The Birthing Center looks different at night than it does during the day. It smells different. It has an energy, it’s welcoming and understanding.
Brooke, Curtis, Carla, Dana and I made our way into the Center and up the stairs to the birthing suit. I mention that I have yet to call Laneys back up birth photographer, Eva, and that I was unsure of when to do that. I hand someone my phone and tell them her name. That’s the last time I saw my phone for many hours. It was glorious to not be attached to it or to care about it. I knew that all updates from this point on would be taken care of by all the wonderful people who surrounded me. I felt safe, I was unafraid.
I could feel all my contractions in my hips. Dana was awesome putting counter pressure on them, helping bring that pain down so I could focus on the contraction it’s self to help baby move down the birth canal. Carla wanted to check and see where we were. Earlier in the day I was 2 1/2cm, 80% and -1 station. Carla smiled at me, “You are definitely in labor!” I was at 4cm, 0 station and my waters were broken, just leaking slowly. They put a giant Depends diaper on me so I didn’t leak everywhere… it was pretty sexy if I do say so myself.
We put on Classical music on Pandora and I get on the birthing ball to do hip circles. It feels much better than it did at home. I think their ball was bigger and better inflated. Either way, it helped a lot. I remember hearing Danas voice behind me, talking to me and gently asking questions about being comfortable and asking if I needed anything. At 3am Eva, the birth photographer, arrived. It was the first time we had met. But I am an open book and easily opened myself and our space to her. I was grateful to know that someone was there who would be able to document this experience with pictures for us.
Soon after that Dana starts asking about other positions, I just remember saying “sure” to everything she said. Curtis came over and I hung from his shoulders during a contraction. I felt safe, but it was uncomfortable and made me nauseous. I went into the bathroom and threw up a bit. I remember being angry that I was throwing up. I wanted to eat and drink and stay as energized and hydrated as I could. I would never be able to do that throwing up. Dana brought in some peppermint oils and the smell helped so much, it really surprised me.
I remember asking about Joe a few times. Brooke had called him when we first got to the birthing center, but it was still hours before he could get a flight from NYC. I remember asking where her mother was (who had been staying at the hotel in town with her the whole time), but I guess she wanted to sleep through most of my labor and would come later. And I remember asking about Alex, Brookes sister. I am always concerned when people travel, wanting to be sure they get where they are headed safely. I asked about Alex a lot.
When I left the bathroom I went back to the ball and everyone started hanging my birth affirmations. They looked beautiful and I felt proud of all the hard work I had put into them. Dana and Carla asked about my favorites:
“Birth is not only about making babies. It is about making mothers.”
For me, as a mother of three beautiful children who am totally in love with, this quote hits me in the heart every time I look at it. I wasn’t just growing little June Bug, I was growing a mother and a father too. Dana and I talked about what I looked forward to most. “The look on Brookes face when she sees her daughter for the first time”.
At 3:40 I agree to get in the shower, hoping it will help to warm me up (I always feel like I’m freezing while in labor), and hoping the water will help with my contractions. The water feels amazing. I look at Dana and tell her “Best idea ever”! In between contractions she asks me if I want Brooke or Curtis to come comfort me or help me. I knew that they were there and that I could count on them for emotional support, but Dana was exactly what I needed for both emotional and physical support. During each contraction she talked to me, telling me to relax my body, to let the waves come to bring June to shore. She helped me steady my breathing and knew just the right counter pressure at the right time to help me. When counter pressure wasn’t needed, rubbing my back or arms while continuing to help me focus.
I labored standing up for awhile, continuously asking if Alex had made it from Austin safely. She arrived around 4am. I tried different positions in the shower, squatting, sitting. Nothing felt right and I went back to standing until 4:20 when Carla suggested we try some more moving around to help speed things up. I am zen. I am happy to do anything to help bring June to her family faster. I get dressed and Dana, Carla, Eva and I head for the stairs. I take them two at a time, sideways (so there is a lot of widening in my hips). It didn’t last very long before I started to feel nauseous again. I end up on the bed, smelling peppermint oil to calm the nausea when I overhear Curtis. He’s in the kitchen with Brooke and Alex, telling them the stories of my previous labors. I’ve never heard them from his point of view before. This ups my spirits a lot as I get a nice rush of Oxytocin, feeling so in love with my husband, and so thankful that he is there. His voice is the calm in my storms.
