Nora’s Birth Story

here I was dilated to a 9 with a posterior baby. NO WONDER I’d been having back labor.

I’m playing catch up from the last year. I wrote a birth blog for my photographer to share on her website in August, but she has taken down her website so I’m sharing it here now. I will try and play catch up from during my pregnancy, and at least write a few blogs with details of our IVF journey and my pregnancy, but I hope to start blogging more regularly again.  Here is the blog I shared with Sannetta Marsh at The Art of Unscripted.

I planned on blogging throughout our IVF journey and through pregnancy but that didn’t go as planned. I even created a WordPress account specifically for that, but I only made one or two entries before I just made a private Facebook group to document the IVF journey. I DID, however, keep an IVF and pregnancy journal to give to Nora someday, so at least I did something. Now that Nora is almost 3 months old, I am FINALLY starting to recover from her rough beginning and have some time during the day that I’m not constantly holding or comforting her and wanted to write a blog about her coming into the world.
When people ask how labor went, or how we liked using a midwife, I tell them it was my favorite part of the whole pregnancy besides feeling my baby move inside my uterus. This was partly because I was thrilled that I actually got to use a midwife, with no medical interventions or drugs, like I had wanted to do since I was 9 years old when I had my first taste of midwifery from being at the birth center when my mom photographed my cousin giving birth, partly because it was such a transformational and spiritual journey, and largely in part to the wonderful support and care that I received from my whole birth team from Family Birth and Wellness Center and my husband.

To adequately help one to understand her birth story, there is a little background information that I will give you, condensed into a few paragraphs.

IVF IN A NUTSHELL
We finally started the egg retrieval process of our IVF journey on July 3rd, 2016. Egg retrieval was done on July 13th and I gained over 20 pounds in those 10 days. After retrieval I had OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome) so I continued to bloat for days after and it didn’t go away for weeks. I couldn’t run or do anything active. I had 22 eggs retrieved, only 10 were mature, 8 of those fertilized normally. All of of those made it to day 3, but only 3 made it to day 5, which is when they froze the embryos after having them biopsied for genetic testing. Since time is of the essence, and one of the biggest reason IVF doesn’t work, is because genetically abnormal embryos often don’t implant or make it past a couple weeks in utero, and we wanted to know, if we miscarried, if it was because of that or some other reason since I’d had lots of fertility issues. We had to wait a few weeks for the results but we were elated that all three were genetically normal! We scheduled our transfer date for September 12th and I started the next round of shots to prepare my body to be pregnant.
After transfer we had to wait 10 days to see if our little embryo, who we affectionately named “Squishy”, stuck and I was actually pregnant. Talk about turmoil and anxiety. I could write a book on this time period and the first several weeks of pregnancy alone, but to work on my brevity, I’ll just state the obvious and tell you that Squishy stuck. She stuck real well. I was FINALLY PREGNANT!

PREGNANCY
Since I was finally pregnant, I was experiencing intense morning sickness. Before a lot people would even miss their period or have a clue they were pregnant, I was puking/retching/dry heaving all day. I took it as a sign that I was pregnant and I rejoiced in my “morning sickness”, so glad to be pregnant and never wanting to complain. After weeks of this intense, all-day, can’t eat or drink anything, nauseous if I tried to move, nauseous when opening my eyes, nauseous when there was noise or light. It felt like a migraine in a way. I still didn’t want to complain, but I was beginning to wonder what the heck was wrong. I read that strong morning sickness correlated to twins -which we had a higher-than-normal chance of having since the biopsy done on the embryos for PGS testing starts a split of the embryo resulting in identical twins- but after two ultrasounds, one at 6 weeks and one at 8, there was only one heart beat. I started raising my concerns to Ken, who assured me that his ex, nor any pregnant woman he’d ever been around, puked as much as me. I was weak and had started losing weight, which wasn’t such a bad thing since I’d gained so much during IVF treatments. I finally went to Urgent Care because I was so dehydrated and couldn’t keep anything down, and I began getting fluids via IV multiple times a week. I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum after showing up multiple times a week, which is NOT MORNING SICKNESS, and lived with the hope that some women stopped suffering with it at 20 weeks. Some at 28 weeks. But as those milestones passed and I was still violently ill, I gave up hope that I would “get better” before our Squishy was born.

