The Birth Story of Beck Marie | Allen Birth Center | Birth Photogragher
It felt like it was never going to happen, and then once it started it felt like it might never end.
Our sweet girl has been a surprise in every way imaginable. She has kept us on our toes from the beginning of her creation and her birth was no different. I had been having Braxton Hicks since 20 weeks that started intensifying around 36 weeks and turned into occasional contractions. She dropped at 33 weeks, and then floated back up, and then dropped again, and then floated back up, and then dropped again, and back up all before her arrival. There was a lot happening for a first pregnancy and I was so sure she'd come early, but 38 weeks turned to 39 weeks, and 40 weeks came and went.
At 40w5d, I decided that perhaps it might be a mental block. There was still stuff to be done at work and my husband, Pete, was in the midst of a big installation job. So that Friday we decided we'd both start our parenting leave. We'd have 9 days to get her moving before we would have to move from the birth center to a hospital, and we wanted to focus all our energy on getting our little girl out.
I had an induction massage on Friday night with no noticeable changes. On Saturday, we decided there was so little activity that Pete could head to Austin for the day to celebrate a friend's birthday. I took care of a few things around the house and rested during the day. We went to bed that night with plans to take a long walk in the morning.
Upon waking on Sunday, there was a noticeable difference in my "Braxton Hicks." I told Pete something felt different, so we decided to take that walk to see if anything progressed. Throughout our hour long walk I continued to have these more intense "Braxton Hicks" every 8-10 minutes. Could this be it? As we arrived home and sat down, we came to terms with the fact that this was likely at least pre-labor contractions. The contractions slowed down significantly and started coming every 15 minutes or so. We had my 41 week non-stress test scheduled for noon and figured we'd get more answers then.
When we arrived at Allen Birthing Center we learned not much had changed since 40 weeks. I was 1 cm dilated and 60-70% effaced (1 cm, 30% effaced the week before), and we opted for the membrane sweep given that she was still high and see if we could get things moving. The contractions had started picking up again before we arrived. As I sat in the chair with the monitors hooked up, I watched the numbers on the machine rise and fall as the contractions peaked and released. Sure enough, I was having contractions every 5ish minutes. We left the midwife with a "maybe see you later tonight?"
I knew I needed to rest but now I was too excited about the possibility of labor starting to really relax. I lounged in front of the TV but religiously logged my contractions in the app. They were starting to slow down and lose intensity, and I started to panic that today might not be the day after all. We found an indoor location to walk around and took some laps before deciding to join my family for dinner and pool time (a series of decisions I'd come to regret).
The walk hadn't picked up the contractions much, but as I sat in the pool around 6:00pm, there was a slight ramp up in their intensity. As the contractions started coming consistently, I was still nervous they'd slow down after the fits and starts earlier in the day. We decided to stay and enjoy dinner and play some games. By 8:30pm the contractions were still coming but now closer and longer. Looking back we were several hours into early first stage. It was then that I decided it would good idea to go home and get some rest - too little, too late.
I tried to sleep, but the contractions were too noticeable to sleep through. I moved to the couch to relax and found myself dozing between contractions. Around 10:30pm, I was jolted awake by a contraction that was so different than any I had felt before. I knew it was real now - we were entering the first stage.
The waves came quickly now as I focused and rocked through each one. By 1:30am, I knew we needed some additional support. The contractions continued to intensify and I was feeling nervous and exhausted already. Pete called our doula, Shelly, who made her way to our home and encouraged me to rest. I slept between contractions and labored at home until 6:30am when we needed to leave to beat Monday's rush hour traffic.
Thirteen hours into labor we arrived at the birth center. I was 6cm and completely effaced - significant progress from my appointment the day before, but daunting and discouraging to only be "halfway" done. On the cusp of transition, Shelly had me walking the stairs, pacing the floor, and doing asymmetric lunges during contractions. I was convinced I wouldn't be one to vocalize in labor, but found myself putting on a concert for every patient and staffer at the birth center through every contraction. Whatever it took to get through each one.
