Our long-awaited little Dumplin’ is finally here! I’m sharing his birth center birth story with all of you – but fair warning – there may be a little too much information for some. Please don’t read if you blush easily. Okay – here we go!
Throughout my whole second pregnancy, my main concern was that I wouldn’t be able to stay pregnant long enough to deliver at our birth center. Our first son was born at just 34 weeks 6 days, so we had to go to the hospital instead.
I have nothing against delivering in a hospital, but soon after I delivered our Nugget, I knew I wanted to try to avoid it at all costs in the future. I just felt like I had less say in my care and I hated being bothered every 2 hours all night long. The nurses we had were just doing their jobs which I completely understand and appreciate. I just desperately wanted a good night’s rest and found that to be impossible in the hospital.
As soon as 37 weeks rolled around in my second pregnancy and I was cleared to deliver with the midwives at our birth center, I was immediately ready to not be pregnant anymore. I thought I’d go into labor immediately, but then I was 38 weeks pregnant and still no baby.
At 38 weeks and 1 day, I told my husband I wanted to try some things to get labor started. My midwife had told me the day before at my appointment that I should start taking Evening Primrose oil internally to soften my cervix. Other than that, she said labor would start when the baby was ready and that there wasn’t much else I could or should do.
Friday night, my husband and I watched YouTube videos of Chinese pressure point massages and decided to try them. I had no signs of labor and felt like I might end up going to 42 weeks or something because I had been so sure this baby would come early. Surely he would come as late as possible to put me in my place for thinking I knew what was going through his little head.
We did everything I knew to do to get labor started. I used the Evening Primrose oil, we made love (TMI – I know!), and we did those Chinese pressure points for all of 10 minutes. I felt perfectly fine when we went to sleep.
Saturday morning, I woke up and went to the bathroom. I felt some Braxton Hicks contractions, but I have those for almost my entire 2nd and 3rd trimesters, so this was nothing new. Then, I realized there was some slight pain accompanying them and I thought hmm…this might be it. By about 8 am, I told my husband, Scotty, I thought I was in labor, but to not get too excited.
A couple of hours later, we were heading out of the house to go shopping and I told him I was almost positive this was the real thing, so I wanted to stay as distracted as possible. I figured we could go shopping, come home to shower and sleep, and then head back to town to kill time and walk around to be sure we were close enough to our birth center.
I started timing my contractions, but I wasn’t doing it consistently and wasn’t even timing them correctly.
We went shopping, came home, and then headed back out to kill more time.
I texted my friend, Becky, to tell her that it might be nothing, but that I had been having contractions for a couple of hours. I told her to go about her day because I expected my contractions to fizzle out and be nothing. Her response – “or not haha”
A few days before this, she had guessed that I would deliver Dumplin’ on Saturday. It turns out – she was right!
At some point during our day, I remember thinking “June 11th. That could be this baby’s birthday. I like the sound of that. Wow…Or maybe the 12th if this takes a really long time. God, I hope not.”
I was getting more nervous, but was still determined to kill time and dilate as much as possible before even contacting the midwife.
We went out to lunch and ate falafel at my favorite spot about a half hour from our house. I chatted with another mom who noticed how pregnant I was and wanted to know how far apart our kids would be. I told her I thought I was in labor, so I was almost positive our little ones would be 17 months apart. She told me that her kids were about that far apart in age and that the first few months are difficult, but around month 3 it gets much easier.
I’m now incredibly thankful for those words of wisdom.
She wasn’t kidding when she said two kids so close together is really difficult!
At this point, it was about 1 in the afternoon. I was positive I was in active labor, but was expecting my contractions to fizzle out like I’d read in so many birth stories. With my first son, I had no idea I was in labor until my water broke. This time, my water didn’t break. Just like with my first son, I had no bloody show, no mucus plug, nothing to indicate I was in labor except my contractions.
After lunch, I told my husband I wanted some candy. My sweet tooth takes over when I least expect it. I asked him to run into a dollar store close to the restaurant and pick up some peanut M&Ms. I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to eat energizing foods when you realize you’re in labor, but that concept was lost on me. Give me my sugar!
He suggested we go to the dollar store close to our house which is about a half hour away. I gave him the look of death and he said “or I could just go to that dollar store right there…”
Damn straight! I’m in labor and you want me to wait for the candy I’m craving? He has no idea how much danger he was in. Standing between a pregnant, laboring woman and the food she wants is not a safe place to be.
He got me my candy and we headed home without any bloodshed.
