The beauty of Baby+Company was that they were there for me in more ways than to just “get my baby out”. They helped me develop a birth plan, and even when things went differently than what I had planned, they helped me switch gears and find comfort in that.
Created for This: Violet’s Birth Story
Mom Kelsey and Dad Tory welcomed their first-born, a daughter, into the world at our Charlotte birth center. This is Kelsey’s story of Violet’s birth.
My husband, Tory, and I are originally from Cleveland, Ohio. We moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in November 2015 and at that time, I was entering my second trimester of pregnancy. My desire was to have the most natural birth experience that was safe for my baby and me. I believe that my body, as a woman, was created to grow and birth new life. My faith in Jesus Christ is the compass I follow to make life decisions, and He gave me the assurance that I was created for this very thing. Our family friend and doula, Julie Appleyard, recommended that we check out the new birth center in Uptown, which just so happened to be Baby+Company.
Upon our first look at the open house, our hearts knew that this was the place we wanted to birth our baby. The atmosphere and people were inviting, and made us feel like we were in a familiar setting. I, of course, had my list of questions that I needed to ask in order to solidify the decision. The midwives and staff I spoke to that day gave me full assurance that they were for us. They were eager and open to learning how I wanted to give birth, and told me that, together, we would create a plan to make it happen.
I was eager to show up to my prenatal check-ups. Naturally, I looked forward to hearing my daughter’s heartbeat and hearing about her growth, but I enjoyed being there to catch up with the midwives and staff, as well. Showing up at Baby+Company each week felt like meeting up with good friends. Even through the hiccups of pregnancy, I felt supported and encouraged that I was doing a good job, and I was very capable of this journey.
On Monday, May 9th, my husband, Tory, and I were hanging out at our new house on the couch. We had just moved in 2 days prior and we were very busy trying to get as much accomplished as we could, knowing that I could begin labor any day. Tory was going into work that evening, so we were watching “Tron” and resting.
Up until this point my adrenaline had been running on full throttle as my mind and body were in full nesting mode. This afternoon felt different. I was watching a movie and falling asleep in the daytime—2 things I rarely do because I’m always in “Go Mode”. As we were lying on the couch, I started to feel little twinges of pain in my abdomen. I told Tory that I thought I was having contractions, but we both brushed them off thinking they were Braxton Hicks.
Shortly after, Tory left for work and I began to work on things at the house. I started preparing Violet’s room: getting clothes washed and put away in her dresser, and setting up for her arrival. After that, I scrubbed 2 bathrooms. I was exhausted by 10:00 PM, and although Tory wasn’t home from work, I crashed for the night.
I awoke around 3:00 AM to some cramping in my stomach and decided to go to the bathroom. I had been getting wake up calls from my bladder at least 3 times per night late in my pregnancy, but it was different that I was having cramping sensations. I noticed that Tory was in bed, and I hadn’t heard him come home from work. I got myself out of bed to use the bathroom, and noticed a bloody show. I was a bit surprised to see this, as I was still 4 days out from Violet’s expected due date. I immediately woke Tory up to tell him what was happening and we both agreed it was best to call the midwife on call at Baby+Company.
I was connected to Stephanie, and began to tell her what was happening. She asked if I had felt the baby move since all of this happened. I explained that I had not, and she asked me to monitor her for movement, as well as my pain, over the next 30 minutes. My pain at this moment was bearable, and I was feeling contractions about 5-6 minutes apart. She said to drink lots of water, have a snack, relax, and call back to report what was happening.
I felt a little nervous about not feeling my daughter’s movement. I grabbed a bottle of water and a protein bar, and took myself back to bed. It was obvious to me that the pain was continuing and intensifying little by little. After not too long, I felt Violet kick around in my stomach and my mind was at peace. After the 30 minutes had passed, I phoned Stephanie back to tell her what happened. She said, “It sounds like you are in early labor. I want you to relax as much as you can—sleep if you are able. Continue drinking lots of water. When you don’t feel like you can labor any longer at home, call me back and I will meet you at the birth center.”
This was such an exciting moment! I tried my best to relax, but sleeping was out of the question. I would lie in bed between contractions. As soon as one came, my body popped out of bed and I would pace around our bedroom. My husband did as best as he could to sleep through this.
I sent a text message to my doula, Julie, at 3:54 AM to let her know that this was going to happen that day! She asked what she could do for me—come to the house, or meet us at the birth center when we decided to go. I told her that I was doing well, and would let her know when we would head to the birth center and she could meet us there. The contractions were growing more intense and by this time they were happening every 3.5-4.5 minutes. I continued to walk around our bedroom each time one would come.
At 6:00 AM, Julie checked back in with me to see how things were progressing and how I was feeling. I told her that I was still feeling confident about being at home, but would need to go in to the birth center in a couple hours. She encouraged me to go sooner rather than later to avoid rush hour traffic in the morning. I was thankful she mentioned that, as I would’ve been miserable if I was laboring in standstill traffic!
