Birth Story: Finn

I love reading birth stories, so I thought I'd post both of mine and then convince some other people to let me post their stories. Here's my first: Finn, born May 13th, 2008. I wrote this a month or two after he was born.

Giving birth is like an initiation, really. One day, I was an average pregnant woman: uncomfortable, belly stretched to unimaginable proportions, a waddling walk-- wondering day after day "when is this all going to go down?"

And then it happens. For me, there was no question. This is labor. I awoke just past midnight to the cramping that occurred in intervals of about 10 -20 minutes. I had just finished work that afternoon and given a final presentation that night. I turned on my ipod and relaxed in the dark on my bed listening to the calming Hypnobirth tracks. Time passed quickly as I practiced breathing and listened to the birthing affirmations over and over again.

I wanted to wake up Jason because I was so excited, but I decided to let him rest for a while. I held out for an hour or two until I saw him stir in his sleep. I'm in labor, honey. He didn't seem to think it was for real. After a couple of hours and some convincing, Jason started to pack. We called the midwife--Jude-- who said that I should try to eat something. I considered the peanut butter and toast in front of me, but couldn't do it. My contractions were four minutes apart and she said if I couldn't eat then it was probably time to head to the birth center. It was 5:30 a.m.

The early morning darkness was strange at the large house that was converted into Best Start Birth Center. It was empty and quiet like an abandoned office. I was 6 cm dilated when we arrived and 8 cm soon after. I climbed into the warm tub and Jason turned on music. Billie Holiday, St. Germain. It felt good to be in the water. I thought that I would have the baby soon and right there in the jacuzzi style tub. I felt confident and calm-- I got this-- no problem.

But the baby had other plans. He was anterior and I was feeling the contractions intensely in my back. I remembered that a friend told me to have someone apply counter pressure-- so Jason pushed on my lower back with two tennis balls during the contractions. I kept my breath slow and deep.

Labor takes you into such an altered state. I remember the other people (the nurse, midwife, nurse assistants) making cameos in my solo universe. Jason was next to me, whispering words of encouragement every so often. I remember thinking that he was so sweet and that he must be tired. Jude kept checking the baby's heart rate. Sandra and Deborah were nurses training to be birth assistants and Ruth was the main nurse. Sometimes their cell phones would ring and they would chat. I wanted them to be quiet, but then I didn't seem to care too much.
Add caption

No one tells you just how painful the whole thing is. I was shocked to be vomiting. Jude said that it was normal and that I was probably in 'transition'. Hours had passed and I hadn't dilated much further than 8.5 cm. Whenever Jude checked me she talked about how the 'lip' of the cervix was caught (or something like that) and that I needed to dilate a little further. Maybe he wasn't progressing because he wanted to flip over?

Jude broke my water, which in retrospect, I should have refused. Maybe the water sac would've helped Finn turn and get out easier.

I got out of the tub and onto all fours on the bed. I focused on getting the baby to turn around. I waited for the 'urge to push' that they talked about, but I never had it. I thought that I was going to 'breathe the baby down'. That's what the Hypnobirthing classes talked about. Jude seemed skeptical that it would work. I had no clue. I just wanted it to happen...soon. Jude did too. She mentioned that I might need to transfer to the hospital if things didn't start to progress soon.

I was in the tub again when she said this and for the first time I started to get scared and stressed. I can't go to the hospital. There's no way I'm getting into a car! This baby will be born here in this room.
My focus faded. What if I can't do this? I could feel myself clenching with the contractions and wondered if I was keeping myself from getting the urge to push. You're doing everything right. That was Ruth--this made me feel better. The contractions were getting so close together there didn't seem to be a break between them. The intensity increased as well. I tried to envision my cervix softening and opening. Let go. Release. Allow it to happen.

Enter: Roberta (another midwife). She persuaded me to get up on the bed, stuck her hand up inside me and looked at me with a calming, confident smile. She has long, silver hair and looks like a midwife. "Your baby is right there, Colleen. You're going to push him out now." She seemed so sure that I could do it. And she showed me how. I believed it. Okay, I can do this.

Jason and all of those women helped me to do it. Dulce-- the woman that I talked to at the front desk for each of my prenatal visits even came in to help. She rolled up a sheet and I pulled on it for resistance. The other two nurses held my legs. Jason sat behind me. When they showed me what to do and I tried it,  I couldn't believe it was what I actually had to do. I thought my uterus would burst out of my abdomen. (Remember, I still didn't have the urge to push-- I was forcing it here). Labor had been so quiet and serene until now. I screamed. I didn't want to scream. I thought of all the people in the waiting room and how I must be scaring them. I thought of all the women before me who had done this. I had always considered myself to be a tough, strong woman, but now I just wanted this all to be over. All of these people must think I'm being dramatic. [Edited to add: this is hilarious to me now! i was so concerned that I wasn't doing it right!] I wanted the baby out and I didn't think I could get it out myself. I don't think I can do this!!!!  (I yelled).They reassured me, Yes you can. .

Each push seemed to yield such little progress! Isn't the birth canal short? They moved me from the bed to the birth stool and back to the bed. I decided I didn't want to push in the water-- I didn't know how everyone would help me in there. The women told me to relax my face as I pushed and to focus on my 'bottom'. That helped. I was wasting energy by clenching every muscle in my body. His head felt like a bowling ball in my vagina.

As I climbed back up on the bed for the final pushes I felt his head go back up and I thought I was losing ground. It's two steps forward and one back, Colleen. You are progressing. You are doing everything right...Ruth was amazing. I wanted to believe her.

They told me to lie flat because of the way he was angled. They thought he would come out easier this way. At one point they had me reach down and feel his hairy little head coming out. I was scared to do this too. I don't know why. I think that I still thought he would bust out my entire pelvic floor.
He was right there! A few more pushes they told me. Each push seemed to gain such small ground. There's his head, it's almost out. Come on! Okay, his head is out, now his shoulders...That sounded hard to do...I pictured the birth videos that I'd watched, after the shoulders the rest came easily. I felt him slither out and then the weight of his wet body on my chest. There he was screaming, umbilical cord and all. A blanket was thrown over him.

He opened his little eyes and looked at me-- a living, breathing creature. There he was-- part of me, part of Jason. I moved him toward my breast and he suckled there. Time stopped. 3:03 p.m. He was wiggling and he looked huge! I couldn't believe that he came out of my body. He had a crazy conehead. Will that go away? They assured me, yes.

Jason cut the cord. He was like an angel beside me. He looked so happy. As Jude gave me a couple of stitiches Jason held our son. Everything had changed. And it was nothing like I expected. My whole world had just opened up into a different reality. It was an initiation, really. Into what, I'm not so sure-- I was struck by how little I know about life. How little I've experienced. How rich it really all is. And now I've experienced giving birth. Next is motherhood. yikes.

For about a month afterwards, I would search my mind for all of the mothers I know and think things like: "Wow. She did that? She doesn't seem like she could handle it!" I had a new found respect and connection to moms everywhere. I would see women in parking lots who looked otherwise unimposing, towing kids, doing their thing and I'd think, " I wonder what her births were like..." I suddently realized that there were all of these women walking around who had given birth, which was undoubtedly the most challenging thing I'd ever faced, and it didn't even seem acknowledged by society. Shouldn't they be walking around like goddesses or queens or something?
And maybe they actually are.


  1. Aw, Finn. I'm really glad you pushed him out. I love that kid. You were and are a Goddess and a Queen. Before and after you gave birth.

    I forgot how much he looked like Jason. Crazy.

  2. Great story - can't say I've ever heard a birthing story as vivid as that - I hope your story urges others to share their stories - Happy Mother's Day Colleen

  3. How nice that Finn's birthday today is on Mother's Day. Happy Day to you both!

    That is a crazy birth story, Colleen. I'm so glad after reading this that i never really had a baby clock. this is intimidating stuff. i love the part about you looking at other mothers differently now. you all deserve medals...or at least a really tremendous foot massage.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...