Bodhi’s Mom Shares His Birth Story

Bodhi’s Birth Story

by his mom, Katherine

                                                           by the doula, Teresa


On the morning of July 24th, I woke up for another bathroom run. It was still dark outside and thought nothing of it as I crawled back into bed. I wasn’t due for another four days, and as this was to be my first child, I figured I would make it to 40 weeks and maybe beyond.

 She told me later things started around 7am.

About an hour later, I woke with what felt like menstrual cramps, a sensation that I had blissfully forgotten. It faded away, but a while later, I was woken up again. This stop and start lasted for about two hours. The sun had risen, while I rocked myself to ease the cramps. I decided to wake DH. He started timing the cramps on a handy smartphone app he had downloaded a few days before. The timing was weird and irregular – not anything like what we had been told to watch for, so I chalked it up to very strong Braxton Hicks. Well, after another hour, I wasn’t so sure.

At 11am they called me. I suggested it may be early labor. Keep busy, hydrated, try the tub and rest when you need to.

We called our doula, who recommended we stay vigilant for next few hours, but that it could be labor. We soon called our midwife, who gave us similar advice. I decided to get in the tub and turn on the water jets. The cramps eased, but soon were replaced by what I now know were contractions. The intensity grew quite dramatically and I started implementing some of the pain management techniques that DH and I had learned in our Birthing from Within class. But it wasn’t long before I looked at DH and said it’s time to call the midwife and tell her we’re on the way to the hospital.

 She had taken Guina’s Birthing from Within Immersion series.

As soon as I got out of the tub and tried to dress, the contractions hit me like truck. I could barely talk through them and I had to stop moving to ride them out. It became a race to see how much I could accomplish between each hit. Kneeling at the sink, can I make it to closet and put on that dress? Waddle to the closet, slide the dress on, stop, here it comes, lean into the wall. God***n it… ok, I can make it down the stairs if I go right now. Whew! Ok, maybe I can make it to the couch. No, damn it, here it comes, lean into another wall. Where is DH!? Ok there are my flip-flops, by the door, get them on and get into the garage… hurry go, go, go! Collapse into DH, as he’s holding the car door open, need to get into the back seat and kneel.

She called me to tell me to head to meet them at 12:40pm.

The swaying of our SUV helped, plus DH was a bit panicked so I focused on him and the drive. It took my mind off the contractions. We took the long route to the emergency room entrance by accident, DH cursing up a  storm. I wanted to laugh, but sort of muffled chuckled instead. We arrived and I was swiftly placed in a weird wheeled chair, but not an actual wheel chair. The wheels were rickety like an old shopping cart, but sweet, sweet, Jesus, the rough vibrations were a salve to my ever-widening cervix. I should have told him to take me on a tour of the whole hospital – it felt so good.

Once I was dropped off in the L&D room, my birth plan went out the window. A very pleasant nurse handed me a gown, to which I rudely responded, “no I’m not going to wear that,” followed by a start of a contraction, which was then followed by “f*ck it, give it to me.” However, based on the numerous pictures taken, I apparently decided being completely naked was the new birth plan.

At this point, I entered a hazy state, where I only existed in two forms, pain and sleep. Soon the room was filled with the hustle and bustle of nurses, my midwife and doula. The rubber tub was inflated and filled with water. I had arrived at the hospital at 5 cm. What?! You mean I labored all on my own to 5cm? Really? I did that? Ok, now give me a drug. I need a BREAK!!

An exam at 1:24pm showed she was already dilated to 5cm.

I arrived 1:30pm to meet them in room 11.

Anjli, her midwife arrived at 1:40pm.

My awesome doula, supportive DH and attentive midwife all tried to talk me down. Ah, poor innocents, they hadn’t figured out that I had made up my mind and the whisper of the word epidural had already started to take form in the shattering fragments of my weakening will.

A second exam was given by Anjli because I felt Katherine was moving along faster than she would be expected to be.

Anjli found her to be dilated to 7cm with a bulging bag.

And although we tried to encourage her to try the tub first- she resisted and instead at 2:05pm she received some Fetanyl.

Kat, a wonderful woman is our nurse. She begins to fill the tub at 2:30pm.

They relented and I was given a mild, short lasting narcotic. And I slept. I’m sure you’ve had dreams where you find yourself falling… well that’s what it felt like as soon as the narcotic wore off – a massive shock to my system as the next contraction hit. How did they become so strong? I tried to activate my mind to help survive each one. They guided me to the water, in which my water finally broke.

At 3:30pm she got in the tub. Anjli offered another exam at 3:45pm due to Katherine really wanting to get out and get an epidural.

