Keelin’s Birth Story… finally, as promised!

It’s been 3 weeks to the day since Keelin was born, and in honor of such a celebration I thought it was about time I shared her birth story with the world! This is a long and WORDY post, so please forgive me!
First, a little background, before I dive right in…
I’ve mentioned before that Z and I chose the Bradley Method  for Keelin’s birth but I wanted to give a little more detail as to exactly what that is.
The Bradley Method of NATURAL childbirth focuses on the importance of Healthy Baby, Healthy Mother and Healthy Families. It uses the natural ways your body works to get you through labor without the use of medications or interventions {c-section, episiotomy, etc}. During Bradley classes, expectant mothers learn how to manage pain through relaxation techniques and body positions and expectant fathers turn from spouses to coaches, constantly monitoring their wives to ensure they are as relaxed as possible and providing an endless supply of support and assistance {aka giving mommy-to-be all the ice chips, encouraging words, and back rubs she wants!} The goal is for soon-to-be parents to learn the basic stages of labor so they are completely informed on what is happening to mommy’s body as she progresses through labor, therefore eliminating some of the fear that comes with labor and giving you an overall better birthing experience. Mommy-to-be then is to attempt to simulate sleep during contractions, so she can get through the entire journey without drugs. Click the link above for more detailed information on the Bradley Method, and feel free to leave a comment with ANY questions you might have… especially mommy’s-to-be who might be interested in trying it out!
So, this is the method and path we chose {no meds, no assistance from the doctors, totally AU NATURAL!}, and this is how it all played out.

The little manatee and I on Christmas Day, the day before I went into labor.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog at all you know that I’d been having Braxton Hick’s contractions for MANY weeks before Keelin was due. You also might remember that Keelin was head down very early on, and at one of my last appointments, I learned that she was sunny side up {the baby is born facing up toward the ceiling. Totally safe, but tends to produce back labor and make things more difficult for mom}.
Around about December 23, I started making it my mission to GET HER OUT! It’s not that I was terribly uncomfortable, but I was ready to meet my sweet girl and something in me REALLY wanted her to be born before Christmas. SO, I started chowing down on spicy food {aka Taco Mac’s queso dip and three-mile island chicken wings}, I took the dogs on a walk around the park and even got myself on a swing in the hopes that the ‘g-force’ would send her down and on her way out. All that did was irritate the muscle in my back that I had recently pulled. Fun right?
So through all the attempts to kick-start the process, nothing really seemed to be working. At most, my failed attempts were only stirring up frustration and I was constantly confusing the pain in my back for contractions in the hopes that it would actually be true. While I did have a few random contractions here and there, there was nothing consistent enough to make me start timing their duration and frequency so I went about my days as normal.

