I met Carrie Bishop about three years ago when she came to my prenatal yoga class. She had so much enthusiasm for her practice and her preparation for birth. Even in those tired-out days of late pregnancy, she beamed an inspiring spark! I especially appreciated her thoughtfulness about her birth team: two doulas, a midwife, her twin sister, and of course, her husband, Jacob. Their precious boy is just over 2 years old now, and Carrie admits to being “a little weepy about it” but also really excited: “His speech development is really exploding right now so every day Jacob and I are looking at each other, like, ‘When did he start saying that?!’ hahaha!” Here, in Carrie’s own words, is the story of the day that she and Jacob met their son, Charlie.—xoxox jenni
1 Centimeter—No Progress Yet
Regular contractions started around 8am on Monday, February 8th. They felt like menstrual cramps—nothing too bad—but they were definitely pretty regular. I called the midwives’ office and let them know; they had me come in so they could monitor me and the baby for a bit. Definitely regular contractions, but I was still 1 centimeter (cm)—no progress yet. I went to breakfast with my husband, Jacob, and our friend JoAnna.
Then I went home and managed to sleep. Throughout the day the contractions kept up, getting a little bit worse all day long. We had a centering group meeting at our midwives’ office that night. We went to that and they checked me again. At this point, the contractions were worse but still not that bad. I was so hoping that I would be dilated more, but when they checked me and I was still 1 cm, I totally cried and felt so frustrated that it wasn’t the “real thing.” Ha!
The midwife gave me orders to take some Benadryl and drink some wine so I could SLEEP, because this probably wasn’t the start of anything quite yet, and I needed my rest. We went home and I did that—and then the contractions worsened. I tried to sleep through them but couldn’t. So I put my TENS unit on and just walked around the house—I sat on the couch for a while, then walked some. At this point, Jacob was asleep and I let him keep sleeping until the contractions were a lot worse. Then, I woke him up and I got in the tub. He sat with me and poured hot water over my back and belly when the contractions hit. The water was AWESOME.
1:45am Feb. 9
Around 1:45am, we called our doula to see what she thought (and honestly, I think Jacob and I both were kind of unsure that I was actually in labor at this point.) She said she’d be over in 30 minutes, and by the time she arrived, the contractions were really bad. I decided that I probably couldn’t last much longer like this and still ride in a car. We worked through some contractions at home, and then started packing up for the hospital. (We hadn’t packed a bag yet.)
3:30am Feb. 9
We got to the hospital around 3:30am. Once we got up to labor and delivery, the staff asked me if I was planning to labor without drugs, and when I said yes, they moved me to the big nice room with a tub. YAY!
The tub was such a relief, but for me, the comforting part only lasted for a bit and then it would suddenly get WAY intense and I would need to jump out and be somewhere else.
We got to the room and the contractions were coming pretty quickly. My doula and Jacob were so amazing—as soon as a contraction started, I had hip pressure from one of them and encouraging words from both. I got checked soon after I got in (and the midwife rocked—she checked me on a yoga mat in the bathroom floor.) She told me I was 3 to 4cm, and not to be disappointed. I wasn’t—I was so, so excited not to be 1 cm anymore!! PROGRESS!
So then it was time to just labor away. By that time, our doula’s assistant and my twin sister had arrived.
I spent most of time leaning against a bar in the bathroom, on the floor on my hands and knees, or on my side in bed. I got in the tub twice—once right after we got there and once when I was much further—like 6 or 7cm. The tub was such a relief, but for me, the comforting part only lasted for a bit and then it would suddenly get WAY intense and I would need to jump out and be somewhere else. Everyone was so helpful when that needed to happen: They were always there with water, got me where I wanted to go, gave me counterpressure, and helped me vocalize with low tones and control my breathing.
I think I said, “I can’t do this anymore, I have to stop.” like EVERY TIME I had a contraction, and every time, the reply was, “You ARE doing it.” It was so awesome.
Around 6cm (I think) my midwife broke my water for me. That had been offered to me earlier, but the midwife had warned that it might increase the intensity of the contractions, and I said, “UM NO THANK YOU!” But after a few more hours, I just wanted to progress, and she really felt like it would get things going.
And boy did it.
Push. Him. Out!
I went from 6cm to pushing so quickly—although it felt like forever—and most of those contractions were on my side in bed. I did have a little break between them, and apparently I fell asleep between each one, but I don’t remember that!
At this point I started thinking about an epidural or some other pain meds. My husband and I had set up a code word … that I could say if I REALLY seriously was ready for drugs. So, when I started saying, “I can’t do this anymore, I need some drugs, is it too late for that?” Jacob was like, “You know the word—if you say it, we’ll make it happen.”
So I would fall asleep, and then wake up and say, “It’s coming.” Then all these hands were massaging and pressing and helping me manage the pain. It was so intense.
Sooo, at this point I started thinking about an epidural or some other pain meds. My husband and I had set up a code word—recommended in the Birth Partner—that I could say if I REALLY seriously was ready for drugs. So, when I started saying, “I can’t do this anymore, I need some drugs, is it too late for that?” Jacob was like, “You know the word—if you say it, we’ll make it happen.”
And for some reason, I never said the word! (Artichoke. Ha!) But I think it helped me just to be able to say, “I NEED DRUGS” out loud.
The urge to push came on after laboring for a bit through the crazy hard contractions. The midwife checked and said it IS time to push! And I was so relieved. But oh man, the pushing was the hardest part for me!!
I pushed on all fours on the bed (thank goodness for all those pushups I did in prenatal yoga!). And I didn’t realize that the pushing would be so involuntary. It felt like a hiccup; I couldn’t control it. The pushing just happened even if I wasn’t ready for it. I pushed for about 2.5 hours.
Toward the end, when my boy’s head started to show, his blood pressure started dropping during my pushes. The midwife would have me hold back some of my pushes so I could just take deep breaths and get him some oxygen. At this point I was pretty scared and kept asking “Is he okay?” and they kept assuring me he was fine, but that we needed to breathe … and push. him. out!
I got back on my side and a nurse brought over a big mirror and told me to look—and I didn’t want to, ha! but my midwife MADE me—and then she let me touch the top of his head!
And that gave me the energy to keep pushing.
10:40am Feb. 9
Finally, with my boy’s head still at the same point, the midwife said, “We need him out now, Carrie.” She told me that she needed to cut an episiotomy and explained that he needed to come out and FAST. She was so apologetic, because I’d put in my birth plan that I didn’t want an episiotomy. But I trusted and respected her, and I know she didn’t do it lightly. She cut, and then told me I HAD TO PUSH HIM OUT. So I pushed, and he was out several minutes later! He was born at 10:40AM.
Charlie came out as healthy as a horse! The end felt a little hard and scary and intense—apparently Charlie had also pooped, so my care providers were worried about meconium too—but the result was a happy, alert boy on my chest! He latched onto my nipple pretty soon after he was born and nursed a bit. The midwife sewed me up while I was concentrating on him, so I was good and distracted.
I am so grateful for a freaking amazing group of people who helped me through every contraction and push—ack!—and helped me bring Charlie into the world healthy and alert. Jacob; my twin sister, Cathy; our two doulas; and an amazing midwife and nurse were totally there for me the whole time, encouraging, supporting, and guiding me through my labor and Charlie’s birth.