My Birth Story
December 1st began like any other day. Granted this was the estimated due date all my doctors gave me, so I was a bit more excited that I had reached a full 40 weeks. Otherwise, my mom had gone to her annual eye doctor appointment and my dad and Brit (my wife) left for the office for their monthly philanthropic clinic.
I had woken up around 8 am with the family to see them off. Once they had left I went back to bed. Being 40 weeks pregnant, getting crappy sleep, and the pending arrival of our baby girl looming, I was exhausted. Around 11:30 am I woke up suddenly with an immediate urge to poop — to the extent that I thought if I didn’t run to the bathroom, I’d have an accident in bed. So I made my way to the bathroom, peed, and went back to bed. Minutes later I woke up again. “Wait! I am 29 years old. I won’t poop my pants. That’s ridiculous.”
At this point, I texted one of my friends who had just given birth 8 weeks prior. “What do contractions feel like?” After a quick texting conversation, I decided I was in early labor. These contractions were barely lasting 30 seconds and were happening sporadically, anywhere from 10 minutes apart to 20 minutes apart. By the time it was 1 pm, I decided it was time to call my mom. I didn’t want to bother her earlier as I knew her appointment would be over soon anyways, and I definitely didn’t want to bother my wife because I didn’t want her to panic that I was home alone.
“I think it’s time. I think I’m in labor.”
Within an hour, my wife, mom, aunt, and mother-in-law were all back at home with me. It was all very exciting and equally nerve-racking. Leading up to their arrivals, I had taken a nap, eaten a PB&J sandwich, noshed on a red bell pepper, and was found doing a puzzle while watching TV. After all that, my next job was to go for a walk around the neighborhood and see if my contractions would pick up. So I went with my wife and mother-in-law for a walk. By the time we circled back around, my contractions were lasting about 45 seconds and were happening every 9 minutes. It was 2 pm. And I was officially in active labor.
By 3:30 (ish) I was desperate to be in water. Our birthing tub hadn’t yet been set up so into the jacuzzi I went, butt naked, with my mom. By this point, my dad and another aunt had shown up. While talking in between contractions and relaxing during them, Brit had decided to call our midwife, Leslie, just to inform her that I was in labor (even though she had told us to only call her when my contractions were 4 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute). And sure enough, Leslie thanked us for calling but told us it was still soon. Right before Brit hung up, my contractions changed again. “Oh! Wait. Her contractions are 6 minutes apart now lasting over a minute,” Brit told Leslie.
Leslie asked where I was feeling my contractions. I felt everything in my lower back and was having tremendous rectal pressure. That was all it took. Leslie hung up her end of the line and drove like crazy to get to our home. When the phone call ended, we noticed the water in the hot tub became murky. My water had broken. It was time to move to another location to continue my labor. So into my parents bed I went. It wasn’t planned that way. But in the moment, all I wanted was to feel safe, and there is no place greater than my parents bed.
So my caravan of a team helped me out of the water, dried me off, and walked me upstairs. By this point our dear family friend and shiatsu massage therapist, Steve, and our photographer/videographer, Rebecca, had arrived. During our birthing classes, we had learned about back labor. My mom had it with all three of us kids and the best solution is counter pressure. When I had initially asked Steve to be apart of my birth team, he was more than willing and happy to be my counter pressure expert. And thank goodness for that. Between my back labor and rectal pressure, I needed every ounce of natural relief I could get. Steve’s job was to apply as much pressure as possible to my lower back, while my mom’s job was to make sure I stayed relaxed through deep breathing and guided imagery.
I labored on the bed. And on the toilet. And on a yoga ball. My contractions were on top of each other lasting 1 minute and 40 seconds. I threw up. I was freezing. I had started moaning, or what was later described to me as my birthing song. I was in transition. And still no midwife. I could feel it in my bones — I knew I was close.
By 7 pm, Leslie had shown up. She came right upstairs and began examining the baby’s heartbeat, my vitals, and eventually, checked to see how dilated I was. 9 centimeters. I was already at 9 centimeters. She asked me if I wanted to push. “YES!”
The birthing tub was set up in our living room. An appropriate room to bring more life into. Those in attendance? My wife. My parents. My in-laws. 3 of my aunts and 1 cousin. My midwife and her assistant. My photographer/videographer. My massage therapist. My cantor.
Knowing my contractions were happening so close to each other, I had to figure out the timing on moving from the bed upstairs to the birthing tub downstairs. I made it down and was in the water by 7:20. The water was warm. Brit held onto me with all her love and might. And my contractions finally started to shift to pushing contractions. They felt so good. I was finally able to do something … push! I kept changing my position in the tub to try and find my rhythm, but after 30 minutes, I didn’t feel like I was making any progress with getting the baby down and out. The water was too high and thus, gravity was working against me.
At around 8 pm, my mom suggested to me that I try laboring and pushing outside of the tub. At this point I wanted the baby out more than I wanted a water birth. So I went out of the tub and onto the couch. My team had propped me on my side with pillows and helping hands. My mom stroked my head and continued coaching me through my pushing while my dad held onto my mom. Brit held my right leg and right hand while showering me with love as her mom held her hand. One of my aunts held my left leg to give me something to push against. My cantor played guitar while I pushed and pushed and pushed. My midwife was in the end zone.
The room was dark and warm. The fire place was going. The twinkle lights were on. My family gathered around me and sang songs as our little girls headed began to bulge. My midwife coached me on how to push and when to push. Brit told me the head was out and encouraged me to reach down and touch her head. I did. It gave me the extra focus I needed. The next thing I hear are the shoulders are out. Everyone is encouraging me to reach down and pull my baby out. I did.
It was 8:46 pm on December 1st. And just like that our baby girl was born. On her due date. In the comfort and warmth of our home. Surrounded by family.
There she was, in all her glory. She was perfect. She laid on my body as I rubbed in her vernix while we waited for her umbilical cord to stop pulsing.
Thea Madison Quinn came into this world fast and furious. 7 pounds 9 ounces. 20.25 inches long. 10 fingers and 10 toes.