The truth is: I was absolutely miserable throughout pregnancy. There was only ONE day that I didn’t puke at least 8 times, and there were only a handful of times that I only puked/retched/dry heaved less than 20. Some days, especially in the first 3-4 months, I retched upwards of 50 times and up to 100. If I had to get out of the house, I carried doggie-poo pick up bags and I puked in them in aisles of grocery stores, hidden in my purse, puked while driving, puked in trash cans, puked in yards, puked on the sides of roads, puked in all the toilets. I went through 16 rolls of doggie pick up bags and those were used multiple times and usually only when I was on the go. I couldn’t keep anything down, I craved water, I had IVs throughout pregnancy, lost over 30 pounds, tried every “morning sickness” remedy out there (and wanted to throat punch the next person who suggested pregnancy pops or ginger-sorry), and finally resorted to taking Zofran sometimes through pregnancy, though I waited until after 14 weeks. I puked so hard my eyes were blood shot, I puked so hard that bile came out my nose, I puked so hard that I peed on the bathroom floor from retching so hard for up to 5 minutes and I’d nearly pass out from not being able to catch my breath. I retched around the clock, didn’t sleep for months, lost all of my muscle. I did make it out of the house and managed to enjoy myself on multiple occasions, but it took a lot of effort, Zofran, avoiding liquids since the day before, not eating anything, moving slowly, etc. The last 6 weeks of pregnancy I was doing better, but I still couldn’t keep anything down and still had to get fluids. I gained 6-10 pounds the last few weeks, and retained so much water that it added more pain.

I’d been told since the beginning that the biggest risk of HG was premature babies, so passing the big weekly milestones was a relief. We had been prepared to meet our Squishy in person before 36 weeks, because “HG babies never make it to term” or so we were told by multiple nurses, hospital docs, PAs, midwives, an OBGYN, and internet forums I’d turned to so I could see how other women coped. However, Squishy stuck to me very well and she didn’t decide to start her descent until I was just shy of 42 weeks pregnant. Which, looking at the bright side, meant that I was past 36 weeks and could go ahead with the natural, out – of – hospital birth that I had planned and hoped for since I was 9 years old.

I was miserable. I’m not a home body, so being stuck in bed most days, sometimes unable to move, surrounded by plastic puke bags, trash cans, and the smell of vomit/stomach bile was VERY demoralizing. I was unable to work. I was unable to cook for my family very often. It took me weeks to do a project that usually took me a day or two. I was depressed during pregnancy, which made me feel even more guilt, since there are lots of women who are unable to get pregnant even with IVF. Each day I was convinced I couldn’t make it another X amount of weeks. I was beating myself up, convinced that God was punishing me for turning to IVF to get pregnant when nothing else had worked. I was afraid my baby wasn’t going to be healthy because I couldn’t take vitamins or nourish her.

And that’s where the grace of God showed up in my life. Since I’d wanted a baby for so long, and was just a couple months shy of turning 35 by the time I got pregnant, I’d had plenty of time to read books, research, learn from friends, etc about pregnancy nutrition along with so many other topics. Even before getting pregnant I was eating mostly or strictly Paleo, depending on when. I ate healthy, I took cod liver oil. I took the good prenatals with folate, not folic acid. I knew what to eat and how to take care of my body while I was pregnant. I knew what to eat to develop a healthy baby. But I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t eat anything, much less what I NEEDED or WANTED to eat. Most days I didn’t even want to eat or drink because it just meant I would be retching more. And on the days I DID feel like eating, I was paid by even more violent puking. I was afraid she’d have spina-bifida because I couldn’t eat folate rich foods or take my prenatals. I was afraid she’d have a cleft palate because I couldn’t nourish her. I was afraid she would have brain damage because I couldn’t eat DHA rich foods or take my cod liver oil. I ate junk that I didn’t eat while I WASN’T pregnant, like gluten and candy, because I mostly survived on Ritz Crackers. Horrifying, yet true. And the other truth is that God provided for my baby in my weakness. Because for once in my life I was learning that it isn’t by what I can do, or how well I can do something, that he blesses us. He doesn’t reward us on merit. I was an empty shell of a body, unable to do all the “right” things while pregnant, but each step of the way, at each check-up and ultrasound, my baby was perfectly healthy and on track. There are so many instances I want to go into detail on, regarding birth centers, midwives, doctors, etc that would give a great understanding of how transformational pregnancy was for me but it would simply take way too long.