I text Becky again and told her I think I overreacted. I said that I felt way better now and that we were about to lay down to take a nap.
We laid on our bed for a little while and put on Tarzan to distract our 17 month old.
The whole time, I was timing my contractions. I Googled how to time them correctly and realized they were still pretty irregular, but between 6 and 7 minutes apart.
Finally, I decided I should call the midwife. I had to leave a message with the answering service since it was Saturday and the birth center was closed.
The midwife on call called back very quickly. I told her that my contractions were between 6 and 7 minutes apart, but that I wasn’t too uncomfortable and that the contractions were still very irregular, but getting closer together.
She said to call her back when my contractions were 5 minutes apart, but then to head in to the center since I lived 40 minutes away.
As soon as I hung up, I looked down at my contraction timer and realized my contractions were already between 4 and 5 minutes apart. I decided not to tell Scotty because I still hadn’t showered and really wanted to before we left. I knew he’d push me to go to the birth center right then.
I told him I wanted to shower and get ready to go. He, our son, and I jumped into the shower. I held onto the wall during contractions and leaned on my husband through a few of them. Now, I was starting to realize these contractions weren’t going to fizzle out and that this was the real thing.
When we got out of the shower, I started timing my contractions again and realized they were now about 3 minutes apart. I called the answering service again and the midwife called back almost immediately.
I told her the situation and she said it was probably a good idea to head in and be checked.
As I was on the phone, my husband was milling around getting things ready to go. He packed the shirts we had been wearing that day in our son’s “go bag” and got our suitcase into the car.
As soon as I hung up, I picked up our son and just started crying. Scotty came to my side and I told him I wasn’t ready to have another baby. I wasn’t ready to give up my one on one time with our Nugget and was overcome with guilt. He told me I was about to give Nugget the best gift ever and that everything was going to be okay.
I’m apparently very emotional and very hungry when in labor. Note to self to plan for this next time.
I pulled myself together and started to dry my hair. I dried and straightened my hair and told Scotty I would just do my makeup in the car. Side note: I know how crazy this sounds. In my defense, I’m apparently very vein in labor in addition to being hormonally emotional. During my first labor, I insisted on painting my toenails and ended up showing up to the hospital 7 cm dilated. I’m weird, I don’t know how else to explain it. Brain drugs are a crazy thing when a woman is in labor!
Finally, we got out of the house. About 10 minutes after our drive started, we were on a backroad and I told my husband to speed up a little on straight-aways. He said “okay” but I could hear the terror starting to well up in his voice. I still laugh to myself when I think back to what I put him through.
Between making him wait while I insist on showering and doing my hair and then watching me struggle to put on eye liner on the way to have our baby, then finally asking him to speed up when he can do so without killing us – I’m sure I’m responsible for any gray hairs on his head.
While all of my craziness was going on at home, my husband had been texting my friend Becky and keeping her up to date. It started with him telling her we were going to go walk around at the Target near her house to try to progress labor. Then we were going to just head straight to her house to drop off Nugget. Finally, he text her and asked her to just meet us at the birth center to pick up our son.
Things were progressing way more quickly than I had anticipated!
We arrived at the birth center only a couple of minutes before my friend. We chatted with her for a few minutes and got Nugget strapped into a carseat in her car. She reassured me over and over again that she would take great care of him. I knew that, of course, but I never ever let anyone babysit my son. This was a huge deal for me to be away from him for who knows how long.
I gave Nugget tons of kisses, hugged my friend, and we made our way inside.
As soon as we got inside, a nice nurse named Christina greeted us and led us into the room we’d be in. She said the midwife, Carey, would be in to check on me and asked me if we needed anything. We didn’t at the time and she simply said “okay, let us know when you need support” and she left.
What?! That’s it? I had no idea that’s what delivering at a birth center would be like. As soon as she left the room I told my husband we had to do something to kill time because I would easily lose my mind if I had too much time to think.
He downloaded the Netflix app on his phone and offered to watch something with me. We started to watch YouTube videos when that option didn’t sound good enough. Finally, I settled on browsing Pinterest. Nothing was working to keep my mind off of things.
Soon, my midwife Carey came in the room and offered to check my progress. I was only 5 cm dilated.
Since I was already 7 cm when I got to the hospital with my son, 5 cm seemed like I had failed somehow. I asked if I should get into the bath tub and Carey said I should wait to use water until nothing else was working.
