"I just don't want it to be awful..."
I met Caitlyn when she was very early on in her second pregnancy during a Birth Tribe interview. I wrote down what she said to me during that interview, because it was one of the saddest things anyone had said to me about their hopes for birth. She said, "I just don't want it to be awful this time."
When she hired me, our first step was to find her a different, supportive, provider that made her feel safe. When I met her husband, Angel, I could tell he also had experienced trauma from the birth of their first child. We talked a lot early on about ways to cope with their anxiety and made plans for every scenario so that they both felt prepared.
With Caitlyn's last birth, the pushing phase was long, due to the baby's position in the pelvis. During one of their prenatal appointments I taught them some Spinning Babies techniques, to help see if we could get this baby into a better position. Once they started doing them daily, the baby wiggled its way into a much better spot . This commitment, would certainly help this labor move at a much different pace than the last!
I warned Caitlyn that this birth could be much faster than her previous. She laughed and said, "The midwife said the same exact thing to me. I guess I better listen." Sometimes, when having a long and traumatic first labor and birth, it's hard to imagine anything different, even when you're hoping for it. I wanted to make sure that Caitlyn wouldn't wait to call us, because she thought she had time. Her midwife and I wouldn't be wrong.
At 1am on March 1st, Caitlyn sent me a text saying that she was having very sharp and intense contractions, that were six minutes apart, but then quickly jumped to 2 minutes apart. I suggested she call her midwife practice and that we prepare to head in.
We arrived to the hospital at 2:40am and Michelle, their midwife, pulled in and walked up with us. Caitlyn was coping so well. She was joking and smiling in between contractions. Angel felt a little more anxious though. At one point he said, "I just want this to be good for her, ya know. Hoping we have the dream team."
Michelle checked her cervix and Caitlyn was 6cm dilated, 90% effaced and the baby was nice and low at +1 station. Everyone often gets hung up on dilation, but those other numbers often tell a better story. We were well on our way to meeting their baby girl.
Caitlyn wanted to labor in the tub and nurse Rose began to fill it. Caitlyn would breathe through her contractions and come back to chatting with all of us. We all told stories and spent time getting to know each other a little better. Michelle at one point said, "You're the chillest person ever!". Every time one of us would note how well she was doing, you could see her shoulders relax and her breath slow even more.
Caitlyn started to feel a bit of pressure, so Michelle checked her before getting in the tub. It was 3:49am and her cervix was now 8cm dilated. Caitlyn would experience transition in the tub, and in my opinion that couldn't be any more perfect of a place, for what would be the most intense part of this labor for her.
She was resting on and off in between contractions, which had slowed down to about 4 minutes apart while in the water.
Angel and I took turns keeping her comfortable and relaxed, adjusting our techniques based on her temperature and position. Michelle stayed with us and helped to care for Caitlyn. The room was so peaceful and quiet.
About an hour later, she got out to use the bathroom and had a ton of pressure and lots of bloody show. We made our way back to the room, as the plan was to birth there.
At 5:20am Caitlyn became audible and let out a small yell, to which she said, "I'm not so stoic now though, huh?" and we all giggled. She was an absolute warrior. She was managing this labor so well that we were all just along for the ride. That yell was her letting go of fear and not from the pain of this labor. I think in that moment was the first time she knew, really knew, that this process was not only different than her last, but would stay that way through the birth of their baby.
Caitlyn pushed and 7 minutes later, 10lb 4oz, Chloe Rae came earth side, at 5:36am, still in her amniotic sac. (This would be the first time the nurse experienced this interesting oddity and Michelle's second) Michelle removed the amniotic sac from Chloe's eyes and mouth and passed Caitlyn her little one. Angel cut the cord and then we all stepped back as they took their little baby in.
Caitlyn spent the golden hour latching Chloe and talking about how she couldn't believe the difference. She thanked Michelle, Rose and I. Angel was a proud husband and Dad and mentioned how bad ass his wife was more than once and we all agreed.
It was truly a perfect birth that produced the best baby back rolls that I had ever seen.
Caitlyn and Angel, thank you so much for letting me be a small part in your journey. It was one that I won't forget.