I am very excited to welcome my cousin and lifelong best friend, Crescen Moye, to the blog today to share her daughter Hope’s birth story. Crescen and Hope had an unmedicated labor and delivery at Women’s Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill. Take it away, Cuz!
As a first time mom, I really didn’t know what to expect when it came to birth. Sure, I read lots of books and articles and asked tons of questions, but I still couldn’t help but feel like it was going to surprise me however it happened! My husband, Stephen and I chose to give birth at Women’s Birth and Wellness Center (WBWC), a birthing center in Chapel Hill, because we knew we didn’t want a medicated birth, if possible. It also helped that we had lots of friends recommend WBWC.
With each prenatal appointment at the birthing center, their newborn class, their breastfeeding class, and even our outside birthing classes, we gained more and more confidence in the birthing center. Every time we talked with someone there, we would comment to each other that we were sure that it was where we wanted to have our baby. It seemed like all the information we got from WBWC was rock solid. It just made sense with what we wanted for birth and what we believed was best for mother and baby!
Both our birthing class instructor and the midwives at WBWC told us to expect a first baby to come late. In their experiences, most first babies were at least a week late. So, close to week 40, when I started to feel more uncomfortable and tired and swollen, I just told myself it would still be another week or so. Imagine my surprise then, when 1 day before my due date I woke up to contractions in the middle of the night! They were mild, but enough to keep me from sleeping well, and they came about every 10 minutes. I also noticed a trickle of fluid that I thought could have been my water breaking. I really didn’t expect the spicy food I had at dinner to work!
I had a prenatal appointment that morning and I thought for sure they would send me home, tell me it was the mucus plug and Braxton Hicks, and I’d have another week to wait. The contractions didn’t stop, and neither did the trickle of fluid. Stephen wasn’t planning on going with me to my appointment, but when the contractions were around 5 minutes apart, he took off work and drove me the 45 minutes to WBWC.
At my appointment on Thursday morning, Carey (the midwife) confirmed that my water did break. This was it! I knew I couldn’t go another week after my water broke! We did a non-stress test to make sure our baby, Hope, was handling the contractions well. Carey did send us home, but it was to have lunch, take a nap, relax and let labor start on its own, hopefully within the next day because my water was broken. She also suggested acupuncture and some herbs to get things going. We did all of those things and as I laid down for a nap that afternoon, the contractions started to pick up and I couldn’t sleep through them. We called WBWC to check in and decided we would like to be there since things seemed to be progressing.
I was 4cm when we got there Thursday night; not very far along, but I was glad to know we were with people who knew what to do and could tell me everything was normal. The nurse checked my blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and Hope’s heart rate all through the night. My sweet husband never left my side. I even remember the nurse urging him to order in some dinner for himself to keep up his energy, which he did. A few days later I learned that he never even finished his dinner because the smell was bothering me during labor! I thought he would have just saved the food for later, but he said he knew I couldn’t take it and he wasn’t going to leave me to eat it.
Labor got pretty intense Thursday night. The contractions had double peaks and sometimes seemed to run right into the next one. I was exhausted. Stephen was exhausted. I remember seeing a worried look on his face and telling him not to look so concerned! We had been working at it for hours at that point. Sarah came in for her shift and when she checked me at midnight I was still only 4cm. I was so discouraged. I thought, there was no way I could keep doing that even for another hour, and to think that all that work hadn’t even changed my cervix one bit! Hope’s head was down, but it was turned just a little bit to the side. All the labor I was having was not changing my cervix, but trying to get Hope in the right position.
She recommended morphine and Phenergan injections to help me get some rest. I don’t know how I would have gone on without them! The injections were just what we all needed. They made the contractions more bearable and I was able to rest between them. My husband needed it badly as well! We joked that it seemed like he was also given the injections because he slept like a rock for the 6 or so hours I rested. Friday morning (my actual due date), we woke up relatively refreshed. Belinda (another midwife) was on duty and she sent us out to get some fresh air and have breakfast. The contractions were back to single peaks at that time, and I was able to enjoy breakfast, but not the car ride! It seemed that sitting down was not a great position for me to labor in.
Side note…my family all told me later that they were only getting partial updates the whole time. My mom was with us and she doesn’t have a smart phone, so she was texting what she could, slowly. When the rest of my family read her text that we were leaving the birthing center to get breakfast…with no baby…, they didn’t know what to think!! They just got a text with something like, “labor is starting over and we’re going out to get breakfast”. Hahahahaha! I can’t imagine what they were thinking.
