Meghan's Birth Story
I was 36 weeks pregnant when I transferred my care to the Bozeman Birth Center. The impact of that decision was life changing. Kayla, Krista and Brooke were all so supportive and caring from the start. It immediately brought joy back into my pregnancy and enthusiasm for having a baby. They enabled me to feel like a powerful, beautiful woman who had the sacred privilege of creating life and birthing a child. I am filled with love, respect and gratitude.
I had a slow start to my labor. As most moms can relate, it seemed like my baby’s birthday would never come. This was my 2nd baby, and unlike the first one, this pregnancy went by very quickly...that is, up until the last month. In my first pregnancy, I went a week overdue. In my family, all the women seem to go 2 weeks past term. So, I had been mentally preparing myself that I would most likely go overdue again. What I forgot to prepare myself for was all the false signs of labor that can go along with that last month, that would keep me on the edge of my seat day after day. The closest comparison I can think of is being a child on Christmas Eve and going to bed full of anticipation and excitement to open gifts the next morning. But then waking up only to find out Christmas was postponed until tomorrow...and then the next day...and then the next. It’s a brutal part of pregnancy. But, as nature literally thinks of everything in creating a human and becoming a mother, I think it may be an initiation into a higher level of patience. Because God knows you’ll need that as your child grows.
At 40 weeks and 5 days, at full capacity of discomfort, my water broke. It was 7 pm and I was just about to sit down and eat dinner when I thought I peed my pants a little bit. So I went and changed. Then I went back to my dinner and noticed I had wet them again! I was like “ok, either I’ve lost full control of my bladder or my water broke.” So, I texted the midwife on call, Krista, and she confirmed my suspicion. She told me to just continue on with my evening, get some sleep, and get in touch once contractions started.
Well, like I’ve seen in many movies, agonizing contractions should have started within minutes! That was not the case for me... the elusive labor trend was still going strong. It was very hard to sleep. I was hoping labor was imminent and anticipation was keeping me from getting any deep rest. Finally, 6:30 am rolled around and I gave up trying to sleep. Still no consistent contractions. The only thing close to being timed throughout the night was my wetting myself as apparently amniotic fluid replenishes itself until the baby is born.
At 7 am I got a call from Kayla. She cheerfully said, “I hear we’re having a baby today!” Finally some good news! I was starting to doubt everything at that point. Thank God she was at least confident, because I was on the brink of losing all hope that this baby would ever come!
My partner, Damien, and I met Kayla at the Birth Center at 9 am. Our quiet, unhurried drive to Bozeman was not how we had imagined it but we were grateful it wasn’t the other extreme since we live an hour away. When we arrived, Kayla started talking to us about inducing labor to get our baby out. I knew that once your water breaks, it’s optimal to be in active labor within 24 hours to reduce risk of infection since the baby no longer has the protective barrier to the outside world. I was pretty nervous about induction because I had to go through that with my firstborn as well. However, that delivery was at the hospital. Kayla assured me that this would be a much different experience here with her.
We spent the day hanging out together in the living room of the Birth Center trying different methods of inducing contractions - one of them being intermittent breast pumping. At around noon, the contractions started. But, all afternoon, they stayed at just an annoying level of pain and nothing more. So, we all just hung out. Kayla was embroidering corn hole bags and Damien and I watched movies. It was cozy and personal and so different from a hospital setting.
At around 6 pm, I drank a cup of castor oil. Kayla said I could sip it, but I just wanted to get it over with. It was like drinking an oily, thick, warm smoothie. Not the best evening cocktail, I admit. About an hour later, I was honestly pretty miserable. I was on the toilet with intestinal cramping and the worse case of the runs in my life. On the plus side, I was at last having some very strong contractions. About 2 hours later, I was finally off the toilet and most definitely in active labor.
I was needing to focus and breathe through each contraction that seemed to be coming faster every time. It felt like I was only getting 10-15 seconds between each one and they were long and hard to get through. Because I was in active labor, Kayla was able to check my dilation without risking infection to the baby. I was only 5 cm.
