Abigail Josephine - Our Birth Story
My beautiful baby girl is now 6 months old! It’s hard to believe so much time has passed but here we are. This is postpartum. This is motherhood. It takes time sometimes to process and reflect powerful and impactful experiences. I'm giving myself grace as this past year has been challenging. As many of my close family and friends know, my pregnancy with Abigail was difficult. My 4th child and my hardest pregnancy. Going into pregnancy, my body was in desperate need of healing and reset...when then came the pregnancy Although in many ways my pregnancy helped healed my body, as pregnancy miraculously can, I also struggled with lots of things. Mainly mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Physically I lost weight and struggled with constant congestion, carpal tunnel, and shooting pain throughout my body. As a doula, I knew I needed to do my best to care for myself and give myself grace, but as a pregnant woman I was miserable and exhausted. My partner Jim, was loving and attentive and as a new father and really did a great job comforting me and attending my needs throughout pregnancy. It was a new experience for me having a partner be so involved and intentional about every part of my pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Jim took every step seriously and provided me a solid and secure pillar to lean on. I am so grateful for his help and partnership then and now. My primary doula, and closest friend, Jennifer was a saint as she supported me during my pregnancy and birth. She counseled me, encouraged me, nurtured me, and kept me going during one of the hardest seasons of my life. God truly knew she was essential to have in my life at this time and our friendship had blossomed into something so profound - I have a hard time putting it to words. I also had the pleasure of Doula Rachele Brown joining us as a training doula. I had met Rachele through Jen and immediately felt comfortable and close with her. Jim, Jen, and Rachele all played such important roles and I have never felt more supported and cherished. My "plan" was to labor at home and then birth at the Twin Cities Birth center. A place I had attended many births as a doula, and we felt was a perfect fit for our family. My pregnancy health was good, and I LOVED the care I received from the midwives. My first 3 births were all "on time". 40 weeks On. The. Dot. Not this time. The week of my due date came and .... Abigail did not. Every day past my due date was torture for me. My body was exhausted. She was strong and so very active. I am talking all day and all night. Active. So, rest was laughable. Each morning past my due date, I would fall apart. I'd call my loving doula’s Jen and/or Rachele and cry, vent, and cry some more. I didn't understand why my body wasn't letting my baby come. Many if you may not know that at 42 weeks you are no longer able to deliver at a birth center due to "concerns" they have and because of the limitation/liability that birth centers have. Thanks Insurance Companies! (Insert sarcastic wink here) My previous pregnancies, I was less informed/educated, was not a doula, nor did I have one working with me. My births were induced and augmented with Pitocin. My body had never been given the chance to do what it was designed to do. This time I knew it had to be different. I was in consistent prodromal labor from 39 weeks on. Meaning my body went into a cycle of early labor patterns that felt real, would exhaust me, then discontinue. Every night it felt as though it was starting, and every morning I started the day over again with nothing. Of course my midwives wanted me to start "encouraging" labor when we entered 41 weeks gestation. I pondered and contemplated but I knew in my heart I did not want to do anything to alter the natural and capable process that my body was designed for. I wasn't willing to alter my birth plan simply for the sake of delivering my baby at the preferred place, knowing the risks that were involved. Tuesday, June 28th, I lost my mucus plug and I knew things were going to happen soon. Wednesday, on June 29th, 42 weeks came to a head. My care was transferred to United Mother Baby Center. I did the protocol. I made the initial appointment. Did the NST, biophysical profile, and even begrudgingly allowed a cervical exam with a cervical sweep. *Eye Roll* Then, to the hospital midwives dismay, I went home. In addition to many recommendations to induce, the hospital midwives wanted me to come in every day for None Stress Tests to monitor Abigail. I whole heartedly declined. I knew my baby was safe. Never was I concerned about her health or mine. Nor were there any indicators to be concerned. I knew it was time to check in with myself. Knowing what I know, being a doula and a believer in Christ and understanding the mind body connection. With the incredible impact emotional health has on pregnancy, labor, and birth, I knew it was time to address my inner self. So that Friday afternoon, after my other 3 children left for the weekend. I made time for myself. It was a gorgeous warm summer day, and I went to the Warner Nature center with my Bible and my journal. I found my favorite bench and got comfortable. I prayed over myself and my baby. I wrote in my journal, also writing Abigail a letter. I told her how much she was loved and how much of the world I wanted to show and share with her. I told her I was ready. Ready to meet her. Ready to overcome my fears. I told her I was ready to be her Mommy. The tears ran down my face and I finally allowed myself to fall apart fully. Afterwards I just sat, watched the birds, and listened to nature. Listened to God's reassuring and loving voice. I released and let go. I Surrendered. That evening, while lying on the couch watching TV, my waters broke! Like my past birth experiences, this was the first sign of labor, but contractions were slow to start. So, I knew what I was in for. Instead of going to the hospital like I had in the past. I went to sleep in my own bed and let my body do what it needed to do. I handed control to the Lord, and I got decent sleep. The next morning, I woke up early feeling more sensations. I reassured myself that my body was doing all it was designed to do. I texted my doulas and decided to go for a walk around 6am. Labor progressed gently. I let Jim sleep as it was very manageable on my own. During my walk I had more and more contractions and the pattern was consistent. I was more reassured that it was real this time! I came inside, ate, and drank, and updated my doulas. Jen and Rachele were perfect. They knew I would be stubborn and in denial, so they kept checking in, insisting I let them come support me. I agreed and around 11:00 am, they both arrived at our home. Jim was up and present as well. We decided to make some lunch. Jen and Rachele did some CST on me while Jim sat nearby observing and being present. We chatted, and laughed, and labor continued to progress. I felt safe, seen, heard, and supported. It was incredible.
