Babies & Birth Stories

Read stories submitted by Snohomish Midwives’ clients

This is the birth story of Ian Artegus Willis
Born at home, June 29th 2014 at 1:11 AM

“When do you think it’ll be??” was starting to become the only thought that occupied my mind as my due date of July 1st drew closer and closer. It wasn’t a question my unborn baby was going to make me wait too long before answering.

My water broke June 28th at 5 pm as I stood in the kitchen over a plate of Rainer cherries and trail mix. It was just a trickle of fluid, nothing as dramatic as what you see in the movies. My heart skipped a beat, as I knew there was no mistaking this for anything else. This was it! I rushed to the bathroom to check things out, just to be sure, before I called out to Tegus.
“Oh my God. Oh my God!”
“I think my water just broke.”
“Are you serious?! Are you sure??”
I stood up from the toilet with a towel between my legs, lowered it, to show him the fast drip of fluid leaking out. “Oh my God babe, this is it!!”

I could hardly contain my excitement. I felt like I was in the Matrix or something, my heart pounding, voice shaky, hands trembling. After all the months, anticipating the moment of labor, I felt like... this can’t be it, so soon! I’m not ready! I raced around the house, not knowing what I was doing or looking for exactly, but knowing there were important things I was supposed to be doing! Finally, I found the paper that had Melissa’s pager number and instructions for when labor begins. I didn’t call right away. I procrastinated for 20 minutes, called my mom, changed my pad and underwear a few times, as the trickle kept coming. Calling the midwife meant that this was real, and actually happening. I had to calm myself and accept my situation before I could dial her pager number. Speaking with Melissa calmed me. I had a game plan now. She told me to eat if I was hungry, rest, or continue my evening as I normally would. I was to call her again if and when contractions began, when I noticed a pattern of them being ten minutes apart. She would call me in the morning if she hadn’t heard from me.

As there was no way I could sleep, and I had just eaten a ton of fruit, Tegus and I decided to drive up to a friends house 5 minutes away to wash his truck and visit while we killed time. We stopped at QFC on the way to pick up snacks. I stayed in the car and texted friends and family while Tegus ran in. By the time he returned I had had my first 2 contractions. They were very light and short, almost unnoticeable in strength. By the time we got to our friends house, it was after 6. Tegus washed his truck in the driveway as I watched from the front stoop and ate an apple. I kept having to run to the bathroom and pee. Well, I thought it was pee. Contractions kept coming. I tried to time them, by looking at my watch, but found that I couldn’t keep track of when they came and went, and came again. They seemed to come often, too often for how early into labor I was. Seven, eight minutes between contractions. I thought to myself I must be timing wrong, this can’t be right. I walked across the yard to get closer to where Tegus was, had another contraction and found myself leaning against the tree for support. That’s when it dawned on me that it was time to go. I felt the sudden need to be at home, where I could properly time my contractions with an App I had downloaded. Melissa said ten minutes apart or less... These definitely were closer than that.

I hustled Tegus out of there, and soon we were home again and it was about 7:30pm. Tegus was in the kitchen, cooking fried rice for dinner. I found myself not able to go far from the toilet, as I still felt like I had to pee constantly. I wanted to be near the kitchen though, close to Tegus. Being on the toilet felt most comfortable to me, but it was lonely in there. Contractions were coming regularly, and often, and felt stronger and stronger to me, but not debilitating. I knew it was time to call the midwife, but I wanted to time a few contractions first so I had some facts to tell Melissa when I did call. Every time I would venture from the bathroom to the living room, being upright, and walking seemed to bring on another contraction, stronger still. I set the contraction timer out on the counter so Tegus could start and stop it as they came, and I sat on my exercise ball and rocked. We timed a handful of contractions together, and what we came up with amazed me. They were 3 minutes apart, lasting 32 seconds each, and very regular!

