Thanks for coming to read my birth story! I loved reading other women’s birth stories when I was pregnant, especially since it was my first time! Birth both fascinated and terrified me but it ended up being the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced. I know that not every woman was lucky enough to feel that way about her birth story, especially those who ended up with postpartum depression as a result of their birth going a different direction than they anticipated. Birth is different for every woman. This is just my story.
Before I get started, I want to share that I chose not to have a birth plan. I knew a few women who wanted to give birth naturally and ended up feeling really frustrated by their birth process (although all of them were really excited to have their baby in their arms, regardless as to how they arrived). Many felt strong armed into getting medication and even cesarians. Instead of a birth plan, I decided to make birth preferences. During my pregnancy I stayed open to the fact that I may change my mind about drugs and that I could end up needing a cesarian. I kept talking to my baby and telling him however he wanted to come into this world, I was open to it.
My water broke around 1 AM on November 17th. My baby wasn’t due for another 13 days, so when I shot up in bed because I felt a rush of water between my legs, I thought “oh hell no.” It was one day into Beautycounter’s Black Friday sale, and as a consultant in the online retail industry, I wanted to be taking advantage of those last two weeks to earn a big paycheck before maternity leave! Baby Elliott had other plans, though.
I went to the bathroom to check my undies and, sure enough, they were soaked. I think I always imagined your water breaking as this like waterfall of water soaking through all your clothes and your bed sheets. That wasn’t the case for me. Just a slow little drip, drip, drip, to the point my husband said, “are you sure your water broke?” As instructed in our classes, we called the birthing center as soon as possible. The midwife on call said, “do you want to come in for antibiotics because of your GBS or are you opting out?” I told her I did not know what I wanted to do yet. She told me to take a tablespoon of castor oil and start pumping to see if I could get contractions started (I hadn’t felt any at all yet), and to call her back in a couple hours. I did as I was told, then my husband and I started wrapping up some loose ends for work since we couldn’t sleep.
A couple hours passed, and while I felt some light contractions, it was nothing huge. When I called the midwife back, she told us to continue to stay home and try one more tablespoon of castor oil and a bit more pumping, then to call her again. Contractions still weren’t intense. When we called back, a different midwife was on call. She told me that the initial midwife should have had us come in immediately to confirm that my water broke and that we should head in immediately to do so. My husband and I were a little confused since the initial midwife seemed so laid back, but we hopped in the car and went in to meet her.
Then it gets a little frustrating
When we arrived, the midwife told me that if I was going to get antibiotics for GBS, that I should have gotten on them as soon as my water broke. She said that with antibiotics, I had 24 hours to birth at the birthing center, but without them I only had twelve. 6 hours had already passed and she doubted I would be in labor by the time 12 rolled around. Then she said, since I didn’t come in immediately to confirm my water was broken, we were only going to have 18 hours from when it broke to give birth there (and this was ONLY if I chose antibiotics). I REALLY didn’t want to give birth at a hospital. The week prior I had fallen on concrete and had to be in the hospital for monitoring. Hospitals suck.
Now, I told you I was open to however baby wanted to come into this world, but I was frustrated that poor policy understanding with the midwife I spoke to earlier was going to get in the way of my preferences. The new midwife on call said that she was sorry, but I likely would not be able to give birth at the birthing center since my water had broken early and I wasn’t having contractions. HOWEVER, she mentioned there were a few tricks we could try as soon as we confirmed my water was broken. If I got on antibiotics and tried these tricks, I could possibly give birth there.
So, I lay back on the table in order for her to swipe my yaya, and it turns out their test was not accurate this long after the initial water breaking (thanks again, first midwife…). They had to send us to a hospital to confirm we had given birth, then we would need to come back to start the herbs to induce labor and the antibiotics (I ultimately chose to go with antibiotics because it would give us longer at the birthing center, and to be honest, the baby getting GBS terrified me). I was so upset that their mistakes were causing us to run around town WHILE I WAS IN EARLY LABOR.
