Sara Chantelle’s Birth Story
About the Author: Kirsten loves being wife to the man of her dreams and mommy to a precious 14 month-old girl and another baby due in January! She enjoys spending time with her family, learning how to live a healthful lifestyle, music, reading, writing, and encouraging other moms.
It all began on Monday evening, August 17, 2009. I started having painless contractions that were very consistent and pretty intense. I had also had some bloody show that morning. I was so excited, because my mom and sister were here for the baby and Lauren’s birthday was on Tuesday, August 18th. We were hoping the baby could share her birthday!
Mom had fixed dinner for Nathanael and me to eat together out on our back patio. We had a great time talking and enjoying one another, thinking this could be the last dinner we would eat alone for a while. It was right at the end of dinner that the contractions started.
Nathanael began timing contractions, and we all took a walk to see what would happen. The contractions started getting longer and longer, with shorter spaces in between. I was so excited, but tried to keep my mind calm. When we got home, we sat down and talked for awhile, and I noticed that the contractions were slowing down. Oh no! Sometime in here we had called our midwife to give her a head’s up on what was going on. By the time I went to bed, the contractions had pretty much stopped, and I was very disappointed. We talked to our midwife again, and she said it was common for pre-labor to do just that, and real labor could even start in the middle of the night or in the morning. We went to bed, hoping that something would happen that night or the next day.
Another thing that had made me anxious, is that when we saw the midwife on the 17th, she informed me that if the baby had not come by the following week, I would need to have a non-stress test, and also an ultrasound to make sure that the baby was still okay to be in the womb. Oh dear, I did not want that! We had opted out of all the ultrasounds before that because we did not want that kind of intervention in our pregnancy. I started to worry, and started feeling a little like a failure because the baby had not come yet.
August 18th, Lauren’s birthday. I had not had a single contraction all night, and that day proved to be the same. We enjoyed a little party, complete with cheesecake, and at the end of the day, I was disappointed once again that nothing was happening with my body. Nathanael and I took a walk to talk about it, and I had a few painless contractions while we were walking, which just made me frustrated. “So, when I’m walking I have contractions, but if I stop, they stop. What am I supposed to do? Start walking to the Birth Center and hope I’m in labor by the time I get there?”
Finally, we decided to change our waiting tactic. I gave up the idea of giving birth on Lauren’s birthday, and decided that instead of waiting so eagerly and reading into every little twinge my body made, I would just ignore the fact that I was “overdue” (my EDD was August 14), and pretend that I had another month to go. That way I could enjoy Mom and Lauren, and not feel pressured to pop the baby out right away. We had a great time the next few days, shopping, spending time together, taking walks, and loving our time as a family. I went to water aerobics on Wednesday morning as usual, and of course everyone was surprised to see me there. I just needed to get in the water and stretch out, and also feel that my schedule was “normal”. The rest of the week was completely uneventful with no sign of labor.
Friday morning, August 21, I woke up at 3:25 a.m. with a contraction. I didn’t realize it was a contraction, though, I just thought I had to go to the bathroom. I went, and then returned to bed, only to wake up again a few minutes later with the same urge. As I sat on the toilet, I noticed that I was pretty crampy. After the third or fourth contraction (I was figuring out that is what they were), I was really feeling them, and resorted to leaning my elbows on the edge of the bed and swaying my hips back and forth for the duration of each one.
It was now about 4 a.m., and I saw that Nathanael was awake, so I told him I had just had about 5 contractions in the last 30 minutes. He opened his contraction tracking app on his phone and we started tracking them as they came. At first I could cope with them just fine on my own, leaning on the bed and swaying back and forth. I tried the birth ball too, but that didn’t work for me. The contractions were getting closer and closer together, and were becoming more intense too. Soon I was having Nathanael do the double hip squeeze on me as I leaned on the bed each time.
Time is very blurry to me from this point on. (I had heard that this happened in labor, and didn’t really believe it that much, but it was totally true for me!) Some time around 5 or 5:15 Nathanael woke Mom and Lauren to tell them to start getting ready, and called his sister Tina to let her know what was going on, and I think he may have called the birth center then also.
