Thomas Alexander – A Birth Story


Thomas Alexander – A Birth Story

(all photographs from monet nicole)

There was already a lot different going into this experience – Alan & I weren’t first-time parents anymore. Even though we don’t know it all, we weren’t completely clueless about this second pregnancy.

I made a point to seek out a chiropractor who worked with pregnant mamas using the Webster technique. This way we could make sure that baby #2 wasn’t positioned improperly (a huge reason why I struggled so much with James).

We also sought out a facility that would help us with the birth we wanted. Mountain Midwifery Center in Denver was everything we were looking for, and provided an excellent prenatal experience as well as a robust community of like-minded parents.

With all of this in place, we were certainly hoping for a better birth experience. Shorter, ideally. And more in line with our natural birth plans.

I was due with baby #2 on 11/15… which went whooshing by. My mom flew into town on the 13th, and planned to stay until the 22nd, giving us a little over a week to catch the new baby’s arrival. HA. I got my first contractions on Friday night at 9PM, the 20th. Previous contractions had just been Braxton-Hicks – slightly uncomfortable, where my belly tightened… but it still left me questioning “Did I really have a contraction?” I figured that when the real ones started – I wouldn’t have to ask.

I was right.

The real ones SUCKED. OW. I never felt anything like them with my previous labor (it was all back labor), so this was a new experience. They hurt badly, requiring lots of focus and intentional breathing. I had them regularly through the night… but while they would space down to 6-7 minutes apart, they would bounce back up to 15 minutes apart. They were certainly long enough this time around at a minute+ per contraction, but they weren’t the “classic” progression from early to active labor. Sounds familiar, right? Ugh.

I called the midwife the next morning around 10 and she encouraged me to get some rest, even leaning on Benadryl or Tylenol PM. Hopefully that would help my body do what it wanted to do. I took some meds and slept for a couple of hours, which was great. Contractions were right there waiting for me later that day, and were getting more intense.

I’m pretty sure part of my water broke around 5PM, but it was tough to be certain. (I was trying to pee anyway.) (TMI, Dad, but I don’t care.) When I called in to check with the midwife, the contractions still weren’t super close together, so she suggested some nipple stimulation. (Fun, right?) I used my breast pump, and monitored contractions after that.

Wow. Ow. They certainly got more intense, if not spacing closer together. I got back in the shower for about the 4th time that day, and decided to give things a little more time to develop. Mom kept popping her head in, asking “Is it time to go to the birth center??”

By about 7:30 PM, I knew it was time to go into the birth center. We left mom and James at the apartment, and made it to MMC. The ride sucked, and the contractions seemed much closer together. (I stopped timing/caring.)

We were met at the door by our nurse (Heather), our midwife (Chance), and our photographer (Monet, who is also trained as a doula, which we didn’t hire her for, but was kind of a big deal). They brought us right into our birthing suite – the Grecian room – and they already had the tub ready along with everything else we’d need. 


To be honest, I was already a little nervous about my progress. I felt like I wanted to push when I got into the water, but after my experiences with James – what if I wasn’t ready yet? 


Chance & Heather encouraged me to listen to my body and do what felt right. So I went through the contractions for a while, but it didn’t seem to be time for baby to come out. We decided to do a quick exam to check me out. I still had my fore bag of waters, and I opted to have her break it (so maybe some of my water broke earlier, but maybe not?). She then told me that I wasn’t ready to push yet – I still had a bit to go, dilation-wise.

Insert freak out here.

Not only were the contractions so tough to bear, but I wasn’t even as far as I thought I was/should be. Mind games started to run amok. I asked for nitrous oxide to help, but while it was certainly welcome and used, it didn’t seem to cut very much of the edge off. 




I struggled. Hard. Absolutely this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I gave up about 15 times. I freaked out. I fantasized about being at the hospital and getting an epidural, even though I absolutely didn’t want that in reality. Some of the contractions were so intense and painful, I lost all focus and intentionality and just broke. Yelled. Screamed a couple of times. Absolutely cussed a lot. 


Let’s give some kudos to Alan. Because he was right there with me every step of the way, giving encouragement and reminders. Making sure I had sips of cold water throughout this process. Completely committed and present. Always there to let me grab him and squeeze, or hold me up, or brush my hair back. I’m incredibly lucky to have such a man to stand beside, and I’m so thankful for his unwavering support. Not once did he snap and say “Fine, you’re right, you can’t do this, let’s just go home you nancy.” :)





As I was breaking into a thousand pieces, the staff in the room was incredible. Constant reinforcement and encouragement. I must have said Chance’s name 1,000 times – it was reassuring to know she was there. During some of the hardest possible moments, Monet even stepped in to grab my hand and provide reassurance and encouragement, tapping into her doula skills. I’m so thankful for her added level of support, even though she didn’t necessarily expect to get dragged into such a mess. At least I feel like it was a mess. It certainly didn’t feel like the blissful, peaceful, intentional birth process that I imagined some women have. 


