Melissa. new mom.
Arya's Birth Story
Melissa gave birth at our birth center in Charlotte, NC. She shares her story with us here.
Transferring from OB Practice to Baby+Company
My journey started when I was young with the intense desire to bear children. From my teenage years I had an obsession with childbirth, pregnancy, and babies. I watched all of the pregnancy story shows on TV at the time, and always envisioned myself giving birth naturally without medication.
My intense desire to become a mother never went away, but I had secretly become afraid that it would never happen for me. My husband and I married after many years of dating, but could not start a family immediately because I was in law school. As soon as I graduated and passed the bar, we decided we would let things happen. We got pregnant within a short 6 months!
Unfortunately, I did not start my pregnancy out at Baby+Company. I began my pregnancy journey with my OB, but immediately started researching tools to assist me in an unmedicated birth. From the beginning, I had conversations about my desire for an unmedicated birth with my OB. He would politely appease me by telling me I’d be able to birth however I wanted, but then within the same breath remind me that epidurals were available and that most first time mothers end up with medication for pain relief. At around 20 weeks, after having toured Baby+Company and falling in love, we decided to confront our OB with serious questions about what we would be allowed to do at the hospital with him. His use of scare tactics regarding a birth outside of the hospital felt like an attack on my choice as a woman to decide how and where to give birth.
We felt terrified and unsure about what to do. Deciding to go to an event at Baby+Company to meet doulas was the best choice we made. As soon as we walked into the birth center, we remembered the feeling of calm and safety that we got when there. Jessica put us in contact with other mothers who had delivered there to put our minds at ease, but also set up an interview with the head midwife to have our questions answered. After doing all of that, we knew were in the right place and transferred care, and the rest is history.
From the beginning, the level of care that we received at Baby+Company was what every mother, whether low or high risk, should receive. The model of care looks at the woman as a whole and addresses nutrition, exercise, mental health, and preparation. All of these things are important, whether you plan to have an unmedicated birth or not.
The Delivery – “1/2 water birth, 1/2 land birth”
At about 36 weeks, I started experiencing some mild menstrual-like cramping and could tell things would happen sooner than 40 weeks. By the time I hit 37 weeks, there were a lot more changes happening, but after calling the midwives every other day with new random symptoms, they assured me everything was fine. At 37 weeks and 6 days, I felt a little better than I had the previous days, so I ventured out. I had a feeling this baby was going to come soon, so I wanted to pamper myself a little. I decided I would go to the pool and get my nails done. I only made it to the pool.
My husband got home late that night, and all day I kept wishing he didn’t have to work overtime. We had a quiet dinner and went to bed early. About an hour and a half after falling asleep, at around 9:30, I woke up to use the bathroom (as was the norm at this point). As soon as I stepped out of the bed, I felt a gush of water and I leaped into the bathroom. For a moment I thought, uh oh, my water broke, but then decided it was probably just in my head. As soon as I got back up to return to bed, more water gushed out. I yelled for my husband and told him I thought my water had broken. I never thought I would start labor this way! We called the midwives immediately, and Alexandria, the midwife on call, asked me to come in to confirm it had been my waters.
When we arrived at the center, Alexandria confirmed it was my water and checked me. I was only 2cm dilated and 70% effaced. Alexandria told me to go home and try to get some sleep, but that she had a feeling that I’d be back around 4:30am.
The center is about 30 minutes away from where we live, so by the time we got back home it was 11pm. I went to bed as directed and shut my eyes. As soon as I laid down to sleep, I started getting contractions. I told my husband, “uh oh… I’m getting contractions.” I monitored a couple of them, and quickly realized that there was no way I would be able to sleep through these. The contractions were only about a couple minutes apart already, and pretty intense.
My super-husband didn’t skip a beat and immediately said, “okay, let’s go to the living room and work on getting you into a comfortable position.” [<3 <3 <3 – my hero] We tried side-lying with a pillow between my legs, leaning over the kitchen counter, all fours, hanging from my husband’s neck… you name it, nothing relieved the pain, except for one position – siting on the medicine ball and moving my hips in circular motions, while deeply moaning, and having my husband apply counter pressure on my back.
