I spent so much time during my pregnancy in meditation, writing, and talking through these fears, but I anticipated it would creep up at the pushing stage of Rosamund’s birth. Everyone on my team encouraged me in that moment – speaking words of affirmation over me, encouraging me to do little pushes as baby was crowning, and helping me to focus on my breath and let go of the fear.
Rosamund's Birth Story
Rosamund’s birth story begins with her brother’s birth story, 3.5 years ago. We birthed him with Lauren Drees, CNM, at Vanderbilt Hospital. My unmedicated labor and delivery was 7 hours. He was born with his arm up, and I had significant tearing that required surgical repair with an epidural in the operating room. A great story and experience overall, but a traumatic ending that resulted in a lot of heartache and a long, long recovery, including extensive pelvic floor physical therapy. We loved our hospital birth experience. Vanderbilt offered us excellent care and attention!
Fast forward to Rosamund’s pregnancy. Another excellent pregnancy, no complications, and I felt great! I started my prenatal care with Vanderbilt midwives at our small, local hospital in Springfield. About 1/3 of the way through my pregnancy, I was hired as an educator for Baby+Company, and started thinking about transferring my care to our center. I planned to have another unmedicated birth, and everything was going swimmingly – and I wanted to have a more serene experience. So, around 28 weeks gestation, I switched my care to Baby+Company. We have loved it!
I had an appointment with Taneesha Reynolds, CNM, at 40 weeks and 1 day. I was dilated a few centimeters, had a soft and thin cervix, and we decided to go ahead with a membrane sweep to see if it might get things going. That was around 10:00 am on Thursday. I expected cramping and discharge, but nothing happened! I went on about my day as usual. I fixed dinner, and Jude and I ate around 6:00 pm. We finished dinner, cleaned up, and Jude and I were sitting on the sofa watching Netflix when I had a contraction at 6:38 pm. I looked at my husband, Briley, and told him I’d had a crampy contraction. He was headed out the door for choir practice in a few minutes, and asked if I was sure it was OK for him to leave. I thought it was, and said I’d just call him if things progressed. Two more contractions came, one at 6:45, and the next at 6:49, stronger, but still easily manageable, and Jude needed help on the potty. I went in the hall bathroom with him, and as he asked me to help him wipe, my water broke at 6:51 pm! I yelled to Briley, who was at the front door, that my water had broken and we needed to get moving. Briley contacted his parents – Terry, Briley’s dad, stayed at our house with Jude, and Sharon, his mom, followed us to the birth center to serve as an additional support person and witness her first birth.
As soon as we got out to the highway, I put my earbuds in and turned on my labor song, O Magnum Mysterium, which was also my labor song for Jude’s birth, particularly as a tool to help me focus on the uncomfortable car ride. I just had it on repeat as I breathed, gripped the door handle, and held Briley’s hand. Contractions were 4-6 minutes apart, and getting stronger. By the time we were within a few miles of the birth center, I was vocalizing with moans and tending to tense up against the contractions and bumps in the road – curses to bumps in the road when you’re in labor!
We pulled in to the birth center parking garage, and Lauren Drees, CNM, and Heather Barksdale, RN, were there at the door to greet us. I got out of the car smiling and talking, hugging my sweet friends who would care for me and our baby girl. I had one contraction in the garage before we headed in to birth suite #3. After the birth, Lauren said that when she saw me smiling as we pulled in, she thought to herself that it would be awhile before baby arrived ;o)
It was around 7:50 pm at this time. We got into the birth suite, Lauren hung our birth affirmations banner that my sweet Baby+Company family made at my shower a few weeks before, and I continued to cope with contractions by standing, swaying, and slightly squatting with support alternating from Briley, Lauren, and Sharon. Briley left the room for a few minutes to go eat his dinner down the hall, so Sharon and Lauren tended to me. Lauren got my music playing on the speakers and was checking vitals for me and baby with Heather B. I was calm and focused, and felt incredible pressure in my pelvis, increasing with each contraction. Within a few minutes of arriving, maybe 15 minutes, I sensed a shift and knew baby would be coming soon. I felt sick and hot; I took off my long dress and continued to labor in a sports bra and underwear. I remember telling Heather B. and Lauren that I felt sick and wondered where Briley was – and right then, he came back in the room. Around 8:15 I moved to the bed and got onto hands and knees for a few contractions, and just felt overwhelmed. I was having trouble coping – I couldn’t stay on top of the contractions that were washing over me every 2 minutes or so. I knew this was transition, cognitively, but I was overtaken emotionally! I recall saying over and over that I couldn’t do it, that I needed help, and that my bones hurt. I lowered my head to the pillow and moved to a side-lying position. I kept saying (yelling?!), “Help me, Lauren. Lauren, help me. I can’t do it!” Briley was close to my face and holding my hand, speaking softly to me; Lauren and Heather B. were at the foot of the bed, rubbing my legs and sharing words of encouragement, and Sharon was near the affirmation banner. She began reading some of the affirmations aloud, and that really clicked for me as a way to focus. I asked her to keep reading (or maybe I yelled it!), and she also began reading through a few cards I had made with favorite Bible verses I’ve clung to over the years. These are verses that I have memorized, so they were familiar, soothing, and rhythmic. Sharon moved to share the bed with me, and continued to read the verses and cards aloud as I started to recite them along with her, and Rosamund moved lower and lower into my pelvis.
