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  • Writer's pictureMegan Sullivan

Empowering Birth Stories of Isobel and Ronan


mom and babies


Isobel was born on Wednesday, June 13th, 2018 at 5:35 in the morning, just five and a half hours after my labor began. I was in complete disbelief that she came so quickly because everyone says that your first birth will be long and to not expect a fast birth. Just the week before this night, I had experienced some very intense prodromal labor. So intense that we had called our midwife and she had arrived, ready to help me have my baby. When that didn’t happen that day, I was devastated, but after grieving that false start, I resolved to be calm, and patient (not one of my strong suits) and let my baby come on its own time. 


The day before she was born, I had been busy cleaning and washing dishes and had pains here and there, but I ignored them, thinking they were nothing more than Braxton Hicks. I cooked dinner and as my husband and I sat down to eat and watch a movie, my pains were definitely more noticeable. We called my mother-in-law, asking for advice from her because we didn’t want to bother our midwife again unless it was the real deal. She told me to go take a nice hot bath, relax, and go to bed. Get some rest. My husband drew me a bath and I soaked for a while. Pain was coming every 10 minutes and I remember saying “Baby, if you’re really coming, please make it quick.” And that next pain took my breath away. My husband helped me out of the tub and another pain hit. We had taken Bradley Method childbirth classes and I did my best to use the techniques our teacher showed us. I tried to keep my breaths even and slow, and my eyes half closed, my shoulders relaxed. But, peaceful, I was not. I remember my husband calling his mom back just saying “Come. Help.” before hanging up again. I don’t recall much of a timeline except that I tried all kinds of different positions trying to alleviate some of my discomfort. I tried side-lying, squatting, standing, all fours, rocking back and forth, sitting on the birth ball. My midwife and doula showed up, then my midwife’s assistant. At one point, I was laying on my side and I yelled at my midwife “This isn’t any better!” and she just plainly said, “Nothing is going to make it better sweetheart.”


My in-laws were in our living room trying to get the birth pool blown up, but we later found out that my midwife’s cat must have pricked it with her claws at some point because it was riddled with tiny holes in one section, which was preventing it from holding air. I never got in the birth pool. I tried using water in the bathtub, but we had a very small bathroom with a very small tub, so it wasn’t very comfortable. I vividly remember being very nauseous with each pain and being terrified that I would throw up on my husband. I know he wouldn’t have cared, but I would have been mortified. I did eventually throw up and that’s the one time my midwife insisted on checking my cervix. That was almost as painful as the birth pains, but when she announced that I was at 10cm and it was time to push, I froze. I remember feeling like I had forgotten everything from my twelve weeks of childbirth class and all the books I had read and home birth vlogs I had watched. My midwife told me to push and I yelled “I don’t know how!” Someone in the room chuckled and I wanted to hurt them, then my doula said “Yes you do Megan. Come on.” and she helped me off my bed and back into the tiny bathroom where I sat on the toilet to labor there for a while. In the smallest corner of my tiny, tiny bathroom, I started crowning. Something happened that would prove characteristic of all my births. I had an unbelievably intense burning sensation that would go down my legs with each pain. Physiologically, I know this was a baby making its way through my pelvis, causing my pelvis to widen and the muscles and nerves to respond to that pressure. But the feeling made my skin crawl, my stomach churn, and set my legs on fire. I couldn’t stand to have my legs be still, so I squirmed against the pressure, and yet movement didn’t provide any relief. My husband started crying and the women surrounding me were offering nothing but encouraging words and cool washcloths. They asked if I wanted to feel the baby’s head, but I was too overwhelmed in the moment and when I reached down, I recoiled saying “I can’t feel anything.”. As I sat there, my midwife took heart tones, then suggested I move back to the bed and try pushing on all fours. They moved, leaving my husband to help me stand. I stood, took one step, and I knew my baby was coming. I screamed and grabbed my husband's shoulders as I pushed my baby out all at once. My midwife had to slide in between my husband’s legs to catch the baby, like she was sliding into home base. I was immediately crying and shaking. I had done it! I was ecstatic! I was helped into bed, holding my brand new baby, awed and in shock. I asked my husband if it was a boy or a girl because we had waited to find out at this moment. He was crying (happy tears) as he said, “It’s a girl!” And my first daughter was born. I couldn’t stop looking at her. She was so bright red and warm and so small. The smallest thing I had ever held. And my next thought made me laugh to myself because I thought, “That was amazing, I want to do that again.” All that pain disappeared in a flash of adrenaline, oxytocin, serotonin, and every other lovey hormone ever created. I was made for this. I was so strong and powerful and I knew I would have more children at that very moment.



