Saturday's Story: The Birth of Caleb

Saturday, July 25, 2009
This week's birth story is from Sarah at We Three Eaves. I know Sarah from a local mom's group and am grateful to her for offering to share! Thank you Sarah!

Okay, so this is my version of Caleb's birth... I'm sure I've forgotten certain aspects or they don't seem as vivid because of nature's "forgetting" hormones!

Tuesday Morning- Woke up with sporadic contractions. Frustrated with facing another day of Prodromal labor I silently cursed my body and chose to ignore the contractions. They were so sporadic; I'd have one, then 10 minutes later another, then nothing for 30 to 45 minutes. I decided to keep my noon pre-natal massage in the hopes that it would help my body relax and let nature take its course… plus it’s just really nice to lie on those pregnancy pillows for an hour.

Noon- go in for the massage, mention to Jennifer that I’m having some contractions but reassure her that I am definitely NOT in labor. She asked if I was ready to have the baby and I gave a definite “YES.” I told her she could do whatever she wanted to move things along (knowing that nothing she’d do would make the baby come before it was ready).

1 pm- The massage rocked and by the time it was over my contractions had picked up in intensity and were now regularly 10-15 minutes apart. I still didn’t believe I was in labor and chalked the contractions up to post-massage adjusting. I called Austin and said “Just so you know, I’m kinda having some contractions, but I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

2:30 pm- Called Austin again and let him know that I was still having contractions. Told him I wasn’t sure if anything was going to come of them but asked him to make sure he didn’t have to go back to work when he left that day. I told him there was no need to come home early. I was timing the contractions and there were hovering around 10 minutes apart, but I could still talk and walk through them. I just felt achy, especially in my hips. So I rolled and bounced around on the birth ball, practiced breathing and relaxation techniques and distracted myself with TV. I put on something that was mildly interesting but didn’t require my full attention… a movie with Jennie Garth set in 1920’s Utah.

3ish pm- Called Austin again and asked him to come home ASAP. The contractions were hurting now and I needed his help relaxing. I called Charissa and announced “I think I’m in labor” then burst into tears. I was scared. Austin was home 20 minutes later. He took over timing the contractions, called Katherine at Nativiti to give her a heads up and started getting the house ready. All his fussing and busy-ness made me nervous and things started hurting more. He must have realized this because he stopped running around the house and just sat down in the living room with me and we chatted between contractions. We started calling the parents to let them know around 4:30. Of the 4 sets of parents, 3 were out of town; my mom in Oklahoma City, John & June in Minneapolis and my dad in Phoenix. We kept having to hang up on people because by this time I was moaning through contractions and it bothered me to know that someone could hear me.

5pm- Austin announces it’s time to head to the birth center; my contractions must have hit the 5 minute mark. I remember talking briefly to my dad and then to my sister. Austin began loading the car, waiting to go was tough… the contractions kept coming faster and knowing we had an hour drive ahead of us made me nervous

6 pm- We left the house. I was stretched out on my side in the back seat, pillows all around. 15 minutes into the drive I made Austin stop so I could go to the bathroom… surprisingly the gas station attendant said absolutely nothing about the fact that Austin came into the women’s restroom with me. Back in the car we joked about how Gretzky had chosen to come on a beautiful sunny fall day, just before the full moon, not during bad weather or on the full moon as we’d predicted.

6:45 pm- Another bathroom stop, this time in an area we were unfamiliar with. We stopped at a Jack in the Box and by this time I was very obviously in labor. We gave the teenage JITB employee quite a shock. Trying to get back onto the Toll Road proved next to impossible. We were lost, I started panicking and begged Austin to get us to the birth center, I was NOT comfortable having contractions in the car. The only way to get back on the toll road was to head the opposite direction that we needed. We ended up going through the same toll booth 4 times in an effort to head north.

