06am. Ecs-ta-sy. Baby is warm on my chest, eyes thirsty and alert. Sublime rosebud lips open and shut gingerly as two flared nostrils inhale and exhale with ease. “Don’t you want to see what you have?” Susan asks. I grin without taking my eyes from Baby’s face. It hadn’t yet occurred to me to check the sex. Upon further inspection, “A boy!!” I exclaim. My perfect valentine.

K's Story

I can't believe it has taken me this long to write down my birth story, but I'm feeling a wave of nostalgia since it is baby D's 1st birthday today. Even one year later, I remember every detail of his birth as if it were yesterday. We will forever cherish the day he was born, and the midwives made it possible for us to have the natural, uncomplicated VBAC waterbirth (well, almost waterbirth) that we wished for. My first son was born via unexpected C-section. Although I really wanted to have a natural birth, the hospital staff and my OB definitely didn't encourage that route. The OB on call when I first arrived at the hospital even suggested that the pain of childbirth would be worse than being in a car accident, so I caved and got the epidural. I still believe that this choice led to a series of interventions that resulted in the C-section. I always wondered what could have been had I had better support and more knowledge about childbirth.

Because of my lingering fears after my first son's birth, we waited 5 years to have our second child. When I found out I was expecting baby number 2, we had some decisions to make. I was nervous about the possibility of a VBAC because my OB told me that it was very risky. But then a friend who was pregnant told me about the midwives, and my husband and I decided to attend one of the "Meet the Midwives" meetings. We felt confident that making the switch to Greenville Midwifery was the right choice, and it absolutely was. The prenatal appointments were completely different from what we had experienced with my OB. Each midwife in the practice took the time to patiently answer all our questions, and even involved my 5-year-old son in the whole process. It felt like prenatal care for the whole family.

The night labor started, I went to sleep at about 10PM feeling very tired. I had been having some Braxton Hicks contractions, but I thought I had at least another week to go. Suddenly, a sharp, jabbing pain in my lower back woke me up, and I knew it was time. My mucus plug came out shortly after and the contractions started to intensify. I called Barb, the midwife on call. She told me to stick it out at home a little longer if I wanted to have a better chance of having a natural birth. My husband decided to rest to prepare for the long night, but I practiced all my breathing exercises to get through the contractions while rocking in the nursing glider. This lasted until about 2am. It was hard work, but I think I made a lot of progress. I called Barb again and told her that we were heading to the hospital. It seems funny now, but on the way there I asked my husband if he would be disappointed in me if I got an epidural since I talked so much about having an unmedicated VBAC. He laughed and said "no." I wasn't sure I was going to make it without the epidural, and the old fears from 5 years before started to kick in.

Finally, we made it to the hospital. The car ride was pretty painful, and I was just so glad to get out of the car and walk. I had to stop and lean on a few poles in the hospital lobby to get through some more contractions, but we finally made it upstairs to triage. The nurses asked us to fill out some paperwork, which was pure torture, but then get us set up in a triage room. We waited for Barb to come, and when she checked me I was already dilated 9 centimeters. She and the triage nurses said "Let's go have a baby!" I was so excited by this that I completely forgot about the epidural and moved over to the labor room. They offered me a wheelchair ride, but I wanted to walk! I got my IV placed and got into the birthing tub.

I spent the next couple of hours breathing through contractions in the water and hanging on to my husband's fingers for dear life! I remember that I didn't talk or make a sound through any of it. Barb and the L&D nurses offered me ice chips, popsicles and juice, but I knew all of those would just break my concentration. Barb and the nurses were wonderful. They encouraged me to keep going at the most difficult moments and helped me visualize my baby making his way down the birth canal. They played the most relaxing music and created an atmosphere of peace and calm.

The moment came to start pushing. Barb and the nurses gave me some great coaching, but it was taking a long time and the baby didn't seem to be dropping any further. At that point, Susan and another L&D nurse, Michelle, took over. They were both fantastic too! Susan took one look at me and decided that I needed to get out of the water and try a different position. I was really afraid at that point that I was going to end up with another C-section. She just looked at me and said, "Oh no, you ARE going to have this baby naturally. I have no doubt about that." That's all I needed to keep going.

At that point, I got out of the tub, onto the bed on all fours, and yelled "I need to get this baby out NOW!!!" My husband said "I can see the baby's head!" At first, I didn't believe him, but then I felt the "ring of fire" and I knew the baby was coming. Susan gently helped the baby glide out, and baby D came to the world! We didn't know the gender, so we were thrilled to know he was a boy. Susan and Michelle immediately placed him on my chest, and it was one of the most joyful moments of my life. I couldn't believe that I actually pulled off the VBAC! I had mentally and physically prepared myself for it for months, and I had done it! Susan delivered the placenta, and she and Michelle helped get us set up for nursing.