Sister-in-law, brother and the hubs

Then, on December 26 (her due date) the contractions really started, and the pain was 100% in my lower back… thank you Keelin for being stubborn and sunny side up. At about 5:00 pm I noticed they were lasting between 45-60 seconds and were anywhere from 3-6 minutes apart. We learned in our Bradley classes that this was PRIME TIME to head to the hospital so I was on high alert. The pain was uncomfortable but not unbearable, and I had heard that REAL contractions were generally so extreme that you weren’t able to talk through them, but the fact that they were happening so often and for so long made me wonder if I really was in labor, just with a higher tolerance for pain. Talk about wishful thinking!
Z was out rock climbing with my brother and his wife {don’t worry… it was an indoor climbing center not far from the house and I had told him to go… I was tired of having everyone sit around staring at me trying to will me into labor} so I gave him a call and told him about my contractions. He immediately came home and we gave my midwife a call to see what she thought. Because of the back labor and the fact that they came about so suddenly, she said to go ahead and get checked out. After all, at 36 weeks she informed me I was already 1 cm dilated, so there was definitely a possibility that I’d progressed more in that time.
So we grabbed our bags and headed to the hospital. They hooked me up to the monitor to see if Keelin’s heart rate was increasing and decreasing with my contractions like it was supposed to and thankfully everything looked great! I really started getting excited that “this is it” until they checked me and informed me that I was NOT DILATED and not really in labor. SAY WHAT??? NOT in labor?? FALSE I SAY!!! The hospital doesn’t admit patients until they are at least 3 cm dilated so they told us to go home. UGH!
I was frustrated because the contractions were getting more and more intense and more frequent, and there was no way of us knowing how dilated I was to know if and when we should head back to the hospital, but we sucked it up, got back in the car and met my parents at Taco Mac for dinner {yes, it was the third time in less than two weeks that we were at Taco Mac but if spicy food could help in any way, you better believe I would have gone a dozen more times for those three-mile island hot wings}.
During dinner the contractions were getting so bad that I could hardly sit up in the booth. I couldn’t talk during each one, could barely eat and ended up going home to relax in the tub. At this point I was thinking the nurses at the hospital were totally nuts and there was no way I wasn’t in labor.
The tub helped a little but the pain continued to increase and was still 100% in my back. Around 11:00 that night things were so intense that I started getting sick between each contraction. Not fun. I couldn’t keep anything down, even water, and Z and I both started getting worried. I remember one moment in particular, when my back felt like someone was breaking it and my head was in the toilet, that I started saying “I don’t think I can do this”. I knew that if I couldn’t get some fluids in me and stay hydrated, I would not have a successful labor, let alone an all natural one. Z and I decided to call Diane to see what she thought we should do. She agreed that I needed fluids and suggested we head back to the hospital.
The ride back was a total blur for me and my puke bucket but we arrived in no time {yay for a rainy midnight and NO cars on the road} and they put me through the same 30 minute heart rate check as before. Again, Keelin looked great and it was evident to the nurse that I was definitely in labor this time because I was completely unable to talk through any of the contractions and they were so close together. Z said he was watching my contractions on the monitor and they were much more extreme than the first time we came. They checked me again for dilation and I was sure that I had progressed. WRONG AGAIN SARA! I still wasn’t dilated {UGH} but the nurses said that because of the vomiting they were going to hook me up to an IV {with basic fluids to keep me hydrated… no mediation} and monitor my progress. They gave me a shot for the nausea… which I wasn’t too excited about due to the fact that I didn’t want drugs of any kind, but I knew it was pretty necessary at this point. It kind of helped… but for the most part I was alternating between contractions and getting sick for the next few hours. If anything the nausea mediation allowed me to relax a little more between contractions. I remember being kind of out of it for a good portion of the early morning. Mom would ask me if I wanted an ice chip and it would feel like 20 minutes before I actually got it, when in fact it was only seconds. Ah, the joys of labor delirium.
The contractions were beyond painful and I was having a really hard time relaxing like I had ‘practiced’ during Bradley classes but I was so thankful to have my mom and AMAZING husband there to keep me motivated, reassured and calm. I was so lucky to have them there with me throughout the entire process.  I couldn’t have done it without them.
At about 3:00 Diane arrived and checked me again. She said she had a “Christmas present” for me and told me I was 6 cm dilated {hooray!!! 6 cm in 3 hours!} so they finally admitted me and sent me to the delivery room for the BIG SHOW.
I continued trying to utilize some of the relaxation techniques we worked on in class but was unable to relax and “simulate sleep” as much as I would have liked. I sat, I stood, I leaned, I laid on my side and I even got in the shower. Diane went into super midwife mode and snuck me into the actual tub of the shower, which according to the nurses there was a big no-no. Our hospital had inflatable pools that you could labor in but you had to take a class in order to put even your pinky toe in the water. I wasn’t able to get my schedule together to take the class so it was no pool for me, but the tub was amazing and I was so thankful that Diane snuck me in! No matter where I was, the whole time I tried to keep moving and changing positions as much as possible, which really helped.
A few more hours went by and my water still hadn’t broken. I was still experiencing nothing but back labor so at about 6:00 am Diane suggested she break my water in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure… and speed up the process. It wasn’t what my birth plan had originally depicted but I was still getting sick every now and then so I went ahead and said yes. Anything to move things along. Boy let me tell you… that was an interesting sensation. It didn’t hurt in the least but the best way that I can describe the feeling would be to imagine if you waited 10 years to pee and then decided, “I think I’ll let it all out RIGHT NOW”. TMI? Probably… but this is a birth story so by deciding to read this you KIND OF asked for it!  Moving on…
Right after Diane broke my water I noticed that she and one of the nurses exchanged a less-than-happy look. Not something a soon-to-be mom wants to see from two women staring down at her lady business and uterus juice. She informed me that there was meconium in the fluid and I was heartbroken. I knew meconium in the fluid was not a good sign and meant that they would have to take Keelin immediately to the warmer to ensure that it didn’t get into her lungs with her first breath and cry. This also meant that I wouldn’t be able to have instant skin to skin contact with Keelin, nor would Z be able to cut the cord {Our birth plan was to have Keelin go immediately to my chest after birth and wait until the cord stopped pulsating before it was cut, that way she could get every last bit of oxygen and nutrients from me before separation}. I was really bummed but knew that it was more important that they make sure no meconium got into her lungs and Z was great at reminding me that as long as Keelin was healthy it really wasn’t the end of the world. We had been so blessed throughout the entire pregnancy that I hadn’t had any complications so a tiny hiccup like this was definitely something we could handle. He was such an amazing coach throughout the whole process.
Diane gave me her secret labor weapon… a popsicle {which at the moment was the best thing I had ever tasted} and I continued laboring sans bag-o-waters while she went out to welcome someone else’s little bean into the world. Can you imagine being a midwife? Spending all day helping women deliver their sweet babies? What a fulfilling job!
When Diane returned an hour or two later to see how I was doing I informed her that the pressure in my back was still just as intense as before, if not more so. Knowing that Keelin was sunny side up the last time she checked, Diane suggested that she try to turn the her. Yeah. She said it might relieve some of the pain and noted that once she was turned and in a better birthing position, it would probably be no time at all before I was ready to push. Again… this wasn’t part of our original birth plan, but knowing that there was meconium in my water shifted my priorities a bit and it became even more important to speed things along… so… turn she did.
Ho-ly mother.
If you were to imagine what kind of pain would come from a midwife PHYSICALLY turning a baby from facing one direction to another… while still in the womb… it was way worse.
I knew Diane had said that turning her might speed up the process, but I had no idea it would happen as fast as it did. I soon learned that while Diane was turning Keelin, she was also taking me from 7 cm to 10 cm. That would explain the ho-ly mother reaction and the epic pain. It seemed like only moments had passed between her saying, “let’s turn the baby” and “let’s push”. I was lying back on the delivery bed letting Keelin do a somersault and all of a sudden there were like 10 doctors in the room. They were ready, and so was Keelin!
Soon I started feeling an undeniable urge to push and it was ON. Pushing was definitely painful but it went by really fast. At one point I started to get worked up and they gave me an oxygen mask so both mine and Keelin’s heart rates would even out a bit. Z was fantastic and went into big-time coach mode. He was encouraging me, cheering me on, reminding me to relax between pushes, and most importantly telling me that our baby girl was only moments away from being here. I couldn’t have done it without him. I pushed for about 15 minutes and there she was. I was able to look up and see her head before pushing the rest of her out. {Note for soon-to-be moms, it is 100% true that the head is the hardest part and the rest of the body is a breeze… at least it was for me!} Before she was completely out Diane told Z that he wouldn’t be able to cut the cord so they could do it as fast as possible to get her over to the warmer. She also reminded us not to be worried when we didn’t hear her cry right away.
There she was all gooey and adorable. It was without a doubt the most amazing and surreal experience.
Once she was out things moved just the way Diane said they would. They cut the cord quickly, took her over to the warmer, and kept her from crying until they could suction out all the meconium. I know it was only a few seconds but it felt like we waited forever to hear that sweet sound and when we finally heard her cry it was true bliss. Tears were everywhere. It was only a few more moments before she was snuggled up against my chest, perfect in every way. I couldn’t believe she was finally here.

