The Birth Story of Violet Jane

I am always so excited and so grateful when families write down their birth stories and are willing to share them. Personally, I enjoy re-experiencing the birth through the mama’s eyes, and I love being able to give others a glimpse into this amazing process. A huge thank you to Kathryn, not only for the honor of inviting me on this journey as her midwife, but also for sharing her beautiful birth story for others to enjoy!
Soak in those newborn snuggles,
Kate

—————

The Birth Story of Violet Jane
July 4, 2013. 9:34pm. 7lb, 5 oz. 20 in.
1
We’re 3 days postpartum now. Violet is sleeping next to me, and Patrick is on the other side of her. The babymoon is going great so far; Patrick is taking such good care of us (“his girls”, as he calls us). My world has shrunk to our bedroom, the days occupied only by nursing, sleeping, snuggling, eating, drinking, bathing, watching shows. My iPhone is my only link to the outside world, thanks to Facebook. When I close my eyes at night, scenes from Violet’s birth flash behind my eyes. Here’s what I remember from that day:

 

{ Several weeks before Violet was born I wrote out my birthing affirmations on cards. During my last weeks of pregnancy, I read them to myself each night before going to sleep. The affirmations are interspersed throughout this story. I loved that during my labor, the cards were read aloud to me by each member of my amazing birth team.}

 

I’m glowing and at ease.
2

 

Throughout my pregnancy, I told myself that the 4th of July would be a good day to have my baby. It was my 39 week mark, and a celebratory sort of day. In the HypnoBirthing method, they have you visualize the things you want to happen for your birth. Some of mine were laboring on the 4th of July and having an 8-10 hour labor. Well, I got one of the two!

 

My birthing journey included lots of practice labor. I had Braxton Hicks (we called them tightenings) during my whole third trimester. They got stronger with each passing week. They felt like pressure in my vagina and bottom, and tightening in my belly. For the last several weeks of pregnancy, I would feel them all day long, with more in the evenings during our nightly walks by the lake. I welcomed them each night, and I remember enjoying the feeling of being in my birthing body. I knew that this was such a tiny sliver in terms of my whole life, and I wanted to soak up every sensation of the power, openness, and ripeness that comes with pregnancy. For the last week I was pregnant, I began to feel crampy “real” surges in the nights, just two or three in a night. I mostly ignored them, but in the back of my mind I knew they were different.

 

I have an open heart.

 

The day before Violet’s birth day, I went to the beach near our house. I swam in the lake and rubbed my toes in the sand. In the afternoon, I was adjusted by my chiropractor, which felt great. We saw our midwife, and baby was super healthy as always (thank you Jesus!).

 

I am soft and open.

 

I had my first surge at 2:15am on July 4th. Lying on my side in bed, I opened my eyes. In my heart I knew: this was it. My labor was beginning. For the next two hours, I had surges every 7-10 minutes. I tried to sleep, but I didn’t succeed very well. I definitely rested and snoozed between them, though. Around 4:15, I started to feel hungry and was tired of lying in bed. I remember saying, “Patrick, can you wake up for a second? I’ve been having surges for the past couple of hours. I’m going to go downstairs and watch Friends.”

 

Early morning belly; 39 weeks

Early morning belly; 39 weeks

 

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

 

I went to the bathroom and put on my comfiest pajama pants. One thing that surprised me was that my surges were strong almost right away, even though they were reasonably spaced out. I had to stop what I was doing often enough that it took me a while to get situated with my bowl of Cheerios and blueberries and an episode of Friends (my favorite show, that I planned to watch in labor). I ate the cereal while sitting on the ball. I think I watched one or two episodes.

 

I had a minor flurry of nesting. I cleaned the downstairs toilet and put away dishes. Back upstairs, I started getting out supplies for the birth. In our room, Patrick started to wake up when I vocalized through surges. It was about 6am, I think. I’m not totally sure what came next, but I know I lay in bed with Patrick. We called Kate, our midwife, just before 7am to check in. She said great job, eat and drink, and take a nap.

 

I ate a nectarine (I’m still obsessed three days later), and I decided to try an Epsom salt bath. Our tub is pretty shallow so it was just ok. Surges were fairly strong. I ate an egg sandwich and some junior mints, and watched another episode of Friends. Then we lay down to nap. I was able to sleep from 8:30 until almost 10am, waking up every 7 minutes to moan through surges. My hips started to feel sore from staying in one position, and around 10am we got into the shower. In there, Patrick pressed on my hips/sacrum during surges, and that felt good.

 

My body is made to do this work.

 

Out of the shower, Patrick started to make up our bed per the birth kit instructions. I got on my hands and knees on the floor and rocked around. I remember saying that no position really felt good. Surges kept getting stronger, and I have no idea how far apart they were. After some of them, I cried, which I thought was a good sign of advancing labor. Just before noon, we called Stephanie, our doula. I thought if she came over, she could help me find a more comfortable position and work on my sacrum and hips, which were feeling the work of the surges. We also called Kate to let her know that Stephanie was coming over. She said we should go for a walk.

