Marlow’s story begins back in September 2014 when I stopped trying to get pregnant. I had booked plane tickets to travel to Belize with my best friend who joked, “Make sure you are not pregnant for our girl’s trip so we can celebrate!” The plans for wine and tropical drinks quickly changed to soda water with ginger to ease my stomach. It’s funny how life happens that way.
I was in a place in my life where I had a miscarriage after my first daughter, Julia. I wondered if I would ever be able to have another child. I had been going to Katie Edwards at The Center of Bliss for acupuncture treatments to assist my body in getting ready to be pregnant. The treatments helped clear out any blockages and set free anything that might prohibit me from getting pregnant. During the months leading up to September, I became obsessed with thinking about getting pregnant, tracking my basal body temperature, keeping records and becoming very regimented about everything. This was completely opposite of my personality. I am the laid back, go with the flow type of person. This relaxed attitude is what helped me with bringing my second child into the world.
Because I was blessed with this second pregnancy, I decided to embark on a different birth experience. I was seeking a birth where I was present in my mind so I could embrace the full journey with a clear head (not clouded with pain medication like my first birth) and the ability to move freely (not bound to a hospital bed due to an epidural like my first birth) and I was also interested in a water birth. I had a curiosity about a different type of medical practice who could assist me with my birth called the Greenville Midwifery Care. They are affiliated with the Greenville Hospital System. I first heard about them from Katie Edwards. I attended their information meeting and knew that this was the place for me. They focus on both the body and mind and provide a more holistic approach to pregnancy. When I visited their office, they took time to inquire about how my pregnancy was progressing as well as how I felt emotionally. They were never rushed and made me feel like I was part of a family. I decided to switch from my current OB-GYN’s office to their practice. While in their office, I came across a flyer for a class called Hypnobabies. Honestly, it sounded kind of silly to me, but my curiosity led me to inquire about what it might offer. I was interested in what it could provide to me as a mother who was seeking a relaxing birth experience. I decided to enroll in the six week class. This is where I met the instructor, Julie Byers, who is also a doula. Julie had also assisted my best friend with her birth a few years earlier. I considered it a sign, so I decided to hire her as my doula for this birth. My husband, Jason, and I attended the six week class where we learned valuable information on the birth process, pregnancy health tips, as well as hypnosis information to prepare us for the most wonderful birth experience, Marlow’s birth.
On Monday June 15th, two days prior to my due date, I started experiencing birthing waves (contractions) intermittently throughout the day. I decided to work from home because I wasn’t sure if they were Braxton Hicks or if my birthing time was beginning. I made a cake to help pass the time. I also packed two bags. One for the hospital and one for the birthing center. I am horrible at making decisions. I figured I would be able to decide where I was going to have this baby when I was going into labor. After all, how was I supposed to decide when I wasn’t feeling the birthing waves? If they were too painful at the time, then of course I was going to the hospital where I could get an epidural if I needed it! As it got later in the day, I decided to send my 4.5 year old daughter to spend the night with my mom in case I went into labor that evening. Around 9 pm Jason and I went on a walk around the block. I figured that would either increase the birthing waves or I would realize that it wasn’t time yet. I got home from the walk, took a shower and crawled into bed for the night.
At 5:30 am on June 16th I was awakened by a more intense birthing wave. I thought to myself today is the day! I jumped out of bed with lots of energy. I checked my two bags that I packed yesterday to make sure I had everything ready to go. I contacted my doula, Julie, and told her that I was having more intense birthing waves and to be on standby. She came over mid-morning to check on me. Jason and my mom were nervously pacing back and forth with excitement in the living room. I was relaxing in my bathtub and discussing with Julie which place I was going to have this baby since I was still undecided. She pointed out that your body isn’t going to surprise you with something unexpected. I was fearful of the unknown, since I had an epidural with my first daughter. I made it to 7 cm with her and then got pain medicine and an epidural out of fear.
So far, with this birth, the pressure waves felt like cramps that would come and go. I figured if that’s all that lies ahead, then I will go to the birthing center to have this baby. Plus I will have the support of the midwives in a relaxing home-like setting rather than the cold, clinical environment of a hospital room. And I thought to myself, worst case, I could go right across the street to the hospital if things get too out of control. [Doula note: Beth could not make a decision about where to give birth. I honestly didn’t know where we were going until we drove past the hospital]
Around 1:30pm, I decided to head over to the midwives office to be admitted to the birth center. On the way, Jason was driving and I rode in the front passenger seat. I felt every pothole and bump in the road so I had him pull over so I could get in the backseat and hunch over for the rest of the ride. Once I arrived at the office, the midwives checked me and said I was 6.5 cm dilated with my water bag still intact. They admitted me as their first mom to be checked in to the newly opened birth center! I was greeted by cheers from the staff as they directed me to the elevators.
I entered the room and immediately wanted to get in the birthing tub so I could get in the zone of relaxing through my birthing waves. The room was designed like a spa, complete with dim lights and I turned on Zen Garden music on Pandora radio. My nurse, Diane, checked my pulse and listened to the baby’s heartbeat as I continued to breathe slowly through each birthing wave. As each one came, I would put a wash cloth over my eyes and breathe a slow, meditative breath.
The midwife, Bethany, and my nurse, Diane, were very supportive. Julie helped encourage me as my birthing time progressed. My husband Jason was there right by my side the entire time. I leaned on him, hugged him, I asked him to rub by lower back at certain times. Everyone was there for me as I neared this magical moment of greeting my little girl.
As time passed, I tried everything from sitting on the birthing ball, to walking around outside in the garden area, to getting in the shower, to squatting in the birthing swing, to getting back in the birthing tub. [Doula note: Beth was 9cm at 6:45pm. I wrote in my notes that she said, “I feel good! You weren’t lying about these endorphins! I feel high and loopy.]
By 8:30 pm I was starting to get frustrated that things weren’t progressing and wanted a change. I decided to have Bethany break my water at 8:45pm. The feeling and pressure intensity went from a 2 to a 10 in a matter of seconds. Julie, Jason, Bethany, Diane helped get me back into the birthing tub. I managed to get into a kneeling position just in time. I was mentally prepared to push for at least 30 minutes or more. I put my head down on my forearms and closed my eyes tight. I pushed twice and I yelled “Something came out!” I left my eyes clinched shut because the sensation was so intense. The next thing I remember was Bethany saying, “You can open your eyes! Look down!” In my arms was our beautiful baby girl who was born at 8:57 pm! I was shocked that it all happened so fast. It took me a minute to realize that she was here in my arms. Marlow Cecelia joined the world at 7 lbs 12 oz. I realized how powerful the mind can be, how strong of a person I am, and what a sacred experience I just accomplished. I am thankful for my wonderful doula Julie, the Hypnobabies class that helped me prepare for such a wonderful, relaxing birth experience, and the midwives that supported me as Marlow came into this world.