GETTING CLOSER
So there I was, almost 42 weeks pregnant by my first due date (May 31st), and OVER 42 weeks pregnant by the due date I’d been given at the first birth center I was at (that’s a novel in itself-basically they shut down without notice when I was 32 weeks pregnant and I had to find another midwife). My new birth center had started to encourage natural induction methods so I wouldn’t go past 42 and have to go to the hospital to deliver. On Wednesday June 7th, I had another ultrasound to make sure “she wasn’t too big” and that my placenta was still intact. That was all perfect but they predicted that my baby was 9.4 pounds. Boo. I was still 80% effaced (had been for weeks) but only dilated to 2. I had another cervical sweep. Nothing. Thursday I had another cervical sweep and they inserted a Foley bulb. Nothing except getting dilated to a 3.

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.…AND CLOSER STILL 
Friday, June 9th, Ken asked me if I wanted to go with him to go get something to eat that evening. I said “I won’t eat, of course, but I’ll go with you.” I was wearing a maternity sundress, and I was terrified of my water breaking in public even though our birth class instructor told us repeatedly that the waters rarely break before you’re already in labor. I had just bought some “adult diapers” (hey-at least they were the Always brand, which was MUCH more feminine and sexy! Ha!) for post-partum, so I told Ken I wanted to put one of those on just in case my waters broke while we were out. I had literally put them on no more than 30 seconds previously and was walking towards Ken when I felt a gush, I froze, my eyes bugged out of my head, Ken froze because he heard a “pop” and we just stared at each other. I couldn’t talk for probably 10 seconds, but when I could I was just repeating over and over, “MY WATER BROKE! MY WATER JUST BROKE! OMG-MY WATER BROKE!” I was frozen and then started pacing trying to remember what to do next. It was 6:10ish pm.

First, I texted my sister Melanie, my sister Christine, and my bonus mom, Julie. Then I called the “on-call midwife number” who just happened to be Carla, the one I was hoping I’d have! ❤ She told me that most women go into labor within 12 hours of their water breaking so to just hang at home and wait for contractions to start. I’d not yet had any contraction that I’d felt, only Braxton-Hicks contractions and I didn’t ever feel those but was informed that I was having them during stress tests, etc. She said to plan on going to the birth center first thing in the morning if my contractions hadn’t started, but of course, could come in sooner if active labor began.

That night Ken and I were so excited! I was mostly excited that I didn’t have to go to a hospital to be induced. We were getting ready for bed, Ken was actually already in bed, while I was messing around with my packed “hospital” bag and I started feeling a contraction. It was almost midnight.
I thought back to what my birth class instructor told us, and that was, “If you think you are having contractions or think you are in labor, take a shower. If the contractions back off or go away, you are most likely having false labor.”
So I did what I was supposed to and got in the shower. I took my phone nearby to use this app that times your contractions and shows you patterns for you. The first few contractions lasted 30-45 seconds and were 10-15 minutes apart. Then the next 10 or so were over a minute long and 4-7 minutes apart. After that, they were 2-3 minutes apart and up to two minutes long, so I messaged my doula and told her what was happening. She told me she thought it was active labor, so I woke up my husband and we headed to the birth center, which was about a 30 minute drive. At this point, they had progressed so quickly in just 2-3 hours, plus I was so overdue, that I thought I was going to be one of those women who it just progress quickly for. I have never been more wrong!