Birth


Ronan was born on Saturday, November 13th, 2021 at 6:45 in the evening in a very precipitous labor. His had been a bit of a tumultuous pregnancy, not for physical health reasons, but more mental and emotional ones. I had two other children just 3 years old and 20 months old, so I was exhausted and very DONE being pregnant. The day my labors started my husband was out of the house with our oldest at a 24-hour theatre competition, and I was home with our current baby, our second daughter. I had been up and down all night into the wee hours of the morning. Insomnia definitely contributed to my feelings of defeat. Why wasn’t my baby coming? Why wasn’t labor starting in earnest? I wound up leaving our very crowded bed and going downstairs for a snack and a quiet cry. I think I texted my doula at 3am because I had been having contractions every 20 minutes, but by 5am they had stopped altogether, so I told her to go back to sleep. I stayed on the couch and got some sleep, begging my baby to make his or her appearance soon. Around 6am, my husband came down with our little one, who had woken up looking for mommy, or mainly mommy’s boobies. He went up to shower and get ready, and I nursed her back to sleep. He left with our oldest shortly after that, and I spent the day napping on and off with our little one, crying every now and then. This was not the headspace I wanted to be in, so I continued to rest, and tried to resign myself to being pregnant for a little bit longer. Just as that happened, around 3pm, I started having contractions that I really needed to breathe through and I told the baby to please, please come now. By 3:30, I called my husband and told him to come home because I was going to the bathroom a lot, losing bits of mucus plug each time. While I was on the phone with him, I had a contraction every 3 to 5 minutes. He hung up, heading home, and I put on my Birthing Playlist I had made to sway through my contractions. I was much more excited now and when my husband got home, I called our birth team in between contractions so they could head over to our house. My husband started the beef roast in the crock pot to feed our family and birth team in four hours, and made me my electrolyte water before helping me upstairs to the bedroom. And that’s where I stayed. My assistant midwife and her partner arrived, her partner was there to watch my other children. Then my midwife and doula arrived. I moved from leaning against the wall to kneeling at the bed, whe my husband tried to apply counter pressure to my hips, which had been my only desi in my previous labor, but this time I yelled “Stop!” Followed by a very sincere “F*** you!” directed at my husband because, somehow, he had made the coming contraction 1000 times worse. That’s when I knew things were progressing much more quickly than last time.


I spent the rest of the time on all fours, roaring through contractions. Things were happening so fast and so intensely that I thought I was dying. That’s dramatic, I know, but my hands and arms ached from supporting my weight, my hips and legs were on fire, and I felt like I was going to puke and poop at the same time. My doula gave me some clary sage to fight my fear, and told me to stop making vocal noise and instead push that energy down. That helped tremendously. With one of my pushes, I felt something release, and I panicked because I thought it was an arm or leg, meaning hospital transfer, but my birth team all gasped and just said, “It's your bag of waters!” My water had broken and instead of splashing everywhere, the fore sac had flopped out onto the chux pad, still retaining fluid. It was, hands down, the coolest looking thing, and the weirdest sensation I have ever had. Shortly after that, I felt this surge, the fetal ejection reflex, and sat up on my knees as I shot my baby out. There was some cord around the neck, which I deftly unwound and flipped him over onto his back. It was a boy! Our first boy! Ian immediately cried “Hey buddy!” And my son cried, loud and clear. My midwife wiped his face clean as my doula helped me get my bra off for some skin-to-skin. Holding my baby boy, I began to sob uncontrollably and shake, raw emotion just coursing through me. My team moved me to the bed, and we discovered that the roast in the crock pot still had about half an hour left to cook, meaning the birth time of 6:35pm was just about three hours long! Its still shocking to me how fast it was. I was very happy that my doula took plenty of photos, and that my two little girls had the freedom to come in and watch as they pleased. They were very excited to meet their baby brother, and some of my favorite pictures are of my midwife shielding my dress-up clad oldest from any potential fluids as she leaned down right behind me to watch my labor, after which she promptly asked her babysitter, “What is happening to my mommy’s butt?” To which he said, “I have no idea.” I was ecstatic and relieved to no longer be pregnant. My thoughts after this birth were that I was done. No more pregnancies, no more babies, he was the last. We had a surprise in store just 16 months later.

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