I went into my labor with no expectations, and I truly believe it played a huge role in how I labored, how her birth/delivery played out, and how I handled the first few weeks postpartum. We had taken all the classes, learned all the things, and felt really prepared and excited for what was coming. I chose to labor un-medicated out of hospital, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made for me, my husband, and our baby. I knew and understood that anything could happen, but was confident that it would ultimately be exactly what it was meant to be.
Saturday, February 16th-Monday, February 18th
Briella was due on February 16th, 2019. Thankfully, we were prepped to not expect labor on or before our due date. Statistically, most mamas go over with their first baby. It wasn’t until around 9pm on Monday, February 18th that I noticed the first signs of early labor.
Tuesday, February 19th
At 6:30 am, I had my first real contraction. FYI – the stories are true. Braxton Hicks ain’t got nothing on these guys. Cameron was already on his way home from work, and I actually waited to tell him until he got there so that he wouldn’t rush. We were told throughout my pregnancy that there were high chances that, with it being our first baby, my labor would be long. *We’d like to take this time to sincerely thank everyone for speaking that over us* All joking aside, we really weren’t in a hurry. We prayed over her and told her to stay in until she was ready.
That morning, we had what ended up being our last pre-natal appointment at the birth center. We went on a lunch date, and used every last second we had to rest and relax together in our last moments as a family of 2. Much to our family’s dismay, the rest of the day went by without much to report – my contractions were still there but were very sporadic and inconsistent.
Around 10 pm, Cameron (who was, at this point, beyond ready for her to arrive) tossed me a sweatshirt, grabbed the keys, and drove us to Target. I wish I could say we were going to do a little shopping. But operation Get Baby Out was in full swing, and after one lap around the store and two decently strong contractions, all I wanted to do was sit down and eat. #pregnant
Just after 11 pm, we walked into iHop where I devoured an omelet AND pancakes. Don’t judge. Mama needed the energy. As we sat in the restaurant, I counted my contractions on my phone and we watched with excitement as they got closer and closer together.
Wednesday, February 20th
We headed home a little after midnight, with every intention of sleeping (as much as one can in between contractions). But around 12:30 am, my contractions were about 3 minutes apart and quickly picking up pace. Cameron called the birth center and our amazing midwife, Roxanne, (the first of many in our labor stay at Origins), told us to head on in and that she would be waiting for us.
We arrived at the birth center right around 1 am, and I immediately had an IV port installed for antibiotics (I was, unfortunately, GBS positive). I was already dilated to a 5 and over 50% effaced. I remember thinking that at that rate, it may not be too long after all. *comical*
I labored peacefully in those early morning hours, but wasn’t progressing quickly at all. My contractions were getting stronger but weren’t really speeding up, and I was still dilating, but very, very slowly.
I spent the majority of the day with my doula in different positions trying to get B to move down and get in position. We climbed stairs, did squats, went for walks, did lunges. I labored soaking in the tub, laying in bed, sitting on the exercise ball, strattling the toilet, even kneeling on all fours on the bed leaning on the exercise ball (awful, in case you were wondering). You name it, we probably did it. We literally tried everything.
Unfortunately, my water hadn’t broken yet, and it was creating a barrier that was preventing her from moving down. They kept a super close eye on both of our heart rates, and since we were both healthy and neither of us were under any stress, I chose to wait it out and try to get it to happen organically to help prevent infection.
Once the sun went down, I had been in labor (early and active) for about 37 hours. I was still only 7 centimeters dilated and completely exhausted. Around 7 pm Cameron encouraged me to let them break my water, hoping that it would speed the process up and help things progress.
Thursday, February 21st
Things had picked up a bit after they broke my water, and round midnight, we were encouraged to lay down and try to get some sleep. It wasn’t long before my body started involuntarily pushing during contractions, something that would end up being my absolute least favorite thing in the entire labor *not joking*. All I could think about was getting back in the birth tub. Ladies, you’ve never known true rest and relaxation until you’re soaking in a hot bath during labor.
After about 30 minutes in the tub, my body was so relaxed that the timing of my contractions had actually slowed down. Unfortunately, my body was pushing with each one. I remember, so vividly, feeling her head, and I tilted my head back and leaned against Cameron and said, “Her head is coming out!” Everyone thought it was time. And then, they stopped.
I safely labored in the tub for as long as I possibly could. Then, at around 2:30 am, my midwife took B’s heart rate. She very calmly and gently looked at me and said, “You are doing an amazing job, Mama. Briella’s right there and ready to meet you. Her heart rate is slowing down. So we are going to get you out and you are going to lay down and push. You’re going to meet your baby.”
A water birth was my ultimate goal, but she was tired. She had been working for a long time. Her little body had had enough. Without hesitation, I stood up, stepped out of the tub, and laid on the bed. Within seconds I was pushing. I remember looking up at Cameron over the oxygen mask and through blurred vision asking, “How much farther?” … “She’s right there! I can see her!” Three more pushes and her head was out. Two seconds later, her body followed.
After 46 hours of long, hard labor, it took about 10 minutes and 6 pushes to bring our sweet Briella Ensley earth side. She was born on February 21st at 2:54 am - 8 pounds 12 ounces, 21 inches long. She shot out (literally) with such tenacity, crying the daintiest little cry you ever did hear.
The next few hours were filled with holding our sweet baby skin to skin, delivering my placenta, and learning how to breast feed. I was fed labor soup, we weighed and measured B, and we soaked in the beauty that is life. I, unfortunately, had injuries that needed extensive repairing and would ultimately take about 12 weeks to heal. But as cliché as it sounds, I’d do it all over again. Every morning I wake up to that little girls smiling face and can’t help but think about what an honor it is to be here mama. To be trusted with her precious heart. She’s the missing piece to a puzzle we didn’t even realize was incomplete. And I will forever cherish my labor and her birth as the most humbling and incredible experience I’ve ever gone through.
Every mom’s labor is unique. Every baby’s birth is their own. This is ours.
The incredible midwives at Origins Birth and Wellness Collective
Our amazing doula: Jessica Wiggins - The Praying Doula
The best birth photographer around: Caroline Carmack Birth Stories