I snuggled my son, half laughing, half crying, while the reality of that moment flooded over me like a tide. In an instant, we went from couple to family, I went from wife to mother, and our child went from anonymous baby to our sweet son with a name— Joey.
In Denial of Labor: Joey's Birth Story
Long before I became pregnant, I knew I wanted a natural birth experience. Originally, I ruled out delivering at a birthing center because I had a lot of misconceptions and believed them to be unsafe. As I researched in preparation for natural labor, I realized I was very wrong and was hard-pressed to find a reason not to deliver at a birthing center. One tour to Baby and Company was all it took. Between their facilities and meeting with the amazing staff, I knew without a doubt I wanted to deliver there.
The day before our baby was born, I began experiencing extreme back pain at work. The school nurse checked my blood pressure and vitals and while all was fine, I decided to go home for the afternoon and rest. My co-workers teased me as I left saying I would surely go into labor during the night. No way, I thought. My due date is still ahead of me. Can’t a girl who’s nine months pregnant just need a nap?
To my surprise, my nap at home was interrupted by contractions! But by the time my husband Dan returned from work, everything stopped. We enjoyed a peaceful dinner, I texted my boss to let her know I would indeed be at work the next day (oops…) and my husband and I headed to bed.
The moment I laid down around 9:30, the contractions came back. They started at one minute long and just five minutes apart. I assured my husband we were timing incorrectly. Contractions just began—how could they be so close together already? We called the midwife at Baby and Company and she suggested we rest and call again if the contractions grew closer.
After an hour of resting, the pain increased and I could no longer sleep. Dan and I snuggled up on our living room floor, listening to Nickel Creek and trying to relax through each wave of pain. I still expected everything to stop like it did earlier in the day. Each time another contraction started, a small part of me was surprised.
An hour after that, I began shaking uncontrollably and could no longer talk during contractions. We timed them and found they were just two and a half minutes apart. Again, I insisted it was incorrect. It had only been four hours—surely my body was not laboring this quickly.
We called the midwife and she suggested we arrive at the birthing center an hour later at two o’clock in the morning. As we were packing to leave, the intensity of the pain paired with the uncontrollable shaking made it difficult to stand. I would shout “Hug!” to Dan when a contraction came and he’d wrap his arms around me, holding me up until it was over.
When we finally pulled into Baby and Company, another laboring mama arrived at the same time. “Hey, birth buddy!” she chimed as she held the door open for us. I loved having another mother there! It reminded me I wasn’t alone and that thousands of women had gone before me in labor.
The midwife, Traci, checked my dilation and found I was already at eight centimeters. She listened to all my concerns and denials, sweetly responding that everything was fine and to just listen to my body. Thanks to her encouragement, I finally let denial go. Labor was here; I was having our baby! And as I felt a thousand stink-eyed glares from every mother who’s experienced a long, tedious labor, I realized a quick delivery was nothing to panic about. I was a lucky girl indeed!
Almost immediately after settling in to Baby and Company, I felt the urge to push. I didn’t think I was “allowed” to start pushing since I was only at eight centimeters but once again, Traci encouraged me listen to what my body suggested, so I did. It helped incredibly with the pain! Dan snagged a birth ball and I sat in a hot shower, happily pushing away.
A few minutes later, my water broke. And by broke, I mean exploded. It startled my husband and me so much, we both jumped back! Never in a million years would I have guessed I would laugh during labor, but that pipe-bomb-water-breakage was hysterical. And being able to laugh did wonders for my unease and anxiety.
After that, we tossed the birth ball and moved to a standing position. Dan held me up on one side while the water rained down my back. The shower was absolutely glorious. Traci offered other options in case I wanted to switch how I was laboring but I wasn’t moving. I wanted to stay in that shower for the rest of my life.
I have no idea how much time passed from that point on but I remember noticing a distinct shift in the contractions. I was no longer pushing to manage pain; I was pushing to get this baby out… And the pain was unreal! I prayed desperately through each push and could feel progress moving the baby down, but when the contraction ended, I’d feel the baby recede again. It was so discouraging. I literally kept picturing a tiny infant snidely calling out, “Nah, I’m good. I’ma go back inside.” Alice Ann had joined us by then and she reminded me that it was totally normal for the baby to draw back and that it would help my body stretch.
But still, if I’m being completely honest, feeling that baby recede made me a little angry. Which made me determined. Which made me push even harder. I went into full mama-mode. I thought, Baby, you’ve had nine whole months to get your act together. Come out, right now. You’ve got some toes that need kissing.
Traci and Alice Ann did an incredible job assisting in those final moments. Just seven hours after it all began, they placed an infant into my arms and I heard my husband cry, “It’s a boy!” I snuggled my son, half laughing, half crying, while the reality of that moment flooded over me like a tide. In an instant, we went from couple to family, I went from wife to mother, and our child went from anonymous baby to our sweet son with a name— Joey. Our lives would never be the same. And that was an astoundingly beautiful thing.
My experience at Baby and Company was everything I’d hoped for in a natural birth—calm and homey with compassionate midwives who were incredibly wise. I was allowed to labor the way my body needed to and we were able to bond as a family in ways that would not have been possible in a hospital. Later while nursing Joey in bed, the other mother stopped by to offer her congratulations. The hardest part was over and we could both rest now with our sweet little newborns.