This is one of my favorite birth stories, written for a sweet baby girl that gave her Mama and Daddy quite a scare while she was growing. It also shows the power of fear and the power of letting go--as well as the power of love and that important labor cocktail--oxytocin.
Dear Baby Bryn,
I met a lot of mamas in my job—they are all looking for something; a way to make their birth experience more enjoyable, more gentle, or more fulfilling. When I met your Mama, she wanted to challenge herself and do what she knew was best for you at the same time. I knew in an instant that she would have no problem having a natural birth—she was strong and used to setting goals and milestones (that she achieved) and she had a loving a supportive partner in your Daddy. She also had an intense love for you, and a desire to keep you safe—it burned brightly in her eyes and was present from the moment I met her until you were safely placed in her arms.
Due to some early bleeding and fear about your placenta, you and your Mama were monitored more closely from the beginning. The doctors predicted that you would be very small because of damage done to your Mama’s placenta during the bleeding. They also decided that at some point before 40 weeks, you would grow better outside of your Mama than you would inside. Stress tests, ultrasounds, bed rest—your mom took it all in stride. Her desire to have an unmediated, uncomplicated birth began to fade away, and all she really hoped for was a healthy baby. This is the beautiful thing about motherhood—we love our babies more than we love and value our own desires, and certainly more than we value our own life. In a soft quiet voice, I heard your Mama echo what women all over the world silently sing: take everything from me, even my life, but just keep my baby safe. All talks of a natural birth went by the wayside—she did not really care about continual monitoring, or IV fluids, or epidurals. Our talks turned to how to keep your safe in an induction and even a possible c-section. I know your mom felt just a small sting when she said, “Maybe next time.”
Throughout your Mom’s pregnancy, she was given many non-stress tests, which usually sent her to Labor and Delivery for the day to be monitored. As stressful as this was for her, it was good because she got to know some of the nurses very well, and they (along with the doctors) got to know you! It seemed like every time your heart-rate was low, it would rebound after some time. I was so thankful that the staff got to see your pattern, and hoped it would make delivery date easier on your Mama. Around 35 weeks you were given steroids to help speed the development of your lungs should you need to be delivered. Many times, your mom would call and text me, and I would be ready to go to her side during her c-section. You see, your Daddy was gone, faithfully serving our country, so your Mama was dealing with this alone. She had the support of friends and family, and certainly the support of a team a doulas who were praying for her and ready to be with her, but she was missing half of her heart. However, through prayer, good fortune and good care, she was always released and allowed to carry you a little bit longer. Eventually, you made it to a safe induction date, and your entrance into this big world was scheduled for March 8th. Your Mom was going to be allowed to labor, as long as you tolerated it well, and your Dad was going to be able to be home for your grand entrance—I could not have been more excited!
Your Mom and Dad arrived at the hospital early on the 8th, after stopping at Panera to get bagels for all the nurses. I was ready and waiting, and your Mom was going to let me know when she needed me. Around 1pm, your Mom texted me and asked about having her water broken, as a way to intensify the contractions and get labor moving. We talked about the pros and cons, and she decided to go ahead and have her water broken. I knew it would intensify things quite a bit, so I told her I would come up once the doctor was done. She texted me around 2 pm and I went up to join her and your Dad while they waited on you. When I walked in the room, the mood was light—I liked both of the nurses, one that your mom had specifically requested for this day. Your mom and dad were talking and watching TV, and I had her get up and go to the bathroom. When she came back we labored on the ball for awhile, or standing or leaning on the bed. With each contraction that passed, things seemed to grow more intense. At one point, your mom asked for the TV to be turned off, and her music to be turned on. I have heard plenty of “birth” music and I was expecting the soft melody to fill the room. Instead, I am pretty sure that the Rocky Soundtrack started (does anyone even use CDs anymore—okay, Pandora Radio.) I looked at your dad, sure that he had made a mistake, and he just smiled. Your mom told me that the music “pumps her up” and that it is the same music she used to listen to while getting ready for a big swim meet. She also said she liked hearing the words, which gave her something to focus on during a contraction (instead of the contraction itself.) She was loose, open, and contracting well, so we stuck to her plan and labored on.
She never got in the bed, but we used the area all around the bed. Your heart rate looked beautiful the entire time—an answered prayer. At this point your Mom was standing next to the bed, and she wanted to hold on to something during her contraction. I told her to hold onto your Daddy, who reached out for her as she hung on his neck during a contraction. Now your Daddy had been gone for a number of months, and I think they were just getting reacquainted in all of the excitement of your birth. When they reached for one another, love flooded the room—it was a beautiful sight to behold and so very intimate. It was as if months of being apart melted away, as he softly said: “my babies” and your Mom finally felt safe and protected in his arms. She started to glow, despite the contraction, and you even liked the extra Oxytocin boost—your heart rate rose ever so slightly, as you happily basked in the love your parents have for one another. I remember something from every birth I attend, and this image will stick with me for a long time.
The nurse came in the room and wanted to check your progress (they were increasing the Pitocin little by little) and your Mama told her she did not want to know her dilation. She was checked, and the nurse told me that she was 6, which was encouraging news! I told your Mama that she was at least half-way through her race, and that there was no reason to jump out of the pool now—just keep swimming. Swim she did! We labored sitting on the ball at the end of the bed for awhile, while your Dad help pressure on her back. She told me that she might cry, and I asked what she was going to cry about. Emotions are so important in labor, and they can really hinder the progress of a Mom. I encouraged her to talk about it, to give it voice, and at first she hesitated. Then she said, in a still, quiet voice:” I am so scared. I have been so nervous.” I asked what she was afraid of, and as the well of tears she had been holding back for so long started to flow down her face, I could almost see her cervix melting away. She was afraid you would be too small, or not healthy enough, or sick or any of the other millions of things she had thought about over the past few months. Just by giving voice to them, she was able to let them go. She replaced her fears with dreams of a sweet baby girl, a girl she had been afraid to name, but finally called “Bryn” for the first time.
Within the hour she was feeling pressure and was ready to push, a testament to the power of letting go and releasing fears while in labor. The nurse had her lay back, and the doctor came in, ready to catch you as you made your entrance. Your Mama had been laboring beautifully, handling each contraction with ease. The change in pace disturbed her some, and when the doctor told her to push, she looked at me with fear in her eyes. I reminded her that everything was okay—that she was about to meet her baby. She relaxed, and within a few pushes, you were lifted onto her chest. Everyone was surprised by the size of you—especially the nurses and doctors—who quickly declared that you were strong and healthy. The doctor was amazed that your Mama was handling labor so well without an epidural—she actually assumed that she had pain medicine throughout the delivery. One of the nurses even commented that if they were ever to have another baby, they hoped it would look like this labor. I could not have agreed with them more—it was beautiful! I was so thankful to be a part of such a special time in your Mom and Dad’s life, and to be one of the first people to lay eyes on you—sweet baby Bryn.