Friday, February 08, 2013

The Story Of Gwen

There are moments in your life that you will never forget. Giving birth to your first child is one of them. It is a beautiful moment that takes your breath away. This is our story.

 Note: Our birth story is quite a blur and I am using our text exchanges and phone records with our doula and midwives to write this.

Me two days before delivery

 Paul and I had plans for a natural birth. No drugs, no interventions; just us, our doula, and the midwives that we had grown to trust and get to know over the 39 weeks of our pregnancy. Though my goal was to go completely natural, I was open to an epidural if need be as I had no idea if I could handle it. I wanted to be open minded to anything while still preparing my body and mind to labor naturally.

Our first family photo

To prepare, Paul and I took a natural birthing class. Over our seven week course, we felt well informed and prepared for what was to come our way. We learned how to have a healthy pregnancy, signs of labor, and how to prepare both mentally and physically for labor.  We also hired doulas to help coach both Paul and I during labor. We toured the hospital that I was to deliver in, packed (and repacked) our hospital bags, and  took every step to be confident in ourselves and believe that together, we could handle labor. Little did we know what was to come..

On January 30th, Paul and I went for our 39 week checkup. After showing zero signs of impending labor the week prior, we were ecstatic to find out that I was 2cm dilated, 80% effaced, and 0 station. Lots of progress had been made over the week, but we knew that we still had a ways to go. During the exam, our midwife also raved about my “beautiful pelvis.” I had no idea what that meant, laughed, and took it as the strangest compliment I had ever received.

Cutting the cord

The following two days, I continued life as usual, walking 2-3 miles a day, cleaning, and working full time. I wasn’t slowing down, and like many late stage pregnant women, felt that our baby would never come. 

On Saturday, February 2nd, I woke up after an uninterrupted 9 hours of sleep. I had been a little crampy the night before and still remained so, but knew that this was completely normal this late in the game. After a nice, long, hot shower, lazing around in the morning, and getting dressed, Paul and I decided that we should grab some lunch and do thrift shopping on what we knew was to be one of our last weekends sans baby.

We arrived at Panera at about 12:30 and ordered our lunch. I started to notice that my cramps were becoming more frequent, but still they were nothing to write home about. We gave our doulas a quick text letting them know I was having some cramping and they told us to get back to them if we found they were in a regular pattern.

Gwen's first bath
After lunch, we headed to a thrift shop to look for a hallway mirror. It was here that my contractions became a little stronger, but still were nothing major. I wanted to go home and take a bath. We arrived home at about 1:45. My cramps were still in no apparent pattern but were a little stronger and lasting a little bit longer. I soaked in the bath tub and found some relief; I also worked through some stretches and exercises that we learned in class. At this point, it was 2:27pm, and while I was still a bit uncomfortable, I knew that, if in labor at all, it was still too early to go to the hospital.

For the next hour and a half or so, I continued stretching, walking around our house, and soaking in the tub. My gut told me that this may be the real thing as my contractions were gradually getting stronger. Still, I was able to speak through all of them (even speaking to my doula on the phone at 3:45) got the dogs ready to go to boarding, and tell Paul what he could do to make me comfortable. I was excited that this could be the real thing and that I could possibly meet our sweet girl in the next day or so. 

Loving my girl

By 4:19pm, I was in the bathtub full time; my contractions seemed to be closer and were definitely getting a bit more intense. I was practicing our different poses, doing breathing techniques, and trying to keep my body relaxed- all things we had learned in class. Paul was amazing at coaching me, meeting my needs, and helping me relax. 

Somewhere around 4:35pm, I began to feel something change. Out of nowhere, my contractions became unbearable, and I felt a strange pressure that had not previously been there. Though I had never been in labor, I knew I had to push. I told Paul this and he said that I just needed to relax and that there was no way I had to push. I wasn’t showing any signs of being that far into labor. I felt different and, for the first time, scared. I wanted to go to the hospital. I also had convinced myself that if I was still in early labor (which after laboring only two hours or so I must be), there was no way I could do it without an epidural. 

