Hospital Birth | Unmedicated Natural Birth | Raleigh, NC
Katie and Graham hired me when Katie was 32 weeks pregnant. They had three children at home. The youngest was almost 10 years old. Katie’s previous labors and births had been highly medicalized with many interventions. She wanted something different this time around. She greatly desired a natural, peaceful birth. Katie had researched the benefits of a doula, and really wanted the extra support one could provide. We talked a lot prenatally. When we discussed birth preferences, Katie expressed that her greatest desire would be for Graham to catch the baby, and then to immediately pull the baby up to her chest. I encouraged her to put that in her birth plan and to discuss it with her care providers, and see how they could make that happen.
At Katie’s 36 week appointment with the OB, he checked her cervix. She was about 1 cm dilated. Not long after this, Katie began experiencing a lot of Braxton hicks and ‘false labor’ almost every evening. We stayed in contact a lot during this time. We talked about ways to identify whether it was actual labor or just her body warming up. We also discussed ways to help the contractions calm down if it wasn’t actual labor. After about 10 days of Katie experiencing fairly intense prodromal labor contractions every night, we talked about a plan. I suspected the baby might be posterior, so I gave her some tips on encouraging the baby to turn, especially since Katie was feeling very uncomfortable and tired.
On June 22nd, 2016, around 7:30am, Katie sent me a text to let me know that she thought today might be the day Grace would arrive! She said she was having contractions that were mild, crampy, and short. She also said she was having bloody show, and she just felt different. I told her all of those were great signs, and it could definitely be early labor. She said she had a doctor’s appointment at 3:30 that afternoon, and she would have him check her then, if she hadn’t gone into active labor before that. At 11:55am, Katie gave me an update. She said she was still having contractions, but that they weren’t any stronger or closer together. They were about 20 minutes apart and still very mild. She was getting frustrated that things weren’t intensifying yet. I encouraged her that often early labor takes quite a while and that she sounded like she was in a good pattern. I told her that things move a lot faster once you get into active labor. We also talked about when she got checked at her OB appointment that cervical dilation doesn’t mean much, so not to be frustrated if she hadn’t made much change yet.
At 1:50pm, Katie let me know that she had gotten home from camp and was lying down with a warm pack on her lower back. She said she was still spotting and losing some mucous. She also said that contractions were beginning to last a little longer, but were still about 20 minutes apart. I told her that was great, and I advised her to make sure to stay hydrated and to eat and rest. She said she was going to pack a few last minute things, and then planned to rest for a bit. At 4:20pm, Katie sent me a text to let me know she was still at the doctors. They had done a cervical check, and she was still 1 cm dilated. She said contractions were about the same, and that they were testing to see if her water was still intact. It was.
At 6:00pm, Katie let me know that over the last hour her contractions were ranging anywhere from 4 to 17 minutes apart, and lasting about 45 seconds long. We discussed that maybe the exam irritated things. I suggested that she try drinking two large glasses of water and getting in the bath to see if things would slow down or stop. With her contractions being all over the place, I wasn’t sure if she was transitioning from early to active labor or if it was another bout of prodromal labor. A few minutes before 7:00pm, Katie let me know she was taking a bath and her contractions were between 5-6 minutes apart and lasting about a minute long. She said they were getting more intense, but that she could still work through them easily. I told her to see if things stayed the same once she got out of the tub, and if they did, then I was pretty sure she was going to be having a baby tonight.
At 8:04pm, I checked in to see how Katie was doing. She said she had just gotten the other kids down and in bed. She said contractions were becoming more intense, but that she was going to go try and rest. She also said the contractions had spaced out some. They were ranging anywhere from 5 to 16 minutes apart, but most were 7 to 10 minutes apart. I told her to definitely try to rest if she could. She said she’d try to sleep. Then she had another contraction, and said she didn’t know how she’d be able to sleep through that. I told her to try lying on her side for a bit to see if she was able to at least sleep some in between contractions.
At 9:35pm, Katie let me know that things had suddenly intensified, and that she thought it was time for me to come over. Then she sent me a screenshot of her contraction timer. Katie’s contractions had suddenly gotten very long and close together! I immediately jumped up, grabbed my stuff, and raced out the door. I arrived at Graham and Katie’s house at 9:55pm. Katie’s parents had just left from picking up the other kids. Graham was loading bags in the car, and then ran back in and was walking Katie out. It was very clear that Katie’s labor was moving extremely quickly. As I helped Katie to get into the car, she squatted, and said, “I feel like I’m going to poop all over myself.” I told her she was doing awesome, and asked if her water had broken. Katie and Graham didn’t think so. I responded with, “Okay good, let’s get you loaded in. Remember calm deep breaths. You’re doing so awesome (and she was)”. I then looked at Graham and quietly told him that he needed to rush as fast as he could. He said he planned to.
Once everybody was loaded up, I ran to my car, and followed Graham and Katie to the hospital. Graham pulled up to the front, and ran in to get a wheelchair. I parked and met Katie at the car. The registration lady came out, and as soon as she realized how far along Katie was, she ran back in to get the nurses. We got Katie in the wheelchair and wheeled her up to labor and delivery while Graham went and parked the car. They got Katie set up in the bed and listened to the baby’s heart beat. Graham came in the room. There was a midwife on call that night, and she came in and did a cervical exam. Katie was 8 cm dilated and 100% effaced. The next contraction came, and Katie started pushing involuntarily. I knew the midwife and nurses weren’t going to have time to read the birth plan, so I quickly mentioned to the midwife that it was very important to Katie that Graham catch the baby, and that Katie was able to pull the baby up to her chest. The midwife said okay. She guided Grace’s head out, and then Graham caught her, and Katie reached down and pulled Grace to her chest. It was so beautiful, and they were absolutely in awe of their baby and the experience. Grace arrived at 10:28pm, less than 15 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. Katie kept saying it felt like a dream. She couldn’t believe she did it, and how amazing their baby was.
Katie and Graham had prayed for Grace and her birth, and every prayer was answered. Besides it being a little faster than they expected, every single thing went exactly the way they had hoped it would. It was a beautiful birth. Katie was so incredible. She worked so hard, and handled labor so beautifully. Graham was an amazing source of support, comfort, and love to Katie. It was truly an honor to support Katie and Graham throughout pregnancy, labor, and birth, and to be there and witness them welcoming Grace into this world.
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