We continued to labor at home and contractions became more intense and challenging. But never once did I feel incapable. I knew I could do it and I had the perfect team to help me. Active labor set in and we went for another walk outside. This was one of my favorite moments with my doulas. The companionship and safety I felt was so special. I had a big emotional shift and release while hugging and swaying with Doula Jen. After our walk we went inside and decided to go upstairs to my bedroom for more CST and laboring while Jim rested up on the couch. After a short while, I had another big and emotional release during the CST session with both Doula Rachele and Jen’s hands gently supporting my body. Labor was now bringing me inward. Things were moving along. Jen told me she felt it was a good time to go to the hospital. "Are you sure?!"
I was insecure that I wasn't as far along as I needed to be to leave for the hospital, but the contractions were strong, and I was feeling them take me to a place only deep active labor can. They took intense focus and breath work to endure. We decided to leave the house, it was about 4pm.
The car ride was rough, but Jim was amazing in supporting me bringing me my next favorite moment during labor. I was in the back seat on all fours/hanging off the back of the seat. It was a struggle in the beginning of the drive as I lost the pace and rhythm that I had been leaning into. Almost spiraling during contractions. Jim's voice telling me it was ok, to breath, and overall encouragement was so helpful. He reached behind and touched me with his hand and that alone helped ground me. I opened my eyes in between a contraction, willing myself to focus on my breathing, fiercely allowing air to move through my body when I saw the word "Center" on the car seat base I was leaving over. That became the word/affirmation I used during the 30 excruciating minutes of the car ride. Find your CENTER. Stay present HERE and NOW. Breath through your CENTER. Stay CENTERED. We arrived at United around 4:30pm. We were briefly put in triage as they admitted me. It didn't take long as they could tell I was clearly in heavy active labor and having a baby soon. Finally, I walked towards the water birth room, pausing for intense contractions with Jim's help. We did the routine monitoring to establish a baseline for Abigails heart rate and my contraction pattern. They also insisted on an ultrasound to confirm a head down baby. I wasn't very happy about that because I knew my baby was coming and wanted to be in the tub. "We're running out if time" I growled in-between contractions as the nurses and midwife scrambled to do their necessary assessments and preparation. I was grateful for my midwife Liz. She was previously a birth center midwife, and her energy and gentle approach soothed me as I had triggers going into a hospital setting. She allowed both my doulas and my partner to be present, which was a miracle of God as covid restriction had just started lifting. Once I finally got in the tub, the room cleared of hospital staff. Midwife Liz patiently found a seat in the far corner of the room, respectfully giving us space and observed. My doulas and Jim surrounded me while I was in the tub. Jen put on worship music, and they all prayed over me as I continued to transition. I felt my baby come down and more of my waters ruptured! But then everything changed…
What started as a fun, enjoyable, and empowering experience quickly took a turn.
Hospital policy states they will not allow a water birth if meconium is present in amniotic fluid. My baby girl decided to have a small poop in her sack and my waters were tainted yellow.
But I was ready to push! I had let my body relax in the tub, mentally prepared to push, facing and overcoming fears, processing the stress. Then, when ready to have my baby, I was told I had to get up and out of the tub... I was FURIOUS. My doula Jen told me that I had the choice to do what felt right for me. My mind whirled and I felt beside myself. In between one of my monster contractions I quickly pivoted and stood, abruptly getting out of the tub. My baby started to come, and my body began to push while I stood. They told me to either get on the ground or stand over the bed. I froze. My body locked up and I couldn't move. In my mind I wanted to go down to hands and knees, but my body was no longer under my control. I couldn't move. I verbally said I wanted to go down to the floor, but I physically couldn't get my body to move. They wheeled the bed away and almost caused me to fall forward when I was trying to lean on it, they quickly moved the bed back to me when they realized my body could no longer move. My doulas gently encouraged me and tried to continue to support me firmly as the hospital staff buzzed around me. Jim was in front of me doing his best to comfort me as I roared. I scolded a nurse who was violently trying to pull a belly band over my belly for really no reason as I pushed. There were far too many people in my room but when meconium is present, they call NICU nurses to assist with the baby if needed.
