Michelle and Aaron –
It was such an honor to attend your birthing time! As a couple, you literally fell into my lap when Jessie had to request you seek me out in lieu of her services. I met you both at a coffee shop and instantly felt it was a great pairing.
Soon, I had your birth plan, your birth dream, and your angst list in my inbox. Looking over it all, I looked forward to your birthing time, knowing that you were an educated couple who would make the best choices for a beautiful birth experience.
You attended Jessie’s childbirth classes and then attended a Weekend of Relaxation. You were one of the few couples who actually did the relaxation and took the course joyfully seriously. I felt you were well prepared and saw a wonderful companionship and partnership between you both.
On Sunday, June 8th, around 10 in the evening, Michelle began having some rather sporadic contractions. I wasn’t called until the following morning. On Monday, June 9th, Aaron called me at 7 a.m. to talk about your contractions. They were between 4-7 minutes apart by your estimation at that time, but mostly in the back and still rather sporadic.
At that time I suggested getting into the knee-to-chest position to try to get babe into a better rhythm of labor and to alleviate any back discomfort. If that was not something you felt you could do, I also suggested going down to the pool and floating in the plank with Aaron’s help.
Around 9 a.m. I headed over to assess how things were going. You were both just walking back to your home from the pool and things seemed to have gotten more intense. Michelle, you were stopping to lean against Aaron during contractions, using heavy breathing and relaxing against his body. At the conclusion of every contraction, your face was flushed. I spoke with you a little on the sidewalk before another contraction began.
They seemed to be coming every 2-4 minutes at this time, still slightly sporadic, but very intense. You said they felt mostly in your back, like a hot pain, and pressure low down.
After getting back into the house, we tried some counterpressure on your back and talked about your options. I definitely felt you were in good labor but also felt you had some time before you needed to be at the hospital. After assessing your options, you chose to call your doctor to be seen at the office. I went home to get my children to the babysitter after recommending a bath, a breakfast, and preparing like you would not return home until after baby was born.
I returned to your home right around lunch time and was happy to see Michelle working through contractions on all fours over the birthing ball. Aaron, you had everything ready to go and we talked about how things felt and what was working for you. You seemed to still like counterpressure on your lower back and your contractions were still pretty steadily 2-4 minutes apart.
Since the doctor’s office did not reopen from lunch break until 1pm, we headed that way around 1. Arriving a little after 1 in the afternoon, they escorted you directly into your room after the usual prenatal tests, and did a cervical check to deem you 5cm dilated and very effaced.
I noticed from the time we pulled into the parking garage until we were leaving you had only had around 5 contractions. Your contractions had spaced out considerably, to about 6-8 minutes apart, but you were still feeling them intensely, which was good.
At check-in to the hospital, around 2pm, we had a short discussion with your nurse staff about gowning, but you kept your own clothes on and the moms began to arrive. While the nurse staff ran a hep-lock and got a 20 minute strip on baby, we talked about how we would work on getting things reestablished.
Walking helped to pick things up a little, and you were soon feeling birthing waves every 4-5 minutes. I encouraged Aaron and you to get in the shower and have some time to reconnect, perhaps even snuggle and try some stimulation, to try to get things picking up as you were already looking tired and I had a feeling this was going to take awhile. During that time the moms and I went down to the cafeteria to eat dinner.
When we checked back in with you in an hour, you both were all smiles and contractions were pretty consistently 3-4 minutes apart and much more intense.
I gave you a foot massage at this time, working on pressure points to encourage your body to move baby down and open you more. Your contractions remained mostly in your back with pressure down low, in your PC muscle. Unfortunately, for having a longer labor, baby and your body seemed to like you remaining upright and moving to keep things going.
We walked a little more, giving counterpressure during the standing contractions, tried some hall squats, and then returned to the room for another exam and strip. Your doctor found your cervix completely thinned and 7cm. At this point, I moved the bed into a throne position so that you could keep gravity working for you while you also got some relief from standing on your feet.
During contractions, Aaron and (alternately) I or your mom would place our hands on your shoulders and gently remind you to move the pressure out your bottom, relax your face, and breathe. You remained here until past midnight, when you began to really get tired. In the early a.m. hours, you began to get antsy, although you were attempting to sleep between contractions, so mom and I walked with you in the halls. But, as soon as we rounded the corner, you were drawn back into the seclusion of your room.
