Last week, Rachel shared the birth story of her first son, Lysander. Today she is going to share the birth of her second, her beautiful daughter, Briseida!
Briseida’s birth story: A brunch turned brisk labor
There are so many details swimming through my mind about this amazing birth that it’s hard to pick what to include here and what to leave out. There’s a lot that went into this day becoming what it was, from the tiny but fun details (like waking up at 3 am the morning of- unable to fall back asleep- and searching the internet statistics for the probability of going into labor that day- my due date- only to find myself telling the Internet it sucked and putting the phone back down when it told me an 8% chance), to the not-fun-at-all details (like episodes of false labor at 36 weeks and 5 days of prodromal labor at 38-39 weeks), but the biggest single thing shaping this birth story is the fact that we lived and my husband works in a town three hours from the place I planned to deliver. To make matters more pressing, my husband could only take ONE day off of work when the baby was born to be with me, so when I called him out of work for the big show, I had to KNOW it was real or risk spending his one day on a false alarm. Add in that my chosen city for delivery was three hours from where my husband worked (and where I lived at the time!), and you have one giant puzzle and ball of stress for me that seemed to get bigger and bigger as we approached D day.
We knew that there would be much we could not predict or control about how, where, and when this baby came given our circumstances and living situation this summer, but we tried our best over the weeks preceding the birth to make good decisions, hope for the best, and trust God that no matter where I was when I went into labor/if it would give Arber (my husband) enough time to get to us before the baby came, He would take care of me. A natural labor was very important to me going into this pregnancy because I didn’t get to have that experience with my first birth. Although we were thrilled with how well our son’s birth went for an induction, I felt added stress and pressure to go into labor spontaneously with this pregnancy in order to avoid another induction and hopefully let my body labor more naturally this time around. I wanted to know that I could trust God completely to take me through a process that was bigger than myself and more than I thought I could handle on my own. I spent the last months of this pregnancy reading, stretching, meditating, and preparing for giving birth naturally, trying hard to balance being open-minded and easygoing about that goal this time around with sticking to my guns and really, really wanting it to work out!
I had a membrane sweep scheduled for 11 am on my due date, July 1st, but the day before, I decided on a whim to try acupuncture to encourage labor to begin as well. Please nobody tell my husband how expensive that little whim was (although we know it worked now so it was worth it, right?!) I also did more of baby’s laundry, prepared her carseat, bought groceries for my son and to stock the house for my mom, and got the automatic door on our minivan fixed. Looking back it was a busy day of nesting and getting ready for baby to arrive imminently, but at the time I didn’t feel any special intuition or sense I needed to do these things; I mostly just felt I had procrastinated many of them far too long to begin with and was happy to have a break from the prodromal labor I’d experienced earlier in the week so I had the energy to get everything done.
Around 5 am the morning of my due date when I still couldn’t sleep, I decided to read more birth stories and watch some videos on hypnobirth and meditation. After watching a video that made me cry thinking of my love for Arber and excitement over this baby coming, I put down the phone again to focus on my own meditations in an attempt to fall back asleep. By 6 am I had not fallen asleep but was in a deep state of relaxation when I found myself surprised by the first “clear” contraction I’d experienced this pregnancy. I immediately noted that this swelling, surging feeling deep in my back and abdomen felt different from all my prelabor (more of a combo of cramps and tightening and low constant dull backache) but tried not to get too excited. I decided to keep focusing on breathing into my meditation to see if they would keep coming. By 6:45 am I called Arber to tell him I’d had 4 of these clearly recognizable contractions and that it was too early to say what they would lead to, but to check in frequently today just in case. After that I got out of bed to move around on the birth ball, rub clary sage oil on my belly and acupressure points they showed me the day before, and see what would happen with these contractions given those changes in my activity. I tried not to pay too much attention to them and to intentionally not time them for the next hour and a half to avoid getting excited over nothing and potentially calling my husband away from San Angelo for yet another false labor scenario.
I waited patiently for my son to wake up and found myself getting a little anxious as the contractions didn’t seem to have a clear pattern yet and weren’t necessarily growing in intensity. I tried not to be discouraged, reminding myself things didn’t need to move quickly because I wanted my husband here. When my son finally woke up at 8:30, I had two contractions that seemed more intense while playing with him before I left the house. From the time I left the house at 8:45 to the time I arrived at the brunch place to meet my best friend for breakfast around 9 am, I’d had three stronger contractions in the car and started to wonder if I should have kept this brunch date after all. Although I was growing a little concerned and anxious, I decided it was best not to stop my daily routine until I had clearer signs this was really it.
Focusing on conversation with Lori through brunch was difficult. I still wasn’t timing the contractions but it got harder and harder as the meal went on to keep talking and smiling and responding to her when a contraction came. I was starting to feel like a wimp for needing to focus on them to such a degree already. By 10 am I told Lori I didn’t think I would be able to leave the house again if I went back home but also didn’t think I could just wait around in this condition for my membranes to be swept at my 11 am appointment and we decided she should drive me to my Dr an hour early and try to be seen. I’m glad I listened to her about the driving part. Once we were at Dr. Devine’s office waiting to be seen, I had Lori start timing the contractions. They were spaced about 4 to 6 minutes apart and lasting 1-2 minutes. This just didn’t seem right to me. It seemed like way too quick a progression and that they shouldn’t be lasting so long so quickly, so again I started to doubt that they were real, but it was undeniable that they were taking more and more of my focus and breathing techniques to get through each time. I felt as if all the other pregnant women in the waiting room were staring at me each time a contraction came wondering what in the world I was being so dramatic about with my breathing.