My husband and I took a walk when we got back and even though it was hot outside, we found a path to a shaded street and enjoyed the time outside. I don’t have many friends who have given birth outside of a hospital, so most of the first hand birth stories I’ve heard are of medicated births. I know that none of those stories included leaving the hospital to get breakfast (or even eating while in labor), or being able to take a walk outside! In some ways, (minus the contractions), it felt like a normal day. Haha…just some ways.
At noon on Friday, I was checked again and I was 6cm. Praise the Lord! It was good to hear I had some progress. The injections helped me reset and get some more energy for the day ahead! Belinda had me try lots of different positions and herbs to help move Hope into a better position and get her head down. We worked hard all day! For hours, we tried different positions, the shower, walking, squatting, whatever it took to get through each contraction. I don’t remember even knowing what time it was all day.
Some time Friday night, we heard another couple come in. Until then, we were the only ones in labor at the birthing center. I heard the mother laboring and I prayed for her. I prayed she wouldn’t be in labor for as long as I was and that she would have her baby soon!
Belinda checked me later that evening and I was getting so close, but one side of Hope’s head wouldn’t clear a small lip of my cervix. I was not yet 10cm and it wasn’t time to push. This was right about when I felt like I had nothing left (again!). They suggested I get in the bath tub to change position and hopefully help open my hips up a little more. I got on my knees and braced myself on the side for each contraction.
I was worried I wouldn’t know when to start pushing. How would I know I was 10cm?! How would I know it was ok to push and her head was past my cervix? Belinda said I would get to a point where I couldn’t NOT push. With every contraction I thought I was holding back a push. But there was a real difference when I was actually not able to not push! I even said something like, “This is it! I think I’m in transition. I can’t stop it. I can’t stop it!” Belinda told me later that she thought that was so funny-I told her exactly where I was in labor. I reached down and felt Hope’s head right about the time when I got a leg cramp! Feeling her coming kept me going even when I felt like my body was giving out.
With my legs cramping, I couldn’t stay squatting on my knees. I leaned back on the side of the tub and they gave me foot rests. I didn’t know how to push! I screamed out in the middle of contractions that I didn’t know what to do. I kept thinking that the girl in the room next door was a champion pusher…she must not be a first time mother…or she learned a different technique in her birthing class! Belinda was an amazing coach. She walked me through how to use my breath to give me more force. Stephen was an amazing partner! He rubbed my back constantly…through the contractions and even between!
I’m not sure what time I started pushing or for how long I pushed, but Hope was born after midnight Saturday morning. Stephen got to help catch her, and Belinda showed him how to clamp and cut the cord. He and I were awestruck when they laid her on my chest. We couldn’t believe we just did that and she was finally here! I will never forget the look in Stephen’s eyes when I first held Hope. He kept telling me “thank you for doing this.” I know I worked hard, but I also know he worked almost as hard to keep me comfortable for 46 hours!! And what an amazing little person she was, so tiny and precious.
We praised the Lord for this gift and settled in for some long-awaited rest. Our sweet baby girl came at 12:41am on Saturday, July 9 (41 minutes after her due date). She was 7 pounds and 5 ounces, 19.5 inches long. Through the 2 full days of labor, she would not be rushed! She was also a trooper and took all of that like a champ.
Saturday morning, I asked about the couple next door. My mom said they had a little girl and told us her name. I put two and two together and realized it was a couple from our birthing class! With my mom as the messenger, we let our friends know we were in the next room. Before they left, they brought their daughter over to our room and our little girls got to meet. How crazy that the “champion pusher” was in my same class and that we ended up giving birth the same night one room over from each other!
After telling my story to so many friends and family members, I realize how incredible it all was. We had an amazing experience at the birthing center. We know the outcome could have been very different if we were anywhere else. They let it all happen naturally. They made sure Hope was okay, but they didn’t rush it. I remember one time during pushing, Belinda said to trust in the perfect design. The Lord is so good to us and I know it was God’s strength that got me through.
Thank you so much to Crescen for sharing her beautiful and courageous birth story with us! If you are interested in sharing your birth story, please let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Many people think that they have to have an unmedicated birth to share their story, but it’s not true. This blog is for sharing real stories about real families. If you asked for an epidural the moment you got to the hospital, planned a c-section, had an emergency c-section, or even had your baby in the car, we want to hear about it! Every birth story is different, but they are all stories of love and bringing new life into the world. What could be more special than that?