Ken and I were at the birth center by 5am. I had been up for 24 hours already. My midwife checked me and I was dilated to a 5. Sometime before this point, we messaged Sannetta, our birth photographer and let her know we were heading in. I was SO ready to get this baby out of me! I was so ready to be done puking! My first order of business was to bounce on the pilates/yoga ball, like I’d been doing for weeks, to encourage dilation. My doula, Cassi, showed Ken the pain relief technique we’d gone over in birthing class and they did that during a contraction for me.

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Then I got in the birthing tub. I knew all along that I would want to labor in water as much as I could.

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Somebody then suggested doing lunges so I did that for a while, pausing during contractions.2017-06-10_065203__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

After that, I went back to the room and bounced on the ball some more while leaning over on the end of the bed. I think this is one of the times that contractions stalled a bit or backed off in intensity.2017-06-10_071543__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

A lot of this day is a complete blur. I was in the room for a while on the ball, and I wanted to put on some music, so I turned on Pandora on my Red House music station from my phone.2017-06-10_073244__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

I remember trying to loosen up listening to the music while swaying/dancing through contractions. I squeezed some combs that I was given into the palms of my hands during contractions. I was focused, yet relaxed. I let the music run over me and it brought me to tears.

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It was around 8:00am and my support team kept offering me food and drinks, but I didn’t feel like I could have any. At some point I drank a little coconut water and had a few sips of one of the applesauce/fruit mix things that you drink out of the package. It just made me puke, of course.2017-06-10_081134__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

We put more essential oils on me. We used several, but I definitely remember the Clary Sage. I remember the Clary Sage because I had been using it for weeks to naturally induce, but nothing happened so I didn’t expect anything to happen. This time when Cassi rubbed it on my inner ankles, I IMMEDIATELY had a super strong contraction that lasted a while. And they kept coming. Strong. We decided to go for a walk outside. Ken put counter pressure on my hips and I puked in yards. Sorry, people.

When we got back around 9am, I got in the shower. I love water so I knew I’d want a lot of water labor. I got more than I bargained for in the end. I bounced on the ball, I did squats, I moved, I straddled a chair and I also sat still while the water ran over me.

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I took a brief break from the shower to go walk the stairs and do lunges again. In this photo, Casey was taking fetal heart tones, which she and Kimberly did all day.

2017-06-10_092014__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHERWhen I went back to the shower Ken started a meditation/hypnotism session that he had from an app on his phone. We had been using the meditation to fall asleep to for a couple weeks before, but most of the time it didn’t work for me. He began it and it was really relaxing. All I remember from it was a part talking about imagining water running over me, or rain, or something. And the next thing I remember was the voice telling me to wake up on the count of 3 and I knew I had to wake up. It was so weird because I knew where I was during the meditation and knew I was having strong contractions, but it really helped get me through some of them and eased the pain.2017-06-10_095013__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

I was told afterwards when I “came to” that somebody teared up watching this happen because it was like a spiritual experience and they could tell that I wasn’t the same during that time as I had been during contractions before it happened.
When I got out of the shower that time, it had been 2 hours since I got in the shower and it was after 10:00am. I was so exhausted. Not only had I been awake almost 30 hours already after being completely drained for months, but I’d also just worked out more in the last several hours than I did throughout pregnancy and IVF! All those stair lunges, walks around the neighborhood, squats, bouncing on the ball, and not eating/keeping food down had started to take its toll even more. I went to the bed and laid down. I was having contractions but everyone let me rest for a bit. They ate lunch in the other room but they all came to check on me. I remember being asked if I wanted to eat, if I wanted a drink, if I wanted to walk, if I wanted to get in the tub, if I wanted to do stairs. I don’t remember what I said aloud, but in my head, all I was thinking was “Nothing. I want nothing. I just want to sleep and stop feeling sick. I want to NOT be pregnant anymore.”
Around noon, since I’d been there for 7 hours and there was no baby, I requested to be checked again to see how much progress had been made as far as dilation goes. I was tired. Weak. Sick. Carla came in and I was only dilated to 6. SIX. Only freakin’ SIX!! After 7+ hours I’d only dilated one more centimeter. That concerned me. Then they gave me an IV with fluids and nutrients to try to help perk me up.2017-06-10_124856__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