I didn’t want to admit it at the time, but I was already to that point. Scotty was rubbing my back through contractions, but I was in a good bit of pain and the contractions were getting pretty unbearable.
I told Scotty I wanted to dilate a cm an hour (as though I had any control of that). I calculated it out and figured I could have the baby by midnight if I progressed at that rate.
Between contractions, bouncing on the birthing ball helped, but when a contraction would come, I had to stand up and have Scotty rub my lower back. The nurse came back into the room and saw me having a couple of contractions. She offered to fill the tub for me and I immediately accepted.
I’ve read tons of birth stories and in every single one that involves a tub, the mom has said that it felt like her labor stalled.
This was definitely not the case for me. The water did nothing for me, honestly. I was so uncomfortable and was dreading how long this was going to take.
This time, I had this trapped feeling. I had no choice but to go through this now and I was getting really anxious feeling like there is no way out of having this baby right now. Plus, I have no real control over when he or she comes. I was getting too much in my head and was starting to feel desperate as the contractions got stronger and stronger.
My midwife and the nurse had been talking about another woman that was in labor with another midwife. She had been in labor for over a day and was transferred to the hospital because she was exhausted. She had been 10 cm dilated for hours, but wasn’t having the urge to push. The nurse explained that pushing when you don’t have the urge was like pushing against a brick wall. You wouldn’t get anywhere.
I was immediately convinced that I was going to end up at the hospital after a long labor because I never had the urge to push with Nugget. I just pushed when the contractions would come after I was 10 cm, but I really never felt that overwhelming urge at all with him. Not even once.
I leaned over the edge of the bathtub and asked Scotty to rub my back as hard and fast as possible with every contraction. The nurse sat by the edge of the bathtub and didn’t leave, so I thought to myself “she must know I need the support.”
Carey eventually stayed in the room and sat on the bed as well. During my contractions, Scotty would sometimes get tired and I’d tell him that he couldn’t stop rubbing my back, not for a second. I needed him to keep working so hard on my back to get me through these crazy contractions.
Between contractions I joked with him that he was having the next 2 kids and that I was never having sex with him again.
I’m not sure who it was – either the midwife or the nurse said “we’ll see about that.”
I finally told Christina that I felt like I was trying to poop during my contractions. This is a big deal for me considering pooping during labor has always been my biggest fear. I’m pretty sure I didn’t during Nugget’s birth, but I remember trying to. Anything to lessen the pressure. It was the same thing this time. I figured whatever I could get out would only help to take away some of the pressure and pain.
She said that was probably my body starting to recognize the urge to push. That made me feel like I might be making some progress, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
I told the nurse I was afraid I was going to be like the woman at the hospital and take forever to dilate. She confidently said “you won’t. You’ve already done this once, your body knows what to do.”
Finally, Carey offered to check my progress. I told her I couldn’t handle hearing I was only 5 cm. Again, the nurse came to my emotional rescue and said “you’re not 5 cm.” Her confidence gave me the confidence I needed to get through and I agreed to find out how much progress I had made.
Carey checked and said “you’re 9 ½ cm. Just a little cervix left.”
They told me if I planned to deliver in the water, I would have to get my bottom completely under the water, otherwise I’d have to get out of the tub.
I was feeling so much pressure that I couldn’t imagine changing positions in the tub to get onto my back because I needed Scotty to have access to rub my back as hard as possible. I decided to get out of the water and get onto the bed.
I ended up on my hands and knees – the one position I didn’t want – just because it was the best way to get that back support that I needed.
Other women are able to push in different positions. I’m now positive that I can’t figure out how to push unless I’m on my back. Since I was on my hands and knees and couldn’t figure out pushing, my body started doing it for me.
I guess that’s what they mean when they say “the urge to push.” No, there was no urge, my body was just doing it for me.
Being the control freak that I am, I freaking hated that. The pressure was getting really intense and I just wanted this to be over with.
When Christina could see that I was losing faith in myself, she said “you could have this baby within 2 hours of getting here.” I looked up at the clock and thought “holy crap I hope so. I can’t do this much longer.”
I really felt like I was going to the bathroom with each contraction and apologized to the midwife for pooping. She said I actually hadn’t yet and that that was just the baby’s head creating all of that pressure.
After a few really strong contractions, I told them I just wanted this to be over and didn’t want to do it anymore. My midwife told me to reach down and feel where the baby’s head was, but I told her I didn’t want to. They told my husband to feel and it felt like he barely put his finger in at all and he acted really surprised that he felt the head.
