On the evening of August 21 (3 days before my EDD) I was winding down from the evening and preparing for the upcoming day when I began to feel some cramps that were new to me. I had an anterior placenta so I did not feel my daughter moving much during my pregnancy. Really the only time I felt her was while driving to work in the morning, I would get the occasional appendage in my rib cage. I also did not have very strong or noticeable Braxton Hicks contractions, so I was unsure of what to expect at this point. I had already lost my mucus plug so I knew labor was approaching but no idea when to expect it. Just to be on the safe side I pulled out my handy contraction app and began timing my cramps. After several times I began to see a pattern to them and realized that I had indeed entered early labor! After sending a quick email to my boss and notifying my team my husband and I went to bed to get some rest for the road ahead. Little did I know, just how much I would end up needing that sleep!
That first night was more difficult that I expected. I had prepared myself that my labor would be long and that I would need the sleep. But my body did not seem to have paid attention during our birthing class. When I was up and walking about my contractions were easier to manage but they were 4 to 5 minutes apart, when I would lay down they were 20 minutes apart but I had to really focus on breathing through them. I had no idea what my body was doing, I was supposed to contact my midwife, Nicole Lavallee, when my contractions were getting close together but this didn’t feel like what I thought labor would feel like. After contacting my very patient midwife, she reassured me that my body was doing just what it was supposed to do and to try and get as much sleep as I could. I was able to handle most of the contractions on my own while my husband slept, but I was thankful when the sun rose and it was a new day.
The next morning my friend (and birth photographer) Whitney Hempsey, came to sit with us at home (I had planned a midwife assisted home birth) armed with Starbucks and a knitting project. I was so thankful to see her, my husband was supportive but he was just as lost as I was. With Whitney there I had reassurance that my labor was progressing normally and she helped to make the time pass more quickly. I folded laundry and we chatted and watched Baby Mama, to keep the mood light. Occasionally I would have to stop and breath through a contraction but I was able to handle them for the most part on my own for a while and we kept chatting away.
Eventually they did start to get stronger and I needed to use some of my laboring techniques I had learned to work through them. My husband became more involved with working through contractions with me and started to be able to see them coming even before I did to get me up and moving. As long as I could move they were OK, but if I didn’t get up off the couch in time there was no moving me and I had to ride it out where I was. Whitney helped us to keep everyone updated and
was in charge of timing my contractions and texting Nicole and my doula, Amanda Hynes. We turned the movie off and the environment started to feel different. It felt more serious. Not at all off putting or scary, just a sense that I was really starting to work hard and I began to get my first glimpses of what my true labor would feel like.
Whitney suggested that I get in the tub to relax for a bit and I quickly learned the power of water during labor. After a consult with my midwife and a 30 minute soak (not nearly long enough, it seemed) Nicole suggested I get out of the water because my contractions had slowed down. The tub and the seemingly magical water had given me a chance to get a rest but now I had to keep moving on so I could meet my daughter. As soon as I got out of the tub the contractions were back with a
vengeance. Any movement of my body seemed to set of another contraction and the time between them seemed to be shorter than the contraction themselves. At one point I had a 9 minute long contraction followed 30 seconds later by a second shorter contraction. I came to call those my after shocks.
At this point Amanda joined us to help me through contractions. There were a few times I was unsure who was holding me up while I contracted, but it didn’t matter. I knew I was safe and supported by everyone there. My husband began to need more support himself, this had already been a long road and we had much further left to travel. Whitney quietly reassured him that I was OK
and allowed him to take a moment to recover while I was in my capable doula’s hands.
I begin to lose much of story at this point as I began to turn inwards and pay less attention to what was going on around me. I remember telling my husband that I was worried that I would not be able to make it through until the end, but not to tell anyone because I did not want to let them down.
I became more primal and turned off the thinking part of my brain to let my inner self take control, because she had more confidence in us than I did and she seemed to know what she was doing. Someone, called my mom and when she came in I could let go of the last little bit of resistance I had to the process. I was innocent again, and I knew some how having my mother present would make things better. As my circle of love and support grew, so did the knowledge that I was strong enough to complete this task. Surely if all the women around me had been able to give birth and be strong, so could I. One thing that I do remember with complete clarity was the
desire to see my midwife. Nicole was my light at the end of the tunnel, my relief. I knew as soon as I could see her face that I was almost done. She was my final boost of strength and my guardian angel.
I remember that once she arrived it seemed that I was finally going to be done (even when in reality I still had further to go.) She gave me an inspiring pep talk that I, with deep regret, remember not one word and set about to listening to the baby while Whitney and Amanda quickly set up my birth tub. By this point it was almost midnight, and all I wanted to do was sleep, but there was more work to be done. I
was once again allowed to enter my safe, sacred space of water, and I was able to feel a sense of calm and actually get some rest again between contractions. I was completely exhausted by this point and could no longer fight the contractions.
It was all I could just to stay above water and keep breathing. My mother some how found the strength, even with her back injuries, to keep my head out of the water so I would not drown and someone kept putting coconut water in front of my face and making me drink. My husband, who until this point had been in the water with me, had to be pulled out of the tub because he was just as exhausted as me and on the verge of passing out.
Alone in the water, but surrounded by love and light around it I eventually began to push. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but slowly my daughter began her descent into this world. My midwife began to check me for progress and would show me on her finger “She was here, but now she is here! You’re doing it!” I remember that those words both inspired me and infuriated me. With all of my work it seemed like she was barely moving, yet some how she made it to the end. It was at this point I was ready to throw in the towel. I remember crying to Nicole that it hurt, and thinking I just wanted to give up. It was at this point she told me that “Yeah of course it hurts! Now get mad and push!”
With those final words of encouragement I pushed again and finally my sweet baby made her entrance in the world. Nicole guided my husband to help catch Shayden and lay her on my chest were I could not believe what just happened. I looked at John and I will never forget what I said when I saw my beautiful baby girl.
“Oh my God! I just had a baby!”
Everyone laughed and there were lots of tears of joy. I don’t remember delivering the placenta but I was able to cuddle her while the umbilical cord stopped pulsing with the last of her precious blood.
After John cut the cord he passed her to my mother to get dried off while my team helped me out of the tub and into bed. Those few feet seemed to be miles away and I don’t know how I made it that distance. In the bed I was once again given my sweet baby and we cuddled while Nicole checked us all out to be sure everyone was OK. We were quickly able to establish breastfeeding and I just remember staring at this angel suckling from my breast in awe, I could not believe I had created something so beautiful.
Shayden Amelia Moore was born at 3:19 am on August 23, and weighed an absolutely perfect 6lbs 12 oz and was 19in long. I am so thankful to all of the support that I had during those 32 hours and I know that I would not have been able to do it without everyone of those angels I had with me. In the hours and days that followed I felt so loved and confident and I know that I would do it all again the exact same way.
I realized that I had the birth that I did because of the support that was offered to me and I want all women to feel as loved and supported by their birth team as I was. I had been bitten by the birth bug and it was not releasing it’s hold anytime soon.