by Krystal Stahl
Ever since Jackson, our oldest son, was three months old, we really wanted a second baby. Around the time Jackson turned one, we found out that I was pregnant again. My family was in town for Jackson’s first birthday party, and my sister mentioned to me that she thought I was pregnant. I just shrugged my shoulders and told her that I was not going to take a test because I had already taken a dozen of them before, and they were all negative. After a week or so, I took a test, and SURPRISE! – Positive. Matt and I were so excited.
After the not so great hospital birth of Jackson, I knew that I wanted to do things differently this time. All the ladies at church raved about midwives and home-births and water births, and they sounded so much better than the 15 minute OB visits that always seemed rushed, the hospital room with no air conditioning during labor and delivery, and the episiotomy that resulted in a 3rd degree perineum tear. This was all in July, a few weeks before we were to move to Northwest Houston because Matt had just received a promotion, so I put off finding a midwife for awhile until my mom and husband both insisted on me getting the prenatal care that I should have already been receiving.
For awhile, I was very discouraged with my search to find a midwife. All the ones in network with Medi-Share were associated with a hospital, and I knew that I was not going down that road again. Although I was set on having a homebirth, Matt was not, so I turned to the birthing centers. I visited the one in the Woodlands, but it turned out that they did not work with Medi-Share and I didn’t like that you had to see all their midwives instead of having just one who would be with you all the way. It definitely took a while to find Cathy Rude of New Life Birth Services out of the Katy Birth Center, but it was well worth it.
During the next several months, I met with Cathy and Melissa Bates, the midwife in training, at the birth center. Being the introvert that I am, I had a hard time at first opening up to them, but as time passed, things got better. The one thing that I disliked the most throughout most of my pregnancy was the food log because my sugar intake was way out of control, but with Cathy’s advice and constant reminder, I was able to get it under control. Thanks to Cathy I only gained about thirty pounds this time instead of fifty. I felt and looked so much better and did not even feel nine months pregnant at the end of it.
Starting around month seven, Braxton Hicks started. Fun. I know, but I knew that they were just my body’s way of preparing for the upcoming birth and practicing for it. By the 37th week of the pregnancy, I was wishing they were the real deal, but nothing. Cathy would ask me if I had a bloody show or loose bowels or anything else that might mean labor… I would simply reply, “Nope”. The one thing that made the anticipation worse was the fact that Jackson had been born five days early, so we were all thinking that Lincoln would be born early as well. Nope. The days came and went. At the 39th week appointment, Cathy said she thought he would be born that Sunday or Monday… Nope. No Lincoln. Matt stayed home with me that week and the anticipation drove us crazy. We went for walks, took naps with Jackson, went to dinner a couple of times and played Scattergories. Still no Lincoln.
On his due date, March 7th, we had an eight o’clock appointment with Cathy. We were actually late to that one because of traffic and had joked that this time in the morning and between 5-7pm at night would be the absolute worst times for labor to start and were hoping that labor would start while we were on the way and would just have to stay the birth center. That was ideal. Well, we arrived at the birth center and met with Cathy. Since I was forty weeks, Cathy swept my membranes a little and checked dilation. I was excited to find out I was nearly four centimeters. She also felt for Lincoln’s head and said he was in a great position and quite low, but with no contractions, she sent us on our way. On the way out the door, we joked that perhaps they would see us in an hour or maybe that night.
On our way home, I started to feel contractions that were slightly stronger than the Braxton Hicks. I timed them, but they were not regular and I could talk through them. After lunch, I napped with Jackson. Three contractions occurred but then I fell asleep and woke up around 3pm. Matt suggested that we take a walk. As we walked I felt the contractions again. This time I had to slow down when they occurred, but could still walk and talk so I just timed them; five minutes apart, lasting for one minute. We stopped by the leasing office for Matt to sign the renewal lease, and everyone asked when I was due. We even ran into our neighbor who was shocked to find out that I was due that day!