When we got back to the birthing center, I found out I had to get one of the most intense antibiotics available due to my sensitivity to penicillin and because they had not tested my sensitivity to the lighter antibiotics they had on hand. This antibiotic is called vancomycin, and it is very common for folks to get yeast infections with it due to it wiping out all of your healthy gut bacteria. (In fact, after Elliott was delivered, the doctor thought I had opted out of antibiotics and was considering keeping us an additional day, but when I told him I had vanco he responded “oh that will get rid of everything! You’re good!” meanwhile I’m like.. greaaaaaaat). I was very irritated. First they mess up our timing for coming in, then they have to send us to the hospital, then they tell me I have to have some sort of terminator level antibiotic… I had a complete meltdown. Like, ugly crying, wailing, shaking — it was just too much on top of all of my anxiety around giving birth. But my husband and I decided we would move forward with the plan to birth at the birthing center with the hope it would make it more likely I could have a vaginal, unmedicated birth (they did not have pain killers available there so I wouldn’t have a choice on the latter!).
When the assistant went to put the line in for my antibiotic, she couldn’t land my (beautiful, large, plump) vein. She kept digging around to find it and I eventually had to say, “yo can someone else do this?” The midwife came over and said, “well, I can try, but there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to get it.” So I started crying again because needles freak me out. Luckily she found it immediately so we just had to be there for another hour until the IV was done, then they would send us home to continue to labor until I was having contractions closer together. While we waited for the IV to be completed, they started giving me an herbal tincture. They also instructed us to take castor oil when we got home (it was super weird! with scrambled eggs to make it more absorbable). They said the initial midwife had told us the WRONG way to take castor oil and that while normally you could take it multiple times to induce labor.. but the way she told us to take it was not really effective. COOL!
By the time the antibiotic was done, I was itching all over my body.. head to toe, I couldn’t stop scratching. It was so uncomfortable and I guess this is a common side effect of vancomycin. Luckily it subsided after about 30 minutes, the amount of time it took for us to drive home from the birthing center.
OKAY SO ONTO THE GOOD PART!
Well, my husband had to run to the store to get some things including electrolytes the midwife told me to take. They tried to give me EmergenC to drink… and I was like there is no effing way that shit is touching my lips with a baby inside me. Or possibly ever. So Roman went to Whole Foods and grabbed some Nuun tablets (which are made of clean ingredients and very little sugar.. and taste like koolaid. WIN/WIN). My contractions started getting closer and closer together because of the interventions we did with the castor oil and herbs. It was wild! I am looking back on it like, kind of fondly? But they were such powerful surges of energy. I hopped in the shower and started singing this song we used to sing in my women’s group called “earth my body” and eventually just started sort of moaning and singing through the contractions? At the hospital the midwife called it my birth song. I thought that was kind of beautiful.
When my husband got back, I asked him if he’d be willing to paint my toes. Now, nail polish is pretty toxic (I use cote which is a bit better but not by a ton) because red toes remind me of my mama. He was like “of course I will!!!” so as I’m moving into mid labor, he painted my toes.
We heard from our Doula that curb walking could really help with getting things moving, and since we were on a time crunch, we decided to go curb walking! Unfortunately, curb walking threw my pelvis out of alignment. I had been going to Function First Chiropractic regularly. First to get the baby to flip (it worked like magic.. see Dr. Ashley she is fantastic and highly skilled in the webster technique which flips babies!) and then to keep my body aligned for an easier labor. Welp, curb walking STALLED MY LABOR. I stopped having contractions for about an hour. So at this point, I had been awake somewhere around 15 hours. I sent Dr. Ashley a note on her Instagram asking if she thought chiropractic care could help get things moving again. She said absolutely, and being the sweet angel of a human she is, offered to make a house call. I love her so damn much.