Then, we had our wonderful magic hour. It was so peaceful, calm and happy. It was so different than the drugged and disoriented experience I had with my first son. I can say with absolute certainly that choosing the midwives for my second son's birth was one of the best decisions we ever made. We will never forget that amazing day and the wonderful care and support we received. Greenville Memorial was also a great place to have a baby. All the nurses and lactation consultants were fabulous. We really received top-notch care and support every step of the way. Thank you Greenville Midwifery!!!

Lisa's Story

We chose to go out of state to have our second daughter because we were looking for a better level of prenatal care. Greenville Midwifery went above and beyond even our most hopeful expectations. From the first visit I received better care in one visit than I had received in my entire first pregnancy. The midwives were always encouraging of my choices to attempt a VBAC. With their support I had an amazing waterbirth experience!

Connie's Story

Born at 2:15 am on June 21st, 2014. Natural unmedicated water birth.

It was an incredible experience. Contractions started around 11pm, took me about 20 minutes to figure out what was happening since my first was induced. Got to the hospital at 12:06 and was monitored for a while. We made it to the tub just before 2 am and at 2:15 he was born. He weighed 8 and a half pounds. My first I got an epidural which was turned off but it wasn’t completely worn off when she was born. So I was so happy to get my birth experience.

And he did exactly what I asked, I begged him the entire pregnancy to at least let me make it to the tub before he came out since it was my dream. And he did, he gave me a few minutes in the water before he decided to make a fast and furious escape into this big crazy world. I’m soooo thankful to the midwives for their care of us and for helping me bring this little guy into the world on my terms.

Amazing experience, a little tooo amazing because now we are reconsidering our decision to stop at 2. So maybe in a few years I will get to enjoy the beautiful birthing rooms at the center, and I WON'T forget my ducky next time. :)

Katie's Story

The Birth of Shelby I woke up on May 9th MISERABLE, as usual. I wanted so badly for that day, or any, to be the day. I let out a sigh and got up and got ready for the day. For several weeks I had been having a lot of contractions that I thought weren't doing anything, but they were. That day my mom, sisters, and aunt went to Greenville to drop off my belly cast to be finished and have some lunch. I came home still aggravated that nothing had happened all day and I just KNEW I would go past my due date. My husband and I went to dinner that night with his parents. When we got back home I decided to go for a walk to see if anything would happen. No. Or at least I thought nothing had happened. I got back from my walk around 7:30 took a shower and watched some TV. No contractions, no nothing! I finally waddled to bed around 10:45.

I was just laying there trying to go to sleep and I felt something pop. I didn't move, but just thought what in the world was that. I finally went to shift in the bed and here came the water! My water broke on it's own! I've had two other kids before and my water had never broken by itself. I ran to that bathroom to see if it was clear. It wasn't. I yelled for my husband to bring me the phone. I called my mom, a labor and delivery nurse. She and my dad got to my house in less than 10 mins. I was having contractions, nothing to terrible. I called to let my midwife know. At 12:06 it was time to go. We had a 45 min drive to Greenville and I knew I was going fast at this point. My sweet husband sat in the back seat with me and helped me as much as he could. We had only been driving about 10 or 15 mins when we got on Interstate 26 and my mom had to stop the car for me to get sick. And I just knew she was coming. With every labor and birth I've always gotten sick close to the end. Between there and Greenville I don't remember too much, just that it was very painful being in the car. I was lucky my contractions didn't last long, but they were very i ntense!

We finally pull up to the hospital and I just knew standing up and walking would have to feel better than sitting in that car. And it didn't. My sister and sister in law were already waiting for us at the elevators (where's my daddy? ha) they wanted to be in the room when she was born! I have them wait in the waiting area until we know what room I will be in. Before I could get to the triage desk I had to get sick again. We finally make it. YES! My baby won't be born in the car or the lobby of the hospital! We walk up to the desk and they want ME to fill out some paperwork! HA! My mom filled it out as best she could while I'm pleading with this nurse "I don't have time to be back here, I need a room, I need the birthing tub." I go to a triage room anyways. The only way I felt like being was on my knees draped over the back of the bed. They try hooking me up to the monitors to try and listen to my sweet baby's heartbeat and attempt to take my blood pressure. At this point I'm begging my husband, mom, anyone that would listen to help me because I couldn't do this and more importantly I didn't want to do this! Barbara said "you are doing this, you have to" Just what I needed. She helped me get through a couple of contractions. She checked me and said I think we're going to have the baby right here. NO! I thought. I want to get in the tub! The nurse covered me up and what happened next was like something out of a movie.

