A group birth story told from Courtney’s perspective, her husband Nate’s perspective, and her doula Julie’s notes.
Story behind the name Viking Birth: We were telling some of our friends that we were doing a homebirth and they thought that meant that we were having our baby outside and Nate was delivering the baby by himself haha! They told us that we were going “Full Viking” and it made us laugh a lot. So we joked and started telling everyone we were having a Viking Birth!
[Courtney]: 3:30pm–Midwife appointment. I was at 4 cm but no contractions. We decided to strip my membranes and see what happens in the next 24 hours. No contractions happened that afternoon or overnight and I was getting antsy and a little discouraged. Julie suggested buying something with the expiration date of 9/23 (42 weeks gestation for me) and to “tell yourself your baby will be here before it expires.”
[Courtney]: Went to my moms and my Braxton Hicks were getting strong and I just told myself to ignore it and to keep busy. I colored a lot, listened to music, did a puzzle, got a haircut, got a pedicure, and did whatever I could to not think about what day it was.
*Nate got home early and took our 2-year-old outside to play and I went into our room to listen to a Hypnosis CD Julie gave me.. My brother called right when it started so I decided to put my phone on airplane mode so I could really focus on it. Then I forgot to take my phone off of airplane mode…oops.
[Nate]: Ethan and I went out in the yard to work on the patio (our waiting on the baby project) to stay out of Mom’s Hair.
[Courtney]: After that was done I told Nate I thought we should have an early dinner. I didn’t say why, I just had a feeling we needed to eat soon (which was 4:30PM). We got Five Guys burgers and I started cleaning and organizing to keep moving.
[Nate]: Courtney really wanted to eat early which different than normal. But then again not much about the last few weeks has been normal so I didn’t think much of it and ordered burgers for dinner.
[Courtney]: Nate was folding laundry in our sunroom and telling me about his day. I felt a small gush of water but I was having slippery discharge the last part of pregnancy, which was something different. I kept thinking it was my water but it never was. I didn’t think anything of it this little gush because I had been overthinking my water breaking for 4 weeks now. Nate saw some wet on my pants but I told him it wasn’t my water most likely. Then about 10 seconds later my pant legs started getting soaked and we both start laughing super hard and that was for sure my water breaking. We took pictures of me in my soaking pants in front of my affirmation wall (which we were planning on setting the tub in front of) and sent it to Bethany (midwife) and Julie (doula).
[Nate]: Finally, her water broke! That was a moment of real joy as we had been waiting and waiting. We were both so relieved when it happened. Also, Courtney is hilarious so we sent pictures to Julie and Bethany.
[Courtney]: Listened to “Baby Come Out” hypnosis script
[Julie]: 6:40pm–Water broke. You immediately called/texted Bethany and me. But then your phone was on airplane mode from the hypnosis script and we never heard anything else. I told Bethany I was probably going to call Nate and then maybe head on over to your house. I thought you would go fast since 1) you were already 4cm 2) Ethan isn’t very old so the muscle memory is on point. Bethany thought you probably had a bit of work to do since 1) baby is big and 2) baby had been posterior. It could have gone either way. Birth is fun like that.
[Courtney]: 6:40PM–Nate and I quickly started thinking of a game plan for the night. We called my mom and let her know what happened and she said she could be over around 9 to be in charge of our 2 year old. She was on Ethan duty and stayed in the back room while Nate and I started focusing on the next 24 hours. We put Ethan to bed around 8:30 and started straightening up our house and making sure we had all the essentials ready and went over our laboring plan.
[Nate]: It’s Happening! It was exciting to see the progression and work through what we were going to do.
[Julie]: 7:30pm–You called to let me know you were having some contractions but they didn’t hurt and you could ignore them. You were excited. I predicted labor would start when you put Ethan to bed.
[Julie]: 9:04pm–You called and contractions were 1 min long and coming 4-6 minutes apart. They changed depending on whether you were standing or sitting. You said you only had to concentrate through the peak. I listened to you have one. I suggested you commit to 3 contractions lying on your left side and update me.
[Courtney]: 9:04PM–I had an app that I was using to track contractions. I was sitting on the couch and was trying to get in tune with my body to see what felt different. Soon it was clear when a contraction was starting and when one was ending. They weren’t terrible but just very noticeable. After we called Julie, we put on a movie (Oceans 8) and I lay on my couch and Nate helped me get situated. He watched me during the contractions and said the second one was definitely more intense than any of the other ones he had seen. This one lasted 2 minutes when all the others lasted 45-60 seconds. I got off the couch, kneeled in front of the couch with my elbows on the seat (praying position) and called Julie with an update.
[Nate]: Laying on the couch on her side for three contractions really got the party started. Once that happened we are full steam ahead.
[Julie]: 9:24pm–You called to let me know how much you hated lying on your side and one of the three contractions last 2 minutes. I said I would be out of the house in 10 minutes.
[Julie]: 10:15pm–I walked into you pushing. You were on your knees leaning into the couch. Nate was supporting your belly with a sheet. I immediately texted Bethany to come. Then I cut off the depends you were wearing with scissors and grabbed some chux pads and warm compresses.