I started having contractions again a little bit before she came, but after her adjustment, it was GO TIME. Like, I started feeling so hot all over my body and like something was REALLY wrong. I told my husband we needed to leave. We hop in the car, and I got in the back seat of our kia forte on all fours. I had wanted to be in the hatch back trunk area, but I couldn’t talk and tell my husband that so I just got in. It was pretty uncomfortable because the car seat was installed and my face was UP IN IT. The contractions got stronger and stronger and as we got on the highway, we realized it was rush hour. The sun had just set and as I looked up over the slowly moving cars I noticed there was a young “fingernail” moon directly in front of me. I sang my birthing song through the contractions and stared up at that tiny little crescent moon thinking “wow this is so special.” And then I would scream “OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO POOP THIS BABY OUT.”
I told my husband to go to the hospital instead of the birthing center. I felt this deep intuition that it was where we were supposed to give birth. Honestly, it was the deepest sense of intuition I’ve ever had. I can’t explain it. It’s a good thing, too, because the hospital our midwife had a relationship with was about 10 minutes closer. When I got into the labor and delivery center, they checked me and I was 9 centimeters dialated!
The grand finale
When I got to my hospital room I was able to finally take my mask off. They had me lay down on the bed in order to check my cervix and the baby’s heartbeat. It took 5-EVER and I started telling them to let me off the table it was too painful! I felt like I needed to poop. Pretty sure I sounded like a drunk person telling them that. I went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet, and that’s about when both my husband and the midwife came in. The midwife sat across from me and held my hands and roman sat next to her (there was a tub there they were sitting on. I told the midwife I was going to poop the baby out and she said “That’s great!” but I told her I was in so much pain and I really needed medication. I was begging her, “please, please give me pain medication!” and I kept apologizing for wanting to get it. Roman was like, “are you sure that’s what you want?” and I said “YES!!!!” So, the midwife got up and I heard her say to the nurses, “she wants pain medication but she’s starting to grunt.” I was grunting. A lot. It was so fucking primal.
My husband looked at me as I was grunting and his eyes started to well up and he said, “you’re doing it boo! you’re doing it! oh my god!” The midwife came back in and the nurses sort of indicated they didn’t want a birth to happen in the bathroom *again* so the midwife said that it’s time to push. She walked me over to the bed and I intuitively just got on all fours and started pushing. I was yelling as I pushed, but they said it needed to be a deeper belly yell, and to push down (like you’re pooping! hence me feeling like I was going to poop the baby out! And yes, I pooped. A lot.). Within probably about 10 minutes Elliott was here. I heard the midwife tell me to reach down between my legs and she handed Elliott up to me. I felt his slimy little body and said “is that my baby!?!” Ha! Whose else would it be?
They helped me lay back down and put Elliott on my chest. Roman stood next to me and we were together as a family for the very first time. After the birth, my legs were shaking aggressively and I kept cracking jokes to the nurses. I can’t remember what they were but I’m sure they were hilarious. The midwife sewed up the couple tears I had and once the cord stopped pulsing, they asked Roman if he wanted to cut it. He’s like, “uhh, I don’t know, do I?!” But he did. It was kind of weird.
I tried breastfeeding that night, but we didn’t really get a good latch until the lactation consultant came by the next morning. As soon as Elliott latched onto my boob for the first time I had the BIGGEST rush of emotion (thank you, hormones). I had never felt that much in love in my entire life.
Elliott ended up having a little bit of jaundice so we needed to stay an extra night. We kind of welcomed it and I was so grateful we didn’t give birth at the birthing center where they send you home 4 hours later. I think that would have been really intense as new parents so I’m really glad we landed at the hospital!
All in all, I’m so grateful for the way my birth turned out. I really think the chiropractic care helped my birth to be “fast and furious” (as the midwife called it). Although it started off a little chaotic and stressful, it got me to the most beautiful baby boy and to a whole new chapter for our family. I’m so in love!