5 cm didn’t seem like much to me for the level of pain I was feeling with each contraction. But I didn’t have much time to dwell on that thought as another contraction was coming on strong. I was definitely in it now. I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the sudden intensity of the labor. I put on a playlist of yoga mantras that have calmed me since I was a child.
The next 2 hours passed quickly and slowly at the same time as I was just consumed by breathing through each contraction with not much awareness of anything going on around me. I kept thinking about a tip I’d heard over and over that once you feel like you absolutely can’t take it anymore, it’s do or die, you’re there. Then it’s time to push. Well, I definitely felt like I had reached that point at least an hour ago! But, I just kept telling myself my son’s birth was right around the corner and I’m always one contraction closer to his arrival.
By 11:30ish, I was on the floor of the bathroom, having a hard time coping with the pain of the contractions. Kayla drew a bath and urged me to get in. I found out why it’s called a midwife’s epidural. The bath tub was large enough to take gravity away and that took the edge off the pain for me. I asked Kayla to check my dilation again, hopeful that I was in the home stretch, and not knowing how much more of this I could take. She announced I was a good 7 cm.
Panic just washed over me. I didn’t know how in the world I was going to make it one more minute.
As yet another contraction came on strong, I told Kayla I was scared. She told me I was only scared because my instincts were kicking in...that my body was about to have a baby and it was urging me to find a safe place to give birth, and just tell my body, “It’s ok, don’t be scared. I’m already safe.”
Damien was by my side fanning me, which felt amazing but then at times awful. I would sometimes have to ask him to pause because it felt like the air was sharp and painful.
Right around this time Rosa the nurse had arrived. She entered the room with her 7 mo. old baby strapped to her back. I saw this in between contractions and just started crying. It was overwhelmingly beautiful to me that I was about to birth a baby with another baby watching. Rosa’s baby had such a big smile on his face and was not even phased by the scene. It was such a grounding, reassuring moment, it made me feel like we’re all in this journey of life together and that there’s nothing to fear.
After a contraction and a pause, I got an overwhelming urge to push with every ounce of strength in my body. All the power in me, everything I had, suddenly needed to be focused into pushing out this baby. I lost all control of my voice. My shout felt so primal and out of control and focused and intense. I was only aware of how I was giving everything I had to pushing, and how loud my voice was. The baby was headed out now and the only thing I could do to combat the pain was to push harder than the pain overcoming me. Then, his head was out and my body gave me a brief pause. Kayla asked me if I wanted to feel his head... I reached down and felt. There he was. It was surreal.
Then the urge to push returned and suddenly he was out. It was over. I felt a flood of relief, gratitude, love and shock wash over me. I had a new life in my arms. Our own, beautiful creation. Theo Day.
It was time to cut the umbilical cord. I looked over at Damien, who I now saw had shut down from shock at some point during the evening. The unexpected water birth, seeing the baby born underwater was one shock. Another was seeing me in such intense pain and not knowing how to help. And then the discomfort and rawness of it all. He agreed it was probably best to stay seated for the time being to avoid passing out. So, I got the privilege of cutting Theo’s umbilical cord. As I did, Kayla said “He was born at 12:03. And at 12:09 he became his own person.” ❤️
Kayla informed me that I had gone from 7cm to 10cm in 16 min and that I then pushed for 5 min. What a whirlwind that was. I needed stitches. But after watching Kayla flawlessly embroider all afternoon, I knew I was in good hands. Theo was born a little giant—10 lbs, 1 oz and 23 1/2” long. I am so grateful I was able to birth him naturally. Because of Kayla’s constant clarity, immense knowledge and incredible skill, I never doubted that I was capable. I was able to bring my son into the world feeling empowered and successful.
Thank you, Kayla and everyone at the Birth Center, for everything from the bottom of my heart.