At 1:30, after laying there for a while, they asked if I wanted more Clary Sage and I said, “No.” I didn’t have the energy to deal with harder contractions than I was having! They were crazy! So we compromised and I went for a walk up and down the hallway with my fluids.2017-06-10_133057__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

Ken was my rock all day. He was exhausting himself to put counter pressure on my hips during contractions.This picture just makes me laugh because my face just says, “I’M SO DONE!”2017-06-10_133107__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

Shortly after, somebody suggested going back outside for a walk since it was such a nice day, so we did that. It was a nice day, and it was also my sweet husband’s BIRTHDAY!!!! Forgot that minor detail. We walked the neighborhood again. Cassi and Ken putting counter pressure on me.2017-06-10_155445__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER
From 2pm until 4 pm I bounced on the ball and got in the tub again. Ken sat behind me in the tub and comforted me. He poured warm water over my back for hours.This is all a blur, and the only way I can tell the story is because the photos Sannetta took have a time stamp and Ken kept a note on his phone detailing hourly events. So thankful he did that!

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At 4:00pm, I requested to be checked for progress again. Carla came in and checked me and I was dilated to 9. That’s great news! I was now in transition. Transition is GOOD! Transition means that you’re at the hardest, but shortest, part of labor. Transition lasts on average about two hours. And then it’s time to push! I felt encouraged that I had progressed so much from the last time I’d been checked. It gave me a little hope.

There had been discussion about whether or not Ken would be sharing his birthday with our baby girl or not. At this point, EVERYONE was sure that she would be born before the next 8 hours and that Ken would get a birthday baby.

Although I was feeling good about where I was dilated, I was exhausted. Around 5:30 I got another bag of IV fluids to try and give me some strength by keeping me hydrated. Looking at pictures from around this time makes me emotional because I don’t remember it at all. I don’t remember these settings. I don’t remember sitting on the bed like that. I don’t remember Cassi sitting next to me. I remember somebody was always checking fetal heart tones and my temperature, but I didn’t remember who.2017-06-10_174721__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER2017-06-10_174825__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

I got back in the tub. Apparently I was sick. Apparently Ken needed some energy, as well. I had an amazing support team. Look at my husband and these women taking care of me! ❤

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Judging from the pictures, 8:00pm must be when I started feeling like I wasn’t ever going to have a baby. They were checking fetal heart tones more often it seemed and I started worrying that they were conspiring to take me to the hospital for a c-section since I was still pregnant. I was tired. I just wanted everyone to leave me alone, turn the lights off, and go to sleep. Surely this was just a dream, right?
I didn’t think I could do it.
I requested to be checked again. I needed to know how much progress had been made. I was STILL at 9. At that point I felt like crying. Maybe I did. I don’t remember. I just remember thinking, “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me!” Then Carla said I was 9.5, but that one side of my cervix had a lip or something that wasn’t softened or something. I don’t really remember. Basically only one side of my cervix was all the way ready, so even if I felt like I needed to push, I shouldn’t because it could damage my cervix, tear it, or make it inflamed.
She also, at this point, said that there was a second small bag of waters that never broke. She explained that it must have been clamped closed somehow with the pressure of Nora’s body when my water broke so the part that was left was acting as a cushion between her head and my cervix, so that’s why I was dilating so slow. Carla asked me if I wanted her to go ahead and break that “2nd waters” – I can’t remember the scientific name- and I told her, “Please.”