Doula Jen, who is a student midwife, was allowed to help try catching Abigail. It was intense. At this point my senses were heightened and protective. I could fell every single sensation inside and outside of my body. Feeling Abigail wiggle and move inside my pelvis and vagina took my breath away. I was raging as my body tried to push my baby out with my help. I didn't want anyone touching me and without even seeing who was behind me or around, I intuitively knew the difference between a stranger’s touch and my doula Jen’s. I even slapped my midwife’s hand away from me at one point screaming, “Don’t Touch!”. Abigail's head was born into Jen's hands. But because I was locked into place, she was not coming. Midwife Liz called out shoulder dystocia. From there, all I remember is frantic voices yelling. My body being man handled and maneuvered. My autonomy dissolved. My doulas and Jim we ushered aside, and I was moved by several nurses onto the hospital bed. It went black. All I could do was scream, push, and endure. I was no longer present. Voices felt echoed and far away. I felt aggressive movements and manipulations of my body as they tried to deliver my baby while on all 4s. She wouldn’t’ come. They quickly then turned me over and pressed hard down on both sides of my pelvis and pulled her out of me.
She was finally out!
I caught my breath and briefly saw the top of her head. I felt her warm wet body against mine for only for half a second. With no time to recognize that I had had my baby they quickly decided to immediately cut the cord and take her away. They told me it was for her safety. I sobbed into Jen's hands as she comforted me. She told me to let it all out. I'm thankful she did as the trauma I had just endured had hit me light a freight train at full speed. I felt demolished. Immediately letting myself outwardly process and express the pain and heartache was essential to my immediate healing journey. I am so grateful for Jen’s intimate understanding of this during that moment.
Doula Rachele encouraged Jim to go with Abigail. Jim, bless his heart, was white as a ghost and frozen after witnessing this horrifying turn of events. He didn’t want to leave my presence. I told him to go with the baby, she couldn’t be alone. I knew seeing me in this moment would be horrid and I needed him to be with her. He hesitated but doula Rachele reassuringly encouraged and went with him. He more confidently left my side to be with our new daughter. I had a hemorrhage and lost about 1100 CCs of blood. Everyone was rushing chaotically around me. Touching me and pulling and prodding my body. I was triggered. Continuously. I then begged them to stop. To pause. To slow down. Do one thing at a time. I needed to breath. They wanted to put my legs into stirrups, and check my blood pressure, and give me a shot, and more and more and more things... I lost it. Locking begging eyes with Doula Jen, she knew without a word what I needed and advocated for me. She informed them that I was a Sexual Assault victim and need slow paced and gentle care. I am profoundly grateful for her strong voice speaking for and protecting me.
Everyone slowed down. I was heard again. I was allowed a pause. The room settled more. Peace resided. Advocacy is VITAL, I cannot stress that enough. I delivered a MASSIVE and record-breaking placenta. Every birth professional in the room, including me, had never seen a placenta of that size! It was HUGE!
They brought Abigail to me. I emotionally reached out to hold my precious daughter and cried as I finally held her for the first time. We did it. After 42 weeks and 4 days, she was finally safely in my arms. The next chapter of our story could now begin.
Born July 2nd at 5:53pm (Just under 1.5 hours after my arrival to the hospital)
Abigail has been a delightful and perfect baby. Her personality is so unique and sweet. I am so grateful and blessed to have such a healthy and thriving little girl. Seeing Jim blossom as a loving father has also been such a joy. God is good!
I learned so much from this pregnancy and birth experience. I know it all happened for a reason and I will grow from it and become a better mother and doula because of it. Even with the hard moments of my birth, I can look back at my birth story and feel proud. Proud of myself, proud of Jim, and so very proud of my doulas Jen and Rachele. While some of my wishes and preferences did not come to pass, I know and understand that it can’t all be in our control, and we must be grateful for the positive things we can hold on to. Pregnancy, labor, and birth are such a testament of patience, surrender, and trust.
It was all 100% worth it. Shockingly, I would do it all again. The power of motherhood is WILD!
Thank you for taking the time to read my birth story. I hope it touched you and gave you a vast perspective on natural birth. It is yet another example of the importance of support, intuition, advocacy, and compassionate care.
Light & Love
The Village Doula