7:20 pm- We arrived at the birth center. I had somewhat calmed down and was relieved to see Kat waiting for us. She quickly ushered us into the birth room and then she and Hope checked to see how dilated I was. 4 centimeters. I was ticked and pleased at the same time. 4 Centimeters meant I WAS in actual labor (I had an unspoken fear that this wasn’t labor and I’d over reacted) but I was ticked that I’d only progressed to a 4…. After all that effort I wanted to be almost done (Ha!).

I started laboring at the center. Sitting on the birth ball felt great, but having someone (Austin) squeeze my hips together for each contraction made the pain almost disappear. It was amazing… probably killed Austin’s hands but it felt pretty darn good to me. This is where I begin to lose track of time, everything seemed to have happened so quickly but it truly was another 10 hours. The contractions were building in intensity but I was focused on relaxing and just breathing through them. At some point my sister arrived from Dallas and it felt like we’d only been there a few minutes, I kept trying to calculate how fast she’d driven, and I assumed it was 8 o’clock but have no idea as there are no clocks in the birthing rooms. I finally asked to be checked again in the hopes that I’d progressed far enough to get in the tub. For some reason I had it firmly implanted in my head that getting into the tub would mean 1) less intense feeling contractions and 2) I would be almost done. Hope checked me and agreed that I could get in the tub (6 centimeters). The tub was a no go…. I could NOT get comfortable and instead just felt wet and sweaty. So out I came. I remember going through transition (throwing up, feeling hot, then cold).

I became pretty mean and told every person to leave me alone, shut up or some other comment at least once. I kept wanting to change positions, first on the ball, then hands and knees, then squatting…. Nothing provided relief, I just had to get through each contraction and lean on Austin, Kat, Jen, and Hope to provide encouragement.

When Trish arrived I was so happy…. Trish’s arrival meant that I was close (because she’s only called in once the mom is about to push) and I kept looking for her to rescue me from the others. I remember feeling that I was done, I was so tired and they just kept pushing me to keep going. I thought Trish would come in and tell them all to leave me alone and rescue me from Kat’s demands that I squat or stand. No such luck… Trish jumped on their bandwagon and joined the cheering section. I was beginning to really hate them, couldn’t they just understand that I was exhausted and I just needed a break. I asked if they could put me to sleep, Kat refused. I told them I was tired and just needed to sleep, Kat told me it was the endorphins and it meant things were progressing. I told them I didn’t want to do this anymore, Kat said I had to. I told them I couldn’t do this anymore… they all told me I could. I told them all to shut up, they chuckled because they knew it meant I really was close. I was afraid, I knew what was coming and was scared to actually have the baby, I didn’t want to tear… of all things, tearing or having an episiotomy was my greatest fear. Kat recognized that I was afraid and gave me a homeopathic calming remedy.

At one point Kat checked me again and I was dilated to 9 centimeters with a tiny lip, once the lip was out of the way I could push. I’m not sure of the order but I did consent to have Kat break my water (we’d been taught NOT to have the water ruptured because it only speeds labor by about 10-20 minutes, but at that point I was so tired 10 minutes sounded like heaven). I got really mad at Kat after she broke my water because suddenly there was all this pressure and unlike before I didn’t dissipate between contractions. I think I told her “You LIED to me! you said it wouldn’t hurt, this HURTS!” She had me clarify if it hurt or was pressure and I realized it was pressure, not pain (it still irritated me though). Kat also pushed back the lip so that I could push. The tub was filled once again and I got in to push… nada. Again I couldn’t find a good position. I wanted to be on my hands and knees but that meant my belly and back were out of the water, so there was no point. Out of the tub again and onto the bed, birth ball, birth stool, and anything else we could concoct.

My favorite position was to use Austin as a chair and sit on his legs between contractions then rock forward to all 4’s for the contraction. He is my hero for enduring that for as long as he did, I know it had to have killed him. I kept apologizing for having ruined his shorts… he assured me it was okay. Eventually Kat had me lie on my side to push, I was so tired I couldn’t push effectively anymore and side lying would allow me to rest between contractions. That was the best idea EVER!! Once I was on my side I could focus on what was going on and really push. I no longer felt any pain or pressure. The lights were turned down in the room and I stopped seeing or recognizing faces… just voices encouraging me. I was completely lost in “labor land,” I’d occasionally see someone standing in front of me or at the foot of the bed and I had no clue who they were. At one point I started to get irritated at the man who was just standing there watching me… then I realized it was Austin! I was no longer in control of my body; it pushed on its own. Pushing didn’t hurt, not pushing hurt, but the endorphins were so strong that I didn’t feel any pain while pushing.

