This amazing mother recalls how differently her second birth went than her first, yet in some ways she says it was more peaceful…this time she didn’t have her baby in the car.
The Birth of Beckett Scott
By Jennifer Brennan
When first asked to share my story on this blog I was so honored and thrilled – I LOVE reading birth stories! But as it came time to edit the story for public consumption I became hesitant. Birth is such a personal, intimate experience and each woman’s story is so unique I was scared to put my details out there. I have been very blessed to have quick labors and sometimes quite honestly I feel judged that I didn’t have a “real” birth experience because I didn’t labor for hours and hours or days and days. But when I am honest with myself, I can only choose to be grateful for the way my body handles labor and delivery and be even more grateful that through that I’ve had two beautiful sons.
A few things to note in our story, this is our first child together, but my second birth. I was able to have a natural birth the first time, but it was precipitous (REALLY fast) and he was born in the back of the car, unassisted, as the car pulled into the hospital parking lot. I remember the labor being very chaotic and scary, as I basically labored alone unaware of how the pain was because I was progressing so fast until my doula arrived and began timing contractions. Thank goodness for her, or I would have had an unprepared home birth and thankfully, my first son was born safe and healthy.
One other note – This time I tested positive for GBS at 37 weeks. I got the results at 38 weeks and began homeopathic interventions (Vitamin C and probiotics) and talked the midwives into letting me be retested, but tested positive the second time, much to my dismay since I basically planned on arriving to the hospital just in time to push. After much deliberation and discussion we determined that we would make it a priority to go to the hospital earlier than desired and hopefully get at least one dose of antibiotics.
I delivered with the Franklin Road Women’s Health Midwives (St Thomas Midtown Midwives) and Whitney Cantrell was our fabulous doula.
My first son was born on his due date, so when my due date arrived and there was still no sign of baby, I became very antsy. “They” always say second babies come early so I had been able to muster a generally good attitude about waiting until now, when this second baby was officially arriving later. Thankfully I had an appointment that day, and our midwife wasn’t exactly certain of baby boy’s position and just to ensure that he was in fact head down they sent us for an ultrasound. Thankfully, the ultrasound proved he was balled up, but head down. They also observed that I had excess fluid and so they talked me through how to do a self exam if my water were to break at home because sometimes that can cause complications with pinching the cord. Then they sent me home with an appointment for a week later and needless to say a discouraged attitude.
I fell asleep that night with no signs of labor at all, but rested peacefully as my Mom had arrived that day, and something about my Mother’s presence made everything okay. In the morning, I awoke at the normal time to discover that I was bleeding. I texted our doula, let her know I was bleeding (not just spotting) but no contractions and I was heading back to bed (Mom had already taken over caring for our oldest). As I was laying in bed, I remembered our birthing classes 3 S’s if you think labor may be imminent. I had “Showered” right before bed, just “Slept” a decent amount, so I figured before actually falling back asleep I should “Snack” so I got up and poured a carbolicious bowl of Quaker Oat Squares. After breakfast it seemed the contractions were starting but they were only causing me to pause and I was able to assume normal tasks in between, I let Brian know (who based on my past was ready to speed race to the hospital) that there seemed to be time to eat, shower, etc.. but not to take TOO much time. 🙂 Around 7:15am we started timing my contractions using the Full Term app; they were 30 seconds 4 minutes apart. Brian contacted the doula and she was ready whenever we needed her. Over the next hour the contractions increased in length and I had to stop and breathe through them and Brian was applying pressure to my lower back. I began feeling like I wanted to “focus” on labor. Not focus on the time or duration of contractions, but just be in a place to focus only on relaxing and letting my body work. With a 5.5 year old running around asking questions, and passing by my suitcase and thinking of this or that to add to it I was too distracted from the task at hand. Brian called the doula and they decided it was okay for me to labor at home for a while. I headed directly for the shower, to labor under the water while laying across an exercise ball. HEAVENLY.