They brought us back to a room to wait for Dr. Devine and things really picked up. Suddenly they were coming every 3 to 4 minutes and lasting 90 seconds to 2 minutes with a couple clusters of contractions right on top of each other. I got the urge to be on my hands and knees or squat and needed Lori to apply counter-pressure on my lower back. She instinctively started giving me cues each time we got to sixty seconds as she sensed that this was when they would peak and get most difficult for me. Those cues helped so much to remind me that a break was coming soon, even if it was short. And unlike with the induction, I truly did get breaks between these contractions and the sense of relief/clarity/brief chance to get back in touch with reality outside of my own labor was so renewing to my ability to cope when in a contraction. Around 11ish Arber called me back and I told him they were closer together and stronger and that even though I still wasn’t completely sure this was it (I was still so worried about everything coming to a grinding halt like false labor continually did) he should probably head this way. He said he couldn’t leave until 1 pm and I remember having the moment where I had to work through the thought, “Ok, what if he’s not here? What do I do?”. Luckily the answer to that question is Lori is a bad ass best friend and stayed with me the whole time, so I didn’t even have to worry about it. Anyway, back to the moment: When Dr. Devine finally came in to check me a little after 11, I was shocked when I heard the words 6 or 7 cm and “you need to go to the hospital right now; I’ve never delivered a baby in my office in all 16 years so let’s not break that streak today” come out of her mouth! I managed to get dressed through the next contraction and pile my pregnant contracting self into the collapsed trunk space of Lori’s SUV to head to the hospital. I was on my hands and knees and bracing my arms against the armrests of her back row seats, surprised at how calm I was able to stay through those contractions in the car, when I started to explain to Lori that in transition I might get irrational and ask for an epidural and for her to kindly tell me I was transitioning and wouldn’t need one if I did ask. Little did I know I was transitioning as we were driving!
We pulled up and she let me out and I prayed checking in would be quick. As soon as I was in the hospital my body wanted to hang on things in a squat position through contractions and I had to bury my head in Lori’s stomach while I did this in the hall as they tried to get me a room. Once in the room I instinctively went for the bathroom and squatted holding onto the handicap bar through a couple contractions. This was when I started whimpering and moaning a little and thinking “goodness this is getting intense!” I reminded myself again to be calm and just feel the sensation of the contractions as I breathed because there was really nothing else I could do. I got the urge to get on the toilet a few minutes later and realized I was having urges to push. That didn’t seem right to me, how could I be needing to push already? I told myself I must be confused and feeling something else. Immediately I felt myself start pooping and apologized to my best friend who was still right beside me rubbing my back, then my bag of waters popped and I told the nurses. They asked me to get off the toilet and come to bed and I told them I didn’t want to. They said, you can’t have this baby on the toilet so please come to bed. I was stunned… was I really about to do this??? My doula Penny helped me breathe through a contraction as they checked me and confirmed I was ready to push but we needed to wait because Dr. Devine hadn’t had time to arrive from her office yet. I hugged Penny tight and breathed through the strong urges to push for about 2 or 3 more contractions before Dr. Devine arrived. When she said I could start pushing whenever I wanted, I felt so confused about how to do that and scared I wouldn’t be able to figure it out. But, the body knows what to do and before I had time to think about it too much, another contraction came and I realized I wouldn’t be able to not push if I tried. It took 3 pushes, and I felt the infamous ring of fire everyone describes on the second and third ones and just moaned and yelled with everything I had to cope with feeling the head pass through me. On the third push I felt the head pass all the way through and the squiggly squirmy sensation of the rest of her body follow. They laid her on my chest and I was overcome with shock that I was done. That was it. Six hours in all from that first early morning contraction to baby. And here she was. On my chest. My vagina really hurt now. (Just being real …)
After my long, intense, and painful induction labor, I couldn’t believe that that was all there was to this birth. Is this what a natural birth is like??? It was the quickest six hours of my life and although it took a lot of focus, I was amazed at how it had been much more of a mental game and much less of a painful experience than I expected. The pain was manageable with a calm, accepting attitude and I was just so happy and proud that I did it all natural this time and trusted my body’s lead! God had not only taken care of me and baby girl through this labor, he had given me an amazing experience, the help, strength, and focus I needed to do it without medication, and with the perfect timing. Arber called around 12:15 pm to tell me he left San Angelo and ask how things were progressing now. He was stunned when I told him I was holding our baby, only about an hour after our last phone call!
Baby girl came at 12:02 pm, weighing 7 lbs 15 oz and measuring 20.5 inches. She nursed for a whopping two hours after an hour of skin to skin and made the cutest little whimpering sounds ever. The pediatrician said it’s too soon to say if it’s a bruise from the fast delivery or a birthmark, but she has a star shaped mark on her lower left cheek. Briseida Elise Keco- or Zadie for short- our little super star, is finally here in our arms, and albeit a scenario for labor I never would’ve imagined unfolding in the manner it did, I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience.