Friday, July 17, 2009

Virginia's Birth Story: Part Two

Click here to read "part one" of Mary's story

by Mary Kury

Two weeks later my entire family, sisters included, were in town. It was the night before Father's Day and everyone was eating hamburgers and hot dogs and talking about the trip to North Carolina planned for the next morning after church. I could only eat about half my hamburger, and was too tired to join in on the festivities, so Todd and I went home. I felt different. I was only 38 weeks a few days, but I knew something was happening. We went to bed.

At 2am I was awoken by a tentative contraction. I had to wait another few minutes to figure out what had just happened and then experienced another one. I got up and went to the bathroom and then returned to bed, not waking Todd, and trying not to get excited. I had learned in my class that too much adrenaline would stall or stop labor completely. I had also learned to sleep when I could. So, I lied back down and fell back asleep. At 4am, another stronger contraction disturbed my slumber. I woke up, again went to the bathroom, and a tree in the backyard caught my attention from the bathroom window. It was brilliantly lit like a Christmas tree, twinkling in the barely perceptible morning dawn... full of fireflies. I had to wake Todd to show him such a beautiful sight. He stirred, looked out the window, said it was nice and fell back asleep. I shook him again, and said, “And Honey? I think I'm in labor. I just wanted to let you know.” He shot straight up out of bed and started sweating. “Really? I mean, really in labor?!?” I told him that I thought so, but that we should conserve our energy and go back to sleep. We did until a little after 8am. I woke up frantically trying to find my camera and after a few moments realized that it was at our old house, which we had not finished packing up, all the way on the opposite side of town. It was a good 25 minute drive there and back, plus the time needed to find it. I asked Todd to go ahead and go, and I would hang out here and deal with the contractions. With a little bit of an argument, he agreed, got in his truck and left. I was alone to absorb the realization that I would most likely have a baby by the day's end.

Todd returned home around 10am, and by then my contractions were following a regular pattern. They were approximately 45 seconds long and about 8 minutes apart. Over the hour, they got longer and stronger, but no closer together. We decided to call Linda and let her know that this was it. We would need her soon. She arrived a little after noon, and her co-midwife, Amy, got there with lunch a little after 1pm. My contractions were much closer together and I was really working with them, concentrating on my breathing and relaxing, and experiencing one of the active labor emotional signs- seriousness. I could no longer speak in complete sentences between contractions, only one word grunts here and there, letting them all know what I needed. I switched into a nightgown and underwear. I walked in between contractions and got into an overstuffed chair on my knees with my head resting on the back of it during the contractions. And finally I decided that I needed to lie down. As soon as I was on my side, the intensity of the discomfort was overwhelming and I was having trouble dealing with it. Linda suggested that I go and sit on the toilet and see if the upright position would help. I did, and it helped tremendously. Over the next three hours, I labored quietly there... sometimes moaning softly with the contraction, sometimes visualizing through it, sometimes fading softly away into a dream-like trance. I leaned into Todd's lap- he had pulled a stool in front of the toilet and he tenderly rubbed my back and shoulders, head and hands. Linda and Amy stayed in the main room of the house and left us to labor on our own, proclaiming that we were “laboring beautifully together.” It gave us confidence to know that we were doing well together, working hard and smoothly toward this new goal.

A new phase of the labor hit as waves upon waves of nausea forced me to lose the entirety of my stomach's contents. I remember Amy taking away the trash can, and then bringing it back. I thought, “Ugh, the smell is going to make me vomit again.” So I prepared myself and went ahead and took a nice, deep breath with my face in the can. I was overwhelmed with the soothing scent of peppermint. Amy has thoughtfully and lovingly put some peppermint oil in it to help with the nausea and it worked. I didn't get sick again. Linda suggested that we move to the shower and I just couldn't bring myself to move. It was too hard and I was so uncomfortable that I couldn't imagine trying to stand up. I wanted to give up. I remember saying, “I can't do this anymore. I just can't!” And Linda kneeled down in front of me and said, “But you are doing it. You're doing wonderfully!” I closed my eyes and was reminded of a story from the Bible. God told Sarah and Abraham that they would have a child- and Sarah laughed because she was 90 years old. Nine months later, Isaac was born. What is nonchalantly skipped over was that Sarah had to give birth to this baby. I told myself, “If Sarah, at 90, could give birth to her baby, I can too. I'm only 28.”

Shortly, the peaks of the contractions turned into little grunts. I hardly even noticed the change, but what I did notice was that all of the sudden Linda and Amy were moving light lightning around my bedroom. I was still on the toilet and looked questioningly at Todd. He just told me that I was doing great. And with the next contraction, I said, “I think I feel like I need to push.” Linda told me to listen to my body and do what it was telling me to do. I pushed a little, but then backed off because of an intense pain somewhere in the depths of my body. Linda checked me and explained that I had a cervical lip, a little bit of cervix had not dilated. We moved to the bed and she and Amy and Todd helped me to perform a “rotisserie”. I layed on my right side for two contractions, then got on all fours for two, then went to my left side for two, and finally on my back for two. It took about thirty minutes and each contraction was telling me to push, but instead I breathed through them. Those working together helped resolve the lip and I was cleared to push.

They brought out the birth stool and placed blue and white chux pads on it and underneath. I squatted down on the stool and was relieved to finally push confidently. Each contraction felt as if I needed to have a bowel movement, but I remembered from class that it was only the Ferguson Reflex, and I would probably not actually go to the bathroom then. I remember as Linda sat on the floor in front of me, and said, “Your bag of water is still intact and is bulging. Do you mind if I shield myself in the event that it breaks?” I told her that I didn't mind and she covered herself with a pad just in time to prevent herself from being soaked in amniotic fluid. With the next push the baby's head was visible. “Reach down at feel your baby's head.” Expecting to feel more, I was mildly disappointed to have to spread my labia in order to touch the baby's head. But it gave me a renewed drive. I was actually pushing out a baby!! Two more pushes resulted in the baby's head crowning. I was prepared for the burning and tingling sensation and took a few deep breaths to allow my perineum to stretch instead of tear. And then, remembering what my Bradley teacher had told me, I finally pushed through the pain, and birthed my daughter's head. With the next contraction, her body separated from mine and I was holding this new person that I had grown with vigilance inside me for nine months. I was overwhelmed with love for this tiny child whose name we had not decided upon. I just called her “Baby.” And for the next few hours I cooed to her as I nursed her, still not believing that she was mine... all mine. At the end of this experience I found that I had a new understanding of my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I knew how much I loved this baby- something that I had never experienced before, and I knew that He loved me more. Finally, an honest understanding of grace and mercy!! It was truly a magnificent day. And what a Happy Father's Day it was!

Molly's Note: That was worth waiting for, don't you think? If you haven't already, make sure you check out Mary's Website and Blog, Upstate Natural Birth. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Mary!


  1. Wonderful ending, and commentary! Thanks so much for sharing your story, Mary.

  2. Thanks, Mindy! I just realized how rough we look in that picture... and gaining 50 lbs in 9 months doesn't look pretty on anyone!! :) It was a super special time!

  3. Lovely story..had me all teary-eyed!

  4. I found your beautiful birth story via google alerts. Thank you for sharing (and in such detail--I love those stories the most!) Got teary reading this.

    I am a fellow Bradley student (turning teacher) and home birther. I love your beautiful story!