We love how this precious Oklahoma mama's birth story is such a representation of the INCREDIBLE VALUE of having a supportive birth team surround you during one of the most powerful and vulnerable moments of your life.
Interested in building your birth team in Oklahoma? Make sure to check out our Birth OK Community Directory and download our "Building Your Perfect Birth Team" Cheat Sheet. <3 Now enjoy this birth story, friends... and thank you for sharing, Veronica!
My due date was April 20th. By the time May 1st arrived, I decided to go full-on mission mode and try to kick-start things by walking quickly on a treadmill in my husband’s office building in a back room. I did that for about two hours while watching a Harry Potter movie marathon they were having on some channel. Eventually while walking, I was feeling very light contractions. So I had my phone contraction app out and was timing my contractions. I am guessing they were probably 10 minutes apart? They were so light that I was able to keep walking quickly through them. I decided to text Drew and let him know. He quickly came to me (maybe thinking that I was in pain and in full-blown labor), but I assured him that everything was fine. I went home and I noticed the contractions were slowly subsiding.
I went on to the next plan: pumping with a breast pump for two hours (with a five minute break every ten minutes). I also rubbed Clary Sage essential oil on my stomach on the breaks. Doing this made my contractions come back with even more force that the ones I had by just walking quickly. They were still pretty light though compared to what I imagined painful contractions to feel like. I did not know if they would also subside after I was done pumping. By the time I was done with the pumping, Drew was home from work. Surprisingly, I was still contracting after I was done using the pump! Maybe this is it! We went ahead and started loading things up just to be prepared. By the time it was bedtime, the contractions were starting to leave my stomach and move toward my lower back and tailbone. I never imagined having contractions in my tailbone and had never heard of anyone else having them, either! It felt a lot better when Drew would give me massages during contractions. But eventually Drew was tired and headed to bed. I tried to sleep, but without him giving me massages, I could not deal with the pain just laying there! So I went to the living room and dealt with them standing up and trying various positions. Eventually they were 3-5 minutes apart. I texted Dawn and my doula and told them that we were going to head to the birthing center. I whispered to Drew that I was going to start packing the rest of my things and then we would leave. He mumbled ok and went back to sleep. When I was all packed, I told him we could leave now. He looked confused. Apparently he was really asleep when I told him we were leaving the first time! So he quickly got his things together and we left for the hour drive around midnight. I excitedly texted a big group family message telling then that we were headed to the birthing center. This is the news they have been waiting for so long and I was glad to finally be the bearer of good news!
When we arrived, my midwife, Dawn, was inside lighting candles around the room for us to help make it a very peaceful, relaxing birthing environment.
Brandy (my doula) later arrived and so did Lauren (midwife assistant). They all agreed that I was in active labor. Brandy did a great job of massaging me during contractions and teaching Drew what to do. We put on the labor playlist that I had worked so hard on months in advance to get just the right music to birth to. It had about 8 hours of relaxing, mostly christian worship music on it. Surely 8 hours of music would be plenty! We also put on the essential oil diffuser.
I was not progressing much that night. Contractions were still about the same. My birth team all took turns taking quick power naps in the other bedroom. Drew took his naps on the bed in our birthing room. At one point, I remember bouncing on a yoga ball while my birth team and Drew were sitting in the room all passed out in different position- heads in their laps, leaning back in a chair, etc. I wish I could have taken a photo of this scene!
Brandy had me do different things to try to get Fletcher to move down and to help open up my pelvis such as putting one leg up on a chair for 5 contractions and then switching legs for 5 contractions. Then later having me sit backwards on the toilet seat for several contractions. She also had me lay down on the bed on my stomach while propping one leg up on a yoga ball of sorts. It was smaller than a yoga ball that they called the “Peanut” because of its shape. I did not care for any of these positions because they weren’t very comfortable in the state I was in, but they were all helpful in the end.
The night ended and the daylight of May 2nd arrived. I was surprised that I had not given birth yet. By the morning time, all of our family had texted back to the group message expecting to see a picture of the baby. I had forgotten my phone charger at home, so Drew was doing all of the texting. The only thing he could really text back was “No update...no change.” My sister, Casandra, said she would drive up here once Isaac, her 8 month old, woke up. He was taking a really long time to wake up, and she was scared she would miss the birth, so she finally woke him up and headed our way. Dad texted saying him and mom were headed to Weatherford. I panicked when I heard that because I was beginning to realize that this birth could take a while and I did not want my parents to get impatient or to have to drive back home without meeting a baby. I told Drew to tell them to please not come, because we do not know how long it will be. But they came anyway and did some shopping, taking their time. Casandra arrived with Isaac. I was pretty tired, but holding on. The birth team left to go get breakfast at a local diner and brought back food for us too. I really did not have that much of an appetite. Isaac and Casandra brought some wanted cheer after that first bleak night of no progress. I was getting a little worried. Maybe Fletcher was in a bad position and he would never come out until I went to the hospital and got medical help? I had no reason to be worrying since my birth team was constantly checking his heartbeat for signs of distress, along with checking my temperature and blood pressure. They kept assuring me that everything was fine. But I was getting pretty tired and was not so sure. Dawn advised me to try the breast pump for an hour to speed things up. The birth team left the room so I could have some privacy. When I began using the pump, the contractions became very intense and a lot closer together. I asked Drew to ask Dawn if I could please stop and not do it anymore. She of course said yes. Drew and I decided to take a walk in the backyard to get some fresh air. I confessed to him that going to the hospital sounded like a good idea. I could tell he did not like that idea. He knew what kind of birth I desired and did not want me to give up. He knew that I would regret getting medical help when I did not need it. After a contraction, he prayed over me for strength to keep on going. We went back inside. Still no progress though. Dawn told me that I really need to pump for the full hour or else it will not help anything. She said that at this rate, it would be midnight before I have the baby. *gasp* I didn’t want to wait that long! So I got the pump back out and powered through it. Casandra had to take Isaac to the eye doctor, so she had to leave. But she said she would be back later. I think I was dilated to a 6 when she came back? Kason, her husband, also stopped in to pray over me. It felt really nice for him to pray over me. There is nothing better than being prayed over when you are in a state of discouragement.
