Johnathan | Birth Story

As told by Grace:

On January 10th early in the morning; I was in bed trying my best to sleep in between the contractions that were light but enough to wake me every 5 minutes. I had been having contractions at night every night since the previous Saturday. I knew we were getting closer to go time as the mucus and bloody show started to pick up. I also knew Shawna and Chris were at another birth. At 3am Shawna texted to tell me she was on her way home from the other birth. I told her maybe she should come check me just to make sure. The contractions were still light but sticking around when I got up, which was new.

Shawna checked me and we couldn’t really tell what was up from the exam. I was 3 at the base of my cervix but 1 at the top.  Shawna left to go get some sleep and I tried to lay back down as well. The contractions were stronger when I was in bed and with one of the contractions I felt my cervix pop. I knew what it was because I had experienced it with my last labor as well. The next contraction my water broke. It was about 5am. I woke my husband and he jumped into action immediately. I don’t think things become real for him until there is tangible evidence and there was plenty this time. It was comical how much fluid there was, I stood next to the bed for a good 4 minutes while fluid just poured from me. There was nothing we could do but stand there and laugh.

The next contraction got him back into action mode but it consisted of all sorts of questions; “What do you want me to do? Do you want the kids to go to school? Do you want the pool blown up.” I couldn’t process everything at once. So I started delegating. Call my sister she can deal with the kids. Get Katie (our 12 year old) to blow up the pool. Get more towels to clean up the mess. I text Shawna and Ellie to tell them my water broke. Ellie (my doula) was already on her way as I had told her I would feel better if she came and was closer after my check with Shawna. I told Shawna I would keep her posted. Though a few minutes later as the contraction got harder I told her she should come sleep on my couch.

By the time everyone got here, I had pretty much had cornered myself in the bathroom. As soon as Ellie got there she jumped into action, squeezing hips, putting a cold water bottle on my back and so forth. As soon as Shawna got there she checked on baby and started setting up. Brandon was busy helping everyone set up and fill the pool. Things seemed to be really rolling so I got in the tub. My little doula Evi sat in front of me on the ball and held my hands, my head, my puke bowl anything I asked. I had talked with her about not asking certain questions and we had made a wall of affirmations that she was aloud to say while I was in labor. She was so sweet she took the affirmations and starting coming up with her own. My favorite one was when she would say “Breathe, now inhale and exhale.” Benson was also very active in trying to help. He and Ellie poured water on my back. After a time we realized that the contractions were slowing down. I suspect the midwives thought it was because of all the people in the room. They told me they wanted me to walk then get back in the pool. At that point I looked at Brandon and was like you have to help me. So from that point forth he stayed with me. 

That was the last time I remember looking at a clock. I walked around the dining room table a few times and went back to my corner of the bathroom for a bit my phone was on the sink and I think out of habit I hit the button on it. There was a text from Nannette telling me she was praying for me. It was such a comfort to know she was with me too. (I suspect she was stalking my chart as well)

I hoped back in the tub. I enjoyed relaxing in the tub in between contractions. Even falling asleep in between. However the contractions were spacing out even further. I got out and tried to go to the bathroom and sit on the ball. When I sat on the ball I immediately knew it was wrong. Something hurt a lot in the front, it sent me into a panic, I puked I tried to go to the bathroom. I hoped back in the tub. Shawna and Chris asked what I wanted to do. I said lets check and see where he is. Chris checked and said i was 6-7 and 0 station but baby was OT and not flexed well. I knew what that meant, Spinning babies time. I stood on my head, had my belly rebozoed and did the side lying release. The plan was for me to lie in bed and rest for a while but when I stood up I felt the shift, the pain in the front was gone and we were really cooking with contractions. 