In hindsight, I realize now that there’s a reason this was so hard and so much and so big and I so didn’t think I could do it – I was in transition. Chance didn’t tell me at the time (wise, wise woman) but when she checked me and broke my bag of waters, I was only 4cm (of 10cm, remember).

I went through that phase of labor that’s always remarked upon as the hardest phase – with no meds – and gosh, it felt impossible. (I didn’t do this part myself with James – I was numbed.) I felt a little like I was on a ledge – I had no idea how/what I would find on the other side of this impossible-to-bear pain… but then things changed. The contractions changed. I felt like I wanted to push, but in a different way. More... primal, lower, more… purposeful.


In the meantime, I tried every possible laboring position to see what would help me feel the best and give me the leverage I was looking for. In the tub, on the birth stool, using the sling, on the bed… trying to find what felt right. I felt really restless – not able to find what would work for me. 

At a certain point, Chance wanted to check me one last time just to make sure that final lip of cervix was out of the way – and that seemed to be the game changer. Things finally felt like they were breaking loose, and that I had a chance and a purpose and a goal to reach. It was time. Chance suggested that I lay on the bed and recline on pillows so I could use my legs as leverage while I pushed. (Ha! Of all of the possibilities! Ending up like I would have in the hospital!)

I remember looking at the clock and laughing to myself – it was 11:57 PM on 11/21. This kid wouldn’t be born six days late like I thought he might… he’d be born on 11/22, exactly seven days late – just like his older brother. Jeez.

And wow. The pushing was tough. Lots of energy and focus. But it was GOOD. It had purpose, and power, and I could FEEL it. I was able to focus my pushing, take instructions and suggestions from the midwife, and see immediate results.


I didn’t have that with James – being numbed from the epidural meant my pushes were so broad, they weren’t nearly as effective. This was incredible, and highly motivating.

I felt the baby coming down, and the incredible reactions from Alan. He was so incredibly excited – I could hear it in his voice. He could see the baby’s head! He was nearly here! I was doing it! I felt his excitement and it was the best thing. Push, push, push. I was tired, so I had to wait for the contractions to help me along.

The “ring of fire”? Absolutely true. Certainly uncomfortable and I’d love to not feel that again. Crazy moment? Kiddo’s head was pretty much out, I was waiting for a contraction to get the rest of him… and he kicked me inside! What a shocking, nutty feeling!

With the next couple of pushes, the baby came out. Another impossible-to-describe feeling… but pretty darn incredible. 















Of course, there had to be an element of drama. When he first came out, he didn’t cry. Or move. Or do anything. He was just… quiet. Wet. Not making noise. Chance and Heather were already there, monitoring his heart rate, rubbing him, encouraging us to talk to him. He was a little stunned, we think. It took just seconds, I’m sure, but felt like forever. When he finally started to cry, it was absolutely the best sound. He was full of fluid, and it took him a minute to get it all out and inflate those incredible lungs for the first time.

This time, we were able to do immediate skin-to-skin contact with me, and delayed cord clamping. My placenta came out all in one piece, which is just delightful. So this baby received all of his good blood and had a great transition to the world. We were able to be left alone for nearly 2 hours just being with our baby (I was being stitched up as well, but my injuries were not as bad as what I had with James).

When they came in to evaluate the kiddo and cut the cord/weigh him, I was shocked to find out that he weighed MORE than his brother! Alan had accurately predicted the weight – which is crazy – but the harder thing to reconcile was that this baby seemed so TINY, but he’s actually about a half pound heavier than James ever was. He did great on his examinations/tests, and latched right on to both sides to nurse.

We were kind of amazed. It was done. We had done it. He was here. As I lay with the new baby, I was able to eat some snacks (fresh fruit, crackers, chocolate covered nuts and some apple juice) and just marvel. I was able to get up out of bed right away, and took a short bath to clean up. Baby joined me, since he was considerate enough to poo on me after he emerged. We both got dressed, received discharge instructions, and we all headed home by about 4:30 AM – right about 4 hours after I gave birth. And you’d think to yourself – jeez, that feels quick… but it was just right for us. All we wanted was to get some real food, and get home to show James his new little brother. And of course – to take a nap.


So there you have it. A story completely different from what we saw with James, and I’m so thankful for both. There was strength uncovered in both stories that I had no idea was within me. The trust, the faith, the letting go, the breaking, the putting back together… and finding room inside me for more love than I knew was possible.


Comments

  1. It was fascinating reading your story and learning from you, Alex. :) Both of my children were Caesarian births. With huge hips like mine, you'd think they would rotate properly! You were a brave woman, and the photos are as beautiful as the honest and compelling story you shared. I'm very happy that your family is healthy and loving. Enjoy those precious men in your life. - Jay Parizek

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  2. Absolutely *loved* reading your birth story Alex...So proud of you!

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