I decided to take a shower, because I wanted to get all dressed, and do my hair and makeup before we went in. (Ha ha!) This was probably around 5:30 or 5:45. The contractions were happening about every 3-4 minutes at this point, and were quite intense. I was now groaning and making oooh, and ahhh sounds to keep me focused during the contractions, as well as leaning over, swaying, and having Nathanael press my hips together. I had several contractions in the shower while he was on the phone with Ali, our midwife. She asked him how things were going, and what time we wanted to meet at the birth center. Nathanael said we could probably be there in about half an hour. She listened to me have a couple contractions, and they decided we would all meet there as soon as we could.
I have never been so aware of how very short a minute is before! The contractions were a minute long and two minutes apart by now, which is a sly way of saying there is only one minute between them. I was blow drying my hair, and had to stop every minute and run into the bedroom to lean on the bed so Nathanael could press my hips and I could make it through the contraction. Mom and Lauren were rushing around the house gathering the last few things I wanted at the birth center, and getting everything in the car. After drying my hair, I said, “Ok, forget the makeup. Let’s go right now!” Everyone practically ran to the car. Don’t tell anyone, but I did not wear a seatbelt as Nathanael drove like a mad man to the birth center, 10 minutes away. There was no way I could sit in the seat. I was kneeling backwards on the front seat, leaning over, hanging onto the seat for dear life and moaning my way through 5 or 6 contractions until we got to the birth center. I recalled the instructor saying in our birth class that if you jumped out of the car, grabbed your bags and walked in smiling, you were there too early, but if you had to hang onto the car for a contraction, and then hurried in and charged right to the room, barely making eye contact with anyone, it was perfect timing. I’d say we got there at the perfect time.
It was now 6:20. I had one more contraction in the car, and practically ran into the birth center, bee lining for the room they pointed me to. I barely made it in there before the next contraction hit, and there I was leaning on the bed, moaning, and having Nathanael press my hips again.
I was Group B Strep positive, so I was supposed to have an IV of antibiotics, but because of how quickly I was seeming to progress, Ali asked if she could check my cervix and see how far I had to go, to see if the antibiotic would even do any good (it had to be in my body for about 2 hours to be effective). I laid down on the bed, and when she checked me, she said, “Well, your cervix is practically gone!” Because of the imminence of the birth, we decided to forgo the antibiotics after all.
I had a few contractions side-lying on the bed, and then they told me I could get in the tub if I wanted to. I got in and ended up being in the tub for about an hour, but it wasn’t really as soothing for me as I thought it would be. I still had Nathanael press my hips, and was moaning and casting pitches with my voice, trying not to wear my vocal cords out. The hot water felt good on my back (I had them put towels on me so I wouldn’t get cold). It’s kind of funny, because I was laboring hard, and was sweating so much, but I still felt annoyed if my back got cold.
I was feeling so much pressure and bulging inside of me, and occasionally having the urge to push. Ali checked me again, and finally my water broke! Wow, that was such a relief, I couldn’t believe it. For some reason things seemed to get much clearer after that. I had much more definite sensation of where the baby was, and more of a feel of how to get it out. I started pushing, but was having a hard time in the tub, because I didn’t feel I could get in the position I needed to be in. Nathanael suggested trying the birthing stool, and that sounded good, so I got out of the tub and onto the stool.
Now I was pushing like crazy. With every contraction came the urge to push, and push I did! Nathanael was sitting behind me, and I leaned against him and held his hands. Well, that sounds exaggeratedly relaxed. Ha! Basically I held on to him for dear life, squeezed his hands and braced myself on his arms. He got quite the workout that day!
The whole pushing stage felt like it went very fast, and like it took forever. Time was very foggy to me. Once on the birth stool, though, I felt better able to focus and could feel the baby moving down the birth canal, which was so encouraging! Soon, I could reach and feel the baby’s head coming closer and closer to the outside of my body. About at this point, they put a mirror on the floor so I could see the progress, and this helped me tremendously too. I was able to put all my focus on moving the little dark head I was starting to see down and out.
