The Birth of Siena Sage
Updated: Apr 1, 2019
I woke up at 7AM on Monday, September 4th, 2017 (which coincidentally was Labor Day!) to a warm gush of liquid running down my legs as I got out of bed. I thought I had peed my pants, but realized that my water had broken. I had some menstrual-like cramps and I tried to stay in bed and relax (I didn't want to waste my energy getting to get too excited or anxious early on). Water kept coming in gushes every time I changed positions, but I ate breakfast and attempted to cook quinoa tabbouleh (we had tons of tomatoes and cucumbers to use up from the garden).
By 9AM, real contractions started and I texted my midwife Ashley and my doula Malarie. Contractions got intense, but I did deep yoga breathing, low moans, and kept my eyes closed as I focused. I tried doing pelvic tilts and leaning over a birth ball and swaying. I kept in touch with my midwife and doula the entire time, and they listened to me going through contractions over the phone. I also took a warm shower, since I knew it would be my last for a while. I had diarrhea several times and vomited twice (Greek yogurt for breakfast was a bad idea!). I drank red raspberry leaf tie and coconut water and tried to eat some crackers but had no appetite.
My doula Malarie came over at 1:30PM and did some massage, used essential oils, and we played my labor relaxation playlist in my bedroom with the lights dimmed. Most of my pain was in my hips and pelvic area, so counter pressure on the sides of my hips felt A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. We decided to wait until I was really getting into active labor to go to the hospital as my goal was to avoid unnecessary hospital interventions.
The drive to the hospital was about 20 minutes. I was on all fours in the back seat with my eyes closed and just kept focusing on my breathing. When we got there we rushed into the hospital since I was already well into active labor (contractions were 3 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each, for at least 1 hour). We checked into triage, where they had me change into a hospital gown and lay in a bed hooked up to a fetal monitor for 20 minutes. The triage nurse also drew blood and took a urine sample. She had a cold attitude and kept asking detailed questions that Danny and the doula could have easily answered, but due to hospital policy required me to answer. She wouldn't let us dim the lights and laying down on my back was so uncomfortable, so I kept my eyes closed, continued my breathing and moans, and kept all muscles relaxed. What saved me was Danny massaging my thighs and Malarie doing a foot massage the entire time. An obstetrician came into the triage room to do an ultrasound, and I overheard her saying “posterior” (it turns out the baby wasn't “sunny side up,” but I tried not to let it get to me at the time anyway). My midwife Dale did my first vaginal exam and I was 100% effaced and 7cm dilated! The triage nurse was surprised at how far along I was. My doula told me later on that I was likely in transition at this point (this explains why I gave hospital staff an attitude and didn’t care that I had no clothes on!).
Since I was far enough along, they allowed me to enter the water birth suite, but it took some time to fill the tub. Once I got in, the warm water felt amazing! I labored there for over 2 hours with dim lights, flameless candles, and lavender and clary sage essential oils diffused. My 2 midwives, doula, and Danny continued to massage me and kept the cool damp cloths, coconut water, apple juice, and honey sticks coming. The delivery room nurse did periodic fetal monitoring using a waterproof doppler and heart tones were always good. I tend to be an anxious person, but later on I was told how serene and focused I looked. I started to feel a slight urge to push so, Dale checked internally and I was 10cm, but she felt a cervical lip. She asked me to get out of the tub to get a better look, and also to change things up because I had been in the tub awhile.
When I got onto the bed she noticed the lip had disappeared. I felt too fatigued at that point to get into a comfortable position though (I tried all fours on the bed, squatting on the bed, side lying, etc), so I ended up pushing on my back, bringing knees to chest and chin tucked. Compared to labor contractions, the pushing phase was difficult for me. I pushed for almost 3 hours and Dale said it was one of the longest crownings of all the births she had attended (and after delivering over 1,000 babies she was retiring at the end of the month). Little Siena was stubborn, but since she came out so gradually I luckily didn’t tear. They put her on my chest immediately and let the cord pulse while I birthed the placenta, which took about 30 minutes. Siena latched onto the breast for almost a minute and then relaxed - she was so tired because she had worked hard too! The experience was incredible and beautiful and I am forever grateful for my birth team.