It was so peaceful laying in the water with her, holding her on my chest, with an amazing group of women standing around me, letting us bond and caring for us. Much like my whole experience through the pregnancy, there was no rushing, no agenda, just time for us. It felt like it truly was meant to be.
The Journey to Our Family of Four and Sydney's Birth Story
Mom at our Charlotte birth center, Mary Kay, shares her story with us of her second baby, Sydney’s birth:
When I think back to the last couple of years, and how it’s all turned out – sometimes it’s still hard to believe. Shortly after our daughter Alexa was born we begin trying for number 2.We wanted kids close together, and having done infertility treatment with Alexa, we knew it might take longer – but hoped that somehow my body had gotten itself back on track. Fast forward to January 2015 – after a solid year of undergoing more infertility treatment (which all failed), we finally decided it was time to move on.
After I completed my Ironman in September 2015 and then a marathon in November, I was content to relax and enjoy the off season. We tossed around ideas for our the upcoming year, and talked about finally committing to moving to North Carolina. In January, the universe turned our world upside down – surprise! – baby Jessen #2 was on the way. I’ll never forget that moment, standing in our bedroom, staring at those two lines in utter disbelief.
My amazing friend and midwife for Alexa actually found Baby+Company for me, and encouraged me to check it out. From the first conversation on the phone to our tour, I knew this is what I wanted. We felt so welcomed, reassured, and relaxed. Every visit was something I actually looked forward to. It was like hanging out with friends, where there was real conversation about me, our family, and everything surrounding the pregnancy. Not once did I feel rushed, or like I didn’t have time to get all of my questions answered.
I had a much tougher pregnancy than with Alexa. Moving, plus a toddler, plus being a couple years older all factored in. I was diagnosed with placenta previa early on, which put a huge damper on my birth center plans. Thankfully that resolved, but overall it felt so different – so much so that I was convinced we were having a boy!
At my 38 week appointment with Anayah, we talked again about when to call/come in, signs to watch for, and I am sure I was pretty clear that I was over being pregnant at that point. I had a sense that I would deliver early, but in my mind the 18th stuck in my head. On Wednesday morning, I walked on our treadmill for a little over an hour. I was having irregular contractions, but wasn’t convinced they would amount to anything, even though they felt more intense. I had already thought I was going into labor the previous Saturday, and really didn’t need to add to my false hope. I picked Alexa up at school, and was definitely noticing they were irregular but picking up as we were sitting eating lunch with my mom (who thankfully arrived the day before). I convinced my toddler to nap with me, and woke up around 3 with definite contractions, lasting just under a minute, and between 5 and 8 minutes apart. I went to a previously scheduled chiropractor appointment and told her I was pretty certain I was in labor. She was probably more excited than I was!
When I got home, I told Kory they were definitely picking up, and that I was going to call the midwife. When I talked to Alex, she suggested I wait it out at home for a while, and to call back once they were at least a minute long and 5 minutes apart. I also texted my doula to let her know and make sure she would be ready to meet us there. After my mom and Alexa left with my sister, Kory and I snacked, watched TV, and I worked through the contractions. By 6pm, I knew it was time to go, especially since we planned to pick up food on the way there, for after the delivery. I talked to Alex again, and we left home around 6:30pm.
The car ride there was pretty miserable – my labor was progressing pretty rapidly at this point. I screamed at Kory several times to hurry, and he offered to skip the food – but I was adamant we stop for the food. I texted my doula that she should head to the birth center, instead of our original plan of waiting until we were there and settled. After a few wrong turns, we got the food and made it to Baby+Company.
I was having a contraction just as we pulled in, and wasn’t certain if I could really walk from the car into the center. Thankfully, Stephanie greeted us (alerted by some loud breathing on my part!) and led us back to the room. I arrived around 7:05pm and Alex checked me a few minutes later. I was 5cm but very thin. I tried not to be disappointed – thankfully Alice Ann pointed out many second time moms progress much quicker, so it could only be a couple of hours, which reassured me that soon enough we would be meeting our little one. Shortly after that I started having almost constant contractions. I tried laboring on the bed very briefly, but was so uncomfortable. I walked around the room a bit then decided on the tub.
Once I got in I instantly felt better, and calmer… for a very short period. The contractions just wouldn’t stop and I was thinking there was no way I could do this. I focused on very few things and really allowed myself to become very introspective to manage the pain. I could see Alex and Stephanie in front of me, and hear Alex guiding me through breathing in her patient and calming voice and Stephanie’s encouragement and positive words. Kory was by my side the whole time, rubbing my lower back, holding my hand and telling me that we were one step closer with each contraction. Just knowing he was there and we were going to meet our son/daughter very soon was so reassuring. The three of them really supported me so much, and I am so grateful. It was exactly what I envisioned it would be like, though I will admit that the pain and intensity were much more than I had prepared for!
I don’t have any concept of how long I was in the tub, but it couldn’t have been very long. I spent most of the time kneeling and hanging over the edge. At one point I felt my water break and then everything felt very different. I told Kory to go get someone and tell them my water had broken. Shortly after that I remember Alex asked if I was pushing and I told her I thought so. Having had an epidural before I wasn’t entirely sure what I was feeling, or what I was supposed to do. Somewhere in there Andrea, my doula arrived, and I was so grateful for more support. She immediately got me more ice for my washcloth and that cooling relief helped re-center and refocus me. Close to the end, I got to the point where it just seemed too much – and told everyone I couldn’t do it, and Stephanie, along with everyone else, assured me that I was already doing it. They encouraged me to just go with what felt right, and helped give me strength when I really didn’t feel like I could go on. I recall at one point I tried to ask how much longer it would be and Stephanie encouraged me to reach down and feel. At that point I realized I was so close and the head was right there! After a few short pushes and feeling the most intense pain and pressure I’ve ever dealt with, I gave a final push and the baby was here. I looked down just to see her head come out and in an instant she was out and I turned around and had her on my chest. At that point I was asking Kory if it was a boy or a girl – but he couldn’t tell. When he finally could tell it was a girl, I asked him to double check! So much for my mother’s intuition since I was so certain it was a boy! Sydney Evangeline Jessen was born at 7:42pm – a very short 40 minutes after we arrived!
It was so peaceful laying in the water with her, holding her on my chest, with an amazing group of women standing around me, letting us bond and caring for us. Much like my whole experience through the pregnancy, there was no rushing, no agenda, just time for us. It felt like it truly was meant to be. Just after the delivery, Anayah walked in, probably a little surprised to see me holding a baby when she had just seen me the day before. I can’t explain it, other than it felt like I was surrounded by friends, in a familiar and peaceful environment. It was exactly the loving, calm, and positive environment I had envisioned. It was such an emotional moment for me, knowing all we had been through. We talked, bonded, allowed Sydney to eat (which she took to like a champ) and just soaked it all in. After a bit we talked to our families, texted some close friends, and just marveled at what life had given us. I remember calling and talking to Alexa and telling her she had a new sister – the elation and excitement in her voice made me even happier than I already felt – it could not have been a better ending to a very bittersweet few years.
I can say with all of my heart, that having our daughter at Baby+Company was the best decision we could have made. I will be eternally grateful for all the staff there – it is clear that everyone there truly cares about the patients and families and treats it as much more than a job. We felt safe, supported, and so cared for – well beyond our expectations. It was the happy ending to a one long and bittersweet journey for our family, and the beginning of a very new amazing one!