This is the birth story of my first born, my daughter, the one who made me a mother…
It was Sunday August 28, I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions on and off for about a week and a half. My doctor had told me to take it easy, and I was, but that day I was feeling good. I wasn’t having contractions the way I had been and it was a nice day outside. Garrison and I were in the backyard enjoying the weather, picking a few weeds out of the ground, just hanging out. We didn’t have anything to do or anywhere to be so I decided “what the heck, I’ll go a head and just throw my hospital bag together.” So, I did. We cooked dinner, ate, watched a movie, and went to bed. As Garrison climbed into bed he made a comment about how he didn’t want to go to work in the morning….
I woke up needing to pee (no surprise there) and walked into the bathroom. I was standing 2 feet from the toilet when my water broke. It wasn’t a small trickle either, it was a huge gush of fluid so I was very confident that it was my water and not me peeing on myself. I was in shock, at 35 weeks pregnant I still had 5 weeks until my due date! And in my head I was thinking more like 6! I got myself cleaned up, and put on dry clothes before I went back into the bedroom to wake up Garrison and tell him what happened. He woke up and started getting dressed and getting all of our bags put in the car. I was trying to call the hospital to tell them we what happened and tell them we were coming but my hands were shaking so bad that I couldn’t even dial the number. Finally Garrison got it dialed and I spoke with a nurse who told us we needed to head in. After hanging up I called our doula, Hollie, to tell her what happened, and then we started the 40 minute drive to the hospital. The ride there was pretty quiet, I was scared; the nurse on the phone had asked when I had last felt the baby move and I couldn’t remember and she wasn’t moving around at the moment. All I could think about was that it was too early and I was so scared that she wouldn’t be born healthy.
We got to the hospital and got checked in and were put in a room. Then we just waited.. I wasn’t having any contractions and her heart rate was good so there wasn’t a huge rush to do anything. Around 5:30 AM they came in and gave me my first round of steroids to help the baby’s lungs, we would get a second dose 12 hours later unless she came before then. We were hoping to be able to get both rounds in..
At 10 AM the OB on call came in to our room wanting to start pitocin to help things move, but we were really trying to avoid any interventions. We were able to get her to agree to wait and decided to have our doula come try and help us get things going using some more natural induction methods.
At 4 PM my contractions were still very sporadic and not very strong so we agreed to the pitocin because we knew once we hit the 24 hour mark after my water had broken we would be booked in for a cesarean.
Once they got the pitocin in, things started moving much quicker. The details from that point on are a bit more fuzzy. Our birth photographer arrived at some point and my dad and Garrison’s mom were in and out of our room a few times.
I was having severe pain in my right hip that felt like the muscle was being pulled away from the bone with every contraction, I was stuck in the bed, attached to the monitor, and I was done. Around 7:30 PM I told my nurse I wanted an epidural. I cried as I asked for it, not from the pain, but from feeling like I was failing in my plan to have a natural, unmedicated birth.
The anesthesiologist arrived and they began prepping me for the epidural. Once it was placed, we realized it was only working on the left side of my body and I was still feeling that horrible pain in my right side. Hollie and Garrison did what they could to help me cope with the pain while half paralyzed in the bed.
I started pushing around 10 PM and at 10:29 PM Emmeline Rae Ritchie entered this world. All 5 pounds 3 ounces of her. She was so small and to our amazement, perfectly healthy. Our doctor was able to delay clamping and cutting her cord, Garrison got to cut the cord, and I got to do immediate skin-to-skin.
We enjoyed our first blissful hour together as a family of three before inviting our family in to meet our newest little addition. Even though her birth didn’t go as we planned, it went just as it was supposed to, and at the end of the day we had our perfect, beautiful, healthy baby girl.
Birth Photographer: Ina Boteva, Birth is Beautiful-Captured by Ina
The Birth Story of Steyr Thomas Ritchie:
May 21, 2018
Garrison got up and went to work because I told him nothing would happen today. I'd been feeling really good and wasn't having any contractions. I'd been dealing with some prodromal, practice, labor for the past couples weeks. Emmeline woke up and I went to get her up and get myself ready for work.