I grabbed the cell phone, determined to get a page to Melissa. I felt very spacey and distracted at the time, it was hard for me to focus on getting any one thing done, as I had little time between contractions. I found it becoming harder to talk through the contractions, a sure sign that they weren’t just strong in my head, they really were something. I quickly got a call back from Melissa. I described to her how I was feeling, and how long and far apart the contractions seemed to be. I still was unsure if I was timing them correctly, I felt like they couldn’t possibly be only 3 minutes apart so was only 8:10pm, just 3 hours since my water broke, and about 2 1/2 hours since I felt my first weak contraction. During my conversation with Melissa, I had another three contractions, in which I could barely get words out to her, I was breathing deeply through them now. I asked her a lot of questions at this time, none of which I remember, but I do recall telling her how I wished she were here, to check me and see how I was doing in person. I felt bad at the time, guilty almost, because I thought I must be disturbing her evening, asking her to come all the way out to my place, just to check on me. I also felt worried though, not having her presence there with me. I knew things were ramping up, and at the rate it was going, I just knew I needed assistance sooner than later. Melissa told me she’d be right over, after she phoned her assistant, Stephanie, and stopped by the office to gather my records. I asked her, how long, did she think? She’d be at my apartment in an hour, she said. After we hung up, I glanced at the clock, it was just after 8pm. By 9:15pm, she’d be here, I told myself. Ok, that’ll have to do.

I retreated back to the toilet. Lonely or not, I decided that was the only place I was going to be. The exercise ball was out of the question, as it helped me none. Trying to ‘hang out’ in the kitchen with Tegus, while he cooked, wasn’t an option either, as each contraction found me doubled over our bar stool just to cope with them. They were becoming noticeably stronger one by one.

Back in the bathroom, me on the toilet, things got serious, fast. “This is SERIOUS LABOR. They weren’t joking about that.” I remember thinking to myself at one point. I was working very hard. My body must have been heating up, because before I knew it, I found myself peeling off the layers. I’m normally a very shy and conservative person, but there I was, wearing only a sports bra, swaying and moaning deeply, sitting on the toilet with the bathroom doors wide open, when Melissa arrived. What a sight for sore eyes I must have been!

After Melissa arrived is when labor really ramped up for me. The following events of the evening started to blur together, time distorted. I felt like time was suspended. I didn’t have any idea what time it was anymore, and I didn’t care. I found, the further into labor I was, the more inside my body my mind was. Every contraction was so powerful, so all consuming. There was no way to think or concentrate on anything else during one, just swaying and moaning, moaning my way through it. Feeling a contraction coming on, I would get into this serious mindset, eyes closed. Feeling the contraction peek to it’s highest intensity, every time ever so slightly more intense than the last, then graciously feeling it ebb again. Swaying from side to side was the only relief my body could find from this intensely foreign internal contraction. And moaning... The more powerful the contraction, the louder I would moan. It was the only way I could cope. I later remember thinking, that I was trying to be louder than my contractions, similar to a dog howling over a siren! The pattern continued like that for some time. How much time? It’s hard to say.

Shortly after Melissa’s arrival, I asked if she would check my progress. After working this hard, dealing with this much intensity, I had to know how far along I was. I was worried that I might not be far at all, and that my labor would continue at this level of intensity for hours, days even! I couldn't bare the thought. Moving to the bed, which in itself was difficult, as standing and walking brought on an even more powerful contraction, Melissa checked and announced that I was at 5 centimeters! I felt a combination of feelings at this moment. I was extremely relieved that I had progressed in such a short amount of time. My fears of all those contractions and only being at 2 cm would have been more than I could stand. But at the same time, I was only half way?! Melissa told me then, that I could expect to progress on an average of a cm an hour, meaning I had FIVE HOURS of this increasing insanity left?! Melissa suggested I do some side lying while I was on the bed to help my cervix along. First on the right, then on the left side, I got through only a few contractions each. I felt very uncomfortable laying in that position and after a half an hour, I asked if I could return to the toilet.

The side lying must have worked, because back in the bathroom, things had ramped up even more. I wasn’t able to find the relief on the toilet, that I had before moving to the bed. After about 10 minutes, I asked if I could get in the tub. Tegus had been busy filling the tub during this time. Having drained the hot water tank entirely, Tegus had to boil pots of water on the stove to bring it up to temp.