Keelin Noelle Pierce. Born December 27, 2011 at 9:38 am. 7 lbs, 19 3/4 inches.

You can thank me later for sparing you the details of the all the post birth fun and focus on the sweet moments…
She was absolutely the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and I’m pretty sure I spent every waking moment of the next few days just staring at her. Who am I kidding… I’m still doing that today, three weeks later!

Our little family

Z, Keelin and I spent the rest of the day enjoying our new little family, introducing her to other family members, and taking lots of naps. The hospital staff had to come in every few hours to check my blood pressure and make sure I wasn’t hemorrhaging at all so combine that with attempting to feed the little one {which was a definite struggle} naps were really the only option!

New daddy napping with his little football. I read later in the postpartum room that sleeping with the newborn was not permitted... Breaking the rules at only a few hours old ;)

The true depth of what I’d been through really didn’t hit me until the next day when I felt like my body had been hit by an 18-wheeler. Basically everything except my head, hands and feet was sore and I took advantage of whoever was in the room to help me get things and keep me from having to get up. It was all worth it for my sweet angel.
Well, there you have it folks… the story of Keelin’s grand entrance into the world! Sorry it took so long for me to share it with you!
A lot of people have asked me if I would do it all again without pain medication and I have no hesitation when I say, “Absolutely”. I don’t remember the pain, only that there was plenty, but I wouldn’t have changed any part of the experience. Yes, the puking was less than desirable but learning how my body responded to what was happening was extremely eye-opening. I’m so proud of myself for pushing {no pun intended} through and letting my body do what God made it to do. Nothing against the hundreds of years of medical advances that allow women to have children essentially pain-free, but I definitely appreciated my natural route.
On another note, I’m fully aware that I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the end without my mom’s assistance {love you mommy} and without Z being the loving and supportive husband that he his. He kept me calm and encouraged from the first contraction to the last… and continues to encourage me every day in my new role as a mommy. He’s such a wonderful father already and I love watching him interact with Keelin.
Until next time…
Thank you for letting me share our story! I hope it was worth the wait!
In other news… I have a new weekly staple coming up that I think you’re going to love. At least I love it… not that I’m biased or anything! But you’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out what it is!

18 thoughts on “Keelin’s Birth Story… finally, as promised!

  1. So glad it all worked out – sounds like you managed the pain and were suitably flexible for the process. We had to engage our Birth Plan X, Y, or Z, too. Keelin is beautiful and you have a wonderful family – congratulations!

  2. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story Sara! So proud of you holding it together. It’s encouraging to me that even though you had all that pain, you still got no meds and had an amazing birth.

  3. Im not goign to lie… I was crying the entire time reading this post. It was so beautiful to me in so many ways. Im so proud and happy for you and Zech. She is so beautiful.

  4. Thanks for sharing, Sara! I have enjoyed reading your blogs. Keelin is beautiful! Congratulations. Motherhood is the greatest.

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