Barbara, my husband, and my mom RAN me down the hallways while I was trying to NOT push! We get in the room and all I remember was yelling a few times and pushing and out she came. All at once! So fast that I couldn't even believe it had happened and was over. I turned over on my back and held my sweet girl for the first time. Born at 1:36AM on May 10th just 2 hours and 36 mins after my water broke. My sister, sister in law, and dad came in to see her. Yes, they missed the birth! After they left the room she proceeded to nurse for a full hour. No, I didn't get to use the birth tub like I wanted, but she still came all the same and she was and is perfect. Looking back, I'm so glad it went fast. Barbara was so great the whole time. All of the Midwives were wonderful! I so enjoyed having them!

R's Story

WOW! What an awesome birth. Our little girl is now 7 weeks old and I am still in awe of our birthing experience. I say "our" birthing experience because my family and the midwifes were so involved that I never once felt like I was unsupported or alone. As soon as we found out we were expecting, we started researching midwife groups, hospitals and birthing centers. I would have loved to have had the courage to have an at home birth but with it being our first child, I, my ego, nor my body felt up to that. Being new to the Upstate made this a little harder because no one that I knew had given birth to their baby in this area. The research lead me to the Greenville Midwifery Group. We followed our appointments, attended the "Meet the Midwifes" meeting, and wrote our birthing plan, which included no induction what so ever and a water birth. Well, 42 weeks into my pregnancy, 1 cm and 60% effaced, the word "induction" became very relative to my life. With the midwives knowledge and encouragement, we started a Foley Tube for dilation when I went into the hospital on a Tuesday at 9:00 pm. By 4:00 am, I started having my first, very few and far between, contractions. By 6:00 am, the birthing room was prepared for me to begin Pitocin. NO! No, not the Pitocin. My contractions had gotten stronger as I walked to the birthing room. I sat on a medicine ball and stretched while the dreaded Pitocin was slipped into my IV Luckily I was so concentrated on what I was feeling that at the time, I did not even know we had begun the Pitocin. I was offered an epidural and as I was refusing my midwife walked in. She stood me up, placed her hands on my hips and rocked me. The Foley tube fell out, my water broke, and I was 8 cm dilated by 8 am. My midwife unhooked the Pitocin (Thank you!) and we wobbled down to the room with the birthing tub. As soon as I sat in the water bath, the contractions were so much more bearable. I was eating popsicles and ice and was much more mentally alert in the water. I can remember the conversations between my family, the nurse, and my husband, who was awesome enough to be in the pool with me. (I do not remember anything from the 20 minutes I was on Pitocin). As I felt my body begin being ready to push, I just thought I needed to use the bathroom. This became embarrassing for me so I came up with yet another plan. My plan was to go use the bathroom, return to the pool, and have a baby. So, we all moved to the bathroom and my pushing became stronger. The midwife looked at me and said "We can do this right here. Do it." So, I did. At 11:32 am, I gave birth to the most beautiful 8 pound 8 ounce, 20 inch long baby girl on the toilet at the Greenville Memorial Hospital. It was the most unplanned, unexpected, yet most beautiful birth I could imagine. And the story does not stop there, I continued to receive excellent advice and support from the midwifes while healing from tears and learning to breastfeed. Again, WOW!

Lauren's Story

To Susan, Bethany and Joanne,

Hi ladies, I had to write you all a note tonight as I lay here before I go to bed, because all I can think about is a year ago tonight I began my labor with Forrest. I keep replaying that night in my head and told Forrest the story of his birth as I put him to bed tonight. I had such an amazing experience working with all of you. I am so proud of his birth. You all gave me exactly the experience I dreamed of. Thank you so much!!!!