The most intense time was just as the baby crowned. Of course, that means the widest part of the baby is coming out of a small, stretching hole in me. The level of pain didn’t increase, I was just more keenly aware of every sensation. As the head came to the verge of crowning, there was so much intense pressure on everything “down there”, it didn’t seem possible to get the baby out without me ripping in two. I felt a burning around the edge of my vagina as the head crowned. It was enough to make me want to pull all my muscles in to avoid pushing against the burning, but the midwives were encouraging me to push into the burn, and I was thinking, “The harder I push now, the quicker it will be over,” so I just kept at it.
Almost before I knew it the head was out and I felt so much relief. I was panting, and said, “I need a little break!” The pushing urge totally went away for a minute, and I just leaned on Nathanael and relaxed a little and caught my breath. Suddenly I was ready again, and after just a couple more pushes, my baby was out and they put it in my arms! The feeling of the whole body of that little baby slipping out of me was more amazing than almost anything I have ever experienced. Plus, at that moment, all pain and discomfort was absolutely gone! (Yet another thing I had heard, but wasn’t sure I believed. What a skeptic I am!)
The baby wasn’t crying, and when we looked at it, we realized the baby was fast asleep! Ali was a little concerned because it wasn’t making noise, but she checked the heart and lungs and everything was totally perfect. The APGAR scores were 7 and 10. Ali said, “I keep wanting to say ‘he or she’, but I don’t know which it is.” So I took a little peek and said, “It’s a girl!” Soon Nathanael announced, “This is Sara Chantelle.” She was born at 8:19 a.m., making it just shy of 5 hours from the time my labor had started.
Sara continued to sleep peacefully for about an hour and a half. The midwives were amazed at her. Ali said it happened about once in five years to have a baby born asleep. Sara had an incredible cone head when she was born, and a little bruising on the top of her head, but her head quickly returned to normal shape (practically within hours).
Pushing the placenta out was another really interesting experience. I had a couple little contractions that didn’t really even hurt, and after one push it slid right out of me. When that was done, my whole body felt so much relief. When they checked me out, the midwives found no tearing at all, not even little “skid marks”, so I did not need any stitches.
The student midwives joked with Nathanael after Sara’s birth that he’d better learn to catch babies, and maybe if we have very many kids we should just have home births.
Soon we moved to the bed to relax, enjoy our baby and get her started on nursing. She was so sleepy she wasn’t really even interested in eating! Sara did finally latch on and nurse, and with the help of a nipple shield to shape my nipple better, she nursed like a pro. After a couple of days she didn’t even need the shield any more. About 1:30 p.m. we were ready to go home, so we packed up all our stuff and our new baby and drove home! What a day!
I am so grateful for the opportunity to give birth at the Puget Sound Birth Center. After this experience, I could not imagine giving birth any other way. The midwives were so supportive, and helped me by giving me just the right amount of information at each stage. It was also great to have Mom, Lauren, and Tina there, as they helped set such a peaceful atmosphere and I knew they were covering me in prayer. There is no way I could have given birth without my husband, Nathanael. He supported me from the beginning to the end, pressed my hips through every single contraction, and constantly encouraged me.
The whole birth experience was so amazing for me. Such a miracle. We had put much time, thought, and prayer into preparing for Sara’s birth. I read just about everything I could get my hands on regarding birth, and we took a birth class. The best preparation I did was to read Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize. I was believing in and preparing for a supernatural, pain-free birth, with a fast, easy delivery. While this birth was not pain-free, it was supernatural. The fact that for my first baby labor was only 5 hours start to finish, I was completely dilated when I got to the birth center only 3 hours into it, and I had no tearing at all is a great testimony to this. Plus Sara was born sleeping, and the whole process of labor and delivery was filled with peace and no fear, even though it was intense.
Our pastor’s wife prayed over me for supernatural childbirth a couple of weeks before Sara was born, and encouraged me to go for the platinum, but be so grateful if God gave us gold. She encouraged me to not beat up on myself no matter how it turned out, but just to be thankful for what happened, and know that the next one can be even better. We had many others supporting us in prayer too, before and during labor. Praise the Lord!
Sara’s name is based on 1Peter 2:9. “For you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” Sara means Princess, and Chantelle means Spirit of Worship.