Now that my sweet little boy is a big one year old, I thought it would be as good a time as any to write down his birth center birth story. When I sat down to start writing this post, I was blown away by how much of my labor I had already forgotten, the pain, the things I said, the things I heard. Yet, as I started writing, many of the memories flooded back, and I’m so glad that I have a chance to write them down before they go fully into the abyss that is my mama brain.
As a disclaimer, I’ll be including birth terms and probably some graphic imagery for those not acquainted with the birthing process, so if you’re not into that, I’d probably stop reading now ;).
My pregnancy with Charlie was a relatively easy one, at least compared to my first where I had bad morning sickness the first half and sciatica pain the second. With this pregnancy, I just had the usual nausea, heart burn, aches and pains, but nothing too crazy or out there. The one thing that threw me for a loop was testing positive for Group B Strep– this meant that I would have to get to the birth center at least four hours early to get an infusion of antibiotics before I pushed the babe out. I was super worried about this as my first was born within 45 minutes of arriving at the birth center. Spoiler alert: it ended up fine- but I was so worried as I “planned” out everything ahead of time.
I had my first birth experience at a birth center & midwife practice and chose to do the same with my second. A birth center is a really good option for low risk pregnancies in mamas who are striving for a natural birth. I love how supportive the environment is and how much the midwives and birth assistants take your desires into account throughout the whole pregnancy and into the hours you stay after the baby is born.
We had moved (twice!) in between and needed to find a new birth center, and we were not disappointed by our options in Tampa. The birth center that we chose had three midwives of whom I would have been excited to have any be present at our birth. As luck would have it, we ended up with the midwife I had only met once! I ended up really loving her, and she was a great fit for my style. Tony at one point said there was just a vibe of woman power that he didn’t really understand as she rocked on the bed with me. But more on that later.
In the last couple of weeks before Charlie was born, I started to have more and more Braxton Hicks contractions, and I knew things were starting to ramp up. We had felt we’d go early with my first, who was then 10 days late, so we tried not to get our hopes up on this one. With a hurricane going through north of us, it was possible that the pressure changes could make things go a little earlier than we had anticipated- or at least that’s what we were telling ourselves!
When I started feeling a weird pushing feeling on a Saturday morning around 38.5 weeks, I thought we should at least call the midwives. While the midwife did not think labor was happening since there were no contractions, she said that she was more than willing to come in and check everything out if we wanted to go in. So we got a hold of one of our friends to watch Nora, packed up our things, and drove in. Like we had anticipated (since I didn’t really have strong contractions), I wasn’t really in labor, but I had progressed a tiny bit since my appointment earlier that week!
So things were starting to happen, but it could still be anywhere from that night to three weeks down the road. In hindsight, the “pushing” sensations I had felt that morning were probably just Charlie moving further down the canal as he was sitting really low for the next couple days! After a non-stress test, just to make sure everything was good, and a quick membrane sweep, we were sent on our way. We picked Nora up just in time for her nap, and went into the rest of our weekend looking up all of the different things we could do to get labor started. Nothing happened the rest of the day or the next, so we figured it wouldn’t be happening anytime soon.
Monday evening, we took a family trip to Target to get some walking in and keep little Nora entertained. While we were walking around, I noticed that my contractions were starting to get stronger and actually timeable. I still doubted whether it was the real deal, but I was so worried about getting in soon enough to get those antibiotics that I was a little trigger happy. So again, we had our friend come over to stay with Nora after we got her to bed, and we headed back out to the birth center.
On our drive there, my contractions, of course, started to decrease, so I was worried that we were just going to be sent back home. The midwife decided to at least get an infusion of antibiotics going just in case. Because I have tiny veins, even in pregnancy, this was almost worse than labor itself! After the veins not working in both of my arms, I ended up getting the antibiotics through my hand. She then swept my membranes again, and said that while my contractions were not super strong or together at this point, it was up to us whether or not we wanted to stay.
While we were making our decision, my contractions started to pick up and made the decision for us! The midwife said that this often happens when she gives the decision over to the parents. We brought our things from the exam room into the birth room that I had chosen ahead of time and settled in. I labored in the bed for awhile. At one point only an hour or so later, I felt pushing sensations and thought that that was quick and easy! This ended up not being go time, and was probably Charlie moving down yet again.
Disappointed, I got up and walked around some to get contractions going harder again. This brought on some back labor which led me to trying the shower, the tub, and the funniest (yet most effective!) the toilet. The idea of a water birth is intriguing to me, and I wanted to try at least laboring in there for a little bit to see if it would help. In my interest, I forgot that I am not a fan of baths or even sitting in hot tubs. I recalled these facts as soon as I vomited the second I sat down in the tub. So back to dry land I went.