The exam showed she was now dilated to 6-8cm and the baby was down to -2 station.

At 4pm a IV fluid was started in preparation for epidural while remaining in the tub.

But there were two emergencies so it would be delayed.

At 4:30pm her water released and there was light meconium. She got out of the tub shortly after.

I’m not sure how long I stayed in the tub, but I think that while I was submerged my will, which was bent, finally broke. I asked for the epidural, I actually begged for it, to the great dismay of my DH who I had led to believe that epidurals were the equivalent of drinking arsenic. After much discussion or rather everyone trying to convince me to push through it and me screaming back at them to get me the goddamn epidural, it was ordered. Um, but there was a problem. Apparently the universe decided that the one anesthesiologist, the one bright angel who could deliver me from my torment, had actual real emergencies to attend to. Two to be exact. I had to wait.

Waiting, pain, waiting, pain, waiting, sleep, pain. Ina May Gaskin and that woman who wrote Orgasmic Birth… screw both of you.

 She was now dilated to 8 cm, was effaced 100% and the baby was down to -1/0 station.

At 4:45 she got a second dose of Fetanyl while we awaited the anesthesiologist.

 And while I waited, I stalled at 8 cm. My mind had decided that my body would go no further without the blissfully dulling effects of the epidural.  But I got to 8cm, on my own. Could I have gone all the way? Absolutely, but that’s with the infamous 20/20 hindsight.

At 5:15pm I gave her a foot rub while she dozed on and off.

An exam was offered at 6:10pm after telling us she really wanted some more medication. Anjli and I both hoped she was going to be almost complete and not need to have medication but showed she remained at 8cm with the baby at 0 station.

At 6:45pm she was given another dose of Fetanyl.

The anesthesiologist swept in with her magic cart of chemicals. But there was a catch, I had to sit up and remain completely still with my back curved just like a hissing cat. What a colossally impossible task. As I was moved into position, the next one hit and as I began to flail in pain, my doula grabbed me by the face, looked me in dead in the eye and ordered me to be still. The exposure of my spine opened me to a world of risk and squirming around would only doom me. So I sat still, through massive, cervix-shattering contractions, I did not move. My forehead pressed against my doula, eyes closed, I froze every muscle in place. And as the needle was inserted, a sad understanding draped over me. I was controlling the pain, on my own. I had minimized it, just by sheer thought and the iron grip of my doula. But it was too late to reverse course, my legs grew heavy and the pain started to fade and I slept.

The epidural was placed at 7:40pm. I held her during the placement to help keep her still.

Two hours later, my cervix had disappeared and my son’s head was low and within reach. I could still feel my legs and pressure from within. I started to push and saw my son’s head emerge with each contraction, thanks to the mirror placed before me. My midwife let me determine when to push and when to sit back. Despite the tingly numbness, my body was still in full control. Extraordinary.

At 9 pm she was declared fully dilated and the baby was down to +1 station. So, since she was feeling some pressure, the suggestion was start pushing!

Here he was, the dream, the prayer, the wish I held in my heart for so long. Another push, look at all that hair. Push again, a gush of water and a twirling head moving into position. One more push and I heard my midwife – “Katherine, grab your baby!” A squirming, extremely loud, warm, wet mass of pure joy was on my chest. I looked at him for the first time – there is nothing in this world or the next that I won’t do for you. Then his tiny mouth latched onto my breast, with the  help of my doula’s guiding hands. And I held him for a very long time.

Bodhi  – 8.6lbs and 19.75 inches of yummy baby love.

At 9:52 she gave birth to her son just as she had envisioned doing so earlier. The room was quiet. She received her son onto her chest into her arms. She looked into his eyes and felt him take his first breath. The nurses had been told of her vision and they upheld their part in letting it unfold just as she had imagined it days before. It was absolutely beautiful!

Afterwards – just one minor tear. The epidural wore off quickly and we went home the next day. Was this the birth I had planned for? No, not completely. Do I have any regrets? Not one. I learned more about myself in 14 hours of labor then I have in the last 30 or so years and I delivered a healthy, happy, beautiful son. Chances are we’ll have another child and I’ll read Orgasmic Birth once more and forgive Ina May. I’ll meditate, shove my hands in buckets of ice all in preparation again and watch videos of squatting Brazilian women shooting out their babies as easy as blowing air through a straw. But when I arrive again at the crossroads of pain and will – a little chemical help will remain an option, without guilt or remorse.

I was delighted to be with this family at this gentle birth of their sweet son Bodhi. It was a labor of love!

Teresa Howard