When you are about to give birth to your fourth child, you think that you know how everything is going to go. After all, you have given birth three times prior…you should know what birth is like, right? I have been learning that in motherhood, even with vast experience, all things can, and likely will, be new.
In birth, there is no true known aside from unknown of nature. She is unpredictable, she is loud, she is challenging, she is beautiful. In all my previous births, I had extremely quick labor and deliveries. One even making his way out onto an unprepared birth table, a nurse running for gloves, and no doctor in sight. After such a birth, you would think that all your following births would be easy. But as you gain knowledge, you realize just how little you do not know. I was about to give birth, having a similar due date to many of Nicole’s clients. I was about to give birth on the rise of a global pandemic. I was about to work harder than I have ever had to work to bring a
baby into this world. Being absolutely done with being pregnant (after all, three pregnancies in four years is no joke), I texted Nicole that I was ready to try the Midwives Brew containing castor oil to try and kick my labor into gear. After checking with her other mom’s soon to have babies and getting the go
ahead, I got the supplies and drank that nasty drink. Because my labors were previously fast, Nicole and her family made their way up to us right away (3.5 hours drive for her). Next thing you know, Nicole and I were sitting in my home office, chatting in between contractions at 1 AM while the rest of the family slept. We soon made our way to the hospital at 3 AM. Little did we know, the labor that started at 10 PM would turn into the longest labor I had had yet, yielding a baby at 5:15 PM the following day.
Much of my pregnancy, I joked that Oakland was a ninja, alien baby as he twisted, kicked, and turned constantly. Thankfully, I had an amazing chiropractor that was able to use the Webster technique to help the baby flip head down multiple times over. During labor, the nurses commented that they had never seen a baby move so much in between contractions (as they generally rest from the stress of labor). Because he still wanted to practice his ninja skills during labor, Oakland’s face was looking at my inner thigh instead of my rear end. This can cause labor to slow and delivery to take longer… and it did (at least compared to what I am used to). Going into this birth, I thought I knew exactly how it was going to go. I had full intentions of having a medicated birth – but past experiences with the on-call anesthesiologist led me to have a (mostly) unmedicated birth. It was hard – but I could do this. It was hard – but I wanted the photographs to be worth it. It was hard – but I had a photographer who happened to also play the role of my doula. Nicole offered strength and relief that I have never experienced before in labor and delivery. One simple touch and verbal reminder would bring relief to my entire body in between contractions. It was like a medicine in and of itself. If I could go back in time, I would have Nicole by my side for every single one of my deliveries, just for her presence alone. The pictures would just be a beautiful reminder of our success story.
When contractions would slow, we would take to the hallways to roam. Down the hallway to the window, back around to the entrance of OB, repeat. The contractions would pick back up, and I would make my way to the medicine ball where I would lean over the side of the bed, rock back and forth, and just focus on breathing in and out to get through the contractions. This labor was stubborn. Last baby? You are going to have to work for it! In comes Pitocin. Before too long, the contractions gained strength and the rails of the bed were my stability to push through. That, and the touch of my husband’s hand on my back to ground me. That was new to me. I never liked to be touched during labor as it made me anxious. But this time, it was different. I needed the touch to make it through. This time, the pain felt unbearable. It got to a point where I felt incapable of bringing this child into the world. But my husband’s touch and Nicole’s reminders (“Remember what we talked about in the office. Remember this is just for a moment. You can do this.”) helped me get through.
One thing that I realized with this birth, is the silent force and presence I had from my mom and brother with every single one of my deliveries. My mom was constant, quiet, continuously praying, and ready to jump at the tiniest request for help. My brother sat quietly, helping at times to walk down the hall, or sit up when my strength was gone. Since childhood, my brother has always been considered a gentle giant. That is, until it came to protecting me. I realize now how blessed I am to have had him by my side my entire life and as I brought four children into this world. They are a reminder to the family we have that love us deeply, and give all they can with what they have. Not many people can say that and for that, I am grateful.
Getting to the hospital, we learned that my doctor (who has helped in the delivery of all my children) was not on call. Though the doctor there was great, it just was not the same. In the middle of the crazy, we happened to hear my doctor in the hallway. Thankfully, we were able to connect with him just in time. Dr. B was able to suit up and be the familiar instructor I had been used to. I remember he stood back with his arms crossed, waiting during my contractions and watching for the baby’s head to turn. I was so angry as I just wanted baby out. He called my mom over and said, “Here grandma, watch this.” And with one more contraction the baby moved into ready position. Just another contraction or two and he was able to deliver Oakland, my last child, and one of his last deliveries before retiring from labor and delivery. The timing and growth from this birth was beautiful. I did not plan to have my baby amidst a pandemic. But encouragement from an acquaintance and support of Nicole, I had the courage to take the Midwives brew and be blessed to go into labor that day. Because of that, I was able to birth my baby the day before extra support was no longer allowed in the hospital. I had never once cried after having my babies (I honestly never understood it). But this time, it was different. Maybe because I had to work so hard to bring him into this world. Maybe because I knew this was officially my last baby (I got my tubes tied the next day). Maybe because I brought this child into a world in very uncertain times. Whatever it was, I cried, and somehow, received healing I did not know I needed.
We spent the next couple of days and then months without extra visitors. But we were able to bond deeper as a family that normal times do not allow. Nicole would still check in on me and help with this journey as the best form of support. Being a seasoned mom does not mean you do not need support,
and Nicole understands that better than everyone I have ever known. She has enabled me to be such an advocate and support to the post-partum period of motherhood, both for myself and now for other mom’s around me. The world around us is ever changing. It is uncertain. It is unnerving. But the one thing that is constant is Nicole’s ability to support a mom (and family) as she prepares to bring a child into this world, as she births the child, and as she navigates the uncharted waters of the post-partum period. No matter the
condition of the world, I would never want to embark on the journey of bringing a child into this world again without Nicole by my side. Thank you for a beautiful experience, for beautiful memories, and now, a beautiful friendship.