7:30 AM: When I went to go to the bathroom I had a little wet spot in my underwear, but I hadn't gone before getting Emmeline and I figured I'd just dribbled some pee, you know being 9 months pregnant and all. But, I put a panty liner on, just in case, and went about my business. Ten minutes later I had soaked through that so now I was feeling pretty sure that it was my water leaking. I loaded Emmeline in the car to take her to daycare and shot Garrison a text that I thought my water was broken. Do you know what reply I got? “Ok, do I need to come home?” Well duh!!
Once I got back home and was 99% sure I had ruptured I text my birth team to let them know it was baby day!
9:30 AM: Garrison got home and we made sure we had everything packed up and loaded the car. I wasn't having contractions, but I needed antibiotics so we made a plan with Jeannine to meet her at the birth center at noon. We ate breakfast and relaxed at the house until it was time to leave.
12:30 PM: We arrived at the birth center and got our first round of antibiotics at 1 o’clock.
We had no idea how fast my labor was going to be so we decided to stay close to Plano just in case; Garrison and I went to BJ’s for lunch because it was only a few miles down the road. After lunch we went to the mall to walk around a bit to try to get contractions going, and I got a pedicure in the hopes it would trigger something.
3 PM: I was still not having any contractions at this point. I gave Jeannine a call and we decided that we were going to head home so that I could do Emmeline's nighttime routine and we would meet back at the birth center at 9 o’clock because that's when I would need my second dose of antibiotics. Jeannine sent me her instructions for natural induction and we headed home.
6 PM: I made dinner for everyone and Jeannine's nasty, labor inducing, egg concoction for myself. It was seriously the most disgusting thing I've ever eaten in my life and I was just trying to swallow it whole so I didn't have to chew it too much and keep it in my mouth longer than absolutely necessary.
7:30 PM (now we are getting to the good part)
I put Emmeline down in her crib after rocking her for a few minutes, and as I stood up from leaning over the rail I felt a huge gush of fluid quickly followed by a strong contraction. I walked out to the living room to watch some tv with my mom before we left for the birth center. We were planning on leaving the house at 8:20. As I'm sitting in the recliner my contractions really started coming on strong and Garrison had to apply some pressure to my back to ease the pain. His hand didn't apply even pressure and was uncomfortable, so my mom suggested we use one of my wool dryer balls. It worked perfectly!
We are heading to the birth center! As we were driving down Hwy 380 I noticed that the contractions were coming really close together so I decide to casually time a few. They were coming every 3-4 minutes! We live 23 miles from the birth center; it was the longest ride of my life and I felt every single bump in the road the entire way down the DNT. And of course, my husband was over there in the driver's seat cracking jokes, being a smart ass, making me laugh during contractions which did not feel good!
We arrived at Plano Birthplace! I had to sit in the car for a couple minutes because I was in a good deal of pain with contractions that felt like they were coming one right on top of the other. Jeannine and Kourtnie were there waiting for us and Christina got there just minutes before we did. Once we got inside Jeannine checked me and determined we were at 5cm! I got on the birthing ball and we started the second dose of antibiotics. Getting the IV in really hurt! It kind if surprised me since I'm no stranger to needle pokes because I was on Makena injections for 20 weeks. Maybe it was because it gave me something to focus on besides the contraction pain. Garrison joked that I handled the contractions better than I did getting an IV. Once the antibiotics were done, which only took about 10 minutes, Jeannine took it out. My contractions were coming on really strong at this point, but I was getting relief from a hot sock on my lower back. I remember talking about when we thought he would I arrive and I said his birthday would be May 22 because there was no way I would go from 5cm to 10cm before midnight. I guessed between 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning. I stayed on the ball for about 30 minutes before Christina suggested we try a different position to help the baby move down. I stood up and we did some slow dancing but the pain in my back was too much without the heat being applied.
I decided to try the shower hoping the hot water would alleviate some of the pain I was having in my back. I could feel the baby moving down with each contraction at this point. I remember standing in the shower with my arms wrapped around Garrison telling myself to relax and not tense up, to allow my body to open so my baby could come down. This worked for quite a while, I just kept telling myself “open” and would try to relax my pelvic floor through each contraction. The water was very soothing and I was able to switch from sitting to standing without losing the relief provided by the constant stream of hot water. After a while it got harder to sit on the ball because it felt like his head was right there and the pressure from sitting was too much.
I was starting to feel a lot more pressure and slightly “pushy” with my contractions, but I thought there was no way I was fully dilated already so I didn't say anything about it. Since we had been in the shower for a while, I asked Christina if she could start filling the tub.