At 4:46 pm, Paul called our midwife, told them I wanted to head to the hospital, and also asked for our doula to head over. He got me out of the tub, but with my contractions coming back to back- there was no relief and I could not move. At about 4:50, as I was kneeling in front of the toilet, I felt a gush. My water had broken. I knew things were getting real. I was terrified, in agony, and had no idea how I would make the 10 minute car ride to the hospital. I was feeling out of control and overwhelmed. For the next five (I think, there is no way to tell this time frame as all texts stopped) I was in excruciating pain. My contractions were relentless.

Free to go home from the hospital
Then, it happened. I felt something drop and my pain decreased. I put my hand down and felt my baby’s head starting to come. I was holding my baby inside of me and about to deliver my baby in our downstairs bathroom with no medical assistance. Paul did not believe me and I told him as calmly as I could, “Paul, I am holding our baby in with my hand and I need you to call 911 now.” He still did not believe me and asked if I was sure, and I said yes. There was no mistaking what was going on. He cautiously called 911 (I think to appease me) and told them that his wife was in labor and felt she couldn’t make it to the hospital. 

The next thing I know, another contraction came and I was lowering our baby to the bathmat below me. I looked with shock at the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. I was relieved that she was pink and screaming and could not overlook the massive amount of black hair on her head. My sweet Gwendolyn was here. I wrapped our baby in towels and held her against me while Paul rushed around the house looking for a shoelace as he was ordered to do by the 911 operator. I was relieved that labor was over, but absolutely terrified at the same time. Were my baby and I ok?

The rest of the story is a bit of a blur. Within a few minutes (I think) of delivery, our doula arrived followed by the EMT’s. I was carried on a stretcher and rode in an ambulance to the hospital. Both Gwen and I checked out healthy (though I opted for a blood transfusion) and, we were the talk of Labor and Delivery.

Though our birth story is something I never in a million years would have pictured for us, I can honestly say that I have never been more proud of myself, or my husband and our relationship. Paul was amazing for my labor, delivery, and is continuing to step up every day as the best daddy I know. I am also proud of myself and my body. I had a less than three hour labor that went from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, and held it together in a terrifying situation. I know that this experience has brought us together in a way I never thought possible. Our little Gwen is now five days old, and I am still going over her birth in my head. It was crazy and insane, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t want her story any other way.


  1. Wow, you r one strong women! I had Brandon and kaitlyn without any drugs and it was extremely painful. And to think you did this in the comfort of your home is amazing. Great job by both you and Paul!

  2. You are so amazing and awesome! Both of you! What a miracle, a blessing! I am so proud of you...your an incredible woman and
    Ive known this since the day I met you!!!

  3. Wow, what a story!! Congratulations and great job! I can not even imagine. 

  4. So glad you shared!  Wonderful, frightening, memorable story.  Enjoy your beautiful little girl, Gwendolyn.  

  5. OH. MY. GOSH!!!!!! This is crazy!!!! I had goosebumps while repeating word for word to marc. Are you serious???? I can't wait to watch the documentary on TLC! Just incase I am now camping in the hospital parking lot a week before our due date. You guys are amazing!

  6. Heidi, the kids and I cannot be happier for you two!  Awesome story!!!!  That is so cool you delivered your daughter in your bathroom!  I wish you two and your beautiful daughter all the joys, ups/downs of parenting and adventures!!!

  7. Oh my, Trish! That is one amazing (and I'll admit, a little terrifying) birth story. All the best to you, Paul, Gwen, and the pups!

  8. Wow! That is one heck of a story. I am so glad everything worked out. You have a beautiful little girl! Congratulations to all of you!

  9. Wow, oh my gosh!

  10. My daughter, Jolie was born on Feb 11, 2010. I woke up at 8am with the cramps that quickly elevated in intensity. Still unaware of my progress, I called my doctor who asked me to come in and get checked. Just as I sat on the table, I heard a *pop* then suddenly felt water gush out. I look at the clock. 10:08am. Everyone's eyes double and I am quickly wheeled to the L& D floor. No epidural. No monitors. The doctor came in just as she crowned.

    Jolie burst into this world at 10:25am - SEVENTEEN minutes later. I didn't have to catch her myself though. Lol. I canNOT believe that you CAUGHT your own daughter! What an amazing - yet scary moment that must have been! And much like your husband, my man also didn't think that I was truly in labor.

    I have to say that women are just amazing. I can't believe that our bodies can do this and live to tell the story! Congratulations!!!



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