A Fullfilling, Healing Birth

Our birth story begins with our first pregnancy in 2016. I wanted a drug-free birth for as long as I can remember, and I was so excited to be able to give this a try. I read Ina Gaskin books and hypnobirthing and had plans for the months ahead, but unfortunately this pregnancy ended in a loss at 5 months.

The next year we were excited to learn I was pregnant again, and I soon began (what I believed to be) my preparation journey. I reread the books I had read the year prior plus some, listened to hypnobirthing tapes, watched documentaries, and did as much research as I could. I talked to everyone I knew who had a drug-free birth and did prenatal yoga and went to an acupuncturist.

I knew what a doula was and how helpful they could be, but we decided we didn’t have the money for it at the time and that we could handle the birth on our own. My husband read books and was going to be my “doula”. Little did we know how badly we could have used one!

Our labor with our son started with weeks of contractions and a 40 hour labor. I labored for about 28 hours on my own but never progressed past 4cm in that time (with strong contractions every 2-3 minutes for hours prior). I was approached at the 28 hour mark with either pitocin or the possibility of a cesarean. I took the pitocin with an epidural. The labor continued downward with two failed epidurals and pushing flat on my back with oxygen for 4 hours. My sunny side up 9lb 6 oz baby came out with a little extra help after the birth of his shoulders was delayed.

The doctor (instead of my husband) announced the gender as they whisked him away to make sure he was ok. I knew none of the 20 people in the room. By the time he came back to me I was so traumatized I declined skin-to-skin. We had been up for days and were exhausted. I then battled postpartum anxiety for months.

I became pregnant again the following year and knew this time had to be different. Right at the 7 week mark I hired René (I had heard amazing things in the community). I was a patient of Dr Dickerson’s this time and transferred my care to the midwives at the Birth Center after the 20 week mark. René called me frequently throughout my pregnancy to check on me and discuss my planning.

I saw a pelvic floor physical therapist, a chiropractor, and a craniosacral therapist. I reread all the books for the third time. I took my first class (René’s Comfort Measures class). We had a long meeting with René around the 35 week mark, processed my prior pregnancies and birth experiences, and she helped us feel confident going into the final weeks.

I did everything in my power to be prepared this time and knew having René and the Birth Center would help achieve my goal. I once again had weeks of contractions on and off but did not let that discourage me. I was in a good mental place with my team and preparation.

I woke up at 12:45am on a Saturday to go to the bathroom, and contractions started again. I felt it was another false alarm. By 3 am I could not sleep and realized that I was most likely in labor. My mom came and picked up my 2 year old son in the morning and my husband and I put movies on. I tried to distract myself as much as I could.

I called René and my midwife around 10 am to tell them I was indeed in labor and contractions had not gone away this time. René called me multiple times checking on me throughout the day, making suggestions and giving us words of encouragement. Around 3 pm René gave us the idea to try a contraction in a different position as I had been laying on my side for all of them. As soon as we did this my contractions picked up to every 1-2 minutes and were extremely intense.

We got to the Birth Center around 5 p.m. In retrospect we were so proud of ourselves for laboring so long at home. We once again could not have done this without René’s support, encouragement, and knowledge. I will never forget getting out of the car at the Birth Center and seeing René standing there outside waiting for us. It was so comforting. After a big contraction outside, she walked us in while I started to cry and shake from being so overwhelmed about what was ahead.

I remember René’s calm voice reassuring me I was right where I needed to be and that everything was going to be okay. In my birthing room was just René, my midwife Sherri, and my nurse Amy (who happened to be my next door neighbor!). The lights were dim and the tub was full. I felt so safe with just people I knew and cared for around me.

I got in the tub and labored in it until I started pushing. I would hang over the side of the tub and René was right there talking me through my intense contractions. She helped guide my husband in how to best support me and where to sit in the tub to help. I was so grateful, for this time my husband was able to be more of an emotional support than just a hip squeezer as he was in my previous labor.

It was so intimate, and René made this possible. She helped me with my mantras and rubbed my back. Any time I would tense up she would gently remind me or touch me a certain way to help me relax. I do not think I would have been able to progress so quickly if it were not for her.

My team advised me to get out of the tub and onto the bed because some women do better at that point out of the tub, and they knew what they were talking about. Immediately after getting out of the tub I started pushing. My baby was out in 8 minutes. Our total time at the Birth Center was 2 hours until birth.

My husband announced the gender (a boy- 9 lb 4 oz). All of my wishes were met, and our son immediately went skin-to-skin with my husband right by my side in the bed. The birth was the most beautiful, fulfilling, and healing birth and everything I had wanted for years and years prior.

René was our rock throughout the pregnancy and made us feel so prepared, safe, and confident. I truly believe that I was only at the Birth Center for 2 hours before the birth of my son because of her. She encouraged us and guided us when we were laboring at home and helped me to relax and work with my body through contractions when we were at the Birth Center. René was worth every penny.  We highly recommend her to anyone, and we will have her for any other children we have!

Alexandra McCall