Carrie's Story

When I became pregnant with my first child I knew that I wanted to try to have a natural childbirth. It was something I had always wanted to do, and when I heard that I could use Greenville Midwifery Care through my OBGYN office I was so excited! When I found out that they offered water births I knew it was the way to go. I saw Bethany throughout my pregnancy and she was a joy to work with. Always calm, friendly, and took the time to answer any questions I had no matter how silly they probably were! When my due date came and went, Bethany was not worried at all. She said I could go up to two weeks past my due date and everything would be fine. Five days after my due date at 5:00 in the morning my labor started. It was just small period type cramps at first that were about 20 minutes apart. I was very nervous about going through with a natural birth because of horror stories my friends told me about the pain, but I was determined to give it a go. At noon that day the cramps stopped and I became worried because I had an appointment to see my OBGYN the next day and had a feeling he would want to induce me, which was something I did not want. I called Bethany and she let me come into the office immediately to see what was going on, but of course she wasn't worried at all. She said everything was perfectly normal and true labor would start soon enough.... and it sure did! At midnight that night the real contractions started and I labored at home throughout the night with the help of my husband. At 8:00 am on November 26th we went to the hospital where the midwife on duty, Barb, met us. Once I was dilated to a 3 and was officially admitted to the hospital I paced up and down the hallways stopping for contractions along the way. Barb offered advice to me and my husband on how to get through the labor pains and suggested different positions and tricks to help push on through. I had intense back labor and she gave me some salt water shots (that felt like hot pokers in my back at first), but helped so much. I was so tired since I had been awake since 5 am the day before so she encouraged me to rest and try to sleep between the contractions, which surprisingly I could do! When I was dilated far enough I was finally able to get into the birthing tub with my husband. Barb was by my side the entire time reminding me to breathe, giving me tips on how to push correctly, and just had the right things to say to keep me calm and focused on the task ahead. She was great about communicating back and forth with me to see how I was feeling, and always had the right things to say. When I was going through transition I threw up and she said it was perfectly normal and my body's natural way of making room for the baby to move further down. At 6:23 pm my son, Miller, was born! Barb immediately placed him on my chest and he looked up at me and started crying. He was SO cute! My husband cut the umbillical cord after it stopped pulsing, then I got out of the water to deliver the placenta (which was so weird!). I truly can not imagine not using a midwife and not having a water birth. Everything was so perfect and I know my husband and I could not have gotten through it without Barb's help. I would absolutely do it all the same again and highly recommend using a midwife. They are amazing and were such a blessing to work with. They will always have a special place in the hearts of my family.

Kaylee's Story

Two days after my due date, I woke up to a bloody show. Not wanting to get too excited, I went about my day as usual. That afternoon, I walked two miles and bounced on my yoga ball (I had been doing this for days). Around 8:30 p.m. I started feeling contractions. Since I had been having prodromal labor for the previous week, I didn't think much of them.

By 9:30, they had grown fairly intense and close together--about three minutes apart and one minute long. I decided to call the midwife (Barbara) to see if she recommended I go in to the hospital. She said to time the contractions for another hour, and then call her again. However, after only 40 more minutes, I knew it was time to go. We got to the hospital, parked in the normal lot, and walked to L&D. At this point, I had to stop walking for every contraction in order to breathe through it. We arrived in triage at 11:15 p.m. and Barbara performed a cervical check: 10cm and 100% effaced. Water was still intact, holding baby up high. There was a lot of pressure from the bulging sack, but Barbara said she didn’t want to break it for fear of baby dropping down too quickly. So we decided to wait for it to break naturally.

I was helped into a wheelchair to transport over to a delivery room (we were afraid I might deliver on the way there). Sure enough, my water burst in the wheelchair shortly after and baby immediately fell to the lowest station. I felt an intense desire to push.

Throughout the entire pregnancy, I had planned on having a waterbirth. So Barbara and the nurses quickly tried to fill up the tub. For a moment, I thought for sure I would be delivering my baby girl in a wheelchair. When the tub was filled up only six inches, I transferred over to it. As soon as I felt the water on my lower back and thighs, I felt relief. The water continued to fill up around me. I labored for a few minutes in a seated position, but then rose up to my knees, draping my chest and arms over the side of the tub. Barbara felt for baby’s position and found her to be posterior (just as my older son had been), but trying to turn into the correct position. She only made it halfway, so her head was sideways, facing my inner thigh. As her head crowned that way, I had a moment of weakness. I truly didn’t think I would be able to get that head out. Barbara suggested pulling one leg up so it was in the kneeling position. That would stretch out the area a little more, making the passage easier. She then applied counter pressure to my perineum, easing baby’s head out slowly. After several pushes and deep guttural breathing, the head emerged, followed quickly by the body--9.3 lbs and 21.5" long. I had one tiny perineal tear. I reached into the water and pulled baby out, placing her immediately on my chest. She was so alert! She didn’t cry at all; she just looked me in the eye and I knew that she recognized me. It was truly the most amazing moment--this baby I had grown to love in the womb was now in my arms.

We waited until the cord stopped pulsing and then my husband cut it. He then took baby while I was assisted to the bed to deliver the placenta. It came out naturally without intervention. My husband handed baby back to me and we tried to nurse. It took a little while, but she got it and we had a great first session. The entire experience was so peaceful and calm. My midwife was my advocate, and allowed my body to do what it was created to. She stayed in the background, offering emotional and physical support, which allowed me to focus completely on my body’s signals, and the arrival of our sweet girl. It was empowering. It was humbling. It was raw. It was beautiful.