Once the tub was about halfway full, Garrison and Christina helped me climb in. The way I got in put me on all fours and I was planning on turning around to a sitting position, but as soon as I got in my body started pushing on its own. I never got the urge to push with my first birth, I had an epidural, and even though it didn't work on half my body it did take away the urge to push. The feeling was so strong it was a bit overwhelming, but I knew my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. I didn't need someone to check me to know I was at 10cm. Jeannine heard me and came in and asked if I was pushing, I'm pretty sure I said “yes, I can't help it!” I was a little worried that I wasn't supposed to be pushing just yet. I could hear everyone moving around getting things ready but I was so focused on what I was doing I had a hard time figuring out what was going on around me. Garrison was holding my hand down in the water and I was leaning my head against his arm for support. Christina and Garrison kept speaking positive affirmations about how I could do this and my body was made to birth my baby. It was so helpful when I felt like things were taking forever and I wanted to give up. I thought he was never going to come out! My body just kept pushing and I felt like I was never getting a break! I couldn't breathe, weren't contractions supposed to space out during the pushing phase? I remember learning that, but it wasn't happening here. I really felt like I couldn't catch my breath and honestly was a little worried my face was going to end up in the water. Christina put her hand on my shoulder, I feel like that touch grounded me and stopped my wild thoughts that were beginning to run away with me. She told me to take deep breaths so my baby could get the oxygen he needed, “breathe into your baby” she told me. I stopped mentally panicking and was able to focus again. Then I felt it, crowning, the ring of fire being a very accurate phrase to describe it. It was burning, stinging, more so towards the front and honestly I thought I was going to tear. I know it's better to tear back rather than forward but my pain was definitely towards the front. Panic again, I told Garrison I don't want to do this anymore, I CAN'T do this anymore. He just kind of chuckled and told me it was too late, there was no going back. He said I COULD do it, that I HAD to and that it would soon be over and we would finally get to meet our son! I remember saying “ow ow ow” and everyone started saying slow down! slow down! They told me I needed to get lower in the water, my back was arching up and the baby has to be born fully submerged, not half in half out of the water. I got my breathing under control, relaxed, slowed down the pushing, and pushed my bottom lower into the water.
Finally, his head was born and one of his hands with it! Jeannine quickly unwrapped the cord that was around his neck, a few more pushes and he was out! I felt such relief once he was out but I guess didn't fully process that he was born. Jeannine passed him through my legs, and everyone was telling me to grab my baby! I lifted him out of the water and onto my chest. I had done it! I honestly couldn't believe it. I kept saying “oh my God, oh my God” over and over again.We had been preparing for a natural, med-free birth my entire pregnancy but I still was in shock that I had actually accomplished it. I felt like I had been in that tub pushing forever but in reality it was just over 20 minutes!
I looked down at him and remember thinking that he was smaller than I thought he would be. They put a towel over my shoulders and over him to keep us warm. He was so quiet laying there in my arms. He wasn't crying, I remember asking why he wasn't crying, was he ok? But Jeannine assured me his cord was still pulsing and he was ok.
We stayed in the tub until his cord stopped pulsing. I got out, delivered his placenta, and went to lay down on the bed. Garrison cut the cord and they took Steyr to be weighed. Everyone took a guess on his weight; I think Jeannine was the closest! I thought he was a low 7 pounder, 7lbs 4oz to be exact, but she thought he was hiding his weight. He was! 7 pounds 13 ounces and 20 inches long. Jeannine put him back on my chest and he latched on right away. We let him nurse for a long time and an herbal bath was prepared for us.
It felt great to get back in the tub, and the herbs really helped soothe the stinging I was feeling since someone didn't want to put down his hand and be born in a normal presentation! We stayed in the tub for a while, he was so relaxed being back in the water. I'm sure it reminded him of his home for the past 9 months. It was funny to see him move his arms around in the water, it looked like what I had felt while he was in my womb and I could almost imagine the feeling again.
After our bath, we finished up all of his newborn checks, I got cleaned up and dressed, and we started getting ready to go home. We left the birth center at 2:30 AM, just five and a half hours after walking in the door.
I couldn't have imagined a more perfect birth and now our family is complete with the addition of our little Steyr Thomas.
Midwife: Jeannine Tate, Plano Birthplace
Doula: Christina Pytleski, Beautifully Birthed
Photographer: Kourtnie Scholz, KE Documentary