Wednesday, June 26, 2013

{Becoming Mother} A Birth Center Birth Story

I've gotten quite a few questions about my hospital birth with Cannonmy birthing center birth with Cason, why I choose those locations and why I wanted a natural birth. I thought it might be fun to do a blog series on women who have had different birthing experiences and what they've liked about them. I'll be back at the end of the series to share what we liked about our hospital birth and what we liked about our birthing center birth. 

This is not a promo for a particular type of birth, in fact I've tried to cover as many types of births as possible from natural at home to c-section in the hospital. This is more of a "what can you expect" if you were to have one of these types of birth. Hopefully they will encourage you, help you make a birth decision that's right for your family, and most of all simply rejoice in the way God creates life. 

Let me introduce you to my friend, Kelly. She and I met through a local mommy photographers meet up group and immediately connected over our Allen Birthing Center birth stories. Since writing this post for me Kelly has since had her second baby. They fully intended on delivering at the Allen Birthing Center again, but Baby Clark had other plans and came in the car just a few miles away! You can read the incredible story on their blog.

My husband Kevin and I had our daughter, Claire at the Allen Birthing Center. It was the right choice for us based on the birth experience we desired. We put a lot of time into researching natural labor and the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth. After meeting the staff at the Allen Birthing Center when I went for my annual exams prior to getting pregnant I was certain that this environment would be the most supportive of our desire for an unmedicated birth while also offering me the support I knew I would need to successfully make it through a natural childbirth as a first time mom.

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I remember my first visit at the Allen Birthing Center for an annual exam two years before we got pregnant. I found the level of care that I had been searching for. I loved how connected the midwives were to me, how much time they spent with me and how much compassion they showed for me with a genuine concern for me and what was best for me. By the time we were pregnant I had done even more research and was so excited about the advantages for both my baby and myself in a natural labor experience. I was completely confident in everyone at the Allen Birthing Center and excited to learn how to prepare for and what to expect from a natural childbirth.

My husband and I completed 8 weeks of natural childbirth classes offered on site at the birthing center with a very experienced and highly recommended Bradley Certified Birthing teacher and doula. We learned more than we could have ever imagined! This knowledge gave us the confidence that we could do this and truly understand what to expect.

My labor began the day I was 39 weeks along. We experienced a very long early labor at home for 36 hours using all of the strategies we had learned from our birthing classes and stayed in contact with the midwives and doula over the phone keeping them up to date of our current progress until we were at the point that our contractions indicated it was time to go to the birthing center.

Upon arrival at the birthing center our midwife checked me for dilation. I was not quite to the point they wanted me to be at so we went through a series of sitting on the birthing ball, stretching and walking through contractions. Movement is a great way to get labor going and after a couple hours of that, sure enough my water broke and our baby was on her way! We anticipated that we would have 12-18 hours for a first labor after my water broke, but our daughter had other plans. Within 15-20 minutes I had the urge to push and was already dilated to 8cm. I had dreamed and planned for a water birth in a big, warm birthing tub, but without the time to fill it, I was headed to the antique claw foot tub that could be filled up in 5 minutes or less.

Within minutes, I was in the tub and my body was doing all the work for me. Pushing was by far my favorite part of labor.  I could feel the baby moving down with each contraction and I knew that she was on her way!  Our midwife never left my side and was able to perfectly predict and describe every stage of my labor.  She was totally amazing and everything I needed her to be in every stage of my labor.  In my mind, I couldn’t believe how fast things were happening.  I remember feeling Kevin’s presence right next to me.  He had been there through everything, he hadn’t ever missed a beat. In this moment I was both extremely excited and incredibly exhausted.  I remember looking at him and knowing that in a matter of minutes our entire world was about to change and that there was no one else in the world I would rather have next to me than him.  He was so strong, so supportive, so encouraging; everything I could have ever dreamed he would be for me in this moment.  Lord knows I had totally exhausted him in the past 36 hours, however he wasn’t going to show it.  He told me we were in this together and he would be there every step of the way.  I loved that I could feel everything my body was doing to prepare for the birth of this baby.  I loved that I could clearly take in what was going on around me.  Between contractions I worked very hard to have controlled and relaxed breathing.  It did me a lot of good and I felt rested and ready to push with each contraction.