I remember saying a cuss word and holding onto the dresser. Then saying screw it I’m getting back in the tub. My husband got in front of me and we worked together through transition. Then that contraction came, the one I had been dreading, the one that meant I was bearing down. It came and went and the midwives heard it and told everyone to come into the room. I had promised myself I wasn’t going to push to soon this time. Another two contractions passed and the feeling wasn’t there. I was grateful, I knew it would be soon and I gave myself a pep talk. I knew it would be over in about 20 minutes and I would see this baby and the hard parts were already behind me. Then the pushing urge came with each contraction. I said cuss words and whaled through pushing which scared our youngest but I was able to stop in between and let him know I was ok. We told him he could wait to come in when we could see the baby and he took the chance to take a break.

While I was pushing I had the thought of all the women I had helped with miscarriages and stillbirths. I knew any one of them would change places with me in a heartbeat and I turned my heart towards gratitude for this opportunity to birth where I wanted and on my terms. Surrounded by the love of my family and my Sister Midwives.  Chris was listening to baby and I was pushing kneeling. His heart rate started to dip and while this is common I knew It was getting to a point where I needed to change positions. I did my best to stay out of my midwife head and let my midwives be the midwives. Chris said one more push like this and if the baby wasn’t crowning I would need to move. So that’s what we did, I rolled over and required a lot of assistance for pushing effectively. My back hurt more so my doula handed my hand to my sister and took on squeezing my hips from behind. My husband and sister held a hand and under my legs so I could curl around the baby. There reached a point where I got relief in my back and I remember thinking “O good it’s not as bad as last time.” I felt Baby's head descending and crowning. I heard the midwives tell me to slow down but all I could say was “Shoulders!” I could feel that the baby’s shoulders were big and needed promptly pushed through the pelvis. At the point where they could see the baby the midwives told Evelyn, our 9 year old, it was time to get in and catch. It surprised me to hear her hesitate she had been looking forward to catching a baby for weeks! Then I looked up and she was getting in. I was so proud of her for being brave. I am a loud birther, I have no shame in it. I have small babies and a small pelvis so it takes work to get them out. The next thing I know Evi and Shawna are handing me a slippery wide eyed baby. He was looking around taking the light in but wasn’t taking his first breath. His heart rate was fine but after a minute my midwife brain took over and I gave him two rescue breaths and then Shawna took him and gave him 3 breaths. He finally gave a little cry and began to breath on his own.

Everyone had been waiting patiently to find out what the baby was. Shawna flipped his little butt in the air so Benson, our 7 year old, could announce. He had his heart set on a girl so when he saw his brother’s balls his face totally read, girls aren’t supposed to have those. Evelyn said, “He’s so cute I don’t care that he’s a boy”. It took Benson a few minutes but he likes his brother too. I remember looking at Katie, our 12 year old,  from the pool and asking what she thought. She was pretty speechless at that point which never happens so I knew she was still processing. Dylan, our 15 year old, came in after baby was out and I was situated on the bed to inspect his new baby brother. 

The placenta delivered and while the kids were totally grossed out they also found it cool. Benson especially. It was Evelyn’s turn to cut the sibling’s cord. It’s an ongoing joke that they have given each other their belly buttons. Evi wasn’t sure she wanted to when the time came so we did it together. We worked on nursing he latched for a little while but couldn’t hold onto it, so we cuddled. Brandon came back in the room and asked if we could name him Johnathan George. I knew we would name him Johnathan but we had never discussed George. I knew almost instantly that I liked it. The next thing I know my dad is in the room crying over the name. Apparently he had an uncle George and had a touching story to go with it. 

Johnathan was weighed and checked over. 6lbs 13.oz and 20 ½ inches long. His chest was bigger than his head, which I already knew. He is our biggest baby. 

He has been here almost 2 weeks and overall he is a very chill baby. He never gets put down because there is always someone wanting to hold him. He will be the spoiled baby and that’s ok. I am enjoying nursing and having a cuddly baby again. I am so thankful for all the people who have taken care of me and our family during and after his birth.

Bergen Howlett