I know sitting on the bed isn’t going to help progress labor at all, so I get up and stand next to the couch, squatting during contractions. The pressure is unreal but I continue to do it, I know gravity is my friend. I don’t remember why, but I end up sitting backwards on the toilet, with a pillow on the back of it. It’s comfortable and I can feel transition coming. We must be in the home stretch! I can feel pressure in my bottom and can feel myself baring down during each contraction. It’s 5am and they start filling the birthing tub. Curtis comes in and checks on me often, not wanting to get in the way, but making sure I know he’s there. He is supposed to be at work at 6am. He is a supervisor and has to go open the store but promises he will be back as soon as he can. I don’t want him to go but know that he has to. Carla checks me to see where we are. No one tells me the numbers but Carla says we are close.
I get in the tub and it feels great. Brooke is by my side, sitting on a stool, updating her family and continuing to check to see where Joe is. I believe at this point he was just getting on a plane. The contractions during this time are intense and I can feel everything in my butt. It makes the pain more intense and I can’t get comfortable sitting in almost any position. By 5:45 I’m throwing up again. I feel bad because I can hear everyone else trying to hold it together and not get sick too. Everyone laughs and jokes that Brooke may need her own bag to be sick in. She was such a trooper. Brooke becomes more involved at this point, seeing me splashing water on myself they give her a cup and she poors water over my back and belly. Dana suggests I do a seated lunge to keep me from being in one position, I comply, and its nice to get off of my butt. It’s now 6:10 and Curtis is finally back. I feel like I can relax again, I just don’t feel safe without him there. I feel so much better I joke that I feel like a frog in my current position. Yeah, I can still joke, even in the throws of labor.
This is where things changed. I’m starting to push, I can’t control it, my body is ready. Carla wants to check me again so she knows where we are. She checks me and I hear the words I’ve heard twice before. “There is an anterior lip remaining.” She starts to explain but I already know all too well what is going on. June might have been born already, but shes caught on a piece of cervix. This happened with both of my boys. I am overwhelmed with emotion and fear. I look for Curtis. “I can’t do this. I can’t do it again.” I can’t even comprehend what I’m going to have to do.
The anterior section of the cervix is nearly always the last part of the woman’s cervix to be finally taken up into the lower segment of the uterus. An anterior lip occurs when the top of the cervix swells, but the rest of the cervix has completely dilated. An anterior lip can slow the woman’s progress from the 1st to 2nd stage of labor, because the swelling will usually take time to reduce, before enabling the woman’s cervix to be pulled up, and around the baby’s head.
With Collin I pushed for four hours before his head could pass the lip, and with Lex my midwife manually removed the lip during one excruciating contraction.
Carla offered those two options, to continue to labor and wait for the lip to move on it’s own, or she could manually remove it for me. I begged that she move it even though I knew the pain that came along with it. I was taken out of the tub and put on the bed where I got into the “normal” position for pushing in a hospital. On my back, knees up, someone holding my feet, chin to chest. Literally the worst position ever and painful without someone pushing part of my cervix out of the way. THREE contractions. It was torture and my zen was gone. I screamed and tried to not cry, I tried to not be defeated. Finally after those three contractions the lips was gone.
It’s 6:55am and I get right back in the tub. I’m on hands and knees and I reach down to feel her head, it’s there. I hear Carla telling Brooke to look and hear Brooke gasp and let out a small cry. I push slowly so that I don’t injure myself, but I am motivated again. I hear Brooke behind me. I push again and most of her head is out, I reach down and I can feel her little ear, I say this out loud and hear Brooke even louder now. One more small push and her head is born. Carla is doing something behind me, I ask her what shes doing and she says nothing but I can feel her touching me. I ignore it and give one good big push with the next contraction.
At 7:06am on March 15th 2016 June Bell is born.