Blythe's Story

Each one of my children has a unique, perfect, and precious story. Tomorrow is my youngest sons first birthday and I’ve done nothing but reflect back on the days surrounding his birthday for the last couple of weeks. He was my third pregnancy, second birth, second son, and the youngest of our three children. My 40-week appointment was on December 19th, two days before my baby boy’s due date. I had run a low-grade fever the night before, my whole body ached, and I had no appetite. On the morning of the 19th, I woke up with really bad cramping and when I would stand up, I would get more significant contractions. I ended up driving to my appointment, which turned out to be a mistake but at the time, I wasn’t really having bad contractions. Once I got there and they finished taking my blood pressure and all that other stuff, they put me in a room and I was having stronger contractions and I couldn't sit down. My contractions went from every 10 minutes to every three minutes apart, lasting 1 1Ž2 minutes. I started having hot flashes and asked the nurse for a glass of water and I was running my wrists under the water faucet trying to cool down. All I could think about was how miserable this was and I didn't’ want to do a couple more days of this!

My midwife was tied up with another patient and a doctor walked by the room and when she saw me, she asked if I had been checked yet. After telling her no, she ended up doing the exam right then and told me I was 4cm. I called my husband, he met me at the house, we packed our bags as quickly as we could and rushed to the hospital. The strangest thing happened once we got to the hospital. We were walking in the doors (very slowly and with many breaks) and we saw a miniature pony in the lobby on a leash…wearing reindeer antlers. It was the last thing I thought I would see in the middle of labor! We made it up to the birthing room and Susan, our midwife, was filling up the tub. Stepping into the water was the most relaxing and amazing feeling. It was really warm and helped me be able to focus and stay on top of the contractions and not lose control. I found that sitting on my hands and knees and rocking through them helped. I also started counting through them and found that they ‘peaked’ at number 9 so for a while, my goal was just to make it to number 9 and then the pain would start to ease up.

At 6pm, I asked Susan to check me because I started to get very overwhelmed with the pain and needed to make sure I was making progress. She checked me and I was at 7cm! At that point, it really started to get VERY intense. Eric was sitting at the side of the tub and I had to start grabbing his arm when the contraction would peak. I also started biting his hand. (At the end of labor, he had claw marks up and down each forearm!) At this point, I had been in active labor for almost 3 ½ hours and I was starting to lose focus. Susan knew that I was almost at the end because I was begging for pain medicine and asking her to just get this baby out! The warm water was the only thing helping me through the contractions. I was having a hard time staying on top of the contractions and if I lost focus for even a second, I started breathing too fast and the pain would become too intense.

About 7:30pm, I told her that I needed to push and so Eric grabbed me under my arms and we started pushing. Once Bennett’s head was out, I just wanted to stop because the pain had stopped. I actually ended up sitting there for a few minutes and just rested. After gathering every single ounce of strength and courage (no exaggeration) I had left, I finished pushing and he was born at 7:43pm…only 4 ½ hours after labor started.

I pulled him up on my chest and he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He just sat in the water for a few minutes, not making a sound, and Eric and I just talked to him and made sure his body was under the water. His daddy was able to cut his cord. Eric had to keep his arms under mine so that I wouldn't slip…I was so tired that I didn't have the strength to do anything! The pain was way more intense than with my first son (I had an epidural) but the labor was much shorter and the recovery was much easier. It was really quite perfect to see my body do what it was supposed to do all on its own. I was only checked once after arriving to the hospital and Susan totally trusted my instincts to tell her when it was time to push. I even told my husband that I wanted another baby just so we could do another water birth.

I didn't plan to give birth in the water but, now, there is no way that I would have done it any other way. We were so thankful to have Susan there because she didn't try to push me into anything. She just sat right beside us, encouraged me through the contractions and supported Eric as he supported me. My son’s birth was incredibly peaceful and he was surrounded by people who wanted nothing but the best for him. I can’t say thank you enough!

Hope Meeks' Story

I have never had such exceptional health care as provided by Bethany, Susan, JoAnn and Barb (in the order of which I met the midwives). I recommend to every woman I know, that they give birth with the support of these women, or if they live elsewhere, to seek the care of a team of midwives, doulas and doctors. This is a long story, but it is all from the heart.

Here’s how it all went down: On February 26th, my mom accompanies me to my check up with my midwife. This visit also serves as a meet and greet for my mother to the world of midwifery care. My mom is a believer in having a surgeon close by, just in case. JoAnn makes my mother feel very safe and secure and that I’m in good hands. This is a GREAT day.

2/28: Crampy all morning. Bloody show freaks me out.

3/2: I went to bed the night before nauseated with a headache. Well, can’t first trimester symptoms be indicative of labor?! I wake up super crampy, and stay that way from 4am-10am. By ‘crampy’ I mean to say, I really don’t think I ever had a real Braxton-Hicks. I don’t know. I don’t know what they are supposed to feel like, I don’t know what a real contraction is supposed to feel like, but I feel period-type cramps, and so I describe the 4am-10am feeling as ‘crampy’.

3/6: wake up crampy again. 3am-8am, crampy but nothing more. I get a fancy pedicure/foot massage courtesy of my City BFF,

3/7: 4:55 am-what I’d call my first true contraction ended!!!!! I really can’t tell because I did my big morning pee, but I think my water may have broken a bit. 5:06am-crampy feeling returns. 5:19 am-crampiness coming in waves. 5:24-another wave of crampiness. Short lived and not at all intense, but definitely coming and going. 5:25-nevermind, this one’s more contraction- like! 5:31-this one’s more contraction- like too! But very short, not like the first one. I finally get why women in all the birth stories I’ve read let their husbands/SO’s sleep through so much! This is exciting but I know it may not result in anything. No reason to wake/worry [my husband] when he may NEED this sleep! During each contraction, I focus on my breath, just as I had been practicing since reading Mindful Birthing, and I am so very grateful I did. This is a marvelous way to go through a contraction. Your breath never leaves you. I also get into rocking my hips, swaying them, pushing them out around in a circle. Having watched The Business of Being Born, there was a woman who was swaying her hips like she was dancing during her labor, and I mimic that with great results. Between contractions, I’m doing dishes, trying to eat something, taking sips of water, walking back and forth all over the house trying to gather last minute things to take to the hospital. This is the most scatterbrained I’ve ever been. I can’t actually accomplish any of these things. I just do half of something, then move to do something else, get distracted, contract, and start on another task.
5:37 contraction 5:45-contraction. Peed. I think my water’s been breaking bit by bit. Discharge watery, thin, blood-tinted. 5:52-contraction. They’re way more intense standing/moving.

5:57 am-contraction while on phone with JoAnn (yay, JoAnn’s on till tomorrow morning!) Directions: -check in by noon if not earlier -eat if I can—need my strength -must hydrate -call and head in when contractions too strong to talk through for TWO hours(!!!) 3-5min apart. 6:03-contraction. 6:07-contraction. 6:10-contraction, strong! On my feet, fades as I sit. 6:13-contraction. Very short. Very intense. 6:19-contraction. 6:22-contraction. 6:24-contraction; they’re very short, but very intense. 6:31-contraction. Missed documenting one between here and the last one, but I peed and definitely a lot of my water broke.

Woke up the husband somewhere in here. We had plans to go visit some friends a few hours away today. I let him know I’ve turned off the alarm clock and today’s the day so don’t worry if you wake up late. He nods, puts his head back on his pillow, opens his eyes and shoots up for a moment. Really? Today? He tries to get some more sleep. But I get antsy, think that if he wants to feed the horses now rather than later, he should go ahead and get up. I send him to feed. Horses wouldn’t come (not used to being fed first thing in the morning).

6:42- I’m trying to get last minute things packed, dishes done, etc. 6:51- my most intense yet. Now it’s over all I wanna do is poop. Each contraction feels like I need to poop but then it goes away. 6:54-contracting on the pot is hell. The Goat gets home around 7:20. Call JoAnn back at 7:40. JoAnn urges me to labor at home longer but I’m wanting that birthing tub (my narrow tub seems like a HORRIBLE trapped idea). She agrees that I can come in and get checked.

8am. Contracting in the car is hell. On way to hospital. About 1 1/2 - 2min apart. This is where my notes leave off. The rest is purely from memory. I want to listen to my Gregorian monk chants CD. My husband HATES that CD. We compromise on Railroad Earth. He only kinda knows the route to the hospital, so I’m trying to give him directions between contractions. Sitting is AWFUL, but I am my parents’ child, so I keep my seat belt on and try to contract in a somewhat sitting position. We can’t get to the hospital fast enough for me. I feel like I’m contracting the entire drive there. I can’t maneuver my body to sway with the force of the contractions, I can’t focus enough on my breath, and I don’t feel like I have any real downtime between contractions to re-energize for the next contraction.

We park, and I get out of the car, relieved. Immediately, a contraction hits and I’m down on all fours in the parking lot, my husband, with suitcase in hand, is watching me helplessly. We get through the front doors, another contraction. I’m back on all fours. A lady comes up as soon as I’m able to stand, and says, “are you okay?” I look at her like she’s daft. “I’m in labor,” I say tartly. She replies, “I can see that, I was just wondering if there’s anything I can do…” we just walk away from her. I only have so much more time before the next contraction, and the elevators are forever away. A contraction hits while the elevator is lifting us to the 6th floor. When the doors open, I’m on all fours. Afraid that the elevator doors will close and I’ll have to ride it again to get to L&D, I crawl out of the elevator.