[Courtney]: 9:24PM-10:15PM–After we hung up with Julie I started mentally preparing myself for a long labor. We had the snacks, drinks, and movie playing. As I was kneeling the contractions got to the point where I had to close my eyes and really focus through them. Then I asked Nate to go get a top sheet and wrap it around my belly to provide counter pressure. I told him I needed to go to the bathroom. By this time contractions were more like 30 seconds apart but I was counting to know for sure. I got to the bathroom but didn’t get back to the living room. I had to land in the couch in my sunroom where I yelled for Nate to come with his sheet to help me through the contraction. Then I went back into the praying position on this couch and Nate stayed with me the entire time. This time I needed him to continually pull my belly tight with the sheet and not let up, even between contractions. I reached a point when I thought I was either going to pass out or throw up. I was told later this was most likely when I hit transition. The next couple contractions I got the urge to push. I told Nate I felt like I had to push and couldn’t help it and that he needed to see where Julie was. After a contraction, he ran into the living room to get his phone and then ran back in time for my next contraction. He called Julie and she said she was walking in the door. I told her the last 3 contractions I started pushing. She said, “Are you kidding me??” She let Bethany know to come and quickly started getting some pads out to put under me and started setting up the area to meet our baby. I got my comb to hold during contractions and we were trying to wait for Bethany.
[Nate]: I’m Glad that Julie showed up when she did because the baby was close. Courtney had already been pushing and really was not going to wait any longer. She was determined to push this baby out. It is remarkable to walk through this time with your partner. It gives you a completely new level of respect and admiration for what they can endure. She was AMAZING!
[Julie]: 10:45pm–Bethany arrived. Katrice arrived soon after and started filling up the tub. I switched between helping Katrice, grabbing supplies, and supporting you. You asked for your comb and your cold eucalyptus towels.
[Courtney]: Pushing–They tried to get me to go into different positions to help with pushing. My legs felt like heavy jello and I didn’t feel like I could stand or support my body during a contractions. So we stayed in the praying position against the couch. I just remember thinking, I want to meet this baby and I’ll do whatever I need to get him out of me. I also yelled SHIT during every contraction and probably sounded like I was dying. But I had to release the tension somehow and that seemed to be my method. Once I was pushing I started to feel some burning and that was worse then labor pain in my opinion haha!
[Nate]: Labor and pushing! I had one job, keep the sheet tight with counter pressure on her belly. This sounds simple enough. Well after a couple of hours holding tension on a sheet hunched over is quite the task. Any adjustment or release of pressure increased the pain so she let me know at the slightest shift of weight or position. I had one job. Keep the pressure tight!
[Julie]: 11:04pm–Birth. You were on your knees. The song was “Background” by Lecrae
[Courtney]: Birth–There was a huge sense of relief (internally and physically) when he was finally born. The only pain I really felt was some burning and soreness. My legs felt like Jello or like they were going to start cramping since I was in the same position for an hour and a half. I took a minute to soak in what happened and to get in tune with my body to see how I could turn to see my baby. I didn’t have any idea what was happening around me.
[Nate]: Baby is here! She did it, there were moments where she felt she couldn’t do it, but she did it! Once he crowned and we told Courtney we could see his head she did not wait for the next contraction. She pushed him out!
[Julie]: Declan needed to be stimulated a bit. So it was a moment before Bethany passed him between your legs. You picked him up at 11:07.
[Nate]: Declan came out blue and with the cord wrapped loosely once around his neck. This was a tense moment that felt so long. It was only about 15-20 seconds but felt like eternity until he gasped for his first breath. Bethany later told us he was most likely in a little bit of shock because he came out so fast and because of the position he was delivered. Since Courtney was on her knees he just slid right out.
[Julie]: 11:11–Your mom came in.
[Julie]: 11:14– cord clamped and cut. Declan did skin to skin with Nate
[Julie]: 11:23–Placenta delivered
[Julie]: Bethany examined you for tears and found a fluid-filled cyst that she wanted to drain. You said, “This is the most action my vagina has ever had.”
[Julie]: Bethany drained the cyst and then decided to stitch the first degree internal tear because it was continung to bleed. She gave you an injection of lidocaine (which you happily didn’t feel) and quickly stitched you up.
[Julie]: 12am–We tried to walk you to the bedroom but you felt woozy so we went to the couch.
[Julie]: 12:20am–Newborn exam and vitamin K
[Julie}: 1:04–First latch. You said, “Let’s be nice to mommy’s nipple”
[Julie]: 1:26–We put you to bed and toasted with watermelon flavored fizzy water in your viking horn cups.
[Courtney]: my body felt like everything was pulling down and I felt super winded. I had to hold my belly when we eventually walked to our bedroom. Wearing a belly band the next day really helped with moving around.
[Julie]: 1:40–The peri herbs were in the fridge, the laundry was running, the stains on the rug and couch were not removed (ARGH!), and the trash was bagged up. You were tucked in bed. Bethany, Katrice, and I headed home!
[Courtney]: There was definitely a high that took a while to calm down. Laying in our room felt so surreal to think about what happened over the last few hours. Nate and I shared our experiences together. Apparently I swore more than I thought and said that we weren’t having any more kids several times. But I felt so differently once Declan was here. We quickly crashed and kissed our sweet baby and closed our eyes until he needed to eat again.
[Nate]: Going to bed felt so good. I was exhausted. It had been quite a long day. Waking up before 5 am to go to work and now we were after 2 am. Really trying for the 24 hr day. I went to bed in peace. Declan was here and both he and Courtney were safe. Waking up the next day I was sore and cramping in back and shoulders a price well worth the reward!