As I moved into transition, I started to have sporadic bouts of nausea and body tremors. I asked to move into the birth tub to try to bring some relief. And relief it brought...too much so. Labor slowed down significantly and I was asked to move out of the tub for a check. It was now noon and I was 8cm. I silently thought "I can't keep doing this," as my team came up with a plan: herbs, teas, and the peanut ball. I started taking shots of some herbal supplement that required an apple juice chaser and chugged a cup full of tea before I laid down on my side with my leg propped up on the ball. The contractions started coming hard and fast again and my body shook uncontrollably. At 1:30pm, I was at my mental breaking point. Our girl had moved lower but still wasn't completely adhered on my cervix, my waters were still intact, and it felt like labor would never end. I asked to have my water broken.
"We can do that. One of two things is going to happen. Either labor is going to immediately intensify or it is going to stall, then you are going to feel a lot of pressure, and then things will get moving again," said the midwife Kristen.
"Sure, fine. I'm good with that," I said.
As my water was broken, but it wasn't the gush I was expecting. Our girl was holding most of the water behind her little body.
"Okay, so there is meconium staining in the water. It's not super bad so I am not too worried, but we'll need to monitor her a bit more closely." Deep breaths, focus, everything is going to be okay. Then labor stalled. Looks like I chose what was behind door #2.
After a few minutes, I moved to labor on the toilet. Just as I was told, I suddenly felt that immense pressure. The intensity only drowned out by the contractions that were now back. As I worked through each one, Shelly started to ask if I had the urge to push. Not quite yet, then a little, then I wanted to stand at the sink, and suddenly it was there. It took me by such surprise I actually fought the urge to push as Shelly said, "Just go with it...just go with it..." until I finally relaxed. It was finally time. Second stage...I had made it!
One of the nurses encouraged me to deep squat at the sink as the pushing contractions raged on. I pushed there until my arms started to lose their strength. I asked again to move to the tub.
I pushed for nearly an hour in the tub before I was encouraged to move to the bed to see if a different position would help. I could tell something was awry. It was taking too long and I couldn't sense any significant changes. Another check revealed a cervical lip. An hour of pushing and she hadn't moved an inch. Too exhausted to cry, I now beared down as the midwife manually pushed my cervix past her head. Pete jumping in to hold the flashlight so she could see. Thirty minutes later we were past the lip. The fun was just starting.
I pushed and thought every time I wouldn't make it through another one. I was coached and cheered on every time by my doula, the midwife, two nurses, and Pete. You would have thought I was running the winning touchdown at the Superbowl with every push. I thought we surely must be getting close, only to find out we had just made it to +2 station. Another wave of "oh my god, will this ever end?" fluttered through my mind.
"I'll be shocked if this baby isn't posterior or doesn't have a hand on her face," I heard Kristen say to Shelly.
"Wait...what?" I wasn't so exhausted to miss that tidbit of information.
Kristen explained that things were just taking longer than expected given the pushing and so likely something was holding our girl up. A bad position or an unfortunately placed limb. Our girl - ever full of surprises.
I pushed for almost another hour until I finally heard the cheers of "we can see the head! Oh my gosh - look at all that hair!" I reached down and felt the back of her head, full of hair, just like they said. I was so close...SHE was so close.
The end was in sight. The ring of fire burned as Kristen carefully coached me through the next couple of pushes. Her head was FINALLY out. As my next contraction came, Pete exchanged the flashlight to assist in ushering her into the world. With the help of Kristen, I gave one last push with everything I had as Pete pulled her body from my womb. He sobbed as he handed our wailing child to her shell-shocked mother. "We have a baby?!" you can hear me say in disbelief in our home video.
We had a baby.
Beck Marie Bybel
7/29/19 at 5:11pm
8 lbs. 6 oz. and 22 inches
Hand on the face and cord wrapped around her shoulders
I realized earlier this week that my birth wasn't what I hoped it would be. I hadn't planned much because birth can be so unpredictable, but I had looked forward to a calm, still, and peaceful birth with one of our favorite songs playing in the background. It would be "her" song moving forward; the soundtrack to her entrance to the world. Instead her birth was long, hard, riddled with unexpected challenges, lots of movements, tons of assistance, and no soundtrack playing in the background.
It has taken me a few weeks to be okay with this. It has taken me awhile to be really proud of what I did. It wasn't what I hoped for, but for 23 hours I took on the challenges, I conquered the unexpected, I rolled with the punches, and relied on an amazing group of women to make it happen. And on the other side of it, I got Beck. The sweetest surprise gift.