Callan's Birth Story
by mom Sarah
Some of you may know that I am a big proponent of the midwifery model of care for pregnancy and birth and feel compelled to shed some light on it since it’s not the typical choice and many women just simply aren’t exposed to it. I’ve had several friends ask me about our home birth experience, and I believe in normalizing birth so I decided to share Callan’s birth story here with you along with some photos that my sister snapped while sharing this experience with us. Please know I believe birth to be a very sacred choice and am so grateful to have access to many different options. There are many women even here in our country who either can’t afford these options or live in areas without access to different options and that’s something that needs to change. So, it is with much gratitude and privilege that I share my story with you and pray that more women have an opportunity to birth in a safe and supported way that accommodates them and their babies during such a vulnerable time. Here’s our story!
Callan’s Birth Story:
The preamble: My midwife Cori Lively reminded me that I started having regular consistent contractions about 5-10min apart in the evenings on June 6th – I was 39 weeks pregnant. (***Also for clarification, there is Cori the midwife & Corey the dad). We all thought it would be any day and that it would be unlikely he would make it to his due date since our first was a week early and the contractions were nice and strong and regular. Almost every evening I would think that this could be it! And then I would lay down to go to sleep and the contractions would space out and then stop altogether in the early morning hours. Little did we know that pattern would go on for weeks! This is called prodromal labor or start and stop labor. And it’s maddening. His due date came and went. As we approached 42 weeks, we went in for an ultrasound with a specialist to make sure we were still safe to continue the waiting game and safe to continue with our plan to birth at home. We got great news at the check up that everything looked on track and healthy. He was measuring under 9lbs, the placenta and cord were both functioning properly and he was healthy and strong, moving all around and all of his systems were perfectly fine. Apparently he was just comfy.
After our sonogram, our midwife checked me and did a membrane sweep (which helps stimulate the cervix by separating the bag of waters from the cervix) in an effort to nudge things along. I was 3cm and about 40% effaced. We were hopeful and I went home to pump and hopefully get labor started! I got good strong contractions that evening again, but again they fizzled out later that night. I was so disappointed. I went to bed mentally and emotionally exhausted. Woke up at 2am googling things like, “Are there women who never go into labor?” And “Risks for pregnancies after 42 weeks.”
The real deal
Friday morning found me with renewed energy to help this baby come out, so Emery and I embarked on our first Mall Walk! I pushed her in one of those disgusting mall strollers for over an hour around and around the mall. We logged about 2.5 miles at a brisk pace and by the end of the walk (around 11) contractions were consistently about 6 min apart. I wasn’t convinced yet, so I took Emery to play at Peppa the Pig World where I chased her around till about 1pm. Contractions still staying consistent! We grabbed lunch and still contractions hanging out at 5 min apart and strong. At this point I let my sister and midwife know that this was looking like it could possibly be the real deal. And I still wasn’t convinced so I went home to relax to see how that impacted the consistency. They slowed a bit, but then picked right back up again about 4-5 min apart. At around 3pm, I pulled the trigger to get our family (specifically my sister who would be acting as my doula) on the road from Austin and to call our friend to come pick up Emery. With the understanding that it still might not be the real thing.
Then we finally got a sign that things were progressing! Bloody show and mucus plug! Never thought I’d be so happy to see those things, but after 42 weeks of waiting to meet our baby, I was ecstatic! Things stayed pretty consistent for the next several hours. Contractions 3-4 min apart and strong, but still very manageable. I bounced on my birth ball, swayed in the kitchen and downed a protein shake while Corey bustled around preparing the birth pool and running to the grocery store for snacks for our guests.
My sister and mom arrived at 7:30. I think based on the timing of my contractions and that they’d been happening since 11am, they expected things would be more serious. Although they were strong and close together, emotionally l knew we were still in early labor. I was still chatty and excited between contractions and coping well during them. So my sister put me to work! We went walking around the neighborhood stopping every few minutes for contractions. It was hot out there but I knew since things were staying consistent but not really intensifying, I needed to stay upright and active to help him move down and into position. By 9pm I was curious to know how much progress we’d made and to check in on the baby to make sure he was coping well! So I invited my midwife Cori to join us. She arrived just before 10pm and informed me that I was at 4 cm. After contracting all day! I knew in my heart we were still early based on how I was doing emotionally, so it wasn’t that surprising, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was hoping for 6!
Since it was hot out and I didn’t feel like going back outside to walk, Cori suggested I hit the stairs. Two at a time! To open my pelvis and help him align properly. So my sister and I hit the stairs! Hard. She walked up and down the stairs with me between contractions and I found a spot at the top where it overlooks the living room where I could hang from the banister. I was squatting and using my birth ball during contractions for the several hours I was walking the stairs. We were in a very consistent pattern now with the intensity starting to ramp up. I became much more serious during this time and pretty particular about the environment. Corey brought up a cup of coffee and the smell was overwhelming. And I had a Citizen Cope song playing on repeat. Nite becomes day. I was feeling that song! I also remember thinking this was really starting to drag on. I was hopeful earlier in the day that baby would be in my arms by midnight. But midnight came and went. Evidently this birth was about teaching me patience!
Eventually, at around 12:30 I asked Cori to check me again to see how we’re were progressing. I was 5cm. Not even close to fully effaced and the baby was still way up high. This was disappointing. I’d been working so hard between walking up and down the stairs and handling contractions that were barely 2-3 min apart for several hours (Although still quite manageable from a pain perspective). I was gassed. So, after the exam, my sister suggested I stay in bed and try to sleep through some of it. We turned off all the lights. Everyone headed to bedrooms/couches to get a bit of sleep and Corey and I snuggled up in our room to try to sleep. The contractions spaced out to 5-10 min apart and I was able to get some sleep in between.
At around 2am, I was uncomfortable on my right side and so I rolled over to my left and then about 5 min later I was hit by the most intense contraction I’d had up to that point. Then another one right on top of the last. I told Corey I had to get out of bed. Now! He helped me up and I had 2 or 3 more contractions back to back before I could let go of Corey long enough for him to alert our midwives. Something had definitely changed. I was shaking like a mad woman through these contractions and they felt altogether different. My midwife checked me again and didn’t tell me a number but ok’d me to get into the birth pool. I learned later that I was still at 5cm, but that baby had dropped considerably and I was almost completely effaced.
I got in the pool at around 2:30.
This was an intense time and the weightlessness of the water was fantastic. I thought I never wanted to leave that pool. The water was hot, so my support team was pouring ice in the pool and keeping me cool with cold wash clothes and ice water to drink between contractions. I labored here for about 30-45 min until the bag of waters bulged out! From the look of it, it appeared to be the babies head! It was a very strange feeling! My sister and midwives informed me that breaking the bag was an option at this point to move things forward. Mentally I knew that was the right call, but I also knew that would rapidly intensify the contractions. It took me a moment to gather the courage to move forward, but I decided then that there was only one way through this. In fact, a kids song that emery likes started playing in my head “we can’t go under it, we can’t go over it, we’re just going to have to go through it”. So I reached down and broke the bag of waters.
Immediately I felt him drop down further and the intensity hit a whole new level. I was immediately feeling pushy at this point. So much pressure! My midwife had been checking heart tones on baby throughout the time in the tub, but when I broke the bag of waters, baby’s position changed and she was having a hard time getting his heartbeat on doppler in the position he was in. So we decided to move to the bed to get a better angle for her to get a read on his heartbeat. She found it quickly and this put everyone at ease. Before she could check my cervix again to make sure I was fully dilated for pushing, another contraction hit hard. I immediately went to Corey for support and then dropped to hands and knees. I stayed here through several more very very intense contractions.
I was tired, I didn’t see how I could go on. The contractions and the pressure was so intense that I doubted myself. I was out of control. There was no handling this. My body was taking me on a ride and I was just holding on to the edge for dear life. I told Corey we were never doing this again. And that I didn’t think I could do this. My sister kept reminding me to breathe and let it happen which was great advice, but I did not feel like that was an option at this point. Nothing was going to help this except getting this baby out! After several intense contractions on the floor, I announced to the room that I needed to poop, so my midwife suggested I try to use the bathroom. In between contractions, I got up and went to sit on the toilet to perhaps relieve some of the pressure. I had several big contractions where pretty much the only thing coming out of my mouth was the F word (just being real here!)
And then it happened, I felt the babies head coming suddenly and told Cori (midwife) he’s coming! And he was! I was standing over the toilet in the tiniest room in our house! Looking back I have no idea how Cori fit in there with me to catch him! But 2 big pushes and his head was out! Then on the next contraction, I gave it one more big push and my baby was born at 3:33am! He was all kinds of wrapped in his cord. Twice around his neck and once around his body under his arms. Cori’s hands moved like lightening getting him untangled and into my arms. He was literally the slipperiest thing I’ve ever felt! I could barely hold on to him! After 42 weeks of waiting, he was finally in my arms! He was nice an pink on arrival and after about a min of my midwives rubbing his back and clearing his nose and mouth of fluid, he let out a nice big cry! He was here and healthy and strong! We did it! And the look on Corey’s face of relief and pride and overwhelming love for our child was everything.
I want to reiterate, this was a team effort. I had an incredible amount of support and encouragement and a very skilled and experienced midwife to guide me through this pregnancy and birth and I’m forever grateful to have shared this experience to bring a new life into the world together!