Today I am sharing Bear's journey to the world. If any aspects of birth are sensitive to you it may be in your best interest to skip this blog. **This story and images are very detailed.** Thank you to Nicole for giving us these sweet birth images.
The Greatest Adventure:
A birth story
I gave up thinking he would come early. He was due the 8th. Slowly the days were ticking away. I tried it all. Pineapple, walking, spicy foods, you name it. However, something different was all in the grand plan. I did not know what that day would look like but I tried to visualize the perfect birth for this babe. Over the course of the past 9 months we attended several natural birthing classes. Especially since I wanted to go unmedicated. Some told me I was nuts. I knew it was what I wanted for this babe. Yes it sounds crazy but I was empowered by all the women who came before me. They did it, so why couldn’t I? Fast forward to what I thought was the big moment. I laid down for bed on Wednesday September the 6th not knowing I would wake bright and early on the 7th to what may be the big day. I tried to sleep through the contractions, but they just kept coming. Sharp pain after sharp pain coming and going. It was 2:33 am. Through every contraction I thought back to all we learned in those six weeks at birth class. I knew not to wake Spencer unless it was for sure active labor. So I wanted to make sure before jumping the gun too soon.
I got up and slowly and quietly walked to our bathroom. Let me tell you forty weeks pregnant and trying to get out of bed is rough. It took me about five minutes before I actually made it to the bathroom. Haha. When I finally made it to the bathroom I turned on a nice hot shower and fired up my essential oil diffuser. I always used lavender during pregnancy. Something about that smell is just so calming and peaceful. I breathed in three deep breaths, inhaling the lavender. A sense of relaxation came upon me. Twenty-ish minutes later I decided to leave the shower and go lie down, as our doula recommended. I of course couldn’t sleep, so I pulled out my phone and opened my contraction counter app. They started at six minutes and then five. I still was unsure if I should be going in. Our midwife told us to wait until 4 minutes and then to call her. So I just kept waiting. BUT then they stopped. Like brakes on a speeding car. A screeching halt. By now it was 7:00 am, five hours of consistent sharp pains and then nothing.
I sent over a text to our Doula Liz during those five hours and she recommended we just go on about our day. So we did just that. I told Spencer he prob still shouldn’t go to work because I didn’t want him to leave and then things actually start happening again. So we continued on about our day with lunch at Panera. My favorite. Things were still a little different. Even though the contractions stopped, my appetite still was not normal. I ordered a fruit cup and a small cup of soup. Not much at all. I remember in our class they mentioned our appetite would change as labor grew closer. I still didn’t really put two and two together. We ate and enjoyed what we did not know would be our last lunch as a family of two. We made our way home, I decided to take a quick cat nap on the couch while Law and Order played on the tv. Spencer says I am addicted to that show. Yeah he may be right haha. Still no contractions at this point. Liz texted me checked in to see how things were going, I told her still nothing. She gave me a list of exercises to do called the Miles Circuit. Of course initially I blew them off. 40 weeks pregnant and laziness comes into play. I was tired did not really feel like doing them. Of course after trying everything else to get labor going and it not working, I was not so sure this would work either.
While I was relaxing downstairs Spencer asked if I thought he would be able to head into work for a couple of hours. It was 2:00 pm, I thought why not? The contractions had not picked back up yet so I figured they may not. So off he went. While he was gone I decided to do those exercises. The Miles Circuit is a series of three exercises. Well one was more like laying down in a specific way. (my kind of exercise!!) However, these exercises are supposed to help the baby move into a better birthing position. I was bored by this point so I decided to do them. Took me about an hour. Nothing still was happening. Go figure. lol I finally had some energy to finish laundry, so I texted Liz to let her know there still was nothing really going on. She said just rest and don’t pay any mind to it. That’s what I did.
I carried the clean clothes up the stairs, it seemed like I was climbing a mountain. Stairs suck that far along. Our room was a mess, covered with clean laundry everywhere. I thought well shit, I have nothing else to do. I decided to start hanging the clothes. Ten minutes had passed since I got upstairs to put the laundry away and bam! The contractions started again. This time instead of sharp pains, I felt actual surges. I knew this was the real deal. Surges are what you want. That means the actual uterus is moving to push the baby down. This time they were coming in at four minutes apart. I timed them just to make sure. I did not want to tell Spencer to come home if it was false labor again. This time they were longer than 60 seconds, getting stronger and only 4 minutes apart. My app likes to review contractions in fours, so every four contractions my app was saying, “call a doctor, go to hospital now.” I thought this was hilarious because here I was home alone doing laundry and wasn’t sure if I should head to hospital or not.
I finally texted Spencer and told him he should probably head home. But that he should not rush.
The lights were off, the tv was off. It was silent in the house. I was in my zone when he finally arrived home. Before he arrive I was home alone weathering each contraction by myself. I know that I would not have been able to handle them without the knowledge of our birthing class. I will say those silent moments of just me, the babe and those contractions was actually quite peaceful. It is so amazing how your body just knows what to do. Through those quiet moments alone I just remembered that being in a rhythm with your body and breathing through them they could not overcome me. Our instructors always said “they are coming from you, they will not overcome you.” Those words never rang more true than in those intense quiet moments.
However, I was glad to have him home when he got there. As he arrived home I was leaning over the kitchen stove on the phone with our midwife Karen. Calm and just swaying back and fourth with each surge. Karen was asking me all kinds of questions about my contractions, as she should. It took me a while to get the answers out, she finally told me “I think it’s time for you to come in.” Spencer loaded up the car. Still in that moment we had no idea what to expect. We were going to have a baby. Our nights home with just us would never happen again. Our little boy was finally coming into the world!!
