• Jessica Bower

{Birth Story} Birth Center to Hospital

Jason and I found out in September 2018 that we were going to be expecting our first baby. We were so excited and nervous all at the same time, which I’m sure most parents are. I really knew nothing about where to go or what the next steps would be in regards to our pregnancy journey so I followed instruction from my primary care physician to make an initial visit with an OB office within their network. I called and they wouldn’t see me until I was around 8 weeks (I couldn’t believe I had to wait another MONTH before I would be seen 🤣 totally normal now I know lol). So I scheduled my first appointment for my birthday. What better birthday gift could I get then really kickstarting our new journey as parents. We excitedly showed up for our first visit in the office. That excitement quickly turned into annoyance as we waited almost 45 minutes to be taken into a room. Someone came in and took my vitals and then we waited what seemed like forever again for the OB to come in. She was nice and did my initial exam and said everything looked ok and to make another appointment for 4 weeks out for my first ultrasound. She was in and out in about 10 minutes. I left this appointment feeling so alone, confused, and more anxious about becoming a mother than I was before I went. I felt like we waited and waited and then were rushed through the ABCs of having a baby. No connection and no real explanation of what to expect. I decided immediately after that appointment that I wanted more for mine and my baby’s care during my pregnancy.


I started researching other OB offices in the area and just happened to come across Magnolia’s website. I had never heard of a birthing center before, but was intrigued by their philosophies and practices so I decided to make an appointment to tour the facility and get some more information. As soon as Jason and I stepped into Magnolia I felt a sense of comfort and empowerment. I knew immediately that this is where I wanted to bring our baby into this world. So we started care with Tanya and Daniela and the family at Magnolia and I never stepped foot back into a traditional OB office for the remainder of my pregnancy. We took advantage of all the amazing classes offered through Magnolia and I had a textbook pregnancy so no need for any unnecessary tests or exams. Every time I walked in the building for an appointment I felt a level of compassion and unity that I had never felt in any other medical office I had ever been in. It was just more than I could have asked for or anticipated and I am so grateful for that experience.

With this being my first pregnancy, everyone told me not to be surprised if I went past my due date because that was completely normal. So me being me, I planned to work right up until my due date, which was May 27. I had my 38 week appointment on May 15. No sings of labor, just a few Braxton Hicks off and on but nothing else notable that would make me think I would be having our son anytime soon. I just knew I had at least 2-3 more weeks to go so it was still just sitting in the back of my mind. May 18th started off like any other day. I had a busy work day scheduled so I was just going on about my day trying to get finished on time. About 2:35pm I stepped out of my grooming van to take a dog back to its house when I felt a slight gush like I had peed myself. And every step I took after that I was leaking just a little bit more. I finished up with that client like nothing was happening and as soon as I got back to my car I called Jason and told him that I wasn’t 100% sure, but I thought my water had just broken. He was also at work so told me to call the on call number for Magnolia since it was a Saturday and just tell them what was going on. Daniela answered and asked if I was having any contractions, which I wasn’t at that point, so she said to rest and relax and just keep them updated if contractions start and if they hadn’t started by 8am the next morning to plan on meeting her first thing at the birthing center so they could do an exam and see what was happening. I updated Jason and told him to stay at work because it could be a while and I would see him when his coverage came in at 7pm. Anyone that knows me knows that I didn’t go straight home. Instead, I finished my work day since I wasn’t having contractions and labor hadn’t started and then I went home. I got home around 5pm and still no signs of contractions starting.


I decided to go ahead and shower to relax. I stayed in the shower until all of the hot water was gone because it felt really good to just sit there with the warm water running down my back. It was around 6pm when I got out of the shower. I wasn’t super hungry at this point, but thought I should eat something because that’s one thing they talked a lot about in our birthing class. Stay hydrated and eat to maintain your energy level. So I sit down to eat and I immediately started getting what felt like intense period cramps. At this point I was still a little bit in denial that I was in actual labor because, you know, everyone says you will be “in labor” forever with your first baby. I figured I would get a nice long night of sleep and just meet Daniela the next morning. I guess that relaxing shower was all my body and mind needed to start progressing because I went from having no contractions to timing these “cramps” that were coming anywhere from 5-12 minutes apart. I called Jason and told him he needed to go ahead and come home because it was starting to get pretty painful. I texted my doulas (Natural Baby Doulas) and told them what was going on and let Daniela know that contractions had started. She told me to take a nap and rest and let her know how things were progressing but to still plan on meeting her in the morning. Mind you, we thought we had a couple more weeks left before we would be at this point so we didn’t have ANYTHING packed. Jason got home and immediately started just throwing stuff into a bag, puts the carseat in the car and showers himself. It’s about 7pm by this point and my contractions were quickly getting painful enough that I couldn’t talk through them and Jason had to take over communication with Daniela (midwife) and Jessica (doula). I was sitting on my birthing ball leaning over the bed and now my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and I told Jason I was going to need Jessica to help me get some relief because I was in a lot of pain. She suggested I try to get in the warm bath to get some relief but that lasted all of 2 minutes before I was super uncomfortable and had to get out. Sitting at this point was very uncomfortable for me. We collectively decided that it was time for me to head to the birthing center.