So here I was, STILL at 9.5, exhausted, sick, and feeling pretty down, and then there was MORE bad news. Squishy had turned posterior at some point during the day. She had been anterior and in good position according to the ultrasound and the chiropractor and midwives who had checked by feeling my belly the last few weeks, but here I was dilated to a 9 with a posterior baby. NO WONDER I’d been having back labor.

This is when I remember thinking, “I have work to do.” I needed to turn our baby back to anterior position. I got the ball back and leaned over it, rocking back and forth to move the baby. I remember Cassi and Sannetta were getting loopy as well. They were laughing about something, and I started laughing, and there were a few moments we were all silly.

I think I asked for somebody to take a picture with us at this point because Sannetta wasn’t in any photos, being the photographer. So somebody took the camera and took this. Because this was the best time to get a group picture, right? So flattering! Hahaha!! Clearly I was not in my right mind but I think it’s hilarious.

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This made me so happy to see when I got my gallery! Love these ladies!


These are my new best friends. Kimberly-RN and midwife in training, RN Casey, midwife Carla, Ken, doula Cassi, and let’s not forget Sannetta behind the camera.2017-06-10_214046__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

I think this is the last time I was checked for dilation. I was still at 9.5. I never planned to get checked so much but I had been in labor for almost 22 hours at this point and I was SO TIRED. And it was SO HARD. I kept thinking, “If only I had strength or could sleep, then I could get through this.”2017-06-10_212110__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER2017-06-10_221926__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER2017-06-10_212514__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

I told them I needed a nap. So I laid down and there were hands on me to help relieve some of the pressure of contractions.

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This is where Kimberly started to become more prominent in our birth story. She was talking me through contractions and helping me breathe. She was comforting me and telling me stories of how worth it is would be once I got to hold my baby. How one look at my baby and looking at her would make all of the miserable times go away.

Around 11pm, I went to go sit on the toilet to straddle it for the position. I wanted to sit up and that seemed like the most comfortable position. I was also afraid of going to the bathroom in the bed, so this seemed like a good idea. With a puke bucket at my feet, Ken and Cassi at my side, Kimberly leading me to relax and breathe and loosen my jaw, I began making moaning sounds I never knew I could make during these tough contractions.

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I also fell asleep for a few seconds between long contractions straddling the toilet. So lady-like.I don’t know if somebody suggested it or not, but it seems like I decided that I needed to get back in the tub at 11:40pm. I wanted hot water on my back. Once I was there, I started feeling the worst pain I’d felt so far. So. Much. Pressure. The contractions were horrible, and it still mostly just felt like one giant contraction. I felt like I was in a dream, a dream where I could feel everything more than in reality. I was still worried that I was going to have to go to the hospital for a c-section. I don’t know why I thought that, probably just because I DID NOT want one. I thought maybe everyone was giving up on me having the ability to labor any longer and they were just going to send me to the hospital to get the baby out. I kept thinking I needed to push, but I think somebody told me I wasn’t ready. I leaned up, and said, “I HAVE to push!”
This picture was taken 20 seconds before midnight. Over 24 hours after my first contractions. 30 hours after my water broke.

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I was asked if I could move to the bed. I replied that I didn’t think I could move. I didn’t want a water birth. I only wanted to labor in the water. But I couldn’t move. They started prepping for a water birth. They put a glove over my IV hook up and taped it to keep water out. I remember the shuffle of the cart with all the supplies and people moving things around.

Somebody positioned me in a squatting position, kind of up on my tip-toes, leaning back against Ken, who was sitting on the back edge of the tub.
At this point, my right foot was hurting EXTREMELY bad (the same foot I’d had a torn muscle and ligament in a few years ago that still gives me trouble and hurt for two months after this) and I said, “I can’t stay like this. I have to move to the bed.” If that was the position I had to be in I couldn’t do it. Never mind that a baby is about to come out, my foot hurts!! I couldn’t vocalize that, but that’s why I got out of the tub and moved to the bed. Sannetta later told me that she couldn’t believe I got out of the tub and waddled over to the bed when she could see that I was crowning when I was in the tub. LOL.
Once I got to the bed, Carla positioned me halfway on my left side, halfway on my back, with my right leg up and bent. Somebody held my right leg and my left leg was on the bed. I always thought I’d deliver my baby while squatting or on my hands or knees, but she said that this position reduces the chance of tearing, so I said, “OK!”

