I dozed off briefly and woke to three contractions in a matter of 15 minutes. I was too uncomfortable to continue lying in bed so I moved back to the yoga ball. Around midnight, I woke Austin to keep me company. Around the same time, I texted Michelle, my doula, updating her on the timing of contractions and my comfort level. My contractions kept coming closer together so at 1am I called Lenora. She agreed it was probably time to head to the birth center.

Austin and I arrived at the birth center around 1:30 after gathering up our things, waking Kam, and driving into town. Michelle met us in the parking lot and Lenora met us at the front door. The five of us climbed the stairs to my chosen birth suite, the Carol Room. Lenora performed a cervical exam and I was 7cm and 90% effaced!!! Woohoo, over halfway there! I settled in on the yoga ball, chatting with Michelle, Lenora, and Austin. Shortly after arriving, the doorbell rang alerting us to the arrival of my parents. They came upstairs and a few minutes later, my Grandmother arrived. We visited for about 10 minutes or so, then the three of them took Kam downstairs to play.

As my contractions progressed, the pain in my back increased so I hoped soaking in the tub would help me relax. Lenora and our birth assistant, Molly, ran me a bath and just after 3am, I got into the tub. The warm water and low lighting, along with Michelle’s quiet encouragement, kept me relaxed between contractions. I spent almost 1.5 hours in the tub before I desperately needed to move again. Before returning to the birth suite, Lenora performed another exam and I was almost complete.

I wanted to finish laboring on my hands and knees, but when I got on the bed, my feet began to go numb. I decided to sit on the birth stool, hoping I could hurry Kota’s arrival. Lenora checked Kota’s heartrate frequently to confirm he was handling labor well. After an hour or so, Lenora noticed I was starting to swell so she encouraged me to change positions. I got on the bed on all fours and my water finally broke.

At this point, the urge to push was undeniable. I bore down with all my being almost subconsciously. I was tired and ready to hold my baby. One final position change to relax my bottom and a few pushes was all it took for Kota to start crowning. At Lenora’s encouragement, I fought against the urge to push and the pain of the ring of fire, to allow Kota to come out gently to hopefully prevent tearing. The instant his head was born, the pain diminished. I pushed again and he was out, officially born at 6:03AM. A few moments later Kota began to cry and he was laid on my chest.

Lenora and Molly attended to me while our second birth assistant, Tonia, examined and cleaned up Kota. Once the umbilical cord turned white, Austin cut the cord. I had a 1st degree tear as the swelling prevent some stretching and Lenora stitched me up. During this time, Austin was able to have skin to skin with Kota. When we were ready, Lenora weighed and measured him (9lbs and 21″!!) and our family came to meet the newest addition our family.

Kam was instantly smitten with her baby brother as she climbed into bed with us to look at him. We visited with family for a few hours and Austin’s dad brought us Whataburger because childbirth makes you hungry lol. After our family departed and Kota’s breathing regulated, we were discharged around 1:30PM.

Overall, there are not words to accurately describe my experience. Lenora, Molly, and Tonia were professional, encouraging, steadfast, and accommodating. They rarely left my side, but gave me the space to labor how I wanted. Even though my waters were stained with meconium, the umbilical cord was looped around his neck, and he swallowed some fluid, the atmosphere stayed calm. I never once doubted their ability to care for me or my son. In fact, it wasn’t until the drive home my husband told me about the cord and I am so grateful for how quickly and calmly Lenora reacted.

Michelle was my constant support. She became in tune with my needs, making sure I stayed hydrated and as comfortable as possible. The room was gently lit until the sun rose and it was bathed in natural light. I honestly could not have imagined a better place to welcome my son into the world.

At first, I was content with never experiencing natural childbirth again because OUCH! Now that a little time has passed, I hope to welcome future babies in Lenora’s care and at the gorgeous birth center. I am grateful for how everything and everyone came together so I could have this experience.

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