The night of May 3rd began.
I think Casandra was there for a little bit? Things get really blurry at this point because I was so tired and delirious. I think I remember looking over at Casandra when the birth team left the room to whisper to her to take me to the hospital so that I could get an epidural and some rest. I am not sure of what her answer was. I am sure that she gave me some sort of “You can do it” phrase. In my head I kept thinking, “Fletcher is just going to have to be ok with being an only child.”
All I know is I was getting extremely discouraged. The birth team left the bedroom again and left Drew and I “sleeping” on the bed. I say “sleeping” because Drew was sleeping while I was having painful contractions and then immediately passing out for the two minutes between the contractions only to be woken up again to deal with another painful contraction. Over and over and over again. I had actually been waiting for the birthing team to walk out so that I could sneakily whisper to Drew that we need to go to the hospital (I thought Drew would be easier to convince than the birth team). Well he would not listen to me not matter how much I was weakly begging. Brandy came back in the room and Drew told her how I was wanting to go to the hospital. Brandy gave me a pep talks of sorts. I had a breakdown sobbing saying, “I don’t think I can do this for much longer.”. Drew later told me that he had to leave the room and compose himself because I made him cry seeing me in so much pain. No one was giving in to my pleas. When Drew came back from the bathroom, he was surprised to see me stumbling out of bed on my own and in my weak, delirious state telling him, “OK ...we’re leaving for the hospital. Let’s go...” Drew told me to wait there and he went to the birth team again to tell them what was happening. At this point, Dawn claims she “rallied the troops”, and they all came back in the room. They were like angels, surrounding me with love. I felt them on every side of me: someone holding my hand, another giving me loving massages, another whispering encouraging words and prayers over me. I felt the power of God at that moment. I still had tear-filled eyes and I was still so discouraged and overwhelmed with pain and tiredness, but I felt my spirit lift just a little bit in that moment. It was just what I needed to get through that dark, miserable night. Even with all the candles and replay after replay of our labor cd, I did not sense anything good that night until my birth team and Drew surrounded me like that.
Sometime in the night, Dawn asked me if I wanted her to break my waters. She told me that things would really kick into gear after that and the contractions would be even more painful. I just silently looked at her wide-eyed thinking to myself, “Do they get more painful than this??”. I didn’t think I could handle any more pain. All I really wanted was sleep. The birth team and Drew were just looking at me waiting for me to say something as I was thinking of what to do. It took several minutes of inward self-pondering, but I finally decided to let her break my water. I was afraid it might hurt, but all it felt like was a warm burst of water that escaped. Things unfortunately did not progress as fast as we had thought they might.
Some time that night, while they were surrounding me, I felt a sort of body spasm escape me. I had no idea what it was. It was as if my body uncontrollably pushed without any warning. I was a little embarrassed and told them that I had no idea what that was. They looked at each other as if they shared a secret and said this was a good thing. After that, every contraction made me have this urge to push. I would either have a short body spasm, or if I pushed with the spasm, it made me push even more. It helped with the pain too. I do not know if it was just because I was so sleep-deprived, but I honestly did not know what was happening. I just knew it felt right. I did not realize that Fletcher was slowly (very slowly) descending. I did not “feel” Fletcher. Nothing felt any different except the urge to push. You would think I would know that it meant I was needing to push Fletcher out! Sleep delirium got the best of me though. I feel like I had contractions like that for a lot of the night. I was also in the birthing tub for some of the night. The warm water really helped me relax and helped some of the pain. Dawn asked if she could check my dilation again. I really did not want to say yes. First of all because it hurts. Second of all because I did not want to be disappointed again at any lack of progress. But she said she could check me while I was in the water, so since it did not require any movement from me, I acquiesced. She did not get very far. She pulled her hand back, and told me to feel. I felt with my hand and could feel my baby’s head. What a feeling! But for me, it didn’t mean much. At the rate I was going in, I figured that I would be hanging out at a 9 for another couple days. Dawn left me to it and allowed me to push at my own pace. (I still did not know I was supposed to be adamantly pushing Fletcher out! I was just doing my own thing).