 

I put on clothes (which felt like an inconvenience), and we made it downstairs. I still felt like I was fine and able to go about the “daily” activities of walking and eating. We went outside, where it was sunny and hot, but with a pleasant breeze. We walked SLOWLY in a lap around our building and the next one. I think I had three or four surges along the way, and with each one I wrapped my arms around Patrick and leaned over.

 

I have everything I need.

 

Back at home, I didn’t really want to eat anything substantial. I had Vitamin Water and another nectarine. During another episode of Friends, Stephanie arrived. She brought
more nectarines, berries, and 4th of July dessert supplies with sparkler candles. While I sat on the ball, she worked on my hips and shoulders. I did feel relief and space opening. I remember that Stephanie also worked on releasing my broad ligament (a source of tension throughout my pregnancy). I started to cry, and I said to Stephanie that I must have been holding something (an emotion) in my belly.

 

Patrick and Stephanie conferred, and they decided that we should go upstairs so they could keep setting up the bed and the birth tub. We headed up, and I did lunges on the stairs. Interesting that at this point I still had the presence of mind to know that those would help my sweet baby descend on her birth path. {Random thought: I didn’t rub, feel, admire, or even think much about my belly during labor. I snapped one photo early in the morning, knowing this was my last one. But after that it was like I couldn’t think about it in the same way I had; my world was all about labor.}

 

My baby is healthy; I am healthy.

 

By the time I got to the top of the stairs, I was crawling from the intensity of the surges. Stephanie sent me to sit on the toilet to empty my bladder. This was a turning point in the labor, I think. Stephanie and Patrick called Kate at this point. I sat on the toilet for a while, holding Patrick around the waist. I think I relaxed quite a bit during that time. Kate showed up while I was still on the toilet, so I must have stayed there for a while. She took vitals for the baby and me; everybody was doing perfectly.

 

My concept of time, and of the order in which things happened, from this point forward is pretty nonexistent. I think after the toilet I did lunges in our bedroom. Next, I lay in bed. I actually napped for a short while between surges. I remember asking to get into the water. Kate must have gotten the tub ready for me.

 

I climbed into the tub. The warmth felt good. The position that came most naturally to me was kneeling and facing the side of the tub. I held Patrick around the neck. It didn’t seem like very long to me, that I started grunting. I think Kate told me afterwards that happened at 5:30pm. Someone lit my candles, including my birth candle from Sacred Pregnancy. We played my birth playlist. Each of my helpers read my birthing affirmations aloud to me. They fed me strawberries (so good), oatmeal, Gatorade, and tons of water. I was yelling for water, cold washcloths, and pressure on my hips.

 

Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27b

 

I eventually started having strong pushing surges. The first couple were so surprising – the way they felt, and how strong they were. Everyone around me encouraged me so much and told me what a good job I was doing. I sat on the toilet again at some point, and I first reached inside to feel her head. It was two knuckles in, with the soft bag of waters coming first.

 

Trust.

 

In our bedroom, Kate talked to me about whether or not I might be completely dilated, and offered a cervical check. She asked how it felt when I pushed, if I felt pinching or if it felt good. She said I had to stop saying please and thank you before I made it to the point of giving birth. I decided that getting checked wouldn’t help me with that goal of going even deeper inside myself. Kate was perfectly ok with that, and super supportive.

 

I am whole and complete. I am completely safe.

 

I got back into the tub and kept pushing my head off. The surges kept getting stronger, which I just could not believe. Each one felt like the strongest possible. The pushing itself wasn’t so bad, but my hips and belly hurt so much that it was just so intense. I learned after Violet was born that my surges were five minutes apart and only 30-45 seconds long! What?! That’s not a typical labor pattern for the pushing phase. I was blissfully unaware, though – I knew they could have been closer together, but I wasn’t going to complain! Kate said after the birth that had I been in the hospital, I would have likely been given Pitocin to make my surges closer together. She also said that she could see how strong my surges were, she knew from my reports that I could feel baby moving lower on the birth path, and that she trusted my body. What an amazing, loving midwife we chose! I feel really lucky.

 

Instead, Kate and CaraLin (our other midwife) periodically asked Patrick and I to kiss to spur on the surges. This was part of my birth wishes, and I am so appreciative for how carefully my helpers paid attention to my wishes. Kissing Patrick felt so lovely and good. Patrick was so nice to me and took such good care of me throughout the whole labor. He barely left my side, and literally held me up more than once. He encouraged me so much. I also remember him telling me, “I’ve never loved you more”. He also prayed for us throughout the labor. I’m so lucky! My heart is still full from the experience, and from the past few days of snuggling our baby.

 

My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:30

 

At one point I said, “Why isn’t she coming?”. Kate reassured me that nothing was going wrong, and that my body was doing just what it needed to do. I accepted that and went back inside my labor bubble. Eventually Violet’s head was one knuckle’s length inside, and the stretching of my tissues started to feel really strong. I did not like the feeling! I had no idea what time it was, but every so often I would look up to see if it was still light outside. Soon it was time to empty my bladder again. I didn’t feel like I had to, but my midwives wanted to make sure that a full bladder didn’t get in the way of baby coming through. I think she was already so low that it didn’t matter in the end. But, I wasn’t able to pee in the tub, so I had to get out again! I said that walking to the bathroom (probably 10 steps) felt impossible. But it did the trick.