I turned to Tory and told him that he needed to get ready to leave. I called Stephanie to let her know I was ready to head over. She said, “Great! I’ll meet you there!” Tory jumped in the shower, packed a cooler of snacks, we grabbed Violet’s home going bag, and jumped in the car. I sent a message to both my parents and Tory’s parents to let them know they would most likely have a granddaughter by the end of the day. Riding in the car in labor is no fun. We got to the birth center in about 30 minutes, and that was long enough.
When we arrived at 7:00 AM, Stephanie greeted us at the door. She asked which room I wanted to labor in, and we headed that way. She asked how I wanted to labor, and I told her in the bathtub so she began filling it. The first thing she wanted to do was take my vital signs, listen to our baby’s heart rate, and check my progress. I had been praying about my labor for months and things I believed for were swift progression of labor, and the ability to give birth naturally. My vital signs were stable, and Violet had a good heart rate. When she checked me, I was already 6 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced. I was amazed! Even Stephanie commented on how that is pretty unusual for a first time mom. I received it, and kept moving forward!
As soon as I got in the warm tub, I felt relief. The warmth and the water were a great help each time a contraction would come. Julie and Tory would massage my lower back and apply counter pressure to my hips and grab my arms. These techniques helped me through each contraction as they squeezed my frame and I squeezed their hands.
At some point while I was in the tub, the midwives switched out and Alice Anne came in to relieve Stephanie. They continued taking my vitals and listening to Violet’s heart rate to ensure that everyone was safe and healthy through the laboring.
When I got out of the tub, I transferred to the bed where they had me use a peanut ball. Now this ball was not my friend in the sense that it made my contractions more intense, but the benefit was that it was helping my body progress in labor and the use of it was bringing my daughter into the world. I did some side-lying techniques and used the birthing ball. These were all things I had practiced and been familiar with from our birth center classes. After I labored in bed, then I moved to the ladder where I swayed on the ball and rested against the ladder rungs. Labor was undoubtedly growing more and more intense, and I had certainly lost track of time. I had no appetite, was growing tired, but had the main goal in mind of meeting my daughter face to face.
Weeks before this, we had gone through birth and newborn classes with Julie. One thing she encouraged me to do was to ask God for a picture that I could visualize while I was in labor. This picture would be something that I could immediately and easily see each time a contraction would come. I prayed about what this picture would be, and it was apparent that the picture I received was of myself holding my daughter in our glider, and rocking her to sleep. I went to this place many times as the contractions came. I would squeeze my husband’s hands, groan, shut my eyes, and go to the place of being with her.
After we used the ladder, we went back to the bed and I used the nitrous oxide for a bit. Alice Ann encouraged me to eat something, but I was feeling incredibly nauseous. They gave me some Jell-O and I did my best to get some down. At this point, it was difficult to drink water. I was feeling ready to push.
Part of my birth plan was to birth my daughter in water. Alice Ann encouraged me to get back in the tub, and continue laboring there. The time came to push and I would try, but the water was so comforting and therapeutic, that I couldn’t get into the right frame of mind to push in the water. After a few rounds of trying between contractions, I decided to get out of the water. We tried a couple different techniques, but when they checked my girl’s heart rate, it skyrocketed and she was not tolerating.
I got back in bed and leaned over a birthing ball. Her arrival was imminent. In only a couple pushes, my heart was alerted by her tender cry! I immediately laid down, and Alice Ann handed her into my arms. I was elated. I have never felt peace, joy, and love, like I did in that moment. My husband and I were now face to face with our daughter, and we were brought into a whole new reality of our family.
Over the next few hours, we enjoyed holding her as we cried many happy tears. I started to nurse her for the first few times, and the midwives and nurses were eager to help. She was measured at 7 pounds, 2.5 ounces, and 21 inches in length. We ate dinner for the first time as a family of three, and we got ourselves ready to leave. Everything started becoming real as I placed a diaper on Violet and got her dressed all for the very first time. We left the birth center to head home for the night by 10:00 PM. It felt strange to have come in that morning as two people, and leave that night as three. But we wouldn’t have it any other way, as we are thankful that Baby+Company encourages families to be at home for the first days with new babies.
Praying through my pregnancy helped me realize that what I wanted to experience through pregnancy and birth was peace, joy, and love. I thought that these sentiments would be felt by different decisions I made in the process, but what I had yet to learn is that Violet Elizabeth would be the fulfillment of those fruits in my life. When she came at 4:20 PM on May 10, 2016, there was a flooding of peace, joy, and love like I had never felt before.
The beauty of Baby+Company was that they were there for me in more ways than to just “get my baby out”. They helped me develop a birth plan, and even when things went differently than what I had planned, they helped me switch gears and find comfort in that. Returning to Baby+Company since her birth has been joyful. We are greeted with hugs and share stories about the beginnings of motherhood. I am thankful that Baby+Company began a New Mom’s Group, which helped us meet other new moms and their babies. I truly couldn’t imagine this process going better than it had. Both my husband and I felt and still feel confident that Baby+Company is and will continue to be the right decision for us in the future.