Eventually the daylight of May 3rd appeared. I had been in the tub for quite a while contracting/pushing like that. Casandra showed up again that morning. This was her third 2 hour round trip here, mind you. I think there was a moment when all five of them were in the bedroom observing me in the tub. I remember being really delirious and trying to explain something to them, but I could not get the right words out. I remember them all looking at me patiently as I tried to explain what I was talking about. They were like adults politely listening to a 4 year old, nodding their heads even though they had no idea what I was saying. Apparently when Drew left the room to go to the bathroom, I said “I don’t know who that man is, but I’m going to push!” Dawn later said that she and the birth team were afraid that they “broke me”!
Dawn eventually came beside me and told me that she thinks we need to do some instructed pushing. At this point, I realized that they had been waiting in anticipation thinking that I had been trying to push Fletcher out this whole time! But in the end, it was kind of a good thing, because since he descended so slowly and gradually, it gave my body plenty of time to stretch. So I told her yes, please, let’s do some instructed pushing! So all five of them came into the room.
It was showtime. I did not envision myself giving birth in the tub, but I was so comfortable in the water that I decided to stay in there for it. They all surrounded the tub beside and behind me. Each contraction, I would let them know when one was coming, and during each contraction, Brandy would gently grab one leg and Drew the other, and push back my legs while I pushed. This is when I actually became grateful that I did not have any pain medicine numbing me. With each contraction, I felt this overwhelming power overtake my body. I felt as if I could push for eternity. Sometimes I would get ahead of myself and try to push when the contraction was over, but I could not push much at all. I could only push with the contractions. The contractions gave me so much power and strength. I nearly couldn’t believe it. In most movies, you see women screaming bloody murder because it hurts so much. Well, pushing did not hurt at all. No idea why. Instead, it felt relieving. I just had this womanly power and strength that I wish I could explain more. In between pushes, I felt someone putting a wet rag on my forehead periodically. Someone was also monitoring Fletcher’s heartbeat to make sure he was OK. We noticed that his heartbeat would speed up if I tensed with a contraction, but it would stay elevated if I relaxed and “let go”. Brandy was my quiet cheerleader saying, “Push push push. Do you have any more? Give me one more.” She helped me press on and give everything I got and more. She kept telling me that I’m about to hold my baby in a few minutes. I did not believe her though. I was certain that I would be pushing for hours. But, still, I wanted things to happen as fast as they could happen, so I pressed on and kept pushing. Dawn had me feel every once in awhile so that I could feel the progress. She was putting coconut oil around my baby’s head to help him slide out easier.
After about 30 minutes of instructed pushing, 13 days after my due date, and 36 hours of labor, at 10:21 A.M., Fletcher Rule came waterbound in Dawn’s hands. Talk about feeling a huge relief!
Feeling him come out all at once and seeing Dawn raise him out of the water and hand to me like a trophy I had just won after surviving war is no emotion I can describe.
He was nothing as I imagined him looking. He was swollen, cone-shaped, and dirty. But I was in love with my swollen, cone-shaped, dirty baby! I could not believe I was finally holding my baby boy. Drew and I could not stop staring at this new being that we created together with God. We sat in the tub for probably 30 minutes with me doing skin-to-skin with Fletcher and Drew behind the tub right behind me. After about 30 minutes, I started feeling light contractions again and I looked at my midwife incredulously asking her why I was still feeling contractions. I was supposed to be done! She told me that they are after-birth pains and to tell her the next time I have a contraction so that she could pull the placenta out. That part did not hurt at all compared to giving birth to an almost 9 lb. baby. Since I was not numb from any medicine, I was able to walk around immediately after. I did some more skin-to-skin contact on the bed, and then decided I needed to go put on some make-up in case anyone was visiting anytime soon. (Side note: there was no amount of makeup that could make me look good after all that!)
While I did this and began packing things up, Drew took his turn having skin-to-skin contact to bond and keep his body temperature level. After the bonding, Dawn weighed him, measured his head and length and did all the usual things that happen right after a birth.
About 4 hours after giving birth, we were all loaded up and headed home. My family was so concerned about us leaving so soon after birth, but Fletcher was fine, and I could walk just fine since I was not numb. Honestly, we were ready to go home after spending three days and two nights there already! When we got home, we took turns taking showers and brushing our teeth. I had just realized that we really had not had any good personal hygiene for three days. We had the option for it as there were showers at the birthing center, but I guess that was the last thing on my mind at the time. It felt good to feel clean again. We were ready for family to come visit so that we could present to them our perfect little baby and tell them our birth story. Surprisingly, I was not tired enough to go to sleep just yet. I think all the adrenaline was keeping me wide awake. I just wanted to take everything in, and so glad I still could. We were both so grateful that I was able to have my dream birth (even if it was much, much longer than we had envisioned!)
See what we mean about the POWER in an amazing birth team? SO happy you had such wonderful supporters around you, mama! <3
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