Spencer drove to the hospital of course. I sure as hell was not about to drive. We live down at the oceanfront and of course we were delivering at the hospital farthest from our home. DePaul. We chose them for their highest birth ratings and so we could deliver with a midwife. Don’t get me wrong modern medicine is great and I am thankful for the technology. However I wanted to work with women who have witnessed multiple natural births. Midwives are so gentle during the birthing process. I love that they intervene when needed but more so they just let you and your baby work together. Anyways. Lets be honest, car rides suck during contractions. You are constrained to one position and well it just sucks if that is a position you are not comfortable in. Haha We finally made it! It was 8:00pm on Thursday September 7th. We entered into the labor and delivery wing and they had a room waiting for us. Lights were dim, just how I liked it. I remember the smell of the freshly cleaned room, the fresh crisp sheets on the bed and the beeps of the machines. I swapped into a robe. I knew they would want to get the initial checks done pretty quick. They generally check for dilation upon arrival and get you hooked up to an IV port. Hospital rules. Unfortunately, it took them three tries to get an IV in my arm. I was so progressed in labor and my veins did not want to be found. Two nurses later I had one in. Phew. If you know me, you know I hate needles. Especially IV’s and blood taking ones. Karen our midwife finally came in and said hello and asked if I was ready. I was so excited to see her!! She went to check my dilation, just a week prior I was at 1cm and then when she checked this time I was at 5cm. She said told me I did great laboring as much as I could at home!! Since I wanted unmedicated laboring at home is crucial to help avoid possible intervention.
So during pregnancy, they test everyone for Strep B. It showed in my urine culture but not in the actual test. They still wanted to error on the side of caution and give me an antibiotic anyways. BUT the catcher is normally they give Penicillin, but I am actually allergic to that. So they talked about Ancef which is part of that family but most people who are allergic to Penicillin don’t have reactions to the Ancef. I was one of those rare percentages. Yay!! Within two minutes of them administering the antibiotic my face broke out in hives and my throat started itching. The nurse came back in and instantly they hit me with the IV Benedryl. && we all know Benedyl makes you drowsy, but man that IV Benadryl hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought I was making it through labor so well, I had energy and was ready. Until that moment. The Benadryl took every ounce of my energy and being. I was so tired. I honestly did not know how I was going to make it through labor. Liz told mentioned I should try getting in the shower to help with contractions. This time Spencer joined me. He held me up as the hot water beamed onto my back and as I breathed through each contraction. I don’t know how long I was actually in there. I just know that having Spencer to hold me up and keep me breathing through each contraction was what I needed in that moment. I finally got out of the shower at some point and I made it to the birthing ball at the edge of the bed. I just really remember my back hurting and telling Spencer to apply pressure. I was breathing through each surge over and over again. They didn’t stop coming. They were closer than ever now. I knew though that the closer they got the closer it was to meeting our babe.
Spencer massaged my back for a couple of hours I am assuming. He didn’t stop. I finally had felt like I had enough and said “I give up, I can’t do this anymore.” Liz looked at me and said why don’t we have Karen come check you. I of course was like yes please!!! It seemed like forever before she finally got in there. “9cm” she said. Instantly a sense of power, relief and extra energy came over me. I knew one more centimeter and I would meet our son. I knew it was close! I made it this far with just the support of Spencer and Liz. I knew I could continue and push through. We thought it was time, but little man had different plans. He wasn’t quite far enough down and I didn’t have the energy to push. Karen asked at that point if I would be okay with resting for a bit and trying again in a little while. Liz and Spencer both thought it was a good idea and continued to help me rest in between each contraction. Liz helped to get me into some positions that helped baby move down lower through that time. We went back in the shower, back on the ball and leaned over the bed. Several hours passed. I finally made it out of active labor and into the transition period. Let me tell you, transition was the worse. That is really the main thing I remember from labor. Imagine two hours of dry heaving and wanting to poop with each contraction. It sucked royally. Several hours later Karen came back and said it was now time. The dry heaving had stopped and I had some energy to push this babe out.
During the contractions I pushed and in between them I was cracking jokes. I still don’t know exactly what I was saying and Spencer was in such a daze he doesn’t remember either. I just remember laughing and smiling in those moments. Weird. Like the strangest thing ever. It’s like there was no pain. When they say your body releases endorphins to offset the pain, they aren’t lying. It is truly amazing at what a woman’s body is made to do, I never appreciated my body until I had my son. I was told it took about an hour of pushing and lots of jokes. At 6:12 am John Björn Braxton made his debut into the world. A whole eight pounds five ounces and twenty-one inches long with a head full of hair. Our sweet baby boy was here. Finally we were a family of three. Life would never be the same. Now Bear wasn’t breathing very well when he came out. So the pediatrician whisked him away to do some checks. I was still in such a daze from labor, I didn’t know much of what was going on. I know Spencer followed them and didn’t come back for like an hour. When I finally got to see Bear 6 hours later he was all hooked up to monitors and oxygen. It was hard to see my little babe sick and on machines. I knew he was in good hands with the nurses there. By that evening we were able to hold him in the nursery and we did not get him into our room until the next evening. It made it a rough start to having him in the world but I knew he was strong and would be okay.
These sweet memories of his birth will forever be with me. It was one of the greatest days of my life.
Thank you to Spencer for being the best birth partner I could have asked for. You were there through every moment and I know it would not have been possible without you. Thank you for loving our son and being the greatest dad to him. Thank you to Liz our doula for helping relieve spencer in moments that he needed a break and for being an extra support person for me. Thank you to Karen our midwife, the nurses at DePaul and Nicole for capturing these moments for us to relive. You all took part in making this babes journey a good one!!