Whitney (doula) arrived while I was in the shower and greeted me with a “happy birthing day!” which immediately reminded me of the wonderful purpose at hand. She stayed with me in the bathroom while Brian finalized things in the house and worked with my Mom to get the car ready. Sometime around 930am Brian and Whitney made the call based on my contractions to head to the hospital in order to make sure I had time to get at least one dose of antibiotics before delivery. The contractions were intense, but by staying in the position over the birth ball and using low moaning/vocalization while in the shower or leaning over something and having pressure applied to my hips/back they felt mostly manageable. I hadn’t yet completely lost my mind, like I did in my first birth so I assumed I still had quite awhile to go. I rode to the hospital in the back seat over the exercise ball and we arrived at St. Thomas Midtown around 10am. I let Brian be the “good patient” and sit in the seats at Registration and answer their questions while I held on to a post behind and tried to ‘quietly’ moan through a couple contractions. I remember as one contraction ended the registrar was so sweet to ask, “are you okay???” I think I just answered, “just having a baby!” As we walked back to triage, I was terrified that I would get examined and find that I had barely progressed. They checked me out in triage and let me know I was complete (10cm), hooray! They offered to wheel me down the hall in the bed, but I felt like I wanted to walk.
We got to an L&D room and the flurry of activity began of getting my heplock in, starting my antibiotics and arguing with our very persistent (temporary) nurse about interventions. The midwife arrived and helped us through some of the arguments- allowing me to use intermittent doppler reading vs being hooked up, denying pitocin after the birth, but one that was so interesting is when they saw that we were declining Erythromycin the nurse told me that Child Services would be doing a home visit to “investigate” my decision. Later one of the baby nurses told me since we had chosen to decline Child Services would come “investigate” up in postpartum. NEITHER visit has occurred since birth
***The laws regarding Erythromycin/Eye ointment changed as of July 1st, 2016. It is no longer a Class C Misdemeanor for care providers to decline administering the ointment. Read more here.
What was great though is that no one argued with me drinking Gatorade, or munching on snacks. One of the sweetest memories I have is Brian spoon-feeding me trail mix every so often just to keep my energy up.
Since I measured “complete” at triage, I assumed that I would get down to L&D, get my antibiotics and then push my baby out and be done. An hour or so later I was still laboring, waters intact. The contractions were intense but other than one fleeting moment, I did not feel the urge to push. We had tried a variety of positions, but nothing seemed to bring progress. The midwife told me during the exam at triage she had observed that the baby’s head was resting right on top of the bag of water and that it could either be broken or that I could labor on and it would eventually break. At that point I asked for more time, but about 45 minutes later I was beginning to feel very discouraged, I was frustrated because I was completely dilated and now just “enduring” the contractions for nothing other than my water to break. The midwife did a 2nd exam and verified that the head was resting directly on top of the bag which was directly blocking the way. It was her professional opinion that we could break it with very minimal risk of complication because of the baby’s position. At that point, I was ready so I asked her to break it. To her credit, she basically explained the entire thing to me again, and asked me a few more times if I was really okay with her breaking my water, she let Brian ask his questions and didn’t balk at us also looking to our Doula for her opinion (this gave me a great sense of control within the situation).
I had been standing and laying across the bed with my upper body, but she had me get onto the bed and turn on my back (a very uncomfortable position for me) and told me she would break it during a contraction. Breaking my water was HUGELY, HUGELY relieving. She also prepped me prior to doing this that I would stay in this position through one more contraction as she was certain I would want to push immediately and then I could turn back on my knees and lay over that wonderfully comfortable birth ball. 🙂 Once that next contraction came (and it was QUICK) my body took over, little babe was ON HIS WAY. They helped me flip back over to the ball and the midwife helped guide me to not just stay on my knees but to rock back onto my heels as I pushed to help avoid tearing (something I did terribly with my first). It “felt” like I pushed forever and at one point I told her I couldn’t push anymore but I just needed to reposition myself more upright and use the momentum of pushing back to my heels again. Brian assures me though, that pushing was actually pretty quick.
Little Beckett Scott was born at 11:53am, 8lbs 1oz and was absolutely perfect. The midwife prepped me at some point that when he arrived she would pass him between my legs into my hands so we could immediately do skin to skin. She did and it was the very very very best.
I did tear just a tad but only required two external stitches which for me was a huge victory and made healing MUCH easier. We got started with breastfeeding and even though it was my second time I soaked in my time with the lactation consultants to get us off on the right foot.
All in all, it was a WONDERFUL birth experience, completely different from my first, longer but much more peaceful. 🙂 We were very thankful for Lisa, the midwife and our doula Whitney, and of course I could not have done it without the encouragement and physical support of my rock star husband, Brian. He has been doing great in his new role as Dad to a baby! 🙂