It was 10pm by the time I got into the birthing tub. Oh what a relief it was! I don’t know what I would have done without that glorious warm water to move about in. My contractions were getting closer, and even more intense, and I found huge relief in being weightless in the water, free to sway from side to side. At 11pm, Melissa checked me again. I was at 8 cm! I remember feeling relief in the thought that this was almost over, I was almost to the end. At this time, the tub wasn’t actually warm enough to birth in, so I got out and moved to the bed again to do the dreaded side lying while the tub was heated up. Eight minutes was all I could stand, as laying on my sides felt like torture to me! How people give birth in hospital beds, lying flat on their backs and told not to move is beyond me! As I could no longer stand being on the bed, but the tub wasn’t yet ready, I went back to the toilet. This part is very fuzzy to me, now thinking back. I must have been at almost 9 cm, extremely uncomfortable being out of the warm water again, laboring and working hard. The only thing I clearly remember during this time of my labor, was a feeling of being on the brink. On the brink of panic. I felt like I was about one iota away from losing my head entirely. If I were to lose my strength, even for a moment, I might succumb to the panic. Panicking at this point in labor seemed like a very bad idea. My contractions were SO strong, intense, insanely close together. So close together that as I felt one ebb almost to a finish, I would feel another coming on. Not even a break in between!

Looking back, I believe I was in transition. What seemed like an eternity of time, but was only 25 minutes, I was graciously allowed back into the tub. I vomited twice during contractions at this point, confirming my thoughts of transition. Strange as it sounds, that actually felt really good. Within a few minutes, I began to feel like I wanted to start pushing. Pushing not only brought relief to my contractions, it finally gave me something to do during them, something besides moaning and concentrating my way through them. At just after midnight, Melissa checked me a final time and announced I was at 10 cm! Contractions came, and I pushed through them. I felt I was making progress, I felt the baby’s head move down with each push, but I was also getting too hot, working too hard in the warm water. Sweat streaming down my face, Tegus would hold an icy towel to my forehead, but it brought only so much relief. I was losing energy fast, working so hard in the hot water. My body was overheating. Melissa suggested we move back to the bed. I was unsure whether I could actually make it that far. Mt Everest seemed easier than the 30 foot walk to the bedroom. With a little convincing from Melissa, they assisted me out of the tub. That was not an easy feat! The movement of lifting out of the tub, brought on the strongest of contractions immediately. Taking what felt like giant waddling, bowlegged steps, I moved as quickly as possible back to the bed. Melissa politely suggested I lean on my back onto the pillows.

“NO!! I CAN’T!!”

I feel like I was shouting at this point. I probably was. I got into the only position I felt I was able to, on my hands and knees. Any more maneuvering than that was out of the question. Ahh, now this was more like it! My body cooled down quickly, as I was still wet from the tub. My energy returned as the realization that I had almost reached the end really dawned on me. This was it! On the bed, and out of the weightlessness of the tub, I felt I had something to hold onto, something to bear down against. I grasped the sheets in both of my fists as I pushed hard, feeling the baby’s head starting to crown. The sensation was sharp and burning. But at this point, it didn’t bother me a bit. I wanted to be done, and I was so close. With one final push the baby’s head was born. His cord was wrapped very tightly around his neck, so Melissa prompted me to keep pushing. The rest of his body was born within the minute. Only 13 minutes after moving from the tub to the bed, at 1:11am, Ian Artegus was born! With a little verbal encouragement from me and Daddy, Ian took his first breath and started to cry. What an exquisite sound that was! I was ecstatic, relieved, overjoyed, exhausted, triumphant, stunned... It was over, I did it! Melissa passed Ian to me between my legs, and I got to look into his eyes for the first time. Words can't describe what that feels like. Surreal, perhaps. Here he was; this child I had grown inside my belly for 9 long months, this child I knew in my heart was a boy from my 8th week of pregnancy, this child I loved before I’d ever met him. Here he was, finally, in my arms. He was worth every second, he was perfect.

~The relationships and prenatal and postnatal care I received from both Melissa and Sarah at Snohomish Midwives was way above and beyond my expectations. Not only did I receive the best care possible, I developed a friendship with them both that allowed me to enjoy my pregnancy and labor carefree. I knew I was in the best hands possible and didn’t waste a second worrying about the ‘what if’s’. I always knew I’d give birth with midwives, never at a hospital. Upon meeting the ladies at Snohomish Midwives, I knew immediately they would be my midwives. We are looking forward to our next pregnancy, as I already miss my monthly visits with Sarah and Melissa!~

- Sarah


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