My Birth Story – Part II
before you read this one, make sure you are caught up on part I of the birth story!
i must also extend a massive thank you to our friend and insanely talented photographer cassie rosch! while she is usually a globe trotter to capture weddings and elopements all over the world, she was kind enough to capture all of the images you see here. they evoke so much emotion for me and i know we will cherish them always. hire her – you will be so happy you did! and yes, our friendship has now been taken to a whole new level.
it is also my intent to show that birth is a natural and normal process. while i am electing not to share photos of her crowning or of my vagina, let’s all acknowledge that it’s totally normal and women’s bodies are freaking amazing!
okay, so we left off about 7:30pm on thursday 9/1/16. i was feeling especially miserable after experiencing back labor for hours upon hours. my doula, erika said it was time to head to the birth center and somehow i found the energy to go into planner mode.
“do we have my bag?”
“do we have a onesie?”
“do we have multiple onesies because we don’t know how big she is?”
“do you have my snacks for after birth?”
i was told that everything was taken care of and to get in the car. i am so very very very grateful we only live about 10 minutes from the birth center because those were some of the longest 10 minutes of my life.
since it was after hours at the birth center and my husband raced to get there, we arrived before chance, my midwife did.side-note: at the birth center, you meet all the midwives during your various appointments during your pregnancy. then you work with the one on call when you’re in labor. a few weeks prior to me going into labor, there was an announcement that one of my favorite midwives, chance, was leaving. both my husband and i were sad that we wouldn’t get to potentially work with her. then when he called earlier in the day and found out she was on the one on call – we totally did a happy dance! what are the chances (sorry, i had to). yay for giving a month’s notice!
i sat on the little picnic table outside the birth center for about 5 minutes, trying not to vomit until she arrived. i think this is also when cassie got there but i was in a lot of pain then to fully remember!
since i was the only one laboring then, my top room choice was available (the caraway room)! we got into the comfortable and cozy room and the midwife checked how far along i was. i said i didn’t want to know numbers (because they can be misleading and discouraging) only how i was progressing. she said, “okay – you can start pushing when you feel like it!”
turns out my waters hadn’t broken (only about 10% of women’s waters break as the first sign of labor) so i asked her to break them and holy smokes – that for some reason was super painful. apparently that was when i let out my first and only scream. later i learned that we made it to birth center and i was fully dilated to 10 centimeters.
what is amazing about birthing naturally is that you can fully listen to the position your body is telling you to get in. when you get an epidural, it numbs your legs so you have to give birth on your back. i was all about gravity helping and i also knew i wanted to get into the glorious bathtub too.
i started out there and it provided some good relief for my back.
whoever’s idea it was to put those grab bars in, obviously knew what they were doing. i felt like i wasn’t getting enough leverage in the tub and my body wanted to be elsewhere so i tried out the birthing stool. you can’t really tell what it looks like with the blankets, it’s not a comfy stool, it’s a “let’s get this baby out” stool! it sort of looked like a metal walker.
also amazing perk of the birth center – they put all those blankets in a warmer and they made me so very happy! as you can see, ravery was with me every step of the way and providing amazing support. that is erika, my doula, on the ground checking out my progress via the mirror on the ground.i didn’t know this at the time but it was erika who kept suggesting a change in position when she could tell i was over it – thank goodness! i moved to the bed and tried being on all fours but my arms (actually my whole self) was so tired i couldn’t support myself. i also pushed for a while on my side but didn’t love that. every kept telling me she was so close but i really only listened to my husband. i remember thinking that everyone else there were medical/birth professionals so they had to say that but ravery had no idea so he must be telling the truth! contractions are strange and so is the urge to push. most of it is quite involuntary but there were a few times when i just had no energy left to push so i didn’t. i let the contraction move through me while i rested. the back labor started eventually easing up as i pushed more.
i was really starting to fade so i laid back on the bed for a few more contractions. this was after 19 hours of intense labor and i started fearing that i wouldn’t have enough energy to actually push her out. i pushed on her for almost three hours.i started picturing having to transfer to the hospital and doctors pulling her out for me. it didn’t sound half bad but i knew i also really wanted to have a baby naturally and in a birth center. i heard erika asking the nurse of they had any honey.
the next thing i knew she was forcing a tablespoon of honey down my throat. i didn’t like her in that moment and she knew that and even said it out loud. it was making me nauseous to taste the honey and felt like too much effort to swallow. she whispered to ryan to make me eat the last little bit…side-eyes to those two conspiring together.as much as i hated the honey going down, erika knew what she was doing because it gave me a jolt of life. i said i wanted to try the birth stool again so i did.
i pushed on that for a few more minutes and then i heard someone suggest another position. i was over it all. i just wanted this baby out and to be done and i was not leaving the birth stool. i bared down (or is it beared? i imagine bears doing this too) and pushed with every last ounce of my energy. suddenly i felt a burning sensation and then something pop out – her head!
this part i remember distinctly:
chance (midwife) said, “ryan, pull her out!”
ryan: “wait, what? how?!”
me: “PULL. HER. OUT.” (said in the voice of a deep, husky, grunting man who meant business)
my incredible husband literally pulled our incredible daughter from my incredible body.ravery started crying and saying she was so beautiful. my first reaction was “oh thank GOODNESS she is OUT!” then i started crying and we shared our first family cry. atlas turner avery entered the world at 10:22pm on thursday september 1, 2016. turns out this little baby was still positioned asynclitic when she came out, which means her head was facing to the side (left for me) instead of facing my tail bone. usually babies should eventually spin during labor, but not this stubborn little one – hence all the back labor. thank goodness she came out healthy and one of the pinkest babies they have seen (jaundice is quite common particularly in colorado). i had a second degree tear and a slight hemorrhage but thankfully chance got those taken care of and we ooh’d and aww’d over this little human.
what i absolutely love about mountain midwifery birth center is that then they basically let the three of you bond! the nurse came in quietly every 20 minutes or so to check our temperature and heartbeat (and push on my uterus to get it shrink back) but other than that, we were left to bond for about two hours.
i made my way back to the tub for an epsom salt bath while i watched ravery change his very first diaper! except for putting it on backwards, he did a great job – ha!
if you are considering a natural birth, i recommend it. labor is typically easier than the time i had so if i can handle this – you can absolutely handle it too. our bodies are made to do it and the rush of oxytocin after birth really is quite the high.i am so grateful to be married to the type of man who wanted to be so involved in my birth. he was the perfect birth partner and i adore watching him be a father, atlas is so very lucky.
so why the name atlas turner avery?
we (well mostly i) decided we were ready to have a baby while we were in the midst of traveling to 7 continents. before we left for antarctica, we were sitting on our couch and talking about names for future children. my husband said something about interesting names related to travel and i looked up at the huge world map that hangs on our wall and said “atlas.”
he instantly loved it and so did i. we adore our little attie and can’t wait to explore the world with her! turner is my maiden name and will be the middle name of everyone in our family (it’s in ravery’s name too).
okay, back to the birth story! the other great thing about a birth center is – you get to go home in a timely manner. four to six hours to be exact, should you both be healthy. when i initially heard that before giving birth, it made me a little nervous to enter the world so quickly with a newborn who relied on inexperienced parents to keep her alive. let me tell you – it was excellent to get to go home. i’ve heard from friends who have hospital births that they get a little stir crazy in there so i was grateful to sleep in my own bed.
we hugged our midwife chance and our nurse susan, thanked cassie profusely and made our way into the world, now a family of three.