The triage nurse jumps out from behind her desk. They gather that I’m JoAnn’s patient and send for her, all the while getting me onto the bed where they have to check you before deciding whether to send you back home or to check you in. This check is supposed to be done by your ob/midwife. They make me sit on the bed. No! I don’t want to sit, I don’t want to lay back, none of that. The triage nurses decide to check me. When one of the nurses gets brave enough to check me, she sits next to me on the bed and shoves her hand in there. I kick her. I can’t help it. I check the kick, and manage not to kick her all the way off the bed. I’m proud of my great tact. It takes her some time, and she looks at her fellow nurses: “I, I don’t feel anything! She must be a ten!”

Finally, JoAnn appears. I have NEVER BEEN SO HAPPY TO SEE ANYONE IN MY LIFE. She greets me, and looks at my husband “You okay?” He responds just by pointing to his eye, his heart, and then her. She smiles. The triage nurses insist that I need to sit in a wheel chair to get to the L&D room. JoAnn looks at them and says, “There’s no way she’s going to sit right now.” But they push the wheelchair up behind me and I sit, they start pushing right away, hurrying me to a bed. I am sitting on my child’s head. It is the least comfortable thing I’ve ever done. I stand up, [out of the chair], the nurses stop, concerned. JoAnn to the rescue! She calmly takes my arm and says, “yes, let’s walk there together,” just as if this is the most natural kind of stroll to take, like we’re in a park on a nice day. I felt protected, advocated for, and supported- both emotionally and physically. Her calm eased my mind, it filtered into my heart and gave me strength, it surrounded my soul and let me know how special this moment was. We strolled. I contracted. We strolled. I confess to JoAnn, “I need to push.” JoAnn just takes it in happy stride. “Okay!” and she helps me as I squat in the hallway, and give my first push. She makes me feel unrushed as she tries to propel me towards the room.

I look to my side, and realize that JoAnn isn't my only midwife. New to the midwifery practice (though a seasoned midwife herself) is Barb, and she's doing her first day on-call with the practice, so JoAnn is accompanying her. I recognize her, say a surprised hello, and stop the entire entourage to squat again in the hallway. I gather somewhere in here that JoAnn decides I’m too far along for them to prepare a tub, and switches me to a regular L&D room, since they only have so many rooms with birthing tubs. I’m disappointed. “Why no tub?!” “No time.” There goes my dream of that soothing water! We pass a waiting room, filled with some other laboring mother’s family. They all gawk at the laboring woman in a loosely tied hospital gown squatting and pushing every few steps along the hallway. This other laboring mother is undoubtedly doing the proper thing, and trying to push out her child behind a closed door, not exposing her nether region for strangers in the hallway.

We finally get to the room. I walk right past the bed, and get on the ground between the bed and the couch. My husband squats in front of me, sipping on his coffee. Somewhere in here, my hospital gown disappears and I’m just in my sports bra and my necklace. I direct my husband to where I have a hair tie in the suitcase, and he puts my hair into a ponytail for me. One of my biggest fears going into labor was that I would snap and say horrible things to my husband. But I have no desire to make this any harder for him. I know he feels helpless, that he can't do anything, and I am so very happy that he is there for me, letting me alternately lean on him and push him away from me, that he is ready with comfort and is handling this all in stride. He is my rock. I focus on breath. I sway my hips, trying to ease my child’s progression through my birthing canal. I focus on breath.

Somewhere in here, I am aware that an L&D nurse asks my husband if he has a camera. “Well, my phone’s in my pocket” she quietly retrieves a fancy digital camera and clicks away without any intrusion. I am incredibly grateful for her! I remember asking, “How long?” and they laughed and said “if only we knew, we’d be rich!” I remember reaching down and feeling the baby’s head, but it was soft. I thought something was wrong, and Barb contorted her body (yet another reason I’m happy I went with a midwife instead of an OB, can you imagine an OB contorting their body to peer up into you instead of making you lay on your back for their convenience?) and looked and confirmed that it was the head! I was incredibly unwilling to let her touch me down there, which she did lightly as she checked out the head crowning, all while I kept grabbing at her hands and shoving them away from me and then immediately afterwards I apologized for my rudeness. This got a chuckle from her, JoAnn, and the L&D nurses (by the way, the L&D nurses are wonderful, friendly, helpful and letting me set the pace).

