Vivian's Birth Story

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
   On the morning of April 3rd Kevin and I headed down to St. Luke's hospital for my routine 39 week prenatal appointment at 11:40am. I was approaching my due date and was starting to get worried at my lack of "progress" towards labor. I had experienced some cramping and back labor one night around week 38 but other than that I didn't have any signs that we would be having a baby anytime soon. I had only been checked for cervical progress at 36 weeks, then decided that I didn't need to be checked after that because dilation means nothing until you're actually in labor. So going into my 39 week appointment I was contemplating whether I wanted to know my progress (or lack there of...). When my doctor came in she asked me a question I wasn't prepared to answer, she wanted to know if I wanted to have my membranes swept to help labor to come. After some back and forth between us and the doctor we decided we had nothing to loose. I was close to 40 weeks and didn't want to go past 41 weeks to avoid induction.
  The sweep was very uncomfortable and I was told that I was 1cm dilated and 70 percent effaced.. Compared to the last time I was checked at 36 weeks I had only progressed HALF a centimeter and 10 percent!! I reminded myself again that dilation didn't mean anything, but it was discouraging none the less.  
  We left the hospital and headed home to go about our day as normal. Kevin went to work and I cleaned and prepped some food while I waited for my sister-in-law to come over and keep me company. I had started feeling light cramps around 3pm but figured it was due to the sweep and didn't think too much of it. My sister-in-law and I talked for a few hours while my cramps gradually got more painful. I was in denial when I started timing how far apart the "cramps" we're at 7pm. Then (who knows what I was thinking..) I suggested we go out to get some dinner at a restaurant downtown. While eating my salad and soup my contractions (started to think they were more than cramps when I had to set my fork down during the pains) started coming about every 6 minutes. After scaring our poor waitress by telling her I was in labor, we paid and headed home. When Kevin got home from work around 9, they were 4-3 minutes apart and lasting 1-1.5 minutes.
  At this point I still thought that I could be having false labor (denial, I know!). So I wasn't gathering last minute items for the hospital, I was breathing out contractions on the floor on my hands and knees.. then in the bath tub.. then back on the floor. I was everywhere! Trying to visualize my way through the contraction, and completely relax my body in between them. Then I do what every woman would do.. I called home haha. After talking to my step mom (with my poor dad sounding worried in the back, yelling why I hadn't gone to the hospital yet! Sorry dad!) we decided to call the hospital and tell the nurse my situation and see what she thought I should do. The nurse on staff told me I could come in if I wanted, but that they would probably send me home. That just made me want to stay home even more! My parent's called me back and begged me to go in, but Kevin and I decided to stay at home a bit longer (you know, to wait to see if it was false labor... what was I thinking?!). After about an hour of strong contractions 2-3 minutes apart we FINALLY decided it was time to head to the hospital. 
  It was my plan to labor at home for as long as possible, to avoid going in until I was well established in active labor so I could avoid as much medical intervention as possible. But it was not my plan to be so unprepared! I was still gathering items for the hospital, while Kevin was putting in the car seat.. all the  while I was having to go down on my hands and knees every 2 minutes for a contraction haha. 
I had 3 contractions in the car in the way to the hospital, and 3 walking into the hospital (one right in the middle of a cross walk haha). The nurses in the ER looked worried when Kevin said my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and they rushed me up to triage. 
  When I was checked at 2am on April 4th I was 5.5 cm dilated. It was comforting to know that the "pain" I was feeling was actually progress. I think it was at that moment that I finally accepted that I was going to have my baby that day. We were moved to the labor suite and I was relieved to hear bath water running. At this point the contractions were about 2 minutes apart and I had progressed to 7.5 cm in one and a half hours! Yay for progress, boo for transition. I knew transition was the worst part of labor, but I also knew that it was the shortest. I had to keep reminding myself that with each contraction my baby was getting closer and closer to being in this world, in my arms. 

Looking like I was in labor ;)

  I have zero recollection of time after getting to the labor suite, but I know I spent a great deal of time in the jacuzzi tub. When I was in the tub I used visualization when I could feel the pain starting to build, to help me stay focused and breath through it. In between contractions I was an endless, calm ocean and when the pain started to build I became this rolling wave. Imagining my myself as water helped remind me to stay fluid and relaxed, even during the contractions.
  I got out of the tub to be checked again and to discuss having my water broken. The pressure in my back at this point was really intense and I knew that having my water broken would help relieve some of that pressure. I also knew that once my water was broken my contractions would get worse. After a dozen or so contractions, I asked that my doctor be called in so my water could be broken.
  Once my water was broken the contractions did get worse, the pressure in my back had decreased and I started to get the urge to push. I was only at a 9.5cm but my body was ready so they called my doctor in and I started to bring Vivian into the world. They say I pushed for about 30 minutes, but it seemed shorter than that to me.
  When she was born at 7:01am on April 4th, 2013 her eyes were wide open and she was alert but calm. She was placed on my chest, and everything else that was going on in that room is foggy. We stared at each other and I thought of all the times I imagined what she was going to look like and how none of those images came close to how beautiful she was in that moment.

  I can't say enough how wonderful Kevin was the entire time. During early labor he was trying his best to distract me from each contraction. He remained calm which helped me to do the same. At the hospital he basically held me up in the water while I was in the jacuzzi (which meant A LOT considering he has such a bad back.. I did think about his back often during labor, really appreciating the discomfort he was going through to lessen my own). He massaged my back even when I swatted his hands away during transition (it's not a pretty time in labor!), and massaged my legs to help me relax my muscles in between contractions. When it came time to push, I could hear the excitement in his voice when he told me I was doing great and he gave me that last bit of strength needed so we could meet our daughter. He was amazing and he continues to be everyday by taking such good care of his wife and baby girl.

  From the moment I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted a non-medicated birth. I never thought of birth as a medical experience, but as an organic and natural thing that women have been doing forever. I never asked for medication for pain relief, but I sure did think to myself (especially during transition!) "I bet an epidural feels SOOOO good", I also thought how I didn't want any more children after Vivian haha. Looking back it wasn't really "painful" to me, it only lasted about a minute each time and I knew it wasn't causing any permanent damage.
  I felt no pain after she was born. I didn't think about what labor I had felt all that night. I felt invigorated and powerfully feminine. There were many times though out this pregnancy when I worried that I wouldn't be strong enough for labor, mentally or physically. But in the moment I found that the strength I needed came naturally because my body was made to do this. Just like I was made for her and she was made for me.    
  Over all, the experience was amazing. The hospital staff was incredible, our nurse was so supportive and no one pushed me into anything I didn't want (or need). I can honestly look back and say that the day my baby girl was born was the best day of my life.


  1. This is so beautiful, Bria. Thank you for sharing your and Vivians story. Congratulations to you and Kevin. Love you! Cathline and David

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I'm looking forward to reading yours :)

  3. This is beautiful. Reading birth stories and trying to picture what my own will look like!

    1. Thank you Mandy! The best advice I can give is to do your research!! Educate yourself and trust your body. If you haven't yet, read Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth. Its a little anti-hospital but it has so many positive stories of woman giving birth under many different circumstances with nothing but their bodies! Best wishes!! It will be the best day, no matter what :)


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