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Together at last: The birth of Cohen Unmedicated

Together at last: The birth of Cohen

"At about 3:30 a.m., I suddenly had an urge to push. I told my husband something along the line of, 'I just pushed. We need to leave NOW.'"

On Tuesday, October 4th, at our 36+6 week appointment, I joked with our midwife about how ready I was for our baby to be here, even though we were still more than three weeks out from the due date. I was so done being pregnant. I swore up and down that I could NOT get any bigger, and I was not afraid to let all the people know it. Little did I know that just a few days later I would be bringing Cohen Grey into the world in the early Sunday morning hours of October 8th, 2017. A lot of these details I gathered later from my husband. This is how my little boy made me a momma.

During the fall on Saturdays, you can find me in front of a TV watching college football. I live and breathe burnt orange, and I will go to the ends of the earth cheering on my Longhorns (regardless how terrible their season is going). As we spent many Saturdays even through our dating years, we were out to dinner at our favorite sports bar on Saturday night. We were with my parents, who had just flown back home that day from a long business trip, and my eight year old step-son. We were about to leave and finish the game at home when I felt a small “pop!”. Seconds later, I was soaking, sopping wet. Embarrassingly so. My water had broken, Hollywood style, in the middle of one of the busiest restaurants in town. After finding a manager to help clean me and my chair up, and convincing my family that “YES, I’m serious!” We quickly gathered our things and headed home.

Once home, my labor progressed pretty quickly. About two hours in, I still had not felt my baby move since my water had broken. I texted our birthing coach, and my husband called our midwife. We met her at the birth center at about 10:15 p.m. for a non-stress test. Everything was fine, it seemed as though Cohen had chosen that time to take a nap! She checked my cervix while we were there to get an idea for the next time we came in. I was 90% effaced, and about one centimeter dilated.

We got back home at about 11 p.m., and my body really started working. I’m not one for trying to scare others with big, intimidating stories, but man, contractions were PAINFUL. It turns out that Cohen’s giant head (you’re welcome, son!) was asynclitic, which means it was a little askew in the birth canal. He was also rotated a little towards the posterior. This caused all of my contractions to be “back labor,” rather than front/lower.

During the next few hours at home, I went between standing in the shower with the water hitting my lower back, crouched on the bed, and walking around my bedroom at turtle speed. My husband was a glorious, patient rockstar who did exactly what I asked and needed. That consisted mostly of kneading tennis balls into my lower back, giving me water, and encouraging me through my moments of “I can’t do this.”

I was living second to second. I had no idea A. How long my contractions were, B. How far apart they were, and C. What time it was. I had to keep asking my husband all these details.

We live very close to our birth center, so our instructions were to head there when my contractions hit “3-1-1” three minutes apart, lasting one minute long, for an hour. That time came much quicker than either of us were expecting!

At about 3:30 a.m., I suddenly had an urge to push. I told my husband something along the line of, “I just pushed. We need to leave NOW.” We hopped in the car and headed to the birth center.

Once we got there, I was in full business mode. No superfluous talking, (I didn’t even curse!) and no unnecessary movements. My midwife checked my cervix again, and I was 100% effaced, and eight centimeters dilated! I felt like a superhero. I had worked through seven more centimeters at home! I was officially in “transition.”

My back labor had gotten much worse by the time I felt the need to push. They stuck a tens unit on my lower back and gave me the controls, as well as heated up a rice bag to put over the sensors. It turns out that last centimeter I still needed was stalled due to Cohen’s head being stuck on a “lip” of my cervix. (Let me tell you, that’s not something you want to hear. Do you know how they rectify that? Your medical professional manually gets the baby unstuck with their hand. Ouch.) After the midwife got him unstuck and turned into the proper position (ouch, again) it was time to really push.

By then it was about 6:30 a.m. I had successfully moved my soon-to-be-born giant baby into position, and he was crowning! My incredible and patient birth team kept telling me, “you’re almost done!” and I remember snapping back, “you’ve been saying that for an hour!!” after a particularly painful contraction. Seriously, these people were saints.

I yelled, screamed, and superwoman-roared this sweet baby into the world. Right before he was born I needed a little bit of oxygen, which was given to me by a mask. We tried to keep my pushes slow and steady to prevent injury, but in the end I had a 2nd degree tear on my perineum that required multiple stitches, and 1st degree tearing or “road rash,” as the birthing community so gently puts it, on the front side.

At 7:33 Sunday morning, my Cohen Grey was born. He made a few little bird noises on his way up to my chest, and was as content as he could be. A few minutes later, he latched on beautifully and has been a nursing professional ever since. While we both started to figure out breastfeeding, I delivered my placenta with a small push and gentle tug from the midwife. We did delayed cord clamping, and waited until my placenta detached from my uterine wall before my husband cut the umbilical cord. This was facilitated by a very uncomfortable fundal massage, which was made slightly more bearable by the sweet new baby I had curled on my chest. About two hours after he came Earthside, we had his newborn exam done right on the bed next to us. He was born at 8 pounds 4 ounces, and 20.5 inches long.

At about 9 a.m., my parents brought breakfast and my step-son to the birthing center, so they could all meet Little Brother. I have never felt so much joy and love in one room. Everyone took their turns holding him, and then left to give us a chance to nap before we drove home. We made it back home at about 1 p.m. the same day I delivered Cohen. I loved my birthing center birth, and will shout from the rooftops for the rest of my days how well I was treated, and how quickly I recovered after my natural birth.

Now that we’re a few weeks out, I’ve been able to reflect back on some things, as well as talk with my husband and had him fill in some details I didn’t remember. I had started taking active steps to prepare my cervix for dilation and labor for about two days prior to my water breaking. I used borage oil capsules and had started drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea in the evenings.

There were a few times that I thought and expressed the idea of just going to the hospital and getting medication. My pain temporarily clouded my feministic powerhouse ideas of giving birth naturally and seeing how strong I was. Thankfully, my husband, midwife, and nurse, kicked those thoughts and helped me remember my purpose. I’m thrilled to know that I successfully got my baby here safely, and exactly how I wanted to birth.

I am painfully head over heels in love with our little boy. I watch him sleep, snuggle him when he does, and smother him in kisses every chance I get.

Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!