The Birth of Opal Eleanor Rose

I can hardly think of a better thing to post on Labor Day than a birth story. This sweet little lady came close to being my birthday buddy, and her parents baked a cake for me just in case that happened. Enjoy this story, as told by her mother, Jessica. 

We were waiting for our second baby, the first had been born just a few years earlier (9!). My due date was January 29th, and I had convinced myself that this baby was surely going to come earlier and definitely not be 8 days late like my son was. I ended up being wrong, of course, and just about losing my mind during that last week of being “overdue.” Gina checked me and did a membrane sweep at 39 1/2 weeks and again at 40 plus weeks, but in the end the answer just came down to patience.  I alternated between excitement, continued deep cleaning of every surface in my house, and fits of crying and anxiety that the baby would never come.

Feeling homebound on February 5th (one week past my due date), my husband Scott (who had already started his paternity leave) and I decided to get out of town for the afternoon. We drove to Golden to eat lunch and walk around. During the slightly bumpy car ride I started to feel what I cautiously considered might be contractions. We walked down the main street of Golden and stopped for lunch. Sure enough, I was having mild but consistent contractions every 15 minutes or so. They felt amazing! I was so ready to not be pregnant anymore and excited to finally meet our daughter. We went into a toy store and walked up  and down some side streets and the contractions were just strong enough that I had to stop walking and breathe for a minute during each one. It felt so good to know that something was FINALLY starting to happen.

Home again, the contractions came and went somewhat irregularly over the course of the evening and I called Gina to let her know that it seemed like things were finally getting started. Gina recommended taking it easy and trying to sleep, and that is what I did until consistent contractions (about every 6-7 minutes) woke me at around 4 am. I lay in bed breathing into the contractions, still feeling really great–the contractions felt strong but not overwhelming. So much different from what I experienced as “agonizing” contractions during early labor with my son.

Around 5 am I felt that I needed to move around so I got up and made a strong cup of raspberry tea and went outside to look at the really cool line up of planets that was happening in the early morning sky of February, 2016. I sat on the birth ball and was timing the contractions, but they started to get all wonky–going from 7 minutes apart to 3 minutes to 10. My husband Scott was still asleep and I had not called Gina yet that morning, slightly reluctant to bother her. I decided to go back to bed and managed to fall into a deep sleep for one more hour.

I woke up at 7 am and things were definitely picking up, sleeping was no longer an option. I woke Scott up. I called Gina and she told me to call back around 9:30. I texted one of my best friends, Nicole, who is also a doula and in nursing school to let her know things were definitely moving along and to head over when she could. At 8:15 am I texted my mom to come pick up my son and take him to his basketball game that started at 10 am. I contacted our birth photographer, Willie Wilson.

Around 8 am I sent Scott to the store to buy coffee for everyone because we had run out, and I thought it could be awhile before anything started to really happen. Right after I sent him to the store I realized maybe I should not have sent my husband away. I started to feel like maybe I was actually a little further along in labor than I had realized. I called Gina back at about 8:30 am and told her I thought she should come sooner rather than later. She listened to me have a contraction over the phone and although she didn’t think I sounded quite ready she agreed to head over and to let Nedra, the second midwife, know as well.

After all my calls were made my labor seemed to really pick up, and for the first time my contractions seemed on the edge of unmanageable and I had to start making some noise to get through them. My friend Nicole arrived just before 9:30 am and right as she came into my bedroom (where I was on hands and knees with the birth ball for support) I realized I was going to throw up, and I did (into the trash can thanks to Nicole!). Very exciting because I realized I must be in transition!

Right after this my mom arrived to take my son to his basketball game and came in to say goodbye to me. My family left and Gina and Nedra arrived, as well as our photographer.

At around 10 am we moved into the guest room where the birth tub was set up and Scott got the water going while I laid on my side on the bed. Once the tub was ready both Scott and I got in. The warm water really helped me to relax and get to the final 10 cm. My water broke after about an hour of contractions in the tub.  Because there was some meconium in the water Gina decided it was time to get out of the tub; this was around 11 am.

It was also around this time Gina realized that this baby was in posterior position, “sunny side up,” and that although her heart tones were pretty good, the meconium was not a great sign and it was time to really “get to work.”

I managed to get out of the tub and up on the bed, and this was the part of the labor where I “dropped the F bomb,” as my husband likes to remind me. I ended up being the most comfortable lying on my back with my knees in the air, this is also where the baby’s heart tones were the most stable. Nedra was supporting one leg and Nicole was supporting the other and Scott was behind me and Gina was working some special midwife magic involving getting a tiny lip of cervix out of the way. Pushing a posterior baby out is no easy task but everyone was so supportive and Gina did a great job of helping me figure out how to direct my pushing energy.

It seems to me that there is a time at the end of labor when a laboring woman realizes that the only way to get out of her situation is to literally push through the pain and discomfort. After running through a few other scenarios in my mind and not coming up with a better alternative, I managed with great effort to push my baby’s head all the way out.

As her head was being born, Gina told us to be really quiet so as not to startle her because Nedra was going to suction meconium out of her mouth before her 1st breath. She did this when her head was out, but before the rest of her body was born. Then one more push and Opal was all the way out at 11:58 am, just 2.5 hours after the midwives had arrived. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we ate eggs and I took the best shower ever. We were so grateful for being able to bring our baby into the world in such a mellow and supported way, comfortable at home!