I called Cathy when we got back to the apartment to let her know about the contractions but since they were still somewhat irregular when I walked up the stairs, she told me that it was great, but I needed to continue timing them, eat some dinner, and call her back if they continued. So I cooked dinner, grilled cheese and chips. All throughout I continued to have contractions; still five minutes apart, minute long. I called Cathy again to let her know. She said give her fifteen minutes to get some dinner and then we could leave. That was at 5:55pm. At 6pm I went to the bathroom and there was blood. Not seeing this with Jackson, I was scared, so I immediately called Cathy, and she said that it was normal and that I should leave right away. We left the apartment at 6:05pm with Jackson because we were afraid to drop him off or call someone fearing that we would not make it to the birth center since my previous labor and delivery was so quick.
Of course, Lincoln decided to start things during rush hour and while it was pouring rain. As Matt weaved through traffic, Jackson slept and I sat in the passenger’s seat concentrating on breathing through each contraction. Counting to four as I breathed in, filling my stomach with air, and counting to five as I breathed out, imagining the cervix opening and Lincoln descending. Matt constantly reminded me to breathe and relax as the contractions intensified and grew closer together. By the time we reached the birth center, they were thirty seconds apart and were almost 2 minutes long. Time: 6:45pm.
Not wanting to have the baby in the car, Matt dropped me off at the front door as a contraction ended. Cathy met me in the hallway and directed me to the bed so that she could check me. I was dilated to six centimeters. As she filled the birth pool, we all walked around the room as Jackson sat on the couch. Finally, I was able to get in the pool and the warm water felt great, but at first, I did not like it. Cathy told me to try lying on my back, allowing my body to float and rock it side to side through each contraction. That position and squatting by the side were the best. As each contraction started, I breathed deeply and just closed my eyes.
Finally, the urge to push came. I told Cathy, but fearing that she would tell me not to push since that is what the nurses told me with Jackson, I was a little fearful to hear the same thing. She said okay go ahead! What a relief. She was so calm and hands off for the most part which I really liked. At 7:20, I started pushing. All I could think was get this baby out; just push. I don’t think I breathed very much during each one, but I did scream which caused Matt to cry tears of joy and Jackson to cry out of fear.
His head came out as I felt the ring of fire, but he got stalled at eye level and chin level. I reached down at that point and felt his little head, slimy and hairy, but it filled me with joy and helped me to have the strength to push the rest of the way. Since his cord was wrapped once around his neck, Cathy had to slip it down his shoulder as I worked to keep my body under the water and push. That was hard. His shoulders came, but instead of his body rushing out, I had to push a couple more times to get him all the way out. He was born at 7:26pm.
Cathy pushed him through my legs as I scooped up all nine pounds of him in my arms! He was so beautiful, and I did not even check to see if he was a boy until Connie, the second midwife who was helping Cathy record the birth, reminded me to. Right after I delivered the placenta, Meredith, Cathy’s daughter, walked in. Cathy called her during the pushing to sit with Jackson until Lincoln was born because Matt’s parents still had not arrived. So while, Cathy and Connie worked to get us cleaned up, Meredith played with Jackson in the other room. Matt’s parents and brother arrived about 10 minutes later and took over Jackson who would not come near me or Lincoln. Eventually he did come to see me but only if someone held him.
Having a midwife, actually two, help me out was amazing! Cathy and Connie helped me get into the herbal bath with Lincoln, glue the small labia tear, and performed Lincoln’s tests. They worked so quickly to get things done so that we would be able to go home and go to sleep. I could tell that they both truly cared about my family and me. Cathy also sat down with Matt to make sure he understood everything to do at home and answered all his questions while Connie helped me with breastfeeding. It was a little challenging, but she showed me some great tips that I had forgotten. Matt said afterward that he was so impressed how Cathy handled everything; calm, soothing and just allowed the birth to occur God had intended it to. He raves about it every time we talk about it.
I definitely would not have changed anything about this birth except for maybe calling Matt’s parents earlier and breathing more during the pushing. I could not believe how much better this whole process was than the one with Jackson in the hospital. Having a midwife like Cathy who truly cares about you to monitor your daily food intake and to work with you through your entire labor and delivery was truly a blessing from God. Being at home 3 hours later and in my own bed with our new baby as everyone else sat outside smoking cigars and drinking champagne was also simply wonderful.
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