My husband began timing the contractions, and immediately felt very confused – weren’t contractions supposed to be far apart at first? NOT IN EVERY WOMAN’S CASE! From the beginning my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and lasting about 45 second. They never spaced out more, and only continued to intensify. My husband called our doula and the midwife, Alexandria, to let them know that things were progressing quickly. By 2:30am, they could tell over the phone just by the sounds I was making that I was getting pretty close. Our doula headed to our house, and my mother arrived also.
At 4:30am our doula and my husband made the call that it was time to head to the center because we were about 30 minutes away and the contractions were already at a point where they would be difficult to manage in the car. My poor husband was running around between contractions only 2 minutes apart trying to grab things and load the car.
The car ride to the center was THE WORST part of my entire labor. Let’s just say that my husband and mother were terrified during the car ride to the center because of the noises I was making.
It was only 30 minutes off from Alexandria’s guess, and we arrived at Baby+Company at 5am! Alexandria met us outside and helped me into the center, taking care to hold my arm and gently walk me through the halls back into the birthing room. She stopped with me in the halls and helped me breathe through each contraction. She reassured me I was doing great. I felt supported, loved, cared for, and most importantly – safe.
Immediately upon entering the room, I sat on the medicine ball while Alexandria filled the tub with water. Once the tub was ready, I transitioned to the tub. If I could only adequately explain the immense relief I felt upon entering the tub of warm water. I think I even sighed and smiled from the immediate sense of pleasure that I felt. They call it the “midwife’s epidural” for a reason!
I continued to labor in the tub with my husband sitting in front of me, my doula, and my mother. I was surrounded only by people who supported me and loved me. I felt warm, protected, and empowered. Everyone in that room was there for me and for my baby. Every single person in that room believed in me. They all encouraged me and showered me with love.
The midwives took backstage. They were behind the scenes monitoring me and preparing the room, taking notes, and getting ready to assist. But they allowed me and my body to labor. They were so non-intrusive that at times I didn’t even know they were there. They never coached me or told me what and how to labor. They allowed me to do it in the way my body was telling me to.
I used deep moans, sending each one down to the baby to help her find her way down. I kept telling myself, “I can do this, I am doing this, WE are doing this.”
At some point the contractions changed, and I could feel an immense amount of pressure below. All of a sudden I felt the urge to push. Well, actually my body took over for me, and it was as if I was just there to assist. The midwives were trying to get the baby’s heartbeat to make sure the baby was not in distress – which is normal. Because I had to labor leaning forward in the tub, and because my contractions were only about a minute apart, they had a hard time finding the heartbeat. They tried for a long time, but were not able to get it long enough to get a good reading. But soon the baby started descending.
No one directed me on how to push or when to do so. I did what my body told me to do. With each contraction I would bear down and push. After a few pushes in the water, the head came out. Then the midwives asked me to get out of the tub and finish delivering the baby. That was the only time they directed me on what to do. I think they were concerned because they had been unable to find the heartbeat.
I immediately leaped out of the tub and got on all fours. The midwives asked me to give them the hardest push I could muster and deliver the baby. I took a deep breath and pushed with all of my might. I felt like a warrior in battle. Baby Arya was born at 6:29am.
As soon as the baby came out, all of the “pain” subsided, and I felt nothing but euphoria. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, so as soon as she came out I looked down and saw we had a GIRL!
I moved to the bed where they allowed the umbilical cord to stop pulsing, which took about 12 minutes. My husband cut the cord, and I immediately pulled Baby Arya up to my chest and gazed into her eyes. She latched on and started breastfeeding right away.
Baby+Company allowed me to deliver in the way that I wanted, which is the way that my body wanted, without feeling as if I had to fight my way through each step of the way. On the contrary, they just allowed it to happen, but were there using their expertise and guidance to monitor my progress, and were ready to intervene in the event things took a turn. They made me feel supported and safe the entire time.