Bree’s Natural Water Birth Story written and shared by Bree Neal, Texas
I am so excited to finally sit down and write my birth story. Since the beginning of this amazing journey I have wanted to share my emotions, experiences and empowerment with other women. I hadn’t always planned the natural birth path that I eventually took. In fact, before I got pregnant I thought that having your baby at a birth center was a terrifying idea. It wasn’t until I saw a birth video on YouTube (by Ceci Jane) that I totally fell in love with idea of having our baby at a birth center. The way she portrayed the experienced made me long for that kind of peace and joy whenever we did have a baby.
I talked to my husband about it and he skeptically agreed to tour some birth centers with me. After visiting a few I was sure that I wanted to birth in a birth center but I felt really conflicted about which one. I felt that there were pros and cons to all of them. We went on trying to conceive and the decision lingered in the back of my mind. Then one day I decided to google search “birth centers” in the area, something I had done a million times, and there it was- Grapevine Birthing Center. It had just opened. I was beyond excited! We went to visit and I knew immediately after walking in that this was the place that this was where I would bring a baby into the world.
About 3-4 days later I took the test that changed my whole life. I seriously couldn’t believe it. I had taken hundreds of tests between that day and the loss of our first sweet angel, nearly 3 years before. I guess I had gotten so used to them being negative that I was in disbelief. I remember weeping and thanking God for this amazing miracle. I prayed that the baby would stay safe in my belly and that I would be able to keep my cool until Mark got home. I surprised him that evening with our Great Dane, Sadie, wearing a tutu and a Big Sister shirt. Mark didn’t even understand at first, but as soon as it set in, we cried together. It was a beautiful moment that I hope to never forget….
So the months flew by and my belly grew and grew. At our 20-week ultra-sound we had the tech write the gender on a slip of paper so we could do a gender reveal photo shoot. I can honestly say I was in disbelief when I pulled out those pink booties. I had secretly (and Mark, not-so-secretly) longed for a little girl. But I could not believe that we were so blessed to be getting a baby, especially our little girl.
When the 37 week mark came around the “false labor” started. I had experienced pretty regular Braxton Hick’s contractions since week 20 and these felt a little more intense so I kept thinking it was real labor. For 4 weeks and 2 days that continued. It was frustrating and discouraging and I was starting to believe that she wasn’t going to come on her own. We had tried all the tricks to start labor and so far nothing had worked. So on Wednesday February 18th (41 weeks and 1 day) I went in for a membrane sweep. I had been so confident that morning before my appointment. I told my husband that it was the last day I would be pregnant. But I was really getting down in the dumps when nothing happened during the day. So that evening went and walked the mall, for the zillionth time. By the end of the lap I was practically begging for Mark to take me home. We went to bed around 8pm. Little did we know, that was our last night as just the two of us….
At 4:15am I woke up to use the restroom and experienced my first real contraction. I knew it was real because it was so intense and it made me groan with pain. I got back into bed and told Mark that I had just had a real contraction, something he had heard a so many times, and he told me to go back to sleep. So I did, until 5 minutes later when I had another contraction. From that point on I was not able to get back into bed. I knew from the second contraction that she was going to come much faster than the 22 hour labor I had mentally prepared for. Unfortunately, by the second contraction I was already unable to communicate. Poor Mark was trying so hard to time contractions, but he had no idea when they were starting or stopping. I was really surprised at how unbearably painful the contractions got so fast. I never had the time to use all the comfort techniques we learned in Birth Boot Camp. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t make low sounds; in fact I was in so much pain that I started throwing up. I had quickly hit a point where I really believed I couldn’t do this. If I would have been able to talk I would have told Mark to take me to the hospital to get a c-section. I was completely terrified and when I tried to pray it came out as me yelling “help me help me help me”. Mark thought I was talking to him at first but I was able to tell him that I was talking to Jesus. This makes me laugh in retrospect.
Another not-so-funny/funny part of my labor was around 8ish when I noticed that my contractions were starting to double-peak (a sign, that I had learned, meant you are in transition to pushing) and I knew exactly what that meant. I could visual the page in our childbirth book that showed to progress of labor and how you should be at the birth center at this point. So out of desperation I was able to get the two words out to Mark, “Double peak.” Unfortunately my husband did not remember that page and simply wrote down double peak on his contraction timing paper and kept on his merry way. I thought getting those two words out would finally convince him that I knew what I was talking about and our baby was coming fast!
Around 8am Mark told our midwife, Kim, that my contractions were 1-2 minutes apart and she said that we needed to head to the birth center. My sense of time was so screwed up that I couldn’t believe I had already been in labor for 4 hours. So Mark was running around the house grabbing everything we needed when I noticed a significant break in my contractions. Instead of actually thinking about why that was happening I just sank back and relaxed for a minute. When Mark came to get me I was fully naked sitting on the toilet, so he grabbed me some clothes, and as he started to try to dress me, I pushed for the first time. That’s right. I pushed. At my house. On the toilet. With no clothes on. AT MY HOUSE. The look on his face was sheer panic. I think it had finally hit him that our little girl was on her way. After he clothed me, (me feeling helpless to get dressed) he helped me to the car and my water broke as I was trying to climb in. It was a good thing that Mark had put trash bags over the seat although at the time I was very offended by this.
Normally it takes about 11 minutes to get to the birth center. I’m pretty sure Mark made it there in 6. He was passing people over the two lane dam and trying to talk to my dad on the phone to say he wouldn’t be coming in to work today. I probably pushed 3 times in the car, but thankfully I was able to keep baby in. We made it to the birth center at 9:19am. Once at the birth center I found myself standing at the base of the stairs feeling very nervous, I made it about halfway before I tried to hold in a push. As soon as that push was over, I ran up the stairs and went straight to the toilet. My midwife, Kim Daly, LM, CPM and Owner of Grapevine Birthing Center, followed and told me that after the next contraction she was going to check me. When I told her I was already pushing for real she said I should try to breath through them, if I wanted the photographer to get there in time. I was so scared that my sister wouldn’t make it, or my doula. But as I was in the middle of that thought, I felt a big push, and I groaned pretty loud. At that point Kim said it was okay, I didn’t have to wait for the photographer and that we should get in the tub if that was where I wanted to give birth to baby. I was so happy when, as Mark and I were getting into the water, my sister, the photographer and aunt walked in.
The setting was perfect, exactly the way I imagined it. Mark was behind me in the tub, I was holding onto his legs and I was so ready. I was no longer scared, I wasn’t hurting, my body was doing all of it for me, I just had to focus and enjoy every second of it.
I almost wished the pushing had lasted longer, it felt like relief compared to the contractions and laboring I had at home. But I only got 25 minutes of pushing in the tub. I guess it was going so fast that Kim asked me to pause when baby was crowning so as to allow my body to stretch more slowly. That was the only painful part of pushing, and I mean it was really rough, it only took a couple of pushes past that, and baby was here. I remember looking down as Kim was lifting her up to me; her limbs were all splayed out like she was just reaching for me. I cannot explain the joy I felt as I pulled her to my chest. Our daughter, Collins Nicole, was, and forever will be, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. That was seriously the best day of my life. The hardest so far, but definitely the best day of my life.
Thank you Bree for sharing the birth story of Baby Collins! Bree writes, “I found so much peace while pregnant from watching other women’s birth videos, I hope I can bring that to someone else!”