After the next contraction, they asked me if I wanted to feel it and I really didn’t want to, but I knew I’d regret it later if I didn’t. I seriously feel like my finger was only inside up to my first knuckle when I touched the top of the baby’s head.
At this point, it felt completely reasonable to me that they could pull the baby out for me since he was already so close, so I started asking for that. “Can’t you just pull it out?!” Carey said “no, you’re going to push your baby out.”
Scotty was holding my hand somehow – I’m not sure how since I hadn’t let him stop rubbing my back furiously for almost 2 hours. During one contraction when I was trying to deliver his kid’s giant head, I tried to bite his forearm, but thought better of it and stopped myself. He insists I did bite him, but he’s full of it. I only started to and then stopped. (Now that I know I’m going to hear about it forever, I’ll be sure to actually bite him next time so he knows the difference.) J
I kept thinking through the whole delivery process that I didn’t think I could do this two more times for the two more kids we wanted. I also wondered why the hell I keep choosing to do this without drugs when I could easily be down the road at the hospital with an epidural and way less pain.
With the last 4 or 5 contractions I kept telling myself “this can all be over if you just push harder and get the baby out!”
However, as I said before, I can’t seem to figure out how to push, so it was all up to my body and my baby to push this baby out. The last two contractions, I actually yelled as my body was pushing. This is now my biggest regret out of both of my labors.
Finally, one last contraction and the baby was finally here! The midwife told me to flip over and take my baby, but it took me a second to figure out how to turn over without kneeling on him or pulling his cord.
I looked down and he was laying on the bed crying. I scooped him up and saw that we had another beautiful baby boy!
Tinson Kove Wilson-Houghtalen was born at 7:58 pm, 2 minutes shy of my 2 hour mark at the birth center – just as our nurse Christina had predicted. He was 7 lb 7.5 oz, 19 ¾ in long.
We got to delay cord-clamping and I watched Scotty struggle to cut the umbilical cord. Finally, we became two separate people and I held my newest little man as the midwife and nurse checked him over.
Christina left as her shift was over, and a new nurse took her place.
Tinson (or Dumplin’ as we called him throughout the whole pregnancy) had some raspy breathing that seemed to concern the nurse and midwife. They pointed out to me how he was sucking his side in as he breathed and that his breathing was more labored than they’d like.
They finally asked to suction him and we watched them slide a tube down his throat to try to help him clear up whatever was causing him these issues. The midwife said they’d give him 15 more minutes, but then we’d have to talk about transferring him to UNC hospital.
I asked what that entails and Carey was very honest with me. She said it’s scary. They come in an ambulance and put him in a box and Scotty will go with him. In a few hours when you’re cleared, we’ll get you up there and have you admitted to a post partum room so you can be in the hospital with him. She assured me it looks much scarier than it is and that he would be in great hands.
His oxygen levels were 99 and 100 so they thought he was fine, but his breathing was really concerning to them. They left us alone for the next 10 minutes before they made the call to transfer him or not.
When they left the room, I started patting his back firmly. I figured it could only help him to loosen up whatever was in there causing him these breathing issues. Soon, I noticed him foaming a little at the mouth. Scotty grabbed the bulb syringe and suctioned him. A lot of fluid came out and that was it. His breathing became much less labored and he seemed perfectly fine.
The midwife and nurse looked him over again and we told them what had happened. They agreed that Scotty’s suctioning had done the trick. Luckily, my husband saved the day and our little man got to stay with us and never needed to be transferred.
We spent the night at the birth center and left at 7:30 the next morning. We were only at the birth center for 13.5 hours.
We rushed to our friend’s house to pick up Nugget and introduce him to his new beautiful baby brother.
That was almost a month ago, and Nugget still hasn’t acted jealous. He’s definitely been out of sorts and has gotten in way more trouble than usual, but the thing that upsets him the most is if we take the baby out of his sight. I was so nervous about how Nugget would handle Dumplin’s arrival and whether I’d be able to love another baby as much as I love Nugget.
I was crazy to worry. Having two kids is amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Even after two completely natural childbirths, I’m still in awe of the fact that I have two babies. It was tough, but I definitely plan to have two more natural births for the last two babies that we’d love to have one day.
Have you ever had a natural childbirth? If so, did you choose to deliver in the hospital or in a birth center? Or even at home? Let me know in the comments!
If you’re pregnant and planning a natural childbirth, you might be interested in my example birth plan. You can find this plus other awesome freebies like a hospital/birth plan packing list in my free subscriber library. For access, subscribe here!