After only about 15-20 minutes of pushing in the tub there was a long break between my contractions.  I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, where is the contraction?  It should have come by now!  Did my labor just stop?”  I asked my midwife where it was and she gently and calmly with complete confidence told me to relax and enjoy this time, that my body was using this time to rest. I was amazed by my body’s ability to manage labor on its own, without any interventions. It was truly incredible. Sure enough after what seemed like the longest break ever between contractions at this point (6-7 min) it came on, and it came on STRONG!  I knew right away that this baby was coming and she was coming during this contraction.  I pushed like I had never pushed before!  It was the most amazing feeling as I felt her slide down into position and suddenly she shot out!  I think she surprised everyone at how fast she came out!  I was told that they usually stay in the birth canal longer, but not Claire...she was ready to be out!

Immediately, our midwife Amy placed her on my chest and I heard the sweetest sound ever.  She cried, “eh-heh, eh-heh, eh-heh.”  She was gorgeous and it was truly love at first sight.  I was trying to keep up with everything and take in the fact that she was here!

It happened so fast at that end that I couldn’t believe it.  We cuddled together and Kevin and I just stared at her in awe and amazement.

We waited until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing and then Kevin cut the cord.  At this point it was time for me to leave the tub and deliver the placenta.  Kevin held her during this time and she never left our arms except while the midwife and nurse weighed her and checked her right there on the bed with us.  I will never forget seeing him in the rocking chair in the corner of the room just soaking her up, his heart melting with love! We had done it!  She was here!!

Just minutes after she was born I was talking about how great natural labor was!  What an incredible experience!  After breastfeeding Claire I was up and walking around and taking a shower.  Everyone was taking such great care of me.  They got me orange juice helped us unpack our bags (since there was no time before Claire’s birth), took photos and so much more!  While I showered, Amy and the nurse finished checking Claire and making sure she was healthy and strong!  She did great and got a wonderful report!  They continued to monitor me to make sure I was recovering as I should after labor.  Everything was perfect!  What a blessing!  Only about 3 hours after she was born we were loading up the car and heading home for our first night as a family of 3.  By 11:30 that night we were all at home and in bed and starting the next chapter of our lives.  This was truly an incredible experience to share with Kevin.  We will always treasure this memory together.

I can’t even begin to describe what an incredible experience we had at the birthing center.  Amy, our midwife was truly amazing.  I can not say enough good things about her.  She is truly an angel without wings.  I will forever be thankful to her and so grateful that she shared this day with our family.  I am so glad she was on call that night.  What a blessing, it wasn't a coincidence!  God knew how perfect she would be for this labor! I felt so safe, so well cared for and confident throughout the entire experience.  I still can not believe how amazing it all was. There is just something about experiencing a natural
labor that is almost like a natural's amazing what the body can do!

At the time of writing this we are 39 weeks along and anticipating the birth of our second baby any day now! We have experienced the same level of care with this pregnancy as the first and we can’t wait to see how his birth story will unfold in a matter of days with the awesome family of midwives and nurses at the Allen Birthing Center!

About Kelly:
I'm Kelly and I married my high school sweetheart, Kevin at the age of 20 back in May of 2004. I taught first grade for several years while my husband attended Chiropractic College and then three years ago we opened up his practice in Allen, Texas! In January 2011 we were blessed with the birth of our daughter, Claire and just a few short weeks ago we welcomed our son Clark into the world! You’ll always find me with a camera in hand. I love baking, blogging, all things monogrammed, organizing and I will admit to being slightly obsessed with making labels for anything and everything! Life is busy with two kids and sometimes it's crazy, but I wouldn't have it any other way! Thanks for reading our story and for visiting our blog to see a window into our world!

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