It was about 8:20 pm now, and I said, “The baby is coming!” I was yelling, grunting, and hollering a lot. Lauren directed me to calm my breath, reminded me that I AM doing it, and said she would check me. I was 100% effaced, 10 cm dilated, and baby was +4. She was definitely ready to be born! After another contraction or two, I had strong urges to push, and pushed quickly and effectively. I remember pausing for a bit as I felt filled with anxiety about tearing again. I told my team, “I’m afraid.” I spent so much time during my pregnancy in meditation, writing, and talking through these fears, but I anticipated it would creep up at the pushing stage of Rosamund’s birth. Everyone on my team encouraged me in that moment – speaking words of affirmation over me, encouraging me to do little pushes as baby was crowning, and helping me to focus on my breath and let go of the fear. As she was crowning, Lauren encouraged me to reach to feel her head, which I don’t remember doing with Jude’s birth, and it was such a sweet and motivating action!
I remained in a side-lying position, with Heather B. supporting my upper leg as Briley and Sharon were on either side of my shoulders. After about 10 minutes of pushing, Rosamund was born. Lauren helped to birth baby’s head and shoulders, and Briley caught her as she came out the rest of the way, and placed her on my chest. What glorious relief! She was born at 8:34 pm, about 40 minutes after we arrived at the center, and less than 2 hours after my first contraction. I know many of us hope for quick labors, but let me tell you – a precipitous birth is INTENSE! I felt overwhelmed from late active labor until she was born – but I guess after she was here, I was glad that it was short.
Rosamund gurgled and let out some nice cries as we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and the placenta to be born. She was big and squishy and had fat rolls on her arms already!
Lauren reported that Rosamund was born with a nuchal hand, the little stinker! I had a small 2nd degree tear, which Lauren quickly repaired while baby rested on my chest and we all fell in love with her. Rosamund had Apgars of 9 and 9, and was carefully tended to by our sweet Heather B. Baby had some slight bruising on her face from the fast delivery. She weighed 9 pounds, 4 ounces, and was 20.5 inches long. A whopper!
We remained at the birth center for about 7 hours before heading home. We stayed in our birth suite, ate some snacks, initiated breastfeeding, showered, called family, and snoozed. Oh, the delight that is a hot shower after giving birth! What a gift! Briley called his dad to speak to him and Jude. He put them on speaker phone, and Briley said, “Baby Rosamund is here!” and Jude replied in a quiet, sweet voice, asking, “Do you like her?” We all laughed and said, “Yes! We love her!” Heather B. and Lauren came in and out, gently checking on all of us, getting vitals, bringing water and food, and just generally loving on us. We were encouraged to rest and take our time. Terry, Briley’s dad, brought Jude to the center to meet his baby sister and ride with us to bring her home. What a moment! I had so been looking forward to the time the two of them would meet, and it was the sweetest. She is my gift to him, and he loves her. Jude lit up as soon as he laid eyes on her, and he climbed up on the bed to get a close look and start snuggling her. Then, he was promptly distracted by his “big brother bag” of Paw Patrol goodies and trains! We did get a few photos of our first gathering as a family of four before he headed down to the lobby to play at the train table with his Pop. Those of y’all with toddlers will appreciate this – the baby was crying as we were changing her diaper and getting her clothes on, and Sharon asked Jude to, “say something to help sister feel better.” Jude leaned over to Rosamund and whispered, “Paw Patrol.”
Around 4 am, we loaded up in the car and headed home in a downpour of rain. Sharon and Terry helped us unload and get everyone settled in their beds, and off to sleep we went. What a joy it was to be able to come home and get in my comfy bed just hours after I gave birth! Before we switched to birth center care, I was really hesitant about leaving so soon after birth, but let me tell ya, it is so lovely. I was home in my jammies, in my bed, with my favorite pillows and the bassinet right near by, and it was perfect for us.
Rosamund and I stayed up in our bedroom pretty much 24/7 for the first 4 days, except for an occasional trek down to the kitchen for a family meal. Otherwise, Briley and his mom brought me food and water constantly, and I breastfed and bonded with Rosamund. There’s a lot to be said for this “lying in” practice so that mother can heal and rest, and she and baby can bond.
Saturday morning, about 40 hours after birth, Trish Talbot, RN, another of our amazing nurses, came by for a home visit. We had a sweet time sharing our birth experience, and she took excellent, gentle care of me and Rosamund. Trish also helped facilitate the process for getting Rosamund’s tongue and lip ties revised with Dr. Prather’s office.
Our Baby+Company experience has been absolutely perfect in every way. I adore the team of women that I work with, and who care for me in such kind, attentive ways as I birth and recover. This was a healing experience for me after the physical and emotional trauma of my first birth. I was amazed to be able to get up and walk to the bathroom right after giving birth! And could get myself to the shower and get dressed and sit in the car with nothing more than a little Ibuprofen and an ice pack on my bottom. My recovery was smooth and quick with none of the complications I had experienced the first time. I’m grateful for Lauren and Heather B.’s confidence in me – and in all women – to allow our bodies to birth our babies.
“I am not afraid; I was born to do this.” —Joan of Arc