Katherine's Birth Story
Katherine’s Birth Story
“It was the most surreal, spiritual, and incredible moment of my life.”
I suppose Priscilla’s birth story begins at my 36-week appointment, which was July 24th. I chose to receive my care at Roots Community Birth Center in North Minneapolis. Throughout my entire pregnancy I was so impressed with the quality, love, and expertise of the staff. I had an opportunity to get to know each midwife well and felt excited as my last weeks of pregnancy drew near. At my appointment, Rebecca did a brief check just to see if I had any scar tissue left from a procedure I had done earlier in the winter. To my surprise I learned that I was already 2-3cm dilated and that babe’s head was very low. I left feeling excited, but also resting in the knowledge that I could be dilated at that number for a long time, and that numbers don’t generally mean all that much so early on. Throughout the week prior I had experienced a few light waves but nothing too exciting.
Two days later, I left for a fun, quick trip to Red Wing with mom. Seth and Astro, our German shepherd, camped nearby our bed and breakfast just in case. Mom was convinced I was going to go into labor that weekend. I was not. I did experience more waves but wasn’t sure if that’s what they were since they were very manageable and didn’t move around the entire trunk of my body which is what I assumed would happen. I continued to listen to my Hypnobabies tracks, especially the “Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations,” which I adore.
The week started off normal, trying to get last minute work done before officially going on maternity leave. I shot a lovely session at Burwell Park on July 31st and had both a chiropractic and midwife appointment. I guess I told Rebecca at Roots that I’d be seeing her that weekend to have my baby. I had a feeling she would either be born around the 37/38-week mark or wait until 41. I prayed she wouldn’t wait until 41 weeks so I could still birth her at the birth center.
I wasn’t having much in the line of waves so I assumed it would be a while. Thursday evening, we ate dinner and I ended up going to bed much earlier than I normally do. I was unusually exhausted, but chalked it up to being nine months pregnant. I fell asleep around 9pm.
Right at 11pm I woke to my water breaking. I wasn’t sure at first and then went into the bathroom. I called Roots to let them know and spoke to Jahan, the on call midwife. She suggested drinking some cal-mag, taking a unisom and going back to bed to rest. Seth was out walking Astro and when he came back I told him. I tried to get comfortable, but almost initially waves started and I just couldn’t.
I wanted to lie down and sleep but that wasn’t working. I just wanted to be sitting either on the side of the bed or on the toilet. I noticed blood and texted Jahan to let her know. I didn’t think I was actually getting close to meeting my baby this point. As the night went on things got more intense. I threw up around 2:20am and my acid reflux started acting up. Out of my entire labor experience that was the most annoying part, honestly.
My waves were all in the front, I didn’t have any back labor. As a result, I just didn’t think my labor was progressing as much as it actually was. We ended up sending Anne (our doula) a text and she recommended listening to the Fear Clearing track. I remember putting it on and being able to fall asleep for a while. I awoke around 4-5am and threw up again, this time all over the bathroom wall because I was trying to make it in time and didn’t have my glasses on.
From that point on labor picked up and my waves got closer and closer together. I noticed that they would get intense, then calm down, but I’d still have cramps in-between them. At this point I told Seth I wanted to go to HCMC because I knew they’d have drugs there. He calmly said “no, Katie, we’re going to Roots.” Haha! A while later I was in the bathroom again thinking I was just going to tell him that I was going to walk to HCMC by myself if I had to. I realized he wouldn’t go for that, and came to my senses. That was the only time labor felt harder than myself. From there I was able to manage, but had to concentrate on the waves as they were changing and continuing to take a large part of my focus.
To help get through what I realize now was transition, I would lay in the bed and just squeeze Seth’s hand while he timed everything. Around 6am waves were lasting a minute and it was time to get ready to head into Roots! I labored last at home on my birth ball. I knew something was shifting when Seth called my mom and she asked if I wanted to talk to her (they were on speaker) and I shook my head “no.” Between waves I reminded Seth to let the rest of our birth team know to head to Roots.
At this point my waves had shifted from very intense to now very pushy. I felt a very natural desire to bear down and did so as we finished gathering last minute items for the birth center. I didn’t realize how far I was until at one moment I felt a really strong wave and wondered if her head might pop out. I did rationalize that she was probably just moving down, but it was good that we were on our way.
We headed out and downstairs to the parking garage where I had one more wave, then into the car where I had two more strong ones. As we pulled up to Roots it was sunny and beautiful outside, a lovely August Minneapolis morning. I grabbed the fence while another wave hit and remembered thinking that it wasn’t very sturdy because I could make it move.
As we walked in Jahan greeted us at the stairs. I felt so relieved! It smelled so good inside and I was so happy to be there, I think I told her that as we headed up. I remember Seth saying, “the big room is already taken, but we’ll be in the purple room.” At that point I didn’t care. We got settled in and I laid down on the bed. Jahan had the assistant get me some tea and honey to help with my reflux. I was getting my mind right to be checked knowing it might be painful at this point in labor.
I was so excited, happy, and relieved when Jahan looked and said “oh, your baby’s head is right there, you can push whenever you’re ready.” She also let me know that it was too late to set up the tub. I didn’t mind, I knew I was getting close to meeting my baby and was thrilled! Seth told me he could see her hair and that it was dark. My legs were very shaky at this point, which I knew was normal and had warned Seth about, so he wouldn’t be scared. With each wave I just continued to focus and let my body do the work. I didn’t feel like I even needed to push, I could just let nature run its course. Jahan had Seth help me take my nightgown off so we could be ready for skin to skin, and then he went back down by the bottom of the bed to get ready to catch our baby.
About 10-15 pushes later and her head was out! It was very, very intense at the end, but in a strange way it felt so good. I remember Jahan saying “get ready to catch your baby” to Seth. As soon as her head came out she started crying and making noises. It was surreal. Jahan said she had never witnessed that before. A wave later and her body emerged. Priscilla Anne DeGroot was set on my chest, by her daddy, covered in vernix and absolutely beautiful. It was the most surreal, spiritual, and incredible moment of my life.
A while later everyone arrived: my mom, our doula Anne, Mara, and Courtney. It was so fun to see them all come in and see me with a baby on my chest. We all laughed, smiled, and rejoiced. Seth and I had big plans for this birth: snacks, affirmation cards, photos… and it ended up being so much different than that. Shortly after it started raining and I remember looking outside at the day just beginning. I distinctly remember seeing a little boy ride is bike past and thought to myself, “what an amazing day.”
Rebecca came in a while later and we laughed about our previous conversation at my last appointment. She said that I was a home birther at heart and need to consider birthing there next time or else coming in sooner. It was a great moment. I did end up with a second degree tear, which Jahan stitched up for me. My stepdad Loren brought me breakfast and right after I ate Priscilla nursed for a short period of time.
Then it was time to head home! We stayed at the birth center for a little over four hours, and felt ready to leave when it came time. Mara snapped an adorable photo of us as we left, and we got into our car and drove home.