I did get frustrated when the head was slow to emerge… it would start to appear as I pushed only to retreat backwards once the contraction ended. I finally reached down with my hand to feel the baby’s head and could use that as a guide on how to push better. Slowly I felt more and more of the head. Then the burning sensation of crowning hit. If our Bradley teacher had drilled anything into our heads it was to STOP pushing once crowning started. I told Kat & Hope that I felt burning and just stopped pushing, we waited for the burning to subside before pushing again, and then repeated the process several times. Hope and I massaged my perineum to help it stretch. I remember asking if I could push again and they told me to give short little grunty pushes. I felt like everything was going great and then all the sudden things went a bit crazy. They started yelling at me to get the baby out NOW, someone grabbed my head and pushed it forward, I was no longer on my side but was on my back and they just kept yelling for me to push. I was ticked off because I’d wanted the baby to enter the world slowly and peacefully, this was certainly NOT peaceful. When I resisted they said “We HAVE to do this!” and flipped me on to all 4’s. I knew something was off at that point and stopped arguing and just pushed. Eventually I felt this huge gush and heard Austin say “We have a Caleb!!”

I looked down to where the baby lay and saw a hand and a foot and was shocked at how big they were. I remember asking Austin “it’s a boy? Seriously?” and laughing.

Afterwards Austin held me while I held Caleb and the three of us just stared at each other in awe. I could not believe this warm heavy baby was actually ours. Austin was an amazing coach, and there is no way I could have done it without his support. He was constantly by my side, holding me, talking to me, and being my protector. Jennifer knew exactly what to say and every time I’d look to her she’d tell me what I needed to hear. The times when I felt that no one else in that room knew how I felt I knew that Jen had been through it all before and her encouragement kept me going. Kat, Hope, & Trish were amazing; they encouraged, pushed, and cheered me on the entire time. I felt surrounded by love and support by everyone and that made me feel safe and made the labor that much easier.

The chaos had been because Caleb decided to come out with his hand wedged up on the side of his face, then his broad shoulders got stuck and they had to wiggle him out ASAP so his heart rate wouldn’t drop. All total I labored for 17 hours, from noon on Tuesday until Caleb was born at 5:16am Wednesday morning. The pushing phase lasted 3 ½ hours. Apparently that is a long time but for some reason I had it stuck in my head that labor would last 24 hours so I felt I got off easy. I did not tear or have an episiotomy, all of Justine’s admonishments NOT to push while crowning paid off!! Caleb weighed in at 9lbs 6 oz and had a 14 1/2 inch head circumference... and his chest was just a broad. No wonder it took so long to push him out! Kat nicknamed Caleb "Big Bad John" (which must be said in a deep voice) and walked around singing the song as she took all his measurements.

After it’s all said and done I would do it (almost) the same all over again. The only thing I’d change would be to not drive so far, laboring in the car is not advisable!


  1. oh i just love reading birth stories. i am in tears, mostly from the story, and likely also from all these hormones raging in my newly pregnant self. sarah, you told it so beautifully and so real, how you just hated everybody and wanted them to leave you alone, i love it! lol. anyway, so glad i read this. it's a nice reminder of why i'm going through all of this first trimester crap that i feel i can barely push through, i hate being sick, but to know that in just a bit over seven months, i'll have another one of my own stories to tell makes it all the more bearable at least for this moment. thank you. :)

  2. Sarah, it is so great to hear, read, your birth story again. I can only imagine the two of you in that car trying to get going on the highway the correct direction. I think I would have been using some pretty bad language;) Thanks for sharing.


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