Enjoy the below letter from second-time mama, Sarah, as she details her inspiring water birth at Hudson Hospital. It’s full of honesty, humor and plenty of loving, hard work!
Welcome, Baby Connor, and congratulations to you, Sarah!
Alisa, Sarah & the women of Blooma
Dear Sarah and Blooma Mamas,
I love, love, love my son’s birth story. His story begins with my first son’s birth.
We had an out-of-hospital birth with our first son, which I loved for so many reasons. Unfortunately, after what appeared to be a very normal labor and delivery, we transferred to a hospital due to extremely low sodium levels. We had a frustrating hospital experience, and my beautiful, natural birth ended up being more of a medical ordeal than it needed to be. But the most disappointing part of the experience is that I was not truly present for my son’s birth due to the sodium issues. I remember him being placed on my chest, but I don’t remember the sensation of pushing him out. And by the time we arrived at the hospital (after the birth), I thought I was there for a C-section.
When we began planning for another child, we were undecided on where to birth. I initially wanted to birth at home because I was still very angry from our hospital experience, but my husband, Mike, wanted to be someplace where my sodium levels could be closely monitored. Fortunately, we met a great doctor at Hudson Hospital who shared our views on birth, and he helped us have a great “midwife” hospital experience.
I had a wonderful pregnancy with baby #2 (or 2.0 as I liked to call him) and felt that I would never be ready to give up the belly kicks and gorgeous big belly. That, of course, all changed at the beginning of week 39. All of a sudden, that Sunday I wanted the baby out immediately! But my feelings quickly changed again by Tuesday when I came down with a stomach bug, which included a fever and chills. I was miserable and did not see how I would have the strength to birth my baby. But I kept reassuring myself that the baby would wait until I was healthy again.
By Thursday, I was feeling normal again and was confident that I could handle my baby’s arrival. Indeed, now I wanted labor to start right away! My mom (who lives in the Chicago area) was in town for business, and she was scheduled to fly home the next afternoon (Friday, Jan. 20).
While my mother was able to perfectly time a work trip to be at my first son’s birth (my labor started about 12 hours after she arrived!), I was less confident that the timing would work out again given the small window I had to get things started. Further, my baby was not “due” until Jan. 21. So I did what many expectant mothers do – I called upon the birthing goddesses via Facebook!
At 3:23 p.m. on January 19, I posted, “Dear 2.0, If you would like Grandma to greet you as you are being born (and trust me, you do), please start labor before 1 p.m. on Friday so that she can change her flight. No pressure or anything. Love, Mom.”
The next morning, I woke up around 3 a.m. and for some reason felt compelled to read all the birthing class materials from my first pregnancy. I had a snack and then went back to bed around 4 a.m.
At 6 a.m. I woke again, but this time with bloody show and very mild cramps. Yay for Facebook! Because this was exactly how labor began with my first son, I was sure that the baby was arriving that day.
I sent a text message to our doula and then showered and got ready to take my son to daycare and to go to my 8 a.m. weekly doctor appointment. As I continued moving around, it became apparent that the mild cramps were contractions. But they were not painful, and I easily ignored them.
At first, Mike and I agreed that he would go to work. The more I moved, however, the more nervous I became about driving alone. With our first son, my body transitioned from mild cramping to active labor in a very short amount of time, and I was worried that this would happen again. Also, after a very mild and dry winter, it was finally snowing and the roads were getting worse by the minute.
I eventually asked Mike to take our son to daycare and drive me to my appointment. I then sent my mom a text, telling her that “things” were starting, but that I did not think the baby would arrive before her business meeting finished that morning.
At 6:55 a.m., I called the Birth Center to ask if I could skip my 8 a.m. appointment because I was sure I would be there later that day and wanted to avoid multiple trips in the snow. The nurse advised me to come in anyway, which greatly annoyed me at the time. We packed our bags and set off for Hudson. The drive took us about 40 minutes, during which time I had only 4 contractions.
At my appointment, the contractions became increasingly close together, but they were still very short and were not yet uncomfortable. Our doctor agreed that I could go home (thinking he would probably see us again by dinner time). But as soon as I started walking back to the car, the contractions picked up to the point where I needed to stop and concentrate on breathing through them. Instead of going home, I suggested a trip to the nearby Target to buy snacks.
At 8:55 a.m., I called our doula to let her know that we were at Target but that I was not sure that we needed her to come to Hudson yet. I was clearly in denial of what was happening because the contractions only got worse after we got off the phone. They quickly became very powerful and were coming right on top of each other, causing me to moan loudly and brace myself against Mike or the cart as we continued shopping. The other customers gave us a lot of strange looks, and one even asked Mike if I was okay. (Yes, just in labor!)
At 9:11 a.m., I sent our doula a text, “We’ll probably head back to the hospital. Not going back to Mpls.” She immediately responded that she would drop off her kids and be on her way. At 9:13 a.m., I sent my mom a text, “Come to Hudson after your meeting.”
We finished shopping and drove back to the hospital around 9:30 a.m. Labor moved very quickly after that. By the time I got to my room, the baby was bearing down and I was not getting any breaks between contractions.
The nurses immediately started filling the tub. They were absolutely wonderful, telling me how great I was doing after every contraction and putting the right amount of pressure on my lower back. I concentrated on keeping my jaw open and relaxed and trying not to hold back the baby as he descended. But truthfully, it was really intense, and I kept thinking how glad I was that we were not going to have any more kids.
After almost an hour of laboring at the hospital, the tub was ready. The nurses wanted me to sit on the toilet for two contractions before getting in the tub, but the baby was pushing down so hard that I only made it through one. Nevertheless, I was irrationally worried that it was too soon to get in the tub. One of the nurses sort of laughed, informing me that I was at 8 centimeters. That was enough for me to happily hop in the tub.
At 10:34 a.m., Mike sent another update to our doula (who was slowly making her way through the snowy roads), “Sarah is in the tub and is at 8 cm.” She replied, “OMG, on 94…”
The birthing tub at Hudson was awesome. It seemed made for my body and this labor. While the contractions remained strong, I was finally able to relax between contractions.
Mike’s mom and our doula arrived soon after I got in the tub, and I loved the sensation of them pouring water on my lower back.
After about an hour in the tub, the nurses suggested changing positions. I sat back, bracing my arms on Mike’s legs. Out loud I coached myself to “Open!” and encouragingly told my baby, “Baby, you can do it!” I even became a little teary-eyed because I knew I was about to meet my baby. At one point, I saw my baby pushing his foot against my belly, and I excitedly pointed it out to the others in the room.
Not long after sitting back I began pushing. After one of my pushes, I could feel the baby’s head crowning, and I reached down to feel. Sure enough, there was his hair.
He slipped back inside, and I waited for the next contraction to push again. This time, I pushed all the way through and felt the “ring of fire” followed by two popping sensations (his head, followed by the rest of his body).
Connor was born in the water at 11:55 a.m. I immediately pulled him on my chest and discovered that my baby was a boy! I was completely overwhelmed with happiness and a sense of accomplishment both for him and me. I have never felt so incredible.
A few moments later, my mom called, having just left her meeting (the birthing goddesses acted a little too quickly for her to get to the hospital before Connor’s birth). She heard his first cry over the phone and was at the hospital about 30 minutes later.
I feel so lucky to have had the birth experience that I wanted in such a supportive environment. Certainly, it was hard and a lot of work, but it was amazing to be so present in the moment and feel every physical and emotional sensation of the experience. It was perfect.
Lots of love,