I kept pushing. But it was exhausting. I don’t know how on earth you’re able to get so much umph out of your body when you feel so utterly exhausted. I remember thinking that I was cheating, because I rested during one contraction instead of pushing. But it was so exhausting. I don’t know if JoAnn and Barb realized that I let one go, but I definitely felt like I was not living up to the expectations of labor. I silently reprimanded myself, and found somehow, somewhere, another reserve of effort within me. I focused on breath, focused on the baby still within me, and pushed dutifully the next time… and then the head was out… and then another push and the body was out! Suddenly the pain that had come close to overwhelming me no longer existed and Barb was helping me hold my slimy, squiggly biddy baby boy to my chest, and an L&D nurse helped me get my sports bra off, and I was holding him against my breasts, and I was shaking and smiling and so magnificent all at once! I rocked him out of my body. I breathed him out of my body. I created, harbored, nourished this being within me, and then my body was strong enough to realize him, to bring him forth, to add such breathing sustenance to this dream. And I was finally, really, actually, literally, able to hold my child in my arms. Oh joyous day! He makes his appearance at 9:24am. A mere 4.5 hours from first contraction to holding my child in my arms.

They move me onto the bed, somehow, I don’t commit this to memory—did I have to relinquish my hold on him? Our precious baby boy? I really don’t know. But if I did, it was at most momentarily. I hold him for the first two or three hours straight. On my back, Barb has to urge me to push out the placenta. I am delirious in my joy and have no desire to keep pushing when I already have my prize, and I now know from experience, pushing HURTS. But convince me she does, and it slides out with only a warm slimy feeling, no pain, and I think, well if she’d told me it wasn’t going to hurt, I’d have pushed a long time ago!

I am cold. Freezing. Somewhere in here the Wee One, the Biddy Baby, our complete Baby Boy, latches on and suckles his first taste of colostrum. He took to the breast like a fish to water, and still, at the time of my writing this, when he is seven months old, his favorite place is against my bare chest. We decline eye drops, we decline the vitamin K shot, we keep him intact. I had birthed him naturally, with no drugs, with no IV fluids, without the aid of bed, stirrups, or surgeon. My husband supported me the entire time. The midwife caught him, and we have a magic 2.5 hours before they weigh him and whatnot. It’s just about as crunchy as a hospital birth can be. When they do finally measure him, he is 6 pounds 12 ounces and 19 inches long. And that was how my husband and I welcomed out darling Biddy Baby into this world. I love my family and my birthing experience. I love holding my son. I love nurturing him. I love being so secure in the support of my husband. I love trusting in my body. And I love my midwives.

E's Story

About midnight on my due date I started having some mild contractions. My older two children were sound asleep, my husband was still at work, and I had laundry to finish so I tried not to get too excited. Plus a stomach bug had just gone through our house which had given me false contractions the previous week. The contractions got stronger over the next hour though -- I had to take breaks from folding clothes as each contraction came on. Around 1:15am my husband got home -- he watched me lean over a chair through a contraction and suggested we call the midwife. I didn't want to go to the hospital just to be sent home so I suggested we just lie down and see if the contractions would slow. Plus he could take a nap. After 10 minutes of him trying to sleep and me vocalizing through contractions he suggested again we call the midwife and I nodded, but said he would have to talk.

We called and Joann said to come on over and she would fill the tub. We called my father in law to come stay with the kids and my husband got the car packed. By the time my father in law arrived I was kneeling over our bed through contractions. I kept focusing on the tub to get myself through contractions -- the thought of feeling weightless in the water kept me grounded. We lived one hour from the hospital and left a little after 2am. That was the most uncomfortable 45 minutes I've ever spent in a car. We blasted country music the whole way with the windows down. I am surprised my husband didn't suffer a hand injury and no one called the police. We parked at 3am and started heading inside. I waddled as fast as I could between contractions. When we got to the lobby my husband tried to get me to sit in a wheelchair but I couldn't. We headed towards the elevator and I noticed the custodial service was mopping the area in front of the elevator. The thought of slipping in the midst of a contraction ran through my mind and I headed towards the staff elevators instead.

We found Joann and made our way towards the delivery suite with the tub full and waiting. Once in the delivery suite I was hit by increasingly strong contractions. I asked my husband to take my shoes off while I knelt on the floor. Good thing because with the next contraction -- the strongest yet -- my water broke. I felt a huge relief which was soon overcome with intense pressure. I stood, leaning over the bed, and somehow we got my pants off. My son was already crowning and with a few pushes Joann delivered him right there while I was standing at 3:15am. With help I climbed in to the bed and was able to hold my son. I felt so relieved and relaxed I almost didn't care that I hadn't had the chance to get in the tub! After settling down and cuddling him for a while, Joann asked if we could weigh him out of curiosity because he looked big. I agreed -- he was a whopping 9lbs13oz! My sweet big boy who just couldn't wait to meet us.