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  • Jenna Avent (Doula Client)

{Birth Story} A Story of Determination & Support

I felt my first contraction around 5 o’clock Tuesday morning, the day before our due date. I could tell this one was different from the Braxton-Hicks contractions I’d been having for the past few weeks. After going back to sleep, I got up at 7am and got ready for work as usual. Contractions were about 20 minutes apart at that point, but they weren’t very intense. Just about every day since we hit 37 weeks, MJ would tell the baby, “You can come out any day now.” and I would say, “It’s not gonna happen today.” But this felt different, and I told him that morning I didn’t feel confident that it wouldn’t happen that day.

Even though I felt like this could be it, I knew that there was still time for the contractions to stop. So I put my parents and my best friend, Parker, who were all planning to be at the birth, on warning but told them not to do anything just yet. We also text the doulas to let them know what was happening. I went to work and stayed there until around 3pm, when I headed home because my contractions were about 5 minutes apart and increasing in intensity. We already had an appointment scheduled with Tanya, our midwife, so we went to that at 4:30pm. She checked my cervix and let us know that I was 100% effaced, 4.5 centimeters dilated, and baby was at 0 station. This is happening!

Tanya told us to go home to eat and rest as much as possible. So we called my parents and Parker to let them all know that I was in labor and to start heading to Greensboro soon, and we updated the doulas. Once we were home, I ate, took a shower, and laid down to try to nap between contractions. I’d read so many birth stories where women talked about napping between contractions, and it is not as easy as they make it seem. No matter how much I tried to relax, I just couldn’t fall asleep.

Our Doula, Christina, came to the house to assist us in the early stages of labor. I was having some pain in my lower back during contractions so Christina set me up with the TENS unit, which helped a lot. I alternated between laying down to rest and walking circles around the house holding my belly up with Christina’s rebozo while MJ played us songs on the ukulele and guitar. Nova, our pup, was by my side walking with me the whole time. I don't think she really understood what was happening, but she seemed to enjoy keeping me company.

Around 9pm my contractions were getting closer together at about 2-3 minutes apart, and we reached out to Tanya to see when we should head to Magnolia Birth Center. She told us to meet her there at 11pm, which seemed so far away! I was ready to get things going, and I knew I’d be ready for the birthing tub when we finally got there so Christina headed out early to setup the birthing tub. MJ and I started getting the final things together so we were ready to go when it was time.

Getting to the birth center was such a relief! We arrived at the same time as my mom and Parker so our birth team was all present. I was able to get into the tub right away, which felt amazing, especially after the discomfort of being in the car. The water really took the weight off my pelvis and allowed me to relax. MJ and I began to try out some of the laboring positions we’d learned in the Bradley Method class with Sarah. My favorite at this point was holding onto him as I leaned over the side of the tub with my legs in a frog-like position. I was able to put all my upper body weight onto MJ while Christina massaged and applied pressure to my lower back during contractions. After a while I decided it was time to take a break from the tub to use the bathroom and stretch my legs. We’d heard from several people that most women found the toilet a comfortable place to be, so I was really surprised at how much I hated it. I continued to labor by walking around the birth center, laying down to rest, and getting in the tub on rotation for a while.

Sometime during the night Tanya checked my cervix and discovered that I was 8 centimeters dilated and Orin was still at 0 station. We were very encouraged! 8 centimeters was good progress! However, we still needed Orin to move down more, so Christina recommended I try some new positions to help get him to move. After several more hours of laboring, everyone was getting tired so the birth team began to take naps in shifts. Parker walked with me around the birth center while MJ and Christina rested. After walking for a while, I laid down to rest between contractions. I knew I’d need to keep my energy up for the pushing stage. MJ took over massaging my back while Parker went down for a nap, and Christina helped me snack on some yogurt I’d brought with me. My mother never could nap no matter how many times I told her I’d wake her up if anything happened.

By 9am, we still hadn’t seen any progress and my water hadn’t broken yet so Tanya suggested she should break my water to get things moving. I was a little nervous at first because we’d previously decided we wanted to let my water break naturally, but I was getting pretty tired and wanted to try to speed things up a little. After the bag of waters was broken, the contractions definitely got more intense. MJ was constantly encouraging me to keep breathing, drink water, and stay focused and relaxed. We tried more positions to help get Orin to move down, and I spent most of the time in the pool because the warm water really helped with the pain of the contractions. Unfortunately, he just didn’t want to move down. Apparently he was comfortable! Parker went out to get us some food from Biscuitville, and I managed to eat some bacon, eggs, and grits. I didn’t really want to eat any of it, but I knew I’d need my strength if I was going to push this baby out.

After all that we continued to labor in and out of the tub, trying different positions suggested by Christina and Tanya to help Orin move down. I’d read about women suddenly feeling the urge to push once it was time so I was paying close attention to what my body was telling me. I really wanted to feel that urge! After a few more hours with no urge to push I began to feel discouraged at the lack of progress. I didn’t think Orin was ever going to move down, and I started to feel like the transition stage of labor was never going to end. I told MJ that I just couldn’t do it anymore, and he and Christina replied with, “That’s good!” and, “You know what that means. We’re getting close!” We’d learned in the Bradley class that feeling like it was never going to end and like you wouldn’t be able to do it are classic signs of being close to the pushing stage, but that meant nothing to me in the moment. All I could think was that MJ and Christina were liars, and I’d been close to pushing for too long so it just wasn’t going to happen for me.

Getting baby down

Throughout the night and morning I drank as much water as I could, but I was still getting dehydrated. Our midwives suggested we start an IV to get fluids in me and drinking cohosh to help increase the intensity of my contractions. They were concerned about my blood pressure rising due to being dehydrated. Our other options were to: a) go to the hospital to get an epidural or gas therapy so I could rest or b) to do nothing and see where things went. It was a really hard decision, and for the first time, I considered going to the hospital. When they said my contractions needed to be stronger to push Orin down, I thought they were crazy. I just didn’t think I would be able to keep going with stronger contractions. Deep down I really did not want to go to the hospital, but I didn’t know how much longer I could go without rest. With a lot of support and encouragement from MJ, Christina, my mom, and Parker, I decided to get the IV and take the cohosh so we could stay at the birth center.

Labor in the tub

The IV was put in and I drank the cohosh around 11:45 am, and it didn’t take long to begin to work. My contractions became extremely strong, and I finally I began to feel the urge to push! At first I didn’t like pushing at all. It was very painful pushing in the bed so I decided it was time to get back into the tub. After a few contractions in the tub I found my rhythm and began to really enjoy pushing. I was finally making progress! I could feel the burning sensation that told me Orin would be here soon. After about 30 minutes, I was pushing in a squat with MJ holding me up and I felt something come out. I asked, “What was that?!” and Christina said “It’s a head!” Everything got really hectic after that. I was told to keep pushing so I pushed one more time during that contraction and the rest of his body came right out. Orin was born at 12:52 pm on his due date!!


Tanya picked him up out of the water and handed him to me so I could hold him on my chest. I immediately began to cry because I was so happy to have him in my arms. I couldn’t believe he was finally here and it was all over! MJ, who was also in tears, came over and hugged us both. Everyone was so excited. After waiting for the pulsing to stop, MJ cut the umbilical cord and then held Orin to his chest while I delivered the placenta and was tended to by Tanya. Within minutes of holding Orin, he pooped and peed on MJ, giving him an excellent welcome to fatherhood. After everyone was cleaned up, the three of us sat in bed together as Orin had his first lesson in eating. Everything was absolutely perfect.

Dad and baby

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