 

My baby will find the perfect position for birth.

 

I sat on the toilet, where I did not pee, but my waters released with a pop and a splat! I said, “Get Kate! Baby is going to come!” Kate asked if I wanted to get back in the tub. I said no, because in my bubble, logically because my waters had released on the toilet, sitting there was the most effective way to get baby out ASAP. I pushed a couple more times, then Kate made me get off the toilet and onto the birth stool. I said, “Can’t I just stay here, and stand up when baby comes out?”. Patrick literally carried me the few feet to the birth stool. Sitting on there felt terrible. I couldn’t rest my bottom on in because there was a baby’s head in the way. I ended up supporting my weight partly with my legs, and partly with my arms. Stephanie touched and rubbed my shoulders to help them relax. I also remember her touching my head – I don’t know what craniosacral tricks she was doing, but she always takes good care of me and I loved knowing she was beside me.

 

My perception is that I pushed about two or three surges on the birth stool. With each surge, I would kind of scream, then do a very low “ohhhhh”, all while being tossed around by the super strong surges. Phew!

 

I felt her legs kicking and swimming during the last three surges, and right as she was being born. I almost didn’t want to have to feel anything else, because the sensation of her crowning was so intense, but I was also very aware that those were the last kicks I would feel from Violet in my belly. I remember wishing – praying? – that her shoulders would be born in the same surge with her head. That did happen with the next surge, thankfully! I felt her head come out, then one shoulder, then her belly, and her legs felt like a choppy slithering sensation that was an amazing relief. It was 9:34pm, and fireworks were going off above the lake near our house. (Later, our midwives looked out our bedroom window and craned their necks to see the fireworks.)

 

Thank you Lord for this baby and for our new family.

 

Patrick caught our baby, but I think I grabbed her pretty quickly. She looked creamy from vernix and slippery from amniotic fluid. She was warm and smooth. She screamed immediately and loudly, and cried for a couple of minutes while I held her on my thighs. I rubbed my face on her and kissed her. I remembered to see that she was, in fact, a girl, and said to Patrick, “Look!” We smiled at each other because we had a baby girl! I said that she was tiny – she looked small to me, relative to all the different sizes of babies I’ve seen born. Kate unwrapped her cord from her neck and her chest, and I lifted her onto my chest.

 

My placenta was born only two minutes after the baby! I was bleeding, not too much, but enough that Kate wanted me to lay in bed. I walked to our bed with Kate in front of me and Stephanie behind me, holding the placenta in a bowl.

 

4

 

I lay back with Violet on my chest and Patrick next to me, and we just looked at her, noticing all the sweet things about her. Violet’s placenta was in its bowl between us. Her cord continued to pulse for most of an hour. While we lay in bed, Stephanie made me a tuna sandwich that Patrick fed me. She also made beautiful angel food cakes with red and blue berries and whipped cream (red, white, and blue for the 4th of July). We lit candles on the dessert for Violet’s birthday. It was so delicious – I ate my portion and Patrick’s! Our midwives left us alone, and Stephanie worked gently on Violet’s head while she snuffled around at my breast. The first hour, Violet didn’t exactly latch on – she licked and rooted. We had some time just the three of us, too, which was really sweet. I could hear our wonderful birth helpers down in the kitchen, talking and laughing together. Homebirth is so sweet for things like that.

 

After some time, maybe an hour?, it was time for me to get checked by my midwives. I handed Violet to her daddy for skin to skin time, and in the process we tipped the placenta bowl slightly. We all gasped, and it made Violet cry for a second. Kate did Violet’s newborn exam. She was, of course, perfect in every way. I nursed my sweet baby. She latched briefly, a few times on each side. Then it was time to sleep. Kate was the last one to leave, and the three of us snuggled up. We prayed together, thanking God for bringing us safely and joyfully through birthing, and for choosing us to have sweet Violet Jane in our family.

 

Joyful!

Joyful!

 

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

 

I got almost everything I wanted in my birthing time. Why? Blessing and provision from God, yes, but also, careful choices in my care provider and place of birth. Our midwife, and all out of hospital midwives, do such important work. Truly, their service to families is such a gift – they offer the option of safe, normal, undisturbed birth in a culture where this type of birth is far too rare. Mamas, and dads, please(!) take this choice seriously. All families have the option to consider out of hospital birth, because of strong, caring women like our midwife. She kept us safe and made sure we were healthy, while allowing my birthing to follow its natural path without disturbing it. It was Violet’s journey and my journey, and because God made both of us, we knew how to get through it. God is good!

 

Kathryn Orr is a birth and postpartum doula and a Lamaze-Certified Childbirth Educator practicing in the Twin Cities. She is also mama to Violet. Read more about Kathryn at MotherBaby Doula Services.

One thought on “The Birth Story of Violet Jane

  1. Pingback: Birth Affirmations | Twin Cities Midwifery Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s