She checked me and told me that I had been successful in turning our baby back to anterior position! So that was more good news.

I had a contraction at 8 minutes after midnight while I was getting positioned and I was crowning. I remember Carla said something about pushing on the next contraction. At 11 minutes after, I had a contraction and I pushed.2017-06-11_001127__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

I remember saying something to Ken at that point about “Here’s the ring of fire” (which I was prepared for and wasn’t near as bad as hours of transition) and he kept saying, “We’re having a baby!” “Can you believe it?” “It’s almost time!” and other similar things.2017-06-11_001332__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

Looking at the pictures I had the funniest expressions looking up at Ken, but I remember at this time thinking, “this doesn’t hurt that bad.” It was a relief from where I had been because I was almost done.

2017-06-11_001408__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER I was looking at him in disbelief, but her head was out!2017-06-11_001428_A_THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

I immediately started to push again but they all told me to STOP PUSHING because the cord was wrapped around her head. I was glad Carla was on top of that and told me not to push, but when she first told me to quit pushing I was thinking, “NO! I want this baby out NOW!”

Once that was fixed, I think I pushed twice more, getting her shoulders out, and Nora was born!

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Love at first sight.

Somebody said later that it was 7 minutes after my first push and 4 pushes to get her out, at 12:16 am on June 11th. According to the time stamps on the pictures, she was born at 12:14 am, but maybe one of the clocks was off. I remember saying, “I had no control over anything in this pregnancy, but pushing was something I could somewhat control and I wanted Nora OUT!” I only had a small superficial tear that didn’t need sewn, and everything was perfect with her health and mine.

I haven’t puked since an hour or so before she was born, and here 3 months later, I’ve GAINED 8 pounds from the day I had her! Ha! It sure is nice to be able to eat again.She was placed on my chest immediately for skin to skin. Words cannot even describe what I was feeling while I held my darling daughter for the first time! I just couldn’t believe she was here. I kept saying, “I can’t believe she’s here” and “Is this real life?” It felt like a dream, both because of how exhausted I was and how I couldn’t believe that I was finally holding my precious gift.

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We held Nora a lot, she was checked over and healthy, and I took at warm bath with herbs while Ken held our swaddled baby sitting by the tub. She was alert from the moment she was born. I got to nurse her several times over the next few hours. She was quick to latch but we found out over the next couple of days that she had a tongue and lip tie, which needed to be revised, so we had a rough start to our breastfeeding journey, but around 9 weeks it all turned around.

She weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces and was 20” long. Two pounds less than the last ultrasound predicted.2017-06-11_023031__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER2017-06-11_022805__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER2017-06-11_021340__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER2017-06-11_021241__THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER2017-06-11_021556_A_THE ART OF UNSCRIPTED_SPRINGFIELD MO_BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER_ DOCUMENTARY_STORYTELLING_417_PHOTOGRAPHER

In the days following her birth, I couldn’t believe how perfectly everything worked out for us. I’m so thankful the other birth center closed so I was able to have the most amazing birth experience with Family Birth and Wellness. If I ever get brave enough to go through pregnancy again, I would, without a doubt, trust them and want to do it again just the same, just hopefully without being sick the whole time and without such a long labor.

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Nora is worth every pain over the last several years of struggling with infertility and our journey.

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Thank you to the wonderful support team I had during labor. Everyone was so amazing, but a special thanks to my husband, Ken, who was there giving counter pressure, working hard, all day long on his birthday, only to have Nora wait 16 minutes after his birthday was over to arrive.

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