I just want to say, that car ride was the longest 23 minutes of my life! Every contraction i had I was hanging from the handle on the door with my bottom hanging off the seat because it was so uncomfortable for me to sit normally. Jason and I were laughing in between contractions about what the other people driving by must be thinking is going on in our car! We got to Magnolia around 8:30pm and I was in a lot of pain and not managing well during my contractions. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was doing everything opposite what we learned in our birthing classes. Tanya (midwife), Jessica, and a few other staff arrived before us at the birthing center and as soon as we got inside they got my final weight check and did an exam to check my progress. Tanya said I was between 3-4cm at that point but I was at a +2 station so he was sitting very low in my pelvis which was why it was so uncomfortable for me to sit. I felt extremely defeated at this point though because I was only 3-4cm dilated and I knew I had so much longer to go. In between contractions I made my way down the hall to the birthing room and they wanted me to try to pee to relieve some pressure I was feeling. I couldn’t sit because it hurt so bad and all I remember is coming out of the bathroom during a contraction, leaning up against the bed post and screaming “I can’t do this!” and Jessica looked at me and said “You’re already doing it. Your body is made to do this. You need find your rhythm and let your body do what it knows to do.” After that I opened my eyes and just felt the relaxing atmosphere in the room and told myself that I am strong and I am capable and I can do this. I got onto the bed while they finished filling up the tub and every contraction I just really focused on relaxing my body and not tensing up because that was causing the contractions to be so much more painful. At some point while I was laying there I just checked out mentally from everything going on around me for a very long time. The next few hours in my head seemed like 10 minutes. I remember moving to the tub when it was ready, but I’m pretty sure I never opened my eyes. Once I got into the water I was able to really relax. I wasn’t talking, I wasn’t making any kind of noises, and I felt like my eyelids were so heavy that I didn’t even want to put forth an effort to open them. I think I was falling asleep in between contractions I was so much in my zone. I went from 4cm to 9cm in about an hour and a half after I got in the tub. I had found my groove and it was working! Jason and Jessica were sitting just outside the tub with cool rags that felt amazing and ice water that I refused to drink because it made me feel like I was going to throw up if I drank it. They probably felt like they weren’t doing anything but just their silent presence was all I needed to stay focused and relaxed.

There was one particular contraction that I remember being very different from the rest. It was like a switch flipped inside me and I felt an uncontrollable urge to push. Jessica noticed right away and grabbed Tanya. She checked and I was fully dilated. They let me push without any coaching and just let me do what felt natural. I’m not sure how long I had been pushing but during a contraction Tanya told me that during my next break I needed to get out of the tub and move back to the bed so that I could get into a different position because baby’s heart rate was dropping while I was pushing and they needed to get him to move around a little bit. This was around midnight and I quickly became more alert and aware but I was still able to remain calm because of the presence around me. I remember lots of heartbeat checks and probably about 30minutes later Tanya telling Jason to go pull the car around because we were going to have to transfer to Women’s because every time I pushed Oliver’s heart rate dropped below what they wanted it to be and in case he needed some extra care after he was born with breathing he would have it there. I was freaking out. Was something major wrong? Was my baby going to be ok? Tanya never left my side during our transfer. Her voice stayed calm and reassuring. She wanted me to stop pushing until we could get to the hospital which was literally the hardest thing I have ever had to do. She sat in the backseat with me continuously monitoring Oliver’s heart rate and when we pulled up to Women’s everything there was already taken care of all I had to do was sign an admittance paper and get to my room. They hooked me up to a fetal monitor and I got into a position that was comfortable and my whole birthing team was back by my side and they assured me everything was fine, it was just for precautions.

A couple of hours of pushing later, at 2:21am on Sunday May 19, 2019, a healthy, crying baby boy arrived safe and sound. Oliver didn’t end up needing any extra oxygen support after he was born, but I am so thankful that Tanya and the rest of the staff from Magnolia were so attentive and aware and were one step ahead if any issues came about. I didn’t get the delivery that I had dreamed about during my whole pregnancy, but I got a safe and healthy baby and in the end that is all that matters! I can say without a doubt being able to labor at Magnolia was such a surreal experience and I would do it again and again and again if I had the chance. Just, hopefully, without the hospital transfer next time! There was something in the atmosphere in that room that took away all of my anxiety, doubt, and pain. Jessica and Jason can attest that I was in a totally different world for most of that night because I was able to disconnect from the pain I was feeling and focused on the end result: holding my baby in my arms. I can’t thank everyone that was there that night enough! I can only hope and pray that Magnolia will be around if we decide to have another baby in the future. Women deserve a choice on where and how they want to bring their children into the world and what better place than Magnolia Birth Center❤️


Natural Baby Doulas supports families prior to and through the birth process in hospitals, birth centers, and home births located in Greensboro, High Point, Winston Salem, Burlington, Chapel Hill, & Statesville, NC. Contact us at 336-267-5879 or contact@naturalbabydoulas.com 

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