Some time during the night, we all took turns sleeping for 30-40 minutes while you alternated from the bed-throne to the bathroom and back. You attempted standing and dancing for awhile, but things were very intense with a completely back-labor and you were getting very fatigued. Your contractions picked up to 2 minutes apart and lasting a good 1 minute each in this time. Your relaxation was beautifully perfect and Aaron’s support was amazing, as he never faltered at your side.
You hopped into the shower around 4:00 am. But that seemed to wear on you more than help at this point.
Around 5 a.m. we talked about how breaking your water may give that extra umph to your labor, though it usually helped most with large fore bag of water, which you didn’t have. We also talked about how it would put you ‘on the clock’ though, at last check of 7cm, we knew you wouldn’t be another 24 hours. You said you were afraid of things getting harder, but knew that they had to get more intense for baby to come out.
You requested to be checked again before they broke your water and you were still 7cm, though your wonderful doctor said ‘before you were thin, now your cervix is completely gone – paper thin – you are making progress’.
Thing became more intense, though you began to have doubts about being able to do it. We talked about your labor and how it was going. You mentioned being afraid – afraid of not being able to do it, things getting harder, of pushing, and what was wrong that it was taking so long. I felt in my heart you were holding back. I believe it was for three reasons: the pain in your back would not allow your bottom to completely relax and open, you were completely exhausted, and you were a little afraid.
I gave you another foot massage, and worked on your calves to get some circulation reestablished. We talked a little about epidurals and how they can help in some cases when mom needs rest and bottoms need to relax. We talked about staying upright and keeping things moving to get baby here faster – but you were simply so tired, you couldn’t help but stay sitting – which was not getting baby here faster.
We tried getting on all fours and tried leaning over the back of the bed – that only made you feel out of control of your labor.
Around 7am, you made the decision to get the epidural. At 7:30, after reviewing the benefits and risks, making sure that there were no regrets, Aaron took your hand and you were given the epidural. It was a good one.
When we returned to your side around 8am, you were reclined and looking very tired. At this point I recommended everyone get a little food and a little rest. I was going home to get my family started for the day and asked that I be called with her next vaginal exam.
Around 10am, a call from Aaron said you were at 8cm dilated. I got the kids back to the sitter and headed over. I arrived at 10:30 and saw everyone refreshed and smiling. Michelle, you were doing well, feeling lots of pressure, but were able to rest and felt ready for pushing. We talked about the next stage and how it was going to be, along with your options.
Around 11am, you were found to have progressed to 9cm. And right around noon, you were complete. With your mom on one side with Aaron, and me holding your other leg to support you, Aaron's mom alternated from watching you push to helping you relax, get water, and give you wash clothes and encouragement.
Your nurse gave perineal massage and you pushed beautifully. Your nurse remarked that baby had green hair, which gave us all a laugh. We talked about how things would progress ‘two steps forward, one step back’ until baby moved under the pubic bone and your nurse talked about how first time moms had longer pushing stages, especially with epidurals.
You meant business, though, and after rest and nearly 40 hours of your body preparing for this moment, you were bringing this babe out now.
As soon as he moved under your pubic bone, he came to crowning, to the surprise of everyone – but most of all – the nurse. We began ‘blowing out candles’ to keep from pushing babe out too soon, Aaron pushed the nurse call button for any doctor to come to our room now and the nurse held onto babes head as you stretched beautifully around him as he slowly emerged from your body.
He was not staying in after all the work you did to try to bring him down and out in the last 40 hours, and your nurse caught him as he slowly spiraled out of your body and into the world.
As she held him at your thighs, the doctors and nurses rushed in to clear his airway and ‘take over’ – but the work had already been done – you had brought your son into this world after nearly 2 full days of full back-labor!
I am amazed at your strength and determination Michelle. Such a beautiful laborer! You had such pure relaxation. Your body softened around every contraction and you brought such deep beauty to labor. When you began pushing, you were a strong oak of confidence – a roaring river of power, and you brought strength and determination to bringing your babe into your arms.
Aaron, what a wonderful support you were to her! There was such love and affection in your touch, your companionship, your ever-present body for her to hold onto and anchor to during a long and arduous raging sea of labor.
Born June 10, 2008
19 ¼ inches long, 6 lbs 2.5 oz
Congratulations family G. I am honored, you are amazing. Enjoy this journey of parenthood!