I was starting to get tired and nauseous from trying to get this baby out of my body and things didn’t seem to be progressing at the rate I wanted them to be. I was worried that they were going to send us back home at this point, but instead, the midwife suggested turning out the lights and letting us sleep in the bed as best as we could for awhile. At this point, I remembered that we had packed a microwaveable heating pad similar to this one, and sent Tony to go warm it up to use on my back labor pains. We laid down on the bed for awhile, and Tony slept, waking each time I nudged him to reheat up my pad.
I’m not sure if I slept at all or even how long this time was, but I could feel things starting to open up and mentally urged them to with each contraction. It turns out that I am a very internal laborer and need dark, quiet time to progress, as this is very similar to what I did with my first labor! At some point morning hit, and the midwife came to check on how I was doing. Tony woke up and literally said, “Do you think they’re going to send us home since you’re not getting anywhere?” and I could have punched him, but kept it inside.
The midwife asked if I wanted her to see how much I had dilated over that time, and I don’t remember numbers, but I had made a lot of progress! She also said that the baby was riiiiight there and the only thing keeping him in was my bag of waters which had yet to break. She gave me the option to have my water broken or to keep going at it on my own, urging me toward the second as she didn’t think it would take very long. In this environment, I felt like having her break my water would be like admitting defeat (though I knew that it wasn’t!), so I decided to at least try on my own for awhile.
Back to the toilet I went, as I found that it was the best place to push in hopes of breaking my water- plus it would’ve held the mess! It was also the most painful place. Those 15-30 minutes were some of the longest of the entire labor. I finally bargained with myself that after two more contractions without my water breaking, I would just have her break it. The two contractions went by with no luck, so I got into the bed again to have her break my water. She used a long poker thing to break my water, and it was such a feeling of relief.
Once the procedure was finished at 9:10am, I asked her what I was supposed to do next, and she said just to follow whatever my body was saying. I got on my hands and knees and started pushing. After only one or two pushes at 9:15am, he was out! I don’t know who was more surprised, the midwife & assistant, me, or Tony who was still “in the south end” holding my hips. I quickly flipped around to grab our newly born baby boy and brought him to my chest.
The best thing about a birth center is that all of the “new” best practices of skin to skin following birth, delayed cord clamping, and the golden hour to prompt breastfeeding are standard practice. The midwife was also very excited to show us the placenta after it was birthed and seemed sad when we said we weren’t going to do anything with it.
During this golden hour, I realized that I had forgotten about all of those sweet little newborn sounds. I snuggled our little guy close and tried breastfeeding which he didn’t take to right away, but figured out about an hour or so later. He was born with a little bit of fuzz on his head that looked like it might be red (even after some of the blood was cleaned off!). We didn’t have a name going into his labor, and still didn’t have a name at this point so we started throwing around some of our favorites. I was slowly falling in love with this new little guy.
As we were getting acquainted with our newborn, the midwife and nurse checked my vitals and did the baby measurements they could do with him still on my chest. I only had a small tear that didn’t end up needing any stitches, so we were in pretty good shape. Eventually, the baby was weighed and measured all around, and even being a week early, he was a tiny bit bigger than his big sister had been! At 7lb, 8oz, and 19.5 inches, he wasn’t too little and wasn’t too big. What a perfect little baby!
At some point, we ordered in McDonald’s breakfast as my first post birth meal- a tradition we continued from Nora’s birth. And, after getting a little food in and starting to feel up to walking around, we were getting antsy to go. The crazy thing about the birth center is that you go home 4-6 hours after you’ve delivered the baby. Because I’ve only done birth centers, I can’t imagine having to stay in the hospital for days before heading out! I was getting excited to get back home, see Nora, and get started on our life as a family of four. The nurse did our final check, I got changed, and put our little boy (still unnamed at the time) into his carseat and went out into the world for the first time, ready to come back for our check again in a couple days.
So there you have it, Charlie’s birth story! The hours, days, and honestly the last year have gone by in a blur. The adjustment to two kiddos has been really hard at times, but seeing their relationship grow has been such a blessing. This little boy is our “happy child” and it’s not often that he doesn’t have a smile on his face. I’ve learned so much in this past year, and I look forward to the many lessons I have yet to learn moving forward. I lucked out with a really great birth experience, and I hope that we’ll be just as blessed with any future babies.
If you have any questions about birth centers, natural birth, or even the adjustment to two kiddos- send them my way! Either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out on Facebook or Instagram. Before kiddos, I had been seriously considering going into women’s health and so all of this is my jam, and I love talking about it! Look for Nora’s birth story when we celebrate her third birthday in February!
For more information on Natural Birth, my favorite books are listed below with the first (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth) being the only one I read in both pregnancies.
These books are Amazon Affiliate products and if you choose to purchase one, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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